A mother explains how even innocent phrases can trigger the grief of losing her children.

Ask anyone who has lost a loved one — grief creeps up at the most random times.

It doesn’t matter how many months or years it has been, all it takes is one second for those memories and heartache to rush back. For me, all it took was an awkward moment to remind me that grief never goes away.

I was recently at a routine appointment. As the woman walked into the room, she smiled and said, “How are the kids?” I gave her a puzzled look, wondering if I heard her correctly. As a mother of one surviving triplet, I’m not used to hearing the plural form of “kid.” She repeated herself and that’s when I realized — she didn’t know that two of my children died.


My heart began to race and my breathing became faster as I explained that Abby and Parker had passed away within two months of being born. The tears erupted as my mind instantly flashed back to three years ago, when I said my final good-byes to two of my children.

The woman felt terrible and rushed up to hug me. As awkward as I felt, I know she must have been mortified. It was the epitome of a “foot in mouth” moment, and here I was, a grieving mother brought to tears.

I left the office in a daze, my mind stuck on that awkward dialogue.

During the first year after my triplets were born, that was a common question. Some people weren’t aware that two of my babies had died and often asked how the triplets were doing.

Because it’s been three years, this time caught me off guard. I assumed most people knew my situation, or if they didn’t, they thought Peyton was an only child. I may have been surprised by the conversation, but I wasn’t mad or upset. All it takes is a simple mention of my children to bring me to tears. That’s part of living life after loss: the grief never goes away. We may moved forward in life, but we never forget. I wear those tears with pride, a sign that a piece of my heart will always be with Abby and Parker.

There is no perfect handbook on how to grieve the loss of a child.

The same goes for comforting a grieving parent. While a simple hug can go a long way, I was more comforted that day by how the conversation ended between me and the woman.

After mentioning that I only had one survivor, the woman went on to ask about my two angels. She repeated their names as I told her about sweet Abby and her peaceful face. And she listened intently as I shared stories of Parker and Peyton in the NICU. She asked about Peyton and I happily shared how strong and healthy she is today, a far cry from her NICU days.

I may have cried at my appointment, but I left that office with a full heart. As parents who've lost a child will tell you, one of the most comforting things people can do is to say your child’s name. Hearing the woman say “Abby” and “Parker” was a beautiful reminder that they existed, and sharing stories of them warmed my heart.

When I explain to people that my daughter is actually a triplet, their smile turns to shock before a sad look takes over their face.

It’s a common expression that I’m accustomed to seeing. A parent is not supposed to outlive their child, and when people realize that I’m the parent of two angels, it often becomes uncomfortable for them. Grief is a hard topic to talk about, especially when it involves the death of a child.

The awkward encounter I faced is something so many of us parents of pregnancy and child loss experience and it’s something I know I will face often in my lifetime.

While it can stir up emotions and memories that have been tucked away for years, there is something positive that can come out of it. I like to think that each time I’m asked about my children, it’s a sign from above. It’s Parker and Abby’s way of saying, “Hi, Mom,” from heaven. And while the other person may feel uncomfortable, they are actually giving me the best gift of all: the gift of remembering and embracing my children who are no longer here on Earth.

Photo courtesy of Capital One
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Growing up in Virginia, Dominique Meeks Gombe idolized her family physician — a young Black woman who inspired Meeks Gombe to pursue her passion for chemistry.

While Meeks Gombe began her career working in an environmental chemistry lab, after observing multiple inefficient processes in and around the lab, she took the initiative to teach herself to code in order to automate and streamline those issues.

That sparked her love for coding and imminent career shift. Now a software engineer at Capital One, Meeks Gombe wants to be a similar role model to her childhood mentor and encourage girls to pursue any career they desire.

"I'm so passionate about technology because that's where the world is going," Meeks Gombe said. "All of today's problems will be solved using technology. So it's very important for me, as a Black woman, to be at the proverbial table with my unique perspective."

Since 2019, she and her fellow Capital One associates have partnered with the Capital One Coders program and Girls For A Change to teach coding fundamentals to middle school girls.

The nonprofit's mission is aimed at empowering Black girls in Central Virginia. The organization focuses on designing, leading, funding and implementing social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods.

Girls For a Change is one of many local nonprofits that receive support from the Capital One Impact Initiative, which strives to close gaps in equity while helping people gain better access to economic and social opportunities. The initial $200 million, five-year national commitment aims to support growth in underserved communities as well as advance socioeconomic mobility.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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