Adventure of a Lifetime – Hiking the Colorado Trail

Adventure of a Lifetime Hiking the Colorado Trail

Adventure of a Lifetime Hiking the Colorado TrailOur story is certainly not a fairy tale, doubtful such things exist. But, it is our story, our lives together and meaningful in so many ways. As we set out on our adventure of a lifetime, hiking the Colorado Trail, we will go forward together in all that we are. Celebrating our lives together, our children, grandchildren and days to come.

Life is an journey filled with highs, lows and endless mundane activities. When we met in high school back in 1982, Debbie and I had no idea the future that would unfold for both of us. An unwritten book of experiences that would soon bind us together as we grew older together throughout the years. In 2017 we’ll embark on an adventure of a lifetime, hiking the Colorado Trail, thru. On our month long 486 mile trek we will be taking with us the memories, love and devotion we share together. Not to mention the array of incredible backpacking gear that will serve as our lifeline on the trail.

Why are we doing this? Beyond our love for the outdoors and the Colorado Rocky Mountains, we are determined to stay strong and continue to be active as we move beyond our youth and now into mid-life. Never arguing the fact that we are both stubborn and headstrong, we have so much to live for as we celebrate our 35 years together.

Our story is certainly not a fairy tale, doubtful such things exist. But, it is our story, our lives together and meaningful in so many ways. As we set out on our adventure of a lifetime, hiking the Colorado Trail, we will go forward together in all that we are. Celebrating our lives together, our children, grandchildren and days to come.

Is there a theme to our hike? Awareness? You bet! If for nothing more, we’d love for our efforts to bring attention to the often hushed subject of stillbirth. A subject we both know all too well as our first daughter, Shira Rose, was born still. It is in her honor we will hike the Colorado Trail. As much, for the many other children who lived for only a short time. During their fragile and brief lives they experienced emotionally and physically. They dreamed and created memories. They knew love, the love of parents who so desperately wanted to hold them and watch them grow up.

We welcome you to follow along with us as we set out on our adventure of a lifetime to hike the Colorado Trail. We hope our efforts will encourage you somehow to live life to the fullest and find meaning and comfort in a sometimes hectic world. Get out there and take hold of your story!

In the days, weeks and months ahead we will continue to prepare ourselves for the Colorado Trail and share with you our progress, gear reviews, food choices and the like. Once we begin the hike itself we will update our blog and social media sites. We will be sure to take many photos and videos as we share the experience with you.

If you would like to support us, please consider donating to or volunteering at the following:

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep – “NILMDTS trains, educates, and mobilizes professional quality photographers to provide beautiful heirloom portraits to families facing the untimely death of an infant. We believe these images serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring the child’s legacy.”

The Colorado Trail Foundation – “We care for The Colorado Trail. The Colorado Trail Foundation (CTF) is the organization that keeps the Trail in good condition. We organize the Volunteers who built The Colorado Trail and who continue to improve and maintain it.”

Peace,

MAD

MAD Hippies Life in on Facebook and Twitter

 

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To the World Their Baby Never Existed

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, Baby Loss, MAD Hippies Life, Miller Harrell, Debbie Harrell

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, Baby Loss, MAD Hippies Life, Miller Harrell, Debbie Harrell, to the world their baby never existed“They left the hospital, never to mention their baby again. Their tears were shed in private, and they had to bear the burden of their grief and their pain silently. To the world their baby never existed.”

In October Debbie and I went to a Remembrance Walk for our daughter Shira Rose. We had no idea what we were walking into or the experience we would have…we can’t even begin to express our gratitude for the support and love we have felt since, and during, the Remembrance Walk. It wasn’t until this year that we had even begun to “allow” ourselves to discuss Shira and do something after 33 years in her honor. We began writing, started our blog and talking [perhaps for the first time] with each other about our hidden feelings that had been kept at bay, deep within us, for so many years.

We went to the Remembrance Walk unprepared to grieve, to feel and to somehow be those young parents we were so many years ago who had just lost their daughter. It was all so surreal. Cheryl Haggard, co-founder of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, gave a speech that day which hit a special place within us, we couldn’t help but think to ourselves, “thank G-d we came.” Seeing Shira’s name on signs along the route, hearing her name read aloud and releasing a balloon to the heavens was like coming home. Our daughter has a name, she is our daughter, she lives on and will always be a part of us.

Our experience and story was recently shared on the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Facebook page

“Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Co-founder, Cheryl Haggard met Shira Rose’s parents, Miller and Debbie Harrell after speaking at the NILMDTS Remembrance Walk on October 3rd, 2015. Miller walked up to her and in a hushed tone, voice breaking, he simply said, ‘It’s been 33 years for us…

She had asked the audience to look around them that day.

‘Most likely the person standing next to you experienced the death of their precious baby recently. Within the past 5 to 10 years. They probably left the hospital with a beautiful care package lovingly assembled by other bereaved parents. And hopefully a photograph. Whether that photograph was taken by a professional photographer, a nurse or taken by the family themselves, they were encouraged to, and knew it was ok to create those memories of their baby. They left the hospital with empty arms and a broken heart, but they left with something tangible to remember their baby by. Something to hold onto. They have been told about or ‘googled’ support groups and resources nearest to them. They have shared their baby’s story with family and friends and possibly even the world through social medial. They have found acceptance and support by a beautiful community of bereaved parent’s online and right here, today.’

She then asked the audience to look around them again, and this time to look closer…

‘You could be standing next to a mother or a father whose baby died 20 or more years ago. They might be hesitant in telling you about their baby, because they were told it wasn’t appropriate to mention their baby. If you ask them questions, they might share with you their story of how they were never allowed or discouraged to hold or even see their baby. How they were told it wasn’t worth naming their child, and told to move on…try to have ‘another’ one. Forget about this one. They left the hospital, never to mention their baby again. Their tears were shed in private, and they had to bear the burden of their grief and their pain silently. To the world their baby never existed.’

That is, until now.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep has given parents a safe place to share their baby. Share their story. And even share their photographs. Whether they were taken by themselves or taken by a professional. These parents have read our stories, and seen our photographs. Our babies have given their baby’s a face, and our stories have given these parents a voice. Some parents have given a name to their baby…and they are looking for ways to honor their baby’s memory.

Please share with us, especially, if you are a parent that has experienced a loss 20 or more years ago, your experience and how you think grieving and remembrance has changed between then and now. Was there a certain moment in time, when you decided enough was enough? How did you break the silence?”

Peace,

MAD

MAD Hippies Life is on Facebook and Twitter

Windows in the Cosmos

Super Moon, Full Moon, Celestial Color, MAD Hippies Life

The loss of a child is heart wrenching. A personal hell that those who experience it suffer in silence and alone. And yet, there is healing, healing that comes from the unseen and hidden world. Windows in the Cosmos.

There are things in this world that go unseen, we were lucky enough to open our eyes and catch a glimpse of what was, what is and what possibilities are out there.

Windows in the Cosmos allow us to see clues, patterns and sometimes answers to what our souls constantly reach out to.

Science, religion and philosophy, to name a few, have only scratched the surface. Detoured by their damned determination to know it all and be right all the time has kept them at bay.

Sometimes it’s better to just stand still and take notice of the events that are unfolding around you. One never knows what they might miss in the midst of the busy ongoing world.

December of 1982 was a trying time for us. In the midst of our own chaos of losing our daughter Shira, much less many factors around this soul wrenching time of our lives, there was a spectacular celestial event taking place we were not attune to. And, while we lived out our own personal hell, many watched in awe as a Super Blood Moon eclipsed fully before their eyes, unbeknownst to our situation.

Early this year, 2015, Debbie and I began a process of healing. Ironically, and perhaps sadly, it took us 33 years to get to this place. But here we are, slowly evolving and processing the most horrific experience of our lives, the loss of our daughter Shira.

In an interesting turn of events, last night we stood under the stars anxiously awaiting that same celestial event that happened so many years ago. Unfolding as it does, slowly before our eyes, along with the memories of our daughter, we anxiously awaited in awe of its beauty, but even more so, an energy of hope and cleansing. Perhaps we have come full circle, and after all, here we are, a bit older, a bit wiser and by and far, still together living life one experience at a time.

The intriguing notion here is not necessarily the Super Blood Moon eclipsing, although that is very cool, it’s more, so much more, it is a personal invitation for Debbie and I to not only experience something larger than life, but resonate with it, come to an understanding, heal and most notably, understand we are not alone in our loss.

Many don’t put much into astrology. We find it fascinating. We also tend to research things down to their very core and take notice of the obvious. The factors surrounding the event 33 years ago have once again surfaced. And, like it was then, we found ourselves dealing with the past without understanding that something else was at play here.

Way too many details to get into, needless to say, they are obvious to us, then and now, and we have taken them to heart and mind and feel the soul connection within ourselves and our daughter.

There are things in this world that go unseen, we were lucky enough to open our eyes and catch a glimpse of what was, what is and what possibilities are out there.

Peace,

MAD

MAD Hippies Life is on Facebook and Twitter

I am the Father of a Stillborn

Life is Full of Curve Balls, Coping With The Death of a Child, Stillborn

Life is Full of Curve Balls, Coping With The Death of a Child, StillbornI am the Father of a stillborn. There are times when we are powerless in our situations and find ourselves losing it, falling deeper and deeper into an abyss where there is little light and the feeling of being alone is quite overwhelming.

I am the father of three beautiful daughters, one of which was born still when we were mere teenagers. It has taken me 33 years to allow myself to even remotely think about dealing with it. Anger, frustration and the emptiness of not being able to at least hold her has haunted me for years. I suppose people move on, but the pain never goes away.

I grew up in a broken home. With no male figure to show me the ropes, I learned what I could from what limited exposure I had to my grandfather. The rest came from reading the encyclopedia, disassembling electronic components to see what made them tick, reassembling [some] of those parts to make new inventions of my own and lastly hanging out at the local natural science museum where I would find a passion for not only nature itself, but the details of what makes the cosmos go round.

Thank G-d for the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, NASA and an early appreciation for music.

Never being much for crowds, I was somewhat of a loner. Not necessarily an outcast, but perhaps by choice. I just didn’t feel comfortable around a lot of people. I didn’t get them and felt they didn’t get me. Though perhaps in their defense, I didn’t get me. I had no “group” to fit into and for the most part dissociated with society in general.

I never put much faith in political, business and religious leaders, much less anyone else in an authoritative role. Not as to be rebellious, I just saw contradiction everywhere.

Trust in humanity was not there for me. I watched, from a distance, and was confused at how people treated each other. To me, the world seemed a cruel and unjust place. I sunk further into my personal self and focused on the natural world. Animals, weather and the universe at large made more sense to me than the typical household union.

I saw patterns in everything from seashells to the planetary orbits and became intrigued by the notion that there was much more to life than what meets the eye.

I spent most of my early childhood this way. Doubtful most people who knew me even remotely knew the personal hell I lived with daily. I learned not to ask questions simply because I never received an answer.

By the time high school came around, I was a complete wreck. I was just sick and tired of society and was becoming more angry all the time. Nothing, if anything, gave me solace. What, if any, real relationships I had with people just seemed awkward. Spending any time in nature, even if that meant climbing a tree in my yard, was good. Music became my outlet and as soon as I could get a pair of headphones on my head I could just close my eyes and slip into a world of musical mystery. I learned the songs and replayed them time and time again, picking out an instrument to listen to at times, and at other times I just focused on the meaning of the song.

Indeed, between the melodramatic sounds of certain bands and the depth of the lyrics that seemed to ask the same questions I had, I had found a place where I could be alone in my thoughts and feel comfortable.

What came next would rock my world to its very core. I felt cold most of the time, emotionally. But when I first laid eyes on my future wife my heart and mind fought an overwhelming battle of wills. I didn’t want a relationship. But little, if any, resistance could be conjured up within me. It was if I had no choice in the matter. Once we talked, I knew we would never part. She was, in a sense, the female me.

Years later I wrote her a letter and said, “You were hauntingly familiar to me when we met. The closer we became the more I felt the sensation that this was not the first time. You were exotic, cosmic and strange, though somehow familiar as your soul, my soul, our soul, was reunited.”

However, as we would both would soon find out, life is full of curve balls. There are times when we are powerless in our situations and find ourselves losing it, falling deeper and deeper into an abyss where there is little light and the feeling of being alone is quite overwhelming. For reasons beyond our control, my wife [then girlfriend] was sent to live with her father out of state. Not long after, she called me and told me she was pregnant.

We knew what we wanted to do, but, being powerless teenagers we were told different. She was kept out of state, and I was told to stay away. I was 16, immature, clueless as what to do, felt I had no rights and certainly without support. She was in similar fashion. Nights and days went by and the walls began to slowly cave in on us both. If that weren’t enough, long into the pregnancy I received a call from her…our baby doesn’t have a heartbeat. It was born still.

To me that was the last link I would have. Somehow I just thought to myself, our baby was the only link we could ever possibly have, and now she is gone. We are gone. I am gone.

There are wounds so deep that forgiveness could never come.

I don’t recall much after that. Time came and went. Days, weeks, months passed as I sought further to dull the pain. I had turned to drugs and allowed myself to sink deep into an awakened coma. Lifeless, angry, numb and without any determination to care if the next day ever arrived, I maintained a very self-destructive pattern. I just didn’t care.

Did I do things I’m not proud of? Unfortunately. Would I go back and change some things? Who wouldn’t. I was young, immature and out of my mind.

The abyss I had sunk into was bottomless, dark and empty.

Every fear and concern that I had growing up for humanity had expressed itself in the most horrific way. I had nowhere to turn and no one to turn to. The only person I had ever given my heart and mind to was taken from me and our child had died. To this day I am jealous of my wife, if for one simple reason, at the very least she was able to feel our baby move within her, something I would never have the pleasure to know or see. Damn humanity for that, and for treating my wife in such a way.

I’m not quite sure how it even happened, but in time she did return and we did, somehow, get back together. We were both an intense train wreck of emotions, trauma and full of anger, pain and emptiness. 33 years later we’re still working on it. The pain never goes away, the intense feelings are still there as if it were yesterday.

We named our baby girl Shira, which basically means [having a voice], something she was never given for the cruelty of man and their madness. To this day we have no reason for her passing. Being the father of a stillborn hurts, I mean it hurts bad. Being helpless is tough, being helpless as a teenage father is tougher. Being the father of a stillborn and watching your wife suffer emotionally is impossible…there are no words.

My wife and I have each other, we love deeply, have had two more daughters, have become grandparents and live out our lives as if there is no tomorrow. Some days are better than others, but the emptiness remains, it will always remain and our questions will never be answered.

I’ve been told talking about our daughter will help. Thus far it hasn’t, doubtful it will. That empty feeling will never go away, I am the father of a stillborn. It’s something I’ve learned to live with, and [slowly] talk about. One thing is for certain, we have given her a voice and her story, our story, will be heard.

I often wonder if she follows us around, walking the trails with us, holding our hands and lying next us at night.

Peace,

MAD

MAD Hippies Life is on Twitter and Facebook