March 22- #wcw- Dear Amanda, I thought a lot about you today. It was a tough day for Dad and me. They're all tough, but today was tougher than others. And, I don't know why, sometimes I do, but not today. Maybe it's the 22, maybe it's the daffodils or the green grass, or the spring colors; maybe it's just missing you. I baked cookies tonight and couldn't help but think, you will never get to do that for your family, for anyone. You will never wear the cool apron or use the mixer and bowls you were given as shower gifts. I know you couldn't wait to use the hand thrown purple pitcher to make some homemade iced tea. I can't help myself from going there sometimes; we wanted so much for you. Those things may sound silly to some people, but you were just getting started with your life. After 7 years of college, 4 undergrad and 3 grad, you were working in your field and on your own. This all just stinks, so much lost to you, me, to all of us. But then I remember, you telling me, you had a beautiful life, you were given every opportunity. You tell me you loved your life, and your family and were so thankful for all of it. You were thankful we were parents first and friends after you were grown. You were thankful for rules and boundaries and realized they were all because we loved and wanted what was best for you. You were thankful for raising you and your brothers in the church and sharing our faith with you. You were thankful for the sacrifices we made for you, Kyle and Garrett. You loved how we taught you to stand up for your beliefs, modeled integrity, hard work and did our best to instill good morals and values to you and your brothers. I am so thankful for you, for every day, every moment, every hug, kiss, text, phone call........ but in reality.... I wanted more....for you, for me, for everyone. You should have had more Amanda, so much more---more life, more laughter, more love. Love you Meh, Mum😘
Amanda, you've been gone from this earth for 9 months, 270 days, 3/4 of a year, 3 seasons, one collegiate year, the length of time spent in a mother's womb and yet it's still hard to wrap our brains around it.
There are moments when it seems like you were just here, for your bridal shower, we were just on the phone talking about the reception, or the flowers or the registry. I was just texting you about something silly, you were sending pics of your latest wedding finds, we were laughing hysterically about what happened to my zebra pocket book. It still seems like you should be walking through the back door with open arms and a great big hug saying "Mehhhh!!!" Or you should be calling me, "Mom! Guess what?!" And then, there are movements when it feels like you've been gone for 9 years. It's been so long since we've spoken, texted, hugged, kissed. Every day is another day without you, another day to push forward and try to mend our broken hearts. There is no rule book for grief, no definitive ending, no appropriate amount of sorrow. I can tell you that it changes everything and affects everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything, from your outward facade to your innermost feelings, your health, your well being, diet, exercise, emotions, thoughts, feelings, the list goes on and on.
I've struggled and continue to struggle in some of those areas, as life has taken on a whole new meaning or maybe lack of meaning, at times. Importance, priorities, everything changes. And how couldn't it? Your whole life has been turned inside out, upside down, you name it.... and it will NEVER be the same, for any of us. Amanda, you will always be part of us, you will be at Garrett's graduation in May, you will be at your friends' weddings and bridal showers. You will be there for every moment for the rest of our lives. But you will be there in a different way. We need to remember you are never far away, we may not see you but we can still feel your presence and know your kisses from heaven are real. As we walk into the final season you were with us last year, I have a huge lump in my throat. So many things about spring remind me of our family and you ---flowers esp hyacinths and purple flowers, Dad' s bday, the smell of lavender you and I love so much, Easter and dying eggs, Mother's Day, your birthday, our 30th anniversary, hummingbirds (yes, I know I'm obsessed with them), robins, cardinals, butterflies and Father's Day. It's so difficult, this journey of grief. At times the only thing I know to do is to cry out to Jesus. I know he's there and I know he's watching over us, guiding, helping and loving each one of us. And so, that's what I do, just like the song by Third Day---- "To everyone who's lost someone they love. Long before it was their time. You feel like the days you had were not enough. When you said goodbye. And to all of the people with burdens and pains. Keeping you back from your life. You believe that there's nothing and there is no one Who can make it right. There is hope for the helpless. Rest for the weary. Love for the broken heart. There is grace and forgiveness. Mercy and healing. He'll meet you wherever you are Cry out to Jesus. Cry out to Jesus"
March 15- #wcw-- Great picture of Amanda & Cory, taken in June 2016. She was a bridesmaid in Britta & Morgan Wright's wedding. (grad school soul sisters) They were in the midst of a sparkler send off for the newlyweds (great idea for any of you planning a wedding) when the photographer captured this beautiful moment. Life doesn't always turn out the way you planned. I used to think we were so blessed, with the white picket fence and all, so to speak. We worked hard, made many sacrifices and taught our kids right from wrong. We modeled our beliefs, values and morals hoping our kids would grow up to be faithful, God loving, hardworking and respectful contributors to society. Sure, there were tough times, tears, illnesses and moments of anger but that's all part of it. It's learning how to cope with all of those, get back up, try again and persevere that makes you who you are today. Not only have our children grown up with us, but we've grown older (yes I admit it) beside them. Every night I ask God to watch over my family, my kids, nieces, nephews, parents, sister, brother, etc. I give it to God and go to sleep. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to function with worrying, angst and the what ifs..... Then, something horrible happens like this, we lose a child, not by accident, but murder and I have to wonder..... What did we do wrong, we worked soooo hard.... for this....to lose a beautiful young woman, about to be married, who has so much to offer and so much to give..... How?? Why?? Yes, those thoughts run through my mind regularly and yet I fall back on one thing-- My FAITH Without it, I'm convinced none of us would be able to function. I dont know how people go through life without it. I certainly dont know how anyone could survive a death (let alone the death of a child without it). What do you turn to? To whom do you ask those difficult questions? Our pastor says it's ok to be angry with God, it's ok to ask why, and to shake your fist at him--- he can take it! And we do, on a regular basis, we ask, we cry, we yell and we know that know matter what, he is with us and loves us. You ask, if God was watching over Amanda on that afternoon of June 18, why didn't he save her? I would tell you, he did save her, just not in the way we wanted her to be saved. We want her here, in the flesh, we want to talk with her, to kiss, hug and love her. We want to hear her laugh and see her gorgeous smile. But he saved her, from horrific pain, agony, torture and physical distress. He saved her from evil, from free will used for pure evil. And for that, as a woman, as a mother, as a former athlete, as a strong, bullheaded human, I am beyond grateful. I am thankful for my parents for their faithful walk with Christ, for modeling and paying it forward. I'm thankful for the relationship we have and my children have with Jesus Christ; it is about the relationship. If you don't have a relationship with him, I highly recommend it. He will change your life, for the good, I promise. Through him, I know Amanda walks by his side, walks by our side and continues to spread love, life and laughter to all who embrace the light. And, I know I will see her again,; we will have a glorious reunion, laughing, hugging and mehhhing. 😘💜😍 On a side note, we are very close to making final decisions regarding our Amanda Strous Flyhigh22 Foundation. I hope to share more with you in the next few weeks. Oh, you ask about the house with the white picket fence? We still have it, some of its paint has chipped away, it looks a little worn and rustic, but it's there, with the most glorious angel watching over it, painting sunrises and sunsets, sending us snow storm Stella, cardinals, butterflies, hummingbirds and waving the biggest badass 22 banner ever!!! Love you Amanda!!! Thanks for the snow!⛄️💜
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