The fog is lifting...

Me and my family have spent the past week in a literal fog. I know I, personally, have been deep in denial that it all actually happened. That my dad is gone. It just wasn't real......

....until we came home. We have spent the past 9 days at my parents' house. You would think that would make it more difficult, but ironically, it has made it a bit easier. Even though Daddy's absence was clearly felt, it was easy to pretend that he was just in another room....out of sight....about to pop in at any moment. We had gotten so used to him being gone on business or in his office working, so we were used to him making a short appearence only to go back to work or to lie down.

Jeremy and I came home today. I have to go back to work tomorrow after being gone for a week. I absolutely dread it. I know getting back into a routine will help, and it's exactly what Daddy would tell me to do, but it scares me. I'm worried that my students won't be patient with me....and that one little thing will put me into a meltdown.

Speaking of meltdowns. As I said, I was okay, for the most part, until we came home. Jeremy had a coaches' meeting, so he left as soon as we got all of our bags and stuff into the house. It was just me and Collen....and a house I hadn't stepped foot in in a week. I was quickly overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done: cleaning, straightening, unpacking, schoolwork, planning, bathing and feeding the baby, putting him in a crib he hasn't slept in in over a week (he slept with me....hard transition). A meltdown came, and it came quickly.

My dad has always been my constant. When things were turned upside down and I was sure that life was never going to be the same again.....he was always there. He could calm nerves and ease my worries. At a young age, I dealt with anxiety. I would wake up at night crying, not sure of why I felt so anxious and worried....I just was. Daddy would come into my room and sit next to me. He would calm me down, talk to me, and pray for me. He would stay with me until I fell asleep. I cherish those moments with him.....stolen moments, just me and Daddy. I have a great relationship with my mom....I know I don't talk about it much, but she and I do have a wonderful relationship, and I go to her for so many things. However, with Daddy....I never had to explain myself....he just got me. I guess because he and I are so much alike. I would do anything in the world for my Dad. I was a bit more stubborn with my mom (sorry mom ;) I guess that's how mothers and daughters are, though). Daddy has always been the one person who made life stable. And now, without him, I feel completely unbalanced. No one can fill the Daddy-sized hole in my heart. 28 years of memories. 28 years of nothing but wonderful, treasured memories.

I've tried not to think about everything Collen will miss out on. I can't let my mind go there, yet. Collen adored my dad. All anyone had to do was be in a room with them for 2 minutes and the connection was clear. My dad is the one person Collen would go to over ME...his own mother! As long as Pa Pa was in the room, no one else mattered to Collen. He would light up at the very sight of Daddy. Collen is blessed with two great men for grandfather's, but I hate that he will only grow up really knowing one of them. I know what he's missing out on, and I ache for what he's missing. He won't go without knowing about his Pa Pa, though. We'll tell him all about him and be sure he knows how much his Pa Pa loves him. Collen is a lot like personality and looks....and that means he's a lot like his Pa Pa. I love that....

I was telling my mom yesterday that out of all of us, I know Daddy was the most ready to go. Meaning....he was happy to be here while he could be, but if it was his time to go....he wasn't going to argue. I knew that, and the human side of me feared the day it would happen. Aside from losing a child and losing my husband, losing my daddy was at the top of my list of most-feared things. But, I knew that I couldn't have him forever, and I knew that given the opportunity, he'd go willingly. I'm thankful that we didn't have to watch him in a hospital....waiting. I'm thankful that he went quickly and peacefully. And i'm thankful that he is where he longed to be. He talked about it daily. I know he was so ready to get to Heaven and worship our God. Our loss is certainly Heaven's gain.

And as my mom said, "The world is just a little emptier, and the sun doesn't shine quite as bright anymore." And anyone who knew my dad, would just isn't the same anymore.

I know I say it all the time - Lord come quickly.....

Back to where it all started...

Starting the grief process all over again is very strange. I'm conflicted because I know what my dad would be telling me to do right now, but my heart may burst from the pain of it all. My dad was always very real with me....verbalizing reality to me whenever he could. "You know I won't be here forever. You have to accept that." He would explain to me and my sister where we could find the insurance information or how he wanted things done. I remembered my dad saying, "Don't make a fuss over me. I don't want to be dressed up." He never gave himself credit....for anything.
When 450 people showed up to his service, at 2 on a Monday afternoon, I was not surprised in the least. Wherever my dad went, he touched lives. Just being around him, you could feel the grace flowing through him. He was never quick to judge...always considering others before himself. He was a bit old-school about some things, but for the most part, he kept his opinions to himself. He was "Heaven-focused." It was all he talked about. I knew that I wouldn't have my daddy with me forever, but I didn't like thinking about it. He made that difficult though, because he was always talking about Heaven....about Christ's return....about the day when he would finally make it. I'm more selfish...I guess. I need my dad for so much. When I needed a reassuring word, a vote of confidence, or just a "Hey, sweetie" I would call my dad. When Jeremy needed help with anything around the house...or going to pick up something...I'd call my dad. My dad loved Jeremy. He loved being able to hang out with his "son." And as Jeremy put it at Daddy's service, "It's not often that your father-in-law is one of your best friends." Daddy was a friend to everyone he met. I spoke to a perfect stranger yesterday - a lady my dad found while working on genealogy (one of his passions) - and she spoke to me about how much daddy had touched her life in the very short time she had known him. When you met my dad, you were met with kindness, acceptance, grace, humor, and love.
I've been walking around the past few days wondering how the earth is still spinning without this man. How has life continued without him? It shouldn't be possible. I find myself wondering how in the world I'm able to get up and put one foot in front of the other, and I'm met with "because that's what he would want you to do." Daddy would tell us, "Girls, I'm okay. Don't you worry about me. Just take care of your mom." I know he's okay, but I'm not. I never would have imagined that I would lose my dad at 28. It still isn't real. We are still operating under the "daddy's coming home any day" mode (since he travelled a lot for work). But, days pass, and he still isn't here.
I spent the first couple of days after he passed feeling extreme anger. I had the compulsion to kick things, throw things, break anything I could. Since I've experienced grief....the full process...I guess I skipped a few parts of the process. I sat through the decisions and arrangements unable to speak....just not wanting to accept it. I wanted to run out and get as far away from all of it as I could, but I knew I had to be there. I'm the oldest. I'm the one who has to stand up and keep things moving. And I will because daddy would want me to.
Thank you all for your kind comments, encouraging words, and your prayers. Please keep them coming. We definitely need them.

desperately in need of your prayers

Our family received devastating news yesterday. My dad passed away unexpectedly while at home. The EMS suspected a heart attack. Needless to say, we are all shocked, hurting, broken, and devasted. I saw my dad last weekend - spent practically the whole weekend with he and my mom. He helped Jeremy and Jeremy's dad put Collen's swingset together. He acted goofy as always...with his bubba teeth in. He helped me get Collen ready for bed and just ooohed and aaahhed over his "little man." I gave him an extra I always did...just in case. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a Daddy's girl. I've always been called "little Thurman" because I am so much like my dad - in looks and personality. My dad is the first man I gave my heart to, and he taught me that trusting my heart with somone wasn't something to take lightly. And that if I felt the same magnitude of love for another man as I did my dad....then I had found the right one. I never felt so close to that love until I met Jeremy. I knew my dad would approve. And he did. He loves Jeremy so much and is so, so proud of his "sons." He loves Megan's fiancee as well....thinks the world of the two men his daughters gave their hearts to. My dad was/is hopelessly devoted to my mom. He thought the sun rose and set with her. I've watched him many times look at her or talk about her with such adoration. They are best friends....such a great team. It doesn't make sense that he's gone. It is more real to me now than I think it would have been had we not endured such tragedy before now. After losing Ayden, the only thing holding me up was that I still had Jeremy....and I still had my dad. They are both rocks in my life. And now, I'm without my firmest, hardest rock. My voice of reason. My dad whose hugs and reassuring words make everything okay. I never imagined I'd lose my dad at 28....he was too young (58) and seemed so, so healthy. We (and he) had no idea.... My dad was/is a devoted Christian. We know he is in Heaven glorifying the Father. It's all he's ever talked about, especially since he lost his dad. He couldn't wait to get there. Then, after we lost Ayden, it was all he could ever talk about - it was the one thing he looked forward to. He said to me the other day, "I feel like it's going to be soon. Very soon, we'll be there with Jesus....and my dad....and Ayden." He was talking about the return of Christ, of course, but the fact that he said that....just hit me really hard. I have been hard on myself since I hadn't talked to my dad since Sunday, but as a friend of mine so graciouslly put it, "Lindsay, you didn't need to." Which is true....Daddy always knew what I was thinking. We could finish each other's sentences, and he knew what I was going to say before I said it (and vice versa). He was my best buddy, and I always wanted to be like him. I like to think I've gotten close over the last 28 years, but no one....NO ONE can top Thurman Tyson. There's not another like him on this earth. Please pray for our family, especially my mom. We are being strong for Daddy, but it's incredibly hard. Obviously, our hearts are broken and they will be for a long time. But we know that Daddy is where he wanted to be. For that, I rejoice for him, but I ache for our loss.

12/13 month pictures!


Everyone needs a good belly laugh....

....even 13 month-olds.

I wish I had captured it in video form, but I didn't. So, I will at least record it here.

Collen is definitely becoming more and more independent with each passing day. It's fun watching his personality develop....seeing the things that make him "Collen."

Up until now, he hasn't been a big laugher. Now, though, he giggles and laughs at pictures, children, us, animals, books, TV shows, and himself. It's so funny to watch him get see his sense of humor.

Tonight, mine and Jeremy's parents were here helping put Collen's swingset together. We were leaving to grab some supper, and Jeremy's dad was walking out with Collen. He had a rag/hankerchief that he kept swishing in front of Collen's face. Collen thought it was hilarious! He kept giggling and giggling until he finally let out a squeal....bent over...and just let out a big belly laugh! It reminded me of grown ups who bend over and slap their knee because they're laughing so hard. To see such a little person do was just priceless.

Hopefully, I'll catch it on video soon because really....who doesn't love a good baby belly laugh?!

When Great Trees Fall
by Maya Angelou

*Thanks, Megan, for posting this on your blog. Hope you don't mind me swiping it and using it here!*

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker downin tall grasses
,and even elephantslumber after safety.

When great trees fallin forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly, see with
a hurtful clarity.

Our memory,
suddenly sharpened,
examines, gnaws on kind words
unsaid,promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to them,
takes leave of us.
Our souls,dependent upon their nurture,
now shrink, wizened.

Our minds,
formed and informed by their radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold caves.

And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always irregularly.
Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored,
never to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be better.
For they existed.

Goodnight Prayer

I prayed with/for Ayden every night as he was falling asleep, and I would say the "traditional" nightly prayer:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Yeah, very ironic.....and just plain hard to read those words. This was the prayer my parents taught me, so I carried it on to our first child....not even knowing he would live that prayer. Although I meant them when I prayed them, those words haven't been on my lips since the last time I prayed them for Ayden.

When Collen was born, I knew I couldn't bring myself to say that prayer over him. I was too afraid - even though I know I shouldn't have been.....but how could I not be? So, I sought out a new bedtime prayer. For a long time, I just said a generic prayer. Then, we went to visit my former pastor - a man of God I respect so highly. He was the minister at mine and Jeremy's wedding, and he cried and rejoiced along with us on that special day. He is such a strong man - so sound in his faith. After our visit with him, he said a prayer over Collen:

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May His face shine upon and bring you peace.
May He be with you when you are asleep and when you are awake.
And may the Lord watch over you all the days of your life.

I had him write it down for me, and since that day, it has been the prayer we have spoken over Collen every single night. I didn't realize that the first two lines were from Numbers 6:24 until I read it for myself. I love that....because these words were spoken by God. God's blessing is in each word.

So, if you're a parent who has a lost a child and you have gone on to have another - if you're struggling with prayer for that child - this is one that brings so much hope and peace.

Blessings to you all....

Ayden Brooks

Dear Ayden,

I often write about meeting you in my dreams. It doesn't happen as often as it used to, but in a way I am thankful for makes the dream even more vivid and memorable. It is a treasure I can cling to....grace from our Father. I truly believe He gives me these glimpses as a way to help me bide my time....until we're together again.

Today, I was napping with your brother. I slipped into a deep sleep and began dreaming. I thought it was real....I hardly ever sleep so soundly! In my dream, I was watching a video of the two of you. You were both around the same age....about 10 months old. I was amazed to see my boys together...side by side. The two of you were doing what all brothers do - playing/wrestling together. Throughout the dream, I had the biggest smile on my face, but as usual...I kept wondering how it could be. How were the two of you together? And then, again as usual, I decided that didn't matter....I would cling to the moment as long as I could. It was beautiful to see the two of you together.

And then, of course I woke up, and I realized it wasn't real. I quickly closed my eyes again, praying to continue the dream. There you were again, but this time - it was you and me, sweet boy. :) I was holding you, marvelling at your beauty (you truly are/were a gorgeous baby....), and giggling about your pudgy rolls and porcelain skin (traits you surely got from me!). You were all smiles, as usual, and so was I. It was one of those moments within a dream that you pray you never awake from. But, of course, I did.

My heart has been heavy lately. I miss you....I always miss you....but I have moments when "missing you" feels like my heart being ripped out all over again. I have described grief as an ocean, with waves that sometimes come as small ripples and then at other times come as tidal waves, crashing relentlessly. I still experience those crashing waves from time-to-time. Not as much as I did in my earlier stages of grief, but I want mothers/parents out there to know that although the waves don't hit as often.....they still hit. The pain remains. And as the years pass, I expect the waves to continue to come. I've done a lot of, "I just want him here" and "Lord, please come quickly" lately. The prospect of Heaven is more urgent with each passing day....the opportunity to finally be with finally be a whole is always on my mind. I long for that day.

This time of year is hardest for me because I am taken back to the days, weeks, months after passed away. That was the lowest I have ever been. The closest I have ever felt to being completely without my senses....just numb and vacant. The holidays are hard. Music continues to be difficult for me. I still can't bring myself to hear the songs we played at your celebration service. It hurts too much.....still. It probably always will.

I want you, and others to know, that although your physical absence is are not absent from our lives and our hearts....and our love. You are remembered every second of every day. You are a very present part of our lives, and we live our lives differently because of you. Our steps are more cautious, more considerate, more purposeful, more deliberate. There is no question what our ultimate goal is: to be in Heaven with Jesus and you. There is no question of our hope, and we do our best to live that hope and let it shine through us each and every day.

We love you, Ayden. We know you know that. We know you are okay. We know you are safe...and waiting. And we are waiting (im)patiently to be with you again. 4 wonderful months with you.....and life here without and heartache....all to experience eternity together. Lord, come quickly.

13 months and on-the-move!

Somehow, 13 months came quickly....and it's close to being past us! Collen seems to continue to follow his trend of slower physical development vs. faster mental development. I attribute that to his very large head, which he most definitely got from his genius-Daddy. ;)

He has always reached verbal/mental milestones very quickly and physical/motor skills milestons a bit slower than average. I'm think he'll have my coordination (meaning: lack-of). He said his first word at 7 months, yet he didn't start walking until 13 months. I guess I always thought the two types of milestones happened at the same times, but I'm learning that is not always the case. I, personally, have loved that he was a late roller, sitter, crawler, and walker. It gave me more time with him as a "baby" cuddly and needing mommy. Once he started walking, he didn't look like a baby anymore! It was immediate!! It seemed like overnight, he became a little boy....*sigh* sad for mommy. However, I am LOVING this age! He is so funny and interactive, and now that he can interact, we can ask him to "bring us a book" and he will! Or, we can say, "Eat your chicken"...and he knows which thing on the plate is chicken! He is a pro at the few signs we have taught him - "more", "all done" and "please." We're still working on "thank you."

Last week, he was wearing 12 month clothes comfortably. This week, we're moving into 18 month clothes! So crazy how fast they grow! Collen is definitely getting into his "chunking up" stage again. He'll get chunky, then gain some height and slim down, then he'll get chunky again. I love the chunky stage. :) So cute!

We are finally making some headway in the sleeping department. Out of nowhere, the other night, he "asked" to be put in his crib. Before that, I would either rock him to sleep or stand over his crib....waiting for him to fall asleep as I rubbed his back, hair and face (which can take a long time....). Then, the other night, I was rocking him, and he reached over and patted the side of the crib and grunted as if to say he wanted to get in there. Ever since then, he has gone to sleep (still with one of us having to stand by the crib) and has slept ALL night. Typically, he would wake up 2-3 times, eventually to end up in our bed out of sheer exhaustion our part. Now, he seems to be sleeping until 5ish, and then he sleeps the remaining 2 hours of his sleep schedule in our bed. 13 months.....whew.

We are having so much fun with Collen! We love watching him learn and being a part of his learning experience! He is such a sweet child with a very friendly disposition. Praying it stays that way as we get closer and closer to age 2!

Here are a few 13 month highlights....

Walking to Daddy after the football game. When Ayden was born, this was one thing Jeremy couldn't wait to experience. He has waited 2 and a half years for this moment. We both had tears in our eyes as we witnessed a dream coming true.

He LOVES to be outside...exploring and learning!

Beep! Beep!

We'll definitely be saving this one....

Catching up

I'm not doing such a great job of updating my blog these days. I have my reasons, which definitely include laziness, too little time, and pure exhaustion.

It's not that I'm lacking in quality information to write about....I just don't have a lot of time. But, tonight, on this beautiful Saturday night, I am MAKING time!

I struggle a lot with the purpose of my blog. I have a lot of readers (if you're still sticking with me!) who came to my blog after Ayden passed away: grieving mothers who could relate to the anguish and felt less alone by reading the words of another hurting mother; friends and family who just wanted to be connected to me without having to constantly ask me how I was doing; countless others who came across our story and followed our story as prayer warriors and quiet encouragers. Now, 2 years have passed since Ayden went to Heaven, Collen was born, another chapter has been added to our story, and although our hearts are less broken than they were.....we are still a family living with loss. We are affected by it every day. But our lives do not revolve around that loss as much as they once did.

So, I struggle....because I want to be sensitive to those who have also lost a child....looking for hope, strength, and encouragement. I don't want to flood my blog with images of us that make it appear that we have moved beyond the grief....updates on Collen and how happy we are that make it seem like we have everything we ever wanted.....images and information that I know (because I've been there) are difficult for grieving mothers/parents to read and see.


I do my best to be sure I update my blog with both information about our life with Collen and how life with a child after loss is...difficulties and joys. And I also try to continue to update on our loss and how we continue to cope. As I've said, the loss of a child isn't something you move past. Not saying you move past any type of loss....but this type is just different. There's no closure to it....
It boggles my mind that people actually ask grieving parents why they can't get over it!! Or tell them they need to get over it. Really?!

Anyway....I will continue to do my best to update my blog....with Collen AND Ayden posts....because my heart beats for both of them. <3

Speaking of my boys....see the following (actually they will post above/before this one in blogger's order) posts about them both. :)