First Day of School……

Fischman!

This week, I experienced another first.  Fischer would have started Kindergarten this week.  The long awaited day that Fischer so looked forward to would have arrived.  He would have become a Salado Eagle!  Since Fischer’s birthday is 10/1 and he would turn 6 soon, he would not have started school last fall like some of his friends and playmates did.  I loved seeing all the school pictures, my granddaughter’s 2nd grade school picture,  sharing in all the joy for this new beginning with friends and family and yet there is also this tug on my heart.  What would Fischer have thought about this week?  What would Elizabeth have felt?  There would have been the craziness of getting school supplies, new shoes, clothes, packing lunches and not being able to sleep due to all the excitement!  Ben surely would have missed his big brother and would assume that role with Hayes while Fischer was at school.  Oh how I would have loved to have seen a picture of his first day of Kindergarten!  What would he look like now two years later?

And I have now come to recognize this is the dichotomy of the bereaved.   These events have a double edge to them.    And through this, I choose joy in celebrating with friends and family the accomplishments and new beginnings of their children, and yet there is the absence of these milestones that I will not get to experience with Fischer, Ben and Hayes.  I am very aware of those that will and do say:  “Julie, get over it…..do you really have to share this, or think it?”  And if I am going to be true to myself and to this blog about my grief journey, the answer is yes.  It is something many if not all of us parents think about when the unthinkable happens.  We are forever changed by it and therefore these events cross our mind.  I choose to handle these events by acknowledging them, embracing them, and honoring them.

To other Mom’s who lament that your children are growing up or going off to college…….I encourage you to choose JOY!  Each year that you start a new school year, move your child to college or celebrate another milestone is a tremendous blessing and for those of us that will not get to experience these events with some of our children/grandchildren so wish we could.  You see, many of these events highlight for us our loss.  My prayer for you if you are struggling as your children are moving out, growing up too fast, starting school, college or somewhere in between, is that you make a conscious decision to choose joy.  Be intentional in everything you do with your children.  Learn to soak in every day that is given to you, yes, even in the chaos…the good and the bad…..because dear one each day is a precious gift.

So, today to honor this first for the Fischman, I will lay this wreath and ask Jesus to hug him for me until I can one day.

IMG_3083

I don’t know if there is “school” in heaven.  I don’t know if we know everything and don’t need to “learn” when we get there…..but this I do know……they are in the presence of the best teacher EVER……Jesus Christ….and therefore I choose JOY.  The joy that comes from a place of confidence…..that I know who holds me and my future and it is the one that has inscribed me in the palm of his hand!  (Isaiah 49:16).

Julie

Second year update, thoughts and memories…….

Shortly after Elizabeth left us, two beautiful baby girls came into the world.  Their families decided to honor Elizabeth by naming them after her.  I wanted to update you on how absolutely adorable they both are!

Please meet Elizabeth Anne Gould, Izzy.  Her mom is Elizabeth’s cousin Katie.  Katie shared her pregnancy story on this blog that you can re-read here:  Elizabeth Anne Gould .

Here is Izzy at 5 weeks old:

Izzy portrait

And here she is today and recently celebrated her 1st birthday:10433897_764267703611403_3638427735792096534_n

A second baby girl would be born after July 30th, and Nick and Brittany Shelley named their precious daughter after my Elizabeth.  Here I am holding Elizabeth Grace Shelley, Lizzy last August:

08112013 Elizabeth Grace 1

And here are her pictures for her 1st birthday:

10556399_819474518064556_4185109656363471233_n

I remember Nick telling me that he always remembered Elizabeth’s joy and laughter and wanted that for his little girl.  I pray for both of these girls and can’t wait to watch them grow into amazing young women!  Izzy and Lizzy named after my baby girl!  May they have her creativity, her loving spirit, her infectious laugh and strength and beauty.

On this second anniversary, many of Elizabeth’s friends sent me amazing stories, thoughts on her life and how her death has changed them.  I wanted to share them here on her blog.

This is from Elizabeth’s friend Katie in Round Rock.  Lizz moved from Lexington to Round Rock to live with me her junior year in High School.  She worked at HEB on Louis Henna, Round Rock and it was there she met Katie.  Katie also lived down the street from us which meant many evenings were spent together.  Katie shared this about Elizabeth:

I met Lizz when I started working at HEB in high school. Within days of meeting each other, we realized that we had so much in common…kindred spirits if you will. She had just moved in one street over from me in Round Rock, we were both the same age, we both dressed weird…but adorable of course, and we were both way too cool to be working at HEB. The only things we didn’t have in common were that we went to different high schools, and that Lizz could do makeup WAY better than I ever could. Within the first few weeks of our friendship, we started getting into trouble for sneaking into our bosses office and taking pictures with our feet propped on their desks. I spent many mornings over the next few years going to Lizz’s house before school and having her do my makeup. We went through a phase our senior year where we would wear eyeliner that matched our clothes…no matter what the color. The best makeup job she ever did was when I was wearing a neon pink skirt and a neon yellow shirt…it was amazing.

One of my most very favorite moments with her was Christmas in 2004. It was a few days before Christmas, and she was so excited about the present she got for me, that she ran over to my house late at night in her pajamas to give it to me. I still remember what the present was; Lip-Venom Lip Plumper.

To this day, Lizz remains one of the best people I have ever known. It is so very hard to think of her and her sweet boys without getting upset and asking God why, but there is never a time I have thought of her and don’t thank God that she was in my life. Julie, I am thinking of you and your family with extra love today and praying that you find some comfort in knowing the impact Lizz has had on so many people.

Thank you so much for the beautiful memorial video you put up and shared with us all, you are such a brave woman to find the strength to celebrate the memory of Lizz and her sweet boys every single day.

10577070_10102271061027587_8210383295573521866_n (1)

Love,
Katie

And from a friend that Elizabeth met through her Sephora years, Patrick wrote this:

“Two years ago my dear friend Liz and her children left this world too soon. I honor Liz, Ben, Fischer, and Hays today. You are loved and missed dearly. Please take a moment to read this story in their honor.

Elizabeth Anne Dowdy

When I moved to Austin, Texas my life was in shambles. I was broken hearted, confused, and starting over from a multitude of troubles which had plagued my very being since birth. I left beind my friends and family, changed my number, and took my first breath of fresh air. As I drove the moving truck to my new apartment in a new city I wondered if I’d ever be able to trust humans again. I prayed for a better life, I prayed to discover self worth, and I prayed that I would stop hating myself.

God heard me that day.

I walked into my first day at my new job and I noticed a woman standing in front of me in uniform. Her hair was long and perfectly wavey, her skin milky and perfect like a Hollywood actress, and the most beautifully piercing blue eyes I had ever seen. The light was coming in through the front of the store and shining just perfectly on my new colleagues’ face like a spotlight from heaven. I stopped to look deeper and I remember feeling awkward about how long I watched her, but I was mesmerized and drawn by her graceful presence. She noticed me and said “Hi I’m Liz” and offered me her hand.

Liz would continue on to be a huge inspiration in my life but first and foremost she was my angel. Liz didn’t look at me like everyone else. She looked past my exterior and straight into my heart. She didn’t want to be just your friend, she wanted to understand you and help you. She inspired me everyday to be better and expect better from myself. She inspired me to smile at myself and have a sense of humor. She inspired me to enjoy every momment because it’s all we have. She was a dreamer like me, and she went after those dreams. She was so young and confident about who she was. I often wondered where her sense of drive and self worth came from. Our entire friendship all Liz ever did was encourage me to reach higher.

She wasn’t perfect and she wore her heart on her sleeve. She couldn’t hide how she was feeling, and she made a point to show others that emotions are nothing to hide from. She was like a mother to me. She loves me and cared for me, never asking anything in return. She saved me from myself with her unconditional love. She taught me there are good people, and that I could be one of them. Through Liz I learned to open and trust not only myself but all of life. I learned to take a leap. I grew up after meeting Liz. This healing relationship was a surprise to me because Liz was younger than I. She was wise beyond her years and loving beyond the normal confines of a human heart.

We both ended up leaving the job where we met, moving on to bigger and better adventures. I was thrilled when Liz told me how much she loved being a Mom. I knew she would be a great mother by how she had mothered me when I had no one. It was her destiny to care for others and to touch lives in ways most precious.

When I lost Liz, along with her children in a devastating car accident that July day the world stopped turning. I felt so wronged for not being able to tell Liz goodbye, or hear her infectious laugh once more, or just one more smile. I thought this hole in my soul would be there forever, a reminder of a love once freely given to me, that life saving love, taken away.

Elizabeth served as an inspiration of unconditional love in the physical world and now she does the same in the heavenly realms. Elizabeth is still my angel. She lives on through me. She lives in every kind word that leaves my lips, she lives in every warm embrace I offer, she lives in my attention when I’m listening to someone explain their pain, she lives in my compassion when I see that someone needs me to help them, she lives in the wisdom of knowing loving others is why we alive. Elizabeth lives in every sunflower and sunny day. She lives in the swaying trees, the tall grasses, and the rolling hills of Texas. She lives in every smile I give or recieve. Each day I wake feeling safe because Liz lives in my heart. She is me, and I am her. We are just love. I’m comforted by the fact that we will always be together. She will forever be my kindness beacon and the reason to go on. She visits me in my dreams and I know she is happy. Her mission continues. I can’t help but feel lucky to have been changed by such a beauriful being.

What I find most inspiring was that Liz never shared with me that she was a Christian. She just did What Jesus teaches and would have done. She loved me when no one else would. She never judged me and she never tried to convert me. She knew I has been hurt and she embraced me with all she had. She filled me with grace and hope for the world. I hope everyone alive has a chance to meet a real angel. They exist. I met mine 10 years ago and she still walks with me. Always loving, always encouraging, always understanding. That’s my Liz.

You may think the world is a dark place. You may have lost hope. You may be weakened and unable to endure much more. If this is you please know my friend Liz is with you, shining her light on all that’s dark. I hope you feel that light for it will carry you through the dark.

Let my friend’s story inspire yours. Let us Look at what is important. Let us wake up to the real meaning of life. We are here to love, understand, and care for one another.

Let’s get started.”

And with Patrick’s post I will close mine with Elizabeth’s memorial video.  I selected Steven Curtis Chapman’s new song “Glorious Unfolding” because it really expresses my feelings at this point of the journey.  Elizabeth’s story is so far from over, and I am hopeful that God will use me in the unfolding of that story and how he will use it for his glory.  To Patrick and Katie and others that knew Elizabeth, I am hoping through these pictures that her smile will warm your heart, take you back to some wonderful times with my daughter, and when you close your eyes you can hear her infectious laugh.

Memorial Video:  July 30, 2014

herro_dowdy_memorial (2)

2nd Anniversary Memorial, Lexington Leader

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21

Julie

A Mother shares her thoughts about her daughter and grandsons lives….Eulogy

Today marks the 2nd anniversary when close to 1200 people gathered to honor and remember my daughter, Elizabeth Anne and my grandsons, Fischer, Benjamin and Hayes. I am reposting my blog entry that I wrote a year ago on the 1st anniversary about that day. God’s spirit covered the sanctuary that day and I have had people tell me they have not experienced anything like it. I hope you are blessed. – Julie

Elizabeth Anne Herro Dowdy

Easter 2011mWhen I decided to speak at my daughter’s service, when I went to bed the night before, I had no idea what I was going to say.  I prayed that the words would come and boy did they!  At 3 a.m., I sat straight up in bed.  I startled John and told him I had to go to the computer to write down the thoughts that were pouring into my mind.  They were coming so quickly, that I was typing phrases.  The words that follow are what I finished and walked up to the microphone and delivered.  I was to speak after Jeff Herro, Elizabeth’s Dad.  I prayed that Jesus would give me the words to share their story, to glorify him and others to see him, and to express in a few minutes the life of my daughter and grandsons.  And so, I walked up to the steps with my typed notes, Elizabeth’s copy of

View original post 1,563 more words