Our lives were forever changed the day we lost Corey. He was an amazing man who loved the Lord and his family with all that he was. The pain of losing him is like no other. Our only comfort comes from knowing we will see him again someday.

I have moved the slideshow played at Corey's service to it's own post page above, titled "Corey's Memorial Service - August 10, 2010"

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve: Justice and Grace

       It is a Christmas tradition in my family to attend a Candlelight service on Christmas Eve. When I was a little girl my mom would take my sister and I. We'd get all dressed up and do our best to sit still through the hour long service as we tried to contain our excitement about the presents that were waiting for us back at the house. Santa always made a stop by my mom's house on Christmas eve since we spent Christmas morning at my Dad's (my parents divorced when I was 3).  Every Christmas eve was celebrated with my mom and Christmas morning at my dad's.
      This year, like many others, we attended the candlelight service at the same church I grew up in. It's the same place where Corey and I met and were married. We always enjoy going back there, especially on Christmas eve because many of our friends from our youth group days (during high school) are also in town for Christmas and we get to catch up after the service. The only difference this year was that I was there as a single mom without my other half. I've mentioned before that doing things and going places that were a part of our life together usually bring me more comfort than sorrow. Tonight was really no different in that way. I felt like God met me there in my grief and reminded me of his great love for me, giving me 'hints' of Corey throughout the service.
       The advent candles were lit and some verses were read. It was a sweet moment when I heard the familiar verses from Isaiah being read that I have posted under Corey's picture on the home page of my blog (Isaiah 60:19-20). I felt like God led me to those verses back in October when I was in the midst of writing my "Out of the Darkness" post. I don't believe I had read or heard them before that instance and I can't recall ever hearing them read at church or spoken in the context of Christmas, so it took me a bit by surprise... I knew that it was a gift of comfort from God meant just for me. When we sang the old familiar Christmas hymns that night I couldn't help but feel closer to Corey, knowing that he was also celebrating Jesus's birthday, in Jesus's very presence! I had never really thought much about what Christmas in heaven must be like until this year. What a grande celebration it must be!
        Praising God in the midst of my tragedy has not been difficult. Because worshiping God was something that Corey and I did here on earth together, it brings me comfort knowing that it is still something we can do together...despite our separation. He might be in heaven, but we are unified in our love for Christ. It brings me so much joy as I visualize him in God's presence free from the burdens of this world. I have had moments of such joy in the midst of my sorrow that outside of being a gift from God, I would never know.
         The message that evening was a bit "heavy" compared to the typical Christmas messages I've heard in the past. It was shared with more of an intellectual style which was definitely Corey's forte. I'd never heard this pastor speak as he is fairly new to the church but I found him interesting to listen to. The basic gist of his message was explaining God's plan of salvation through Jesus.  He talked about God's options in dealing with humanity and how God's answer for saving humanity fits with his character, particularly the attributes of justice and grace.  The pastors words immediately brought me back to an email Corey had written to one of his co-workers just a week before his death.  His coworker sent it to me with the comment that it was just "one of the examples of how passionate Corey was about his beliefs."  The two of them were dialoging back and forth about how we are not saved by our own efforts (good works getting us into heaven) but by God's saving work through Christ. The message on Christmas eve was so reflective of Corey and the Truth that he was passionate about. I'm including his email below. I always admired his confidence in talking with others about his beliefs and his ability to use logic and reason. He was very smart.  Here's his email. I have inserted some bits in brackets to give further explanation. If you take the time to read all the way to the bottom, you'll get a chuckle from the P.S. comment and will know for certain that Corey wrote this ;)  I miss him so much.
So couple quick thoughts to share…
     Being a good person, doing good, etc. is expected {of someone who claims to be "in Christ", a Christian}, not really debatable.  The reason or cause of the good works is {debatable}. 
On the one hand, you have Christianity, which teaches/explains that the good works we do as Christians, are because of our having been “born again”or “regenerated”through our believing in Jesus to save us.  In other words, Christianity teaches that “all have sinned and fallen short of the righteousness of God” and require (need, cannot do without) being made right with God.  
It’s this saving work of God that makes us right with God.
    On the other hand, you have all, yep all other world religions that teach that a right standing with God is “earned” (through doing good works) and not given”.
    You may be thinking that one belief over another is arrogant, exclusive.  A very normal reaction to the exclusivity factor.  (One of the) responses to that problem is laid out in this scenario:
The God of the Bible could:
  • Save everyone
  • Save no-one
  • or Save some people...
  • Further, If God chose to save “some”, he could include some factor of choice, which would actually put more ppl at jeopardy, or he could “ensure” the saving of some.
Christians vary about which option is true, but to me and many others throughout 2000 yrs of history, the Bible is very clear that the last option is the only satisfactory choice that can navigate through a number of really tough dilemmas about the definition of “Justice” and “Grace”.
     It’s more about taking the time to examine belief systems, and putting aside any buzz phrases or loaded statements.  I can tell you I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching my views and other views, have changed my mind at times, and have a better understanding having done the exercise. 
 Unfortunately, some of the big questions we touched on can’t be fully talked through in short conversations, I can tell you that much. 
 Talk to you tomorrow… Gotta go. 
 One of the most self-convicting, introspection worthy statements I keep coming back to is this one (which you para-phrased):
 ''The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply find unbelievable.''
 Genesis Chapter 3 (the fall of man), Romans 8 and 9 (God’s sovereign choice) are good places to start, also Jn. 6:44 
 P.S. Defending Christianity through philosophy, science, history, etc is probably my favorite topic.  Kioti vs. John Deere doesn’t even hold a candle to it!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lessons in balloon flight

        Today the girls and I went to visit Corey's grave before heading out of town for Christmas. This was the girls' first time visiting the cemetery since Corey's burial. The visit didn't seem to bring them down which I was pleased about. I had talked to them on several occasions about my plans to take them to see "Daddy's stone." They seemed fine with it and had actually been wanting to send up (via balloons) a Reese's peanut butter cup to Daddy since Halloween. We had saved one for him from their candy stashes :) Abigail also decided that she wanted to send up a white powdered donut along with it. That was another one of Corey's favorite treats and it surprised me a bit that she remembered and thought to include this. I bought a box on Wednesday night and opened the box the next morning, giving one to each of the girls to eat. I started to eat one and set it on the table next to the open box. I returned to my packing. A while later when we were getting ready to leave the house I went to grab the donuts only to find an empty box with crumbs and white powder spread everywhere. Bella (our dog) had seized the opportunity to devour the 9 or so remaining donuts. I was livid and felt horrible telling Abi that Bella had finished off the box. She took it well. I'm sure Corey had a good laugh up in heaven watching Bella wolf down a boxful of donuts. We sprinkled some of the remaining powder into the basket with the Reese's cup.  I had purchased 10 pink and red colored heart balloons in hopes that they would be enough to lift off the treats.
        I had also spent some time on Wednesday, the day before, getting crafty with some silk poinsettias and my hot glue gun. I had fun putting together a "swag," I guess you could call it, to lay across the top of Corey's stone.  Here are some pictures. I might have gone a little over the top with the ribbons, but I thought it turned out alright. I really wanted something special for Corey that I had made for him. Abigail helped clean off the snow on top of the stone with her mittens and I placed the arrangement on top.
         I attached the gold star because Corey always liked having the star on top of our Christmas tree. (I always preferred the angel, so we alternated each year as a compromise).  Also, Corey's Mema Gladys (his grandma) had sent the girls and I some Christmas gifts a few weeks back. She included a gold glittery star ornament for Corey to put on our tree. I was touched by the thoughtfulness and it made me happy that he was included too.  I added the Hope ornament because although Corey may have lost all hope for his life here, I know that he had much hope and faith in God's Truth and in the new and glorious life he would have with God in Heaven.
I attached the balloons to the basket and got my video camera ready to capture the lift off. There was a pretty good wind so I was hopeful we would be successful. We counted down and the girls let go of the balloon strings. Ten balloons wasn't enough and the basket dragged along the ground as the wind carried our "care package" off across the field.  I was able to retrieve it before it got too far and we decided we would all split the Reese's cup and just let the balloons go. Unfortunately, we were a bit too close to the trees and all but 3 balloons got snagged in the branches. Oops. I've learned a few things about balloon flight for the next time ;) I reassured the girls that Daddy has all the powdered donuts, Reese's cups, and balloons that he wants up in Heaven and that he knows we love him. I loaded the girls in the car and headed back home. It felt like it was the right thing to do to include Corey in some way in our Christmas this year.  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

An early Christmas gift

       The girls and I were able to enjoy the festivities of Liberty Mutual's holiday party today. Every year the company puts on the party for their I/T employees and their families. Last year was the first year Corey brought the girls and I.  We made some really fun memories...the girls had their picture taken with Santa, made crafts, saw a magic show, listened to Wayne from Maine (folk singer for kids) and even got to decorate a gingerbread cookie.  They served us pastries for breakfast and a full lunch. I've included some pictures from last year. A couple of weeks ago I remembered that the party was probably coming up soon but with Corey no longer working at Liberty, we wouldn't be going this year.  I was a little bummed, but life goes on.
        Bob, my friend Sarah's husband works for Liberty.  Thanks to their thoughtfulness we were able to go as their guests after Bob pulled some strings last week with the admin coordinating the event. This was pretty cool considering people get turned away from this party...you have to sign up quite a bit in advance and space is limited.  We had a great time, plenty of fun and then some...for daddy.  We got our picture taken with Santa again (myself included). The girls got to decorate gingerbread cookies, make beaded crafts, listen to Wayne from Maine, watch the magic show and even enjoy a couple of new activities this year.  There was also a DJ and let me just say, my girls are quite the dancers :) They were having such a ball.  It made me really happy to see them having so much fun and laughter.  I think the highlight for me other than seeing the girls joy was getting to catch up with coworkers from my days working at Liberty before Abigail was born.  I also was able to connect with some of Corey's coworkers who I have gotten to know over the years.  Staying connected with people Corey knew and liked really helps me to feel close to him. I find it really interesting how people can grieve so differently.  Some people find it painful to do things once shared with their loved one who has passed on.  For me, doing things that we used to do together and going to places we went, while it holds some sadness, seems to make me feel better. I guess it is my way of keeping Corey's memory alive for myself and the girls. I'm trying to find new ways to keep his memory alive and help the girls remember the kind of person their daddy was. If any of you have any ideas for us, please feel free to share them.
        I would encourage all of you, especially with the Christmas season upon us which for many will mean extra time with loved ones, take time to delight in the people who are closest to your heart. Our actions usually follow our thoughts, so a good place to start would be to think about the things that you know you'd miss if that person was no longer a part of your life.  I wish I had done this more when Corey was still with us. When life is hard, as it was for us as a couple these last few years, it wasn't always such an easy thing to see the good. I'm going to try to be more deliberate about this going forward!

Enjoy the pics!

Last year - 2009

And this year - 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

4 months from good-bye

        It was Wednesday morning, August 4, 2010.  I had gotten up for the day prepared to be productive around the house since the girls were away in VT with Grandma.  I felt so overwhelmed with all the things I wanted to try to get done that I didn't know where to start.  Before I headed off running in all different directions, I decided I would give God a few minutes of my time and pray and ask Him for direction.  Just so you don't get the wrong idea...I'm no spiritual superwoman...I don't do this often enough...usually I feel the nudge to start my day praying and I ignore it and go on ahead running in all those different directions ;)  I was distracted by my to do list as I picked up reading where I had last left off in the book of John. While reading, the phone rang.  It was my friend Stacy on the other end who was scheduled to have her 20-week ultrasound that morning.  I had told her to call me when she found out if the baby was a boy or a girl.  She was really hoping for a girl.  She was crying as she told me that she needed me to be praying as some things with the baby were not looking good on the ultrasound. They had just finished with the appointment and the ultrasound tech wouldn't tell them anything.  They were being sent directly over to the OBs office for more information.  It wasn't looking good.  Stacy told me the baby was a girl just as she had hoped.  I told her I would be praying and to call me when she knew more.
        As I prepared to pray I reflected over the 2 weeks prior to that day. God had been moving in Stacy's life over those 2 weeks in some really cool ways.  He had revealed himself as a faithful provider on at least 3 separate and very visible instances in that short period of time. Prayers for a much needed computer, after Stacy's had broken were answered a couple of days later when someone gave her a like-new netbook with a flat screen monitor, mouse, and keyboard that they just wanted to bless someone else with... Her husband's prayer for new work boots that were much needed for his job was answered when new boots in his size were left in their van as a gift during that 2-week period.  They had no idea who the anonymous giver was but knew it was God answering a need.  Prayers for new clothes that were needed for their oldest daughter. A package arrived with new outfits for Desirae inside!  Undeniable answers from God, all in such a short period of time. I was amazed by the things Stacy was sharing with me and honestly I was somewhat envious.  How does one get God to answer prayers so specific as God was answering Stacy's? and so favorably?  Stacy and I had talked, wondering what God might be up to...the answer was about to come.
        That morning after praying for Stacy I told God that I wanted to be a part of what He was doing.  If that was what it was going to take for him to be active and visible in my life like he was in Stacy's, then I wanted it.  I told Him that I wanted to be where He was moving.  I asked him to remove the distractions in my life so I could focus on where he was moving and be a part of it.  (All the clutter in my home and unfinished projects were the "distractions" I was thinking of) After I finished praying I remember feeling like I had jipped God that morning with such a short quiet time and I felt bad for being so distracted.  I felt like my attempt to connect with Him was feeble and insignificant.  Little did I know He was listening and preparing to answer me. Little did I know that tragedy was about to strike, for Stacy and for myself.  Little did I know that he was preparing my heart to be in a place of willing acceptance of what was to come.
        Not much longer after that the phone rang.  It was Stacy again...just as upset as during the previous phone conversation.  She sobbed as she told me "The baby's not going to live."  She went on to tell me the condition the doctor suspected the baby had which would later be confirmed the following day at Maine Medical Center.  Stacy and I both knew at that moment that this was what God had been preparing her for.  He had been showing her how faithful he was so that when this horrible news came she would be that much more able to trust him with her unborn daughter's life and with the details of the difficult journey that lay ahead. I prayed for Stacy throughout that day and spent the evening with her that night.  We talked about the circumstances. I remember her saying, "God's got this covered." We talked about how God holds life and death in his hands.  I was consumed with sorrow and concern for my friend knowing that she would be carrying her baby to term with the knowledge that her daughter would not live long...maybe not at all outside the womb.
        The next evening, Thursday, August 5th, just twenty-four hours later I got the worst phone call I've ever received in my life. Corey was on the other end.  He was audibly upset and told me about chilling plans that he had made.  I didn't know it until later that he was calling to say his goodbyes.  He told me he loved me and that he loved the girls very much.  He told me how strong he thought I was.  He told me he was tired.  I tried to reach him.  I told him that he was sick, that this was the illness making him think this way.  I tried to tell him to hold on, that I was going to leave right away to drive the 90 minutes that it would take to be with him and that I would be right by his side to work through things with him. That we would do it together. That I loved him.  Minutes later he was gone. I was left hanging on the other end of the phone not knowing his condition, not knowing if he had been successful in his attempt to end his pain.  I knelt down on the ground amidst pine needles, where I had been standing with cell phone in hand, and began to pray, pleading with God to spare his life. For a painful 90 minutes I waited for someone to tell me something, anything.  The police dispatcher wouldn't give me any information. I knew the situation looked bleak when they were trying to get me to give them my location so they could send an officer over to where I was. I begged the state trooper to tell me over the phone if my husband was dead or alive. I didn't want to wait any longer just so the officer could tell me in person what I knew in my heart I was going to hear.  "I'm sorry to tell you that your husband passed this evening," were Sergeant Applebee's words to me.  Sadly, that difficult 90-minute wait had given me time to prepare for those words.
        Reflecting back over the last few years, I really thought Corey had already hit bottom with his depression. I actually thought things were leveling out for Him, that a change in job positions was the "fix" he needed, and perhaps he was even on his way up out of the valley.  However, for at least a couple of years the question remained in my heart, "What was I going to have to suffer through with Corey for God to bring him out of this valley?"  Often, as many of you have experienced, God uses difficult circumstances to change us.  He puts us through the fire to refine who we are.  For those who are followers of Christ, God desires to make us more like Jesus. I was willing to suffer through whatever it was going to take for Corey to be healed, but I never thought it would be his death.  I am so sad God did not allow another way. I doubt that I'll ever understand the why in all of this until I reach heaven.  The words Stacy and I had spoken in her kitchen the night before came right back to me after finding out Corey had passed away.  God has got this covered.  He holds life and death in his hands.  I know that this tragedy, that Stacy's tragedy are a result of this fallen and decaying world we live in.  The death of Corey and the death of Rachel were not what God wanted.  Sometimes I forget this and tell myself that this was God's will, but all this loss is really a result of this sin-filled world we live in.  God foreknew what was to come, but that doesn't mean it was his will.  As I stated in my eulogy for Corey, in the beginning God gave man a choice...to choose God's way or his own way...Adam and Eve chose their own way and death was the result.  Separation from God, pain and heartache, sickness and decay are the results.  Thanks be to God that he provides a way for us to have life and a restored relationship with Him through the sacrificial death of his son Jesus. God brings life out of death, triumph out of trouble and glory follows suffering. Thankfully in God's goodness he has promised to bring beauty out of the most horrific circumstances. "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28  I continue to cling to this promise. 
        God has not promised us that life will be easy when we choose to follow Jesus. He promises us times of trouble. John 16:33 says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." The good news is that He will never leave or forsake us and our reward is eternal life with God in paradise.  I just finished reading another book by Elisabeth Elliot titled The Path of Loneliness.  Elisabeth lost her first 2 husbands, one to murder as a missionary, and the other to cancer.  She is married again now to her third husband. Who better to share with me about the path of loneliness than someone such as herself. In one of the chapters Elliot talks about the glory of sacrifice. She says, "God could not more fully and plainly show us the glorious truth of life out of death than in the paradoxes of Jesus' life and death.  Is it not clear to us that the sacrifice of Calvary was not a tragedy but the release of life and power?...How hard it is to believe that our own self-offering to Him will work in the same way." I personally have found such release and peace in offering up to God my suffering...the pain of the loss of my husband. My willingness to do this comes out of gratitude for the gift that God gave, the gift of his son so that I could know Him intimately.  Elisabeth explains the 'paradoxes' of Jesus' life and death..."After the crucifixion came the resurrection.  After the resurrection, the ascension.  Because Jesus wore a crown of thorns, He now wears a crown of glory.  Because He became poor, He now sits enthroned.  Because He made himself of no reputation, He now has a name which is above every name.  Because He was willing to become a slave, He is now master of everything.  Because He was obedient to death, He is Lord of life and holds the keys of hell and of death. Because He made himself of no reputation, every knee will someday bow before Him. Every renunciation led to glory."  I am amazed at the wonder of God's ways! and how amazing still that He wants me to share in what He is doing. Isaiah 55:8 - "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord." People have asked me how I can be so strong through my circumstances. I can take no credit. It is because of my relationship with God through his son Jesus. This isn't to say that every day is an easy one...some are pretty tough to get through. I love this quote from Elliot's book that says, "It often happens that those whose loss is greatest receive the greatest share of grace, mercy, and peace. This does not mean that they never cry, of course. But they do not collapse. Those who only watch and pray and try to put themselves in the place of the bereaved find it almost unendurable. Sometimes they weep uncontrollably, for their imaginations never include the grace." Until you have experienced what God is capable of giving in the midst of a deep valley, you won't be able to fully understand it.  
       Four months ago today, on August 10th, along with friends and family, I laid Corey's earthly body to rest. We celebrated his life and said our goodbyes. Yesterday, December 9th, Stacy and Matt laid their sweet baby Rachel to rest and said their goodbyes. While there are certainly differences, the connections between our circumstances bring me comfort because I can see God's hand in all of this.  I think the 2 greatest losses that I could have suffered at this point in my life would be the loss of one of my kids or the loss of my husband.  Stacy and I have experienced both of these...such huge losses over these past 4 months.  I wish Stacy was not having to endure the grief that she is, but how thankful I am to have been given the gift of a friend who knows the pain of such horrible loss.  How like God it is to provide me with a close friend who understands what it is like to plan a funeral for someone so close to your heart at such a young age, who understands the sad confusion of not understanding why and knowing it might be a very long wait for the answer.  The verse in 2 Corinthians (1:4) rings true when it says He "...comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."  God has been and continues to be my faithful provider and comforter. He has a plan greater than my human mind can conceive and I draw my strength from his good promises.

1 Corinthians 2:9 ~ "'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.'"
An additional note:  If you would like to read more about Stacy's journey you can check out her blog at www.thegiftofrachelslife.blogspot.com.  It is quite an inspiring story!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Set in stone- It is finished!

I was thrilled to get an email first thing this morning telling me Corey's headstone had been placed at the cemetery. I've been eagerly waiting to see it finished. I've included some pics. I think I talked a little about the stone in a prior post.  Basically, I decided to go with a more natural looking stone since I thought that was more reflective of Corey's style...he sure did love working with stone, having built several stone walls in our yard. He also really enjoyed moving rocks around the yard with his tractor ;) The stone has a water basin carved into the top of it. Some people have referred to this as a bird bath; however, I like to think of it as a reflecting pool...it sounds much nicer ;) and I think it will add a peaceful touch to his resting place. Yes, I might have to bring a toothbrush to clean off bird poop when I visit, but I'm okay with that ;)  I am going to try to get some type of water plant perhaps to place in it when the weather is warmer.  The top of the stone drops off and forms what I think makes a nice place to sit. I'm pleased with how the engraving turned out. I want to express a special thanks to Lisa, Karen, and Heidi from Seacoast Memorials who helped me through this process with much time and care. Lisa did a fabulous job on the engraving especially considering the rough and uneven surface she had to work with. They all worked hard to honor my request to have the stone placed before snowfall. Having it finished helps give me some closure and it makes me feel good to know Corey's grave will be marked in time for the winter's snow covering.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

One down, many more "firsts" to go...

     Well, the girls and I made it through our first major holiday without Corey. I remarked to a friend how ironic it was that the first holiday without him was Thanksgiving...a holiday all about being thankful.  There sure are plenty of things in our life right now that are hard to be thankful about.  At the same time, it was good that the holiday provided me, in the midst of my loss, with the opportunity to be thinking about what I am thankful for.  God has poured his blessings into my life, particularly over these last 4 months.  I have been so blessed with wonderful family and friends who have supported me in ways I couldn't have asked for.  Let's see, a typical week for the girls and I involves about 4 to 5 people coming into our house to help me keep up with laundry, cleaning and to give me a break from the girls (as much as I love them!).  I even get foot rubs sometimes!  During the months of August through November there were only 2 weekends when I didn't have someone visiting (other than a couple of weekends when the girls and I went away).  I have had numerous family and friends travel from VT and elsewhere to visit the girls and I and to help keep us busy, as the weekends are the hardest point in the week for me.  Some of our visitors were friends from my high school and college days who I had lost touch with for several years.  Then last month a group of about 10 people from church descended on our home to help get the outside of our house ready for winter.  They cleaned up my flower beds, raked, washed windows, and lots more. The church also sent over a contractor to finish up various carpentry projects that Corey hadn't had a chance to get completed.  All of this makes me feel very loved and not so alone in this journey.  I am also grateful for all the emails I get from you all reminding me that you are thinking and praying for us.  I know I have not responded back to many of you.  This is something I have had a bit of trouble keeping up with (along with my blogging  ;)), but please know that your notes are ever so helpful in reminding me that the girls and I have not been forgotten.
    My grief is still very present as is the girls'. I suppose this is to be expected, however, given that we are in the midst of the holiday season and winter is setting in. At least a couple times a week Abi or Ali will tell me they miss daddy. They have been watching home videos a lot over the past week. I woke up to hear Corey's voice on one of the videos they were watching one morning last week. It was really nice :) Hearing a loved ones voice sure isn't something we think to appreciate, or at least it wasn't for me until it is now no longer a part of my life. I continue to have moments where I just can't hold the tears back thinking about how much I miss Corey.  I've had my cell phone ring a couple of times thinking that it was going to be him on the other end, forgetting for a second or two that he is no longer with us. I often get sad at the thought that he is never going to walk through the door into our kitchen after a day at work. Despite knowing I will see Corey again in Heaven, the finality of death is so hard to accept some days here on this earth.
     From everything I've read about grief, what we are experiencing is very normal (so please don't worry about us). Abigail and I have been seeing a wonderful counselor who is helping us to work through the loss and adjust to life.  She is so knowledgeable and is trained in a variety of therapies which are benefiting us greatly. Allison will start going to see her sometime after Christmas just to be sure she is on the right track with how she is processing everything. It amazes me how much a 3 year old understands.  One day last month she just randomly asked her teacher while they were on the playground, "Is my Mommy okay?"  Her teacher told her yes and asked her why she was asking, to which Ali replied, "Because she misses daddy." It surprised me when her teacher shared this with me because I hadn't been expressing my grief in any real visible ways that week...it had been a pretty typical week for us.  Somehow kids are aware of more than we think.
     The state medical examiner's office sent me a package a couple of weeks after Corey's death. It was a compilation of materials for survivors of suicide.  They had included a 4-cd set of songs written by people who wanted to express their love for family or friends who died "before their time" as the set is titled.  I've grown to like a few of the songs.  One of the songs is called "Go East."  It was written by a mother to her daughter after the loss of her lifelong friend, Jessamyn, who died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 18 from cardiac arrest. She wrote it to reassure her daughter that "if she let herself fall into her grief, she wouldn't fall into an abyss. Though it was a great and frightening darkness, she would be held and carried by the great arms of love."  I know that it is God's great arms of love that are holding fast to the girls and I through our grief. The songwriter goes on to say, "The four directions came to me as a reassuring way to envision aspects of the path of grief..." The lyrics are below. Unfortunately the song is not on playlist.com so I couldn't include it for you to listen to here on my blog page, but if you click on the following link: http://new.music.yahoo.com/nadine-laughlin/tracks/ and then click on the play button next to "Go East" it should play the song for you.  If it doesn't, you can always go to www.rhapsody.com, sign up for a free trial membership and listen to it there. If anyone knows of any other way I could get it on my page, please let me know. I'm really only familiar with the basic, most popular gadgets.
     I share this song with the hope that it will help someone else who is grieving the loss of a loved one. It has helped me to better accept my moments of sadness and to be patient with myself. They say the grief will get less intense as time passes...I hope "they" are right.

Go East by Nadine Laughlin

you should go east into the day
there's nothing left to do, nothing to say
but go east into the light
there's nothing in the world to make this right

you should go south into the heart
to the love that brings us here and tears us apart
go south, right into the fire
let the ashes fall and the smoke go higher

and I will walk beside you as far as I can go
let your tears baptize me as they flow
let this path of sorrow let me know
we are always together, and alone

you should go west into the dream
you don't have to know what it means
go west, right into the dark
look into the night for a guiding star

go north, into the cold
find a mountain stream and look for gold
go north, right into this loss
climb up to the top and look across

and I will fly beside you as far as I can go
let these winds baptize me as they blow
let this flight of sorrow take us home
where we're always together

let this flight of sorrow take us home
where we're always together
we are always together

Monday, November 15, 2010

Seasons of change - Fall is not easy...

        It has been a little difficult, to say the least, this year watching the seasons change. Abigail brought home a book from her school's library back in September. It was titled, Fall is Not Easy, written by Martey Kelley. I thought ya, that's appropriate for our lives right now.  It's actually a fun book however about a tree's challenge to change its colors.
        After you lose someone, life goes on...I recently told someone that I hate that because it takes me further away from my life with Corey. I just realized however that each day actually brings me closer to the new life I will share with him in Heaven for eternity! It's hard to get excited about that though because the waiting here on earth is not one bit easy. One of the aspects of Corey being in Heaven that I have actually really struggled with is the fact that I am not with him (obviously, I know). We were one and our union has been torn. A part of me has been ripped away, and it is so very painful. And I can't help but wonder who he is spending his time with up there (besides God and Jesus of course). Is there another "type" of marriage in heaven? I know it seems ridiculous but those are the thoughts going through my head. And yes, I am jealous. He was mine and I was his. (My lover is mine, and I am his. ~Song of Solomon 2:16) Of course, I know ultimately he is God's but you know what I mean. I had inscribed on the inside of his wedding band the reference from Song of Solomon chapter 8 verses 6-7 which reads, "Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love and rivers cannot sweep it away." Ya, I definitely get the jealousy thing now, at a whole new level! My friend Stacy shared with me a quote that was written by a mother who lost her child. You may have heard it. "They say that time in Heaven is compared to the 'blink of an eye' for those here on earth. Sometimes it helps me to think of my child running ahead of me in a beautiful field of wildflowers and butterflies, so caught up in what she is doing that when she looks behind her, I'll already be there." I honestly can't picture Corey running through a field of wildflowers and butterflies, but the idea of it gives me comfort.
        So if fall is this hard, I'm definitely not looking forward to winter!! I am dreading it in fact and already can't wait for spring to come. Marty Kelley has a book about that too titled "Winter Woes".  I'll have to have Abi ask her school librarian for that one.  I was down in the basement this evening trying to pull out winter coats, boots, hats, mittens and the like. I got emotional when I came across Corey's winter gear. People have told me that my grief will likely catch me off guard.  That it will often be the little things that bring me to tears, not so much the big events in life. I didn't expect to start crying over snow pants and mittens. I had some other off-season clothes for the girls to put away and came across a bin of my favorite baby clothes that I was holding on to, just in case we happened to have a third baby (we weren't planning on it, however, we hadn't really made that decision final yet).  I'll put those clothes with all the other stuff that I just can't let go of yet. For any of you who have spent any time with me in my house, I often remark about being tired of all the "clutter" we have and am really needing to clean things out.  We, like a lot of Americans, have way too much of everything...too many clothes, too many toys, and too much of everything else.  And for practical reasons, it would make a lot of sense to at least put Corey's things away.  I sure could use the extra closet space in our bedroom, but I just have not been able to bring myself to box up his clothes.  Some things take time I guess.
        Thanksgiving is next week.  The girls and I will be travelling to Vermont for the holidays this year.  I am hoping to drown out any sorrow with some retail therapy on black Friday.  I know, I don't need anymore stuff! I'll work on my Christmas shopping then :) I think the Christmas holiday will be more difficult for me than Thanksgiving, as our wedding anniversary is the day after Christmas.  I know, ouch!, that's going to be a doozy. I am trying to think and pray about how I'd like to spend the day. We would usually go away for a night or two leaving the kids with my mom. It was one of the very few times that we did get away overnight without the kids. As I mourn what I no longer have, I remind myself of how thankful I am to have even had the blessing of being married and having children with the man I love. I know in our society these days marriage is not the sacred union it once was and is undesired by many. But, I wouldn't trade my years of being Corey's wife for anything, even knowing the grief I now face.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Where to lay my Love

Well, I've already told you in a previous post how I decided on Corey's resting place.  I thought I would show you some pictures, particularly for those who live out of state. The monument company has yet to place his stone, but at my request they are planning on having it done before snowfall. Looking at the picture above, if there were a clock in the center of the picture...Corey's spot is roughly between the 4 and 6 o'clock positions - basically where that yellow dying mum is placed...don't worry, I've since removed it ;)  His stone will go about where the yellow mum is. There are 3 small evergreen trees in the distance behind the mum.  Beyond those is where the ball field once was.                                
In the pictures above and below, you can see what remains of the ball field...basically, some posts from what used to be the backstop and a wooden bench off to the left and right of that.  

Below is another view of the grave site looking toward the main road.  
The older and more populated part of the cemetery is across the street.
The cemetery is not plowed in the winter time.  However, I was pleased to find out at the meeting I had with the board members of the cemetery that the gravel road leading to Corey's grave will be plowed, as the town of Milton uses the field behind for piling excess snow from winter snow removal.  

I plan to post some pictures of Corey's stone once it has been placed.  

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The J.C.Hampton Memorial Ball Field

        I had a meeting this evening with the board of the cemetery where Corey is buried. There is an old overgrown ball field on the grounds of the cemetery, and from the moment I chose the site for Corey's burial I had a desire to see the field restored in Corey's honor.
        I remember the first few days after Corey's passing. I had so many details to attend to and so many decisions to make.  God totally carried me through those difficult days (and continues to!), and I looked to Him to lead me with each difficult decision. Thankfully, he also surrounded me with a wonderfully supportive group of family and friends who were ready and willing to help with all the details.
        Choosing Corey's burial spot was one of the biggies.  Have often do you go shopping for burial plots? This was a first for me.  I remember telling some family members that God would show me where Corey should be buried.  We went and looked at Pine Grove Cemetery in Farmington, NH.  It was a lovely place and much larger than I had realized. I was leaning towards that site, but God closed the door on that possibility when we found out that the caretaker was away until the following week and a burial in just a few days would not be possible. That left my other option, the cemetery in Milton Mills. My friend Sarah who was with me had told me that her husband Bob had played softball on a field at or next to the cemetery.  As we drove we were looking for that field as a landmark.  We came upon the cemetery but there was no ball field visible.  The country setting was beautiful. However, I wasn't feeling entirely at peace about it being the right spot since I really liked the looks of the old part of the cemetery better than the new part, which is where Corey would have to be buried.  We met the next day with John, who oversees the cemetery.  He showed me the available lots and we talked about the cemetery grounds.  He explained that the Salmon Falls River was at the edge of the field behind the lots I was considering.   I thought that was neat because Corey's job as a potter at Salmon Falls Stoneware was what brought him to NH 13+ years back.  In the far section of the overgrown field (undeveloped cemetery land) there were what looked to be fence posts.  I asked John what used to be there, and he told me that it used to be a ball field. I immediately realized that it was the same ball field we were looking for when trying to find the cemetery! It's very overgrown and what little remains are left are not visible from the main road (much of the metal fencing was stolen).  It was at that point that I remarked to John that I would love to see the field restored in Corey's honor. The softball team Corey played on this past season had actually played on this field about 3 years back. I asked John about the possibility of restoring the field if I was able to bring the resources and people together to get the work done.  John seemed very receptive to the idea.
        It was when John mentioned that Esther Culverhouse's husband was buried just a stone's throw away that I got goose bumps and knew God was confirming this was the place for Corey.  You see, Esther is Abigail's first grade teacher this year.  Just a day or so earlier, Karen, Abi's teacher from last year and a good friend of mine, mentioned that she thought Abi and Mrs. C. would be a good fit for each other because Esther had lost her husband to cancer just about 2 years back.  Karen thought Esther, in a special way, would be very sensitive to Abigail's grief and that they might help each other heal.  So when John pointed out the Culverhouse grave site nearby, Cindy, Corey's mom, and I both started to tear up.  We hugged each other and I said, "This is the place. I knew God would show me."
        A few weeks after Corey was laid to rest I was visiting his grave.  I had one of the programs from his service in my Bible and started reading through it.  As I got to the very bottom of the back page I noticed that the address for the cemetery was listed as Applebee Road.  Until reading that I hadn't known the name of the road and then it hit me that Applebee was the last name of the state trooper who had called to give me the official word that Corey had indeed died just an hour or so earlier that evening.  Again, I got goosebumps.  It was as if God was reassuring me that I had indeed chosen the right burial spot.
        In the 3 months following Corey's death I have not lost sight of my vision to see the ball field restored.  It has been a little hard getting the project rolling, but I think we are headed in the right direction! The meeting with the cemetery board this evening was the first big step where I had the opportunity to present a plan for the project.  Basic details were shared with the board in terms of what the project will entail.  If you'd like to have a look, I have placed the project plan that I prepared for the meeting on it's own page under 'important posts' (above). There were 11 individuals present at the meeting including the 6 board members and John, the president of the board.  They are a very nice group of folks!  I am pleased to have had the opportunity to meet them and grateful that they were willing to hear and consider my proposal.  At this point, the next step in the process involves them meeting to discuss what I presented and to vote on whether to allow the project to proceed.  I left the meeting feeling very positive about the possibility of a favorable outcome!
        I have had a lot of people offer help for the project and share with me connections that they have to potential resources. There seems to be a large amount of enthusiasm for this to happen. Oh and by the way, that includes Esther Culverhouse :)  She was there at the meeting tonight as well. She is eager to support the project and see the field restored, as her husband chose the spot where he would be buried because of its proximity to the old ball field. So cool!! I will be establishing a fund (probably through our church) for anyone desiring to make a donation to the J.C. Hampton Memorial Ball Field. I will post details for that as soon as they are available. It would be a tax-deductible donation if that makes it any more appealing ;) If you would like to get on board with the project and have time/a skill/or another resource to offer, please send me an email at corjilly@gmail.com or post a comment, and I can connect with you offline to talk further.
     Thanks all for your support!  I will keep you posted on the board's decision.
                                For God's glory and my husband's honor,  Jill

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Andrea completes the walk!

I had mentioned a couple weeks back that my friend Veronica's daughter, Andrea, would be walking in Corey's memory for the Out of the Darkness Walk sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  I was able to meet her as she finished the walk.  I saw another person with a camera and thought, I need to get a picture of this for the blog!  So, I ran back to my car where thankfully I had my camera, raced back and took a couple of pictures.
  (Corey's initials on the back of her shirt)

        Thank you to all who supported Andrea's efforts!  She raised over $500 for this worthy organization.  This money will be enough to cover the cost to train a new Survivor of Suicide support group facilitator.  Yeah Andrea!!  Thanks for braving that chilly and extremely windy Fall day!  Love you!
        For those of you who might not have visited Andrea's personal fundraising page she wrote a really nice tribute to Corey.  Here it is:
"I recently lost a great mentor who lost his battle with depression. He left behind a wonderful wife and two precious little girls. He helped me through a tough year in school and made me laugh when I thought no one else understood. I am doing this to try to make a difference so this doesn't happen to another family. Thank you JCH for your help in French and for your friendship. You will be missed. I will hug your girls often and help them when they need me. In your honor: <3 & miss you JCH/RIP  ~ Andrea"

Friday, October 15, 2010

A bittersweet surrender...

So one week ago today (last Friday 10/8) I signed off on the papers for the sale of Corey's beloved tractor.  I was really pleased that it was going to sell before winter, but it was hard to see it go...a bittersweet surrender.  I met the gentleman who was purchasing it. I started to cry as I told him, "My husband loved that tractor."  If he hadn't known the situation, he would have thought I was crazy for crying as he handed over to me a bank check for $16K.  Poor guy, I don't think he knew quite what to say. He walked out with me as I went to take one more look at Corey's tractor before leaving. We made some small talk and then I left.
        I came across some pictures on my mother's camera of Corey "working" around our yard.  Aside from his family, there were few things in life that brought Corey as much enjoyment as that tractor did.  In fact, it was almost like part of the family.  I remember a few days after he purchased it, he parked it in a prominent spot on our front lawn for all to see.  He was very proud of his purchase  :) Last year at Halloween we weren't home to give out candy so Corey drove the tractor down to the bottom of our driveway and placed our lit Jack-o-lantern along with the bowl of candy in the bucket loader which he then raised to "kid level."  He was very clever about finding creative uses for it and was frequently trying to test its limits (lifting the Subaru was just one example...) If you click on the photos below you can view them in a larger size.

Last winter we had a good amount of snow on the ground by December.  We live on a cul-de-sac and Corey plowed all the snow into the center of the circle out in front of our house.  It made a great "mountain" for our girls and our neighbor's kids to go sledding down.  Corey enjoyed snowboarding and his efforts were really aimed at shaping a half-pipe out of the massive pile.  Our home sits up on a hill looking out toward the circle and Corey started grooming a trail to snowboard down that started right outside our living room window.  He made several small jumps to ride over as he descending the hill trying to pick up enough speed to make it across the road and all the way up the half-pipe.  It was quite something to watch except that he wasn't able to work out all the kinks before we had a thaw and the project lost its momentum.  But the kids enjoyed playing on it the rest of the winter and that pleased Corey.  The girls loved that their Daddy knew how to have a good time with them.  

On a bit of a random note, I added another song to my playlist.  It goes along with my title...Bittersweet.  Back in our high school days Corey was into some music groups with rather weird names... Husker du, Dinosaur Jr. and Big Head Todd and the Monsters to name a few...I did take a liking to the last one and the song I added, Bittersweet, is one of theirs.  Corey and I slow danced to it outside his car with it playing on his car stereo.  We were heading to a Christmas formal my Junior year of high school (1993).  I had never slow-danced with anyone before (not really a whole lot to it) and so Corey decided he would show me the ropes beforehand  ;)  There were a lot of firsts for me with Corey...the first guy I ever dated, kissed, and slow-danced with!  Needless to say, I was pretty smitten with him :) 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blue Skies

Sorry folks, it has been much longer since my last post than I had hoped...I have been itching to get back on here and write but life has been so busy...below is something I wrote the week before last...my how time gets away from me!
        It was a beautiful day here last Wednesday.  I've been visiting Corey's grave usually once a week because it is so peaceful there and just being there seems to help me feel better.  Last Wednesday the temperatures were around 80 degrees which felt so good.  I spread a blanket out and just laid in the warm sunshine staring up at the few clouds that were in the sky and the leaves falling around me from the trees above.  Yes, the leaves have been turning.  I am dreading winter.  It will be hard to have the snow and cold weather come.  Trips to Milton Mills where Corey is buried won't be as frequent I suppose.  I don't believe they plow the cemetery in the winter.  
       Anyway, the picture below was taken the day of Corey's funeral at the committal ceremony.  It was a hot and humid day but the sky was pure blue.  Abigail started calling the events of the day "Daddy's party" (since I had explained that we were celebrating Daddy just like we would on his birthday). So of course there had to be balloons, right?  After the short service at the cemetery we released 35 gold balloons - one for each year of Corey's life.  To help Abigail say good-bye, since she didn't get a chance before Corey died, she drew a picture for him to express her love.  We attached it to 3 balloons just to be sure it would take off.  I didn't realize that the photographer took a picture of her drawing.  There is also a picture of her and I at Corey's casket as she was drawing the picture for him.  I will try to get more of the pics online soon.  
       The photography was done by a member of our church, Tris Fowler.  Thanks so much Tris!  You did a beautiful job and I am SO grateful to have these!  Tris also videotaped the service which I am hoping to find a way to get online so anyone who would like to view it can.  Both the photos and the video are a beautiful remembrance of what, for me, was one of the hardest days of my life to get through.  I feel blessed to have these, particularly for the girls since they likely won't remember much of that day.  I know it probably seems weird to have wanted pictures/video of such a sad day.  But the fact that it was all about Corey and his life makes it well worth remembering.  I remarked to someone that ironically the day of Corey's funeral felt much like our wedding day with so many people helping me with all the small details to make it special and trying so hard to be sure it went just the way I had hoped (and it did!).  However, the elation I felt as a bride preparing to wed was such a stark contrast to the sorrow I felt on this day at the loss of my groom.  I can't wait for the day when we are reunited!  

Letting go...

 Priceless artwork...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Out of the Darkness

Psalm 36: 5-9
Your Love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, 
your faithfulness to the skies. 
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, 
your justice like the great deep. 
O Lord, you preserve both man and beast. 
How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. 
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights. 
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light. 

        On Saturday, October 16th my friend's daughter, Andrea, will be participating in the Out of Darkness community walk to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
        She will be walking in Corey's honor.
On Thursday night, August 5th, Corey lost his battle with depression. None of us, not even those closest to him (myself included) saw coming what would be his end. Corey struggled with this illness for at least 4 to 5 years before God rescued him from the darkness when He welcomed him into Heaven's light. Corey loved his family very much. So many of the details that I have uncovered from his last few days point to this fact, including the fact that Corey waited until the girls and I were not home when he took his life (we were 90 minutes away, gone for an overnight stay out of town with my mom).
        For many of you, knowing how Corey died only brings more questions. How did he get to this horrible place of making such a horrific decision to end his life?  "Everything seemed fine with Corey," people say to me. Corey struggled with clinical depression. For those who haven't experienced this level of "the blues", it is more than just being "down" for a few days. Clinical depression produces physical symptoms that accompany the depressed feelings. Lack of energy and motivation, changes with appetite, anxiety in the form of heart palpitations and chest pains...just to name a few (you've all seen the drug commercials)...real symptoms that can produce real problems with daily life. People who suffer with such a condition can be very good at masking it. I know because I also struggle with depression. Fortunately my treatment regimen is working effectively. However, before I started taking meds my depression had me in a very dark place. The task of trying to appear okay while around other people was just plain exhausting. Corey's words to me over the phone just minutes before he died expressed his fatigue at battling his symptoms when he said, "I appreciate all you've tried to do for me, but I'm tired. I just can't do it anymore." Those with depression are sometimes able to keep their symptoms "contained", so to speak, for periods of time...such as throughout a work day...only to come home and be hardly able to function. Instead of being able to get rejuvenated, the downward spiral often only continues making the next day that much harder to get through.
        Why am I sharing all this with you? Because I, along with many others, believe that there is a stigma attached to mental illness that I hope to help dispel. Mental illness (depression included) is a real illness like any other...just as heart disease or diabetes are illnesses that must be managed effectively or can result in death. The brain is an organ just like any other in the body.  In the days following Corey's death, a good friend encouraged me to bring the cause of Corey's death out into the light because there are so many more people that struggle with this type of illness than is talked about openly. Again, there is a stigma attached to depression and other mental illnesses that causes people to try to hide their problem - sometimes in shame because they feel their symptoms are a sign of weakness.
        My husband was a good man who was dearly loved by "his girls" and so many others, and he is sorely missed. I promised to do whatever I could to bring good out of his death.  Sharing our story is part of that effort. Things in Corey's life were not okay...he was struggling with a great deal of inner turmoil. As I stated at his funeral, God was in all the details surrounding Corey's death. He was there in the moments just prior. Please understand that I do not believe the choice Corey made was the right solution to his problems. I also know that it was not God's desire to see Corey make the choice that he did.  And yes, God is powerful enough that he could have stopped Corey in his fatal tracks. That was not His plan and I can't tell you why.  I can however be at peace knowing that the God I know and love is faithful and wise and works together for good all things for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). I had shared with someone that the deeper my valley, the more God has poured out his grace and mercy in my life. This led me to question then, where was God's provision in the depths of Corey's valley? The answer came through a friend who said that it was as if God said, "Enough, you've suffered enough Corey. I'm going to allow this to happen (his death) so you can come home and be completely healed." What grace and mercy! 
        To Corey~
Isaiah 60:19-20
"The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.

Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more;
the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory."
        I love you more than words can say Corey.  Abigail's words: "Mommy is happy about daddy's new life."  I am so happy you have been set free!  I only wish it wasn't so hard for all of us down here to live without you! 

        Thank you all for following my blog and allowing me to share all of this with you. I have simply one request (or maybe 2 ;)). As I've mentioned before, my utmost concern with sharing these details openly is that "little ears", particularly Abigail and Allison's will overhear information about Corey's death that is beyond their level of understanding. We never know when innocent ears might be listening in on our conversations and what children might, without meaning harm, say to one of my kids. Out of respect for our family, would you please be cautious when discussing these circumstances with others. I would prefer that you use my blog as the forum for discussion about the details surrounding Corey's death. Would you also please encourage others not to speculate about details I have not shared with you all personally.  It is natural to want to discuss tragic events, but I really don't want to see rumors started. If you have any questions you want to ask me, please feel free to ask, either through email (corjilly@gmail.com) or you can post a comment (I monitor these before they are visible to all). If it is a question I am not comfortable answering, I'll let you know :))
        Thank you also for your patience with me. I know I haven't posted anything for over a week. This post was a "biggie" and I've been working on it for days now...What a relief to be able to finally hit the publish button! :))  I have to say, it feels very freeing to bring all of this out of the darkness and into the light! Thanks for walking this journey with me. God has truly been carrying the girls and I each step of the way.
        Okay, one more thing and then I'm done for the night...really! Below is the link to Andrea's personal support page for the Out of the Darkness walk.  She is a teenager with a tender heart...much like Corey's. I would love for her to feel supported in her efforts toward such a great cause! She also wrote some sweet words about Corey's influence in her life.  Be sure to check it out:
http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&eventID=1199&participantID=140354
                                               Much love to you all!