Count Your Blessings

I am sure you are familiar with the oh so famous “White Christmas”. In that movie Bing Cosby sings a song “Count Your Blessings”. He sings…
If you’re worried and you can’t sleep.
Just count your blessings instead of sheep.
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.
I have made it a habit since I was a little girl having heard his song to do just that. It doesn’t always work, but I like it much better than sheep. I find I fall asleep happier. Last night I only got one hour of sleep because my newborn son Eli hasn’t figured out his sleeping pattern. (I also think his belly bothers him so we have a doctors appointment today.) Well today I was particularly exhausted and I was lying down for a quick nap before my in-laws went back to Florida. I happened to read an email that my mom had sent me this morning. I would like to share that email with you. Please know it is so powerful and sad. You will more than likely cry while reading it, but it is worth it.
Tori: My Angel
by Laura Windsor on Monday, February 21, 2011 at 3:16am

Here I sit at 1:21 AM after getting collectively 4 hours of sleep over the past 2 days. It is strange but we do find great comfort and appreciation for all of those who have posted on our walls and those who are praying for my family. Day 2 has been much harder on us all. I will admit I was hoping it was a bad dream that we would wake up from. But here I sit and listen to all the noises of my parent’s house including Jeff sleeping.Today we had to make funeral arrangements and get clothes and begin to put together her service which will not be a memorial, but a celebration of her life.

I have always believed that your day to die was set the moment you were born. God has a plan for us all and Tori was only meant to be on this Earth with us for a short time. She however was AMAZING! She was always much wiser than her years. She loved art and music and learning. When Jeff and I and even my family talk, we realize that she changed us all. I know God does not give us more than we can handle and that their is a lesson in every tragedy. I am now trying to figure out what that may be. Many people, who I never would have thought, have been profoundly impacted by her passing. Tori was MAGNETIC! I do believe she impacted and changed everyone she knew for her love of life, learning and art was phenomenal.

Jeff and I look back at her 6 short years and 3 months with her and realize that we could not have done anything more than we did. She swam in the ocean. We went to zoos, aquariums and museums regularly. We rode bikes together, painted birdhouses together, planted our garden together, we danced, we sang, we jumped on the bed, we laughed, we read, we loved, we watched what at times seemed to be 8000 episodes of iCarly…

Here is where I believe God was preparing me for this. Last weekend, she was a little under the weather. Her and I laid in my bed all weekend. I worked on my computer at times, but we watched TV and read June B Jones books and just had a great time being with each other. She told me that that was the best time she had ever had with me. That profoundly impacted me and I mentioned it all week to staff and patients even. At the time I thought it was silly since we had taken her traveling to so many places and done so many wonderful things with her. Also, Jeff and I celebrated Valentine’s Day this year like it was a birthday or Christmas with lots of presents and candy and flowers too. Each night this past week, Tori and I laid in my bed and read and watched reruns of Reba. She slept with me in my bed all week displacing Jeff to the couch. Jeff told me today that he knew how much she loved him, but that he knew that she and I had such a special connection and love for one another and he just couldn’t move her out of his spot. Another strange thing this week that I look back on now and wonder. I changed my ring-tone for my text messages to a bell tone on Wednesday morning. At work, I joked when it would go off and said, “oh another angel got their wings”. How does things like this happen if it wasn’t for a purpose to prepare me. When we got home from the hospital after her surgery, we laid together in bed again. I never left her side but for only brief moments of time to get a drink.

I was 2 feet from her when she started hemorrhaging and I knew immediately she was in serious trouble. It took only a matter of seconds for her to lose pints of her blood and collapse and only a few seconds more to realize as i was screaming at the lady on 911, that she had stopped breathing. Right then, my mom walks in and I get her to the floor. My mom tries to clear her airway and I begin chest compressions. We live 2 blocks from the hospital and they were there within 1 minute of the call. Here is another God thing, I had arranged for Jeff to go to the Boat, Sport and Travel Show in Indy with a friend and their son and he had left at 8:30 AM after telling us both he loved us. I do believe that was a God thing because he did not want Jeff to be there for what was to happen.

As I stood outside the trauma curtain I heard them say her “oxygen level was 61%” and “does anyone have any other suggestions”. All I could do was pray in that ER. As the EMTs and nurses were coming in and out, they would not look me in the face. I knew what that meant. We were given the news and after I broke down, the doctor went back in and kept trying for about another 20 minutes. As we walked in to see her, they were still doing chest compressions and bagging her. I told them to stop 1 hour after it all began. I heard that all of the nurses and EMTs were in tears as well. I held her hand and stroked her hair for probably an hour. Friends and family were pouring into the ER. It was so surreal. Something you only see in movies. As I am sitting there in the ER holding her hand, my phone begins to beep and it is the beginning of a flood of messages on my Facebook page. The word had gotten out very quickly. All day, I read the messages coming in through tears.

I realized today that our family and especially, our friends, are wonderful. My Dad and friends went with us to the funeral home.They have been in constant vigil at our sides through this all. They helped me collect her pictures and art work from around my house. They cleaned my bed and floor of her blood. They suggested songs for her celebration service. They played 50 games of Chutes and Ladders and Hungry Hungry Hippos and built things with Legos to entertain Taylor. They are all such wonderful people and have given us such comfort through this. Also the food people have brought to us has been wonderful.

Jeff and I sat in on the floor tonight in my parent’s bathroom and gave Taylor a bath. He is still convinced that she is just at school and will be coming home soon. But it was 30 minutes of time, I will never take for granted again. In all of this sadness and heartache, I encourage everyone who reads this to love one another a little bit more, to cherish what you have and make everyday, every minute, and every second of everyday with your family count. You don’t have to spend tons of money or travel like crazy. You just have to be there by their side to listen, laugh, talk and learn from them.

Tori was an amazing girl! She loved so many things. She was witty, kind, compassionate, stubborn, loving, caring, smart, funny, and the list goes on. I know that she lived each day to the fullest and is watching over us now from Heaven.

We are celebrating her life on Thursday at the Calvary Christian Church. Calling will be from 3-6PM and then we are going to have an amazing celebration of her life in true Tori style beginning at 6:00 to 6:30PM. We are going to be casting off hundreds of pink and purple balloons in her honor immediately following and then have drinks and refreshments and fellowship. Tori always loved a good party!

Art was her passion and she truly loved school with all of her heart. Therefore, we are beginning the Tori Windsor Whetzel Fine Arts Fund in her honor to help provide art supplies and materials to the local the elementary schools. This will help let her short life live on forever in our community!

You should know, I have never met Laura and probably never will, but my prayers will be with her and her family for a lifetime. I would ask that each of you would pray for them as well. I know that what gotten me through our last few months has been prayer and the support of thousands. So many people showered us with gifts, food, notes, smiles, and the unending love of Jesus Christ. It sounds like that is happening for Windsors as well, but why not send a lot more prayers their way.

So I ask you now to pray and keep praying for them as you think of things throughout the course of your life that you are thankful for. Maybe it will be on a walk with a friend, sitting a table with loved ones or like me as you are falling asleep. Whenever it may be, don’t forget to love those around you.

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2 thoughts on “Count Your Blessings

  1. Hi, my name is Caelyn and I am actually a friend of Susannah Bretz. I wanted to comment and thank you for sharing this. I was greatly impacted by the plea in the note to cherish family time. This is like a seal to my day because I was discussing a similar topic with a friend. So, I wanted to let you know that at least one person out there (but I am sure many more than that!) was so encouraged by this post. πŸ™‚ The Lord be with you and your family. In Christ,Caelyn

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