The crack of a baseball bat signals that summer is in our very near future. The brisk spring breeze and a few light raindrops remind us that Mother Nature isn’t quite ready to shift seasons in Minnesota. I looked up to see a sliver of the crescent moon glowing in the blue sky, rising at dusk among the clouds. 

Angel Kisses, Winks and Hugs

As days turned into weeks, months, and now 20 months – I’ve watched the night sky nearly every night waiting for the radiant moon to wink at me to let me know he is watching over us. Just letting the dog out for his last nightly duty has become a wish; hoping to find the moon in the sky above my back yard. Sometimes, I nudge my husband and sometimes he sends me a little wink. I will receive text messages from friends or pictures of a tiny speck in the sky that resembles the same crescent moon that I may be seeing. I’ve even received a wake up call, “get up and look at the moon.”

The last few weeks have been emotionally difficult. Anyone whose lost a loved one, especially a child, will face upcoming milestones, anniversaries, and emotional triggers that will take them back in time to very raw emotions. Recently for me it was Mother’s Day. Something will always be missing on these special occasions. Audrey’s twin brother, Nicholas, was stillborn September 13, 2013. At the first sign of Mother’s Day,  commercials, cards, and flowers blooming, I began to anticipate the emptiness, the tears and the let-down of what is supposed to be a day to celebrate motherhood. The voices in my head remind me that I am blessed with two beautiful children; Jackson will remind you we just celebrated his 4 1/2 birthday with mini-cupcakes and Audrey is transitioning faster than the speed of light from baby to and official toddler.

Nicholas has been gone for 20 months. A friend once asked me if I ever wondered what he would be like. My first answer was no. Now, I often think about what he would be like. “Would Nicholas have enjoyed playing baseball as much as his siblings enjoyed our casual night on the baseball diamond?” I must have thought so when I knit him his little baseball hat when he was born. I watch his twin sister grow every day, so I have to wonder what would Nicholas be doing in our chaotic little family.

One would think, I should move on – get over it. “Stop Living in the past.” Here’s the crazy thing; Nicholas keeps showing up in little ways through subtle signs and kind gestures. We call them angel winks. There’s even a popular book about the subject called When GOD Winks by SQuire Rushnell. Little signs that remind us of the importance of remembering our loved ones who’ve gone before us. Even if I wanted to move on, I keep getting little reminders from my angel that he is with us. I even wrote an article for the Angel Tree program about it after our first Christmas without Nicholas.

This year, around Mother’s Day, the Angel Winks were more like kisses and hugs from friends. Gestures that let me know I’m not alone in my grief. On a random Tuesday afternoon, while on my lunch break, I received a phone call from a Labor and Delivery nurse that I’ve been working with to make Angel Gowns. Lindsey was checking in on me. She wasn’t my nurse and didn’t even work at our hospital. We have kids the same age and enjoy getting together. But knowing the life of a busy working mom, I felt this small gesture, a simple phone call, was a bear hug from heaven to let me know that everything will be OK. 

Angel Kisses, Winks and Hugs

I knew Amanda was special before I knew she could crochet. I mean who else can manage a baker’s dozen of children all under the age of 8? Our children are fascinated with her Hearing Assistance poodle that accompanies her to church every Sunday. Her family has been supportive to us from the moment they learned our story. One night before Mother’s Day, she handed me a bag with hats to support Knitting for Nicholas. I didn’t even know she knew about my knitting mission. Her kindness just before Mother’s day made it clear that she has the heart of an angel.

Some people can just enter a room and spread their positive energy among a crowd. We’ve entered a busy phase in our lives running from place to place. Picking up and dropping kids off at parties and activities. Sometimes we feel like glorified taxi drivers. We don’t always have time to think about our problems nor the time to share them with someone who will listen. So when my friend, Elisabeth and I scheduled a quick meet-up after work one day, I felt blessed just to share this 15 minutes together.

The moment she stepped out of her car with the white box displaying a wedding gown on the front, I finally felt a little moment of relief and a huge amount of gratitude. I finally had my Mother’s Day Meltdown. And here, standing at the end of my drive-way was my beautiful friend, willingly donating her treasured wedding gown to be made into Angel gowns.

Angel Kisses, Winks and Hugs

 I know this was hard for her because of the symbolism the adorned dress carries as well as the parting of the dress, now with a new future and an entirely different purpose. I’m really not one who enjoys crying in front of people, but at the end of my drive-way, we both shared tears about how our hopes and dreams for our lives have become something totally different. She wrote me a beautiful message once about grief. I’ve posted it on my page, shared it with others going through grief, and am often reminded of the truth in her sentiment. 

Angel Kisses, Winks and Hugs

“Everyone experiences loss. But there is loss and then there is devastating loss. The kind that changes you forever, rattles your faith, and tries to break your spirit. Until you experience this kind of loss, you don’t understand that all loss is not created equal. Those who have experienced loss try to relate, but those who have experienced devastating loss know the difference. It’s a club that nobody wants to be in, but one that gives you depth you would have never attained in another way. It’s a very warped blessing

…one that most of us would trade if we had a choice. But we don’t. So we take what we can from the experience, learn, grow & empathize in order to feel like our suffering may ease another’s suffering (even if just a little). We work on restoring our faith & not allowing our spirit to remain broken. Yet, we continue to honor that which left a hole in our heart everyday, and continue to try to connect to those who may never understand the loss we’ve experienced. Continuing to pray that those who have never felt it, never do.”

Mother’s Day is over; another holiday is on the horizon, as it is with moving forward. Just like the season’s changing, Mother Nature keeps reminding us that time can not stand still. Yet, we will enjoy the little reminders during a night of baseball practice with friends that our loved ones are among us, little Angel Winks. A sliver of hope that we will be reunited with Nicholas one day.

Team Nicholas will be participating in a 5K. To donate:  Check out TeamNicholas2015


Melissa Haase

Melissa Haase is a wife, mother of three, veterinarian, and knitter, living in historic Stillwater, MN. Melissa grew up in Hastings, Nebraska in an average middle america family with her parents and older sister. Staying close to “home” (ahem...home is synonymous for boy), she attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Melissa married her high school sweetheart, Aaron, nearly 17 years ago. After a brief stint working in broadcasting, she decided to pursue her original major and childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian. Taking a homegrown Nebraska boy to Kansas for veterinary school should be considered one of her major life achievements. She received her veterinary degree from Kansas State University in 2008. After graduation, she and Aaron, two golden retrievers, and a cat moved to Stillwater, where she began working in a small animal practice. Once again moving her husband to the arctic north, practically Canada, and NOT back to The Good Life....did not win her any bonus points in the wife category. Melissa now works at Birch Lake Animal Hospital in White Bear Lake, MN. She enjoys meeting new clients with their pets and hearing the stories that make us all realize how unique the human-animal bond is. She now lives with a retired show champion, a 6 year old golden named Sparrow and the cat she acquired in veterinary school, a 7 year old calico named Katie. Most times it feels like a small zoo. Getting a later start than most of her friends, having a family didn’t come easy to Melissa and Aaron. They were overjoyed to finally welcome their son Jackson in November 2010. Jackson, 3, is charming, funny, and has more spunk than an entire classroom of preschoolers. Melissa is also mom to Audrey Rose, a beautiful, happy 6 month old little girl and a beautiful, heavenly angel, Nicholas George. Melissa loves nearly anything crafty. She learned to knit one Friday night her freshman year in vet school after wrapping up a long week with happenin’ night of wine, girlfriends, yarn, and husbands...not in any particular order of importance. The first thing she knit was a hot pink scarf with two cream colored stripes with yarn and needles borrowed from her friend, Meghann. Knitting has brought very special people into Melissa’s life over the last 10 years. Her latest project “Knitting For Nicholas” has blessed her life like a beautifully hand-crafted blanket could warm a child.