Thursday, November 29, 2012

What is Grief?

Grief:
a : deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement
b : a cause of such suffering 
Audrey's 1st Beach Trip
This is grief as defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary. I'm sure everyone has heard of the "stages of grief" and all of that psychology on how people grieve. I'm very familiar, as I loved psychology in college and stored a lot of the information. Since losing Barrett, I have felt pressure from different people to grieve a certain way to or to just "be ok" after what they considered enough time.
The Five Stages of Grief:
1). Denial
2). Anger
3).Bargaining
4). Depression
5). Acceptance 
Grief is your own. No one can tell you how to grieve and no two people will grieve the same. I find that the stages of grief are very true, but not necessarily in that order. Moving on to stage 2 of grief does not necessarily mean that stage 1 is over. I find myself going back and forth quite often. Three months later, I still have days where I am in denial of what happened. There is no way my baby died. There is no way that I buried my little boy. I couldn't have buried that little boy I carried, loved, held, and rocked. It can't be possible. But then I look at his pictures or visit his grave--I see the picture of us holding Barrett and crying from pain instead of joy. I bounce around between all stages of 1-5. 

Some people will make you feel like that's not normal or not ok, but it is. However you grieve is normal. That is something I've had to learn no matter what anyone says. 

Sometimes I hold his things and imagine what he might look like today. There are still days when I think How could this be my life? My arms still ache daily. My heart aches daily. I have a peace about what happened, but at the same time I desperately want Barrett here with me. One day I am ok and then some days I feel lost without him. Burying a child is something no parent should ever have to do. It is a heavy weight to carry. I am so thankful that I have never been alone in this journey. My Jesus has been with me every step of the way. There is no way I could live this new life without Him. I am not that strong.

So much has changed. There are people who no longer talk to me because they don't know what to say. There are so many new people in my life who I am so grateful for. The people who love me most speak Barrett's name to me often and aren't afraid to talk about him with me. I am so, so grateful for those people. They have no idea the joy that brings to me. I want to talk about him as much as I want to talk about Audrey (Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE talking about my kids!). I'm that annoying parent who constantly talks about their children. 


When Barrett first died, I fell into the pattern of not speaking his name around certain people because I didn't want to make them uncomfortable. But I have to be honest--it doesn't bother me anymore. If it makes you uncomfortable for me to talk about Barrett, it doesn't bother me at all. I am still going to talk about him. That is the entire reason the subject of pregnancy loss, still birth, and infant loss are so taboo. People who have lost a child must find the strength to be bold and speak out if they want to talk about it. People who haven't must find the strength to just listen. Don't worry about what to say. Just listen. 

The thing that has helped me most in my journey of grief thus far is talking about Barrett. It is therapeutic. He is gone and I understand the world doesn't miss him like I do because they didn't get to meet him like I did. It's easy for the world to forget a soul they never met. It's easy for a world to forget those tiny hands they never held or those tiny cheeks they never kissed. It's easy for the world to forget a miscarried or still born baby. But I am his mommy. I will never forget. I will never be over the loss, and like any mom I am PROUD of my baby and I love to talk about him.

Grief is what you make it. Grief is how you live through it. I don't think grief can be defined across the board. It is an individual definition. 
Love you Barrett and I can't wait to hold you in my arms again--


I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
John 16:20

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

When Life Knocks You Down


When life knocks you down, get on your knees.

Three months ago, I buried my son. Two weeks ago, my grandfather passed away. Last week, a little boy that I love dearly went to heaven. (Please continue to pray for Landon's family as the hardest days are ahead). I'd be lying if I said I wasn't struggling right now. So many times I have asked God Why? and I don't try to hide that. God already knows what I am thinking, so I go ahead and talk to Him about it. I am so thankful for a God who hears my prayers. I am so thankful for a God I can talk to.

I skipped the traditional Thanksgiving holiday this year. There was no running from house to house eating way more food than I needed to and trying to figure out how to fit in time with all of the family. There was no hustle and bustle to get the Christmas tree up and run out to do Black Friday shopping. I spent the day with my mom cooking for someone else and listening to some hymns with a Bart Millard twist. And I loved it. I loved the simplicity of the entire day.

Christmas is coming up and we've decided to simplify it too. Now, don't think I'm going all "Grinch" or anything. We have a Christmas tree up that Audrey and I will decorate tonight. Our Elf on the Shelf, Buddy, makes his daily appearance, and yes, Santa will visit Audrey.

But I have made it my priority to ensure that Audrey knows Christmas isn't about Santa and presents. It is so easy for children to get caught up in that because we let them and we get caught up in too. They are watching us. They can get excited about those things, but at the same time understand why we celebrate. I am guilty of getting caught up in what Santa will bring her and forgetting to instill in her the whole reason for the time of celebration and why we choose to give gifts on that day.

We are stripping it down this year. We won't just read The Night Before Christmas, but we will read about Christ's birth. We will talk about Santa, but that he is not why we celebrate. Santa will visit, but he won't bring an abundance of toys that she doesn't need. Santa will bring her a few things, and then we will do for someone who wouldn't otherwise have Christmas. Since losing Barrett, Audrey has shown me how giving a child can be. She loves helping others and I want to instill that in her. I pray she never forgets the joy in giving to others.

I'm not stressing over Christmas shopping or what to get anybody, because we are only doing for Audrey and a child in need. And never in my life have I looked forward to a holiday so much. I cannot wait!

My plan is every year to pick a child that is close to the age Barrett would be that Christmas and buy for them. We will be doing this through the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program.


I am so looking forward to Christmas this year and spending time enjoying the family that God has blessed me with and finding ways to include Barrett in that also.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

For Barrett

If I had the chance to tell you
"I love you" one more time
I'd shout it from the rooftops
Tell the whole world that you're mine

If I had the chance to rock you
In that wooden rocking chair
I'd sing you soft, sweet lullabies
And run my fingers through your hair

If I had the chance to hold you
For just a moment more

I'd take in every inch of you                           
I'd kiss you over and over

If I had the chance to carry you
Once again inside of me
I'd lay so still and feel each kick
Cherish every second you're with me

If I had the chance to speak to you
The chance to see your face again
I feel that words would fail me
So I would cry with you instead

I won't get these chances again
Because you left so soon
So I'll cherish the time I had with you
Until we meet again....

Friday, November 23, 2012

Back to the Basics

This week I've been reminded once again just how short life really is. Sometimes it is much shorter than we ever imagine. Worlds can be changed in the blink of an eye. Circumstances have really caused me to stop and not only be thankful for what I have, but to cherish it. When I'm doing anything but that, I'm taking it for granted. I am ashamed of how often I take SO MUCH for granted.

I wasn't sure what I would do today. Spent a lot of time praying for the precious Rolisons and wishing I could do more for them. I was sitting outside talking to God about everything that's gone on this week when Audrey walked outside and sat down beside me.

We looked at the trees and talked about how pretty they were with the red and yellow leaves. Then Audrey decided she wanted to play in the leaves. I took some pictures of her, and then she called me to join her. All last week I kept thinking how I needed to clean those leaves up. I'm so glad I didn't. That can wait. Today Audrey and I made precious memories in those leaves. We had a "leaf fight" and threw leaves at each other. Audrey laughed when they got stuck in our hair and I laughed at how funny she thought it was.

She wanted to play football so we did that too, using the leaves as cushions when we hit the ground. Her football rules were questionable (Mommy stop running so I can tackle you!), but we had a blast.

Of course the trampoline was next. We jumped on it for almost two hours. She had me doing toe touches and "cheerleader stuff". I learned just how honest a child can be.

Audrey: Mommy can you do a flip?
Me: I used to be able to.
Audrey: But now you can't. You're too big and old!

We had a great day just playing. It wasn't like any other day of playing though. I took tons of pictures and I cherished every single moment; every smile, every laugh, every word she said. We truly are not guaranteed tomorrow and I have learned that in a huge way these past 3 months.

Happy three month birthday Barrett! Audrey and I talked about you a lot today and I so badly wished you were here today. Love you little man & Landon--



Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving

This was supposed to be a happy week, but I was reminded again that very quickly worlds can be changed in a matter of seconds. I have so much to be thankful for and at the same time, I am incredibly ready for this year to be over. It has definitely been the hardest year ever; mostly the last few months.

This Thanksgiving day, I'd like to ask all of you to pray for a very special family and their little boy Landon. Landon was in an accident Tuesday. You can visit the Pray for Landon Brice Rolison Facebook page by CLICKING HERE.

I love this little boy and the constant smile on his face. It's impossible to hold a smile back when he walks in the room. I love hearing what he has to say when he comes to the store where I work in the afternoons. He is a precious, precious little boy.

This year, Landon has reminded me what Thanksgiving is all about. It's not about the food, or the shopping, or getting ready to put up Christmas decorations. It's about looking around at all the blessings you have and giving praise to God for them. It's an attitude we should have every day. It is AMAZING to me how much I take for granted every single day. I have a whole new perspective on the holidays. I had planned on eating lunch and then going Black Friday shopping, but now none of that seems to matter. It's just not important. I'm looking forward to some stripped down holidays the rest of this year. No presents or worrying what we will eat....just spending time with the people I love and praising God for the opportunity to do so; spending time praising God for the gift of salvation and the blessings He places in our lives every day.

Since Tuesday I have been in constant prayer. Not a second has gone by that Landon's beautiful smile hasn't crossed my mind.

Landon, so many people have pulled together in prayer for you! I love you SO much and I desperately want to see your smile again. Still praying--


Monday, November 19, 2012

Lay 'em Down

I'm still on a NeedtoBreathe kick. LOVE their music. One of my favorites is Lay 'em Down.

Come down to the river
Come and let yourself in
Make good on a promise
To never hurt again
If you're lost and lonely
You're Broken down
Bring all of your troubles
Come lay 'em down

All you sinners

And the weak at heart
All you helpless
On the boulevards
Wherever you are now
Whatever evil you've found
Bring all of your troubles
And come lay 'em down

We're all tied to the same old failing

Finding shelter in things we know
We're all dirty like corrupted small towns
We'll bring our troubles
We'll bring our troubles
Lay 'em down

All you rich men

And the high above
All of those with and without love
All you burdened broken down
Bring all of your troubles
Come lay 'em down


My independence is a huge weakness of mine. I don't like to feel like I am burdening anyone by asking them to do something or asking for help. I've noticed that sometimes I carry that over into my relationship with God. Sometimes I'm dealing with so much and instead of stopping and giving it to God, I try to handle it on my own. Eventually, I wear out and I need that reminder that I don't have to carry the weight of the world. I have been trying so hard lately to take time every day to write down what I am "carrying" that day and just drop the load.

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Yesterday God gave me that reminder. It was amazing the difference in how I felt after taking the time to sit down and just talk to God about everything that has been going on in my life lately; the little things, the big things, just everything. It is so comforting to me to know that I can take all of my troubles and lay them down at the feet of Jesus. 

This grieving is still so new to me. Almost three months after losing Barrett, most days are good, but I have days where something seemingly insignificant can trigger the waterworks. In seconds I can go from smiling to uncontrollable sobs. But I am learning that that's normal. However you grieve, that's normal. No two people grieve the same way. I grieve by making sure Barrett is not forgotten. I want to ensure his memory and his legacy live on long after I am gone. I carried him his whole life, and I will carry him as long as I live. My biggest fear is that no one will carry him after I'm gone. It is so easy for the world to forget a soul they never saw or held. But I did see him. I held him. I rocked him in my arms. I told his body goodbye, but his memory will live on in me forever. 

The grief, the fears, the hurt, the worries....they can be overwhelming if you're trying to face them alone. So thankful for a Savior who knows them all before I even have the chance to tell Him about them--


 

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Sound of Music

This morning I heard the song "Washed by the Water" by NeedtoBreathe on my way to work and my hands began itching to play my guitar. Years ago this would have been an everyday occurrence, but after Audrey was born my guitar became neglected to say the least. I did play a little after Barrett was born and I was home alone. That first time I picked it up while so fresh in the grieving process, it was the most beautiful sound; not because of my playing, but because I remembered why I love my guitar.

First of all, I have ALWAYS loved music. I love everything about it and I love all kinds of music. Some songs I like for the music itself, and some I like for the lyrics, and some for both. If you can play an instrument or sing, I can listen to you all day.

As a teenager, I would be in my room all afternoon and night playing my guitar and singing along. Then, I took up the keyboard. I would lose myself in the music. It was therapy.

Today I picked my guitar up for the first time since that week Barrett was born. All day I literally kept thinking about getting home and playing. I was so excited to play this song. I sang it all day long.

So, I sat here tonight in complete silence as I picked up my guitar. It was just me, God, my guitar, and eventually the keyboard. That song took on a whole new meaning for me as the sound of it flowed from my guitar. I was more focused on each lyric that came out of my mouth. Even when the rain falls, even when the flood starts rising, even when the storm comes, I am washed by the water.

No matter what we are going through--no matter what trial or storm--we can hold onto that truth.

My keyboard played the beautiful notes of Amazing Grace. What better song to listen to at the end of any day?

I can pick up my guitar, or play a few notes on the keyboard, or belt out some meaningful lyrics and give it all to God; all my worries, my stresses, my praises and my thanks.

This post really has no point other than I was just really excited to have a little P&W tonight; taking the silence and turning it into beautiful music.

Going to post some of my favorites at the bottom for you to enjoy :)

















Tuesday, November 13, 2012

If I Had the Chance

Today I thought about what I would do if I were given one more chance to see my Barrett; one more opportunity to just be with him. What would I say? What would I do? Obviously I would run to that opportunity like someone running for their life--because that is exactly what I would be doing. I would be running for the opportunity for my life to be whole again for a moment. I would scoop him up and cover him in more love than I knew I had. I would take in every inch of him all over again and be stunned by the beauty of the little boy that God gave to me for such a short time. I would tell him how much I miss him and I would ask him what all he has seen. I'd ask him if he knew how much he was loved here on earth and how proud I was to be the one God chose to carry him for his entire life. And then--I don't know. I'd be speechless.

What words do you use to tell a child you changed my whole life? You made me a better mom, a better person. Your absence gave me a drive to make a difference in the world that even I can't explain.  There are no words.

If you only know me through this blog, let me tell you a little background on myself. I've always been that person who wanted to change the world. I am a born dreamer. On more than one occasion people have pointed that out. Some see it as a bad thing, and some as a good thing. Even some of the people closest to me have called it every word but delusional. And that's okay. I take it as a compliment; because for them to notice, it must be working. Last year someone told me "We both have that same attitude. We still think we can change the world". My response? I hope it stays that way. I pray we never lose that. I love this quote:



  Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them. Disagree with them. Glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world Are the ones who do.  
Apple



I must admit though, that before Barrett, I had become complacent. I was complacent in everything. I was right where those negative ones were pushing me. But through Barrett, God showed me that and I will never be the same again. Losing Barrett changed me in the best way possible. My whole outlook on life has changed. God has given me one shot at life in this crazy world. Barrett got one shot too. Barrett's purpose was completed in 18 weeks. He made a huge impact on this world that isn't even close to being over. If Barrett, my tiny little boy, could do that in 18 weeks, surely I can make the best of the years God is giving me. 

The questions will always be here. Why do babies die? Why do bad things happen to good people? But maybe it's the "whys" that make life beautiful. Not that death or any of those things are beautiful. But the fact that we don't have all the answers. We don't always know why. If we knew everything, would we ever find ourselves in that place where we are 100% leaning on Him? That most vulnerable point in my life was in an ultrasound room surrounded by questions I will never know all the answers to. I feel like they are unanswered for many reasons. One of those reasons is that if I knew why my baby died, my personality would probably become so fixated on that one thing that I would again become complacent. Another reason being that when those questions take over my mind, all I can do is lean on Him.God used Barrett to show me what it's like to be vulnerable and that it's okay to be that way. That it can be a good thing even though it scares me more than anything.

So, I don't know exactly what I would tell Barrett. I would hope that the joy he has given me would overflow enough that he would just know. The difference Barrett has made in my life has inspired me to Pay it Forward. I'll be paying it forward the rest of my life in his name; not just through Barrett's Blankets, but wherever the Lord leads me. Someone shared the following today and everything about it screamed Barrett's name to me:

A Special Day in Heaven~ Author Unknown~
Once upon a special day in heaven up above, the tiniest souls sat at God's feet, surrounded by His love.
The time was coming very soon, God said, "Don't be scared.Your family awaits your arrival,now let us get prepared." And so God looked upon these souls,in mute consideration. He knew the life each one would live, He weighed each situation.
The souls chatted amongst themselves and wondered who they'd be. They knew the day grew closer; soon they would meet their family.
How would you like to change the world? God asked each soul in fun. The chance to change a soul, a heart, is held by only one.
I'm going to make the world laugh, one soul said with a smile, for laughter heals a broken heart and helps us through each trial.Then take with you the brightest smile, and share your laughter well. The soul thanked God immensely and down to earth he fell.
And I'll remind the world to sing, a sweet little soul told the Lord. I have the gift of a beautiful voice, I can hit every note and every chord. You'll have the gift of music then, a voice, lovely and strong. Share your gift with others and let them hear your song.
I will show compassion, the next little soul raised her hand. Some people only need a friend, someone to understand. Compassion is a good thing. God said with much delight. For you, I will give mercy, you'll perceive wrong from right.
And so each soul shared every thought, their plans, their hopes and dreams. And God explained that life, it is, much harder than it seems.
And as each soul began to leave in a scurry of laughter and fun, heaven became quiet and still, for left was only one. Come sit with me my little child, God said with a sigh. Do you know how many you will touch, in a world left wondering why?
Before your life comes to an end, you will know much strife, but you will teach those who know you, to cherish the smallest things in life. And some may only know you through a simple photograph. They'll never hold you in their arms, or memorize your laugh. Some may only know you through the words they read each day, but you'll do something wonderful, you will make them stop and pray.
The tiniest soul raised his head up, to touch God's firm, strong hand. Father, I am ready, for the life you have planned. And I will do the best I can without a word or deed, for you, Lord, are the planter, and I will be your seed.
He could already hear many praying,and although they had not seen his face, they were praying for his safe arrival, they were asking for mercy and grace.
What talent do I leave with Lord? What gift do you impart? All that you will need, God said, I've placed within your heart. And so God kissed this tiny child, knowing all that he would be, and whispered as he watched him go...... you'll teach them.... to love Me.
 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Giving Back

On Thursday I posted about visiting Le Bonheur Children's Hospital and what an amazing place it was. I also posted about the Forrest Spence Fund and the amazing work they do within the hospital. I mentioned that not only do these two groups go above and beyond for the children, but also for their families. Often times, this includes siblings.

One of the great things about Le Bonheur's is the family rooms they have on each floor for the children and their siblings where they can play with toys and gaming systems. There is a room called the "Forrest Sibling Room" where siblings can play under supervision giving parents time to spend with their sick child without the worry of childcare.

The Forrest Spence Fund distributes care packages to these families. These include children's books for the children and their siblings to enjoy.

Myself and a friend will be collecting children's books for the Forrest Spence Fund and toys for family rooms on the 9th floor of Le Bonheur's. These books and toys MUST be new. I cannot stress that enough. It is very important that the items donated to these children be new.

While many of us are home celebrating the holidays with our families, so many are celebrating holidays in the hospital with a child who is sick. I am so excited about the opportunity to give back to this amazing hospital and put a smile on the faces of some beautiful children!

If you are local and want to donate, contact me on Facebook or email me at staci.vice@yahoo.com


If you want to send a donation and are not local, NEW children's books can be sent to:

Independent Presbyterian Church,
 c/o Forrest Spence Fund Book Drive, 
4738 Walnut Grove Road - 
Memphis, TN 38117. 
Please just make sure they are marked clearly for the Forrest Spence Fund and your information is included on the inside.

The Weight of it All

I have a lot of good days since losing Barrett, but every once in awhile "one of those days" just creep up on me and I lose it. Yesterday was one of those days. I cried a lot. I don't know why. It wasn't an anniversary or anything like that. His absence just hit me yesterday; like someone smacked me in the face and said Your baby is GONE.  It's November. I should be joyously posting a 2 month until my boy is here countdown on Facebook, but I'm not. Instead I'm still here counting how many days since I lost him. 81 days. Still counting.

I compare his absence to a weight because it just pushes me down, until once in awhile I break. I carry the weight for as long as I can, but sometimes you just need a day where you can hide away and not have to be strong. This is a lesson I'm learning. I don't always have to be strong. I am thankful for beautiful people in my life who remind me that it's ok to break sometimes and thankful for their listening ears when I do. I love the people who will listen to me talk about him for hours on those days when I need to let it out.



On the days when I do break, that's all I want to do. I want to cry and I want to talk about him. That seems to be the only way to lessen the overwhelming pain on those days. It's like every time I speak his name and every time I admit all of the things about him I am grieving, the weight lessens just a little, until finally I can pick myself up and put the pieces back together. I am ready to be strong again. I pick up the weight of his absence once again and place it back in my heart where I will carry it once again for as long as I can until I find myself broken again. It's a cycle that I will be on for the rest of my life, but I am finding that these days get farther apart as time goes on. My pain from losing him is not any less, but I am stronger. I am able to carry it more and longer. I am learning ways to cope with it.

God sends angels on earth into our lives and for that I am thankful. I am thankful for those that I can call in complete tears and by the end of the conversation the tears have dried and been replaced by smiles and laughter.

Barrett man,


Momma misses you oh so much. I love to pull out your pictures and look at your beautiful eyes. It has always been so remarkable to me that your eyes were open. I don't know why that has stood out to me, but I am so thankful God gave me the opportunity to look into your beautiful eyes before you were laid to rest. It often makes me wonder what you were looking at before you left us to go to heaven. Were you watching your precious little hands? Or were you watching the shadows and changes of light that were happening outside in our world? I'll never fully understand why you were taken from us, or why we were allowed to have you long enough to fall in love, only for you to leave us. I'm so thankful for the time I had with you. I remember thinking how remarkable it was that I began to feel your movements so early in my pregnancy. Looking back now, I think that was God's gift to me; that He allowed me to have that with you before you left. I will always treasure those early mornings before anyone else was awake where I would lie as still as I could and wait to feel one of your little flutters. I am so thankful for the 18 weeks I had you with me. I know that's longer than many moms have. But I can't help longing for the rest of your life I thought we would have together. YOU should have been burying ME. This just seems so wrong. Some days I feel guilty for not going to visit your grave more than I do, but please understand that it's still really hard for momma to swallow that fact. It's hard for me to go visit my baby's grave and see how tiny it is. When I have been in the past, it just seems so backwards and I often catch myself imagining an older version of you visiting me there; the way it should be. I grieve not only for you, but for the plans we had for you and all of the things that will never be. I grieve for your laughter I will never hear, that precious first word, those first steps, the first time you would tell me "I love you", the balls we will never throw, the dirt and mud I will never wash off my little country boy, little league games we will never watch as crazy parents get way too out of control while I just laugh, the football games where I won't hear your name over the speaker, the wedding where I will never watch your face when you see your bride, the grandchildren I will never hold, and the list goes on and on and on. People tell me all the time that I am still young. I will have another child and maybe another boy to do these things with. And while I would love that, it won't be you. It won't be the first little boy I carried in my womb and gave birth to. It will never be the first baby boy that took a chunk of my heart with him to heaven. I can never be whole again. I'm just learning how to live with that massive hole in my heart. I'm learning how to continue life on earth while a huge part of me is in heaven. I love you so much. That saying "If love could have saved you, you never would have died", that is so true. I never knew I could love anyone as much as I love you and and your sister. So many times I wish I could trade places with you, but I know that's not how God planned it. I know that for some reason God needed you there and needed me to carry on here. I know that you are happier than I could even hope to imagine. So until we meet again little man, know you are so loved here. I look forward to the day when I will see you again and I will anxiously run to you like I have never ran before.

Love, Momma

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I Grieve with Hope

To say 2012 has been a rough year for my family would be an understatement. From the loss of my son in August to the loss of my grandfather 4 days ago, I can say the last 2 1/2 months have been trying. After losing my grandfather on Wednesday night, I mockingly said to someone What else can 2012 possibly throw my way?. She told me I shouldn't have asked and of course she was right as Friday night I found myself in the emergency room in excruciating pain with a cyst on my kidney. Haha 2012. Well played. That was a rhetorical question.

As I began to mix grieving for my grandfather with the grieving process I was already well into with Barrett, I began to think of a favorite verse of mine.

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men who have no hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:13

I don't know how ANYONE can go through a loss without Jesus. If I did not have the hope of seeing my son again, I would not be the person I am today. I would be curled up in a ball under the covers refusing to come out for anyone. The one thing that has allowed me to pick my head up and get out of bed everyday with a smile on my face is the fact that I know I will see my son again and I know that right now the arms that held me up on August 22, 2012 are holding him now. I can't even comprehend what it would be like to grieve without that hope.

I have had the wonderful pleasure of meeting so many amazing women who have suffered a similar loss. I love talking to you all and I pray for each of you everyday. If you are grieving without hope, I'd love to talk to you about that also, because there is hope. I can testify that without my Jesus I never would have made it out of that ultrasound room on August 22. When people ask me how I did that alone, I tell them I wasn't alone. I may have appeared to be by myself at that appointment that day, but I promise you my Jesus was there carrying me every step of the way. That's the only reason I was even able to walk out of that room, much less make it through the coming days.

One of my weakest points in my faith has always been my desire to be independent and do things all on my own. The problem with that is that God wants me to be dependent on Him. That day, I learned that I can't do things on my own. I learned just how much I need Him to love me and to lead me. That day I was 100% dependent on Him because on my own I literally could do nothing. In that moment, my God was all I had. My husband was at work and my baby inside of me was already with my Savior. For just a second I felt all alone. But when I cried out to God before making that call to my husband, I literally just felt like someone was holding me; like someone wrapped their arms around me and carried me out of that room. That feeling never left me.

So in saying that, I praise God that though I will grieve for Barrett the rest of my life, I do so with the hope of seeing him again. I praise God that I am able to smile when I think of him, because I picture him in heaven learning all about my Savior, and I can't wait for him to tell me all about it on that Glorious Day, when I can finally run to him and hug him all I want.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Visiting Le Bonheur's

Blankets that went to Memphis
On Thursday, November 8, I made the trip to Memphis, along with a very special lady, to visit Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. This was not my first visit to a children's hospital, and all of them do incredible things. However, I was blown away by Le Bonheur's. I wish that I could accurately describe to you just how amazing it is, but I can't. You would have to make that visit yourself. I wish that I could find the words to describe the feeling you have when you are there, but again, I can't. You would have to feel it yourself.

On this visit, I was also able to visit the FedEx Family House. The FedEx Family House provides a place for the families of these children to stay. You're probably picturing a hotel like place, right? Well, get that image out of your head. Instead, imagine all of the comforts of your own home, multiply, and then you will get a more accurate picture.

Not only does Le Bonheur's go the extra mile for the children in their care, but also for their families. They truly have something special going on at this hospital.

Visit their Facebook page by CLICKING HERE.

The Forrest Spence Fund is the organization that will be distributing Barrett's Blankets at Le Bonheur's. Learn more about them by CLICKING HERE and visit their Facebook page by CLICKING HERE.


The Forrest Spence Fund strives to meet the non medical needs of these children and their families. They too are doing amazing things.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Little Bit of Everything

Baby Barrett Doll
This post is exactly what it says it is--a little bit of everything. I was on the road a good bit today and had time to think a lot, so I'm getting it out now. I read this quote this morning and it hit me because it has so much truth to it:

“The amount of time on earth matters very little: a man can live in greed and pride 90 years and never find God, know Him or accomplish His Plan. A stillborn baby on the other hand, teaches people to love, brings people to the Lord, teaches us the tenuous nature of life and teaches us a faith that those who have not suffered loss can never know. A child not even breathing for an hour, can have an impact greater than a famous preacher. The purpose of a life is not ours to decide nor in our hands: it is brought about by God.” -Author Unknown

I read this and I immediately thought of my Barrett. He never took a breath on earth, but the impact he has had has been greater than anything I could ever dream of doing. I am merely a part of his journey and what God is doing through him. How many times do we take our life for granted--each day for granted? I am so guilty of this. We're not guaranteed tomorrow or even the rest of the day. Are you making the most of every day? 

I took it for granted that in January I would be holding my living, breathing son--but in an instant he was gone. He is a constant reminder to me to stop and notice the little things and to be thankful for them. Everyday. Not just once a year. Everyone is posting each day of November what they are thankful for and that is great. But here is my challenge to you: Keep it going. Why stop with November? I challenge you to do it 365 days. 





So, onto my next thought today while driving. I heard the song You Are  by Colton Dixon and honestly I wasn't paying much attention until the end of it when some lyrics caught my attention:

If I had no voice,
If I had no tongue,
I would dance for you like the rising sun.
And when that day comes and I see your face.
I will shout your endless glorious praise.


Once again, I immediately thought of Barrett and so many other angels I have come to know through their moms and dads. I thought of what they are doing now--worshiping our Lord and Savior. I was also convicted. Do I have the attitude present in these lyrics? I have no reason to not be constantly worshiping like my Barrett is. Instead, I have every reason to make everything I do an opportunity for worship. 




The last thing in this post is a surprise we got for Audrey. She misses a brother a lot and talks about him to us often. Another angel mom gave me the idea for a Cabbage Patch doll. I ordered a little blonde haired baby boy and had them name him Barrett with her brother's birthday. I am hoping it will help her to have something to hold on to. When I handed him to her and told her his name she said "His name is Barrett just like my brother! Daddy his name is Barrett like our baby in heaven!". I love my kids. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Audrey--My Little Ray of Sunshine

I decided today I would do a post solely dedicated to Audrey and some of the funny things she says--like this morning when she asked me if my car was made of trees like toilet paper. I have no idea where she comes up with some of the things she says. I am sure anyone with a small child knows that the show Kids Say the Darndest Things is quite true. So sit back, read, and hopefully have a good laugh.

Life According to Audrey:



1). If you see someone you know on television, that is NOT a good thing. They ARE trapped in the TV and you SHOULD panic.

2). Vacuum cleaners are evil. Your only hope is to run screaming and hope that when mommy turns it off to change rooms, your careful words of "all done mommy, all done" will convince her.

3). If you want to sleep with mommy and daddy, just wait and run to their bed at 2 a.m....they will be too tired to take you back.

4). Saying "ta-da!" can make anything better (esp if mom and dad are mad, it makes them laugh)

5). Not every car has a television? (whats up with that?)

6). If mommy wants you to take a nap, just close your eyes when she is near.

7). If you're not ready to go to bed, just crawl and in mommy's lap and say "I wanna lay with you mommy" (gets them every time)

8).  Mommy and Daddy's food always tastes better. Don't let them fool you.

9). You think that's a bell pepper on your pizza? Get real. That's a snake. Run and Scream.

10). If your shoe comes off your foot, it is definitely broken

11). Dog food in milk, cocoa puffs, whats the difference?

12). I still don't understand why mommy calls me names like "pie", "sweetie", and "stinker". I am clearly an Audrey, not a pie.

13). Beta fish love coke and milk. I don't understand why mommy and daddy got so upset about that.

14). When people ask me questions on the phone, I nod my head. They can clearly see me.

15). Squash makes me sick. It is yuck and not good.

16). When a dentist sticks his hand in your mouth, the proper response is "Hey! What's the big idea?"

17). My silly daddy told me I had to sleep with the dogs. Doesn't he know I'm not a dog anymore? I was a dog on Tuesday.

18). Mommy laughs at me, but that TV remote can carry on a good conversation.       

Audrey quotes:

1). "Where my ball is?"

2). I can't wake Daddy up because he is sleeping.

3). Squash makes me sick. It is yuck and not good.

4). When I am stronger I want a white horse. When I am stronger I will build a barn to put my white horse in.

5). I am three years old. I am ALMOST bigger enough for a white horse.

6). Little Red Riding Hood was swiped by Swiper. (Personally, Mommy thought this was a pretty clever connection)

7). Jesus is in my church. He's in my heart too, not just in my church.

Audrey Conversations:

Audrey: Mommy can I have some cake?
Me: If Daddy says it's ok.
Audrey: Daddy can I have cake?
Daddy: Maybe
Audrey: Did you say maybe?
Daddy: Yes
Audrey: Mommy, Daddy said yes!

Audrey: Daddy is Barrett in heaven?
Daddy: Yes he is and one day we will go see them
Audrey: No daddy, we're going to Atlanta!     

There are so many more, but I'll do another Audrey post one day with some more of her wisdom.  
       

Thursday, November 1, 2012

In the Blink of an Eye

How many times have you heard someone say Your life can change in the blink of an eye? Have you ever really thought about that? Do you believe it? Has it happened to you?

I can't even count how many times I heard that. I always knew it was true because you hear about tragedies and you know those affected will never be the same. I've had my life changed in the blink of an eye. And in the time it took someone to say no cardiac activity my whole world changed-- my plans, my hopes, everything. It's hard to take in in that moment--that moment where you think This must be a dream, this can't be true, this can't be happening to me. Have you been there? Do you know what I mean? Honestly I hope you haven't but sadly so many have for different reasons.

I had so many plans about what life would be like once Barrett arrived--what I would do, what trips would be like, outfits I would buy him, etc, etc. One thing that was most definitely not in my plans? Starting a non-profit. But oh the joy that Barrett's Blankets has brought to me! Thank you God and little man for that--without you that never would have been in "my" plans.

So many things are different now. Little things I didn't notice before can seem so important now.

Audrey & I at the game
Last weekend my family went to the Alabama vs. Mississippi State game--we're huge Bama fans except my husband. He's an Auburn fan--house divided. He didn't go with us, but we had a whole crew up there. It was so much fun, but I had one moment when I was alone and had time to think where I missed him an extra lot. We knew we were going to this game for months. Right before Barrett died, I bought an Alabama maternity shirt with hand prints on the belly that says "Quarterback in Training". I loved it and couldn't wait to wear it. So in that moment as I stood there alone and I looked down the street, I just "people watched" as I thought of my Barrett. I like to think that these little moments of warmth I had standing there as the cold wind beat down on me was my Barrett letting me know that he was there, though not in the way I had hoped.

Like so many times before I looked down at my flat belly and I thought of the shirt I should be wearing on what would now be a very pronounced belly. I thought about how Barrett should be kicking away at that spot on the shirt where the hand prints would be. Instead, that shirt is still in the packaging because it came in the mail after he died. I knew what it was and I couldn't open it.

Yesterday was the first holiday since losing Barrett. He wouldn't have been born yet, so I wasn't thinking of what costume he would be wearing or anything like that. But it still didn't feel right. He should have been doing somersaults in my belly while Audrey and I went door to door. My feet should have been aching from carrying the extra weight. I should have been fighting my pregnancy sweet tooth as I saw all of that chocolate. I should have been wearing one of those cute maternity costumes I saw on Pinterest and had planned to wear.

I was talking to someone yesterday about grieving a child and I told them that if it's never happened to a person, I can't expect them to understand completely.  The moment a woman finds out she is pregnant, the hopes and dreams for that child begin to form. Many have longed for and consistently prayed for the life inside of them for a very long time. The joy and attachment is instant. So no matter when you lose your child, it is devastating. Not only are you grieving for the child, but the hopes and dreams and plans that are gone forever. They will never again happen for that child. That's a hard truth to accept.

Here's my advice for everyone today who knows an angel mom--listen to them, think before you speak (there are so many amazing articles on what to say and what not to say--Google them!), and if they named their child ALWAYS refer to them by name--that is equal to acknowledging that they existed and they lived and they are important in this world. I know for me, my favorite thing in the world is to hear Barrett's name. I love to hear of how he has touched someone because it reminds me of the purpose God created him for.