Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Create your own joy.

Here I am in my Nitty.Gritty. tee. This one is just a bit more subtle than the t-shirt I had originally designed and posted- partly because of the fact I printed and made it myself, and I just didn't want to be so bold right off the bat.
I was thinking of doing another retro-post and write about some of my other fond memories of childhood, including my [I still have her]Mrs. Beasley doll, a tv show called "Emergency" and the fact that I still beat my hubby everytime we play a game of Ms. Pac-Man. In light of the number of comments I got after posting about Gidget, I think I may even have a "flash-back" post at least once a week. You are all such nostalgic people out there!
However, I'm sticking with my inner thoughts and going with my heart and soul, which I may have already spilled here once or twice. The kind of thoughts that reach my emotions and make an appearance once or twice a year. Yeah, those thoughts. By the way, at the end of this, leave me a note if you would come back and read more of this kind of stuff. Chip says everybody has heard it all before- and I say I think it's fresh material for some of you. So, feel free to let me know who is right.
At Christmas I wrote about a festival tree event that Chip and I attended the first Christmas season we were struggling through without Teagan. You can look back in the December archives if you want the whole story. As Teagan's birthday approaches each year, I find myself with similar feelings of sadness and hurt. It's a day that kind of hits me and shouts out to me that the reality of my life isn't fair. No person should have to celebrate their child's birthday without them because that child was killed. And yet here I am. And I know I am not alone. And I don't want pity. And I don't pretend to think that you can ever know how I truly feel. And I would never want for you to know this sting, really. I won't lie to you- it hurts. Even after 5 years- it hurts. Deeply.
I'm getting better at holding back my tears. I'm getting better at breathing through the pain and recognizing the many faces it has and how it shows itself in me. I am proud that I know how much I will always love Teagan and that her life still inspires me and challenges me every single day. I am happy that I can accept her being gone and yet I still feel a connection to her spirit that warms me in my bleakest hours- she will always share a part of my soul and that thought gives me an overwhelming sense of contentment.
I write all that not for you, but for me. I take note of it and see that through death and pain and grief, I have lived and learned and I continue to grow. Teagan's life may have ended in the physical sense- but she herself has lived on within me and made me a better person in many ways.
As her birthday approaches it does indeed bring feelings of sadness and there are twinges of bitterness that spring up for a moment or two. How I wish we could be together again- if only for an hour!- to sing and laugh and touch and hold each other close. I can't imagine the bliss. I'm sure even an hour with feel like it ended too soon.
So Chip and I have had a few years of experience with days such as this. As Teagan's birthday approaches we think of ways to turn our sorrow and hurt into something beautiful and positive we can do in our lives and others- to combat that pain, to share Teagan's life in a meaningful way, and to honor her memory with joy.
One year we sent the production staff at Harpo (ie. the Oprah show) some gourmet chocolates and a bouquet of lavendar roses with a message that said, "Thanks for letting us share Teagan with the world. Enjoy a little treat in memory of our sweetie." We have learned that the best way to overcome hurt is to create your own joy...and in so doing, you can't help but have your own spirits lifted. Even when it hurts to do something in the midst of pain and sorrow, we have found that there is a measure of comfort and sometimes even joy.
This year we are planning on purchasing 9 books off of our school's library wishlist. (Nine books- since Teagan would be turning 9.) They will be donated and have a label inside stating they are in memory of Teagan's birthday. It makes me feel good knowing that her life continues to impact others in a positive way, even though she's gone. I'd like to challenge you to do something positive or fun or joyous not because you know me or Teagan- but simply because you are alive and you have a world of opportunity to do so.
I've already been doing little things this week. I made the baby onesies in the posted picture for a music teacher that is expecting a baby girl in May. I hardly know her- but I know that I like to create and making t-shirts and putting together an unexpected gift made me happy. I've got more things to do before Saturday- but here are some ideas to get you started. Maybe you will send a handwritten note to someone as a total surprise. Maybe you will turn on the CD or radio player and dance with your kids even though they have their jammies on and they are supposed to be getting into bed. Maybe you can smile all day long- and actually mean it inside. Just knowing that you're alive for today; you can create your own joy. And in so doing will touch another person's life in a positive...and maybe even memorable way. That's my Nitty.Gritty. for today.


Marilyn said...

Hi Jody-I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and your story has really touched me-I even went back to learn about the accident and how you suffered and forgave the killer of your baby. You are a great example. I check in with you daily now to help me remember what is really important. I recently lost my mother-in-law and in no way can my loss compare with yours, I feel the emptiness. I took care of her a lot during the last years of her life and we developed a close and trusting relationship. I know she is in a better place and feeling SO much better, but I still miss her.

My kids are older now (7 of them!) and I have little grandkids to play with now. Thanks for helping me to relish the times with them-my teenagers and adult children. They get even better as they grow older!

I had to share with you my memory of "emergency". We watched the show faithfully every week! When I was a senior in high school I was in a terrible accident (drunk driver hit me). I remember being barely conscious in the ambulance and asking the paramedics if they were going to visit me in the hospital like they did on emergency....duh..I guess head injuries make you goofy.....thanks for your time!

amy j. said...

I found your site through Tara Whitney's site, of course. Tara is fastly becoming like Kevin Bacon...everywhere and the commonlink to SOOOO many people! Anyway, I've been reading your site this week and just wanted to let you know that you have surely helped me. My four year old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes nearly a year ago. It's been a very rough year as you can imagine, adjusting to such a life change, one that she'll carry for the rest of hers.
I know you KNOW the worry you have for your children all too well. I have always been terrified of something happening to my children. It more than likely stems from the death of my brother at the age of 12. Growing up seeing a mother dealing with the grief of losing a child made me very much aware of how it is the biggest hurt a person could ever feel. I never wanted kids because of that. So when I found out I was having my first child it was ALWAYS in the back of my mind. My fear felt like it became reality when my daughted was diagnosed. Type 1 is a disease you can live with, but there is no cure and it has very bad health consequences. My husband is a doctor so I know way too much of what devastation this disease can do. It's a daily fear.
Anyway, we've coped, we've grieved, we've been so scared for her and proud of her. Recently she started showing signs of having another disorder related to the diabetes where she might not be able to process gluten, ie wheat, rye, barley. It means she can't eat pretty much what all of us eat daily, ie bread, cakes, cookies, crackers etc. It's not been confirmed yet...we do the test tomorrow. To cut this short, I was just so upset about this possibility...all that she'd miss out on, have to avoid and work daily to make sure she stayed healthy...all the risks if she didn't to compund the diabetes. It was so much to take, and so close to the anniversary of her diagnosis. I spent two days just depressed as hell. Then I read your blog and had a huge dose of reality. What you've been through is my nightmare...any mother's nightmare. And you've coped as well as anyone could ever hope to...and been mother to four other wonderful children.
Perspective...yep, your thoughts and insights sure gave it to me. Anything that a parent deals with that could hurt their children feels so overwhelming...we all know that. But when you stop and look at what you could be facing, well it puts it all into check.
I thank you for your blog really. I hate more than anything that you ever had to write some of what you have on here. If I could take it away from you. I so don't want to learn from what you've been through...wish you didn't have a clue at all what it felt like. But you do and you know what really bad verus liveable is. Thank you so much for reminding me this week. I've calmed my overworked nerves when dealing with my girls because of what you wrote. I've laughed at them more and noticed the silly and beautiful things they do because of you. I've thought of each moment being the best one yet because of what you've been through. You're doing a good thing here. You know it. I know it and so many others do. Keep it up. You've got your head screwed on really well. Now if only I could hope to accomplish that someday without having to go through so much pain. But we live and learn though it don't we? Btw, were you on Oprah? When I read something about that in today's post I remembered seeing you on a show about losing a child???
I started a blog last summer after finding Tara's site, right after my daughter's diagnosis...I related very much to her pain after McKenna's accident. I had also followed the site of a family who'd lost their baby girl to cancer. On the days when I just felt like I couldn't be strong enough to deal with what my child was going through, reading about what others had and were going through helped me cope. I think it is a mother's role in the world to help other mothers out...who else would ever really understand the joy and pain of it,right? Thanks for giving me a helping hand this week!!! Don't know if I could ever do the same, but I blog daily

amy j. said...

P.S. I'll give you cold hard cash to make my girls a t-shirt! me,!

ScrapHappy said...

Tell Chip that we all need to hear this again and again and again! And it means so much more when someone who has gone through such life-altering pain tells us something -- we know you've lived through the nightmare and can tell us what you've learned in the process.

In honor of Teagan and my own kids, the kids and I are going to plant some flowers next week -- some in our own yard, and some wildflower seeds sprinkled randomly around town where we think a little color is needed. I will take pictures when they bloom so you can see the joy that Teagan (and you!) have spread all the way to California.

caren said...

Jody - Wishing you a week of help your memories stay strong!

ArtsyMama said...

Thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself. You are a strong, brave, inspiring woman! I love when you said, "we have learned that the best way to overcome hurt is to create your own joy." That is so true. I know a little boy that is two and has a month to live. He has a brain tumor. Thinking about how his life is cut so short is almost to much to bear. Your words give me courage. Thank you!!

renee said...

hi, jody-
my brother & sis-in-law have lost two daughters (to a very rare disease) and each year they celebrate both girls' birthdays - bring out photo albums, watch home videos, write notes to the girls, light their "celebrate" candles. meredith died in '92 and natalie in '98 - the pain is no longer fresh, but it is alive.
praying for you as you approach teagan's ninth birthday!
love, renee

Emily said...

Jody, I 'm sure your readers (including myself) will never get tired of reading your wise words. You always have a different way of telling your story, your pain, your hope, and inspiring us to be better, more-fulfilled human beings. I am trying harder everyday to create inner peace and strength inside myself. Every time I read your blog, it's as though I take a deep breath of crisp spring air (which I could really use right now, with our on-again snow; school was cancelled Tues. and Thurs.!)~your ourlook on life is so beautiful and while I wish I could turn back time for your family, and for the Koronkas,and everyone else affected by the accident, I am so thankful that you've found the strength to live and share your story. Thank you so much for that. I will let you know what we do in Teagan's honor.

Nikki Gerty said...


I just recently found your blog and it has been an answer to pray. My father was murdered five years ago and the killer has never been found. I have good friends but it is so incredible to hear you speak and know that you are out there and you understand the pain of unexpected loss. Thank you so much for your beautiful wise words and spirit. Thank you for all you say. This year we will be planting a flowering pear tree in my dads memory I will also think of your precious daughter when we are planting.

Take Care,


K :) said...


Your words are so strong and so powerful. I hope that I can remember to feel joy inside when things hurt outside. I am striving to make my children's lives happier. I am so thankful you share a bit of yourself through your blog. It has helped to make me more insightful.

Love your shirts and am wondering how you made them...iron on transfer with images printed from the computer? They are adorable!

Thanks for your messages of hope.

Finding My New Normal said...

Jody, Keep writing what you're feeling. I'm new here too and have wondered how you cope 5 years later. Thank you for sharing.


Lauren said...

Jody, I found your blog last week when I was having a tired, frazzled, WAHM week. I will admit that I was feeling a bit of resentment towards my kids for not being able to get my work done. I had tears rolling down my cheeks as I read through your blog, learning all you had gone through.

God convicted me of not being grateful for the blessings he's given me-2 healthy, beautiful children. I layed awake praying that night asking him to give me a new love for them and to take advantage of the time we have together now. Thank you so much for your encouragement through your site. BTW-your tees are precious!!!

kellicrowe said...

ya know
i so appreciate the honesty you have always expressed
your blog is authentic you:)
i am so going to do a fun somthing with my kids for T's birthday.
i was thinking about you a few days ago when i was in a bad mood
and realized
i have never had a bad day
i don't know what a real bad day is
reading your blog a while back helped me to realize that
love the shirts
how did you do that?
i was working on a limerick...really, i was....

laura t. said...

Hey Jody...have been lurking and came back via your comment on kellicrowe's is a big part of me...finding it, creating it, living it, savoring it. I love what you wrote...although I could never truly feel what you and your family feel, my heart is with you. What a gift Teagan is to us all - thank you for sharing your and her story. said...

Wow! I found your blog via, Altogether too are an amazing woman with such a story to share, thanks, it really brought me to tears and has made me so grateful for all of the joys in my life, I am a teacher to 14 three/four year olds with developmental delays and disabilities, your ability to find the joy during such a difficult time each year is uplifting and inspiring! Thank so much for sharing your story. Have a marvelous Friday! Spread the Joy!

BonnieRose said...

found you from Stacys blog.
Your story is so touching.
You are a strong woman.... you've had to be.. in order to survive.
thank you for sharing all you do.
I love too, what u shared about creating joy in the midst of pain/hurt.. so true.
It's when we focus on the happiness around us, and there is always happiness... that help us get thru the tough times.
Believe me, I have been thru tuff times too.
but that's another post.
Love your blog.keep being you.

Heather H. said...

Jody- I needed that!!! Thank you. HH

ash said...

I neede to read that this morning. i have 4 kiddos 7 and under and I homeschool them. Some days I get so crazy...but you have brought things back into perspective. I have to cherish each of these days with my kids. They are each a blessing and the time I have with them is precious...precious. Thank you for being so open, you are making a difference in peoples lives. I hope you have a blessed weekend full of love and joy.

rhonda said...

Thank you for sharing. Sharing you joys as well as your sadness.

I am making baby easter baskets for teen mothers in honor of all little ones who are gone before their time.

annkelli said...

Hi Jody,
I found your blog from kellicrowe's
Kelli and I have met through mutual friends - that is how we are connected.
Thank you for sharing your story with all of us.
Thank you for reminding me never to forget.
Thank you for reminding me to remember how much I am blessed.
Thank you for sharing how life can go on inspite of lifes pain.
My 7 year old son and I will celebrate Teagan's birthday tomorrow.
He will love the excuse for cake and a happy meal!
Thank you for blessing my day,

KathyG said...

I have been thinking about you the last couple of days. Please do not stop writing about your feelings. I know I will never get tired of reading your words. I will take your challenge and do something fun and joyous with my DD7 & DS9 in honor of Teagan. I will let you know what we do. Thanks for the reminder to us all to create our own "Joy". I hope you have a weekend full of love and joy.

annkelli said...

Hi Jody,
It's me again!
I just read through your entire blog and website.
My husband and I own a scrapbook store near Nashville.
Yes - we were a little slow today which gave me a chance to get to know you a little.
And yes - I did have to help customers with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.
Thank you again for being a blessing to so many.

Me! said...

Ditto what the ladies said Sister...and I just wanted to add that your strength inspires us dads as well!