Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Hope

It is Christmas.

Joy, Peace, Love, Hope...they linger in the air.

I should be joyful and thankful that our son is with Jesus, but to be completely honest, today I am not. He should be here.

I wish this was not the attitude with which I have approached Christmas this year, but as a friend put it, much of the "glitter", magic and sparkle of this Christmas has been lost on "what should have been...what should be". He should be here.

Yes, laughter, smiles and fun are still exchanged with our family and friends, but they don't annul the emptiness that resides in my heart and wells up as a pit in my stomach when I think of our Aaron Matthew and imagine him in my arms. He should be here. 

Christmas has brought forth such fresh sorrow again...sorrow that my heart cannot navigate and my mind cannot comprehend. He should be here.

Yet, as the superficial layers of Christmas are peeled away, we do find these things... joy, peace, love and hope...all in a Savior. All in a baby boy who was sent to us and for us. All in a baby boy who died on a cross for us. A baby boy who died...oh how I have a hard time with that. This marks the first Christmas that tears ran down my face at Christmas eve service...for that boy of mine; for that boy named Jesus. What a gift he gave. My heart understands now.

Joy, Peace, Love, Hope...this one stands out this year. Hope.

Dear Aaron,

Merry Christmas my son. As I stop and look at your ornaments on your little evergreen memory tree, I can only imagine who you'd be today... 

Happy 4 month birthday sweet boy.

Please tell Jesus Happy Birthday... and thank you....

I love you so very much and desperately miss you. 


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lump o' Coal

Again, I have been quiet lately. It seems that the fast pace of work, the demands of this holiday season and the fatigue caused by being in a state of constant flux of emotions and thoughts have made it difficult to find a sense of calm or to catch my breath lately. It is almost midnight, Aaron has been weighing heavily on my heart all day and I am finally getting a chance to sit. To reflect. To breathe. To feel close to Aaron in the stillness that surrounds me. 

I have been thinking about Christmas...and the sweet four month old boy who should be here...

Christmas is usually my favorite time of year, but this year it just feels wrong without Aaron here. Lights are twinkling on the outside of our house and a wreath hangs on our front looks like a "typical" Christmas from the outside. You'd never know that it's Christmas when you walk through the front door. No tree. No stockings. No garland, lights or decorations. Only our nativity is out. I wanted to do all of these things for Aaron, for my little one, but I can't bring myself to do any of it. There is too much sadness this year in doing those things that are usually so joyful. I have ornaments galore to hang for him and lights that I imagine would mesmerize him as their reflections twinkled in his eyes...but there is no tree for these things. 

I don't feel like celebrating.

I thank God for the birth of Jesus, His son, and for the gift of his life to each and every one of us. A gift that brings us hope. This Christmas, I quietly lift up my joy and gratefulness to God for that. 

But, I don't feel like celebrating. 

Oh how I miss you and love you dear boy.

(I wouldn't be surprised if I wake up Christmas morning to a lump of coal for my attitude this year. Oh well.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I Missed it all...

Aaron, my little one, I’m so sorry that I missed it all.

Since Aaron’s death, I’ve struggled with this harsh reality. In those three short days on earth he endured so much, and I never truly got to know him through it all. He’s my son, and I missed it. Through all of those tubes, wires, drains and monitors, I could see his body, but not him. He changed so much from the day I first laid eyes on him in the operating room and heard his tiny little cries… to the very first time I held him after his body just couldn’t fight any longer… to the day I spend hours holding him, rocking him and soaking in every detail of him in the empty room of a funeral home. His tiny little body was so cold that day and no matter how long I held him close, I just couldn’t warm him up… memories of that day still visit me frequently and they instantly crush my heart  and rock me to the core of my being. A mom should be able to keep her child warm…

He endured, fought and changed so much from his first breath to his last…and I feel like I missed it. I missed it all.  There was a little boy whom I should have been next to, caring for and loving on every second he was with us, but I wasn’t. It breaks my heart; it always will. I didn’t get to wrap my arms around him so he could feel the comfort and love of his mother… I didn’t get to kiss him goodbye before his surgeries…I didn’t get to gaze into his eyes and see that sweet little soul.  No diaper changes, bathes, or chances to study every intricate detail of the tiny little masterpiece that was him.

I miss you, Aaron Matthew. I feel like I missed it all

Friday, December 10, 2010

Groceries and a broken heart

Sometimes I truly do have to ask God, "WHY?" 

I realize, during moments of clarity, that God will use what we are going through for His glory and for good. I can see this in "the big stuff". But, in some of the small, everyday situations that I find myself in, I struggle with every fiber of my being to see the good. Some are just plain hurtful. 

Those who visit and read here, in my little corner of the world, may interpret this as me simply letting things get to me too easily. I don't expect the world to stop or for other mothers not to delight in showing off their precious children and sharing their newfound joy with others. Sometimes though, I just have to ask "why?"  If you are a mother who has lost a child, then you have probably been in my shoes and understand the heartbreak here...
Photo credit

I just stopped at the store on my way home from work and found myself in the checkout line behind a woman with a baby snuggled up in it's carrier, safely nestled down in her cart. Some days I intentionally switch lines so I don't even have to deal with it. At times, I can coo at and hold sweet little ones without a second thought; other days I can't get away fast enough before the tears begin stinging my eyes.

Today I thought to myself..."Yesterday was good. Today has been good. This won't bother me today." 

As the woman was checking out, the cashier kept doting on the baby and asked how old it was. "He's a little over three months." the mom said.  A little boy Aaron's age... God, why?

The mom proceeded to take him out of the carrier so the cashier could see him. He was wearing one of the few things I had bought Aaron; the exact same striped long sleeve onsie... God, why? 

Directed at me, the cashier asked "Isn't he a cutie?!" I managed to nod my head while holding back tears and thinking, "Please excuse me while I pick my heart up off the floor"... God, why?

I know that I may never understand why, I just know you're always there, walking beside me, making your presence known ...and picking up my broken heart when it has just hit the floor in the middle of the grocery store. You're always there. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I realize I have been quiet on here lately. To be honest, it's been a long week of struggling. I've been wrestling with more anger and frustration than normal...and I don't know what to do with those emotions. So, I felt the need to just be. To be quiet. To be still. To sort through it. To figure it out...and, I am still working on it. 

I believe that much of my frustration and anger have stemmed from this all too quickly approaching Christmas. Although we will be celebrating the birth of Christ and it should be joyful, I struggle with the fact that Aaron is not here, and he should be. Arriving this week with the Christmas presents that I have ordered for our nieces and nephews should be gifts for Aaron as well. Instead, his "urn" will be in that box...

I can't begin to explain how it feels to order an urn for your child. So many emotions flood me when as I think about it, but one word in particular stands out...wrong. It is just that, plain and simple. Wrong. 

In the middle of all that feels wrong and in the "emotional mess" of last week, I do want to share  one thing that, to me, was an encouragement, a blessing, a light...

Photo Credit
In the midst of my "ugly" week, something joyful happened. In our high school youth group the recent series of teachings have been on shining our light into the lives of others. Last week, someone did just that for me. 

Wednesday night I opened the front door to find one of our fellow high school youth group leaders standing there with a giant basket in her hands. She said "here, someone wanted me to give this to you. I can't tell you who it is". As I set the basket down and stood in amazement for a few more minutes, I opened the letter tucked inside. It said...
Dear Danielle- I know that this year has been especially difficult and so I wanted to bless you with something special.
Here you will find an Advent Basket. This is filled with little treats for you to open each day until Christmas. It is my hope and prayer that you are encouraged and rejuvenated by each little gift. They are each marked with a number...
I am purposely not telling who I am but wanting you to just enjoy being lifted up in prayer and encouragement. You will find out on Christmas Day who it is that is giving you these gifts. Please know that i am praying for you and for your heart each day as you move toward healing. I am also praying that God would meet you where you are and minister to you in ways that are unmistakably Him.
Praying for you today and with each gift.  

Who would do this for me? Who would put the time, energy, thoughtfulness and love into something like this for measly 'lil me? If you, "gift giver", are reading this, thank you. Thank you for shining a light into my life, during a very difficult season this year. The love, prayers and the basket are a true blessings that offer hope and encouragement through our first Holidays without Aaron. I can't begin to tell you the comfort it brings to know that he is being remembered...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

We Chose

We chose life; a beautiful, precious life...when we had offers by doctors to terminate that life many times over.

We chose love; unconditional, unreserved love...when we could have withheld so that the pain of this loss wouldn't be so intense, so wearing, so excruciatingly painful. 

We chose hope; just a glimpse, a sliver of hope and a dream ...when we could have given up because it was just too hard, too taxing, too draining. 

We chose faith; blind, reckless, all-in faith based on a promise ...when we could have turned our back because our prayers weren't answered in the way we wanted them answered. 

We chose all of these things for a boy. For a boy named Aaron Matthew. For our son. 

...And I would choose these things all over again... time... after time... after time...without a second thought. 

I would choose to know my little boy, to love him unconditionally and unreservedly as his mother, to have hope for his life and his future and to have faith that God would lovingly care for His son and for us through this journey. All over again. Every time. Without a doubt.

Today has been three months since we said goodbye. A quarter of a year has continued to move on. We have lived 93 days without him, when it feels like the world should stand still. Each day I wake up to the harsh reality that he is not here and to empty arms that should hold my son. 

My heart is broken.
Life is just not right without you.
We love you and miss you sweet boy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful in the Storm

Today is bittersweet. 
Happy Thanksgiving Aaron Matthew.
You would be three months old today, sweet boy.
We miss you.

Today should be our first family with a three month old in tow. Instead, it is our first family holiday without him. Today, on a bittersweet day of giving thanks, I know this much...

photo credit

I am blessed.
In the midst of this storm, I am blessed.
Through the best times and worst times of life, I am blessed. 
Although our son is gone, I am blessed. 
I thank God daily, for I am blessed... 

...with family
who have loved us as Christ loved. How do you ever repay those who have become the hands and feet of God to you? Those who did our laundry, cooked our meals and kept our life afloat when we merely had the energy to open our eyes, take a breath and climb out of bed each day. Those who rearranged their lives, made themselves available every minute of every day and planned a memorial service for a grandson, nephew and son without being asked because even the smallest decisions seemed insurmountable to us under the weight of grief. For getting involved in the "mess" of our lives and loving us when we are unlovable. To our family... thank you seems such an understatement to show our appreciation and gratitude for all that you have done...there aren't enough words to thank you for loving us, caring for us and walking with us through the best and worst days of our lives. We love you.

...with friends
who have also been there with us through the best and worst days of our lives. To those of you who encouraged and prayed us through our pregnancy, rejoiced with us after Aaron's birth and wept with us as we said goodbye. To those who have sat with us as we've cried,  who have listened to stories of Aaron for the umpteenth time over coffee and who have managed to bring laughter and joy back into our lives when a simple smile seemed impossible. For the meals, the flowers, the listening, the talking, the cups of coffee, the encouraging text messages and e-mails...thank you Thank you for standing by our side as we weather this storm. We love you all.

...with a new Perspective
that has changed my life. I would give anything to have Aaron back, anything. Through his loss, I have gained a new perspective that has changed me to the core of my innermost being. I may not be a better person or parent than someone else, but because of his brief life, I will be a better person and a better parent in my life. He has taught me that life is short and delicate, to truly appreciate the small things, to love without reservation, to enjoy more and worry less, to give without a second thought, to not take people for granted, to show kindness, love and respect to never know what storm they may be weathering. I am thankful that I have learned these things that others may never truly understand until there has been a change in their perspective.

...with a loving Heavenly Father
who gave His one and only son to die on the cross for us, so that we may have eternal life. So that we can have hope that we will, one day, see our Aaron Matthew again. Thank you Father. 

...with the basics of life
that every human being should have, but many do not. I have a roof over my head to keep me dry and safe from the weather, food on my table to keep me nourished and healthy, and clothes on my body to keep me warm. For this, I am thankful. 

 Father, thank you for all of your blessings in my life. Thank you for my son, his life and the chance to know him. Thank you for your love and grace. I will continue to praise you in all that you've done and all that you do. Thank you for your beautiful son. I love you. Amen.

Happy three month birthday Aaron Matthew. I miss you little one, more than words can say.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harsh Reality

Harsh, harsh reality; I am weary. Please go away.

Over the past few months, this blog has transformed from a means of updating our family and friends on Aaron's life and story to an open window, allowing the world a view into our journey through grief. I wish I was sitting here, writing that the harsh days of grief are easing and that the weight of our recent journey is beginning to lift from our shoulders, but...I can't lie. The past couple weeks have been hard. Very hard. It has been emotional and challenging for both of us. The emotional energy consumed by grieving added to the grind of daily life and work has left us exhausted... drained... spent... weary. As I wrote in my last post, the shock of the whirlwind and trauma we experienced with Aaron is slowly wearing off and the harshness of our current reality is hitting us; settling in around us, finding its way into our lives and seeking out every nook and cranny of our existence to make its presence known.

I open my Bible and Aaron's newborn picture, my "bookmark", catches me off guard. Those predetermined three days... his entire life... seemed so long, medically speaking, yet were so very short, far too short, in the minutes and hours we were blessed to have with him. At times, I stare in awe at my sweet, beautiful boy and wonder "were you actually here little one?" It feels like a dream, or rather a bad nightmare. I walk by our refrigerator; I stop and I stare at those 20 week ultrasound pictures that I cannot bring myself to take down. They fill me with the love and joy of finding out we would be having a son as well as the horror and terrifying knowledge that something was terribly wrong. Although I see these reminders every day, they strike me at times as if I've never before seen them; as if I've just laid eyes on them for the first time all over again. In awe that he was here. In awe that he is gone. 

I want this process of grief to be over....I want it to be done....I am frustrated....I am tired....I am exhausted. I know that it never truly ends and this is not something we will simply "get over"; we will just learn to incorporate life without Aaron, life without our firstborn child, into our lives.  I don't want to forget him or any detail of his existence, but I want to be on the other side, looking back and wondering how we made it through rather than standing here and wondering how we are going to make it through.  However, I know it is just that, a process. A road that we must walk down in order to, once again, find joy in life... while remembering our son.

I miss you my sweet, sweet boy. I wish you were here. I dream that you are here. Sometime I forget...that you are not here. 

Harsh, harsh reality, please go away.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Changing Grief

Friday night was one of those nights. One of those nights that took me back to the first days after Aaron was gone. One of those nights of overwhelming, all-consuming grief. But compared to then, the shock has worn off and the grief is now different...

It is a grief that has had time to meld.

A grief that has had time to process and settle in to every corner, crack and crevice of my heart and my being.

A grief that is so vast, deep, raw and empty that I cannot wrap my mind around it.

A grief that so effortlessly crushes and smothers the hope and joy in my life beneath it's unbearable weight.

A grief that makes my eyes burn with hurt and despair and want and longing and love and anger and uncontrollable tears.

A grief that makes my arms and heart ache for the child that should fill them.

A grief that throws logic and faith out the window and has me believing that is not okay that he is gone, missing out on our love and missing out on the life we had planned. 

A grief that is a sucker punch to the stomach and takes my legs out from beneath me as I've just realized for the first time, once again, that he is gone and no amount of begging, pleading, praying, or screaming will bring him back.

A grief for a loss that, at times, leaves the essence of my life empty, void and forsaken beyond words.

A grief that reminds me how much I desperately miss him and selfishly want him here with us.

I miss you sweet Aaron...

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Walk in New Shoes

I have to head to work, but wanted to share this first...
As I spent some time journaling this morning, the only explanation I can think of is that the words below poured from God's heart into mine. I've never been a poetry writer, but these words just spilled out onto the page. 

A Walk in New Shoes

The other Day, God summoned me
to take a walk with Him,
He planned to prepare me for a journey,
although I didn’t know it then.

He said, “I want to give you these,
I’ve made them just for you.
You may not understand it now,
they’re a gift; your new shoes”

I managed to whisper “Thank you, Father”
as tears welled in my eyes.
I looked down at the pair of shoes
and simply asked Him “why?”.

You see, these shoes my Father made,
they are ugly and they’re cold.
It hurts my body to walk in them
but, I’ll do as I’m told.

When people look upon me now,
it’s with sympathy and sorrow.
I limp along in these new shoes
just praying for tomorrow.

Maybe when tomorrow comes,
or down the road some years
I’ll find myself walking taller,
in less pain; with fewer tears.

Maybe then, these shoes will feel
more broken in; worn down.
Maybe I’ll finally find comfort
In these shoes which I’ve been bound.

 “Excuse me Father, I don’t understand
How these are a gift for me.
They’re uncomfortable and painful
And as ugly as can be.”

“You see, my child, I give you these
They’re modeled after mine
I’ve walked the road in these same shoes
As I too, watched my son die.

You do not understand it now,
But somewhere down the road,
You’ll find they make you stronger
You’ll find they make you grow.

Right now you may fall often,
you’ll stumble and you’ll cry.
The pain and grief unbearable,
 you’ll often ask me “why?”

Keep walking in these shoes, My child,
just trust me and you’ll see,
the sorrow and pain of wearing them
will ease as you walk with Me.”

For each, these shoes are custom made,
they’ve been hammered, chiseled and filed
If you’ve been handed a pair of these
Then you too have lost a child.

You, too, have dropped down to your knees
as you begged, pleaded and prayed,
and were then forced to say the hardest goodbye 
to your child who could not stay. 

Yet, Our Father’s own hands molded these shoes
with love and joy and tears.
They are made to grow stronger, yet comfortable
as we carry this burden for years.

My friend, I have even considered it,
But won’t trade my shoes with you
No one should have to bear this burden
And already, too many do.

These shoes, you see, they are a gift,
as unbearable as they may be.
I’ll wear them because He asked me to
and they’ll forever be part of me.

Maybe I'll add more at some point, but just wanted to share what God put on my heart this morning. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dear Aaron

Dear Aaron,
     As I drove home today, the bright evening sun reflected off of the fields of tall grass near our neighborhood. They gleamed a brilliant autumn gold and rippled as the gentle wind whispered across them. Above, miles of wispy clouds began manifesting radiant oranges and pinks as the sun began its descent over the snow covered mountain peaks.  I stopped and thought of you. Only you. What beauty the world around us holds. What masterpieces God creates for us to revel in and admire. What love and adoration He shows us through His creation. 
    I am sad that you will never experience this earthly beauty. One thing I am certain of though, sweet boy...if what I see from this side of heaven is this magnificent, I can't even begin to imagine or grasp the greatness of the beauty and splendor that surrounds you now. I don't have to describe to you the grandeur of heaven that we can only dream of; you already know. Because of you, little one, I now appreciate all that is around me with a much more profound sense of awe and gratitude. I stop and take it in. I find joy, wonder and amazement in the details. All because of you, Aaron.

I never knew that so much love and such great hurt could reside in my heart, simultaneously. But, they do...both for you. I miss you Aaron Matthew, with every ounce of my being. 

I love you sweet boy. Forever. 


We miss you little one.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Completely Random Ramblings

Today, once again, a weary and trying day of grief reared its ugly head. Because of this, there is no specific topic for this post today, and really, no words from me as they would most likely be filled with bitterness and anger. Since we were thrown into this journey, I have learned that emotions of grief ebb and flow like a tide, changing from minute to minute, hour to hour and day to day; tomorrow is a new day that will bring with it new emotions (hopefully more pleasant ones).

The thoughts, quotes and statements I have posted below are completely random. They are not mine. They are simply words from here and there that have helped me to survive today in one piece, minus a few tears. Whether words of encouragement, scripture from the Bible or something out of the blue that resonated with me, they all carried me through today...hour by hour, step by step. 

Matt Hammitt ( tweeted this today:
"In Romans 5:1-5, Paul rejoices more in suffering than in hope. Strange as that may seem, he makes a case that's hard to argue. Hope doesn't produce suffering, suffering produces hope."

So Very True.

I was looking for something to mark my place in a new book I've just started reading and I came across this "business card" in another book on my nightstand. I had completely forgotten I had it... 
"Aaron Matthew, you are INSCRIBED on the palm of his hand...Isaiah 49:16"

...I believe my mother in law passed it along to me, but honestly, in the whirlwind of the last few months, I have no idea who took the time and energy to make it. So, if you made this and are reading this blog...thank you. There are no words to describe the sense of peace, calm and comfort that blanketed me when I read this.

From the book Holding onto Hope, a pathway through suffering to the heart of God, this passage speaks volumes to me: ( I would write the entire chapter if I could)...
"We might not say it, but in the back of our minds we somehow think that Job was so godly, he should have been spared from pain. But the truth is, often people who follow God suffer- not less but more. Have you ever noticed that people who suffer are marked with a beauty, a deepening, a transformation? This only occurs, however, when they enter the suffering and look around for God in the midst of it. Otherwise, they are marked with bitterness and emptiness.
'But,' you say, 'God does not willingly afflict his children.' That's true.
For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.     -Lamentations 3:31-33 (NIV)
What does this mean? No suffering for God's children? No.
It means no meaningless suffering. If God has allowed suffering into your life, it is for a purpose. A good purpose. A holy purpose. 
...Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat- I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?  -Luke 9:23-25 (The Message)"

From my current read, the book Comfort. A Journey Through Grief (by Ann Hood) about the loss of her young daughter:
"GRIEF IS NOT LINEAR. People kept telling me that once this happened or that passed, everything would be better. Some people gave me one year to grieve. They saw grief as a straight line, with a beginning, middle, and end. But it is not linear. It is disjointed. One day you are acting almost like a normal person. You maybe even manage to take a shower. Your clothes match. You think the autumn leaves look pretty, or enjoy the sound of snow crunching under your feet.
Then a song, a glimpse of something, or maybe even nothing sends you back into the hole of grief. It is not one step forward, two steps back. It is a jumble. It is hours that are all right, and weeks that aren't. Or it is good days and bad days. Or it is the weight of sadness making you look different to others and nothing helps. Not haircuts or manicures or the Atkins Diet."

If you didn't realize it already, yes, I love to read and am a bit of a nerd. Written above are simply words that comfort my heart and ease the feeling of isolation that is an all too common companion in this unfamiliar world of grief.  I am thankful for those who have a way with words... particularly on days such as today when I don't have the energy or focus to meld together my own emotions, thoughts and words into something that actually makes sense. 

They're not my words, but they speak to me, and today, they speak for me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Week in Pictures...

I was a bit late in getting this post up from last week:

They are everywhere....
...Just when I need them.

Busy seems like an understatement of our life over the past couple weeks. Between work, youth group, church, reconnecting with friends and trying to figure out how to integrate our "new" selves into our "old" life, moments to breathe, reflect, remember and to just be have been scarce. The days have begun to travel by with the slightest essence and semblance of a routine; of a return to normal life. As life has been changing and grief has been changing, all I can say is thank goodness for the reminders.

Aaron is never far from my mind, but these reminders are there when I feel like I am forgetting his smell, the silkiness of his hair, his soft skin, the size of his tiny hands and feet, his beautiful face...him. Our son and what we have been through has changed me, forever. These things I now truly understand: Life is short. People are delicate. You can never get back lost time or moments. Life is fragile. Rarely do we get the opportunity for re-dos, do-overs or mulligans. Love while you can; it may be the only or last chance you get. Take in the details around you. Hold your spouse, children and family close. God is strong. God is loving. God is good. And, I am thankful that He has deeply and richly blessed me.

Throughout the past week, God has placed these glimpses of Aaron and reminders of his life in the midst of the bustle that I know as my daily routine. They are good; they are reminders of him and of milestones we joyfully celebrate, would rather forget, or will never get to experience. These glimpses are a welcome interruption and remind me of him and what is truly important in the midst of this busy life.


Today would be his two month birthday. I believe that those of us who have lost little ones place more weight on these small markers of life as they are a constant reminder of what would have been. We always struggle with the question 'why?', but these seemingly insignificant dates bring up the whats? and woulds?. What would he look like now...chubby cheeks, rolls on his arms and legs? Would he be smiling, cooing, holding his head up?...

Homemade cupcakes just sounded good on Monday night, and since it would have been his two-month birthday...all the more reason to make them!


We received a surprise call from Children's, saying that they had casts of his hands and feet ready to be picked up! We didn't even know they had done any! It was mentioned the night that he passed away, but with the whirlwind of events that evening, I just assumed it was never done and it fell off my radar. We have so few tangible things to remember Aaron by, that I was nothing short of thrilled to get this news and pick them up.


On my way home from work, I stopped by Target to pick out a "Thinking of you" card for a friend. As I poked my way through the cards, the one above caught my attention. For some reason, dandelions blowing in the wind have always been one of my special reminders of Aaron...even long before he was born. I picked up the card and almost lost it in the store when I opened it up and saw the message inside. So perfect.


Today, we remember the day we said goodbye, two months ago. I don't necessarily like to remember the specific details of that night, but they are there and I do...all too vividly. Although they may mollify over time, I imagine that this date every month will bring up the very real, very raw emotions of losing him. This is now what we look at on our mantle. No urn yet; we can't seem to choose one. How do you pick an urn for your matter how perfect, they all seem inappropriate.


I remembered you, little one, as we volunteered at Flatirons' trunk or treat and saw each sweet, bundled up newbie with the cutest Halloween costumes on. I couldn't help but think of how perfect you'd be in the giraffe costume that I had pick out of the hand-me-downs from your cousins...the one that is now neatly folded and tucked away in your was waiting for you.


Saturday, there is no picture, but it was the day with some of the greatest reminders and a welcome "interruption" in my week. For dinner, we had the privilege of  joining a wonderful couple from church who experienced the loss of their newborn daughter a little over a year ago. It was so special to spend time just exchanging stories, sharing memories and reminiscing about our little ones with others who can truthfully say "I completely understand"...I understand the loss, I understand the grief, I understand the heartbreak...been there, done that and still dealing with it. 


On another mother's blog I read this..."We may have had limited time to make memories WITH our babies, but we have limitless opportunities to make memories in HONOR of them."  That's all I need to write to explain the pumpkin.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Goodness & Faith

Better pull up a chair and grab a cup of coffee...this post ended up being a long one...

Today has been a rougher morning and I'm not sure why. Our Sundays usually begin with church, but not today (as we are going tonight), so maybe that has something to do with it. I walked into Aaron's room this morning with hopes of finishing a couple more little things and it hit me. All of a sudden, the pain and the fact that he was gone was once again very fresh, very real and very raw. I find it odd that during some days the pain is so great that we feel as if we said goodbye just yesterday and other days it feels that it has been so much longer than the past two months. This morning, it felt to me as if we are still waiting for him to come home, all the while knowing that he never will. I can't tell you how much I look forward to the day that we will be together with him again.

On that note, there is something else I've struggled with over the past several weeks. I've heard and seen the phrase "God is good all the time, and all the time God is good" many, many times since Aaron passed away and to be honest,  it ties my stomach in knots when I hear it. I get frustrated. I want to scream and cry. At times, my response would be "that's easy for you to say, your son didn't just die." Now, I'm not having a pity party, but it feels similar to times when I've been having a rough day dealing with Aaron's death and I happen to run into the 'always happy, overly joyful, I just found a leprechaun and a pot of gold today' type of person who says "come on, smile. Nothing about your day can be that bad."  All I want to say is "let me tell you what today the last two months of my life have been like..." It is these same feelings I've had when I hear that phrase "God is good all the time, and all the time God is good". 

If you read my last post, or many of my previous posts for that matter, you may wonder if I've had a change of heart. I hope that you don't get offended and stop reading. Please, continue on as I stumble through some reflecting that I've done over this...

Because of my faith and the relationship that I have with God, I am honestly unsure why I've had this negative attitude and response to this saying/phrase, so I spent some time reflecting on it yesterday. One thing I am sure of is that with all of my heart and every ounce of my being, all  I've ever wanted to be other than a wife is a mother. I enjoy my career as a physical therapist and I always strive to do my best at whatever I do, but it doesn't hold a candle to my desire to have a child, have a family and be a wife and mother. Yes, I am still a mother; I have a son, but right now, I have no one to mother. I want him back... I want him here... I want him, and only him, in my arms. In conversations with God, I've asked "If you are good, why did you take our child, our son; a child who was so deeply and desperately wanted and loved from the moment we knew we were expecting? Why?" I know I will never have an answer; not on earth or in this lifetime anyway.

Through this journey, I've realized that it is alright for me to have frustrations and questions for God; it actually keeps me talking to Him...a lot. I've also come to the realization that it is human nature for us to define His goodness with how closely His plan lines up with our wants and desires. It would be easy for me to say that God is unloving and that He is not good all the time because He took our only child from us or did not stop our son from being taken from us... however you'd like to look at it. He is the great physician; His hands perform miracles everyday; yet, we didn't get one on that night that we hit our knees and begged and pleaded and cried out to Him to save our son. We never got to change a diaper, feed him, snuggle him, hear him scream and cry or bring him home.  From the minute he was born, he was poked and prodded, sedated and cut open. And although I pumped religiously every two to three hours because it was the only way I knew to help him, he was never fed...not a single drop. I walk through life carrying this weight and knowing that we signed the consent forms; and after it was all said and done, his poor body endured being cut open again, only so doctors and science could "try to figure out and learn from what went wrong". The only time I ever got to hold my son, his body was lifeless and cold...he was already gone. However, we carry these burdens knowing that we listened to the doctors and that our intentions were rooted in nothing but love and hope so that he could have a chance at life. Had we known the outcome, I wouldn't have done any of it. His short time on earth would have been spent in our arms, surrounded by his family and knowing and feeling that he was so very loved. I hated watching Aaron suffer and feeling so helpless in doing so. Honestly, I do have trouble seeing the goodness in all of this.

As I have spent some time reflecting, praying and reading the bible, I realize that maybe, just maybe, what we are walking through right now is good. Maybe this...the tears, the frustration, the deep sorrow, the anger, the longing for our son...maybe all of this is a small part of God's goodness. Maybe it is all part of the bigger picture that we cannot see. Maybe those three days of suffering would have turned into years...years of frequent hospitalization, surgeries, constant struggles and poor quality of life...years of wondering if each day would be our last day with Aaron. Cardiac kids are fragile. At some point, he would have required a transplant and we would be left wondering if he would receive a heart. The future holds so many unknowns. I have no doubt that God could see what his life would or could have been and maybe he made His decision. It wasn't a decision defined by our wants and desires or that lined up with our plans, but maybe He couldn't bear to watch His child suffer. Honestly, in that, I can see His goodness.

I journaled everything above prior to going to church tonight. As I've said before, the ways in which God speaks to us at times amazes me. Our pastor preached on Saul (Paul) in Acts 9 tonight and one thing he said really spoke to me...

  "The bible teaches that God does not do evil things or bad things to people. We could argue all night long about whether God caused that or allowed some point, you have to throw that question out the window. The truth is that something happened; something big, something life-changing and it knocked me flat. Is that tragedy in my life that brought me or someone else back to God a good thing or bad thing? It's still a bad thing. How about was a bad thing and God redeemed it. God used it. God refuses to waste the mess in our lives. God took a bad thing and used it for good; just like He promised those who love Him." 

I gained a lot of clarity through the sermon tonight, even though it wasn't speaking to exactly what we have been going through. The tragedies  that happen to us in life can't be classified as good simply because they brought us or someone else closer to God, but God is Good. He uses these situations and "the mess" of our lives for good and although He never said that life would be easy, He said that we wouldn't go through it alone. He is always there. He is ever present...holding our hand, walking through it with us and redeeming it for good and for His glory. We must throw the "whys?" out the window and trust in Him. We must have this thing called faith.

So, with trust and faith that God is using this storm, this tragedy, this mess in our life right now, I can say, with confidence, that "God is good all the time, and all the time God is good".

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Finding a New "Normal"

To the outsider looking in, our life looks normal. Days consist of Dan and I, our dog and cat, work, church, friends, youth group and family activities. It's really no different than our life, "pre-Aaron". I imagine that people wonder how things can be so difficult when life was good before and not much has changed... it all seems the all seems so normal. From the outside, that's how it appears

There aren't enough words to begin to describe how far from normal our life feels right now, in so many ways. Our plans for our future normal life were centered around cardiology appointments, sleep deprived nights (and days), fretting over Aaron's ability to gain weight and "produce" dirty diapers, figuring out life on a semi-one-income budget, doing life as a family of three, and of course, enjoying each tiny, yet momentous baby Aaron milestone. Much of it probably doesn't sound like fun to most, but we were looking to the future with great faith, anticipation and joy. Now that this "future" that we anticipated is here, it looks so very different than what we thought normal would be. 

A glimpse of our new normal is:

...knowing that anticipated milestones of smiles, rolling, crawling, walking, talking will instead be reminders of what we are missing and how long Aaron's been gone. 

...Dan and I asking each other the generic question "how are you doing today?" and having a mutual, unspoken understanding that it is only in reference to one are you coping today.  

...the look of panic on my face and coinciding pit in my stomach when asked by patients "so, do you have any children?".

...signing up for a grief support group.

...wanting to say hello to a neighbor, acquaintance or coworker only to have them avoid us because they don't know what to say...and learning to not be offended.

..."for better or worse"... truly understanding/learning how to love and respect one another not only when we are in the midst of happiness and smooth sailing through life, but through the times of unfathomable grief, pain, anger and sorrow.

...a home with our son's ashes on our mantel and an empty nursery upstairs. 

...days that feel so full of work, friends, family and church, yet at the same time, feel so empty.

...a few feelings of dread and despair accompanying the customary joy of the upcoming holidays.

...appreciating and cherishing the small things, each other and life more and realizing that time, people and life itself are fragile.

...sharing a more intimate relationship with our Father and embracing a much deeper understanding of His sacrifice for us.

Our new normal is not the normal we had planned, but, we have learned more than anything that our future is not ours to plan. We planned and prepared for every aspect of starting a family and raising a child before Aaron was ever conceived and where did that get us... to a place, a situation, a future we never dreamed of and certainly didn't plan for. So, we embrace this new normal as best as we can right now. We're learning and adapting as we go, picking each other up when we fall and remembering that God is somehow using all of this for His glory...whether or not we understand the "whys?" and "why nots?" that present themselves. God walked beside us through the greatest joy and greatest sorrow we have ever known in three very short, yet very long days. He has provided the strength, comfort, peace, understanding and love that we have needed and will continue to need in order to remain standing when we come out on the other side of this storm. And, during times when we have been presented with more than we can handle, He has graciously embraced us, lifted us up and carried us until we can regain our footing and find the strength to stand on our own once again. Now, as we venture on to find our new normal, God is right beside us...encouraging us when we are disheartened, picking us up when we fall, comforting us when we're broken and graciously and lovingly carrying us when we are too weak, weary and exhausted to take one more step alone. Our God is an amazing Father!
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