Sunday, September 17, 2017


This is not a political post. This is not a post to take sides. This is not a post about right or wrong.

This is a post about compassion and heart for the hardest decision a caregiver has to make. This is a post about knowing what a mom's eternal love for their child feels like. This post is about making decisions for a loved one that will hurt so very bad for you. Decisions that can't be reversed or regretted. This post is for the utmost respect for parents who have had to say farewell to their child, and wake up every day with a void where their child should be laughing, screaming, and living.

None of us know the conversations or decision that took place in Charlie Gard's hospital room except his parents and his doctors. The media might think they know, but they don't. Period.

What I do know is that there is today no cure for mitochondrial disease. There is no miracle treatment in the US or anywhere else in the world. There is hope for drugs that can prevent the disease from progressing, but there is yet a miracle drug to be found that can restore failed mitochondria.

What I also know is that the heart breaking decisions Charlie Gard's parents were faced with, I have been faced with. My friends have been faced with these decisions. We didn't appear in courts or social media. We fought next to our children and loved ones at the bedside of a hospital room in an intensive care unit. I have hold my child's hands, and the hands of other very sick children, who I knew the most difficult decision had been made for. I knew it would be the last time I hold the hand still being warm.

These decisions were never made in a vacuum. They were never made by either the medical team or the parents. They were made together, not always in parallel. Most often not in parallel. The medical team seeing the signs earlier than the family. The medical team carefully bringing up the topic of quality of life. The medical team trying to feel out where the family stands. Trying to bring options to the table. Tears, hugs, and anger all bundled up into one crazy mess. Denial, hope, despair. Achy bodies from too much tears and muscle tension. Blurry eyes from too little sleep and too many tears.

When I understood the magnitude of mitochondrial disease and the devastation of the disease, I feared for years that I would have to make a decision like Charlie Gard's parents. I feared that my child would end up on life support, and that taking out the breathing tube would mean no more breaths for my child. I feared that I would struggle with the right decision, and knowing when the end had come.

In the end, I knew. I knew like Charlie Gard's parents knew. I knew that the only right decision for Jacob was to remove his breathing tube. He had slept for days. He wasn't sick with another pneumonia or virus. His body simply couldn't take another breathe. There was no medicine in the whole wide world that could change that.

I will never forget what unfolded in the PICU room that last weekend of Jacob's life. We were surrounded by Jacob's circle of friends who loved him so very much. There were tears and laughter from all the stories and memories our boy had created in his ten years of life. There were doctors by our side who didn't just care about medicine, but cared about our boy and knew they would miss him dearly. There are memories from that day that will make me start crying any time I think about them. When his long standing best friend and nurse hugged him like she could never let him go. When Sarah refused that this was the time to let go because she needed more cuddle time with his brother. When my dad called me right before we had to make that dreadful decision reality. When I laid next to you in the hospital bed your last night tracing your face with my fingers, so I would never ever forget a single piece of your beautiful face. And I will never forget your last breathe.

There are too many Charlie Gard angels to count them. They are happening every day in hospital rooms around the world. There is no right or wrong. There is no taking sides. There is just tragedy to have to say goodbye to a child where there is no cure in sight and no more medicine to help. What I hope for Charlie Gard's parents is that outside of the media they had time to be with their Charlie, and that they came to peace when the most devastating decision was finally made.

This post is for Charlie Gard's angels and all the parents and caregivers out there who had to make the most dreadful difficult decision in their lives. They did it out of love for someone they loved more than life itself.


Saturday, September 2, 2017


Dear Jacob,

Sometimes I let myself feel a seizure. I let myself truly feel the pain of your seizures. It is something that is ingrained in me. We endured so many together, way too many for such a little body. Way too many in ten years of life. The longest seizures lasting eleven long days and nights. That was a very challenging time for you, for us. I still to this day can't imagine a stronger person than you. Everyone told us that was it. You had completely different plans, and went on living for another six and half year. You showed the doctors wrong. You showed the world wrong. How lucky was I they were all wrong.

When I think back on your seizures, it always involved a clock, preferably where we could track time by the second. The beginning of a seizure was often subtle with you. Did you just stare out in the open or was it the beginning of a nasty seizure we didn't know if we could stop or not? The times when your eyes were starting to look up and to the right, to the left. Were you going to get "stuck" with your eyes or would they come down again? You were always trying so hard to break the cluster. Seconds turning into minutes. Knowing that for each minute, we were getting closer to execute your seizure action plan and give you your rescue medications. Medicines to be drawn up. That nasty sticky red medicine that I still know the taste of. My eyes never leaving your pulse ox, adjusting your oxygen level as needed. Many times calling your neurologist at the same time as I was watching you like a hawk. I never broke down in the middle of our emergencies. I pushed through, kept my head clear, all to advocate for you.

And then there were the times when the seizures took over. Whatever we did, we couldn't control them. The seizure monster took over our lives, our souls, our happiness. If you are someone who has never called 911, you have not experienced a true medical emergency. It's scary. You're not in control. You're needing immediate help - now.

I can't even count the times I had to call 911. It was familiar territory to us. I knew what the dispatcher would ask me. I knew what the ambulance crew would ask and would do. I learned to open the front door, so they simply could walk in. I made sure your medication sheet and seizure action plan were available for them. On a good day, my bag was packed and ready to go with you. Other times, the cell phone didn't even accompany me. But I never, never knew how you would do. I was a hawk in the ambulance. I often had to negotiate with the medical crew. I never wanted them to start a line in the ambulance. No one ever succeeded, so why put you through that pain. I had to give in at times when they wanted to medicate you in the ambulance. I knew where on the highway they would call Children's to let them know you were coming. I was always happy when we were greeted by our favorite ER doctors and nurses.

We had many, many hospital stays due to seizures. They were often frustrating hospital stays. Neurology is not a clear science. One thing that might work for one patient might have the opposite effect on the next patient. Neurologists who didn't know you made me scared. They approached you with their typical cards, which we already knew would not work. Negotiations, patience, and trial and error. I got to witness the hierarchical structure in the hospital where I just needed to get to your doctor, no matter what. Advocacy and patience all bundled up in one.

Jacob just home from the hospital after having uncontrolled seizures.

In your ten years of life, I never, never got used to your seizures. Each one of them ate at my soul. Each of them was a threat to your life. You went in and out of periods of epilepsy, and they took over our lives. They took over your brain, your body, your mind. They made me feel helpless. They made me wish for a miracle, a miracles to make you seizure free. One wish that never happened.

Today, I don't need to worry about your seizures. Your brain is not seizing any longer. In my world today, there are plenty of opportunities to sweat the small stuff. Plenty. So to feel your seizures from time to time make me stay real. Make me not forget about what truly matters. And it makes me remember you because even on one of your hardest day, you were my beautiful boy. I could hug you. I could kiss you. I could be with you.

Sweet beautiful Jacob,

I love you forever to the moon and back,


Saturday, August 19, 2017


Dear Jacob,

It was a little relief when your first anniversary was over. We had made it through all "the first ones" without you. I of course knew this wasn't it, but maybe it would be a little easier to relive holidays and other special days with one year under the belt?

It worked with a busy travel schedule around the globe and little vacations throughout the summer, and then bang! Right there was school start once again. Right there was my birthday, and the grief came to say hello once again.

I did better this year than last when I hardly could make it in to your school without being a complete mess (Dear Jacob). I was able to take Sarah to her school without crying every five minutes. But I had the urge to find you. I took Friday off to make it a long birthday weekend, and first on my list was to climb Flagstaff. I found you in the butterflies and in the stillness of Walker Ranch where I often feel like the only human soul in universe. The sky was clear blue against the black mountains and green grass. I sat at the amphitheater where your ashes are spread, and talked to you. It was our own conversation, and one to only be shared between mother and son. Between you and I.

Jacob, I am getting faster on the downhill! I felt so good going downhill and feeling the wind against my skin and my face. I felt like flying! I hope you get to experience that as well.

And then I went to your school. I went to sit on your bench. I went to sit under the big tree. I went to hear the sound of your classmates on the playground. I went to look at the door that was your entrance to this school. I cried. Sad tears since there will be no more school starts for you. Happy tears because you had the most amazing teachers and friends at this school. In fact, three of your favorite teachers made your memory bench happen. They wanted you to have a permanent place at your school, and how lucky am I, that they made it happen. As I was sitting on the bench, I texted two of your teachers to let them know where I was, and I was thinking how incredibly lucky you were. You made a forever imprint on some of those teachers who I today call my friends.

I thought about you and I running in the annual school run. You loved it so much that we went around and around despite that stroller of yours being a tad heavy. I thought about your last teacher, and how incredibly positive she was about all your strengths. Not once did she see anything you needed to change or improve. What a beautiful refreshing gift she was to both of us in the endless IEP meetings we endured together.

After I had my moment on your bench, I was ready to go home. I felt ok. School start means I have to visit at your elementary school, probably for years to come. I am also hoping to meet with some of your teachers throughout the year, bring a coffee, and simply sit and chat about you on your very special bench. One of my absolute favorite things to do.

This past week reminded me that grief will come and sit with me when it wants to. It's like a force I can't avoid or fight. I can keep it under bay for a little bit, but it will always win. It will always find me. It's something I will have to face head on. Grief and love go hand in hand. It goes back to one my favorite Winnie the Pooh's quote:

Sweet Jacob, I love you to the moon and back,


Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Dear Jacob,

Life has been a whirlwind over here. I have been traveling a lot, and been to new places in the world I never knew if I would see for sure. It’s a little bittersweet, since I wouldn’t be able to travel this way if you were still in my life. Know that I always carry you in my heart wherever I wake up in the morning. You are never far from my mind. I see you in the sun rise and in the sun set. I see the little signs you give me of butterflies and rainbows wherever I happen to be.

A little message to the Buddhist Gods in Tokyo.

Your sister is enjoying her summer break. She is not interested in it coming to an end. We got to spend a few days together all of us in the mountains recently. We brought her dog, and it’s amazing to see the special bond the two of them have. You would have loved her little dog, and he sure has a little of your strong minded personality we so need in our family.

I got to go to the pool a week ago, which is something I haven’t done much this summer. I really missed you there. That was the one place we always took you in the summer. It was your happy place, and something we could do as a family. I missed the weight of carrying you in to the pool, and taking a little break on the steps so I could rest my arms and you could get used to the water temperature against your legs. I missed seeing your happy face and you vocalizing on your floatie. I missed getting you ready in the shade after your swim, and holding your hand when you were resting on the sun chair. I do miss you so much.

And in the middle of missing you as only a parent can do, I try to find a new normal. I search for moments of happiness without you in it. It’s different, and it isn’t always easy, but that we both already knew about life. There is emptiness where you should be. But by now I have learned to wake up each morning, and my first thought is not to check on you to make sure you’re ok. I have learned that our home doesn’t have the same sounds and smells as when you were in it. I have learned that the rhythm of my day is quite different now. I have learned to not live by your daily schedule. I have learned that the sound of an ambulance doesn’t mean another emergency for you, even if sirens still bother me. I have learned firsthand that change is the only constant in my life. I try to hang on to those special moments in life that often are so simple, the moments that make up a happy life. That is the one gift of life I will always associate with you.

Some happy moments from this summer:

Sarah on the Mexican beach.

Celebrating your 1st anniversary with friends and balloons.

Run along the river Spree in Berlin.

Sarah off to Kentucky for her first out of State summer camp.

Lisbon with a very dear friend.

Completing another Courage Classic supporting the Mitochondrial Clinic at Children's.


Greetings from Tokyo!

Sweet Jacob,

I love you to the moon and back,


Saturday, July 15, 2017


Dear Jacob,

It’s almost a month since your anniversary, and I haven’t had a chance to sit down and reflect on your special day. June 19th will forever mark the day we lost you. A day I can recall at any time. A day filled with details and blur at the same time. A day I can recall hour by hour up until there was no more.

I struggled with your birthday. I was exhausted from having to live through our “first” Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas without you, and then it was your birthday only a month later. In the end, your birthday turned out to be a perfect celebration of you, mainly due to your school celebrating and honoring you in a very special way.

For your 1 year anniversary, I felt we were ready to do something. The week leading up to Father’s Day and your anniversary was hard. It was as if I had to force myself to live through those last days together with you once again. I was in Germany and Portugal for work that week, which I still think softened the edges of that week due to not being in our home environment. I still relived those last days in the PICU miles and miles away from home.

We took the day off, which was the right and only thing to do. Your dad and I got up early and biked up Flagstaff. We stopped at the amphitheater to spread some more of your ashes. It was a beautiful Monday morning and in the stillness of the nature we could simply take in the surroundings and talk about you. It was a moment completely dedicated to you. We had breakfast together, which is a rare thing on a Monday morning.

The rest of the day, we had time to prepare for the celebration we had planned in the evening. We didn’t really do something too special, but it was a nice feeling to not have to rush and to not have to juggle work. I had a moment where I questioned if it was the right thing to invite our friends to celebrate you with us. Maybe I made a too big deal out of this very personal day for our family? I could see Sarah getting uncomfortable as we were getting closer to go up to the park where your memory bench is located, knowing she had to face friends who share in her grief.

In the end, it turned out to be a most beautiful evening. An evening where we remembered how very special you will always be, continuing to live on in our hearts. As we got up to the park, a high wind came out of nowhere, and I knew it was your way to say you wanted to have a little part of this as well.

We had 60 red and blue balloons full of love messages we sent up to you from your Minion memory bench. The sun was starting to set against a perfect Colorado summer sky as the balloons drifted up to you. Children were following their balloons until they were only little dots in the sky. It was a time for stillness and reflection.

After the balloon release, kids were playing on the playground and running on the grass – just the way you loved to have it. Friends were sharing memories of you as they were sipping some wine, and thanking us for including them in this sacred day.

As the sun set, we were ready to let this day behind us. Sarah admitted she had had a good time in the end. Joakim and I both left with our hearts full of gratitude for our Jacob tribe who continues to walk side by side with us. That is a true gift to have in life.

Sweet Jacob,

I love you to the moon and back,


Sunday, July 2, 2017


Sweet Jacob,

Two months ago, I received this email from one of your friend's mom:


My daughter, Annabelle was in Jacob's kindergarten class and I just wanted to reach out to you. Annabelle loved Mrs. Pries' class. As she is approaching fifth grade this year it is still her favorite. Mrs. Pries just had a special way with those kiddos. 

I remember Annabelle's enthusiasm when Jacob was in class. She absolutely loved having him in class and it was always a time of excitement. 

I am so sorry to hear about his passing. I don't have words to adequately express our heart-ache for your loss. He was a wonderful boy and I'm so glad we had the opportunity to meet him. 

A friend passed along your blog to me and I've been reading about your family. I love that you write at the end of each passage "I love you to the moon and back". Our family owns the Color Me Mine at the Orchards and we stock mugs that say that phrase. I've attached a photo: 

Whenever I see that mug on the shelves I think of Jacob, you, and your family.

Annabelle's mom invited us to come in to her pottery studio and paint these special mugs in memory of you. It warmed my heart when I read her email. I warmed my heart because I knew in your short life, you did touch so many lives. Kids especially. You loved being with kids, and you had a way with them. They were always curious about your talker, your wheel chair, the suction machine, and all the little quirks that came with you being Jacob. I will never forget when your classmates all got to celebrate your 10th birthday with you, and as they were eating your birthday donuts, they were sharing nice things about you. I will never forget your classmate saying: "I think Jacob is the most important member of our class". Little did the girl know 4th grade would be your last year of school, but to her, you were the most important member of her class.

On Father's Day we decided to do something completely different from what we typically did when you were around. We decided to go out for lunch, and then do pottery together! Your dad was a little skeptical to paint pottery, but he was a good sport about it. It turned out that I was not doing too well in the pottery department. Sarah and the staff had to jump in to save my mug from a complete disaster...We laughed together, and it was a beautiful moment when your sister decided to add your name on both your dad's and my mug. It made it extra special.


Painting pottery turned out to be the perfect thing to do on Father's day, a day we will always remember as the day we lost you.

What your friend's mom Kelly did for us is a pure act of kindness. I never met Kelly. Annabelle has not been in class with you for over five years. Still, she reached out to me and gave us the perfect cups for our morning coffee and Sarah's hot chocolate. She didn't have to reach out, but she did. And in the middle of a very difficult day, we found a beautiful Jacob moment. All three of us. 

The simple acts of kindness are what has kept us going this past year.

Sweet Jacob, as much as I miss you, I always love you to the moon and back,


Monday, June 19, 2017


Sweet Jacob,

How is it possible that we have endured a year without you? How is it possible that we woke up each day and put one foot in front of the other when our hearts were aching? How is it possible to find laughter in the middle of grief? How is it possible to continue living when you are not part of this world any longer?

The answer was right in front of us with every sun rise and every sun set. We will choose the gift of life, even on the hardest days of loss, disappointment, and grief. We will continue living because you so delicately showed us what it means to live against all odds. As much as we didn’t want to change our lives, we had to. Sarah, Joakim, and I all took on the challenge to continue living despite the greatest loss, the loss of you.

What would I tell you living 365 days without you?

·         We got through all the “firsts” without you, some were harder than others. I anticipate Father’s Day being one of the hardest since that is the day you died on last year. I have learned that time doesn’t really matter when it comes to grief. You will forever live in my heart, and living each day without you takes a certain kind of strength.

·         We are still standing as one family. I was afraid that grief would rip us apart. I should have known we were a stronger unit than that. The secret lays in letting each of us grieve in our own way. I thought I would feel resentment towards Joakim and Sarah, but it just didn’t happen. It has been hard to watch your sister through grief, and how terribly hard it is for her to even start feeling the pain from losing you. I have had to learn to stand by her, and realize that there is no time table and right way of grieving you.

·       Grief is unpredictable. It comes when you least expect it. The things that trigger grief can be a memory, a smell, a song, a touch, a difficult day, a difficult person. It comes in all forms, and holding it in will never work for a long period of time. It will eventually find its way out.

·         I have had to define myself once again, as a mom, as a wife, as myself. It’s in no way completed, it might in fact never be done. I have found joy in having more time with Sarah, and in spending time with the incredible person she is. I have found joy in sharing things with your dad we just couldn’t do together before. I have found joy in work. I have in fact found myself stronger in the workplace knowing that nothing we all seem to so easily get worked up about truly matters. Sometimes I have this sentence running through my head “no one is going to die today”. It’s not something I can share with the world, but it puts things in perspective. It does make me feel like an old lady a little.

·        Beautiful friendships. My friends who have stood strong beside me. I can’t say enough good things about them, and I hope they all know who they are. The act of kindness we have witnessed from near and far is simply amazing, and we could never have gone through this past year without them. When I needed it the most, I have gotten the best messages about you. Friends sharing a memory or a dream about you. A friend making sure we had Minion wrapping paper for Christmas, anonymous flowers and cards outside on our front porch, strong hugs and tears together. Friends who are not afraid to speak your name, friends who miss you, friends who love you deeply. The power of love is amazing.

·         Growing up I was not a nature person. The thought of going in to the Swedish forest or camping was never appealing to me. I have always been a city girl, but I do find you in nature. I find you in the beauty of the sky, in cloud formations, in the stars, in the mountains, in the ocean, and in all the butterflies surrounding me in the summer time. I always say “thank you, Jacob” when a butterfly passes by. I hope you hear me.

·         It’s so important to remember you and do right by you. I have found a lot of your legacy is at Children’s. The place you spent so much time at. I still make time to volunteer, make speaking engagements, and continue to further parent and family engagement. I love that your legacy continues to live on at the hospital. The video we created for patient safety continues to be shown to every new employee at Children’s, and your message is loud and clear.

·         Last but not least, you changed me. I know what direction I was heading in before you entered my life. You stopped me in my tracks, and I had to re-evaluate everything in my life in order to be your mom. I decided to give it my absolute best, and I will never regret that. When the rest of the world was wondering how we did it, we shared the beautiful secret of knowing that the time with you would be the most beautiful time of our lives. When people thought it was hard to live in the hospital and endure emergencies, I knew it was the easy part. Living without you would be the really hard part. To not wake up with you each morning would be the really difficult part of life.

Last picture of our two children. I know the tube might be disturbing to some, but for me I just see so much beauty in this picture.

     Sweet Jacob, thanks for helping me find strength to go on living. I guess it was never a choice. You gave your life it all. How could I do anything less being your mom?

S   Sweetest, Jacob, I love you to the moon and back,