Meet the McNeil Family

Meet the McNeil Family

Friday, February 17, 2017


These thoughts have been rolling around in my head this last week and I had to put them down on paper. Please forgive my elementary attempt at hermeneutics. 


Joy and Sorrow has become the theme of my life. Two simple words to describe such complexity. It is the reason I love the movie "Inside Out". A revelation that joy cannot exist alone, it requires sadness to be relevant. Even at Waverly's funeral, my dear friend and pastor, gave a homily with this idea as a primary focus.

Many years ago when Waverly & Oliver were diagnosed I was angry (still am at times, don't get me wrong). My ability to pray was destroyed. I didn't want to pray for a cure. It felt hollow and naive. Genetics has played its part and there was nothing we could do to change that. I cringe when people say they pray for healing. I would ask instead they pray for strength, comfort, clarity, sleep, wisdom. This thought isn't to get in a theological debate about God's omnipotence.

As I was coping with diagnosis and a ferocious amount of anger, a very wise friend reminded me to keep the communication route open with God. She told me to cry, scream, and wail - He would understand. Years later, lots of twists and turns, wrestling with my faith, I find myself so grateful for that advice.

I was recently at a retreat. The speaker referenced the verses Romans 8:26, 27. It resonated with me and took me back to those dark days. 

"Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God." - Romans 8:26, 27 The Message

As I sat there staring at these beautiful verses , it occurred to me that instead of being reminded of this powerful message, I was constantly told to sit on the following verse, Romans 8:28. This is a verse that anyone who has darkened the door of a church has heard. And in my opinion it is one of the verses that can be used to belittle sorrow and shame hurt.

"That's why we can be so sure that every detail if our lives of love for God is worked into something good. " - Romans 8:28 The Message

I am in no way a biblical scholar. I haven't spent time studying Greek. But I have been in the church my entire life. And while I have learned songs, memorized the verse and heard countless referenced to "all things work together for good to them that love the Lord"; I have rarely seen the inclusion of the verses prior.

For years my prayers were wordless sighs, aching groans from the depths. And that is ok.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Hospital Packing List

I have been asked twice in the last few weeks about a hospital packing list. I keep a running list based on our experiences and I thought I would share it. I hope you find it helpful. Let me know if you can think of other items to add.

For Your Child
- Comfy pjs (nightgown if wearing diapers)
- Warm socks/slippers
- Favorite toy/stuffy/blanket
- iPad or portable DVD player
- Toiletry kit
- Personal diapers/pull-ups
- Sippy cup
- Favorite snacks
- Change of clothes
- List of medications (you don't have the bring the meds unless asked to; the hospital will supply daily meds whilst in the hospital)
- Lip balm
- Body lotion

For You
- Change of clothes x 2+ (I have been vomited on post-anesthesia many times)
- PJs that you won't be too embarrassed to be seen in; robe
- Slippers or flip-flops
- Cash for vending machines
- Favorite snacks
- Gum or mints
- Something to do whilst waiting (book, knitting, coloring, notecards, etc.)
- Pen and paper to write down questions or instructions ; also consider audio recording on your phone instructions if you feel overwhelmed
- Toiletries
- Towels - hospital towels are notoriously thin and scratchy
- Ear buds

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Past Tense

In the many phases that are grief I have discovered I no longer stutter over is. Waverly was. It is becoming easier for the word was to float off my tongue with all of its heaviness. I still flinch when I hear it, but it is part of my vocabulary.

I no longer confuse her name with Oliver's or Watson's. It isn't said as often and is spoken more reverently, memorialized. I speak to her often. Each morning I enter her room and open her blinds, greeting her with a simple quip. Her room is still her room, even though our desk is now there and most of her furniture is gone. Her name is still emblazoned on the wall in bright pink. Her favorite toys are displayed on her bookshelf.

Instead of the content deluge of reminders that she is no longer here, there are moments. Today I caught a glimpse of one of her princess dolls that I keep in the diaper bag. Oliver likes to hold them, so I keep one next to his football. All of a sudden the emotions tumbled forth and I ached to pass that princess back to her soft little hands.