Another day....

I left the last post up for a few days so everyone who wanted to could see the slideshow. I realize it can be found again under the archives, but try explaining that to the not-so-blogger-savvy. I'm so glad you all enjoyed it, wept along with it, laughed and smiled at our handsome little boy. He is my heart....

To the right, you should see our new "Remembering Ayden" button. We thought it would be a neat way to keep Ayden's memory going. All you have to do is copy the link underneath and add it as an html/javascript gadget on your blog! It's easy to do, and you'll have Ayden's sweet little face on your blog for all to see.

Yesterday was pretty uneventful. My mom and I got up, went to meet Jeremy for lunch at Zaxby's, listening to him educate us on SIOP, then she and I went to visit Ayden's place for a bit. I was having a "high" day emotionally yesterday. In other words, I wasn't on the level of blubbering and weeping my eyes out. I was still sad because I'm sad every day. I still felt the ache and pain of his absence. I still felt the sting of loneliness without him. However, emotionally, I was better.

Today, on the other hand, not so in control of my emotions. I say it often - I'm very private with grief. has built to a point where it has to get it out and it isn't going to stop for anyone! Today, it was building...and stress on top of stress was causing it to magnify. I just had a really down day...felt so bummed and insecure......almost worthless.

Stress #1: My intern was reassigned. Yep. I was so looking forward to her working with me in the spring, and I was under the impression that she would continue with my classes under the teacher who is working in my place until I come back. Well, I guess minds were changed, so she has been switched over. I was really looking forward to having her with my kids....and just as someone else to lean on in my classroom. She's the one who was going to keep me sane and take over for a few minutes so I could stop crying and regain my composure.

Stress #2: We can't find a solution to our car problem. We need, NEED a lower car payment if I'm going to stay home with our next child (whenever that may be). A lower car payment would allow us to save money to put towards all of that. Well, no luck yet. However, my parents have suggested us taking their car, which will be paid off in 10 months, and using that or trading it for something smaller with less mileage. We'll see....

Stress#3: Not feeling the whole "going back to work" thing. I strongly sense a change of path in my life. When Ayden was born I sensed it. I was no longer interested in teaching nor did I feel very compelled to return to work. My true purpose had been found - and it was right there with my little boy. However, due to financial reasons, I couldn't stay home with him, so I went back to work. I never, ever thought I'd prefer to be a stay-at-home be a wife and mother. But, I LOVE IT! All summer as I was home with Ayden and we would be waiting for Jeremy to get home....I was excited about cleaning, doing laundry, going on outings, playing with Ayden and taking care of him, having supper ready for Jeremy - there is so much purpose in that - SO MUCH! I felt complete and fulfilled, as if this was what I was meant to do.

Stress #4: The new dog. Love her...she's wonderful....but she stresses me out for some reason. I stress about her interacting with Tucker....and how Tucker has to potty in the front yard now instead of the back yard because it leads into complete mayhem....and the cat can't wander around outside like he used to.... Hopefully, the problem has been solved with Gracie's new dog pen. We'll see.

Stress #5: Starting a family again. I hate the word again. I hate the idea of having to go through this process again after already doing it so soon. I had a baby boy...he was here...he was real. But now, he's gone. It's just the two of us again.....planning for another baby as we did with him. Does it make sense that it makes me angry? I'm hopeful and excited about another baby, but I had my baby....I had the baby I wanted....and now we have to start all over. All of the anticipation...excitement...fears....worries.... that will all be amplified the 2nd time around. I just pray that the joy of a new child comes quickly. We know we are meant to be parents. And although we can't be parents to our precious Ayden anymore, we are parents nonetheless. Once you have been called to be a parent, the desire to nurture, care for, and love a little life the two of you made never goes away.....

Like I said, today has just been a depressing day for me. My heart has felt heavy and languished. All I could think about was Ayden and how my life is not supposed to be like this. All day - questions like these: Why am I in Rocky Mount with my parents like I was before Ayden was born? It's not supposed to be like this./ Why am I going to Charleston for Megan's birthday (not that I don't want to go)? I'm supposed to be staying home with Ayden because the trip was going to be too much for him./ Why am I putting together a dog pen for a new dog? We aren't supposed to have a new dog! We are supposed to have our son here with us.

We are supposed to be watching him grow and experience new things. I was dying to give him solid foods....peas, squash, sweet potatoes....I never got to do that. Now, I'm watching friends live the milestones with their babies that I never got with mine. Do you know how much that hurts? It knocks the breath out of me. To see others living the life I should have right now. I'm not bitter towards them, but I do hope they realize how fortunate they are. They have the life I was on track with....but then, another road was thrown in, and I was forced to take that road with no choice in the matter at all.

It's hard not to feel alone. This isn't something a lot of people face. And even if you've faced it indirectly, you still can't relate to me. That's what makes this isolating. There are few people I can talk to who actually KNOW this from my perspective. The rest of the world out there, though, they don't know. They go about life without a care....everything's perfect....job, family, kids, etc. I don't have that anymore. My life is forever changed. I can't just go to Target and run an errand....not without seeing another baby Ayden's age or seeing the baby clothes....or walking past diapers I have no reason to buy anymore. I can't see someone I know and be chipper and conversational - because conversations lead to questions, and questions lead to explanations that lead to sobbing tears.

It's so hard, and I know it will get easier, but time moves slowly when you lose the one thing in this world that brought you sheer joy and happiness. I know God is a just God, and I know His will is perfect, but I can't see how this is fair. Why do I have to live without my little boy and then have to sit back and watch so many others live the life that was taken from me. I didn't do anything to deserve this. I am a mother without her child - how is anyone supposed to move on from that? What is my purpose now? I found my purpose in Ayden and felt so fulfilled by it. What now?

All I want is to hold him again, smell his sweet oily hair, kiss those cheeks, see that smile and those big blue eyes. That's gone....forever.....or at least until I see him again, which feels like forever.

I'm sorry this post is a little down and depressing...but this is what I've been feeling all day. The one thing that kept running through my mind was "This isn't supposed to be my life." I wanted to scream it at God...and tell Him how angry I was that my life had to be changed in this way. It was perfect the way it was. We were happy. We were so aware of our blessings, and we thanked God every day. Why tear out our hearts after we've been so faithful to You? Why take our son....anyone else but our little baby....there are tons of people ready to go - ready to be with you!! That's what I'm struggling to understand.....

Friday - Sunday, I will be in Charleston, SC for my sister's birthday. Jeremy will be here. :( I'm dreading being apart from him. He is my rock and comfort. I feel ten times stronger when he's around. When I get by myself, I feel so weak and small. Thursday, I plan to spend as much time with him as I can....maybe I can get a little strength put in reserve to take with me. It's so awesome to know and feel the connection we have. I'm so thankful for that. We truly are a great team, and we are always there for each other. We may bicker at times....but never argue. And we always consider each other in everything. I love that. I love us.

Sorry this post wasn't so happy and hopeful as some of the others. Like I said....just a down day.

Ayden - Our beautiful, sweet boy....

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In your short life, you saw more than many people see in a lifetime. You were (and are) loved beyond measure, and you return(ed) that love twenty-fold. We miss you so much and can't wait to see you again. Although our hearts ache for you, we feel blessed to know that you never knew the evils of this world. All you knew was love, security, joy, and the feeling of being cherished more than anything else this world could offer us. You can never be replaced, but we look forward to telling your future brothers and/or sisters about you and the imprint you made in our lives and the lives of countless others. God granted us a miracle when he gave us you. He answered our prayers for a child, and he gave us more than we ever dreamed of. Although we will probably never understand why you had to be taken so early, we rest of the promises of God - that His plan is perfect and He has a purpose for us all. Your purpose was fulfilled earlier than we expected, but we are so proud of you because we know you fulfilled the work God had planned for you. Thank you for the joy you brought into our lives. We were never happier than those 4 months we had you with us. That joy is gone now, but we will have eternal joy when we are reunited with you soon. We love you so much Ayden. - Mom and Dad

5 Months Old

Ayden would have been 5 months old today. Has it really been a month? A whole month? It truly feels like yesterday - I guess because I re-live that day every day. The hurt is the same today as it was that day. It's relentless....

Some parents who have lost children have shared a lot with me. One thing that they said was hard was the today. I can't say I never pictured Ayden at 6 months, a year, 2 years, but that was never in the front of my mind. I always lived in the moment with Ayden - I relished every second with him. I took it all in and cherished it. I'm thankful every day for that. It was very common for me to pass up going out with friends or going to visit our family because I knew it would take away from my time with Ayden. Selfishlessly (and it's the okay form of selfishness), I wanted to spend every second I could with him....just me and him. And I wanted Jeremy to get as much time with him as possible. Since Jeremy coaches, he wouldn't get home until later, so he only got about 3 hours with him every day. So, I would keep him to myself and Jeremy. I used to wonder if it was bad that I did that because I knew I needed to get out and socialize, but now - I wouldn't trade it for the world. I can't say I never got frustrated. I did, and I regret that. But I also know it's human. I only remember getting frustrated twice, and each time....I was so mad at myself for getting frustrated with him. Because it wasn't him....he couldn't help it. Like I said, though, it's human, and he never loved me less for it. Thank you, God, for unconditional love....the love my child gave me and continues to give me. I ache to give him that love....the absence of that connection is what hurts most.

A few people have asked if I wrote the "wishlist" in my previous post. Although I can't take credit, I can tell you that it is exactly how I feel right now. Every word of it - I have thought it at some point or another. It relates too well with what we are going through and the "wishes" we have. Thanks, Kelley, for sending that. It seems to have helped a lot of people understand what we are feeling and how we need them to communicate with us.

I hope you all have had a good Sunday so far. Enjoy time with friends and family, and thank God every day for the time you have with them.


Thanks Kelley.

A Bereaved Parent's Wish List

I wish my child hadn't died. I wish I had him back

I wish you wouldn't be afraid to speak my child's name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that he was important to you as well.

If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child, I wish you knew that it isn't because you have hurt me. My child's death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child, and you have allowed me to share my grief. I thank you for both.

I wish you wouldn't "kill" my child again by removing his pictures, artwork, or other remembrances from your home.

Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn't shy away from me. I need you more than ever.

I need diversions, so I do want to hear about you; but I also want you to hear about me. I might be said and I might cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child, my favorite topic of the day.

I know that you think of and pray for me often. I also know that my child's death pains you, too. I wish you would let me know things through a phone call, a card or a note, or a real big hug.

I wish you wouldn't expect my grief to be over in six months. These first months are traumatic for me, but I wish you could understand that my grief will never be over. I will suffer the death of my child until the day I die.

I am working very hard in my recovery, but I wish you could understand that I will never fully recover. I will always miss my child, and I will always grieve that he is dead.

I wish you wouldn't expect me "not to think about it" or to "be happy". Neither will happen for a very long time so don't frustrate yourself.

I don't want to have a "pity party," but I do wish you would let me grieve. I must hurt before I can heal.

I wish you understood how my life has shattered. I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I'm feeling miserable. Please be as patient with me as I am with you.

When I say, "I'm doing okay," I wish you could understand that I don't feel okay and that I struggle daily.

I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions I'm having are very normal. Depression, anger, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when I'm quiet and withdrawn or irritable and cranky.

Your advice to "take one day at a time" is excellent. I wish you could understand that I'm doing good to handle it all at an hour at a time.

I wish you understood that grief changes people. When my child died, a big part of me died with him. I am not the same person I was before my child died, and I will never be that person again.
I wish very much that you could understand - understand my loss and my grief, my silence and my tears, my void and my pain. But I pray daily that you will never understand.

Rainy Day...

My morning began at 6am. I woke up to check on Gracie - peeked out the window and she was on the back patio just pacing around....then she'd pick up her ball or bone, chew on them for a second, then go back and lie down at the back door. I have been told, though, that she has officially gotten inside her dog house - woo! Now she knows where to go to sleep.

After checking on Gracie, I debated on just getting up or going back to sleep for another hour or so. Well, I opted for sleep, but I just couldn't sleep. Ayden was racing through my mind; I couldn't shake it nor did I want to. He is in my mind for a majority of each day, and I do all that I can to take it all in and commit it to memory. Today, I searched my memories for his sounds - his cry, his coos, and his laugh. They're all still fresh in my mind, thank God. I don't have his cry on video, so I know that one will fade....but I will never forget the pre-meltdown face: Eyes get big and wet, frowny face begins, then.....the lip. Let the crying begin! Precious....

Needless to say, this bombardment of memories led to a cry-fest. It felt good to let it all out, but as I've said in previous posts, these moments (while relieving in the end) are hard to experience. They are painful and deep. And they don't just happen and then end. This one lasted for about an hour, which is the norm. Most of the time, I have my sobbing sessions while I'm blogging. Right now, though, is a rare moment. I'm writing without tears. But I'll admit - I got them all out earlier when I just broke down and let go of everything I had been holding all day.

We made it to Boone this afternoon. Driving through Wilkesboro, where we used to live, it was as if time had stood still. Everything, with the exception of some things, looked exactly the same! Boone....very similar as well. I love Boone. I have never managed to find much to do, but I just love being up here. In any other situation, I would be all about being here...wanting to drive around...check stuff out. Honestly, for this trip, I'd much rather just stay in the cabin the whole time.

I had a huge lump in my throat all the way up here. The farther we got from Greenville, the bigger the lump got. I associate comfort and control with my house. Going out of town means I'm no longer in control; I no longer have refuge; I'm not "safe" within the comforts of my home. Plus, being away from my house feels like being away from Ayden - just like when I'd leave him for a few hours and get incredibly nervous and NEED to get back to him. Although he isn't here anymore, I associate our house with him and the comfort he brought me. Being away from that causes my anxiety levels to boost.

I was doing pretty well until we passed a Red Robin near Alamance. We ate at that Red Robin when Ayden was 2 months old. We had been up to Bryson City and stopped here on our way back down. I remember it so vividly because Ayden unloaded surprises on us. He hadn't pooped in 2 days, so I knew we were in for it at some point. Took him in to change him....nothing. I couldn't believe. Well, I guess Ayden couldn't either, so he decided that then was the time for poop. I had gone in alone with one diaper, a pack of almost-empty wipes, and no clothes to change him into. Was I underprepared? YES! I got the new diaper under him and he decided he wasn't done pooping....all the wipes were gone....and he had gotten everything all over his clothes. Then, if that wasn't enough, the flushing of the toilets scared him so badly that he was screaming! Fun times... It gets better. We go to sit down, I feed Ayden, after feeding him....spews it all back up, all over himself and me. So, as I sit in shock, I decide we've made a bad choice coming here. So, Ayden and I go out to the car to, yet again, change clothes. By this point, he's had enough. He's screaming and crying, unable to be comforted. I'm near tears because I'm so frustrated and people are more interested in making sure I eat when I know I just need to hold my baby and calm him down. So, I did. I'm good at that. :)

Anyway, just seeing that one Red Robin brought that whole flashback to my mind and the lump grew larger. We got to Boone, checked out the house we're staying in, then went to meet Chris and Carolyn and their kids at the Christian bookstore. I was feeling so many things at one time - discomfort, anxiety, isolation (it just hits sometimes), awkwardness because...what do you say?, and through all of this, I was just trying not to break down and cry. I had to keep moving while we were in the store (sorry Carolyn - I wasn't a good shopping buddy), because if I got still too long, I knew I would lose it and not be able to compose myself.

Afterwards, we went to eat. That was fun. Just caught up on the past year or so, looked at pictures, and enjoyed the company of a 3 and 6 year old. Always entertaining. After eating, we just came back to the house and sat around. I got a chance to talk with Carolyn for a little while. I always enjoy our conversations. The 4 of us met through mutual friends when Jeremy and I lived up here. Upon first meeting them, I knew we'd all be friends for a long time. That instant connection. We love them so much. Jeremy and Chris played with the boys while Carolyn and I talked/reclined on the big comfy couch. I introduced her to iCarly and she enjoyed it. :)

As they were leaving, we had an interesting occurence. Long story short: they parked their van at the bottom of the hill because we were afraid it might not make it up the mountain. So, we all piled into our car. Let the record show that I did not believe, nor did Carolyn, we were leaving it in the best of places! Well, when we went to drop them at their car, these men came up telling Chris that they didn't like people to park there because it messes up the grass. Ok...fine. They all get in the van, then the guys come out again and tell him that two of his tires looked low. (Suspicious....) So, indeed, two of the tires were low.....because the air had been let out!! Gosh... So, Chris had to put air back in his tires before they could leave. (Sorry about that guys! Next time I will speak for my women's intuition!)

My goal is to make it through tomorrow. We are supposed to be here until Monday, but Jeremy has promised that if at any time I feel like I need to go home, we will go. (Thanks Jerms) I'm doing okay so far. I just need to get the cry out when I feel it instead of hanging on and on to it. Sometimes, though, that is a lot easier said than done. I'm very private about giving in. It can't be just anywhere.....I have to be comfortable and confident enough to let it all out.

The hardest part has been the realization that we are on a "vacation" without Ayden. Meeting Jeremy's parents for breakfast this morning almost killed me (they would have never known, but I was fighting emotions the entire time) because all I kept thinking was, "He should be here with us. We should have him with us. I should be holding him and kissing him right now." Fruitless thoughts that lead to helpless feelings. Those are the moments that cause the meltdowns.

Well, my ambien is telling me it is bed time. So, I guess I'll try to get some rest. Have a good night.


Today was Miss Gracie's first day with us. She has been adjusting well, but is very nervous about her new surroundings. She has a doghouse outside, but she prefers to sleep on the mat by the back door. She stays on the back patio, pacing back and forth...just waiting to see if we'll come to the door. She has a sweet disposition, and she is already learning to trust us.

We introduced her to Tucker (our Rat Terrier) and Sinatra (our giant cat). The introductions didn't go so well. I was reading up on how to introduce a new dog to a resident dog. The recommendation was to leash the new dog, but let the resident dog have free reign. That method didn't go too well. Tucker attacked...and took hold of her tail and drew a little blood. Poor Gracie.... She didn't know what to do, and she wanted to get at him, but was more panicked than aggresive. Tucker was just plain aggresive. One of her equals about 6 of you'd think he would be scared. Not Tucker.

With the second introduction: a word to the wise....(since I don't seem to be amongst them)...don't introduce a cat to a big dog when he's never even seen one in his lifetime. It will not end well, and someone will get hurt - and it will likely be you. Because I love my cat, I held onto him as he was hissing and fighting to run away - claws out, ready to grab whatever they could. I avoided all of his claws but one, which ended up gouging into my finger. It hurt...really hurt....and I was concerned that stitches might be needed. However, after applying pressure and rinsing with quite a bit of cold water - a layer of band-aids are nursing my wound. Note to self: never do that again.

I'm not sure if Tucker and Gracie will ever be friends. Tucker seems too intimidated by her and immediately goes into protection mode. He is submissive to us around her, but she has to be leashed and he has to be a good distance from her to even begin to remain calm. He'll get used to her...someday. Until then, we're keeping them separated and will gradually ease them into sharing the same backyard. Poor Tucker....he's so used to it being his yard...his place to play, potty, and run. Now, a big, strange dog is there. His paradise is no more. Poor guy.

I didn't write about the special visitor we had last night. I thought I'd save it for a more general post. One of my high school Engish teachers (I've mentioned her before), Mrs. Boykin, has been in contact with me throughout everthing. I've so appreciated it. She had such an impact on me, and I feel so blessed to still have her in my life. Being a teacher myself, I see students come and go, and very few stay in touch. Over the years, I've done all I could to keep in touch with Mrs. Boykin. She is such a compassionate person, and her example is one I've always modeled my life after. She came for a visit yesterday, and I soooo enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to more visits :) I find it funny that when she calls she uses her first name, but I can't bring myself to call her anything but Mrs. Boykin. It's a habit of mine.... respect....go figure.

We received a care package from Texas today. A friend of mine delivered it. I didn't ask her the details about how it came to us and from whom. It was very touching, though. It was a care box specifically directed to our siutation - from a ministry titled Empty Arms Ministry. I could tell that the box was put together with so much thought and care. I have been awestruck by all of the people who have heard our story and have shared comments and prayers with us. It's been amazing. Just today, I saw a message from Australia! People are praying for us in S. Africa, India, Korea, Australia, CA, TX,'s humbling. Thank you all. And as I've said in previous posts, I read every single comment...sometimes several times....and I find them so comforting. Thank you for leaving them. They truly brighten my day, and I look forward to them every day.

We are leaving for the mountains in the morning. I have no idea about he internet situation at the house we will be staying in, but I'm hoping there will be access somewhere. My blog is my outlet, and as nervous as I already feel about a new dog and travelling....I can foresee a meltdown which will require blogging for relief.

Thank you for your continued prayers and remembering us as you go about your day. You are all so special and are being used to help us heal.

And a big thank you to my sister, Megan, who will be watching Gracie for us while we're gone. Thanks Megan! You're the best. Tucker is being shipped up to Rocky Mount with my parents so Megan doesn't have to worry about him.....whew....that would be insane.

Have a good weekend.

This is a picture of my heart....

....existing outside of my body:

Our sweet, happy boy. He was always smiling and enjoying life. Rarely a complainer or a crier. Just loved to be with mommy and daddy - cuddling, snuggling, playing, eating, napping, sleeping, observing, watching, learning. He took it all in. We never took a moment for granted.

We love you so much, and will continue to love you more and more each day.

You are our special gift from God. We know we will see those big blue eyes again. But until we do, Mommy and Daddy are sad because we miss you.

Soon....we'll be there with you.

We love and miss you, Ayden.

Our sweet, sweet boy.

Life without him...

This may not be the most uplifting post, but it's what has been going through my mind today. Every step I've taken over the past month has been a forced step towards a "normal" I didn't ask for. A "normal" I never wanted. A "normal" I never imagined for myself. One month ago today, my life was perfect. One month ago tomorrow, my life was shattered.

"Life" is not life to me anymore. This life is not the life I want.... I want my next life, now. I want to be with my little boy. Why can't I be with my little boy? The little boy that brought ultimate joy to my heart. The little boy who could melt me with just one glance. The little boy who grew inside me; I knew every kick, every swoosh of his hand, every wiggle when I tickled him. I knew him before he was born. I knew exactly what he needed at any given moment. I knew how to hold him, comfort him, soothe him, make him smile, make him laugh, just..make him happy. He was so happy! I just want my son. But I can't have him. I've never dealt well with being told I couldn't do something or have something....I always pushed myself to prove the world wrong. Now, I have to live with the fact that I CAN'T have my little boy back....and that realization devastates me.

Why do I have to watch others around me live the life I wanted for myself...the life I had but had to watch slip away...? I don't understand. I know one day I will, but not right now....not for a long time.

Life with Ayden was perfect, but life without him....


It's a sting like nothing else I've felt before. It's a pain in my chest that is not a physical pain, but my heart which is broken beyond repair. I gave my whole heart to loving my son, and it was ripped apart by his loss.

Life with Ayden was colorful and vivid - I saw everything in a way I never had before..., life is tainted...and dark.

I have experienced loss before with my godfather, grandfather, and Jeremy's grandfathers. But that was nothing like this. Sadly, I can say that the loss of our parents probably won't be as hard as this....what could ever be harder than this?

Life with Ayden was filled with pure joy. Life without him.... just motions.

I live each day because I'm forced to. I get up each day because I have to. I don't move because I want to - it's because I have to. I know I have to in order to heal, but I don't want to. People ask all the time what it is that I need....what it is that I want that they can do for me. You can't give me what I need because what I need can't come back to me.

Life with Ayden was the happiest life I ever had. I know I can be happy again and that our future children will bring that joy back. But until they're here, I'm stuck. waiting. crying. screaming. forced to move. waking each morning to remind myself he's not here. re-living my perfect life in my head each day, wondering why it had to end.....wondering how I'm supposed to just accept it and move on.

There are times each day when I smile, laugh, and actually enjoy doing something. But every day, I have moments like this. Those are the quiet moments when I go within myself, and I have to be left alone. That's when the true grief sets in.

Stupid Adam and Eve....screwed it up for all of us. Had to go and eat the fruit.... Nancy Reagan should have been in Eden to say, "Just say no." (I know that little bit of humor was random and probably seemed inappropriate, but it just popped into my head and made me smile a little....I guess God decided to relieve me for a second.)

I've been told there's not "magic date" for when all of this will get better. I have, however, been told it will get easier. I guess it's normal to fear the day that it gets easier - to feel guilty about it even. But I know Ayden will never be forgotten - never. And I know that while life with him here is no more, I will have life with him for eternity. I will have my precious little boy forever. That alone is worth living for. That alone is what forces me to make it through each day.

Ayden fulfilled his purpose, and what a purpose it was. He touched my life like no one, or nothing else, ever will. He made me a mother - what a gift. He fulfilled the dream I've had for my life since I was a little girl. I always prayed to God to let me live long enough to get married and experience the birth of my own child. He answered those prayers. And while I never saw this in my "great plan", God did, and He, unbeknowst to me, has been preparing me for this. I don't like it, but I don't really have a say do I? That's been made clear....

I could feel this coming all day long. I had held it back because I wanted to experience it alone. I can't fully give in unless I'm alone. I guess I'm not alone, though, am I? I just shared it with thousands of people - people who I know are praying and thinking of us. I know many of you have no idea what to say to don't feel as if you can say anything to comfort us. Honestly, you probably can't. But please try. We know where your hearts are. And if you don't know what to say, just let us know you're praying for us. This kind of thing can leave a person feeling isolated and so very alone. I've been there....even though I haven't been left alone since it all happened....but I've had moments when I've felt so alone. I walk around and watch people going about their lives....just another ordinary day to them....but in the midst of so many people, I can feel like no one else is around I'm the only person in the I'm not big enough to even matter. And while I realize I'm not the only person going through a trial, it sure can feel like it at times. Satan is good at making me feel insiginificant; he's done it throughout my life...why not now? Especially now. I'm smarter than him though, and God is bigger, and He uses all of you....friends, family, pull me out. He shows me grace when I'm mad at Him....or yelling at Him....or ignoring Him..... I don't deserve it, but He gives it. Where grace fits in with the bigger picture of all of this....that's a question I won't have answered until I see Him face to face, but I know He will give me an answer, and at that moment, I will understand why this was in His plan for us.

Please continue to lift us up in prayer, and remember us in your thoughts. Life will move on, but right now, it's at a stand=still....slowly creeping by.

By the way: Gracie (formerly known as Carrie) comes home tomorrow. I learned today that we are saving her life by adopting her. She didn't have much longer at the shelter. I think she's going to be a blessing to us - as we will be to her. We have to leave her while we're in the mountains, but my sister will be checking in on her. Please pray that nothing happens to her while we're gone. And also pray for us as we travel and get away for the first time without Ayden. My hope is for us to stay very, very busy and not have a lot of time to slow down - otherwise, I see myself getting frantic!


Today is a half-day at work, so I thought I would go by there after the kids get out. It makes me nervous, though....just the anticipation. I guess I'm afraid someone is going to say something or I'm going to feel a certain way, but I can never predict those things....and that makes it kind of scary. I never know when a hard time is going to hit - it just hits. I can sometimes feel them coming....but by the time I get a bit of warning, it's too late. It's not that I don't want people to talk to me about everything or extend their's just hard to predict how I will react.

Jeremy has agreed to getting the dog. :) Her name will be changed, though. She doesn't look like a "Carrie" to me. I'm thinking Gracie. Anyway, I hope she can be held for us until next week. We are going to the mountains this weekend, and it would be cruel to get her, bring her home and then leave her. It would be cool to be able to take her with us, but we are staying in a friend's mountain house - wouldn't be very nice to bring a dog with us.... We'll be leaving our other pets home as well. We have another dog - a rat terrier named Tucker, and we also have a cat named Sinatra. We are (or...I am..) a sucker for animals...especially animals in the shelter. I guess I feel like if I can save ONE of them, I'm doing something good. I really don't like that we have kill's so cruel to those animals. They can't help their situations....

I'm nervous about going to the mountains. We've been wanting to go since last year. We used to live in the foothills and we fell in love with the area (Wilkesboro/Boone/West Jefferson). Since we moved back to Eastern NC, we've tried to go back at least once a year. While we lived there we became really close with two couples, and we will be visiting them while we are there. Even though we only see each other once a year, we consider them some of our best friends. I'm nervous thought that we will get all the way up there and I won't be able to handle it. Then, I'm 4 hours away from home...having a panic attack....not good. I'm going to really try to "enjoy" myself while we're there.

Ayden has been in my dreams the past few nights. When Ayden was with us, I never dreamed of him. Maybe it was because I was too exhausted to dream, but I don't remember ever dreaming of him. I dreamt of him while I was pregnant and now... One night, he was in an exersaucer (he's never been in one...) and he was just laughing away. I can still see that big grin across his face and hear that contagious little laugh. Last night, I dreamed we were in a school somewhere with my uncle and his wife (who live in Korea) and their son James. (I haven't seen them in almost 2 years!) I was supposed to take James with me, but I kept forgetting him because I was so focused on Ayden. I don't remember much....but I do remember a fire drill (????) and Ayden lying on the floor rolling over and smiling away. So proud of himself. Random dreams, but as hard as it is to see him in my dreams, I'm thankful for them. It's cruel to have to wake up and realize they aren't real....but I'll take it over nothing.

The past couple days have been okay. I can feel a "bad" day coming, though. And that's okay. I know they have to happen, and when they do, I give in and just let it happen. It's a painful feeling....the most empty, isolated feeling you could ever imagine, but I know they will lead to healing.

Jeremy and I are going to meet with a family tonight who is going through the same thing we are. They lost their 3 month old son last week to SIDS. From what I've been told, it's rare for this to happen to two babies so close together. It shouldn't happen at all. But, this is where we've found ourselves, and we can't change it. We just hope that meeting this other family will give us (and them) a source of support. Please keep them in your prayers.

Also keep baby Jonah in your prayers. I mentioned him 2 nights ago. He spiked a fever and is going to have to have chest x-rays and is receiving IV antibiotics. They suspect that he might have aspirated on his meconium, so they're keeping a close eye on him. His parents may have to go home without him, and I know that's going to be hard. Pray that they find the source of all of this and can treat him and let him go home soon.

We are coming up on a month since Ayden was taken to Heaven. I'm not big on anniversaries of sad events, so that day will probably be one where I just keep really busy and celebrate his life rather than dwelling on the loss. I sure do miss him....

Ayden's name...

When we named Ayden, we didn't get too complex with the naming - researching name meanings...searching for the perfect name and meaning for our Ayden is a name I have loved for a long time (yes, before I even knew Ayden, NC existed!). Everyone was spelling it Aiden or Aidan. I didn't like those - phonetically, they didn't work for me. It made more sense as Ayden, so that's that. Brooks is Jeremy's middle name. From the moment we started dating and felt pretty sure we would be together forever (day one for me...for him....??), I knew that if we ever had a son, he would share a name with his dad. Jeremy didn't like Jeremiah, so I went with Brooks, which I love....I loved Jeremy's name because of his middle it works. And Jones...well, that's common sense.

A friend of mine asked what Ayden's name meant. I honestly wasn't sure.... So, when I looked it up it said: little fire and that the name Ayden is a varient of Eden. Immediately, metaphors popped into my head and my friend's as well.

Eden - God's garden - his perfect place. Protected from tainting; innocent.
Little fire: inspiration, a spark to light a flame

Ayden fits all of that. He is in God's perfect place, he is protected from tainting, and as a child he is innocent. He has inspired and touched many - been that little spark to light a flame in someone's life....a true inspiration.

Wow. Next time, we'll tie all of this in with what Brooks means and be even more blown away!

Heaven is the face...

If you haven't heard Steven Curtis Chapman's song, "Heaven if the Face" - you should. As many know, our family can relate to his. They've lost a child, too. After the loss of their daughter, he wrote this song and in it he talks about how Heaven is the face of his little girl. For us, Heaven is the face of our little boy. A handsome little boy with the cutest giggle, sweetest smile, and so-full-of-life personality.

As a Christian, getting to Heaven and being in the presence of God is the ultimate goal. However, and I hope God doesn't mind (I'm actually interested in how He may perceive all this), my motivation for getting to Heaven is now a lot different. Can He blame me? Of course I will continue to serve Him and live a life pleasing to Him because it is my calling as a follower and believer; however, I will also live a life on track for Heaven so I can get my hands on my little boy again. Again, can He blame me at all?? Sometimes I wonder how God feels about me seeing it that way, because that mindset is almost like saying, "Yeah, I want to go to Heaven because God's there, but I REALLY want to be there because my child is there." - it can come off as putting God 2nd. Understand, I'm not doing that. I realize my role in Heaven will be to worship and praise my Lord eternally. However, I also believe we will have relationships in Heaven. They won't be the "same" relationships we have here. For instance, Jeremy won't be my "husband" but I believe we will have a strong connection to each other. Ayden will be our child because he is the child God gave us here. So, it's two-fold for us now. God and Ayden = reason to make it to Heaven. I just felt a peace rush over me when I typed see God, our creator, the decision-maker, the ultimate of ultimates - wow! and then to see precious little boy who I love and miss so little boy forever - for eternity - my child for ETERNITY! You want to see me smile a true smile of happiness? It's on my face and in my heart as I type this. That little boy is the spark in my heart that keeps my life going....keeps my feet moving....just the idea of seeing him again. I hope it's soon....

I read a verse in Psalms today (forgive me, I don't know where it is off-hand), but it said that life is like a fleeting flower in the grass. I imagine dandelions (yes, I know it's a weed, but it works). They're there....the wind blows...and their seeds float away...little by little, but it doesn't take long, and they're gone. The thought of life being so quick used to worry me....I had so much I wanted to do. NOW, I'm ready. NOW! Let's go! It's comforting now to know that life is fleeting and those in heaven perceive their absence from us as a breath. When we are rejoined with Ayden, it will be as if we were gone just momentarily from him....

A SIDS counselor from the health department came today. We were her first case. I hope this means she will never forget us and our beautiful Ayden. She was very helpful, so sweet and compassionate. We spoke a lot about SIDS and the mysteries of it. Theories can be made, "studies" performed, but there is still no answer to "why" this happens. Why did my healthy, never-been-sick, developmentally advanced, strong-necked little boy die of SIDS? They don't know. In a way, hearing the words, "They don't know" devastates me. On the other hand, the report of SIDS is comforting because we knew we did everything right! That is what has been running through my head all weekend, "We did everything right! Why did it have to happen? We did it right." I educated myself on SIDS throughout my pregnancy, researching every aspect of it - the "back to sleep" campaign, the dangerous stuff to have in the crib, etc. We took every bit of caution possible.

If you are pregnant or have an infant - just experience talking - you can prepare, prevent, pray all you want - if God ordains it to happen, it's going to happen. This is what we've had to accept. It happen when they lay on their back, side, stomach. It happens at home, at day care, in the car seat, in the swing. It happens to upper-class, middle-class, lower-class. It happens to white, black, yellow, brown. It is not preventable - we have learned this the hard way - the way no parents ever wants to learn it. SIDS was my biggest fear. I would lie awake watching Ayden breathing, and I would just be praying...ceaselessly for air, for breathe, for his lungs to stay strong, for his heart to stay strong, for God to just pour out his protection over him.

On the morning of August 25 - I dropped him off, kissed and hugged him, told him I'd see him later, then drove off to school. All the way to school I was praying, "God please, don't let him roll to this stomach, keep him on his back when's sleeping" over and over I prayed that prayer. Surely, God would spare him if he rolled over or help him breathe if he was in distress. Surely, SURELY God would heed my prayer. Not that day.

It was sudden (thank God), quick, painless, without struggle, and most important to me (I guess because I'm his mother) he wasn't scared. I have only seen him scared 2 or 3 times, and I couldn't stand it! Oh, to see your baby just kills you, but at the same time fulfills you because you know they just need YOU! And to think that he could have been scared during his last moments of life would have just killed me because in those moments, he needed ME.

SIDS, though, is sudden and quick. A friend of mine shared something with me recently on an image that came to her one day. She was out visiting her mother's grave, which happens to be across from Ayden's, and she said this image came to her of Ayden is that in-between state in sleep....half awake...half asleep....and in what she saw, she saw Ayden "sleepy" and Jesus reaching his hand out for Ayden, and Ayden taking his hand....and so gently, Ayden went with Jesus. He didn't know where he was, he didn't know what was happening, but he knew he felt peace, love, and joy in that he followed.

Many of you probably read my blog and think I'm struggling with faith because one day I'll be all about Heaven and God and plans, wills, purposes, etc. and the next I'll be so down, hopeless, and defeated. Grief is so complex. At one moment, I can feel so uplifted and encouraged at the idea of seeing my little boy again. The next, the human side of me kicks in, and my human heart aches for the loss that it feels, my body aches because I no longer have him to fill my arms, I become enraged at the whole situation and continue to ask why me? why me? It goes from one dynamic to the other. It's grief - it's real, it's raw, it's healing, it's hard, it's a process, and we are working through the process.

On another note, we met a little baby tonight by the name of Jonah Riley Sams. Our good, good friends Patrick and Anna have been waiting on this little guy to make his appearance, and we've been keeping up with them throughout this entire process!! Today, Jonah finally decided to make his appearance, and he is a cutie. :) I'm so excited about keeping him when Anna goes back to work! We're going to have so much fun. Please keep them in your prayers as they make the adjustments that new parents have to make....lack of sleep....a little life to take care of, clean up after, etc. ....added stress. They're going to be great parents. Congrats guys!

And, on one more note, I met another little cutie today - at the animal shelter. :) Her "shelter name" is Carrie. I think that's going to have to change. She is a yellow lab, small for a lab (perfect size for our yard), so playful and sweet, cute floppy ears - the perfect dog to take me on walks! The perfect dog to keep in the backyard! I first met her Saturday when I was having a down day, and this dog was the ONLY thing that made me smile that day. I can usually walk past these animals on Saturdays at PetSmart and say yeah, you're cute, but I don't need you..... This one keeps tugging at me. She just seems so happy to see me! (I'm sure she does that with everyone) The task: talk Jeremy into her. We will have to consider finances and where she fits into that - dog food, vet visits, getting a dog house, and if we move...can we find a place with at least a little bit of a yard for her. We'll see. I'd love to give her a home because she would be the perfect pet!

Click here to see her - let Jeremy know what you think!

Please be in prayer for us tomorrow. Tomorrow makes 4 weeks since Ayden went to Heaven. These days are usually difficult and entail memories of that day. The 25th will be a month since our little man has been away from us. We are making it, day by day. Each day brings a new challenge. We are still hurting, still aching, still remembering. Please remember us this week....

Thank you.

Thanks Kelley

Thank you all for your support and sweet messages through your comments. I'm realizing that the support of others, especially those who know what we are going through, is what will help us just survive. Because really, that's all we're doing at this point - surviving. Every step I take is a conscious effort to keep moving. Every smile, laugh - all half-hearted - I wonder when true happiness will come as a result of those.

One of the hardest parts of all of this has been the "looks" that people give me. I feel like people look at me as if I'm going to explode at any moment. I can see that they don't know what to say, so they just don't say anything at all. I understand that - I wouldn't know what to say to me either, but....say something. People also seem to believe that I don't want to talk about Ayden. Why would I not want to talk about the light of my life? My source of true joy.... It helps to talk about go back to my pregnancy and his recall his charm and beautiful personality. It helps to talk about him. I don't want people to act as if he never cruel...not to acknowledge such a wonderful little life....the little life that fills me with such pure joy. Ayden may not be a part of our present....but he is in our past and our future. And while I will ache for him until that future comes....that idea is what keeps me moving.

Kelley is a fellow SIDS mom, and she has been so gracious with me. We hardly know each other, but we have a bond that can never be broken. Our boys are playing together.... I could write so much about how much of a comfort she has been; she has been a blessing. She sent me the following poem. It was something I needed today, and it describes "where I am" these days:

My Mom Is A Survivor

My Mom is a survivor,
or so I've heard it said.
But I can hear her crying at night
when all others are in bed.

I watch her lay awake at night
and go to hold her hand.
She doesn't know I'm with her
to help her understand.

But like the sands on the beach
that never wash away...
I watch over my surviving mom,
who thinks of me each day.

She wears a smile for others...
a smile of disguise!
But through Heaven's door
I seetears flowing from her eyes.

My mom tries to cope with death
to keep my memory alive.
But anyone who knows her knows
it is her way to survive.

As I watch over my surviving mom
through Heaven's open door...
I try to tell her that angels
protect me forevermore.

I know that doesn't help her...
or ease the burden she bears.
So if you get a chance, go visit her...
and show her that you care.

For no matter what she says...
no matter what she feels.
My surviving mom has a broken heart
that time won't ever heal.

A Rough Day....

I had been preparing myself for today all week. Today was our godson's 2nd birthday. I wasn't preparing myself for the fact that this is a little boy's I'll never get with, that isn't what I had to prepare myself for. It was for the interactions that would occur there. Anytime I have to go out of the house, I'm no longer in control of what I'm faced with. A birthday, especially a kid's birthday, means other little kids...which is hard. It also means interacting with other people, which lends itself to awkwardness because I don't know what to talk about nor do they know what to say to me. So, the awkwardness sets in. I was okay until present time. Okay meaning....the lump was in the throat, but it wasn't going past.... Then, I sat on the floor, and my lap was empty. He wasn't there. He wasn't going to be there. He'll never be there again. I'm a mother, but I can't be a mother right now and I can't control that - that is the worst, stabbing, excruciating pain I will ever feel in my entire life. At that moment, the reality that had been waiting 3 weeks to hit, HIT, and it hit hard. It was all I could to keep my composure. I wanted to be there for my godson, but I knew I needed to leave. Shortly after that, my sister and I did leave. We had to go pick up my mom. Before that, though, I went out to Ayden's spot. Normally, his "spot" is not a place I need to visit frequently because I know he isn't there. But today, I needed to be there. My sister went with me, and I just kept saying, "It's just not's not fair." That's all I could think, all day.... We stood and cried for a little while, then Megan let me stay back alone for a few minutes. At that time, I just let it go....I was angry with God, with every other mother in this world who has her baby while I don't have mine, with the idea of death and how it can even dare touch a child and cause this much pain in my life.....and then, I spoke to Ayden and told him how much I love and miss him and I wished he was here.

If I offend you, I'm sorry. Today, a lot of raw feelings surfaced. If you feel as if it was because of you, it was not YOU, it was the situation....please understand why this is hard for me. Do not feel as if I am upset with you, I'm not. However, if I have to avoid you...or just walk away....please understand that it's because I'm dealing with my world being turned upside down and torn apart. I don't have much control over my reactions right now, and many times, I don't know what will set it off until it happens. Please be patient with me.....

Next, Jeremy and I went to eat with some friends of mine and their kids. We love their kids and enjoy spending time with their family. Their 3 year old daughter met Ayden and remembers him well, so she talks about him time to time. That doesn't bother me. I'd rather her talk about him than not. Does it make me emotional when she talks about him? Of course....but like I least she is talking about him rather than pretending he never was. Anyway, she sat in my lap when we finished dinner and she was looking at my necklace. I have a SIDS awareness ribbon and a pendant with Ayden's name on it on a chain. So, she asked about the "snake" - the ribbon and then she asked what was written on the pendant. I told her, "Ayden." She likes to say his name, so said, "Baby Ayden, Baby Ayden, Baby Ayden died. Baby Ayden died." Whew....of course that struck me. To hear such an innocent voice speak those words, not knowing the weight they carried. I acted as if it hadn't affected me because I didn't want her to feel like I was upset because of her. In her mind, she was reasoning it out...that's her way of understanding it. I can imagine it's a lot for such a little person. So, "Mom" - no worries....she didn't upset did cause me to tear up and the lump came back, but it's ok. It's going to happen. We will be joining you and your family again..... thank you for dinner. We love you guys.

Today, the numbness wore off and the real pain set in. I'm crushed, destroyed, devastated, terrified, hopeless, broken, and feeling of little significance. I go to sleep at night hoping and praying not to wake up the next morning. Again, I know this is normal. I am in no way dillusional. I know what healthy vs unhealthy grieving is.

Until you've been will never, ever know this heartwrenching, shaking, all-encompassing pain. It numbs you, freezes you, stops you in your tracks and makes you feel as if there is no way way to emerge from this. I've cried more today than I have in the past week....and I have a feeling the days to come will be much of the same.

Below is a post from my husband, Jeremy. Jeremy tends to take a back seat to me in all of this, and he shouldn't. Yes, he is a man. Some seem to think that because he is a man, he should grieve differently, be stronger, handle it better...NO. Jeremy is Ayden's father - Ayden is his son. He has lost a son just as I have. We share the same pain, and although we may deal with it differently, it doesn't mean he doesn't hurt just as much as I do or cry as much as I do. I know he is hurting. He has always been my rock, but I don't expect him to be strong right now. All we can do is lean on each other, cry with each other, and grow stronger through this. He is an amazing man, and I can not imagine going through this with anyone else. He is my strength and the one who reminds me of hope when I'm dwelling in the darkness. I'm so blessed to have him.

A Father's Perspective

So math teachers aren't big writers in general...and I'm no exception to that rule. I just really felt like everybody has gotten Lindsay's perspective. Maybe there are some fathers who read this as well. Maybe some of you have experienced this same tragedy. Maybe you need to know you're not alone either. This is for you. Maybe you're just curious. I don't blog because I'd write a novel every time most likely...I read Steven Curtis Chapman's blog and I believe I fall in line with his thinking...I'm WAY too detail oriented and would write too much everytime I blog. But here we go...we'll give it a shot.

This is a struggle...I've never been so torn in my life. As a Christian, your first love is Christ. As a husband, next comes your wife. From my wife came my son, which places him next in that line of love. The hard part is this...when your son is taken, how do you continue to whole-heartedly love the God who chose to take him? The God who decided you could handle this (with His help only of course)? My faith and my "spiritual" heart says trust's your only hope. My mind and "human" heart say how can a God who loves you take your son? My spiritual side then answers back but He gave His son. My human side then responds, yes but in giving His Son, He saved the whole world from our sin and in death, He got His son back. I now have to wait a lifetime to hold my little boy again. But my only hope to hold him again is to cling to the God that I just don't understand. My little boy has made it to Him, now I just have to live a life that would make Ayden proud as his father and make sure I make it there as well.

The second struggle is an emotional whirlwind. As the man, you are often forgotten. Lindsay shareS a very special bond with Ayden. She carried him for 9 months. That is a bond I do not have. But he IS my son. Fathers and sons share a bond. God charged me with raising him as a man of God. Say what you want dads, but you make those plans for your son. You look forward to the sports, whether he's a great athlete or not, he carries your legacy. I was looking forward to the talks between us, some deep and insightful like how to treat the women in your life, others just light and funny conversations. All of that is now gone. It is hard as I look at my football players and know that I was so looking forward to the day when Ayden would be out there with me, my little man at football practice trying to do all that the big boys were doing. Looking forward to the day when he would be one of the "big boys" and I'd get to watch him, maybe even coach him. The mornings before school KILL me...those were my times with him. As Lindsay got ready for work, Ayden and I would get him ready for his day. I'd feed him, change that diaper, take him to the nursery and get him cleaned up and dressed up for his day. Now the mornings are so empty. It's these times that break me...break me to the point I broke last Wed. when I could do nothing but cry..and cry...and nothing at all, just cry. But I'm a MAN, and the world tells you that you can handle these things. Men...that's a LIE...I hurt just like Lindsay hurts. On the other hand, that is my wife, and for 4 years now I've been the rock that she's turned to...and your heart breaks for her everytime you see her cry. I'm supposed to help make it better but I can't bring Ayden back...I'm do I help her? We cry together or I just hold her while she cries. It's all I can do.

I always felt like I was in control of our family...I was the MAN...I have a beautiful wife, our finances were in pretty good order, we were leaders in our church, we were successful with our jobs, we had our own house, with a yard, and a dog and a cat, and our life was complete with the birth of Ayden. I had it all and this was what life was about...Then the phone call you never want to get was followed by hearing my wife say the words you never want to hear followed by the sight you never want to see followed by the reality you never want to face...I don't remember 5 months ago. I don't remember what life was like before Ayden. You may say it was only 5 months ago but I truly don't remember what is was like waking up without my little boy. I exist daily and that's about all I can get out of myself...when I feel anything, it is pain and emptiness. Happiness is fleeting...and guilt-ridden. I live to honor my son. It's all I can do right now.

Present tense vs. Past tense

Someone left me a comment today and in it, they referred me to this blog. It's a blog in memory of a little beauty - Cora. For today, Cora's mom simply posted a quote, and I found it so very encouraging.

"Sorrow is one of the things lent, not given.
Joy is given; sorrow is lent.
Sorrow is lent to us for just a little while
that we may use it for eternal purposes.
Then it will be taken away and everlasting joy
will be our Father's gift to us, and the Lord God
will wipe away all tears..."
-Amy Carmichael
It really made me think. Joy was given to us in the form of a beautiful baby boy with soft brown hair, big blue eyes, and his mother's smile. Joy was given to us through his gentle touch, his sweet laughter, and his full-of-life personality. We have known absolute joy and unconditional love. We also know sorrow. And our sorrow is deep. But what an encouragement to think that this sorrow has been lent to us...not given to endure forever. Even through our sorrow, we can feel that JOY that Ayden has brought to our lives. Every time I see his face, see his smile, or hear his laugh....that joy rushes in. But so does the sorrow. It is so conflicting to feel both at one time. But that sorrow is not eternal. While we must endure this here and now, we will have everlasting joy once we are reunited with our little one. Wow. I'm so glad I was directed to this post today.
Now to the purpose behind the title for today. I've been struggling with people speaking of Ayden in the past tense. He was...he had...he used to.... I'm very quick to use the present tense. Ayden is still alive in spirit and is very much so alive within me. I also struggle with my mind still not accepting that he's really gone. The other night, when we were out with a couple from church, we were sitting in their car. I looked at the clock and it was 9:19 - my immediate thought (before my mind even realized) was: We need to get home to Ayden; it's late. That was a crushing thought; I immediately crashed back into reality. Then today, my sister and I were watching Lord of the Rings (I'm still unable to watch a lot of regular TV - movies stay on constantly, although I don't "watch" them most of the time). Well, I never realized LOTR was so violent. Again, before realizing it, my immediate thought was: Ayden WILL NOT watch this movie - it's way too violent. Another crash into reality. I know this is normal. For years after my grandfather's death, I still forgot, at times, that he was gone. But how do you fully convince yourself that someone is gone when they still feel so very much alive? Being an English teacher, I'm bombarded with past tense, past perfect, present tense, blah, blah....I have a new one - present eternal tense. Ayden is eternally present with us - although not here, he is alive in Christ.
I know a lot of people in our community have been reading my blog. I want to rally some support from you for a moment. Some of my students, who are in FCCLA, have made it their goal this year to make our community aware of SIDS and the risk factors that accompany it. They are devoting their time to research and a big project in memory of Ayden other babies and their families who have been victims of SIDS. October is national pregnancy and infant loss month with a strong emphasis on SIDS. October 15th is a national day of rememberance for this cause. Ayden-Grifton students are raising money for the national SIDS foundation for SIDS research. They have planned a 7pm vigil at Ayden-Grifton in rememberance of the families who have been affected. They have asked me to speak, and I have agreed. Please support our students in this effort. I have been so impressed by their attention and determination to do this in Ayden's honor as well as the honor of others. I'm so proud of these young people and their hope to touch their community. Please come out in support of them and the cause they are so passionate about. October 15th - 7pm - Ayden-Grifton High School.
We will be lent this sorrow for a short time....and then, we will enjoy everlasting joy. What a perfect life that will be....

Missing his face...

Ayden is on my mind every minute of every day. That was the case the day I found out I was pregnant and didn't even know if we were having a boy or girl - I was dreaming of little Ayden Brooks or Olivia Kate, though....his name was his long before we knew he was really a HE. That will be the case for the rest of my life - he will forever be in my thoughts. Today, I saw his face...just continued to see that precious face all day. Depending on the day, I can have such thoughts and be fine and other days, it breaks me down. Today was an in-between day. I was okay for much of the day and then later, I just couldn't take it anymore....I had to give in. I just miss him so much, and I know that I will miss him for the rest of my life. No one should ever have to suffer through the loss of a should never, ever happen. This is my biggest fear realized. I remember when we found out I was pregnant, I was excited, yet terrified. What if this baby was taken from me? What if there were complications? What if something unimaginably horrible happened? Then, when he was born - the same feelings. By the time he was three months old, my fears had begun to wear off. However, I continued to mentally prepare myself for some reason....just in case. I prayed over him every night, and always included in my prayers was me telling God that if His will was for Ayden to no longer be with us here, I knew I would have to accept it and praise him through it. I never imagined I'd actually be living that prayer.

Today, my mom, sister and I ran some errands. I dread Target but had to go, so we went there and made it out quickly, then went to Hallmark, Barnes and Noble, Lowes (for the 20th time), and then went out to Ayden's garden. We finished the border around the garden today (I promise I will post pictures soon), and we have added a butterfly house, bird house, and a few more plants. I appreciate our church allowing us to do this inside the playground. I want the children to enjoy it - I hope they will.

Once we got home, we worked on a little project. My mom dried out a lot of the flowers from Ayden's service, and I had wanted to use some of them for a shadow box. I'm not patient with projects. If they can't be done quickly, I don't want to do them. I'm still planning to make a quilt....I'll have to gear up for that one. Well, doing this project today was hard - not in task, but in implementation. All I could think was....these are flowers from my son's funeral. My son's funeral.....son's funeral.....every time I thought it, it just ached. Every petal of every flower became precious at that moment. Every flower is a remembrance of him.... Well, dried flowers are going to be fragile and petals will fall off. I held each one with precise care, trying to make sure they stayed in tact. Needless to say, some of the petals came off in the process and my reaction was one of agitation and frustration. It had to be perfect - if it wasn't perfect (in my mind) I wasn't honoring his memory. I didn't want to be making a shadow box of flowers from my son's funeral. I should have been holding him....playing with him...showing him flowers outside... I stuck with it and finished the box; it looks really pretty. However, I quickly realized that if the simple task of arranging flowers for a shadow box sets me off so easily, I have a long way to go. I know that, and have known that, but I actually SAW it today.

This sucks.

I got two books in the mail today from a new friend, Kelley. She is a fellow mother-to-an-angel who has been such a comfort. I'm really looking forward to reading the books. I've read the beginnings of both and have already seen that I will find comfort in them. Although it's awful that any parent has to live such a tragedy, I'm so thankful to have families/mothers that I can go to and lean on. Thank you Kelley!

Another friend, Jennifer, started a blog today. In today's blog, she has included a letter she wrote to me. I hope she doesn't mind that I've shared it (she asked my permission to share it, so I guess it's ok!). It is very thought-provoking and allowed me to see a little light through all of this. Please, please read it. It's not short, but if it takes you coming back for bits and pieces do so. It's worth the read.

Thank you all for continuing to pray for us. Please also keep another family here in Greenvile in your prayers. They lost their infant son this past weekend, and their son has been placed next to Ayden. Our hearts broke all over again for them....

Coffee and a new friendship...

This morning was one of the peaceful mornings for me. I have mornings when I can wake up and think of Ayden and just feel at peace. I might walk around with a lump in my throat all day, but the peace that I feel helps take the edge off...just a little.

Today was another day of errands. I woke up (well, got up....I had been awake for a while) around 9ish. I didn't feel like getting out of bed, yet, so I just laid in the bed and prayed....had some quiet time with God. I've always wanted to hear God, but I've always felt like I couldn't turn my mind off long enough. I don't even know how to listen for God. Sometimes, when I decide to try, I just sit in silence and listen. But then I feel like my mind is making stuff up, so again, I'm left wondering, who am I hearing? I know all of that was really confusing, but do you know if what you're hearing is God or yourself? It's something I'll have to keep praying about....

After I prayed and sat in silence for a little while, I decided to turn the TV on. I'm going to embarass myself by what I'm about to say, but I don't care. The only TV show I can watch right now is iCarly. Ever heard of it? It's a tween/teen show on Nickelodeon. I stumbled across this show when Ayden was about 2 months old. I had flipped through it several times, but just passed it off as another show I was too old for. Well, one day, nothing else was on, so I checked it out. It's a really cute show, and I like it because it's innocent, clean fun and humor. I don't have to worry about profanity or sexual scenes....just good kid fun. Well, like I said, it's the only thing I can really watch. The problem is, it doesn't come on often. So, yes....I bought season one on DVD, and I need to get season two because I've almost finished the first one (although, I have seen every episode many times...). Now, I can watch it anytime. I don't know why it brings me comfort. 20 years from now, I'll look back and wonder why it took a tween comedy show about silly, predictable humor to comfort me.....but it does. Watching "normal" TV is still hard. There's something about the routine of it all that is both of us. I guess we relate it to our time with Ayden. When this show came was bath time...or bed time...or nap time. Unfortunately, the TV stays on a lot in our we can relate different memories with what was on TV at the time.

Jeremy came home early today - just couldn't pull it together this morning. He's had a rough few days back at work. Not because of the students; just being alone....having down time by himself....being forced to confront everything. Please pray for him. In a way, it makes me wonder if I'm avoiding grieving at times because I purposely distract myself. He has had to force himself to confront his grief and pull himself together to be able to make it through the rest of the day. I, on the hand, have had my mom and sister with me. They don't by any means cause me to avoid grieving. And I don't feel like I am avoiding it, because believe me....I have my moments, but I almost always have them alone or with Jeremy. I'm not an open griever. It's something very personal to me, and most of the time it takes time for me to completely let it all hit me. Right now, it hits me in little waves....and I let the waves come and go. I could let them come in tidal waves, but I'm afraid of being knocked that hard that you can't find the surface to be able to breathe. That has happened a few times.....when it completely hits, it's hard to stop it. I know I need to let it all out....and don't think I'm holding it all in...not at all. Believe me, I know when I need to process it and how....

Tonight we met for coffee with a couple from church. They have experienced the loss of a child as well. Their daughter was stillborn 17 years ago, so they can relate to us in a way. The situation may be different, but the pain is the same. I respect them so much and am so glad they've reached out to us. It helps to know that someone nearby can relate to what you're feeling. I hate that anyone has to feel what we're feeling, but God places people in our lives for a reason. We know beyond a doubt that Ayden was given to us for a specific purpose, and now, because of our loss, God has placed people in our lives who can show us that you can continue living....the days will get will never love them less, but the pain will turn into a even clearer assurance that God's promise will be kept; we will see him again. We hope to continue to meet with them frequently. I felt like I could be completely real with them....completely open - because I knew they could understand where it's all coming from.

I've also been fortunate enough to have other mothers reach out to me as well. Three blogging moms have reached out and offered words of hope and comfort. I can't tell you how helpful that has been. Thank you ladies so much.... I look forward to continuing to keep in touch and be in prayer for you and your family as you have been for us.

Ayden's little big feet are making strong impressions in this community and this world....and although it's hard for me to understand why such an impact had to come as a result of losing him, I look forward to running to him in heaven and then meeting every person who was impacted by his little life. We were already so very proud of him....that was no secret....we would, and still do, just beam with pride over him. He's accomplished the only goal we ever had for serve our Lord and be with us for eternity. Although we didn't expect it so soon, at least we know....

Barely hanging on....

So, it seems like I'm getting to the point where I'm starting to have "good" days (good meaning, I might cry once that day). Yesterday was a "good" day. I got myself out of the bed, at breakfast, spent the day with my mom and sister (and eventually my dad), spent time with Jeremy after he got home, had dinner brought to us, blogged, then went to bed.

I do, though, still have "barely hanging on" days. I won't call them bad days, because when grieving, there are no bad days because it's okay to have the "barely hanging on" days. Today, has started out as one of those days. I went to sleep last night thinking of Ayden and woke up this morning thinking of him also. I knew I needed to see his face. And I knew what seeing him would do, but I had to. We have a dvd from Ayden's celebration service - a dvd of pictures and videos put to music. I popped that in and just let the tears flow. I know I will continue to have these moments, and I know that it's okay.

I continue to ask God questions, but I also turn around and tell Him that I know He probably can't give me the answers right now - probably isn't the time. Asking the questions, though, helps me process, and even gives me strength. One question I ask constantly is, "Why do I have to feel this?/Why did you think I could handle this?" Two questions that cause me to feel completely helpless....however, when I ask them, I remind myself of God's grace, mercy, and sovereignty. I know He has a purpose for all things....even this.

I hate being such a weak human. It's normal, here, to cry and grieve and make it all about me. It's a normal human reaction to miss someone and ache with every ounce of your being. It's also normal to feel like the person you're missing is going to be gone forever...that you'll never see them again. That's where the "barely haging on" moments come from - that weakness. I'm glad I have eternity to look forward eternity of joy, peace, happiness, with loved ones who have gone before us, with our Lord. I may have gotten four months with Ayden here (really 13 months...), but I get an eternity with him once this life has passed away. I know I say it a lot, but that's the only thing that brings me comfort.

Lord, come quickly.....please.....

An apology and the daily update...

First the apology:

If you sit behind, or near, us during worship - I apologize if I have made you cry. I'm unable to hold it together during worship, especially during the music. I try to sing, but I mostly have to mouth the words - even that is difficult because I can't keep my mouth from quivering. I often have to keep the radio off in the car for fear that one of the many songs that relate to our current situation will come on. I know it's okay to lose it....believe me, I know. But there are times when I don't want to...when I want to go five minutes feeling "normal".

We sang Chris Tomlin's "Amazing Grace" in worship on Sunday. I've always paid attention to the words I sing; however, I will admit that I like EVERYONE have simply gone through the motions during worship and just sang the songs. Now...every word penetrates me. Every word hits me so differently. A song as old and commonly known as Amazing Grace (although this one is a little different), a song I have known my whole life, has a different meaning. I've included the lyrics and bolded the ones that threw me into an emotional whirwind Sunday. I wonder if I will continue to cry every Sunday....probably. Again, I apologize if I've caused you to cry.... Oh, and if anyone can please tell me the name of the little girl who hugs me every Sunday, I would greatly appreciate it. The Sunday after Ayden's celebration service, we sat behind her and her dad. After service, her dad said she asked if she could hug me, and of course I said yes! Who could ever turn down something so precious. She touched me with her compassion and has given me a hug every Sunday since. I hope she nevers stops....I just wish I knew her name. What a sweet girl - she has been such an encouragement.

"Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)"

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see'

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine
You are forever mine

I've mentioned that going out of the house overwhelms me. Many of you keep telling me I need to get out; I can't sit in the house all day. I know, and I force myself to get out at least once a day. However, there are many reasons WHY it's difficult to get out. Not to offend anyone, but everyday, run-of-the-mill questions that you receive ARE not so for me. Anticipating the following questions/situations fill me with fear and cause me to avoid populated places:

1. How are you doing today? (asked with a cheesy grin on the person's face)
2. So, do you guys have any kids?
3. What's been going on with you the past couple of months?
4. How was your summer?
5. How is work?
6. Didn't you have a baby?

I know I can't let these questions keep me from moving forward, and I'm not. I think I'm more afraid of my reaction to these questions than the questions themselves. I know I will have to answer every one of them, and I know I will most likely break down when I do. And I will also know that it's okay.

Today was pretty uneventful. I didn't get out of bed until about 10:30. I had been awake, but kept going in and out of sleep. I had several dreams, but one stood out to me. There wasn't much to it, but it was so vivid. I was walking on the side of a road. The landscape looked like Arizona to me (it's the only southwestern state I've spent a lot of time in, so I guess my mind chose images related to the landscape in Arizona) I remember the side of the black pavement, and the white line (whatever it's for), and I remember red rocks under feet. At first, I was walking, and I was holding Ayden. Then, I was running, and Ayden wasn't there. I remember how frantic I felt, how panicked I was, almost hyperventilating, but I was running towards nothing....just road...and mountains up ahead. I remember the helplessness I felt because that is all too real feeling for me right now. I can feel the panic and every shallow breath I took - and it was all a dream. I get what the dream is about, but I wish I didn't have dreams like these.

My "get-out-of-the-house" task of the day was to get our payments set up at Pinewood (the memorial park where we chose to put Ayden). Jeremy and I are reserving the plots directly across from Ayden. Oh, what a glorious thought came to mind just now. Say Jesus doesn't come back in our lifetime...there we are....across from our son, waiting for him to call our earthly bodies up to be made glorious, and as we rise....we rise together....the three of us. Oh, my eyes just flooded with tears. Oh, Lord...please come quickly.

After that, I went with my mom and sister to Michael's to get stuff. I bought flowers for Ayden's vase - very fall-like bouquet - Megan says it's depressing, but I think it's pretty, so it goes. Then, we went out to the church to check on Ayden's garden. I love that it's in the playground...a child's garden in a play of so much joy and happiness. The sound of laughter surrounding his memorial garden....beautiful. We had to add the butterfly house to the garden and replace two crepe myrtles that weren't going to make it (sorry Candi -we tried!!!). The butterfly post looks so pretty. A bird house is coming soon, which will have Ayden's name painted onto it. A bench will also be put in the garden underneath the arbor. I'm not big on cement benches...they're old fashioned, and you only see them in, they're crazy expensive. I vote for a plain, wraught-iron bench with a plaque attached to it. I favor simplicity.

Jeremy was able to meet us at the garden after his first day back to work. It was a rough morning for him. First day back...memories of his last first day of school....out of the comfort of your home where you've been the past 2 weeks....and away from your wife who is your constant support. I can imagine he was overwhelmed from the second he drove into the school's parking lot. The anticipation of people talking to him, asking questions, just hitting him from all sides... He had to compose himself during his planning period in order to handle the rest of the day. I wish so badly that I had known - I would have been there. However, there will be times, for both of us, when we just need to be alone....we need to let the emotions out on our own. I believe we are past the questioning stage, because we know what happened to Ayden, and we've accepted. AND, we know where Ayden is - so we are secure in knowing that Ayden is sitting on the lap of Jesus, smiling and cooing away - filling his heart with overflowing of love he gave to us each day.

NOW - we miss him...more and more with each passing second. And that loss, that void, is so difficult. I hate feeling it and knowing the one thing that can fill that emptiness will never be able to again. I HATE THAT. I miss holding him, kissing him, squishing my cheeks up against his soft, squishy cheeks. I miss those legs that move a hundred miles a minute but never got him far, I miss the wonder in his eyes....that spark I've mentioned, I miss his personality, his laugh, his gorgeous smile, his curl on top of his head, his big hands and feet, his snore, his "talking" sessions. I miss every ounce of that little man, and I just wish God could give me one more day....just one more day with him.

I never knew the true meaning of "heartache" until now. I've used the term several times in my lifetime, but have never actually known heartache. When Ayden passed, my heart and my whole body literally ached with pain. They still do at times like this...when all I can think about is how much I desperately want to hold him again and just look into those blue eyes and that beautiful face. It's the low moments like this that make me ask myself when it'll ever get easier.

I have had good days. I think I had one when I didn't cry (granted, I was busy all day long and distracted). But I feel badly for having a day when I didn't cry, when I didn't think about how much I miss him. There are days when I can think of Ayden and smile, and I can talk about him and laugh about him and his silly ways. But then, there are days when I cringe to hear anything dealing with the service or the graveside or to hear something someone wants me know about how touched they were....

Some days, I can handle it all and be strong. Others (which are more frequent) - I can't. I guess people will just have to accept that it is very likely that I am going to cry at some point during a gathering, outing, meal, holiday, etc. Just expect it, and let me deal with by myself - or with Jeremy if I request him.

Most days, I am able to get up and get moving....and that is a small accomplishment in itself. I'm able to move through the day distracted by "errands" that aren't really errands. They're just things to do to get me out of the house. But I am thankful that I have my mom and my sister with me. Without them, I know I was stay in bed until something....lie back down....and then get up to get a shower around 4. We will continue to need people to get us out of the house....out to dinner...our for ice cream....out for coffee....anything. Because, once my mom and sister are no longer here with me - it's just me. I'm determined to keep moving and not stay stuck in the house, but I know there will days when that's all I can manage to do that day.

Luckily, after Thanksgiving, I will have something to keep me moving and getting out. Some friends of ours are expecting their baby boy, Jonah, any day now. I've offered to help once they take him home and dad goes back to work. I'd love to be there to just help in any way I can....allow Anna to get a nap....clean up....ease her fears of completely ruining him. Then, once Anna goes back to work, I will be watching Jonah for her until I go back to work in January. I'm looking forward to it. I will probably cry, many times. I will feel overwhelmed at first. However, I must force myself to be around babies again. I don't completely avoid them, but I do look away before I completely lose it and begin sobbing. Keeping Jonah will be good for me. We're going to have lots of fun. I'm really looking forward to it.

I guess that's it for tonight. Ambien is kicking in big time....

Please continue to be in prayer for us that God will see fit to grant us our hearts' desires.....
And also pray for peace, comfort, and grace.


Deep, profound words....

My "dear friend" will yet again get kuddos for her wise words. Below is part of a message she sent to me today. I love how she expresses herself and what she is thinking. She can do it in a way that lends itself to eloquence and wisdom. She makes me think about things in a way I've never considered them before. Awesome.

I in NO WAY want to compare your sorrow to mine. They are very different. Yours is such a pure sorrow…yet…sorrow still. Empty still. It is now the mining time. When you smile, it exists but I imagine it probably can’t run very deep. And when you laugh, it probably doesn’t go all the way through. It will be that way for a while. But each smile that you can’t help but give and every laugh that manages to be from a real tickling…will pave the way for the future ones to dig deeper. And they may never reach down all the way, I don’t know, but they will reach deeper with time.

Don’t feel pressured to smile or to laugh however. Don’t feel obligated to seem better if you aren’t. Ecclesiastes says that sorrow is better than laughter because a sad face is good for the heart.How a sad face is good for the heart is something I’ve been pondering for a few days…I’ve been thinking of the drastic alteration that took place in your heart and mind and spirit in an instant. How you went from green pastures and water…to a desolate place within. How the light went out in a way. The joy. Not that you are in Godless darkness…but a sadness darkness. God takes us into these places sometimes…because He finds GREAT worth in us…and sometimes…the only way to find these deepest treasures within us…is in darkness. In deepest sorrow, you are deepened. In deepest sorrow, the most precious in you is challenged, and acutely worked on. I told my mom today…and I’ll tell you what she said…but I said to her “Mom, it really says a lot about Lindsay’s character, that God knew she could walk through this.” Jeremy too. And that’s true. He knows your core…knows your heart…knows your will…knows your faith. Not everyone can be taken there. There are character’s in the Bible. You read about this man and this man and this woman and here are some brothers and sisters and here’s a number of people and here’s an army. And there are few “characters.” Few who faced fire…not for punishment…but simply because God saw their heart’s…knew they were sold on Him and knew they were the vessels He wanted. Did they always handle it right? No. But in the end, they were always His. In the end they displayed the glory of God. My mom said she was thinking of you and thinking about Mary this morning. How God selected her specifically to be the mother of Jesus…who would have to raise him and watch him die. And with the same hand that chose Mary for that, He chose you for this. And Ayden was not just a tool. Not at all. He is a beautiful child…and God chose the PERFECT family for him. God chose the place where he would receive and be saturated with an enormous amount of love in a short time and experience so much life in such a short time. Life. And He loves that little boy. And he knows you love that little boy. And it is this darkness…this space that has been left because of that GREAT love, that God is going to bring out hidden greatness in your already wonderful character. He will bring water into you again. You will have sorrow always…you will miss him always…love him always. But when you recognize what treasures are brought forth in you from this…you will then recognize that it is Ayden…your love for him…and God…that brings these. And they may never seem like treasures to you…may not seem worth it. I’m not suggesting at all that you should be happy about the fact that this must be. Sorrow wouldn’t be sorrow if you weren’t sorry that it happened. But still…this sorrow…somehow…is enriching you. T

hat may be hard to accept. Its hard for me to suggest. But I know its true. I hope I’m making sense. Its hard for me to explain. And maybe it wasn’t time and that’s why it deleted.

One more thing. I thought of this last night for you too. People always told me God spoke in whispers. Last night I kind of thought that God really speaks more like an Ent in Lord of the Rings. Sometimes his communication isn’t “one minute not there, and the next minute there”. Sometimes maybe. But in hard times especially…when we want answers…in order for our hearts to truly understand and move and bend and react properly to what God is saying…it takes a long time. The Spirit of God may bend and groan within you. And your spirit will bend and groan within you. Oh Lindsay, I am so sorry for all this. Your heart is being communicated to…even if you don’t know it, can’t hear it, or can’t feel it.

Psalm 16:7 I will praise the Lord who counsels me. Even at night my heart instructs me.