The Macs » Blog

Cora’s favorite toy {remembering}

I have days when I beat myself up for not recording more of our memories with Cora. Not the big things like statistics and milestones, but the little details…the funny stories, the daily routines, the everyday. As I cried about all the things that I had already forgotten, a sweet friend recently encouraged me to write down memories as they come to mind. So that is what I have been trying to do.
Cora’s first Christmas was busy with lots of celebrations and lots of traveling. It seemed like a little “much” at the time, but looking back I am so thankful that all of our family got to spend time with Cora, some even for the first and only time.
We celebrated Christmas on New Years Day with my family. My parents got Cora a Chicco activity table. It had a piano on one side and then you could flip it over and it was a lego table. The only picture I got of her was when she opened it with her daddy. She LOVED it. I am pretty sure it was her favorite toy.
I remember Cora was feeling yucky that day. Which is the reason we have so few pictures. She wasn’t too interested in smiling for the camera. She pretty much only wanted to sit on my lap.Β 
But, this is what I really want to remember…
That afternoon when we went home Cora and I went into the house and Joel started unloading all of our gifts. Joel brought Cora’s new activity table into the house and you should have seen her face. Her eyes got so big and she let out this loud shriek. It was like she was saying, “Wow, I actually get to bring that toy home!” It was so cute and we laughed and laughed at her.
Every morning after she would eat breakfast, she would go straight for the piano. She loved standing up and pushing all the buttons. She would carefully walk around the piano to the coffee table and then back to the piano again. She loved the music and the noises. She would rock back and forth to the music. I was envisioning a future pianist.
When we checked into the hospital our families asked if they could bring any toys for Cora to keep her busy while we waited for surgery. We had them bring her piano and once again she thought it was so great. My heart aches looking at this picture. I long to spend just a few more minutes with that happy little girl who seemed to have no idea how sick she was. And I wonder what was going on in my head as I sat there with Cora. I remember being so tired and fighting back tears all day, but trying to be strong at the same time. I had no idea how my life would soon be changed forever.
It was hard to pull that little piano out again, but we had a feeling it might be a favorite of Levi’s as well. He is almost the exact same age right now as Cora was when she first opened this toy.Β 
We were right. He loves it too. Just like his sister. But instead of delicately walking all around it and rocking back and forth to the music, he has found a whole new purpose for the piano. Levi pushes this thing all over the house often dragging lots of toys along with him. Instead of making music it is often crashing into walls as he maneuvers around the house.
I love that Cora and Levi have the same favorite toy.
I love that they both love it for different reasons,
showing their unique personalities.
And as there are so many little details about Cora’s life that I can’t remember,
I am thankful for these sweet reminders.
* * * * * * * * * * *Β 
I deleted some of the original e-mails that were sent to me about making a hat for Levi. Oops! If you are still wanting to make Levi a hat, knowing that some will be donated, please send me another e-mail. Thanks to those of you who have already contacted me. I am thinking that I might need to have Levi try on all the hats for you before we take them to the oncologist!
  • k and c's mom - Precious post, sweet girl. The memories are yours forever, and I appreciate you sharing them with us.ReplyCancel

  • Dana - This post brought tears to my eyes. I love reading about your memories of Cora. I always remember the post you made about finding her teeth marks on the table.ReplyCancel

  • MFuglseth - What great memories! What a sweet little girl she was and always will be and now little Levi can say he loves to play with his big sister’s toy that she loved so much!
    Thanks for sharing! Prayers for you!
    Molly πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - What a sweet post, thank you so much for sharing your memories. I am trying not to cry too much since I’m at work but I just love every word that you wrote and I am so glad that your friend encouraged you to write down your memories of Cora. I love the picture of her in the hospital with you, her smile is so bright! Sweet little girl πŸ™‚

    Levi is all boy banging that thing around! Precious pictures Jess!

    Take care, we are still praying for you in FLA!
    Krista (babykatesmom)ReplyCancel

  • Alicia - Isn’t it amazing how different our boys can be from our girls? I love it!! Sweet Cora can be so proud of her brother. You make a good point…all us moms record the big details of their babyhood but not the little details that we will soon forget. It’s a great idea to write them down the minute you remember something special!ReplyCancel

  • Kat - I think it is wonderful that you are taking the time to record those special memories as they come to mind. How precious that Levi shares the love for a toy that brought Cora so much joy. Continuing to pray for your sweet family.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - I think alot of people will cry reading this post…I did! My 2 year old daughter was on my lap and pointed to Cora, I told her she was with Jesus. She then pointed at your husband and said Daddy and pointed at you and said Mommy. So sweet. What a good idea to write down memories as you think of them. I love how Cora played the piano and Levi different uses. Love it.ReplyCancel

  • molly - Please don’t beat yourself up. You had no way of knowing how your life would change in an instant. NONE of us do. That’s only up to God.

    I think it would be wonderful for you to jot down memories as they come to you. They are all there. Rest assured. They are always there.

    Thank you for being so honest and sharing these precious memories with us.ReplyCancel

  • Robyn B - I see it as just another way that sweet Cora blessed you. Her sweet girly way with that toy, just makes you appreciate Levi’s total “boy-ness” all the more. I have a different situation from yours, but I have one son now, instead of 2….I truely believe each child stamps your heart, and Cora will be with you forever. Her memories will come to you when you need them most.ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Your baby girl will always be a part of you and those wonderful precious memories will bubble up like a refreshing spring when you least expect it. You are a wonderful person and your story has affected many people who see your strength and your resolve to be positive and productive in your life. Most of all I admire your faith and trust in the Lord. I know that prayers and hugs abound in your life. Best Wishes for a wonderful holiday season with your little guy and your family. Take care. A blogger friend in SLC UtahReplyCancel

  • Nancy - Tears! Precious post & pictures of you & your angel girl. And I love that Levi loves it, too. Hugs to you today even though I don’t “KNOW” you!! Praying for you & your sweet family.ReplyCancel

  • LL - All those memories are locked in your heart, waiting for the right time to surface.ReplyCancel

  • Beki - TheRustedChain - I think this is one of the most beautiful things about blogging. It’s so fast and convenient to jot down your thoughts, and pop up photos. Instant scrapbooking.

    You’re absolutely doing the right thing, to write down these memories of Cora as they come to you.

    Hugs and a big ol’ Sonic Dr. Pepper to you today!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - I loved reading this post. Your emotions are always so transparent through your writing and stir in me a new level of compassion for parents who have lost a child. I am thankful the Lord brought this memory back to you and that you shared it with us. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Heather at Blessed Little Nest - i think that even though it feels like you are forgetting memories about cora you aren’t. i think God waits to reveal those memories to us in time. He would never let you forget something so precious. atleast that has been my experience. writing them down though is a wonderful thing to do so that you and your family can enjoy them together.
    prayers for you and your family!

  • Vanessa - Awe I am so crying right now. How sweet of you to share some of your memories of Cora with us. How neat that they both love the toy and to see how unique they are!ReplyCancel

  • Tricia - What a beautiful memory of your sweet girl. I love that you are writing these memories down as they come to you. Thank you so much for continuing to share Cora with us, and for sharing Levi as well. β™₯


  • Melinda - I am also in tears, such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this with us.ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - thank you for sharing this beautiful memory. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • susy - What beautiful memories and remember they are always in your heart even if we can’t remember them sometimes. Yesterday, my husband made me laugh when he remembered some things my grandmother used to say. I had forgotten but when he reminded me of a few it bought back precious memories.ReplyCancel

  • Candice - It’s so precious how Levi can bring you closer to your Cora by reminding you. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post.ReplyCancel

  • The Bordens - Hey Jess,
    I just love reading your blog. I have a flip, it was a gift that my parents gave me right after my little one was born. It is great because it is small enough to keep in my purse, and I get to capture all of those little things in life:)ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - What a sweet and heartbreaking post. Thanks for sharing with us..I had tears and a smile πŸ™‚
    Your sweet family is also in my thoughts and prayers.


  • Trina S. - what a wonderful post.

    lots of hugs!!!!!!!!!!



  • Krystal - Oh my I’m crying now. And praying for you right now! That was a very sweet post. And I think it is funny how different boys and girls are…well most boys and girls. I’m pretty sure my daughter banged all of her toys into the walls too! Thanks for sharing these sweet memories. I have a friend missing her baby today. She had twins 6 months ago yesterday and Baby Leah went to be with Jesus 6 months ago today. I’m sad for her today.ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Crying. Feeling so full of emotions for you. You are an amazing mom. Bless you.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - One of your greatest posts of all time! What a special memory for Levi too when he grows up!ReplyCancel

  • Marla Taviano - I love this post, Jess. Thank you so much. I know so many people feel this way, but I just love Cora to bits even though I never got to meet her. And I miss reading about her! Thank you for sharing your memories.

    God brought a verse to mind to share with you. John 14:26–“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and REMIND YOU of everything I have said to you.”

    One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to REMIND us of things we once knew. I might be taking this verse slightly out of context, but I think it’s okay. And I’m going to pray that the Holy Spirit reminds you of things you’ve forgotten about Cora. That images and thoughts will just pop into your head and you’ll have the chance to write them down to cherish forever.

    Hugs to you today, friend!ReplyCancel

  • Alex and Jill - I’m crying. I can only imagine how your heart aches looking at those pictures…just wanting more time with your baby girl. She was so beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • The Mershawn's - That breaks my heart. My husband & I went through old pictures last night & laughed & laughed over some of the sweet, funny memories of our baby girl that we had forgotten. I hate that that’s all you have with Cora & that you have to move forward, making you forget. BUT, I am glad, that the Lord brings memories back, most often at just the right time. When you need it & can savor it. Praying you have a flood of sweet memories to write down & remember until you can see that precious girl again!

    And…oh Levi. You are something:). Glad you’re keeping your mama so busy! Boys are so fun & crazy:)…ReplyCancel

  • Stef - gosh Jess… when I read your website God gives me little {but strong} reminders to be THANKFUL for the little, every day moments. I can’t tell you how many of them seem mundane and repetitive to me and I even find myself thinking “when will they be passed this phase?!”

    Thank you for reminding me to cherish these days. Everyday.

    I love reading what you write about Cora. I didn’t know about your blog until after she had gone home to be with Jesus, so for me, she’s always been a sweet memory, but I love the way you remember her and share her life with us in these ways.
    Cora’s life is going to be a constant reminder to me that our times are in God’s hand – is marked and He knows them altogether. And that we don’t know what that time is, so we must be thankful and joyous in the NOW and not put those off until tomorrow.

    Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Kylie and crew. - Wow….that post brought tears to my eyes. I cannot imagine loosing my Cora (named after I fell in love with your Cora’s name). As parents we simply aren’t supposed to loose our children. It’s so hard living in a fallen world with cancer. I LOVED this story about Cora, yet it made my heart ache for you. I look forward to reading more memories about your adorably, cute, little girl.ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Jess, whenever I read your blog, I’m thankful that I got to meet Cora.
    Also felt like sharing my favorite quote with you..

    “We never touch people so lightly that we do not leave a trace.”
    β€” Peggy Tabor Millin

    Lindy W.ReplyCancel

  • songskatesang - Oh Jess. You are so loved. I know this must have been hard to write, but I pray that you find peace through writing this down.

    Much, much love to you.ReplyCancel

  • Jenifer's Journey - My melts at this post …And I glad your friend told you to write them down and that you share them with us …My heart breaks …and I love little Levi’s idea of how to use the toy that’s such a boy way lolReplyCancel

  • Al's World - Thank you for opening your heart and your memories with us! I remember you saying how she didn’t feel good that Christmas, and how you gave her a bath in the sink because your tub was “sick” too. I remember that picture you took and how that was the last time you got to play with your precious girl before she whisked away to surgery…the memories will come back. I find myself going through the day and all of sudden a memory will come back that I had totally forgotten about..they will come, and then you can tell Levi all about her precious big sister who shared her favorite toy with him.ReplyCancel

  • lauren haddox - oh jess, what a sweet post! as always, thanks for sharing your precious babies and your life with us!ReplyCancel

  • melissa - Thank you for sharing your memories of sweet Cora. I love reading about your precious family. I love your strong faith in God and hearing how he has blessed your family.ReplyCancel

  • cupcakefitz - Thank you for sharing. As a mother of three precious girls I understand the want to remember everything “little” thing about each one. Such a good idea to write them down as you remember. Thanks again.ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - This was a sweet post Jess! We are always praying for you guys! I love to hear stories about sweet Cora! Tell Levi to take it easy on your house! I think he is all Joel! Lots of love to you guys, AndiReplyCancel

  • lindasjournal - Such a special post. I never ‘knew’ Cora, but I feel like I did with how fondly you speak of her still. So lovely that Levi can live with her memories too…..ReplyCancel

  • Allison - Thank you for sharing this post with us; it’s so wonderful to remember the precious moments that you were able to spend with Cora. Amazing how two children from the same parents can be so different, huh? Cora all delicate & Levi a little tank, plowing through the house! (Very much like my son who is ALL boy!!)ReplyCancel

  • Claudia - what a great friend you have, someone who can encourage you to do this great idea of posting your sweet memories of your darling, precious Cora!

    Of course I cried reading, seeing her pics and all, as a mother of two (a boy and a girl) my heart can’t pretend that this doesn’t hurt, you know?

    So happy to see Levi enjoying Cora’s favorite toy!!!!


  • Liberty Ruffles - I wasn’t expecting the pain in my heart when I looked at that first picture of Cora. I didn’t even know Cora and I think about her a lot. I want to cry for her when I am holding my 5 year old daughter. I will never forget her, or her story. Please keep those memories coming.ReplyCancel

  • Keshet - This broke my heart all over again. So glad you are writing these things down.ReplyCancel

  • Cristy - ((Hugs)) Jess…what a sweet post. And what great memories for you to keep forever.


  • The Bacon Family - I read your blog when Cora was sick and check back now only occasionally. In September, my 5-yr-old son was diagnosed with leukemia. I now check your blog more often and was moved especially by the picture of you with her at the hospital. I’m writting this from the PICU at Wesley in Wichita, sitting next to my son’s bed. I don’t know exactly how you felt while going through Cora’s sickness, but I understand so much more now than I did then. It’s amazing how God walks us through things that we never would have thought possible.ReplyCancel

  • The Moffats - this post made me cry. it was so sweet. and i’m so glad you are writing the memories down. you have so many more than you think you do. so neat that cora and levi have the same favorite toy. thinking of you all lots.ReplyCancel

  • tifRN - I remember her playing with that toy in her room, right before you and joel wrapped her in her blanket and put her in the wagon. And how everyone was so supportive. I don’t know if your dad and joel’s brother told you I saw them, but I tell all my oncology patients to read your blog to see your faith and joy in the small.milestones. Thanks for sharing her with us.ReplyCancel

  • Erin Tagle - I love this post. It is so sweet. I think about your little Cora very often (even though I don’t even know you!) when I cherish my time with my lil’ Eva. It just so happens that Cora was my grandmother’s name and was also a first choice (of mine) in naming my wee one. My husband ruled it out, but it’s still one of my favorite names. I will forever associate it with two special ladies who have passed – your Cora and mine. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Marie - This was such a touching post. Seeing that first picture with Levi playing with the piano just brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for reminding me to appreciate those moments.


  • Carla - I kept thinking of this post all weekend. So powerful. Cora is so loved by so many xReplyCancel

  • Deborah - I know you don’t know me. But I feel like you are a dear friend. I prayed for Cora and I still check in on you everyday. I cry and laugh and wish I was close enough to hug you. I love your family and your beautiful sweet heart. Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - My heart aches for you when you “Speak” of Cora, but I love the sweet stories…You are a complete stranger to me but still my heart aches to give you the biggest hug ever!

    Levi is a beatifiul little boy! I am blessed to have three little boys and my oldest has always been the examiner. He likes to figure things out and use them “properly”. My second is nicknamed Godzilla. He LOVES to make noise and trample over and destroy anything in his path. It is amazing to me how God creates my boys to look so much alike but be completly unique!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - This is just beautiful!!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • purejoy - pretty sweet, jess. i love how boys and girls attack life differently, and i love how living life with levi gives you glimpses of life spent with cora.
    thanks for sharing a special memory.

  • Micah - Such a sweet memory of such a precious little girl.ReplyCancel

  • Devon - this post had me in tears…such a sweet memory. i love that your friend encouraged you to write them down as they come….

    your children are both so adorable.ReplyCancel

  • We Three Smiths + 1 - Love to you. I’ve followed you ever since Cora got sick and have never left you a comment. I felt like it was your place and a way of letting it all out.

    I have to tell you though, after almost two years…I feel like I know you. You are so, so strong and I admire you so much. I have two boys about the age of your two….I can’t imagine life without them. You, Joel, Cora and Levi are so special and were chosen because He knew you would be strong enough to bear his cross.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - tears here too..ReplyCancel

  • Christina - This is so sweet and heartbreaking, but I’m glad that you are able to write it down and I pray that along with the remembering will come continued healing. I imagine that will be a lifelong process. Thank you for sharing your memories with us, too.ReplyCancel