8 months.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 months since we met our sweet little baby G.

8 months

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the
Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43:2-3 

i wish Christmas was over.

So here’s this crazy thing:  I wish Christmas was over. 

 

There, I said it.  Call me crazy.  Write it off.  Label me emotional.  Or… maybe, just maybe you feel the same way? 

 

You see, never in my life have I felt this way before.  Ever.  I love Christmas.  Love it up and down.  Love celebrating Jesus’ birth.  Love the joy that comes with Christmas.  Love the hope.  Love all aspects of Christmas and the holiday season.  I love the trees, the lights, the shopping, the wrapping, the movies, the baking, the cooking, the sweets, the salty, the cards – oh the cards, probably my favorite part of “Christmas things”.  I love the picking out of the perfect card.  I love getting them in from others.  I love waiting for mine to arrive.  I love addressing them and praying for each family, each person I send them to.  To me, it’s worth the work.  I display the cards I get all over my living room.  I leave them up through January, at least. 

But I noticed something was wrong this week.  I have spent over a week working on my cards.  It’s been ok, but it really stressed me out this year.  And I found myself feeling differently than before towards it all.  So yesterday morning I texted this to my friend, Julie, who’s baby died in August: 

Moment of truth:  can Christmas be over yet? 

 

I thought I’d be ostracized from society for thinking such things.  Thought I’d be banned from the church.  That it might mean I don’t appreciate Jesus and His love for me.  But then I realized those things were crazy.  And let’s just be honest.  It’s just hard this year.  And it’s not just hard for me.  I know it’s hard for a lot of you, too.  I know it’s hard for Julie and her family.  I know it’s hard for my Grandfather who is spending his first Christmas without his wife after 63 years of Christmases with her.  I know it’s hard for the 3 different families I saw at the cemetery today burying loved ones.  I know it’s hard for my friend who has struggled with infertility for years.  I know it’s hard for the families who have nothing.  I know it’s hard for the families who have everything but feel empty.  I know it’s hard for the family estranged from loved ones.  I know it’s hard for people who lost a loved one a year ago or twenty years ago. 

 

This year I learned that Christmas isn’t always merry.  And in years past I judged and labeled people as grinches or as missing the true meaning of Christmas.  I get, and so appreciate and need, the true meaning of Christmas, but that doesn’t mean this one isn’t hard.  And the beautiful thing about that is that God knows that.  He knows how this time of year can be extra hard, and I believe He’s extra tender. 

 

So in all of this, I want to share that I get it now.  I get how it can be hard.  And I’m thankful my heart is more sensitive to it now.  I also wanted to share how I feel because after talking with several people who also told me they felt this way, I suspect that many of you might, too.  And I want you to know that you aren’t alone.  So know this Christmas, even if it’s hard for you, especially if it’s hard for you, that you aren’t alone.  And we’ll get through it. 

 

 

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when the holidays are hard.

Yesterday I had the privilege of sharing about when the holidays are hard over on the Knoxville Moms Blog. 

 

The Holiday season is in full swing, and I’m having mixed feelings.  Part of me is excited, like I usually am this time of year.  But a larger part of me is a little resistant to the coming of this big season.

This is my first Holiday season since our deep loss.  This time last year we were expecting our second child, and I had great visions of what this Christmas would look like with two little ones.  But in May, our second son died, and now we have to learn how to celebrate this special time of year while our hearts are still broken

 

grief and the holidays

 

 

Check out the rest of the post over on the Knoxville Moms Blog site. 

 

Thanks for the love, friends! 

angels we have heard on high.

I went by the cemetery to see Gabriel’s grave and put Christmas flowers there last week.  After I put his flowers out, I went down to the other side of the cemetery to put Christmas flowers on my Granny’s grave.  They are buried in the same, large cemetery.  Gabriel’s grave is in the back of the cemetery, up on a hill in a small patch called Babyland.  My Granny’s grave is down near the front on a nice, large flat patch that is the Veteran’s section.

As I finished pushing those flowers in the ground at her freshly buried spot, I stepped back and looked around.  All I could think was what happened??  I stood there looking out over this very different patch in the very same cemetery where my son is buried.  And all I could think was what happened??

angels we have heard on high

This whole year we’ve been living it, and when you’re knee deep in it, you don’t really get to ask that.  But when you step back and realize, wait a minute, my child is in Heaven, the how did we get here?  and what happened? come to mind.  What happened to get us here?  What happened to us?  How is that this time last year life was totally normal and this year it’s crushing?  What happened?

 

Then I got in the car and the song that immediately came on was Angels We Have Heard On High.  I was hit hard.  It was a pretty cool moment.  And I immediately thought of my angel and felt comforted.  So no matter what happened, or how we got to this point, it doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is that we have an angel, and we have hope.  So no matter what happened, we have hope.

 

 

Angels We Have Heard on High

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing
Come, adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord, the newborn King

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

 

 

 

 

 

fall family pictures.

This fall our sweet friend took our family pictures again.  I love them, and I am so happy this has become a tradition for us.  Erin Rodgers is not only a talented photographer but a very thoughtful friend, too.  She wanted to honor Gabriel and help us remember him by gifting us with family photos.  I am so thankful she did this. 

I had actually thought about booking fall pictures with her this year, but then I thought that I didn’t want to take family pictures this year – that it would be too hard.  I wouldn’t have done it without some gentle nudging from her, and I’m so thankful for that.  Now we have pictures for this year, and in the future I will be able to look back and remember how those pictures were taken during our hardest season.  It’s a really special thing to have. 

 

We were also able to bring along our Gabriel bear.  Obviously, I missed having our sweet G in our family pictures, but it was neat to have a symbol for the member of our family who is missing in the pictures.  Plus, Jack thought it was so special to bring his Gabriel bear and get to take pictures with him. 

 

Erin, thank you for these sweet pictures.  We love them, and I’m glad you encouraged me to do this even though it was hard this year.  We are so thankful for you!! 

 

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seven months.

Seven months – it sure has gone by fast.  I miss our baby every day. 

 

Seven months

 

December at the cemetery is looking dark and dead.  But there is beauty in the sparkling Christmas flowers.  Tomorrow I’m adding a Christmas wreath to Gabriel’s grave. 

thanksgiving 2013.

Thanksgiving 2013 was a good different one.  As I talked about in my Thanksgiving post, this year was really different.  It was hard, but it was a good day.  We spent time with family, I helped my mom and sister cook, and we ate a lot of food.  Good family day. 

 

Thanksgiving 2012 we were all so joyful.  Much to look forward to in 2013.  Last Thanksgiving I was pregnant with Gabriel. 

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We ate a meal cooked by Granny.  And we all played ball outside together. 

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This year had different blessings and many hardships.  But we still have joy and we have hope. 

 

 

Trying to take a Thanksgiving Day nap isn’t so easy with a 2 1/2 year old… 

daddywakeup daddyandjack

 daddyjack daddy

I definitely watched this all happen and just took pictures. 

 

 

Jack and I snuck away for a bit and had some picture fun. 

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Jack  

 

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I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and full of blessings!  And good luck out there if you’re a black Friday shopper.  Whew, stresses me out.  But if you see any good deals on a DSLR, give me a call! 

happy thanksgiving.

To all of you who love and support me by coming here and reading this little blog, thank you.  I am so thankful for you.  Without you I would just be a crazy person writing to myself.  This time last year I could have never imagined what the next year would be like for this blog.  I never thought it would reach as many people as it has.  Thank you all for passing my blog along to others, especially those who are hurting, grieving, and losing loved ones.  So very thankful for you, dear friends. 

 

Today is my hardest Thanksgiving.  I miss our Gabriel.  I wish he was here to celebrate his first Thanksgiving.  I wish I wasn’t able to help cook as much because I had my hands full with a special needs baby.  Tommy and I talked about it and today, we wish our story was different.  But even as I say that, deep in my heart I know I love our story and I wouldn’t want to lose all I’ve learned this year and how I’ve grown.  But mostly I wouldn’t change a thing if it meant changing anything about our G. 

 

I know I have much to be thankful for.  And I am thankful for many things.  I am thankful for my family and friends.  I am especially thankful for Jack.  What a blessing it is to have this little guy in our lives – he brings so much joy.  And I’m so very thankful for Gabriel – he changed our lives and changed us forever. 

 

But the truth is that today is a hard day.  And my heart isn’t overflowing with thankfulness.  I know I have much to be thankful for, but my lips aren’t quick to speak of it.  I am more just “doing it” today – going through the day like a usual Thanksgiving, except that it isn’t usual at all.  I miss Gabriel, and all throughout this day I wish he was here.  I also see my Granny everywhere around me.  It’s hard to have Thanksgiving without her.  This year is just different.  And I know so many of you know that feeling, of experiencing Thanksgiving without someone so special to you. 

 

give thanks

 

Today I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving!  My prayer for you is that you find a way to be thankful – whether it’s out of an overflowing and thankful heart or whether it’s an act of faith.  I spent some time this morning praying for those having a hard day – for so many different reasons.  And please know that I am saying prayers of thanksgiving for all of you. 

cold nights.

It’s 2:16 am and I’m sitting on my couch eating cereal, watching Friends on TV Land, and typing this.  I spent the first part of the night asleep in Jack’s bed.  He has become pretty aware of things and now gets scared at night in his room.  Also albuterol is my best friend and my enemy.  He needs his inhaler pretty often in these cold months, so it’s a must before bed but also keeps him up SO LATE. 

 

Jack’s TV obsession Daniel Tiger taught him about shadows and how they aren’t scary if you figure out what they really are.  He fully understands the concept when he’s watching the show, however, in real life it seems to be lost on him.  So I’m pretty sure it’s just made him aware of shadows which he otherwise wouldn’t have noticed.  Tonight he was scared by a shadow from a picture frame.  Like buried in his face in me and fell asleep that way scared.  I’m not complaining. 

 

But I fell asleep, too.  And woke up thinking I’d been there for the whole night based on the number of times I got smacked in the face.  Turns out it was only 1:25.  So I crawled my way back to my bed and burrowed under the blankets.  It’s 27 degrees outside, and my house is perfectly cold.  And I laid there trying to get warm and felt increasingly sad on the inside. 

 

My arms have felt heavy lately.  They’ve felt so empty.  It’s been an often present reminder of what I do not have.  And tonight as I snuggled up with my first babe and then laid thinking in my bed, I wanted so badly to be holding my baby tight, wrapping him up warmly on these cold winter nights.  I know what I’m missing, and my heart longs for it. 

empty crib

 

 

It’s a night like tonight when I get exactly why my precious friend, Kelly, gave me this sweet gift 4 days after we learned that Gabriel would die. 

kangaroo gift 

 

 

She told me that it was something for me to physically hold on to when my heart hurt and I just needed something to hold in my arms.  Someone had given her something similar when her babies died, and it brought comfort.  I’ve very much appreciated the gift since that day she gave it to me, but it really wasn’t until tonight that I realized just how special and perfect this gift is.  There is something comforting about physically holding tight to something when my arms ache of emptiness. 

 

So tonight as I sit here bundled up, wrapped up in my blankets, drinking hot cider, and holding on tight to my little kangaroo, I am going to offer a heart of thanksgiving – even though it’s really hard and it isn’t coming naturally.  And I’m going to allow my heart to be comforted and trust that it will be.  And I will be thankful for the warmth that we have here and continue grieving the loss of our precious little G. 

how i wanted to be + i’m not.

Time for another gut-wrenchingly honest post on this November weekend.

 

After our G died I decided that I wasn’t going to take life for granted.  Period.  I wasn’t going to waste time, be lazy, take my family for granted, etc.  And one area where I particularly took this to heart was with my son I had here.  I did not want to take for granted the fact that he was here, I had him to love on every day, and he was in our care.

 

Jack and Gabriel bear

Jack and our Gabriel dog bear

 

I knew from that moment on that I would never complain about those aspects of parenting that people often complain about.  I wouldn’t complain about a lack of sleep, a sick child, a grumpy kid, a picky eater, diapers, and on and on and on.  Because the thing was that Tommy and I would have done anything to have those times with our Gabriel.  We would have signed up for a lifetime of all of those hard things if it meant we got to have our Baby G here.

 

At first it was so hard for me to listen to people complain about being up all night with their babies.  It still is, to be honest, but it’s better now.  Once you’ve lost a baby, you’d gladly spend your nights up with one just to have him here.

 

But here’s the thing…  I couldn’t keep that up.  Once life picked back up again I found myself struggling.  Struggling with the desires of my heart versus the realities in this life.  I desire my babies – both of them, be here with me.  And I long to appreciate every moment I had with Gabriel and I have had and will have with Jack.  These things are so true.  And the truth is that I am grateful for Jack, even in the harder moments.  Even when I have a really sick kid and I’m up all night with him.  I’m still so grateful for him.  But the reality is that when that happens, I’m tired.  So tired.  And I found it so difficult to stick to my strong decision to never complain about the downs of mommy hood.

 

 

The years are short and the days are long, as they say, and boy is it true.  So while I want to maintain my appreciation for life and my deep gratitude for my children, I am having to learn to be okay with saying “Jack is sick, and it is hard, and I am not awesome at handling it.”  And I need to accept that I know that I still love him and appreciate him so so much.  Pretending that it isn’t hard isn’t the best way to handle it.  But rather, I can handle it by accepting my weaknesses and my short comings and knowing that in spite of them I am loved, I love my kids, and I am grateful for every moment – tiny or huge — of this life we have together.