9 months.

Nine months ago we met our sweet baby G face to face and loved on him while he was here with us.  And then 9 months ago we held him back out to the Lord.  G’s view is amazing now, and he is no longer sick.  Praise be to God. 

 

Gaby 9 months

 

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And thank you to my sweet friend, Becca, who made this banner for me to celebrate our baby boy. 

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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a sweet day.

My Grandfather wanted to buy wreaths to put on Granny’s and Gabriel’s graves before Christmas.  So on the Friday before Christmas we went to do just that.  My aunt and cousin were in town, so they came along and helped pick out and got the beautiful greenery for the graves.  We picked out something beautiful and then we took it to Lisa Foster Floral where Lisa and her team [including my sister] added gorgeous ribbon bows to make them really special and beautiful.  Then we went to the cemetery.  It was a sweet morning, and I’m so glad Grandfather asked me to do this with him. 

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

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. 

six months.

Six months ago our sweet Gabriel was born.  Six months have gone by really fast.  It’s hard to believe it. 

 

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Today especially we are remembering our G and missing having him in our lives. 

 

 

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And as we do that, we are hanging out at home thanks to the Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Jack has.  He has had very little to eat or drink in the past week, so I took him to our pediatrician yesterday because I was worried that it had to do with the hernia he has that showed up a few weeks ago.  Thankfully it is not that.  When our doctor looked in his mouth he said it looked bad.  Blisters on the mouth and tongue – no wonder he wasn’t eating and drinking.  I’m trying to figure out how to get liquids in him.  But I will take that challenge!  Extra thankful for him in our lives – the two year old tantrums, the sicknesses, the adorable talking, the big hugs, and wet kisses.  Thankful for all of it.  Missing our second boy who we don’t get to love on here.  Hard to believe six months have come and gone since we met him and he passed away. 

24. a hopeful tribute.

As I have shared, my grandmother passed away on Tuesday, October 15th.  We miss her greatly and mourn her loss.  I am heartbroken for my grandfather and pray often for him.  This weekend we celebrated our Granny – remembering her precious life and all who she was.  There were 3 things to people kept saying over and over and I heard dozens of times from people coming through the line at the visitation. 

 

1.  She was always smiling, always happy. 

2.  She always thought of others, asked about others, and did things for others. 

3.  She was fun! 

 

 

Those are things that I will always remember about my Granny.  And here are some more of my thoughts about a wonderful woman: 

 

I always thought it was so cool that her initials were GGG.  Who else has that?  I learned how to be creative from her.  I learned how to make a beautiful home from her.  I learned to love and appreciate antiques from her.  I learned how to wrap presents pretty from her.  And I learned how to write beautifully from her.  Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my handwriting and think it looks like Granny’s and that makes me so happy. 

 

My Granny was an avid reader, an intelligent woman who kept up with the news and current events, studying the Bible, and who also watched shows like the Bachelor and picked her favorites.  I used to watch Grey’s Anatomy with her – back before it got way too bad for both of us.  Granny read every single post I ever put on this blog.  She was one of my biggest fans and cheerleaders.  My Granny made the best food.  Her cooking was something else!  She always knew I would eat a lot when she was cooking.  She taught me how to make the best chocolate sauce and the best chocolate pie anyone has ever had. 

 

Granny cooking 

 

 

 

She was adamant that she would be called Grandmother.  She did not want to be a granny.  She wasn’t old and certainly didn’t fit the description, was what she told us when we were little kids.  So the more she insisted we call her Grandmother, the more it made us want to call her Granny.  So we called her Granny, and it stuck.  And she grew to love it.  That’s the kind of woman she was. 

 

 

She loved her husband of nearly 63 years so much.  Their marriage was a wonderful example to all of us.  Always taking care of each other. 

 

G and G 

 

 

Granny love 

 

G and G again 

 

Granny loves Grandfather   

 

 

Granny santa 

 

 

 

 

She loved her family so much. 

 

Granny, lk, b

 

 

Granny and girls 

 

 

granny and lindsay 

 

 

Granny and us wedding 

 

 

Granny dad me 

 

 

Granny G, lk 

 

 

Granny Christmas time   

 

 

Granny and tommy 

 

 

Granny and Jack 

 

 

 

My Granny LOVED my kids fiercely.  Fiercely.  She loved Jack so much.  She found great joy in that little guy.  She was always lovin’ on him and playing with him.  He loved her too.  Every time we drove past their neighborhood, which is on the way to our house, he would ask to stop and see Gigi [what he called his Granny and Grandfather].  Granny also loved our Gabriel.  She was so sad to learn of his diagnosis, she was so sad to not get another great grandbaby to hold, and so sad for us.  She prayed for us a lot.  She sang Jesus Loves You to baby Gabriel every single night while I was pregnant.  And after he was born.  She came to his burial even though she had just had a knee replacement surgery.  She wasn’t going to miss it.  She loved watching Jack’s every move.  Finding him adorable even when he did something mischievous. 

 

Since we moved back to Knoxville, I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with Granny and Grandfather.  Jack and I would stop by and see them during the week, and we all loved the time together.  Granny was always focused on that boy.  Always having cookies and crackers for him.  Keeping his high chair ready for a meal.  Granny was the best “Happy Birthday” singer.  It’s not going to be the same without her there to sing.  She always sang above the rest of us, and I think we all just loved it. 

 

Granny birthday   

 

 

Granny did the most fun things.  For the past two years she had a “Back to school spaghetti supper” for us.  She hung a banner and gave my brother and sister who were going back to school giant Hershey’s bars. 

 

Granny's back to school supper  

 

 

I will always remember Granny as being active.  We joined their gym last year, so she wanted us to work out together.  She and Grandfather did so many things – they did everything.  They traveled the world.  Looking through many of their pictures last week was so fun to see all of the places they’ve been and the friends they have everywhere.  They’re those people everyone loves. 

 

granny playing 

 

 

 

So now we grieve.  We miss her, and life is harder without her.  But I do know that she would want us to live joyfully and make the most of our lives.  And we find hope in that we will see her again one day.  We have hope that she is in Heaven with our Father now.  That she is with Jesus.  That she has met and is holding our Gabriel.  We have hope in things greater than this life, and in One bigger than us. 

 

                Granny puppy

14. i had no clue.

Saturday night I wrote out the post for Sunday.  I had no clue that as I was writing it the words would become even more true to me than they already were.  I didn’t know that as I was writing about things looking dark and it being hard to see hope, that that very scenario was unfolding in my life.  Yet again. 

As I wrote those words, my Grandfather was going through something awful, and my Granny had her last moments alive and alert on this earth.  Y’all, I can’t even tell you how much I love my Granny.  I can’t even tell you how close we are and how proud of her I am and how she’s one of my favorite people.  To lose my baby in May and not even six months later lose my Granny is crushing.  Truth be told – I don’t get it.  I don’t know why this has to happen. 

My family is going through very, very hard moments right now.  My Grandfather losing the love of his life.  My dad and his sister and brother losing their mother.  My grandparents were up on the farm when my Granny had a massive stroke.  She was somewhere she loves, and I am thankful for that.  My parents and their siblings have gone to be with my Granny in her last moments.  Please pray for my Granny as she was taken off of life support yesterday.  Pray that her final moments in this life will be peaceful and full of God’s comfort and love.  Please pray for my Grandfather – for strength, support, comfort, and peace.  Please pray for my parents and my aunts and uncle as they say goodbye. 

 

There are few women on this earth like my Granny.  I have many words to share about her.  And I will.  But now I truly am so grateful for your prayers.  We feel knocked down and defeated.  It’s been a rough year for our whole family.  So many lies want to creep into my mind now.  But I have to cling to the Truth.  I have to cling to the promises of God.  And know that even when we are knocked down – really really hard and really really down, He is still good.  And I must remember words I wrote only days ago… 

 

Because maybe hope isn’t about not having any big waves knock you down, but instead, is about surrendering to the big waves, trusting that God will use it for His glory.  Trusting that He has us in his hands.  Having faith that what we hope for will one day come to be.  And sitting securely in His embrace while the water washes over us…  And we’re all going to get knocked down, beat up, and even feel stuck underwater thinking we can’t possibly survive this.  But we do…  and if we just surrender to the big waves and trust that God has us, we just might come out having seen something beautiful and learned more about ourselves than we ever could have.

 

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our last picnic with Granny

stoic.

I was told I was stoic today.  Multiple times.  I’m not sure if it was intended to be given as a compliment, an observation, or an insult, but here I am to tell you all the reasons why I am not and have not been stoic. 

 

The definition of stoic: 

“people should be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and submit without complaint to unavoidable necessity.” 

 

 

I have to say that I am hardly free from passion.  And I pray that I am never unmoved by joy or grief.  Joy is beautiful and I always want to deeply feel like.  Grief is hard, and sometimes I want to run away from it.  But life is hard, and I am deeply moved by grief.  My life has been changed by my baby Gaby, and the way I live has been changed by grief.  And we have hardly moved through this thing without complaint.  I frequently think about how it’s not fair.  I never would have chosen this.  I’ve been angry.  I’ve been doubtful.  I’ve tried to do everything I could to change the outcome.  But none of that matters.  Because there’s nothing I could do, and I think deep down in my heart I’ve known that all along.  In January our lives shifted forever, and we were knocked off our feet by learning something we’d never thought of or heard of was wrong with our baby.  In the past eight months, I would hardly describe myself as stoic.  And really, I don’t want to be.  Even when it hurts, even when it’s the hardest and the worst, I want to feel.  I want to be moved by the joys and the sorrows of this life. 

 

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I can understand where this person came from in thinking I was stoic.  I had brief encounter with her where I shared about losing my baby.  And often these days when I share with someone I share the facts and give a brief story.  Depending on the person and whether or not they ask questions I tell them more.  But if someone asks me about my children or hears that I had a baby a few months ago and asks how tired I am, I tell them about Gabriel.  I share his story.  But we’re three months out now, and the crazy thing is that time moves on.  And I’ve had to tell a lot of people that I’ve lost a child.  For the most part, I can do that now without crying and breaking down.  The thing is that it is our life, and I live it every day.  I’m certainly not unaffected by it, and I think anyone who’s read my blog knows that.  I’m very passionate about my children, very passionate about life, very passionate about grief, very passionate about it all.  But perhaps I don’t convey that in a brief conversation. 

 

 

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We’ve had to learn a lot about how to talk to people.  We had to figure out how to tell people we were expecting a baby who was going to die.  We had to figure out who to tell, when to tell them, and how to handle it.  And it’s similar now.  Everything with Gabriel, everything this year, has been a great learning experience.  I thought I had it down lately to where I shared it well, but maybe I don’t.  Most of the time it just makes people uncomfortable to hear, and sometimes God blesses us with a moment with a truly sincere, genuinely broken for us person and that brings encouragement to our hearts.  But I never want to come across to a stranger as someone who isn’t moved by the loss of my child.  Only God knows how many times and how many people have seen me break down crying. 

 

 

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So as I think back on this moment today, this experience, it is a reminder to me of just how I tell my son’s story.  It’s not just about sharing his story, but it’s also about sharing the hope we have that keeps us going.  The reason I can sit and tell someone that I lost my son three months ago.  The reason that I know I will see him again one day.  The reason that I trust God will redeem this.  The reason I can teach my two year old why he doesn’t get to have his baby brother.  The reason it’s late August, and we’re still here after the worst year of our lives.  It’s all because our hope is in God.  And that is everything.