I am completely aware of how much my husband did. He saved me from so much and I love him. It's true that he is amazing. There seems to be a theme lately about that man. Before Florida John and I had a super fun and playful dynamic between us, and now there are hints of that, but our love is different now. We have been through hell and are somewhere on our journey to "back." I love him and wish I could rewind our lives and give him back his precious daughter.
I watched Mimi that night closely. She was trying to be strong for her kids and the wear and tear of the news was written all over her body, but she was like a statue that night. I have never seen her like that before or since. She was dead. Gone. Mad. Hurt. Stoic. Over it. Her expression was nothing. She was physically there, going through motions, but shut off. I know she was feeling a lot, I know the tears of her three loved to death children who were grieving were penetrating her heart deeply, but on the outside...there was emptiness. How do you face losing your baby...a baby that you changed your whole life in order to fit her in, one that you gave everything to in a way most parents never have to do for any child...how do you feel when she is senselessly ripped away and now you have to watch your other precious children, who have also wanted her and sacrificed for her and loved her and been filled up by her wrap their minds around life without her? What is the expression on your face when you face that? I know, because I saw it. There is no expression. It is like being dead from the heart up. Just dead. John told me that he didn't think Mimi would ever come back from this, and that he feared he had lost both she and Mia. I believed him.
I was in awe of John. He too lost his baby, and boy is he a plugged in father. He and Mimi fully marinate in the joy their kids bring them. I worried for him at times because it was clear that his number one priority was Mimi. He sheltered her from conversations with doctors and nurses, he sheltered her from press interviews, he was just everything for everyone. He was visibly destroyed, but faced all the hard, extra, insensitive things head on. He must've said two dozen times, "Mimi is my first priority." I know in the after math of things he has taken time and grieved heavily and healthily, but those days in Tampa, I felt like he was "on" for his family. 100%. It was impressive and unfathomable to me and others.
Anne, John's sister came after a day or two. She is a good friend of mine and we stuck together until she dropped me off at my house the following week. We talked about things a lot and when I have had meltdowns post coming home, I know I can call her. Oddly, we haven't ever achieved being there at the right moment to help one another, but we have talked a lot over the past couple of months. I know when she asks, "how are you doing?" That it isn't a rote question. We flew home side by side in disbelief. It felt like we'd been battling in a war and like we would suffer PTSD upon resuming "life as usual" the next day. I am so glad to have shared that flight with her and the nights in the hotel, she is a great woman and friend, and I know that even better today.
I'm angry. I have always had very simple faith that God is in the details of my life. I know he doesn't care if I wear blue jeans or sweats, but when I really want the jeans and I find them dry in the dryer, it makes me happy and I think, "There he is." Details. When my uncle died last summer, he was in the details of that too. We got to see my uncle at our reunion which finished the day before his death. I was in McCall, with a lot of other family and we were able to easily drive down for the service...details. Mercy. Just little things, but they make life good. This whole scenario has shaken that faith. There is nothing in the details of the week in Florida that make me want to give God the credit. Do I want to think that it was his design for us to leave the hospital for the final time en route to a restaurant? Why couldn't we take Mimi and John to their bed and feed them homemade chicken soup through a straw? Why? Why did Mimi and John and the kids have to get on an airplane the next day? Why? Can you imagine carrying the burden of one less, very important person of your family not having a place to sit? Not taking her shoes off to go through security? Do you know how many people actually ask "how are you?" when you are out in public? Roughly every person who opens their mouth to speak to you will ask that. I promise. What do you say? I mean, there is no shallow answer that feels right. Why couldn't the whole family go home to their own beds? WHY? It is hard when you believe there is a plan and you know this is part of that plan, and then you think about who is in charge of the plan...it makes me mad! I still have faith that the deficits will be made whole and that the understanding and the answers will come after I leave this life...but I am unhappy waiting. The faith blossom is reduced to a sapling. Not ALL the faith, but the part of me that believes those easy to believe things that are hard after something like this...the "everything happens for a reason." or the "have eternal perspective" or the "she'll raise her baby after this life, in the next life..." It just feels hollow somehow, like I know all the stuff I need to know, but what I want doesn't go away because I know those things.
I took this for her first birthday party invitation. So, so cute.
How many times in the past 4 years have I heard Mimi say, "I want her." So many. I remember the sad talks at Seattle Children's when Mimi had spiritual confirmation that Mia was going to come home with her. We knew she would. At least in moments. Then there were the set backs and the weeks that passed and the doubts would come to the front of her/our minds and she'd cry, "I just want her." I wanted her too. I wanted her for Mimi, John, Ellie and Jense. I wanted her to be a miracle...and it was miraculous when she got her angel heart, truly. Then, we wanted her and we didn't really even know her. Now we want her and we know and love her. We know that she is unlike any other child on the whole planet. She is joy and peace and gentle and funny and flirty.
I find myself saying the dumbest things as new things come to my mind that I looked forward to but didn't let go of yet. Like we (Chris and I) were at their house around the 2 month anniversary of her going to heaven, and we were lightheartedly talking about Mia and how Chris remembered her and how she'd always flirt with him and he was slow to win her over because of our infrequent contact with her the last year and a half. I said, "Well she wasn't going to last much longer, because no kid can stay away from Chris for long." Ugh. I hadn't let go of that excitement in my future yet when Chris would walk in the door and be her prize like he is for neices and nephews and essentially all kids who know him well. I still had it in my mind somewhere that that day was coming. I said it out loud. Right there in the entrance to their house, it sunk in immediately that we weren't going to have a day like that. It probably would have been that visit, but...oh yeah. That isn't going to happen. Sorry, did I just say that? It feels sometimes like everything I say is wrong, but it is all virgin territory. I don't know what to say. I still have little nooks and crannies in my heart where Mia's future lurks as if the past three months haven't happened. It's like you know, but not all of you knows. There is an undoing that is gradual somehow, because you have to reset all of these different areas in your mind that are untouched by reality somehow. I had to Christmas shop for only three McDonald kids. I had their family in my home for two nights and no Mia. I had to walk through her room with her clothes and toys everywhere but no her. I had to see her perfect little body in a casket. I still want her.
Just like two weeks before everything happened, I met Sandy at UW to do some family photos. As I took the 45th street exit, I started to cry. All these horrible trips to Children's Hospital came rushing in unexpectedly and I just cried as I drove. I was surprised by my emotion because so much amazingness had followed that time. It's weird, was it some kind of foreshadow? Like I guess a part of me was preparing? I don't know. I have made that same drive dozens of times and thought as I crossed Brooklyn of hanging out at Kelly and Danny's apartment in college or passing greek row and remembering sleeping on sleeping porches with friends when they were in sororities.
(I randomly added in a few pics I took of Mia over the years. I am so glad for pictures!)
Mia's Obituary. (I didn't take this pic, but I looooove it)
Mia Marie McDonald - 2008-2012 Mia Marie McDonald, beloved daughter of John and Marie “Mimi” Jensen McDonald returned home to her Heavenly Parents on October 8, 2012. Mia was born on July 8, 2008, in Seattle, Washington. Mia came into this world with challenges, but our baby girl came prepared to live life fully. Her family knew from the time of her birth that she would need a heart transplant. After many prayers on her behalf, Mia received the much awaited heart transplant when she was just four months old, from her angel heart donor Jacob. She is our little miracle and we feel blessed for every day we had with her. She had a special way of endearing others to her and connected with people everywhere she went. Her sunny and infectious personality would fill any room. She loved music and would dance instinctively. She loved singing primary songs, playing with her “babies,” coloring, eating “chocits” going to preschool, calling her “Aunt Nats,” giving “essimo kisses” and giggling. We will miss her affectionate, sweet, spunky and fun personality. This darling girl had a mischievous side and she would relish teasing her brothers and sisters, and loved when people would laugh when she said something funny. Mia exuded joy. Her tiny body radiated light every day of her life. Last week, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Mia’s special wish to meet Minnie Mouse in Disney World. Upon arrival, she became ill and after being hospitalized her heart stopped beating. Although her heart recovered, the trauma to her tiny brain could not recover from injuries incurred while they were trying to resuscitate her. Darling Mia never made it to Disney World, but she will be giving someone else the gift of life by now being on the giving end of organ donation. Although few, we will cherish the sweet years we shared with our golden curled beauty, Mia. She will be dearly missed by her parents, her brothers Jensen and Sam, and her adoring second mother, her sister Ellie. She is also survived by her grandparents Sid and Cindy Jensen of Midway, UT, Dean and Laura Conway of Spanaway, WA, and Vern and Carol McDonald of Lakewood, WA, as well as numerous aunts, uncles, and 60 cousins. She was preceded in death by her great-grandparents Murray Giles, Fred and Aliene Jensen, Howard and Shirley Hallmeyer, and Floyd Vernon McDonald. We love you Miss Meena, our arms and hearts ache to be with you and hold you. We anxiously await the time when we will be reunited. “I missed you in na night!” Funeral services will be held at 11am on Saturday, October 13 at the Midway Stake Center. A gathering will be held from 6pm to 8pm on Friday Oct 12th, and one hour prior to the services on Saturday. Mia will be interred in the Midway Cemetery. Please join us in the celebration of her courageous, joyful, life.