Important Changes

Featured

We are sorry to announce that Carol Cacchione will no longer be managing our group, or available for local events.  Carol will be moving to be closer to her grandson and is looking forward to being his after school caregiver.  Therefore, all Empty Arms correspondence, including donations to the group, should be sent to:

Angela West, 10160 Loomis Lane, Lake City, PA 16423.

I will be updating the brochure and distributing it to the local hospitals with the current contact information.  If anyone needs brochures, or has suggestions of where some may be needed, please contact me at the address above, or call me at 814-774-7064, or email angela@mapsofmastery.com.  As always, this is our blog, and contributions from members are welcome and encouraged!

Carol, we wish you the very best, and will miss you dearly!

No November Meeting

I apologize that there will be no November support group meeting.  Attendance has been non-existent lately, and the second Tuesday happens to fall on my son’s 18th birthday.  I don’t feel it’s fair to ask someone else to lead that night, since it is unlikely anyone would be there.  Please feel free to seek support in our Facebook group, or to call me or one of the other members if needed.  We will have our regular holiday ornament meeting in December.

Mother’s Day/Flower Project/Donations

Mother’s Day is fast approaching.  I hope you will consider joining us for the Flower Project.  We will meet in the parking lot at Liberty Family Practice the Saturday before Mother’s Day, May 11th, at noon.  I will have flowers and some bulbs for decorating our babies’ graves and those of others throughout local cemeteries.  I have cut back on the number of flowers of years’ past, due to the limited attendance in recent years, but hope that we can continue this tradition.  I am happy to announce that some of the flowers will be donated by Beth’s Hearts and Flowers in Girard, and Naturally Yours Designs in Fairview.  Beth’s Hearts and Flowers is also allowing us to purchase the remainder of the flowers at cost.  I would encourage all of you to visit these wonderful local florists for your floral needs, as this is a huge help to our group.

In addition to the generous flower donations, we have also received a donation from Rose Day in Memory of her grandson Tristan Xavier Day for Easter.  Also, a donation in Memory of Tristan’s grandfather, Robert D. Day, from the Retired State Police of Pennsylvania.

I wish you all a peaceful Mother’s Day, with time, space, and love to remember your missing loved ones.

Seasons of Grief

Sometimes it takes me by surprise when grief falls upon me at certain times of the year.  You would think I’d expect it by now.  Sometimes, though, as years go by, the days I expect to be heavy are not as heavy as before.  This year, though, as hints of Spring start appearing, I am reminded that this is a season of grief.  March brings memories of my father’s illness, with Easter and memories of his death bearing down.  The end of March will always bring with it the heaviness of loss of our second lost baby, River, the cosmic joke of bleeding out our dream on April Fool’s Day.  And April brings both the anniversary of Dad’s death and the birthday of our late nephew, who should be 19 this year.

Somehow the grief is easier to embrace and not feel I need to hide in November and December, when the world is dark and dreary and everything seems to be grieving with me.  Spring is supposed to be hopeful, a time of new life, new beginnings, joy and celebration.  We aren’t supposed to be sad.  And yet we are.  Death does not always come at fitting times of the year.  It comes when it chooses, sometimes heaping itself upon other, older griefs.  And we have to deal with it, no matter how inconvenient.

If you are fighting tears when everyone around you seems uplifted by lengthening days and warming temperatures, know that you are not alone.  We are in this together.

Donations/Flower Project?

We are so grateful for the recent donations that have been coming in!  Postage for the holiday ornaments is our first priority, but we may be able to continue the Mother’s Day flower project as well.  I hope to do a mailing this spring to some local florists to see if we might be able to get some flowers donated.  Please let me know if you are interested in participating in the project next year.  I may be running a poll on the facebook page as well, since turnout was very low last year. This project has been a meaningful part of our group for many years, but it requires members to pick up flowers and place them at their local cemeteries.

Donations have been made in memory of Robert Day, Grandfather of Tristin Xavier Day, from:

Rick & Joy Juliette of Punxsutawney, PA

Dorothy Jane Pisarcik of DeLancey, PA

Student Health Services at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

The Fraternal Order of Police of Dubois, PA

and Shannon & Bryan Farcus of Athens, OH

Also, a donation from Rose Day in memory of her grandson Tristin Xavier Day on Christmas.

And, a donation from Cynthia A Ferrese in memory of her Granddaughter Angelica E. Booth.

Also, special thanks for Holly Manross and Bud Curry for their donation of stamps that was a huge help in the ornament mailing, in memory of their son Braden.

Ornaments and Donations

Annual ornaments will be going out this week, after our December meeting.  I hope you like this year’s model.  Again, materials were donated in memory of Eleanor Cilladi, who also lost a 9-year-old daughter.

We are sorry to hear of the passing of the grandfather of Tristin Xavier Day, Robert (Bob) Day.  We are so grateful to him and his family for requesting memorials be made to Empty Arms.  https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/punxsutawneyspirit/obituary.aspx?n=robert-d-day&pid=190890028&fhid=28056

Donations in memory of Robert Day have been made by:

Patricia and John Farcus of Walston, PA,

Luanne and Dennis Kendall of Punxsatawney, PA,

and Kathy & Charles Lewis of Erie, PA.

We also want to thank Holly Manross & Bud Curry for their lovely donation of stamps for the mailing!

Wishing you all holidays where the sweetness of your memories and loved ones outweighs the bitterness of your loss.

Donations

Thank you to Bob and Rose Day for their Thanksgiving donation in memory of their grandson, Tristin Xavier Day.

I would also like to thank Jay Cilladi who donated the materials for this year’s ornament in memory of his mother, Eleanor Cilladi, and his sister Maxine Cilladi, who died at age 9.  I’m preparing the ornaments for mailing, and I think they are extra meaningful, having been made with materials that belonged to another loss Mom.

I am still checking to see if St. Vincent’s will be willing to help us with mailing, but am doubtful that they are still able, as the hospital system has changed hands.  If you’d like to help the ornament mission continue, please consider sending a donation for postage, or just a donation of stamps to me at:  Empty Arms, c/o Angela West, 10160 Loomis Lane, Lake City, PA 16423.

Last Things

There’s a football in my gift closet.  I know it’s there.  It’s been there since three years ago when my husband and I both went holiday shopping and, unbeknownst to each other, each bought a football for our nephew.  That’s okay, we thought.  He must really go through them; he puts one on his list every year.  We didn’t know that would be his last Christmas.  How could anyone know it would be his last Christmas?  Last year, the football took me by surprise, when I opened the closet to put in new purchases.  Every time I went in there over the last year, it’s given me an extra jab.  This year, I remembered it before I even bought anything.  I know it’s there.  I keep thinking maybe we should donate it to Toys for Tots.  Do we know another boy who loves football?  One who would really enjoy it?  Is there a better place to put it to use?  But I’m not sure I’m ready to take it out of the closet.  I know it’s silly to let it sit there.  Someone could be using it.  It hurts to know it’s there.  I apologized to my husband ahead of time when I asked him to get the wrapping paper from in there, knowing he would see it, too.  Knowing it would hurt him, too.  But I think it might hurt more if it wasn’t in there.  I don’t want it to leave the house.  Not unless it’s going where it belongs.  I know I can’t give it to the person it belongs to.  I know keeping it isn’t going to make him miraculously available to receive a Christmas present.  And yet.

Last things are hard.  It’s why we keep the ashes instead of burying or scattering them.  It’s why we don’t pack away the baby clothes.  It’s why we put off ordering the tombstone.  It’s why that football may stay in that closet forever.

Three Years

By Amy Kemp Hall

Three years ago today I found out I was pregnant for the first time. The happiness I felt that day was better than I could have ever dreamed. The next 54 days were filled with excitement and planning and announcing to loved ones. Life was so sweet. And then on Christmas night, an ER physician told me my baby had died. Life changed that night, and has never been the same since. I have been blessed with 2 rainbow babies, but I definitely don’t deserve them. How could I have been given these two beautiful girls and still feel sadness every day? And they deserve much more than what they are getting from their mother at this point. My life has been unraveling since losing my baby, and I hate myself a little bit more each day for not being able to put it back together. I never could have imagined how deeply and extensively this loss would impact my life, and the fact that I am letting it impact my girls breaks my heart. I pray someday they will have a mother who can provide them with the joy and happiness they deserve, the same joy and happiness I felt 3 years ago today.

Empty Arms Program

Some of you may have seen the report on the news yesterday about the Empty Arms Program for infant gowns.  While these ladies share our name, they are not directly affiliated with us, and were unaware of our name.  We are thrilled to hear about their mission.  If you are interested in donating a gown or want to learn more about them, you can find them on their facebook page:  www.facebook.com/emptyarmsprogram.  We have also worked with Karen from Small Things Angel Baby Gowns for many years, who has done a wonderful job of keeping our local hospitals supplied with gowns and wraps for even the smallest of our babies.  Karen’s web page is:  https://angelbabygowns.wixsite.com/smallthings?fbclid=IwAR31mwtOGeDXvuhvxQ-C1SQaEt95g88Z9mS_YGzesrCE3R7sbr9tKo4GcCg