How Are We Doing?

The question we get every day. Sometimes multiple times each day. Yesterday marks exactly two months since Kamri was born and one month since her funeral. How are we doing? seems like the hardest question to answer, especially because our answer could be vastly different every single time we’re asked. If you asked me in person, I’d probably just start with, “Ummm…” and stare at you blankly before my eyes well up. It is near impossible to explain “how we’re doing”. But I’ll do my best. It’s been two months since the love of our lives came into this world and we are frantically treading water in an ocean of desperately missing her.

I wanted to write this post for a couple of reasons. I am learning that I process emotions, feelings, and events best through writing. It was never my best subject in school or even something I thoroughly enjoyed quite frankly, but yet, here we are. Apparently, it is somewhat of a therapy for me. The other reason is you. We recognize that for whatever reason, God catapulted Kamri’s story across the world (literally) and we have brought thousands of you along for Kamri’s (and our) journey. We have heard from so many people that followed so closely that “something feels missing” without having the daily updates. And we understand. It’s been a long while since we’ve checked in… essentially since her funeral a month ago. So this feels right. This feels like the best way to answer the “I wonder how they’re doing?” question without calling each of you up on the phone and reliving it over and over again. Because, quite honestly, that sounds like a whole other nightmare. So, here we are. The honest, raw truth. Because, if you’ve learned anything from our daily updates, we don’t sugar coat things.

Picture your absolute worst nightmare… the kind you can usually wake up from. That is our reality. Except that instead of waking up from it each morning, we awake into it. We have said over and over again, this can’t be real. She can’t really be gone. In the very beginning, nights and mornings were the worst. Every morning, we would wake up and remember… oh yeah, this is our life. She’s not coming back. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I wake up and think, “Kamri’s in her room and I should go and get her.” Or I’ll look over at Mitch and expect to see him holding her. Then we remember. The pain of remembering is like a slap across the face, followed by a hurt so deep, I have no words for it.

Our first month has felt very much like a Twilight Zone. I’ll do my best to explain it, so bear with me. On December 27th, we left the house for what we thought would be the last time as a family of two (we have a video of us joyfully proclaiming such to prove it). Our house was still in full Christmas mode because we thought we’d be celebrating a belated one with our sweet girl sometime in the next couple of days as we came back home. You know what happened next. Our world turned upside down and it felt like someone reached down and plucked us out of our reality, dropping us into a completely different world. Keep in mind, there was no warning, no indication that this would be the case. The night of the 27th, we genuinely thought we’d be bringing a healthy baby home in a few days. Instead, our worst nightmare became our new reality… days and nights at CHOP, eating, sleeping, and breathing Kamri’s fight became our world. This was the new reality we’d been dropped into. After she passed away, we were pulled back out of that reality (which however twisted it may sound, had become our new normal) and dropped back into our previous life. Except that everything had changed. But nothing had changed. A whole month had passed, but our house still looked very much the way it did when we left it. Although family members had so graciously cleaned up the majority of Christmas beforehand, there were still remnants. Our stockings were lying on the floor of our room, little Christmassy bits here and there. The world kept spinning, but time had stood still. And we were different people. People who had had a child and lost a child all in the span of one month. It felt unnerving to be back in a space that had been so oriented for our past selves. It has taken a month for that confusion, that dizzying feeling of worlds colliding, yet so removed from each other to fade. We are slowly getting re-acclimated to time, but in some ways, we both still feel like December was just yesterday.

Life without Kamri is empty. There is a Kamri-sized hole in both of us and no matter how hard we try, it cannot be filled. We’ve tried. Trust me when I say that no material object (retail therapy is a thing), travel, time spent with family, hours of mindlessly watching television, walk outside, or house project can fill the hole that our baby left behind. It’s just hollow. I miss my daughter with every ounce of my body and mind and soul. It is a physical pain, a harsh ache that we both carry around with us. It hurts. It hurts so deeply. Some days, I would rather not wake up. I would rather just be with her. Everyday, we pray that Jesus would just come back and reconcile all that is broken and bring His creation into eternity. Everyday, I beg Jesus to come back so that we can be with Kamri again. We are told that the sharp ache will ease with time, but it is okay to say that now is not that time. For now, we are empty.

We both have said the following… “I feel like a shell of the person I used to be.” We think back to our lives before Kamri and that feels like a lifetime ago. We both feel like completely different people and we are. Kamri changed our lives for the better, but the pain of losing her shed off any remains of the people we used to be. We look back at pictures and videos of us before she was born, leading up to her birth, and think “we were so naive. we had no idea.”

Coming back home has been one of the hardest things. We found out we were pregnant one week after we signed the papers on this house and moved in. Our entire experience in this house has been marked by the expectation that we’d be raising Kamri here. We spent the last year working so hard to make this house into the home that we would bring our baby back to. All of a sudden, it feels too big. Too empty. Too cold. The first thing we did our first night back at home (we’d been staying at my brother’s house during Kamri’s month in CHOP) the day after she died was turn the heat way up, all the lights on in the house, and light every candle we could find. Now, we are faced with a house that was always supposed to be Kamri’s house, but never will be. We’ve felt the urge to change it. We are such different people now and it no longer feels right that the house looks like “the house we were supposed to bring her back to”. Life has to move forward and as we do, it only feels right that our house does too. It has to look different, feel different alongside us. So, true to form, we’ve taken on a few house projects. Someday, I’ll share them on here.

Let’s talk about God for a minute. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again… you can be human and love Jesus. You can experience all of the human emotions and still have a relationship with the King of the world. God is not interested in anything but authenticity. Thank goodness, because that’s where we’re at right now. The way we can best describe it is this: Our faith is stronger than ever, but we’ve been battered. We walked through (and are still walking through) what feels like the fires of hell and you don’t come out of something like that all in one piece. Or, at the very least, looking the same and thinking the same. We trust God, but we are not happy. We know that God has a plan, but so far, from where we’re standing… this one sucks. We know that God is good and God is here. But this does not feel good and we could not feel more isolated. We are angry, we are confused, we are hurt, and we are lost. And God is still good. It’s okay for both of those things to be true at the same time.

The only thing that makes any of this bearable is that we know without even a SHADOW of a doubt where Kamri is. The Savior of the world died for our sins and because of that Kamri is with Him now. Jesus is holding our daughter and we have not one single doubt that we will get to hold her again someday too. I don’t know how people do this without that hope. Without that assurance that this life here on Earth is not the end of the story. There is another chapter that extends throughout eternity. We know that Kamri is in heaven. She’s loving life “up” there! It’s Mommy and Daddy that are a wreck. And just like any parent, I would much rather us be in pain if it means that Kamri is happy and whole. And we know she is. Someday, we can’t wait to see what she looks like in beautiful perfection… and not a tube or wire in sight.

Hi, sweet Kamri. You are two months old today! We love you, sweet girl. Mommy and Daddy miss you with everything in us. I would give anything… ANYTHING… to see you and hold you and kiss you again, but for now, God is calling us to keep living here. Someday, sweet girl. It will be the best day of my life when I get to be with you and Jesus again. I love you, Kamri Blaire.

Kamri Sticking Her Tongue Out

26 Comments

  1. Leslie, thank you for sharing! You and Mitch continue to be in my prayers !

  2. Leslie and Mitch,
    Please hang in there. I cannot imagine the pain that you feel. I only know that God is the only one who can fill the hole in your heart. Turn to him with all your heart and he will heal you!
    Margie
    Hugs, hugs, hugs 💔💕💙

  3. I pray for moments when you KNOW the encouragement you are to others.

  4. Kathy Raduszewski

    I’m so glad you’re checking in. I’ve thought about you and hoped for your peace. You really have a gift, honey. Your writing helps me to understand, transforms me, keeps me in check, lets me not forget. And I hope it continues to be your guide and a calming outlet for you. I’m thinking the good Lord has something special in store for you and when it surfaces it will be grand. For you are good and kind and just, and you will be rewarded. Just keep us all posted when it happens, because I will be there, waiting to read each and every word. God bless. I’m thinking of you.

  5. I pray for you both every day. I can’t imagine how empty you must feel. Knowing that God is in control is the only way I can imagine getting through this time. Blessings and Prayers.

  6. It is difficult for a long time….maybe in some ways forever. It will seem that everyone else is having their normal lives, and you are not. How can that be? But it is, and it is hard to understand. People don’t know quite what to say, so there are awkward silences. Friends are hesitant to share their good news, or their pregnancies, another thing to set you apart. But time…time. The pain becomes a little less painful….still there but bearable. There will be unbearable moments, but they will be moments. ( like the first time you hold someone else’s baby). I identify with your pain. I too have walked that road. You will survive and be stronger, more compassionate, more empathetic. Be kind to yourselves. God bless you.

  7. Few words – just love for you and more respect and admiration each time I’m blessed by your willingness to be real when you share. Jesus is safe to trust and I am grateful to be your friend. Continuing to hold you both and your beloveds close to my heart as you are lifted before the throne of God. XOXO

  8. Thank you for sharing, I’ve thought so much about all of you for the past month. I wish there were words to comfort you but I know there are none. I can only wish you peace and healing. Your baby girl is beautiful and I wish she were here with you where she belongs. Sending love prayers from the Cape May Sweeney family. 💔

  9. Leslie,
    Although we have never met I followed Kamri’s story and your frequent updates. Praying you and your husband would bring your little girl home.
    My son, Everett, was born on December 23, 2016, and like you, and every parent, I expected to bring home a healthy baby. on December 27, 2016 Everett was admitted to CHOP and we were informed he would need surgery at 7 days old. We had no idea his kidneys and bladder were affected by a condition that I can now recite as if I were writing a medical textbook.
    From one mother to another, I prayed hard. HARD for your baby girl. I think about her often and when I celebrate Everett’s milestones I think of Kamri.
    Please know that people you have never met think of your little girl. Her memory lives on. I think of you and your husband and I pray for you.

  10. Leslie and Mitch – we pray for you and your family everyday. We pray for peace, comfort and healing. Thank you for continuing to share as I read your posts it helps to remind me that despite what happens God is with us even though we don’t understand. Your faith is an amazing model for me.
    Denise

  11. Leslie & Mitch
    I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine the pain you are going through. I will be keeping you and your sweet baby in my prayers.

    Cat

  12. You are on a journey that there is no map for. Keep your eye out and your heart open for the ‘angels’ along the way. My wish for you is strength for today and bright hope for the tomorrows.

  13. Leslie, thank you so much for sharing yourselves. That awkward moment when we cautiously ask how you are is answered. We mourn with you, we cry with you and are mad with you too. But you are so right, without the hope and love of Jesus enduring this pain is unthinkable. Our prayers are with you continually for a peace that surpasses all understanding.

  14. Sharon O'Shaughnessy

    Oh, Les — Rachel and I pray for you and your family every day. One day, a few years ago, a classmate of Rachel’s passed away. He was a very happy guy, confined to a wheelchair and non-verbal, but his spirit was broad and contagious. I struggled with how to tell Rachel that he had died. She had been in school with him for years, and they were pals.

    So, finally, at bedtime, I got up the courage to tell her, gently, that he had passed away and she would not see him at school any more. I was expecting tears, or for her not to understand…but her reaction could not have been more different. Her whole face broke into a radiant grin, and she said, “Mom! Now Matt can walk and play just like everybody else!” And she snuggled off to sleep knowing her friend was whole and happy in the arms of the Lord.

    I know it’s hard. I know it sucks. But how right you are when you say that you don’t know how anyone can live through pain like losing a child without a deep and abiding faith. Hold onto that, and know that Kamri’s love has worked in your heart, and changed you, and someday you will use the compassion that you have gained in ways that will help this world be a better place while you live your life until you see your precious daughter again.

  15. I wish I could say something inspirational and healing to help and ease your pain even for a moment, but I cry right along with you reading your journey. I will say that your strength and grace is astonishing and it’s no wonder Hailey has done nothing but grown under your care while her youth leader at FPCA. Thinking of you and praying for you

  16. Leslie & Mitch,
    Thank you for sharing you “how are you guys doing” update. Your story is and will always be a blessing to many and forever be a “Testimony” for all to read. God WILL heal that emptiness and hole you are both feeling. Continue to hold on to Jesus as you both have been doing as HE is the only one that brings healing. Continue to turn to Him gir comgort and peace as He loves you and know what you are going. through.
    Thank you for keeping us all up to date with your blog. My prayers are with you both.
    Love you much…Titi Esther & Uncle Jim

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