Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Mary Elizabeth Frye


I came across this poem in a blog that I read a few weeks ago about a mother who lost her 13-year-old son. Her blog and the poem kind of stuck with me. I made sure I would remember the author’s name so that I could add it to my stories, and to my surprise, I found the poem within seconds of typing Mary Elizabeth Frye. I was quite impressed with myself that I could remember an author’s name after a few weeks, but then again, this poem is Nicholas so how is it that I could have even forgotten? The mother wrote about how, when her son passed away, she would visit her son almost daily. How after a storm, she would go at her son’s gravesite to pick everything up and make everything look nice and neat again. How she thought it brought her close to her son to be at his gravesite daily. How as the years went on, her visits eventually became less and less only because she came to the realization that her son wasn’t at the cemetery; he was with her wherever she was. I cried when I read the blog because I can relate to what this mother went through after losing her son. I did the same thing, keeping his stone nice and shiny. I also cried because as almost six years have now gone by, I find myself visiting my son’s gravesite less and less. For a second there, I actually began to feel guilty.

After Nicholas passed away, I was at his gravesite almost every. single. day. Even after foot surgery three months after he passed, I still found a way to be there as I hobbled on one foot or in a boot. If it wasn’t every day, it was pretty darn close. That’s where my baby was and I felt like I was abandoning him if I didn’t visit him every day. It wasn’t until a few years after Nicholas’ passing that Erik’s grandfather said something to me (us) that made complete sense and brought me comfort. Grandpa was surprised that I made the almost daily visit to the cemetery, through the cold, the snow, the sunshine, the dark, and the rain when I would pull up as close as I could to Nicholas’ headstone with my vehicle, hoping I wouldn’t get stuck in the snow or mud. There I would be able to see Nicholas’ infectious smile and big eyes staring back at me through the car window, and there I would be staring back at his beautiful face telling him how much I missed and loved him. Grandpa looked at me and said, “You know Nicholas isn’t there, right? His body is there but he, his soul, isn’t there. He is always with you wherever you are.” And that’s when it hit me. I knew Nicholas was- and is- always with us, but I guess what I needed was to hear it from someone else. I needed to hear it from Grandpa. The visits eventually became less than daily and I was okay with that because I knew Nicholas was okay with that. And the guilty feeling that I had as I read the blog a few weeks ago? That went completely away after I read the poem. It’s so true. My Nicholas has always been in the wind and the snow, the sunshine and the rain. He is always in my heart and is always with me wherever I go.

If anyone knows me well enough, you know that I am not a morning person, so leaving the house at about 6:15 am every morning for work takes a lot of effort, especially since I haven’t had my coffee yet. Uffda! (I have a lot of German in me!) However, hearing the birds chirp these last few weeks somehow bring peace and make the mornings less atrocious. Sure, part of it has to do with no more snow and cold, but after reading the poem, hearing the birds chirp is Nicholas’ way of saying, “Good morning, Mom!” How can I not smile and enjoy the day?

I have been meaning to write another blog since my first one that was posted last July. Wow! I need to step it up a bit! How did so many months sneak past me? It’s this part of my life that I realize life is sliding right past me and I have no control over how fast it is going by. When I was younger, I remember my mom saying how fast the years were going by as my siblings and I got older. I thought she was crazy for saying that; it always felt like eternity before school would let out for the summer or before it was Christmas again. But she was right. Moms are always right. Every day I look at Maggie and Andrew and wonder how it is that they are 7 and 4 already. Where did that time go?

So much has happened since my last blog. Maggie started first grade in September and started dance and piano lessons again and the kids are nearing the end of swimming lessons (Andrew couldn’t be more thrilled because let’s just say he isn’t a huge fan of the water). We had our 5th Autumn HERO Festival in October which was a HUGE success- our biggest and best yet!. We held our 6th annual Christmas toy drive where we donated many wonderful toys to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, and we celebrated an amazing 5th Annual Birthday Bags for Beans (bean bag tournament) on Saturday, April 1st at the Great Blue Heron in Cold Spring. There it is… why the years are slipping right through my fingers. Running here and there for Maggie and Andrew’s activities, having a full-time job, being a full-time mom, and running a foundation full time. Erik and I are often asked how we do it all. We do it just as other parents do it. Maggie and Andrew need to be kids and enjoy their favorite activities (I just know deep down Andrew really does like the water). The full time jobs are needed. Being full time parents, what more can I say than what an honor and a blessing it is to be a parent. And running a foundation full time – well, that’s our way of taking care of Nicholas. We all do it - run here and run there for our children while working full time and juggling other things at the same time. After it is all said and done, we look back and wonder how we did it all. We all find a way somehow.

I woke up this morning with an unsettling feeling that I usually don’t wake up with. I shut off my alarm clock and laid in bed for no more than a minute when it hit me; today is April 6th. Today is my baby’s 10th birthday. Can I still call him my baby? Yep, I think I can. I found my way out of my bed and started getting ready for the day. Surprisingly, I did fine until I got a text from my mom wishing Nicholas a happy birthday and that she was thinking of us. I wanted to call my mom and tell her how much I missed Nicholas and to let the tears just run down my face. I was running late though so I decided to keep getting ready. I know now that I should have called my mom. We all need our moms from time to time. I needed mine at 5:30 this morning.

We celebrated Nicholas’ birthday last Saturday at our foundation’s Birthday Bags for Beans event, just as we have done four years prior. It was another unforgettable celebration for Nicholas. I usually speak just before the tournament starts and as I looked out to the large group of people that showed up, it literally took my breath away. There were many familiar faces that I expected or had hoped would be there. There were also faces that I did not recognize and I was so grateful that they were there to help celebrate Nicholas. Will any of these people ever know how much it means to Erik and me that they take a few hours out of their day to be with us as we celebrate Nicholas’ birthday? No. I mean, they all hear how thankful we are and can probably feel our appreciation in our hugs, but none of them will ever know how much it really means to us. This event is so special to Erik and me. All of our foundation events are special and bring tears to my eyes, but this one… this one tugs at my heartstrings the most. Celebrating Nicholas’ life when he is no longer with us physically is sort of tough. To see so many people come celebrate with us, well, there are no words.



10 years ago at 11:22pm tonight, the world I knew forever changed when my beautiful baby boy was born. I knew love before Nicholas was born, but wow, I never imagined the love I would feel after he was he entered our lives. He stole my whole heart the moment he was born and kept a piece of it when passed away, leaving just a big enough piece for his sister and brother. That was Nicholas, always taking care of others even at such a young age.

Happiest of Birthdays, my sweet Nicholas! Although there are some tears shed today from your mama and all those that love you, today will not be a sad day. We celebrate you today and will have fun- the same kind of fun that you taught us. Have an amazing day in Heaven with your grandpas and loved ones! I love you to the moon and back.

“You are my angel, my darling, my Star….and my love will find you wherever you are.”

~Nancy Tillman

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