Yesterday - 4 years ago

I was going to write this post last night, but I didn't feel like doing much of anything....except loving on my kids.  That's all my heart wanted and needed yesterday....and every day.

4 years ago, yesterday, was the day our lives were changed forever.  Sometimes, it feels like yesterday. Then, I find myself wondering if it actually seems like it happened so long ago.  Then, that ache in my heart starts to grow and build and I find myself crippled once again.  That's when I'm brought back to reality.  It's a reality I would have never, ever chosen for myself.  Who would?  But, it's mine, and it's a part of every single day.

4 years later, and there is still not a day that goes by that I don't think of him.  Just like Collen and Charlotte run through my mind all day long - Ayden does, too.  As the years pass, I don't expect this to change.

I don't know where I thought I'd be 4 years later.  The last 4 years have felt like a lot of unexpected.  At 28, I had experienced more loss than many people don't see until much, much later in life.  At 27, the grim reality of life hit me - the rest of my life will be filled with loss.  That's a dim realization; but it's the truth.  But it isn't a perspective I like to carry with me daily; that would be incredibly depressing.  I can't say I don't dwell on that, though.  It's hard.  Very hard.  At 28, I had buried a child and then had to bury my dad....two people I thought I had many, many more years with....gone.  Two people I never expected to lose.  Through those losses, though, over the last 4 years, I've been able to shift my perspective from what I've lost to what they have gained.....not to look at the loss, but the blessing.  Do I mean it was a blessing that my child passed away?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  But the blessing for him and for my dad....they are in glory.  They are not living in this fallen world.  They are whole.  And best of all...they're waiting for me.  For my family.  There is no goodbye....the pain is only temporary....a separation for now that will be no more someday (soon, I hope!).

With that said, and with that perspective in mind, it doesn't mean I don't miss them any less.  Somedays, it's unbearable, and just functioning to make it through the day is about the best I can do.  As many who are on this journey with me have said, the anticipation of the anniversary of "the day" is usually worse than the day itself.  This has always been true for me.  Friday was a terrible day.  All week I had noticed my mood changing.  The heaviness was settling it, and no matter how I tried to fight it, it wasn't lifting.  It's strange how that happens....subconsciously, your grief starts to take hold as the anniversary nears.  All of the emotions from "that day" start flooding back.  Memories come back....and I still remember every moment of that day.  I can still see his face when I dropped him off.  I can remember, nearly word-for-word, the words from the voice on the other end of the phone.  It is all still so clear.  So as the day approaches, it hits hard.

Yesterday wasn't that bad.  It was busy.  I actually went home to help sort through of my grandma's belongings, and the kids napped at my mom's so Jeremy could catch up on work for school.  So, my mind was busy with a lot of things.  But my heart was with Ayden all day.  Today, not so good.  The day after is typically worse for me.  4 years ago, yesterday, I saw him.  I have happy memories from that morning even though the rest of the day was a nightmare.  But the next day, August 26th, began the journey I never imagined I'd be on.  August 26th was my first day without my child.  That was the day I woke up to silence, an empty room, toys...diapers...bottles....all to go unused. That was the day I had to plan my infant son's funeral.  I had never seen a casket that small.  I had to pick out the clothes he would wear.  I had to come to grips with the fact that I would never hold him again. That was the day my new reality hit me, and my heart hasn't beat the same since.

4 years later, I still have "why" moments.  It still doesn't make sense to me.  He was fine.  He was healthy.  He knew how to roll over and had good control of his head.  How did he just....die?  I've accepted that I will never have the answers to these questions, and I don't ask nearly as much as I used to, but I think it will always be there.

Despite all of this, I have seen healing.  God is amazing...let me just throw that out there.  God and I have had some hard talks.  I've blamed...accused...questioned...doubted...all of the above and more.  There were moments when I thought I'd have to walk away from my faith altogether because I wasn't sure I believed strongly enough anymore.  But I held on.  I let Him walk me through step by step....and He was patient with me.  Being a Christian is easy when things are good.  This was the ultimate test, and I'm so glad my faith won out.  I can look at my life and still say God is good.  He has brought renewal to our lives.  I still have tough days when I say, "Ok, Lord....give me some grace today.  Just bear with me."  I've had to look at my faith and question "Do I really believe this?  When I read these scriptures and sing this worship music, do I mean it?  Do I believe it in my heart?"  The answer is a resounding YES.

This will never be easy.  4 years later, and I am still brought to tears at the thought of "that day" and all that we are missing without him here.  The weight of the grief is not as heavy, but I continue to miss him more every day.  Every day, we become one day closer to seeing him again.  That keeps me moving....along with his two beautiful siblings who fill my days with laughter, purpose, and joy.  Thank you to all of you who sent messages, texts, comments....just saying you were thinking of us and praying for us...and most all, remembering Ayden.  He touched our lives in a way we never expected, and he continues to touch the lives of others.  We are so very proud of Ayden, and we love him more and more each day.

Here are some photos of Ayden that are not the "typical" ones I post.  <3 nbsp="" p="">

We love you, Ayden. 

Happy 3rd Birthday sweet Collen!

To my sweet son:

    On the day you were born, we were full of anticipation, worry, joy, fear and hope. Your entrance into this world and our lives brought so much joy, so much renewal.  You will never know just how much you changed our lives when we heard that little cry and saw your beautiful face for the first time.  In that moment, we were healed.  You won't understand that for a long time, but are more than a blessing.  You are a promise.  You are our rock.  We look at you and see the promises of our Lord - we see that He is faithful, and He is good. 

 This is among the most beautiful moments of my life.  Meeting my 2nd was love at first sight.  You reminded us so much of your big brother, but you had qualities all your own as well.  You had dark, dark hair and more playful disposition.  You are uniquely you...but you do share qualities with your big brother.  One day, you will understand just how special that is! 

You stole our hearts from the moment we saw you.  You grew so, so fast!  We spent so much time just staring at you in awe.  You were really here; we were blessed with another baby boy!  We made it a point to soak in every moment and appreciate each day we were given.  We continue to do this because we love you so very much, and each day with you is better than the one before!

Look at you at one year old!  Boy was that a celebration!  Again, one day you'll understand just how momentous that day was in our lives.  In our minds we were thinking "we get to keep him!!"  In your mind, it was "cake??? They're finally letting me eat cake!!" :)  At one, you were doing so much!  You were saying your first words (hot, ma ma, da da, pa pa) and mastering walking.  You were so full of life and laughter (and still are!).  

A year passed so quickly, and before we knew it, you were two!  At two, you were so very smart and seemed to be soaking up everything around you!  You loved puzzles, coloring, Curious George (you had a George birthday party at 2!), and reading.  You were so very silly and filled our days with laughter!  Mommy was still the one you clung to, and I held on tight to you, too.  You had a baby sister on the way, and your life was about to change...for the good. :)  We spent as much time with you as we possibly could because your days as the only child would soon come to an end.  You were so excited about being a big brother! 

 Today, you are three.  I look at you and can still remember the moment I first held you.  How can you possibly be three??  Oh how you've changed and grown in this past year!  You continue to be full of life and personality.  You love people.  You don't know a stranger, yet at times you are shy.  But you open up quickly and consider someone you just met a friend for life.  I love this about you because more than anything else, I want you to love show them love and always be a helper to those around you.  You continue to love puzzles...we have had to get you more challenging ones, though, because you quickly master the ones that are meant for your age group.  I have a feeling math will be one of your stronger subjects.  You love to paint, create, color.  You love to play with your cars, but animals continue to be your favorite!  You've just recently become interested in superheroes.  You've never seen a Spiderman movie/cartoon, but you know who he is, and he's your favorite!  You also love Thomas the Train, Daniel Tiger, and Caillou.  George is still a favorite as well.  You adore your little sister, and you even let her play with your toys sometimes.  She thinks you are super cool...she follows you around the house and laughs at all of your silly faces.  I already see your protectiveness over her, and I pray that will continue to grow as the two of you get older.  She's going to need you, buddy.

Collen, you are so very special to us.  You will never know just how full my heart is with love and adoration for you.  You are my joy and my heart. You are one of my three greatest accomplishments!  Each day with you brings abundant happiness, joy, and learning on my part as a parent.  You are so much like your mommy - spontaneous, exuberant, a dreamer, and full of imagination!  Daddy is your hero, and the bond between you two is so strong!  You are Daddy's best bud, and I love seeing the two of you together.  We love you so very much and are so excited to celebrate another year with you!  Happy Birthday sweet boy!  You're three!!  I look forward to many, many more birthdays with you and thank God for you every single day.