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.
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