Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy Meal Hope

john and i spoke with a counselor for the first time a couple weeks ago and she was so gentle, gracious and loving. she validated our pain. even though i hesitated to go (because what could she possibly say to make me feel better?)... i was so glad we did.

while we were there, somehow the topic of friends and family came up, and particularly their reactions and responses to grief - our grief, as well as their own. and she said something that i hadn't thought of before. she said one of the reasons that people sometimes draw away from someone else's tragedy is because it is a stark reminder that tragedy is, not only possible, but could happen to them.

if it happened to the butlers, it could happen to me.

we are every parent's worst nightmare.

so they hide. they escape. they don't let themselves think about it.

it reminds me of when noah was in the hospital and one of our friends posted a link on facebook to our story and encouraged others to read it and pray for noah. and one of their friends, who i didn't know, commented on their post saying something like, "oh my God that is terrifying. my daughter is about to have her first baby, so i can't read that right now."

like our situation was a contagious disease that could be caught or something.

but thankfully i had friends and family who, in the face of fear and terror, stepped into the sh*t with us.... unlike that idiotic lady who could just look the other way and continue on with her blissful, pain free life.

and one of those people who's doing the hard journey with us is my college bestie.

during the most hellish time in my life, this was a friend who is there...every step of the way. she sent me flowers when i went into labor. she was one of the first people to meet noah on his first day of life. she brought her laptop to the starbucks in seattle children's hospital and camped out there all afternoon, just in case we needed her or wanted to vent. she would drop whatever she was doing to drive to wherever we were to pray with us when we were in despair. she was on our doorstep, along with another bestie, the day after noah passed away. they even helped coordinate details for noah's memorial when our brains couldn't even function. she was one of our lifesavers.

and she did all of this while pregnant. pregnant.

she told me later that someone asked her, "how can you experience all of that horror firsthand? be so close to something so awful? that could literally happen to you. isn't that too scary to witness?" and you know what this rockstar of a girl said, "i just pretty much forgot i was pregnant." she put her own self aside...that's what she did. she's one of the most selfless people i know.

her precious baby girl was born a few days ago and for months i wasn't sure if i'd be able to go to the hospital to visit. i wanted to. i wanted to more than anything. but i was scared. it was the exact same hospital noah was born in. the one i spent four nights imprisoned in, separated from my boy, because of my dangerously high blood pressure. the place where i experienced my greatest joy and my darkest nightmare.

i was afraid if i went back i would have a nervous breakdown. that i would cry. that i would make a fool of myself.

that i would miss noah even more, and my broken heart would break beyond repair. 

but because she showed up for us and put her fears aside, she inspired me to do the same. so i went. (but not before i had a minor freak out in the hall and almost didn't go through the hospital door.)

it was very difficult to step into that room.

but like almost everything in life, it wasn't as bad as i thought. my friend was gracious. (of course she was.) her baby was gorgeous. (of course she was.)

and i saw a glimmer of hope. (of course i did.)

hope in the form of a mcdonald's happy meal. 

this beaut is what caught my eye when i sat down in my friend's hospital room, as i held her day-old baby. 

and with a million awful memories flooding my mind, that little unassuming, leftover meal snuck in a happy one.

i love the wizard of oz and i love rainbows.

a reminder that dreams really do come true. and they aren't all nightmares.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Siblings for Noah

this is a subject i've avoided talking about since starting this blog, but has been constantly on my mind and remains incredibly close to my heart. or moreover, it IS my heart...

(hashtag) siblings for noah.

because i was never a mother before noah, i never knew my capacity to love. but being noah's mommy has taken my heart to a dimension i had no idea existed. i specifically remember a moment when noah first got admitted to the NICU, when he was covered in tubes and masks, under a hot light, and i literally felt like it was me lying there on the table. i even said to one of the nurses, "please take good care of him, that little boy is my heart." and she gently nodded, as if she knew exactly what i meant.

and i'm terrified, terrified, that i wouldn't be able to love another baby as much as i love him. i just don't see how it's possible, because i love him so much.

i would imagine anyone who is preparing to have a second child (or third or fourth or the duggar's twentieth) has a similar fear. is there room in my heart for more?

but then i also have the added baggage that my firstborn is no longer with us and so would i constantly be comparing our next child with my fantasy of who noah "could have been"? or, worse, and i'm ashamed to say this, but would i, deep down, unconsciously wish they were noah? 

because, my God, he was perfect.

i've talked with my husband, at length, about my fear and he, in only a way he can, helps me lift my eyes and find hope. 

he's told me numerous times that i will love and cherish our future children even more because of noah.

and i want to believe that. 

the only thing i really know is that i had no idea what my capacity was to love that 7 pound, 5 ounce bundle of cuteness, and it's out of this world, so i trust i have no idea the love i'm still capable of.

noah will always, always have a very special place in our hearts and family. he will always be our firstborn. his life will forever be an integral part of ours. the void of him not being with us will never go away. he can never, ever, EVER be replaced. he was noah hudson butler and there will never be another.

but there will be others. our greatest pride. our deepest joy.

our rainbows after the storm. 

stay tuned. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sorrow is the Sea

"The world looks different now. The pinks have become purple, the yellows brown.

Sometimes I think that happiness is over for me. I look at photos of the past and immediately comes the thought: that's when we were still happy. But I can still laugh, so I guess that isn't quite it. Perhaps what's over is happiness as the fundamental tone of my existence. Now sorrow is that.

Sorrow is no longer the islands but the sea."

Nicholas Wolterstorff 
"Lament for a Son"

Friday, September 20, 2013

Heaven, the Not Yet

before there was noah, heaven was nothing more than a passing thought to me. sure, i believed there was one and it was probably a nice place and all, but i didn't really care that much. it didn't matter what it was like, or where, or if it even existed, because i'd be dead. so oh, well.

but heaven becomes a hell of a lot more important when your baby, your heart, is there. 

heaven HAS to be, not only real, but nothing short of perfect, because my most cherished, most sacred little being is spending eternity there. and i HAVE to believe, in order for me to take my next breath, he is somewhere better than i can imagine.

a lot of people have a lot of things to say about what this heaven place is and what noah could potentially be doing while he's "there".

"noah is probably up there fishing with his grandpa.

"i can see grandma holding him in her rocking chair."

"he's gotta be playing with all the other little kids."

"i'm sure he misses you as much as you miss him."

"he's an angel watching over you."

and though those images bring me some sort of comfort, and they're all well intentioned and hold pieces of truth, i believe there's got to be more to "heaven" than just a fun place in the sky. 

it's beyond our understanding.

the most beautiful way i've heard heaven described was by a dear friend of mine from high school. she expresses in words what my soul knows but can't seem to explain.

"I want to believe that heaven means no waiting. What would the point be? If heaven is life and love and purpose perfected, then there is no further need for waiting. So when Noah went ahead of us here on earth, for him, he arrived Home and was greeted by you and John and all who have ever and will ever love him for a truly joyous celebration in every way."

like the airport scene at the end of love actually.

there's nothing more beautiful than reunions. and a heavenly reunion, at that. 

it just makes me weep. 

however, i DO NOT believe noah is waiting around for us, missing us, just killing time being an angel and playing in heavenly meadows until we die too. 

he's in another dimension. a dimension without time, without a calendar counting down the days. 

before noah, i thought of heaven as the "Great There." it's somewhere apart from everything we see now, on earth. separate. or whatever it is, it's not here.

but heaven is so much more than the not here, it's the not yet.

noah is already existing in the fulfillment of how it all is supposed to be. (did i just blow your mind? i know. mine's been blowing up ever since june 18, 2013.)

we, here on earth, have just not caught up with him yet.

but here's what my brain can handle right now - noah is with Jesus. and Jesus is gentle and good. so my boy is okay. he's more than okay.

and i guess that's all this mama needs to know right now. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Making No Sense of Nonsense

how is it that we give God credit and thanks for our blessings, but when circumstances or events turn tragic, we deny His involvement?

one of my best friends in the world is about to have a baby. and we say, "Praise God. thank you for this miracle of life. great job, God." rightly so, i guess.

but when a couple of insane idiots go on a shooting rampage in Washington DC, we defend God and say, "that's evil in the world. God had nothing to do with that. He's good. and since that was very, very bad - there's no way He was involved."

it seems just a little whack. am i right? 

can i safely believe that everything good that comes in life is from God? james 1:17 says so and it's easy to believe.

or does one egg just happen to meet up with one sperm to create a life. nothing Devine, just science doing its thing. 

that makes complete sense to me too.

so what events are God-appointed and which ones aren't? how are we to know?

let's get to the point of it all. did God have a hand in noah dying? or was it just a freak DNA accident? 

i guess i'm just wanting to know how much of this is God's fault, so i can adequately blame Him for what He was responsible for. but i'm, clearly, having a hard time reconciling it all.

my worldview is straight up getting turned on it's head. 

i'm clumsily trying to find the walls in a completely pitch-black room. it's virtually impossible. kind of like making sense of God's ways.

so i surrender. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How Are You?

how's it going? how're you doing? how are you?

all questions we ask each other, not to necessarily know the answer, but more like a way to say hello. 

i realized yesterday that in the last three months i have yet to respond to any of those types of questions without the simple answer of "ok." 

this is strange for me. usually my response was something like, "pretty good!", "can't complain!", or maybe even an "Awesome!" every now and then. 

but then my world was turned upside down.

i found pretty early on after noah died that responding to how i am doing with anything better than just "ok" would be a lie. sure, there are elements of good in my life. my husband. our home and health. my family and friends. 


but overall, life is kind of a little awful right now. 

a friend of mine said that she would imagine that the world just wasn't a beautiful place to me anymore. and it's true. i've got a dark cloud hovering over, and tainting, my otherwise once positive outlook on life.

i wonder when, or if, life will ever be "good" again. 

i have hope it will. i have to believe this dark cloud can't stay too horribly long. 

unfortunately, that doesn't mean the devastation of losing noah will ever go away, that's impossible.

so, although i'm not sure how life can ever be good again without noah here...

there's got to be a way, somehow, for pain and redemption to coexist. and i'm determined to try and find it.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sorry Bob Marley, but Every Little Thing is NOT Gonna Be Alright

a couple nights ago while john and i were just sitting in the living room watching tv, all of a sudden i realized that at that exact moment, three months to the day, my water broke. and i could barely remember how i felt and what that moment was like, because it just made my heart ache like crazy. 

but i'm sure it was something like hope, excitement and unbridled expectancy. feelings very foreign to me today.

it's really difficult for me to think about anything BN, before noah. i can't look at pictures of myself pregnant or see any sort of baby gear without feeling deep sadness, almost like a haunting. i mourn, not only the loss of precious noah, i mourn the loss of me.

because i was a completely different person BN. carefree, for the most part. positive. i saw the world as a place where goodness pretty much reigned. God of course worked all things for good and always knows what He's doing, i never questioned it.

so not only am i grieving the devastating, world-rocking loss of noah, i'm grieving that i'll never be pregnant without fear. because having a blissful, worry-free pregnancy, for me, is past.

i'm grieving that i'll never be able to go to a wedding and just think of all the joy and adventures that lie ahead for the beaming couple. instead, my mind will automatically go to what tragedies lie ahead. because "every little thing is not gonna be alright." and screw you, bob marley, for saying so. you lie.

and this isn't me. i'm not a negative person. i hate thinking of so much negativity. it's disgusting. but it's real.

here's what it comes down to... i mourn the loss of my naivety. my worldview has been turned upside down. i know, all too well, that awful, tragic, unexpected events can happen to anyone, at anytime. and it's not like i didn't realize or know that BN. i wasn't completely stupid. i had my share of sorrow. i lost my dad to cancer at 8 years old and i've witnessed poverty and injustice in the world, firsthand. i've always experienced life not being perfect. but the difference is, now horror is so much more real. i can't ignore it or pretend it's not there. because the absolutely unthinkable happened to me, my long-awaited, most beloved baby boy died. and in a world where that can happen, anything can happen. because this world is messed up.

and, on this side of eternity, death is permanent. every other "bad" time in my life, like not getting a job i wanted or waiting for what seemed like forever to be married, was just a season. it passed. all i had to do was "get through it" and then life would be better.

but not now. the moment noah got sick and died was the moment my life was thrust on a completely different path. i can never go back to the life i once had. i have a new life now. a new reality. john and i lost a baby. that's our new normal. it's never going to be "fixed" or be changed. there's nothing we can do.

and i hate that. i fight it. i wish it were different. i wish i could go back to life the way it was BN. but then i guess that would mean no noah. and i could never wish for that.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Changed for Good

yesterday was one of the best days i've had in a long time. john and i were given an amazing, sent-from-heaven type gift. i can't wait to tell you about it! 

a little back story first. i was five years old when i got a vhs tape of The Wizard of Oz for christmas. and my heart has been completely taken with the story ever since. i dressed up as dorothy, the wicked witch and glinda multiple times for halloween. one year my mom even dressed up as the scarecrow and we carried around a huge stuffed lion to complete the ensemble. 

i read all the books, including Wicked - a story about the two witches that completely blew my mind.

then the musical, based on the book, took my love of the story to a whole new level. i saw it for the first time in LA, then Chicago, then Seattle, then Portland, then Seattle again and last night i saw it for the sixth time at the Boston Opera House.

here's how it happened. we didn't realize it was even in boston (we're here on vacation) until we arrived to town. we decided to take a chance and try to get tickets via "the lottery." 

there was only one performance showing that was available so we went for it. we arrived two and a half hours before the show began and put our names in a huge pot. both my husband and i put our names in requesting two tickets each. so we had two shots at getting our names drawn! but.... there were over a hundred people who were hoping for the same thing. chances were slim. 

then the young man was ready to draw names. the huge crowd waited in anticipation. john and i stood in the back, not feeling too hopeful.   

first winner. McCayla Butler.

that was me!!! i couldn't believe it. 

john and i made our way to the front to get our two tickets to Wicked!! 

as we were walking away he drew another name.

second winner. John Butler.

are you kidding me?!?! how is that possible? what are the odds of that! 

since we didn't need four, i asked the guy if we were able to give john's two tickets to someone else. (while we were waiting in line for the lottery i saw two little girls put their names in and i told john that if we won tickets, and they have never seen Wicked, i wanted them to go instead. i love Wicked so much it deserves to be shared.) but unfortunately we weren't able to give them away so they just had to draw another random name, in place of john's. and wouldn't you know it, the third winner was one of those little girls. out of hundreds.

there is no denying that all of that was more than a coincidence. it was a gift. 

us getting tickets at all would have been lucky. but me getting called first, john second and the two little girls i wanted so badly to be able to go called third, that's not luck, that's lavishly blessed. 

God knows me. He sees me. He loves me. and i'm overwhelmed by it.

here's noah bear sitting with us in the front row.

the following are lyrics to the song at the end of the show called "For Good." glinda and elphaba sang this song right before elphaba dies.

i thought of noah the whole time, but during this song his presence was palpible. 

I've heard it said,
That people come into our lives
For a reason
Bringing something we must learn.
And we are led to those
Who help us most to grow if we let them.
And we help them in return.
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun,
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood.
Who can say if I've been changed for the better
But because I knew you.
I have been changed for good.

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime.
So, let me say before we part:
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you.
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart.
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you'll have rewritten mine
By being my friend.

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea.
Like a seed dropped by a sky bird
In a distant wood.
Who can say if I've been changed for the better
But because I knew you...
have been changed for good.
but, spoiler alert, after the two witches say their goodbyes, elphaba doesn't really die. glinda just thinks she did. 

and just like elphaba, noah is alive and well too. safe from harm. 

there's more going on than meets the eye, then what i can see on this side of eternity. but that doesn't mean it's not happening.

a few weeks ago, when i was feeling super angry, a mother who also lost a baby to the same disease (ACD) that took noah, told me about how she was angry, as well, until she received a miracle that broke her anger for good. (her miracle was a few undeniable "coincidences" that couldn't be explained away.)

i was skeptical. how could this raging anger ever be tamed? and by just some random events. i didn't feel like it was possible, for me.

but, because of Wicked, and how God used the show i love to bless me, i feel my storm breaking. 

somewhere over the rainbow.