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Missing pieces of a heart

It’s a beautiful summer Sunday. Green lawn, lacy green leaves, and a cozy front porch, fronted by white, picket fencing and decorated with two white, wooden rockers, all welcome me to Shelbie’s home. A rabbit in the side yard wiggles a hello as I move past, heading up the walk toward her front door. I’ve found a family neighborhood – quiet, friendly, with smiling neighbors and yards full of color, trees and plants. And though I’m surrounded by a tranquil scene, I remind myself that I’m visiting a family who has been, and still is, living with heartache. Shelbie opens the door after my quick knock and I’m treated to her lovely smile and an invitation into her home. After we exchange greetings, she brings me further into the living room where pictures of her children rest all around the fireplace. We take seats on an L-shaped couch facing the fireplace. Shelbie grabs a light blanket and settles close to a large pillow I later learn was lovingly sewn for her son, Hunter’s, bedroom. We look at each other quietly and then begin a two-hour conversation filled with the complicated and heartbreaking story of irretrievable loss.

Welcome into the lives of two more children who were lost much too soon - two sons who are still very alive in the loving hearts of their family. Welcome into the passionately-determined life of Shelbie, who is devoted to keeping all of her children as alive in the hearts and minds of others as they are in hers: “I have four children - and two of them are no longer with me.” Welcome into the hearts of a rearranged family who know that though not all are physically present, every one of its four children will always be beautifully alive, tenaciously loved and deeply-held as precious.

Let me introduce you to Hunter and Joshua, their parents, Shelbie and Vic, older brother, Jeremiah, and younger sister, Madeline in “There’s always going to be a piece of my heart missing.” To find the full story, go to my website,, click on Books in the menu bar and navigate to Parents tell their Stories.

I wish you the blessings and renewed hope that the wonderment of a new year can bring.


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