Friday, October 22, 2010

October 22: And Then There Were 4...


Heaveno!

Well, we said goodbye to Grandma and Nanny today. Again, we can't say enough about how much they came through for us this past week. What a gift they are! I told Grandma today that I now truly see where Angelique gets her amazing work ethic from. Grandma Carolyn was fighting a bad cold most of the time here, but regardless, every morning she was first one up getting things going around here. Nanny Sheila, my mom, supplied the constant comic relief, always able to tell a funny story or be a funny story, whichever came first!


I am so grateful for them, because I have been unable to pack box 1. I function in and out of clarity and a fog as each day goes by. The ladies around me, however, just keep moving. Females are the stronger of the species as we all know, but I have witnessed that strength vividly over the past week and half.

I am having a really challenging time staying in the moment throughout the day, and Angelique has really had to pick up the slack with Ali, along with the two moms, and now my sister Tracy. I feel so bad about it; I don't meant to, but I find myself just, well, a little disconnected from the world around me right now. I remember when Ali was born. She was born via a planned C-section as she was breech, so we spent the full 4 days in the hospital afterward. I remember on that 4th day, I had to drive back to our condo for some reason, and I could feel myself in this bubble, totally removed from the world around me. This was not a good thing as I needed to quickly realize that no one on the roads cared that my wife had just given birth to our first born! Green means GO, buddy! That bubble was a bubble of joy.

This bubble, well, it has a combination of shock, sadness, pain, and trauma to it. I don't know what it feels like to have "shell shock," but I feel like I have it. I think I was in such a high state of intensity and trauma for so many consecutive weeks that my brain doesn't know how to ratchet back down just yet. I can think of things 'to do,' but I lack the ability to actually execute my thoughts, or if I can, it takes an abnormal amount of effort to do something that used to be done almost mindlessly.

Moving on...

This morning, Ali got to go to Pre-school here at RMH! Apparently on Friday mornings for one hour, they teach preschool, so today she worked on the letter C, and brought home a goody bag filled with Candy Corn... yuk! She won't have to worry about us stealing those from her! LOL.


Ali wanted to feed Bella breakfast. How cute is that???

Today, after Nanny and Grandma's departure, we made a pilgrimage to Super Target in Roseville - you know - "T1." It was Tracy's first time there, and boy did we have fun! Tracy stocked up on a lot of items she can't get in Spain for the family, and I raided the clothes for one last hurrah. When we returned, it was party time at RMH for all the October birthdays! So, Ali went off and had fun, Ang and Tracy continued to organize and pack, and I returned to The Podium...

The Podium is a guitar store in Dinkytown that has been there since 1959. Pretty sure Bob Dylan visited The Podium during his time here. What a great store. Anyway, a few months ago I played an absolute gem of a classical guitar there after lunch one day. I never forgot it. I had been looking at upgrading from my current classic guitar for about a year now, and I felt I had found that next step up. I had been meaning to return and see if I could trade in my current guitar for this new one, but I kept forgetting, or timing would get messed up... it just wasn't coming together. Anyhow, I finally got over there with my guitar and told my story to the guy working with me, and as soon as I said I was a music therapist, he responded, "Hey! My wife's a music therapist!" Folks, there are not a lot of music therapists roaming the country.

Once they made me an offer on my guitar and I looked at how much the difference would be, it still seemed out of reach. I had just blown $300 on clothes over the past week (actually - with my memorial suit it's more like $500), and just felt like I couldn't do it. So, I left the store dejected. I walked out to my car, and the lady at the parking booth said I could get my parking for free if I get my ticket stamped by the guy at The Podium. Since I didn't have the cash to pay, I returned to the store, and used the rest room while I was there. While walking back out, this little voice said to me, "You're gonna mindlessly blow $300 on clothes, but you won't spend that same amount for the most important tool in your professional life? Where are your priorities?" It wasn't that my guitar was broken, it worked fine, and had worked fine for the 4 years I've been playing it week in and week out. It's just that after 3 years on it, I could really 'hear' the sound of my guitar, not just the notes that came out of it, and it really wasn't the sound I was wanting to hear. With wooden instruments, they each have their own sound, and sometimes over time, their sound evolves as the wood evolves. In my case, the sound was moving further and further away from what my ear wanted to hear.

So, I stopped, took a deep breath, and said, "You know what? I'm going to get this guitar. The last time I played my guitar was for Bella as she died. Now it's time to move on." I even replaced the shirt and pants I wore that day. They would be forever etched in my mind and I couldn't look at them and want to wear them again after that day. So, we reached a deal, and out the door I left with my new guitar. It sounds BEAUTIFUL. It makes me want to play it all the time, and I didn't have that feeling from the sound of my last guitar, so I am very happy. My guitars are very personal to me since I work in such delicate situations in hospitals with them... they bring peace to so many... I want them to be the sweetest sound to my ear they can be.

I think the reason I'm rambling about the guitar story is that for some reason, spending a hundred here, eighty there, fifty here, a hundred, fifty more there doesn't SEEM as daunting as spending 280 at once. Why am I willing to mindlessly spend that much on clothes, and shy away from mindfully spending that much on my bread and butter? I share all this in the hopes that for those of you who at all struggle with money, you can know that you are not alone!

Okay, okay, moving right along.


This evening, Tracy took us out to Punch Pizza! It was mobbed due to pre-Friday night hockey fans, but it was great as usual. It was bittersweet since I knew it would be our last Punch pizza meal. There is a lot of that feeling right now. We then took Tracy to Mall of America tonight, and again I had that feeling. Now that we have decided to leave on Monday morning, the reality of this chapter ending is weighing so heavy on me. You know how many of you have commented that you are a little surprised about how much you are grieving the loss of Bella? I, too, am surprised how much I am grieving leaving here. So, Monday, we head out... but we're heading...

...East.

In the days after Bella's death, I kept receiving these strong messages that we weren't to head straight home. God wanted us on the road. I cautiously shared this with Angelique and left it alone, but each day for several days, it persisted, so I kept sharing. We realized we are already half way across the country, so why not take this time to make a roundabout way back home. So, we are heading out on 'walkabout,' well, not really, since we have an itinerary, although it is subject to change:

Homeward Bound Travel plan 10/10

10/25: Mon. Day 1: Minneapolis, MN to Schererville, IN 440 miles – 8 hours

10/26: Tue. Day 2: Schererville, IN to Louisville, KY 262 miles – 5 hours

10/27: Wed.Day 3: Louisville, KY to Asheville, NC 360 miles – 6 hours

10/28: Thu. Day 4: Asheville, NC to Winston-Salem, NC 145 miles – 2.5 hours


10/29: Fri. Day 5: Stay in Winston-Salem for 'EB Gathering'


10/30 Sat. Day 6: Winston-Salem, NC to Atlanta, GA 320 miles – 5.5 hours

10/31 Sun. Day 7: Atlanta, GA to New Orleans, LA 469 miles – 7.5 hours

11/1 Mon. Day 8: New Orleans, LA to Dallas, TX 547 miles – 9 hours


11/2 Tue. Day 9: Stay in Dallas for 'EB Gathering'


11/3 Wed. Day 10: Dallas, TX to El Paso, TX 638 miles – 10.5 hours

11/4 Thu. Day 11: El Paso, TX to Phoenix, AZ 430 miles – 7 hours


11/5 Fri. Day 12: Stay in Phoenix for 'EB Gathering'


11/6 Sat. Day 13: Phoenix, AZ to Orange, CA 359 miles – 6 hours


We are still working on the OC memorial date. We are shooting for 11/13 or 14, but it depends on several busy schedules coinciding, so hopefully we'll know more early this week.

We are calling the three events we are planning EB Gatherings because we don't want them to be as formal as the MN memorial was. There will be a little structure/program with us sharing our story and music, but mainly we want to give our online community the opportunity to meet each other, us included. Plus, on the EB Race T-shirt, it has the 4 pictures of Dalyon, Tripp, Jonah, and Bella. Many of us have fallen for all of these adorable kids. Well, we want Bella to meet all of them, one way or another, and we want to meet Courtney and Tripp, and Patrice, Matt, and Jonah as well. We have been bonded together through this disease called EB, and so many times over emails, phone, and the blog, we have wanted to just reach out and hug each other, well, now we have an opportunity to do that.

I have never really felt called to share my story in such a manner, but God's plan for us is His alone to know. Right now, we have just turned our lives and will over to the care of God, and in return, we have felt such comfort amidst the pain of grieving. We will spend two weeks sharing about the power of faith, love, and Bella.

Once we are home, we will have our final CA memorial. After that, we will listen to God, and allow him to tell us where he wants us and what he wants us to do. It is very strange sitting in this level of complete surrender and trust. EB has brought me to my knees, and Bella's death has brought me to the floor. I feel like my will has been finally crushed into powder and is just blowing away. I miss my will, it's what I am used to, but I learned that my will is not only insufficient at the end of the day, but it can be a genuine hindrance to me getting to the really good stuff in life.

Okay, that's enough for now. I am falling asleep as I type this. We love you all.

One day, Bella did look back and say, 'Yeah, when I was born, I had this rare skin condition, but when they brought me home from the hospital, it went away."

God night.

41 comments:

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE, Ringgolds. You are the most accessibly eloquent writer I have ever had the privilege of reading.
    Thank you, AGAIN, for so humbly including us in your journey. In Bella's journey.

    SO MUCH LOVE
    Kirstin
    San Jose, CA

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  2. Your will is quite enough, Tim, if you still can write and talk. Just rest now. Just rest.
    It's good that you have plans, see, everyhing will keep on going somehow. You are all terribly tired by worries, hospital stay, your hearts have been wrenched so many times you even don't remember how much.
    I think about Bella and all of you every day.
    I had the same impulse as you when my little son died of Eb - we celebrated his life with the people whose hearts he has touched, with kids, balloons, nice food and music, calm and optimistic speeches... i was rather happy then that his pains were over, but later, when the terrible memories faded, it was worse, cause I just missed very much my sweet and pretty baby.
    So be thankful for the shock, it somehow helps you live and function now.

    Love,
    Elena

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  3. Oh...my heart just skipped a beat when I read that you all are coming to W-S! I have been harboring this desire in my heart that somehow I might be able to meet you guys. I never expected that opportunity to happen so soon. Of course, I'm already crying just thinking about it. That's something I tend to do a lot of these days - cry - but I'm good at it, so get ready! Wow...I'm so excited!

    I certainly will be thinking about you all as you begin the final packing and preparing. I'm sure there is a wide range of emotions as you end and begin.

    Praying for peace and healing.

    With affection,

    Susan
    A friend in NC (W-S...woo hoo!)

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  4. I too am thrilled you are coming to W-S! I feel like I know your family but would love to meet you all in person. Your strength amazes me!

    Cara

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  5. In the days before I left San Diego post-internship, I felt a terrible heaviness in my heart as well... so much that it made me bodily sick and I couldn't really enjoy it. :( Even though I was there for only a few short months, the connections and memories I have from that time is beyond comparison. I'm praying for you and your family as you prepare to head home.

    On a separate note - I'm very much wishing I could see you all in Dallas, but it's quite a hike (250 miles or so) for a Tuesday evening. Nonetheless, I'll be thinking of y'all :)

    Stephanie
    Houston, TX

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  6. Tim: If any of your EB events are open to us I wold love to come to the one in Phoenix!

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  7. WINSTON-SALEM!!! YEAH!

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  8. OMG! You're coming to Dallas!!!!!! Thank you, Thank you! You have no idea how happy this makes me, I've been soooo down since Bella passed away, I cry and it hurts so much that she's no longer here. But I know that she's not in pain anymore, she's happy and watching over all if us. If you need anything while your in Dallas please feel free to contact me. And I mean it! Can't wait to see all of you, I believe that seeing all if you will help ease this heartache, I will feel better meeting you and giving you guys a great BIG HUG! Will continue praying for all of you, especially while you are driving....stay safe! Lots if hugs from Dallas.

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  9. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I feel so privileged to share in it. I'm hoping to see you all in W-S NC!

    Kim in NC

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  10. Just head south from Atlanta for another 5-6 hours and you can come see us in Orlando:) Or even just to Jacksonville where Janel is and we'd could drive up there! there are other EB families in that area as well. But I am sure you'll be sick of driving by then. That is awesome you are meeting Jonah and Tripp! I hope to someday as well!

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  11. I think it sounds like a wonderful plan! I can't wait to see pictures of you guys with the other two families that I've grown to love, also. God's speed and safe travels....always in my prayers.

    Love, Neysa

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  12. Tim,
    In this blog you write: "You know how many of you have commented that you are a little surprised about how much you are grieving the loss of Bella? I, too, am surprised how much I am grieving leaving here."

    After the journey that you have so eloquently documented not just for us but for yourself as well, not you or any of us should be suprised at your grieving. This is a process that will be differnt for all of us. You should be grieving about leaving MN, it was the place you took Bella to get better and then take her home. It is the place where she did "go home" and you and your family will never ever forget it. How many times have you seen or heard the saying "Home is where..... Home is whatever you want it to be, your home, your family's home, University of MN Hospital's home, RMH's home, God's Home. You may be leaving your MN home but know Bella will be with you no matter where "HOME" may take you in your joureny of life.

    Darcie in CT ( You are welcome in my home anytime you want to come back to CT)

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  13. Dear Bella's Daddy, Mommy, and Ali~
    This is only my second time posting...I posted once a few weeks ago when "we" were all sending our "mind-messages" to God, letting him know that we really would appreciate his guidance with Bella. Sadly, Bella lost her battle with that horrific disease EB, but we all know she is the winner now. May I first tell you I was very saddened to hear that Bella returned "home" from earth...she put up a good fight as did her family and now she is pain free and watching all of you from above...waiting to see you when God calls you home.

    Reading your post today...I wanted to share a website with you of another music therapist...Woody Wolfe. He is from Danville, PA and if you get the chance to check out his website at web.mac.com/wwolfejr/ or join his Facebook page I think you will see that you have a lot in common with him. Along with bringing smiles and hope to sick children and their families, Woody also writes and sings inspirational songs that are very moving. I only wish he still had samples of his music on his website so that you could hear him.

    It is my hope that after you have grieved for dear Bella and yourselves...you will be able to understand why you as a family had to experience this painful part of your lives. Bella's mission of life is not over...it never will be...she will always be with you...may God continue to give you strength to get through these difficult days until you have the strength to smile again and not be sad when you think of your little angel, Bella.

    Thanks for sharing Bella...and your family!

    Sincerely,
    Jane Reynolds
    jrreynolds3@windstream.net

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  14. I am happy to read that you are taking the long road to you physical home. Each stop will be healing for you. Grief is a long road. And I am here with you on your journey.

    I am sorry and happy to see that your travels do not take you need my home. One day maybe you will pass through my part of this land we love USA.

    sg - KS

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  15. heaveno!

    looking forward to meeting you, ang, and ali in w-s!

    god bless y'all
    susan
    w-s, nc

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  16. Will be thinking about you and your family as you pass within miles of our home in the Chicago suburbs, on your way to Schererville. Safe Travels

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  17. OH!!!! PLEASE come to Jacksonville/St Augustine!!!! Or to Orlando and we can all go to Disney! If you were going to be in Atl any time besides Halloween I would drive up to meet you!

    I had such a great time meeting Jonah and the Williams Family - I've been trying to find an excuse to get out and meet Tripp too!

    What a fantastic trip you have planned! Praying for safe travels!

    <3 Janel!

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  18. I woke up this morning with a heavy heart missing Bella. I have NEVER grieved for anyone like I have for her. "We only grieve as much as the heart has loved". I keep finding my love for Bella goes deeper and deeper.

    What an amazing trip to have planned. Stay safe and watch out for running deer!

    I love the pictures you posted of the memorial yesterday. I will get mine to you soon.

    Sending my love to all and sweet kisses to Ali.

    Denise WI

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  19. Carla Spradlin, Portsmouth, OhioOctober 23, 2010 at 9:12 AM

    Tim, thank you for posting pictures. I like your plan of getting out there. Hopefully, I can make it to Louisville, that is the closest city. I can't drive now as I have a broken foot.
    Much of what you feel is normal. You are grieving as a Father and as a caregiver. I never met Bella, but feelas I lost a family member. Thank you again for sharing your little girl with so many people. I hope I get to meet you and your family.
    Prayers, carla

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  20. I love to see you and Tracy together. You have a nice plan to go home and recieve love from family and friends.
    Take care during your trip and enjoy your new guitar,you deserve it.
    Love,
    Mariana

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  21. There are hugs waiting for you in Milwaukee on Monday if you should decide to take a little break here!!!

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  22. I'm so excited for your road trip. This sounds like a good healing opportunity for all of you. Miss you guys in SoCal! I can't wait to see you and give Ali a giant hug.

    Kelli

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  23. Tim & Angelique - yesterday (Fri) I could just not get my mind off of thinking & praying for you all and thinking of sweet Bella. God and Bella have a mission for you all and I am so happy you are taking your "walkabout for EB". If you are ever in NJ my home is always open!

    Tina in NJ

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  24. I am looking forward of receiving a blessing when we meet in W-S on Friday. Prayers for safe travel on this new journey.

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  25. Hoping to make the Dallas event!

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  26. Wow- you're coming to Dallas! If this is open to everyone, I'd love to try and be there. Let us know the specifics once you're closer to 11/2!

    Prayers for safe travels and a peaceful journey for all of you!

    Love,
    Laura

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  27. Happy Travels.. I'm glad you are taking some time to visit, relax, rest and rejuvinate! We will miss you here in MN...but I know we will see you again soon. What you wrote about Ang yesterday was amazing, I agree with every word! You are both amazing together too. You are so blessed to have each other. I hope we can all keep in touch!

    Much love,
    Amanda Schauer

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  28. Ali is a doll...the picture of her feeding Bella, is a d o r a b l e....she lives up to the definition of sisterhood...she's an awesome sissy! You & Ang continue to amaze me (why am I surprised?!)...I pray for safe travels and peace be with you.
    ps...so happy to hear that you *justified* (when there really wasn't justification needed) and traded in your guitar...it must bring a happy feeling to rock out on it! You deserve that and more...by far!

    with all our love,
    nicole b & family

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  29. Wow! How great to travel across the country. So thoughtful of you, too, to consider the blog followers. Last night, I dreamt I met you guys and when I logged on first thing this morning as always, I couldn't believe it.

    Anyway, best wishes for safe travels.

    And, thank you for the story about the guitar. I think "the reason you are rambling on about your guitar" is because it is very IMPORTANT to you. An important part of your life. I'm glad you shared it. I hope you never feel any guilt over it. It is a tool you need for your work. You love your work, so naturally you're going to love your guitar. Please, please, please enjoy the heck out of it. I think it's really cool that you even FOUND something that sounds perfect and will work for you.


    I have had THE best experiences with every music therapist that I've crossed paths with. My daughter responded extremely well and learned many things including academics and social skills. She loved it. Whoever you treat will undoubtedly be blessed.

    I've been humming Bella's song all day long today. At one point I "caught myself" singing it...from out of nowhere I heard myself, loudly. I don't know. My feelings are all over the place for Bella and for you and Ang and Ali. I think right now I'm more caught up in sadness for your family. I totally know you guys are so strong, but geez, a parent losing a child is sometimes unbearable. I know so much good has come through Bella's journey, I really do. But I just ache for you. Please know your family has hugely impacted lives and you have many people to "be there" in any way possible.

    Take care.

    Suze

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  30. I am so glad you have a new sound for a new day. :o)

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  31. The sock photograph is amazing; it speaks volumes about the way you and your family try to look at things. You are all inspiring.

    As other readers have mentioned, it's wonderful to hear that you purchased the guitar. It sounds like it will bring you immeasurable satisfaction (and many others will benefit too- a great purchase indeed).

    Your journey home sounds like a wise one. You are bringing so much attention to this disease EB, and surely you will begin to heal on this journey home.

    Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story and all that you have experienced.

    Thank you for sharing Bella. I saw a butterfly the other day in Greenwich, CT by the water. It was the most gorgeous day and one special butterfly came passing by. I don't think I would have stopped to notice- but Bella reminded me to notice and to stop (most importantly).

    Have a good night.

    The Jordan Family

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  32. We stand in the gap with you as you celebrate Bella's life and grieve her passing. Your love for her, and her love of life, will live on!

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  33. Sorry Tim, posting again. But, I wanted to let you know if there is anything we can do for your family please let us know. Not everyone is on your route home; I'd love to be able to "do something" for your family. Know when Bella was so ill and you'd ask us to write to her? You'd ask for specific prayers. I want to do something. Tell us what we can do for you and your family. There has to be a way we can help. Is there anything specific?

    Thank you so much.


    Suze

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  34. We will be praying for everything involved with your leaving, safe travel too. Schererville, IN is only about 20-25 min. from our house! Thank you for your continued posts.
    love, Mary Chinn, Valparaiso, IN

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  35. A new day, a new guitar - and a new road home.

    Each of these makes me feel spirited even as I acknowledge the overwhelming loss you must feel on and off. and off and on, all the time at present.

    To take Bella home via the other EB sweeties across the USA and to meet your new-found American friends is such an amazing idea. And the fact that it will actually come to fruition is further proof (if proof were ever needed again) that Ang and Bella and Tim are truly remarkable people. Remarkable, determined, optimistic, attuned, clear and original.

    You are all all of those things, Ringgolds.

    Enjoy your trip back home with Bella. Take her far and wide before she swings back towards her home town, her neighbourhood, the place where she was born, the place of her first friends and her first memories. I have absolutely not a doubt in the world that the welcome home will be as extraordinary as the welcome she received from those who met her on her journey further north when she first went to Minneapolis.

    I do love the idea of her national wanderings, meeting those other tiny EB soldiers and all her new friends, before she and her sister and her mummy and daddy finally go back home.

    I bet the new guitar sounds clear and complex and rich and resonant - like its player. And his family.

    I bet the journey is calm and fun and thought-provoking and zestful all at once. Like Ang. And her family.

    I bet the journey is thoughtful and zany and hyper and effervescent all at once. Like Ali. And her family.

    All of the descriptions above apply to all of you - chuck 'em in the air, mix 'em up and gather up all the little pieces - and they will be a small subsection of a small slice of the Ringgolds, as I see you all.

    Bon voyage, travel with hope and with joy, as I know you will.

    Fondly,

    Jane

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  36. I think your trip home sounds wonderful. A long journey to spread Bella's story and meet with your online family. I'm so excited that you get to meet Tripp and Jonah and can't wait to read about it. And I'm very excited to hear what will be planned in Dallas and hope that it works out where I can meet you all as well.

    Minnesota is my home, I spent my first 19 years there and no matter where else I live Minnesota will always be my home. Aside from the beauty of it your reasons for missing it are so much more. It will forever be your last memories of Bella.

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  37. WOW once again you have me in tears. I wanted to get to the blog and read this morning but we have had a non stop kind of day and right now I'm on my DROID reading your blog since my day is still not over. I am so impressed with your continued strength and ability to listen to Gods whispers thru all your pain. Thank you for being so candid with your feelings. We do LOVE AND MISS Bella.

    I think its great that you will be traveling to visit all of Bellas EB friends. That's going to be an awesome experience. Enjoy it. I look forward to seeing all of those pictures.

    Lots of Love,
    Amber, Craig, Malorie(2 1/2), Liam(9mos.)
    The McLaughlin Family
    Moreno Valley, CA

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  38. So glad you have a new guitar! You need positive, meaningful steps for you (not to be redundant). I was thinking of Old Testament times when various followers of God would build a tabernacle for the Lord, to honor Him, after good and bad times. And for you, a new outlet for healing and strength.

    I just wanted to encourage you. Being one with whom has been to a place where my will was crushed, the Lord is honoring all you've done for Him, and your family, and perhaps now is a time to just "be." I really clicked with that concept at a GIM training. Acknowledging that it's ok to just "be," and not compare where you are with others. Everyone's journey is unique.

    "Be still and know that I am God."

    Maybe right now you might feel numb to this, but at some point if you are able to get your head and emotions around the fact that leaving MN isn't leaving Bella. You can always come back to MN; and Bella is always with you. Have you ever read the SHACK? If not, now may not be the time. But, in essence, we all have a shack. But, we ought to try not to be driven by fear. But, take in what you can, and just be, and let God handle it.

    Praying for peace, rest, and renewal for you all.

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  39. I saw on Jonah's mom's blog that you were having an EB gathering there, and I thought, "How wonderful! Bella's daddy does it again" and then I see that you are planning several other stops along the way. Oh how I wish I still lived in Dallas, we moved about a year ago to south Florida, so sadly I won't be able to make any of the events. But I'm sure you will have a wonderful time celebrating Bella's life as you travel the country. It seems like the perfect way to transition back again. I know what it's like to love a place and have to leave it. All I can say is hang pictures of MN when you get home, your squirrel friends, the trees, what you loved and saw every day. It helps me. We move around for my husband's job, but we both miss the west coast, and specifically Portland, OR, dearly. I often dream of Mt Hood. This used to make me sad, but now I'm glad I get to see it, even if only in a dream.

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  40. Dear Ringgold Family,
    Oh you bet we will see you Nov. 5th in Phoenix!! Hugs to all of you as you begin your round-a-bout move back home to CA.
    Safe travels, we will see you soon!
    Love,
    Michael and Robin Setto

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  41. I traveled to Chicago on Friday and returned home Saturday night. I read the first part of Bella's Blessings on the way to Chicago. I tried to continue reading on the flight to New Orleans Saturday night, but reading combined with the turbulence we experienced, left me feeling sick, so I decided I would continue reading at another time. Many times before I thought about purchasing that book but never did. I usually read your blog in the late hours of the night and never had my wallet handy with my payment information. Once I got the news that Bella passed away, I knew I needed to order it right then. Now, as I read it, my heart is sooooooo heavy. I assume it is because I know the outcome. I am comforted by the fact that she is in Heaven and is no longer suffering. I am also comforted that she is finally able to say, "yeah I was born with this rare skin disease, but when they brought me home from the hospital, it went away!" Sorry if I messed that quote up a little bit. I don't have the book in front of me, but you know what I am talking about. I am just so sad that she is no longer here, that she couldn't be miraculously cured. Those are all my selfish reasons and I know that I need to stop feeling that way. I even wish that I had known about you and your family sooner. I wish that I could have prayed sooner.

    Even though I have never met you (however, I hope to change that when ya'll travel to New Orleans :), I too grieve for Bella as though I knew her so well. I believe that I developed a spiritual and emotional relationship with Bella and your family through the time that I found out about ya'll and began my prayer journey with ya'll. I have a 3 year old, Julie. About a month ago we began attending Daily Mass and on the way there, if she would ever fuss, I would tell her: We have to go and pray for Baby Tripp,Baby Bella, and a few other special intentions we have. Immediately she would stop the whining and was happy to be going. She loves praying for our special intentions and I love it too:) This afternoon, she and my husband came to lay down next to me in bed. I was on the computer and my husband said, Julie come watch Baby Tripp. We all love watching his videos. They just melt our heart. Julie comes in the bed and says, Mommy I want to watch Baby Bella. So I put the video on (which we have seen several times now. It is the tribute from one of your blog followers). Anyway, I cried once again as I watched it. While I continue to pray for you and your family as you journey along the grief process, I find myself needing to ask for peace for myself as well. I am honored to have been and continue to be a prayer warrior for Bella and your family. I really hope to meet you and your family while you are in NOLA.

    Peace and Prayers,
    Sharee Wells
    Ponchatoula, LA

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