Rory’s Birthday = Kid’s Day

After Rory’s death, we were quickly confronted with what to do on her birthday.

How do we celebrate Rory, without her?

We did a service project with help from family and friends and donated toys to Primary Children’s Hospital.

Then we also got each of the boys a present and said, “Happy Kid’s Day!”

Our day hasn’t changed much from that first year.

We do some sort of service and we celebrate Kid’s Day.

We wanted activities we could continue to do as the boys grew up, moved away, and had kids of their own.

Our hope is that someday as we celebrate Kid’s Day with our boys’ children, we can say,

“This is in honor of your Aunt Rory. She was a pretty dang awesome girl! Let me tell you a story about her.”

Grew, Hoped, Tried.

In the weeks after Rory’s death, I recorded memories.

I wanted it in my voice.

How I remembered my baby girl.

I looked at some of the videos for the first time the other day.

It spoke to me in two ways.

One, I miss Rory! I want a million more memories. At least one for every day I’ve been without her these three years.

Two, I’m not that same Stephanie. I feel like a lifetime has passed in some ways. In those videos I was engulfed in the flames of grief. As flames have turned to embers, I’m emerging reshaped. In almost every aspect of my life.

Who and how I love.

My relationship with God.

The truly important things in my life.





The importance Grace in my life.

Amanda Gorman’s inaugural words rang true to me:

“That even as we grieved, we grew

That even as we hurt, we hoped

That even as we tired, we tried”

Grieved, hurt, tired.

Grew, hoped, tried.

That encapsulates my last three years.

If the World was Ending

I wish I had a different life.

I just wish life was easier.

Those thoughts have been scrolling through my mind the last week.

I want Rory here.

I want to feel complete.

I want to feel hope.

It takes a lot of effort to get out of that headspace for me. Daily effort. Sometimes multiple times during the day effort.

Yesterday I was listening to a song about if the world was ending.

It removed my mind from the wishful future to the present.

If the world was ending, what would I think about my life right now? What would I wish I was doing differently? Or more of? Who do I wish was here?

One of the side effects of Rory’s death was a change in priorities.

Things that seemed important, lost their importance.

Time was a precious commodity. I had no idea how precious and limited it was.

But I’m left today with a better balanced present. (Well, COVID-19 has left the balanced skewed.)

If the world was ending, I’m exactly where I’d want to be. With the people I want to be with.

The future is so uncertain. The things I planned for, hoped for, work toward, feel out of my grasp. Like reaching for a raft that keeps floating farther and farther away.

But today. Today! I’m going to make it a goal to enjoy being in the water with those I love before I look toward the raft again.

If the world was ending… What would you want in your life?

Chocolate Milk and Regrets

Rory loved chocolate milk.

She wanted to drink it so often we bought Nesquik mix so she would have extra vitamins and minerals.

The day she died she asked me for chocolate milk.

Is there a worse thing for someone who’s throwing up to drink???

I said, “The second you’re better I will get you chocolate milk. The real kind from the store.”


I wish I would’ve given her the chocolate milk.

I’m so sad she missed the opportunity to have one last sip of the drink she loved so much.

If I could give people advise from this new life, one would definitely be to live as closely as you can to no regrets.

It was something I learned my first semester at college and I took it to heart. I wasn’t perfect. I’ve made lots mistakes, but I try so hard to live with no regrets.

Tomorrow isn’t promised.

Take the opportunities that speak to you.

Make time for love.

Watch a show you might not like if it means you get to spend a couple more hours with your loved one.

Don’t wait to make the perfect batch of cookies when you feel like you need to visit someone. Just go.

Tell people you love them. Frequently.

Give compliments freely.

Whether we live to 80 or 8, life is too short.

Spread all the love you can.

With no regrets.

For a Moment, She’s Back

For a very long time, every morning, I’d wake up and the realization would sink in again.

Rory is gone.

It wasn’t a nightmare.

It’s real.

She’s not coming back.

It’s a hard realization to get hit with every day.

The hit isn’t as hard as it used to be. I still feel it every morning. Now, I mostly tell her how much I miss her.

Last night I had a dream. (I know I keep telling you about dreams! Sorry!)

We were on a cruise as a family and Rory showed up.

She came back to us in all her 8-year-old glory!

She ran up and held my hand.

I stared at her for a minute. Then I asked around to no one in particular, “Is she here to stay?”

Then I seemed to get a confirmation.

I told everyone as we walked. “It took two years but we got it. We finally got our miracle. She was gone but she came back to us.”

I couldn’t help but spread the word to everyone we saw. I was elated! She was back!

It took two years, but she was back.

I couldn’t let her go. I just kept holding her hand, giving her hugs.

Talking to her.

Loving on her.

Listening to her.

Then I woke up.

Normally a dream like that sends me spiraling. Because I miss her so dang much.

This morning, I was grateful to have a few minutes with her. Even if it was just all in my head.

To feel her close to me.

To hear her laugh and have fun.

To have my family whole.

To imagine what our reunion might be.

It was a beautiful few minutes.

Love you, Baby Girl.