Wednesday, August 26, 2015

5 Years

We woke today to our two sweet girls climbing into our bed for morning snuggles, but there was a void there. The same void that is there every morning. A five year old boy is missing from the heap of giggles and little warm bodies snuggled under the blankets between us. Aaron would be five today. He would have started kindergarten this year. He would be a big brother to two adoring little sisters.  I can't seem to wrap my mind around that...five years. It seems like an eternity since I last held him and felt his soft cheeks against my own, yet only yesterday since the whirlwind of his arrival and his precious three days on earth.

They say that time heals all wounds. In some ways, yes, but so often now the ache in my heart is deeper, more intimate, than the past few years. Our sweet boy is on my mind daily, yet the week of his birthday always draws me back to the sacred details of the minutes and hours he was with us. I will myself to focus on the good, to remember him just freshly born...before the wires, tubes and incisions, but the guarded details of our last night with him still haunt me and I imagine they always will. Even five years later it seems that that part of grief still wins, every single time.

With perfect clarity, I remember the moment that we gave his doctors and nurses permission to finally stop cpr and we surrendered his beautiful life back to Jesus. Since that time, we have continued to live life with the utmost faith in the story that God is unfolding for us. We have been blessed with two amazing daughters, and it is during these times, as we raise them and walk through life with them, that the deep ache in my heart for Aaron is evermore present and palpable. As we watch our girls grow, we are living the reality of everything that he is a little boy, as a big brother, as our son. From the big milestones such as his first day of school, to the mundane annoyances of a big brother picking on his little sisters, I feel the hole that he left in my heart stretch, widen and try to accommodate a little boy's lifetime of memories that are going by without him. Oh how we miss you, sweet boy.

Happy 5th Birthday, Aaron Matthew! Thank you for making us parents... for making us a family. Your perfect little heart split ours wide open and taught us what it is to love unconditionally. Celebrate big up there, little man. We love you always, to the moon and back...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Far too long...

Well hello again. I've missed this place. I've missed sharing my heart and our life in this little space here. It's hard for me to believe that so much time has passed since my last post. At that time, our sweet Elizabeth Grace-to-be was a mere 23 weeks young and she's now a smiling, giggling, full-of-joy 6 and a half month old (with a healthy heart I might add)! Through the last months of my pregnancy and since her birth, many a blog posts have been written in my mind and simply never made it into tangible form. One of the many things that Aaron taught me during his life is that time is delicate, short. It goes by far too quickly. I have taken that to heart. My several month absence is spoken for by the beautiful girl I am blessed to hold in my arms. Writing moved to the bottom of my to-do list, and well, by the time I ever made it there, sleep usually took precedence :)

This journey through continued grief and the transition to "rainbow baby" life and love after losing Aaron continues to pull me through an emotional spectrum that I anticipated, yet had no idea exactly what to expect. Grief is different now. It is not physically exhausting as it once was; it is instead deep and subtle, but there nonetheless. Now, I move through most of my days with a smile on my face, happier than I've ever been. This little girl lights up my world, truly. With that smile though is a deep longing, a tugging on my heart that is sits very near the surface, ready to break through into tears with just the right prodding. Every look into her sparkling blue eyes, each smile, giggle, tear...I wonder. What would he have been like? What would his laugh sound like? Would he have a mop of bright blond hair like his daddy and I both had as toddlers?  Someday we'll find out...

Until then, I dream of what he would be like.  I miss him like crazy. And, I love this sweet lil' Elizabeth Grace with every bit of my heart. Thank you, God, for the incredible blessing of my children.

Until my next post (which hopefully won't be 9 months away), I'll leave you with a glimpse of the past 6 months with our sweet Elizabeth Grace...

Feb 15, 2012, 10:31 am. 6 lb. 7 oz of pure love!

We talk about big brother often

My serious girl 
~8 weeks~

~3 months~

June~ learning the art of sticking out her tongue

The many faces of EG
~5 months~

My love.
~6 months~

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mixed Emotions

23 weeks...
It is flying by... 

I find it hard to believe that in about three and a half months, we will be meeting our new baby girl face to face. I continue to be absolutely humbled and grateful for God's incredible blessing of this sweet girl, yet as I sit here and type while she gently squirms around, I can't help but feel a lingering sadness as I miss her big brother. Whether it is because I am asked on an almost daily basis "Is this your first?", "How many children do you have?" or because as we sneak towards February and little Miss' arrival, Aaron is on my mind so frequently. This sadness is not only the all-encompassing 'I miss him', but it is every little detail of him. From his antics in my belly of tucking his feet under my ribs, having hiccups at the same time everyday and really squishing his bottom or head into one side to create a lovely lopsided look, to the urgency of his birth and hearing his first cries and whimpers. The feeling of looking into his eyes for this first and last time. These details flood my heart with the unconditional love and complete joy of meeting him, yet simultaneously reopen the wound that has been left by his absence.

I imagine this mix of emotions, both the joy and sorrow left by Aaron, and the joy of new life will continue to ebb and flow over the next few months as we prepare to meet our little girl. Just as with Aaron's birth, I know that we will be blessed with  moments of pure joy, free from worry, sorrow and other conflicting emotions. However, I know without a doubt that there will also be bittersweet moments...those when a big brother should get to meet his little sister...and every picture of our family of three that should truly be four. 

This mix of emotions is simply (or not very simply) the bands of grief and loss and 'what should have been' that continue to weave themselves into our life moving forward. A new blessing doesn't cancel out a loss, the devastating loss of our son, and his absence doesn't annul the happiness and anticipation of an incredible new life...they meld together. One thing is certain in this crazy mix of grief and joy- this sweet little girl is going to know all about the brave, big brother angel she has watching over her.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Oh Boy, Oh Girl??

The past week has been a long week of waiting. Without going into much detail, an unexpected level 2 ultrasound was scheduled for our newest little one... we loved watching baby Selby tumble around on the screen a bit sooner than expected.  We are praising God and thrilled to announce that baby Selby appears completely healthy!!!! Without further ado, meet...

 Our sweet little GIRL!

What an incredible blessing and gift she is; we only wish big brother Aaron were here to meet her...

Monday, September 12, 2011


I've been trying to finish this post for some time now. So, an August post in September...better late than never for some Selby family news:

August 22, 2011-
I've been praying for months now...many, many months. This morning, I want to fall to my knees at His feet in quiet, humble, wholehearted thankfulness. I want to run up to Our Father and wrap my arms around Him and thank Him through my joyful tears. How incredibly He continues to remind me that even during the storm and journey of the past year, He is here, He is faithful and He wants to bless us.

Dan and I have been living in a place of quiet and reserved joy (and I'd be lying if I didn't admit to a bit of anxiety) over the past four months. Wanting the freedom to hope and dream, yet fearful of those dreams being shattered again.  Never did we imagine (nor did we doubt) that God would bless us in an immense way in the few days leading up to a difficult time of celebration and mourning for us, Aaron's first birthday. I certainly didn't anticipate, one year ago, that the week of Aaron's first birthday would find us at Children's Hospital again. The ride up the elevator, the smell of the bathroom soap, the third floor waiting area, the pager in our hands; every detail brought back gut-wrenching memories of a year ago. The specific details of this day and the accompanying array of emotions are for another time, another post. As I tried to keep many torturous memories at bay, I focused on today as we were there to see and experience something I had prayed about and only dreamed of... ten fingers, ten toes and the beautiful (perfectly functioning) four-chamber heart of Aaron's little brother or sister! 

Yep, we are expecting Baby Selby #2 in February! The praise and glory to God that I am able to express for this blessing feels completely insufficient compared to the incredible amount of joy and thankfulness in my heart. I only hope know that God could see the smile plastered across my face as the cardiologist gave us the news. 

We continue to pray for the health of our new blessing as it will be a few weeks before we have a full anatomical ultrasound to determine if every detail of baby is healthy. And, although there are some nerves, I can't lie that I'm really looking forward to seeing this active little guy or girl up on the screen again.  We are excited to get to know this new little person and find out if "it" is a wee little he or she. At 17 weeks along (currently), little one is picking up steam in the growing department (or at least the belly is) and I am enjoying feeling his or her amazing 'love taps' which are becoming quite a bit more than the flutters they say to anticipate at this stage. 

It is hard to explain the peace that God has provided during this pregnancy. I am constantly reminded that although we have walked through the storm of the past year and may appear slightly more worn and bearing tattered hearts, we are still in one piece and closer to our Father because of His grace and faithfulness through it all. We continue to pray for Him to protect and guide our hearts in this new mix of joy and grief that we find ourselves. This new little one certainly brings to mind many, many details and memories of his/her big brother and the time we had with him. Fear, anxiety and doubt sneak in at times, but are quickly relinquished when I remember Whose this child is. As with Aaron, we realize what an incredible blessing this is and are grateful beyond words for the undeserved love God continues to pour over us. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Approaching a Year

It seems like so many of my thoughts are consumed with Aaron lately, especially as his one year earthly and heavenly birthdays are fast approaching. I find myself longing to remember every detail of those days...every detail of him, and still wanting answers to calm the lingering questions in my heart about his last moments here. 

I sat down this evening and flipped through last years calendar, looking at year ago, wanting to remember the specific details of this time last year.  We started the day with a non-stress test and OB appointment at University Hospital, a regimen that had become the all-too-familiar twice weekly routine. I wasn't admitted to labor and delivery for observation that day, so Aaron must have tumbled around enough to make the nurses happy and allow me to go about my normal day of work. Flipping to the next week, my calendar is filled with typical doctors appointments and work patients, all scheduled along with a NICU tour, Labor and Delivery Tour, and meeting with neonatologists. Each Friday counting down to Aaron's due date is neatly circled and numbered in happy, yet anxious anticipation. 

This time last year, I remember thinking that in just a month or so, our son would make his arrival into this world.  We planned what little we could, but memories of the stillness of that ultrasound room filled with our tears only two months earlier always lingered in the forefront of my mind as a reminder that our best laid plans are often futile...we are not in control.

Those appointments that filled our calendars and days would never actually happen. During the time that we planned to spend anxiously awaiting Aaron's arrival, we would actually welcome him into the world, place him in the arms of surgeons, watch him slip from this life into eternity and plan his memorial service. In a small, private room of the CICU, I held him for the first time after the doctors let him go and in a quiet room of the funeral home, I held him for he last time. My heart knew that it was merely the shell of our sweet little guy, but how do you hand over your child when you know that it is the last time you will see him, most likely, in a very long time?  The next several weeks in the calendar are blank as is my memory of much of that time.  It still feels surreal.

Here I sit, almost a year later and on some days I am still in disbelief that our son was here...that he cried in the OR, that I got to peer into his eyes just once, and that we had him here with us for three whole days. On other days I struggle against the traumatic memories of the night we said goodbye.  Images I can't get rid of...nurses performing chest compressions, Aaron's blood covering the floor around his isolet, 'those words' spoken by our surgeon and the heartbreak and disbelief that this was our reality.  Mostly though, are the days that God lifts the burden of grief from my still broken heart. Over the past year, I have run the spectrum of clinging to Him with every fiber of my being to pushing away in anger, frustration and emotions too confusing for words. Yet He still extends His grace and love, compassion and guidance to, who comes before Him with a heart that is understanding yet questioning, loving yet angry, soft yet calloused and bruised, healing but still broken. 

He reminds me that through suffering grows an enduring hope, a steadfast heart and a reliance on Him that I had never before known. I revel in the moments when His love and presence wash over me and quiet my aching heart, and once again, for awhile anyway, I am comforted that Aaron is healed and Aaron is home. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Three Little Words.

I can't tell you the number of times I've sat down over the past couple months to write a post, just to end up sitting and staring at the screen, or typing and deleting...typing and deleting. No words seem right.  It's not that I don't have anything to say; truly, in this journey of grief there is no lack of thoughts, emotions or experiences to share. Honestly, I miss coming to this space for Aaron and pouring out my heart... I try to write, but only three words seem to make it onto the screen...I miss him. That's it. That's my heart. Those three simple words. They are just that, simple, yet it is so difficult to put into words the depth of hurt and sadness that those three words still encompass. I miss him.

Since my last post, Aaron's eight and nine month earthly and heavenly birthdays and the one year anniversary of his diagnosis have all come and gone. On these days, we have celebrated and remembered quietly, in our own way. It seems that this solitude in my grief is what my heart has needed lately. This privacy and quiet time, mixed with happiness, laughter, prayers and still some tears continue to restore my broken heart.

I received the link below from a wonderful friend today (thanks Jess!) and it inspired me to get back on here and to share it. I never knew that this incredible testimony accompanied this worship song that I love...her words speak so much truth into continuing to worship in the midst of tragedy and on this journey through grief...

 We miss you, sweet boy. 
Love you, always...

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