5th Angelversary.

How in the world has it been 5 yrs already when it seems like yesterday that you left us? Thank the Lord for helping us all cope by letting you stay next to us through all of your signs including blowing me away today. Who knows why I found your headstone striped of both vases of flowers a couple of weeks ago when no one else’s had been touched around your site but the missing notes from Olivia really upset me. Nothing could have blown away because I had just checked the flowers the week before and they were in the vases super tight. Her notes were tucked in a baggie in the vases too. Anyway, perplexed about what kind of flowers to put in there due to the time of year, I found nothing but Christmas flower choices at the stores and I wasn’t ready for those yet. After almost giving up I spotted one hot pink colored flower peeking out on a metal rack of several bunches of flowers. After digging them out I found all of your wedding bouquet flowers in your same colors in a cemetery arrangement that read $60. I questioned the sales person and found that it was marked down to $5.99 and started laughing knowing that it was one of your all to often bargain deals. That was sign enough that you guided me to what flowers that you really wanted, so I just shook my head in amazement how you always lead me. Then today I’m sitting at your grave arranging the flowers on your side of the headstone and someone taps me on the shoulder and about sent me out of my body. It’s so quiet up there and I heard nothing at all. She asked me what I was doing and started talking to me. Within minutes she tells me that she came to the cemetery looking at all the changing leaves and that she knows the caretakers. Then she asks if she can pray over me that she knew I was very troubled. Hello, this whole week is the exact same days as 5 yrs ago and I’m reliving every minute so yeah I was troubled. So she goes on to tell me that The Lord sent her a message this morning that she needed to pray over someone that needed help and peace today and that she would know who it was when she met them. She then looks at the grave and is shocked how young you were in passing and says she just felt a shock like feeling and that I was the person that needed her. She had just been curious as to how pretty the arrangement was and wanted to see how I was working on it when she first came over. She then prayed over me and it was beautiful. Then she tells me that she had weathered cancer herself and had a hysterectomy and a double mastectomy. (That helped remind me of Lisa’s situation and that this week was her surgery so I need to check on her.) She ended up staying with me and helping with me with the flowers for Ben’s side of the headstone and we prayed again before parting. What a miracle that visit was and what a peaceful feeling came over me. She was truly an angel dropped out of heaven for me. Thanks, God.
So much has happened again this year, Ali. Ben and Leslie got married and they’re having a little boy to add to the family. We’ll have 5 girls and 5 boys soon. Kaizer has adjusted to all of us and hugs and kisses dad and I and even told us that he loved us on Halloween nite. I swear he and Olivia could pass as siblings. Lesley fits right in with all of us and she and Ben just moved into a new house so they are crazy busy running two art agencies and trying to settle into a new house. Olivia is going to Blessed Sacrament School right down the street from where you are and there is a whole stream of events that made that miracle happen too! We also discovered that Fr. didn’t register Olivia’s baptism when Ben needed to register her for school so thank the Lord that I when I called the parish that they were able to talk to him and get her baptism recorded. Holy smokes, love that forgetful sweet man! Olivia loves school and its so hard to believe she’s in kindergarten already. She played soccer for the school since she’s really a year older in age and loved every minute of it. She did stop dance though, which I”m sure if you were here, that would have been a hard sell. Lol…I’m sure she can always go back to your beloved ballet some day if desired.
All of your XU friends pulled around Lisa and that brave soul has made it through a lot and it continues this week. She is surrounded by love and help and I’m sure she’ll be strong again. They all tell me how much they miss you and always tell all the stories along with laughter. Also, Julie and Chris had a little girl and she is a doll baby. All of your friends keep up with all of us and we see pictures galore on FB. Each kid is cuter than the other. BTW, smooth move the other nite too, as Julie Pugh and I are hugging at the kids soccer game, when a white feather fell from the sky right between us. We both burst out laughing. We also got to see several of the girls at Ben and Lesley’s wedding and everyone seems so happy. Of course a lot of them were at the Rock Pink Picnic too. Love being with them all. Helps your dad, sister’s and I a lot to have them near us.
They Klems girls are all in school and brain-o’s as we knew they’d be! They play all the sports and of course we don’t miss the games. Anna seems to be you all over…witty as hell and laughs in our faces while twisting us around her little finger. As for Mel’s family, Nori is in the first grade and Nico in preschool with both playing sports too. Every night is a game for someone and weekends are juggled keeping up with all the schedules. I spend lots and lots of hours since my business has slowed, babysitting to help Melanie. I can’t get enough of the kids esp those devil twins boys. They’re asleep right now upstairs and they along with Nico have taken over Wed. nite sleep overs since Nori started school. Thank God they’ll be with me all day today. You would be going crazy over them. So dang cute and their new game is to be as quiet as possible and hide from all of us and they can do it without moving for a long, long time. I swear they’re going to drive us all nuts by the age of 12 with their devil sides, but they are super smart too. It’s going to be quite the ride after raising you three girls.
You know, Al, that’s the hardest part of all of this. It was always the 5 of us and now my 3 little babies are no longer…but I’ll never quit buying in 3’s. Always did it and always will. Brittany and Brian are working hard and involved in their parish and school. Of course Melanie and Adam are swamped with work and still receiving awards for their works. Mel’s getting involved at OLV now too and maybe I’ll start volunteering again there soon. Dad and I try to keep our sanity over losing you by spending as much time with all three families as much as possible. It helps but who ever thought it gets easier over time is crazy. We hurt just as much as the minute we lost you but our comfort is our faith besides the family. Praise The Lord that He allows you to be next to all of us and I pray it never stops. I just can’t believe how many of our friends have buried a child too. We are far from alone in this and with devotion to Mary Our Mother she teaches me that with His Grace that I can deal daily. If she could watch her Son go through all of what He did in front of her eyes and still go on to live an inspirational life then I can at least fight to do my best. We love you forever and no, you will never be forgotten. It’s not possible. We still talk to Olivia about you always and she still loves going through all of the picture albums. Your wish came true and Lesley will be a good mother to her, she finally has a family again. Oh, gosh, the tears just started flowing bad so I have to end this. We’ll be at the cemetery today again and then we’ll be celebrating your life at dinner tonite. Love you as much as love is possible, Ali-Burger. Nite, sweetheart..

4th Annual Rock Pink Par-Tay!

Come out and join us for the 4th annual Rock Pink Par-Tay on July 19th!!

We’ll be out at Fernbank Park again this year raising money for an awesome cause!  So mark your calendars and come help us get more books into libraries, schools, and hospitals all around Cincinnati!

Anyone who wants to help or donate items/food/your talents/water balloon throwing skills/breaking down table skills…please email Denise Tracy. mamabam@zoomtown.com

To RSVP, visit the Facebook event here


some things on my mind.

i’ve been thinking about grief a lot lately. how it sucks, mostly, but also how each person handles it so differently. most days i’m still pretending all is normal as a means of survival with two small children. other days i wake up from these wonderful dreams all night long. ali is there, we are having fun, i wake up with a smile on my face. i pick up my phone to text her about it, and thennnn…it hits me. hard. i don’t feel like doing anything but lay in bed and cry. that’s when i’m thankful i have the kids to force me to at least go through the motions of the day. tears are always a blink away on those days, but there is no way staying in bed is the healthy choice. those also seem to be the days nori insists on talking about ali the most too. she talks to ali as if she’s right in front of her face, and maybe she is? she tells me how ali is wearing a pretty pink dress and she can see her “right there” as she points to the air above our heads. and i wonder if she really can see her. i’m jealous because if she can, i want to as well. she talks about baby jesus and ali in heaven together. well, she actually talks about baby jesus a lot. did you know baby jesus is on “old mcdonald’s farm?” (i ask her what sound he makes but she just giggles cause she knows she’s being silly.)

i wonder if i’m grieving correctly? am i crying too much? not enough? are people surprised i can still smile and have fun? maybe i shouldn’t be so happy so soon? i really wonder how the hell did people grieve before the internet? before phones? i can’t imagine what i’d be like right now if i was sitting at home all alone and people had no clue what our family has gone through. sure there is word of mouth, people find out, but i’m sure they had hardly any support?! that must have been torture. just knowing thousands of people are praying for us, makes it so much easier. i like being told daily that my sister is still alive in the minds of everyone i know. so many people tell me they even have her picture displayed at work or in their home as a constant reminder to be a good person, a better mom and most importantly, to never take a single breath for granted. i’m so happy her spirit lives on, i pray it always does.

the other night i finally said something out loud that i’ve been dying to blurt out. constantly we are being told how inspiring ali and our family is. well you know what? i really freakin wish there wasn’t this opportunity to inspire people. can i trade in being inspirational in order to get my sister back? or better yet, why couldn’t people have been inspired by us the last 31 years while ali was alive? i don’t really know how to say what i mean if i’m not making sense. i’m grateful, but sad. sad that God had to steal her from us in order to give thousands of people a reality check.

one of ali’s nurses just got a new tattoo on her arm and it reads, “funny when your dead how people start Listening.” it’s a line in the song, “if I die young” by the band perry. it’s an uber popular country song that i’ve heard, but never really listened to. when i saw gina post a pic of her tat, i was interested in the lyrics. that line alone seems like it could have come directly out of ali’s mouth. growing up we felt outcasted. being the girls who got to school early to go to church wasn’t exactly the cool thing to do. during all the years we would do service, go to church, campus ministry, we always got flack for it. but now that she surrendered her life, people are finally realizing what’s important. i’m so happy people are prioritizing differently because the impact of ali’s selflessness. but God couldn’t open their eyes and keep her here at the same time? ugh. as i write this i’m realizing that my grief is shifting out of denial into a bit of anger. i’m ok with it. i’ve actually been waiting to feel anger, because it’s part of the process. i feel like i wouldn’t be human if i wasn’t pissed my sister is gone. why shouldn’t i be mad? it’s weird though because i’m not mad at God, just the situation. i guess? if people would have listened while she was alive, maybe she could have stayed. maybe he didn’t need to make an example out of her. it’s like the life of a starving artist. i wonder what van gogh has to say about never selling a single painting while alive and now you can’t even put a price on his work. people realized his talent too late. damnit, i knew ali had her priorities straight. i always did, hence why i followed in her foot steps my whole life. now i’m just left with a closet of her empty shoes, that my feet will fill and hers will never again.

the other line from the song that really resonated with me was “a sharp knife of a short life.” except those left behind are the ones being stabbed…in the heart…over and over. man, that statement sounded so dark. but it’s true, she gets to be in paradise, we don’t. the thought of death is frightening. britt and i just discussed the other day how it’s so scary because it’s permanent. that’s it. no coming back. no reset button. at least, that we know of? we talked about how we are scared because we only know and understand earth. however, when we get to paradise, we’d be all, “ohhhhhh, THIS is what it’s all about. earth sucks.”

i have so many questions now about the afterlife. i obviously can’t stop thinking about angels and heaven now, all the time. my questions are silly i know, but i can’t help but wonder. it kills me that no one knows the answers either. our concept of time, physical presence, EVERYTHING, must be so different than there. we have all read the book, “heaven is for real” and it gives me a bit of comfort. i do believe there is truth to everything the boy said. just like i believe nori is very much connected to up there. it just makes sense and she is too young to make things up. the mystery of it all is killing me all the sudden. i guess i just never thought of it because i’d never lost someone so close to me to care about how the afterlife works. but since ali is in the forefront of my brain most hours of the day, i daydream about it all. is she sitting on the couch next to me? staring me straight in the eyes as i type? maybe she’s not even here because she’s off saving the life of a friend? or maybe she’s here AND there at the same time. I WANT TO KNOW.

peace, melanie.

ps. britt also recently asked me if i think there are class differences in heaven? (i don’t think there are.) do celebrities mingle with the commoners in heaven? if so, has ali danced with Michael Jackson yet? (he was her all time favorite) we are sure she’s taught him a step or two. 🙂