Saturday, August 31, 2013

Noah's Pics: Edition Two

i love this picture for so many reasons. one is because noah is being held by his grandma edy, and we all love grandma edy. she was there with us all through labor and noah's birth, supporting and just doing whatever she could to help. she also was there every single day, and sometimes overnight, at the hospital by noah's bedside when he was sick. she knows noah better than anyone besides his mommy and daddy. she's able to remind us of little things he did, like sing in his sleep, when we've forgotten those precious moments. i'm eternally grateful to share noah memories with her. 

another reason i absolutely love this picture is because it's pretty much the only picture we have of noah without him all swaddled up and covered before he got sick. you can see his arm peaking out and a glimpse of the only real outfit he wore. a froggy onesie that grandma edy gave him.

he's also doing his "i love you" in sign language. 

that's our sweet baby boy.

as the gap of time between noah's life on earth and the present grows longer, my memory of him seems to become more hazy. 

his little froggy outfit and blanket don't have his scent anymore.

my arms have forgotten what it feels like to have a 7 pound, 5 ounce baby in them. they only feel heavy and ache for what once was there.

i can no longer hear his distinctive coos in my head. 

i have absolutely no memory of his baby bottom. i know that sounds super weird, and i'm sure it looked just like every other baby's bottom, but i still feel like i'm missing out on something, not knowing.

i also have no memory of changing his diaper. i know i did a couple times on that first glorious day of his life, but i have no recollection. and that breaks my heart. (missing changing my baby's diaper?? sounds crazy, huh? but it's true.)

memories of noah are my only link to him. and when they fade, i feel like he is fading. and that makes me panicked and scared.

time is a constant enemy. the more that it passes, the farther away he feels. and that makes me miss him even more.

yet, i long for time to pass, and pass quickly, so i can leave this palpable, intense pain behind and enter into a new, less heartbreaking season.

no matter how you slice it, with time, i can't win.

but thank God we have this picture, and handfuls of others, so that time, in that one moment, stood still.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In Joy and In Sorrow

three years ago today i walked down the aisle towards the man i had chosen to spend the rest of my life with. in joy and in sorrow. in sickness and health.

and my God did i make the right choice. (more accurately, thank God he chose me!)

i didn't realize it then, but right now, in this brutal season of life, i have come to deeply understand how important it is to marry a person with character. because "as long as we both shall live" lasts a long time and doesn't always involve a fantasy land.

take it from me, if you are thinking of getting married, imagine your fiance under the greatest amount of stress and heartache you can fathom. how do you think they would react? do they lash out with unkindness and disrespect over the tiniest inconvenience now? imagine if the horrific circumstances were soul crushing.

or do they have the capacity to overcome excruciating pain with patience and grace?

nobody really wants to ever think about their darkest times, especially when their life is filled with proposals, kisses and flowers, but it's absolutely necessary. it could save your life.

because when we are the most broken, we are the most vulnerable. and we need to have someone by our side who is tender and gentle at their core. who is willing to make sacrifices, especially emotionally, in order to care for us.

and somehow i got lucky, because the man i married has a strength i didn't know was possible in a human being. he is selfless, loyal and best of all, a loving father. i don't know what happened, or how, but noah changed my husband, for the better. and he was amazing to begin with!

i'm an ugly person most of the time right now. in superficial ways like not wearing makeup and having a jelly-belly tummy. but also in my attitude. i'm less joyful and carefree, and more bitter and jaded. i'm certainly not the woman john married.

at times we are the worst versions of ourselves. and yet, we love.

it's a wonder and a miracle. and what's more, not once these past few months, have john and i taken out our anger on each other. granted, we aren't perfect creatures and sometimes grumpiness gets the best of us, like anyone. but even during the most stressed we've ever been in our entire lives times a million - kindness, patience and grace have been poured over us in bucket loads. and that's in large part to my husband's character.

there was a milli-second moment as we were saying our "in joy and in sorrow" vow three years ago where i sensed our road would not be easy, that maybe tragedy lie ahead. obviously i bounced off of that thought pretty quickly, because that didn't mix well with the celebration of marriage. yet even in that scary moment i had a steady confidence to make this conscience decision and precede on this unknown, perhaps tragic, journey with this man. because i trusted his character. i knew that even if life wasn't always good, my life's partner was. and we would see it through together.

happy anniversary, honey. you're my miracle. i've never loved and cherished you more than i do now. i choose you everyday. and for all of our days.

all photos by Katie Anderson Photography

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What's in a Name

looking back on it, we aren't really sure how we landed on the name noah. there was another name we were going to go with for awhile and then, kind of last minute, we switched to noah. and we are so glad we did.

you never know when you're picking out names for a child whether or not they'll "fit". but noah's name fit him perfectly. just the sound of the name noah is sweet and gentle. and that was him. sweet and gentle.

while noah was in the hospital God used his name, in miraculous and beautiful ways, to repeatedly remind us of His presence with us. and almost all of the time God used His people to do it.

pretty much immediately when noah started getting sick we became overwhelmed with updating friends and family with how he was doing. it's not that we didn't want people to know, we actually were desperate for prayers and support, it was so difficult because we were completely numb. we barely knew what was going on, and to try to explain to someone else what we couldn't explain to ourselves is pretty much impossible.

so my sister laura had the brilliant idea to create a group facebook page so we could ask for prayers and give updates to everyone all at once. what a miracle it was.

and what we didn't realize was that, through that page, thousands of people would become invested in noah's life and story. close friends to acquaintances to strangers would reach out with encouragement and prayers.

one of the first days we had the "Pray for Noah" page someone, who i didn't know, posted this picture of a rainbow.

(now it's currently the cover photo on the "Rainbows for Noah" facebook page.)

and just like the noah in the bible, that rainbow, and tons and tons to follow, became a sign of God's promise to us.

we came to also find out that the meanings of the name noah are peace, rest, comfort and long-living. and all of those are a 100% fit for our noah.

we learned of each meaning at just the perfect time - when we needed to be encouraged by it the most. for example, my sister amy, on the night noah was taken to seattle children's hospital and critically ill, she told us one of the meanings of noah is peace and shared john 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." amazing.

then another night, actually the night of noah's surgery to find out if what he had was fatal, our friends shelby and kevin came to visit us in the hospital and shared that another meaning of noah is long-living. can you even believe it? and then the next day noah went to live with Jesus for eternity.

and all of that love and support was worked by God, through you, because of a name. love it.

and it just keeps coming.

this picture was posted to my facebook page this morning.

photo cred goes to mrs. lisa phelps

i immediately noticed that the building that rainbow is hovering over is the place john and i celebrated our wedding reception... three years ago. august 28, 2010.

(more on that day, and the man i married, tomorrow.)

and i realized today, for the first time, that in these last few months i personally have not seen a live and real rainbow myself. the "rainbows for noah" have always come, for me, through other people.

sometimes we need others to remind us of God's faithfulness and promises, when we don't have the strength to see them ourselves.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Running Ragged

i can't believe it's been 5 days since i last wrote. moreover, i can't believe i've packed those 5 days so tight that i haven't had the time, or energy, to post anything.

i'm running myself ragged.

wherever the line is between "just-getting-my-mind-off-of-the-pain-for-awhile" distractions and "i-don't-want-to-deal-with-reality" distractions, i'm riding that line.

just a few of the plethora of distractions, whether healthy or unhealthy, that i have focused my energy on the last couple of months...
  • running a few times a week with my husband (which i have never before done. i hate running.)
  • reading stacks of books
  • writing for this blog
  • playing with our dog, samson
  • gossiping 
  • watching copious amounts of television
  • and of course if we're talking about distractions, we have to mention work, the most socially acceptable addiction
work has become a place i can be someone else. i turn my mind off of loss and sadness and let it get swept up in deadlines and to-dos. i take on more responsibilities and hours so that i can try to drown out the screaming void of missing noah. but then i'm completely beat at the end of the day and simply too tired to get anything done around the house and too overwhelmed to talk to anyone.

it is very, very easy for me to see why destructive and addictive behaviors can all too effortlessly emerge out of deep pain and loss. as human beings, we search in desperation for any sort of anything to avoid the horrific anger and loss of control in reality. unhealthy coping mechanisms are prime 'go-tos' when there is a gaping hole in your life that needs filling. (and losing a baby you spent years planning for and dreaming about is quite the hole.)

but then i find that all too often i overdo it. i overcompensate. i try too hard to fill the void of noah not being here with as much as i can, until i'm overwhelmed and can't breathe.

i had to cancel a handful of really fun plans with dear friends this week because there weren't enough hours in the day and i just needed rest. (clue #120 that i'm a tried and true introvert.)

for all the ways grief shows up in my world, it glaringly forces me to do life completely differently than i've always done. i can't just work hard, play hard, and rest hard all in three equal measures. because grief, for whatever reason, takes up almost all of my energy, in every area. so something has to give.

i want to answer every text in a timely and thoughtful way.

i want to spend time preparing for our upcoming vacation to the east coast by researching restaurants, buying a cute dress and creating way too detailed, over the top itineraries for each day.

i want to spend quality time with each loving friend who reaches out to us.

so i try and fake it. i assume everything is 'fine' and i can say, "yes" when i really should say, "no."

but i can't do life the way i always have, trying to please everyone. i don't have the capacity.

i can't bury myself in denial, pretending everything is okay and life is just going on as 'normal.'

i need to take care of myself and allow myself a lot more grace.

grief is no joke. it has the sneaking ability to suck the life right out of you.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Happy" Birthday

so, today is my birthday. i've always loved birthdays and every year i pretty much am counting down the days until august 20th. i was one of those annoying people who not only considers the actual birth date my 'special day' but the entire week. celebrations in my honor could last the entire month of august for all i cared.

this year, however, is very different. i barely even remembered it was my birthday. i don't have a party planned or that butterfly feeling of excitement in my stomach. i had to do the math just now to even figure out how old i'm going to be. there's absolutely no anticipation and i definitely don't feel like celebrating. it's just another day without noah that i have to endure.

a lot has happened this year. a lifetime, in fact. last year for my birthday i made a simple wish for my 31st year - to become a mother.

this time last year my husband and i desperately wanted to be pregnant, and had been trying for almost a year. then finally i miraculously got pregnant, had an amazing nine months with a life in my tummy, our son noah was born, 13 days later he died, and two months after that i'm back where i began.

all this happened between two birthdays. what a year.

so my birthday wish for this year, my 32nd year of life is this -

i hope this is the worst birthday i'll ever have.

(that was actually what my brother and sister wished for me in my birthday card this year and i very much appreciate the sentiment. because it's absolutely spot on true to what i'm feeling.)

sometimes i'm terrified that these last few months might not be the worst time in my life. what if something even more tragic or awful happens in my lifetime? is that even possible? what if i lose another child? what if i lose my husband?

please, please. be cool, God.

i pray, with every bit of hope and faith i have, that the worst is behind me.

and may this be the worst birthday ever because, from here on out, life will just get better and better.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Mother's Love

my dear friend and i spent some precious time at noah's place yesterday afternoon. we wept. we laughed. we wondered about heaven. we talked about why boys are scared to ask girls out. we read hebrews 11. (well, she did. i listened.) we talked about compassion and co-suffering.

and i did some sweeping.

sometimes when there's nothing else a mother can do for her son, to care for him and nurture him, she finds an act of love as simple as sweeping up the pine needles around his memorial.

so that's what i did.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Noah's Place

this weekend was one i had been dreading for a long time.

about a month ago we had to make the agonizing decision about where to keep noah's ashes. it's obviously something no parent wants to think about and for us was just incredibly overwhelming. at first we felt like the only place that seemed 'right' was having his ashes at home. this was probably just because we didn't know what else to do and had no desire to put them in some sort of unknown, far off, insignificant place.

then our loving church graciously offered a spot in their memorial garden, as a gift in noah's honor. and after some thought we realized this was the place we wanted noah's earthly remains to be kept.

one of the main reasons we chose the memorial garden is because it's a place where others can visit and remember noah, and including others in his life and memory is incredibly important to us.

on friday we had a very small service dedicating noah's earthly remains to his final resting place. for weeks i was dreading it. i was worried. i was scared. i avoided thinking about it. we were burying our son and that made me so mad i can't even put it into words.

but looking back on that day, i'm thankful. our very dear pastor who married my husband and i three years ago, led us in a sweet and sacred time where scriptures were declared, honest prayers spoken and our closest family read the most tender and loving letters they had written to our boy. it was personal, special and heartbreaking and heart-filling all at the same time.

what i once dreaded turned into a time i will never forget. i'm more in love with my family then ever. and that word 'my' includes my husband's side of the family, as well. a group of people i've always loved but i realized this weekend that over time the title 'in-laws' have dropped and they have become my family too. and i love them in a deeper, more personal way. another gift of noah's life. thanks, buddy.

somewhere between yesterday and a million years ago was the day noah went to be with Jesus forever. (on a standard calendar it's two months ago today.) and with my husband's arm firmly around me the entire time, and sweat running down my shaking legs, we said good-bye. and it was the most difficult thing i have ever had to do. i didn't want to leave. i clung to the lettering on the marble. i wept as i pathetically tried to 'care for noah' by cleaning his little spot, wiping dust away from the stone and making sure it was the perfect resting place for him, my sweet son.

behind this stone is what remains on earth of our much beloved and cherished little boy, and his love notes from grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, and mommy and daddy.

but noah's tomb is empty.

because, we believe, noah is not there. his earthly remains are, but he is not. and though that little brown wooden box is filled with what remains of noah's precious and perfect body, what really makes noah the baby and son we love so much, his spirit and soul, are somewhere else much better.

noah's place in the memorial garden, with the waterfall, scriptures engraved on stone, and gorgeous green plants, is a clear reminder to us of noah's eternal life. and, God knows, we need that reminder.

the angel said to the women, "do not be afraid; for i know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. come, see the place where He was lying. go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into galilee, there you will see Him; behold, i have told you." (matthew 28:5-7)

*photo cred goes to auntie amy*

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New Normal Retreat

the void of noah not being here is the strongest, for me, at home. we spent so much time preparing and imagining him in this place that it's so difficult knowing he'll never be here. and walking past the closed door to his room ... i can't even talk about it let alone go in there.

then the other place his void is felt the strongest, for me, is at work. i returned a couple weeks after noah passed away and it was so, so troubling for me to go back because i was not supposed to be there. it was an eerie feeling. i was planning on spending the three months of summer getting to know this new, little baby boy - taking walks, going to the park, running errands with him on my hip. instead, i'm sitting at a desk trying to find things to do, at a place that had everything all planned to go on without me. everything feels empty.

and those are the two places i spend the most time. the two places i miss noah the most.

so when a friend of ours was gracious enough to offer up her cabin home on lake wenatchee to us, we jumped on the chance. obviously we take noah with us wherever we go, and we wouldn't be able to 'escape' our pain, but it was a chance to enter a part of the world that we had never been, a place yet untouched by noah.

it was a place to begin experiencing a 'new normal.' and those few nights were met with some of the most real and deep mourning, but also with beauty and heaven.

so, so quiet. peaceful. my thoughts slowed down. i was able to breathe.

we read in the sun. we floated in the lake for hours on inner tubes just talking and dreaming. we took morning runs. we sat in silence. we wept. we ate an entire container of artichoke-jalapeno dip.

we watched dvds that made us laugh.

we took a day trip to leavenworth, one of our favorite towns, and ate one of our favorite meals.

but we spent most of the time working on noah's scrapbook.

before noah was born i prepared a scrapbook to document his entire first year and beyond. it was all ready. all we had to do was fill it in with milestones and pictures. after noah died i assumed the entire book was just going to remain empty. a sharp reminder of what could have been, but wasn't. then my husband had the most brilliant and thoughtful idea. we should finish his scrapbook. leave the pages that still apply, like sharing the birth story, first photos, baptism, etc. and fill the rest of the pages with all the cards we received from loved ones at noah's memorial.

this book is a treasure. a memorial of love for our boy. and something our future children can look through to learn about their big brother.

on our last night, while we were walking through the streets of leavenworth, this caught our eye in a store window...

i'm so thankful that our 'new normal' includes rainbows. the promise of wonders to come. thank you, jesus.

our 'new normal' will always, always include noah. our retreat was not a retreat from him, but a beginning of a new life with him, just in a different way then we imagined.

and because of that, heaven feels a bit closer now.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


warning: in this post i'm just going to be brutally honest. my feelings might not get packaged up nice and candy coated.

it's candy crush time. (i don't really know what that means, or what i'm trying to say. i just wanted to use the words 'candy crush.')

here we go. deep breath.

as much as my husband and i have been shocked by the outpouring of support and love from family, friends, acquaintances and strangers the past couple of months, we have been equally shocked by the ones we expected to be there for us and aren't.

quick. think of the 10 people in your life that, you believe, would drop everything and be there for you at the darkest, most hellish time in your life. now imagine that half of those people are hardly to be found when tragedy strikes. and then half of those half are Jesus-followers. shocked? yeah, us too.

but that's basically what's happening to us.

i have no idea how the mccayla of 2012 would have responded to a family member, friend or acquaintance who's newborn baby died. so i have absolutely no basis to judge. none. and i have no judgment for those i expected more from, just disappointment and hurt.

in the last two months my understanding of compassion has been completely expanded. and i've learned and experienced this through those who are grieving with us. not just sad for us from a distance but are there with us in it. the messy, hard, ugly journey of grief where there's weeping, random laughing, question asking and pain. it's not pretty. (and physical distance has nothing to do with it. some people who are across the globe feel closer to us than those who live 5 minutes from our house.)

i have been in awe of those who love us enough to sacrifice their time and energy to do the dark journey with us, even when they might not feel like it or think it sounds very 'fun'. and even when they don't know exactly what to do because they've never experienced what we're going through.

it only takes a moment to try and put yourself in the shoes of someone who is hurting. what would it feel like, and be like, to experience what that person is experiencing? imagine it. go there in your mind. i know it's hard and difficult to imagine sometimes, especially when it's extremely painful to think about something like your baby boy dying or your sister committing suicide, but imagine what it's like for them. they have to live it. and you get to snap back to reality. and if what you imagined felt difficult, times that by a million and you're probably not even close to how they feel.

compassion. i just looked up what it actually means. it means to "co-suffer."
yes. exactly. that's exactly what i'm talking about. (and us who follow Jesus should know that better than anyone!! shame on us for dropping the ball so often.)

so let me give some practical examples of what co-suffering might look like with a friend who is going through hell and hurting...
*when you say, "let's hang out" you actually pick a day and make it happen.
*you drive to the person's house, send a text to them saying, "we're in the driveway. if you want to talk, we will be here for 15 minutes praying."
*you don't ask if that person needs help with something. (because they obviously do.) you look for the need and you just make it happen. be proactive!
*you fill up their freezer with meals.
*you listen.
*your guilt doesn't hold you back from loving. neither does pride. all bets are off. grudges are forgotten and walls come down.
*in a crisis, you change your plans. drop everything. take time off work. cut your vacation short.
*as time goes by, you check in often. you're consistent.
*a seemingly small gesture like a loving email or a flower left on their porch with a note or a thoughtful card in the mail will do the trick. (but if you consider that person a close friend, step it up a bit.)
*for heaven's sake, just show up. say something. do something.

i know all this might seem kind of harsh and i sound like the most selfish, attention-seeking, greedy person in the world. i, in no way, want to make anyone feel guilty. i understand everyone has their own busy lives with their own hurts, celebrations, good times and bad, so the expectation is not to drown in our sorrow 24/7. this post is just humbly coming from a heart that's in earth-shattering pain and desperately wanting to underscore the importance of compassion and community.

and i'm sorry to say, the suffering didn't end a week after the funeral. it gets worse. most of the time we may look like semi-functioning human beings, getting on with normal life - but we aren't. we're messed up, broken people. and we need you.

thanks for listening.

this post is dedicated to all those who have all shocked us with support. you've inspired us to be more compassionate and love more sacrificially like you. we pray that we too will have the strength to co-suffer with you through your darkest days. thank you for doing the hard journey with us - you're saving our lives. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Girl Scout Grief

lately i've been in a perpetual bad mood.

i don't feel motivated to do anything, yet i'm bored out of my mind.
the smallest inconvenience frustrates the crap out of me.
i don't have the energy to respond kindly, so i'm short with others.
i'm tired, yet restless.
and our obnoxious neighbors annoy me so much that i want to bomb their house.

...obviously i'm just a peach to be around.

and because i'm sooo well-educated on grief from all the pamphlets and booklets we've been given - i can understand this to mean i am in my "anger phase." i am also smart enough to know there aren't really "phases" in grief. it's all a bunch of bull. yes, there are different emotions and experiences you'll have that are "normal" (ie. sadness, anger, denial, shock, etc.), but to call them phases is kind of misleading. because it's not like once you successfully complete one phase, you get to move on to the next, and pretty soon - hey, look at that, i'm all healed.

it's not like a girl scout earning her badges, people. (that was me being a little short with you. i apologize.)

as much as i'd like to smoothly move from one phrase to the next, earning "grief badges" in some sort of organized fashion, i jump from sadness to denial, then pleasantly linger in shock for awhile, then lose my patience with the kind lady giving me a pedicure, then run two miles to burn off some of that nervous energy, and then finish it all off by drowning myself in a bowl of ice cream. it's a huge hot mess.

but in this moment i'm mad. and my lack of patience and sharp words are just a bubbling up of the horrific anger i feel inside.

anger needs an outlet, and will seep through any crevice to get out. anger brings out the worst in me.

i'm not proud of my behavior. and i'm ashamed of the mean ways i treat people. i'm sorry that this is the wife my husband lives with. i'm sorry that my mother bears the brunt of my unkindness. i'm sorry i don't take a moment to smile at the grocery cashier.

i'm taking out my anger and frustration, that has nowhere else to go, on everyone in my wake.

forgive me. it's only because i'm mad that my baby boy isn't here.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Noah's Pics: Edition One

yesterday a friend mentioned to me that she wanted to see more pictures of noah. say what? you want a new mom to show off her adorable baby boy??

to that i say, DONE!!! and thank you so much for asking.

i think maybe sometimes people feel like if they ask about noah, want to hear the birth story or see pictures of him, that it would just be too hard on my husband and i to share. so they don't. but can i be honest? that just adds to the loss of a bereaved parent. not only do we lose our baby, we lose the experience of sharing our baby with others.

and yes, when we tell you the birth story, we might cry. and yes, we might get emotional when we look at a picture of him. but it will always, always bless us. so please, on behalf of all parents who have ever lost a baby, whenever you get a chance, ask us about our beloved baby and let us show them off.  

so. welcome to edition one (of many) of "noah's pics". i pray that through them you'll get to know our little boy even better as we share more about his time here on earth.

let's begin at the beginning - the very first picture ever taken of noah hudson butler.

noah-boy, one hour old.

... taken by his daddy, right after his first bath. he was being quite the wiggily-wally in this picture because i'm sure he would have liked to say, "excuse me. i know i'm cute, but may i please get swaddled up in that warm blanket now?"

this picture was also taken right after an entire hour of cuddling with his mama. the moment he was born he was given straight to me and i proceeded to fall head over heels in love. during that hour on my chest he did a lot of looking around, ate a little breakfast and took a short snooze. all of it was heaven, for me.

but i am not naive and know far too well that i am blessed to have had those moments. i've heard countless stories of families who lose their baby minutes after they are born, or even while they are still in their mother's womb. and if you're reading this, and that's you, my heart breaks with you. you're right, it is absolutely not fair. and i'm pissed about it.

we may all have different experiences and wishes for what could have been, but we're all rooted together in the same love and longing.

even though i long, and literally ache, for a lifetime of more moments with my boy, today, i choose to be thankful for what i got.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My New Name

so two nights ago i had a full-fledged breakdown.

it basically began when we watched a show on tv where the story revolves around a police investigation about dozens of young ladies who have been murdered in the seattle area. real light and lovely, huh? so the perfect thing to watch when i'm already super emotionally fragile. (that's sarcasm.)

although the show is fiction i still got kind of invested, especially in a story line about a guy on death row for murdering his wife. and they aren't really clear whether or not he's actually guilty of the crime. i believed he was innocent.

so the entire episode went through his last hours before he (spoiler alert) was killed.

it was intense, dramatic and way too graphic.

and the second the credits rolled i lost it. i was so pissed. he didn't deserve to die. he was innocent and i was horrified. and i know it wasn't real but it basically could be.

because the innocent die. for no reason.

and it's not fair. so i wept. and wept. and wept.

i hated the world we lived in. where so much injustice just seems to run rampant. where A+B does not = C. where suffering doesn't make sense. where a baby boy could die from a fatal lung disease.

i felt like i was drowning in despair.

and then, like a flash, i remembered a text i had received the night before from one of my besties. it was sent right after church, where we were singing the song below. and her text said, "God gave you a new name tonight. and i think you already know what it is." and i honestly didn't. so i had to ask her.

but wouldn't you know, that the exact moment in my life where i felt THE most hopeless, would be the moment i remembered my new name.


and let me just say right now, my friends, because i'm standing on the edge and know - hopelessness literally kills. it kills your spirit. it kills your reason for living.

but if we can hold on to that 1% of hope left, it's a light that breaks through the darkest of breakdowns. i stand and testify to that Light. because there has to be more to all this disgusting ugliness. one day i believe all will be made right.

my new name is Hope. and i'm desperately holding onto it to save my life.

Monday, August 5, 2013

two months.

my sweet, precious, beloved noah-boy,

you are literally my heart. my greatest joy.

everything that i hold dear and sacred in my life is in you. the wonder of love, of God's creation. and part of your brilliant daddy.

i thank God for that day you were born. june 5, 2013.
for at 11:56pm on that holy night, the world was changed. for good.

my life was changed. for good.

and you came into the world so perfectly!
you barely made me feel sick while i was carrying you.
you were head down, ready to go, for weeks. perfect.
you were the perfect size. 7 pounds, 5 ounces.
you had the perfect cry the instant you took your first breath.
well done, you.

perfectly peaceful, you were.

there was no mistake made.

i once overheard a dear friend, many years ago speaking of me, say, "she could fail at everything, but to succeed at being a mom, for her, life would be a success."


you gave me the greatest gift. the gift i have been waiting for all of my life. the gift of being a mother. your mother.

and i will always be.

i'll never stop caring for you. i will continue to nurture your spirit on earth by taking deep care of your lasting legacy. i will fight for you. i will stand firm for you. your memory will be long-living. even in death, you will remain alive.

you are a miracle. and though your loss here on earth is great and the pain is deeper than it feels possible to bear, you have inspired us, with every day, to be a miracle like you.

i will remember you in every rainbow, every hospital, every baby's cry, every loss, every blessing, and every tear.

i will remember you on every 5th of the month, 18th of the month, 23rd of the month, and every other single day.

i can't ever forget the bursting joy you brought into this world the moment you arrived, because everything i do is now colored by it. for good.

your life, if only 13 days, will impact and bless the rest of mine.

i promise, in honor of you, to love deeper, purer and with more passion and humble vulnerability, all those in my world - especially your amazing daddy and future little brothers and sisters, our rainbow babies.

be at peace.
for noah, you are peace personified.

sweet dreams, little man.

love always,
your adoring mommy

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Mark of Mourning

earlier this week my husband and i were enjoying a ridiculously cheap and delicious lunch at costco when we noticed a couple with a baby sitting a few tables away. my initial thoughts, as i watched them all smiles, were, "you don't know how lucky you are. you probably got to go straight home with your little love after she was born, didn't you? and now you're just living it up in naive bliss. you have no idea the anguish you avoided because she's healthy." to be honest, i have those thoughts more often than not when i see babies. thoughts rooted in bitterness and self-pity.

and assumptions.

a few moments later, i had a thought that i know was from God - because it sure as heck didn't come from my bitter brain. all of a sudden, i saw beyond their outward appearance of "life is perfect for us" and saw sweet sorrow. maybe their life wasn't as easy as it seemed from where i sat. what if they were trying to have a baby for years and then, finally, she arrived? what if he was told he could never have children, but somehow she got pregnant? 

what if they were parents who once lost a beloved and precious child, and this baby was their rainbow? 

oh, wow. 

my cold heart instantly melted and i was genuinely so happy for them. 

i'm coming to realize that my husband and i are not the only ones who are experiencing pain. even though all too often it feels like we got the short end of the stick, and are alone in it, every person who walks on this earth is carrying their own burden. because we're human. pain just comes with the territory. 

sometimes our burden is very public, like the loss of a child, and sometimes it's hidden behind closed doors, like infertility or an abusive marriage.

we all see the joyful announcement on facebook, "we're pregnant!" - and it may seem so easy and perfect for them. but we don't always know the long, secret road of heartache behind someone's outward joy.

hundreds of years ago in england, black armbands were worn as a sign of mourning. to me, that would feel so freeing and unifying. i kind of wish we did that today. we'd quickly realize how alike we really are and how much sadness and pain there is in this world. i think it would make us more compassionate. a mark of mourning would be a commonality of pain - a "we're all in this together" mentality. 

but maybe i don't need a black armband to show me who's in pain or carrying a heavy burden, i can just assume they are, because they are alive. so i should extend a lot more grace. 

God willing, in a year or so, my husband and i will be that happy couple at costco. giggling with our rainbow baby whilst chowing down on a $1.50 hot dog. 

and when others see us i pray they find hope.

you're not alone in your pain. we've all got it.

except for maybe kate middleton. her life is perfect.