This will be quick, but I just wanted to ask for your prayers today.
I'll admit... I am sort of anxious about it turning 2009. I'll try to explain.
You see, 2008 was the "year of Isaac" for us... we found out about him in February, found out that things weren't quite right in April, and found out just how devestating his prognosis was in June. We had countless doctor visits, ultrasounds, and various fetal tests... almost every week, or at least every other week, there was something.
So much time and energy was spent caring for our little boy... time spent at those visits, time spent fervently praying, and time spent making memories and enjoying whatever time we were given.
I've had some difficulty welcoming each new month, as it was a reminder of how the world is marching on when I'm still trying to pick up the pieces and make sense of it all. I would imagine that it turning to another year will be that much harder. I am not sure how I will respond tonight when everyone, in a celebratory fashion counts down and shouts "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" I am just not sure I feel all that happy about it, because in a lot of ways, it feels like I will simply be further away from my son.
So we could use your prayers... that God would continue to teach us how to adjust to this "new normal," that He would provide us grace for each step, that He would help ease the ache a little bit as we continue to miss our sweet Isaac so deeply, and that He would continue to restore our hope as we look ahead to the future.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11
Thanks for continuing to pray for us and walk with us.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
This will be quick, but I just wanted to ask for your prayers today.
Posted at 7:31 AM
Friday, December 26, 2008
This year I thought a lot about what I needed this Christmas. Like I mentioned earlier, I had trouble answering people when they asked me what I wanted or needed for Christmas. The truth is, I just wanted Isaac here... and yes, I would even go so far as to say that there's a part of me that feels like I need him here. I just miss him.
While Isaac wasn't here with us this Christmas, nor will he ever physically be until we're reunited with him in Heaven, there was a lot of ways that he was present with us this Christmas... and truthfully, I have my family to thank for that.
We started the morning at the cemetery, and while it was comforting to have a place to go to be "with" him, I just couldn't help but think, "I can't believe that this is where I will be spending each Christmas with my son..." I still don't think that realization has fully set in.
From the cemetery, we headed up to my mom's. She purchased two kids' Christmas books for us to have in memory of Isaac... my favorite one growing up (a scratch and sniff nonetheless!) and her favorite one growing up, entitled The Littlest Angel. There was also a beautiful little angel of rememberance pin and an angel ornament. My sister, Kate, and her husband, Tim, gave us a Christmas ball with pictures of them with Isaac in it, too. These things were so thoughtful and sweet.
The part that moved me the most, though, was at my aunt's. Admitedly, I was a little nervous to be around so many people all day long. My extended family is a ton of fun to be with... always lots of laughs; but I just wasn't sure that I felt like laughing. It's been hard feeling like I want to celebrate when my heart is still so broken. And I wasn't sure if people would feel comfortable asking me about Isaac or not... it can just be a hard thing.
Anyhow, each year we do a stocking exchange that involves clues and guessing who gave each person's stocking to whom. It's a little confusing, and I am not sure that we all even understand the "rules." After the exchange was done, my aunt Janie announced that she had one more stocking to give. My heart started to pound... hard... when I realized what she was up to. She mentioned how much she wished that Isaac was here with us this Christmas, but that he would always be remembered. Inside the stocking were contributions from various family members towards Isaac's playground.
Needless to say, I just lost it... and the tears just started flowing. Tears of sadness because my sweet son isn't here and I wish so badly that he was; but also tears of gratitude that they remembered... that I got to hear Isaac's name on Christmas... it was just what I needed.
I wanted to leave you with just a few pictures from our day...
An ornament we made with Isaac's footprints and birth information thanks to the generosity of the String of Pearls ministry...
The Rochfort sibblings... my uncle Dick, aunt Janie, uncle Steve, and my Dad!
The gang... TOP left to right: my brother-in-law Tim, step-brother Brendan, cousin Emily, cousin Meghan, cousin Doug, Spencer; BOTTOM left to right: sister Kate, cousin Grace, me, cousin Annie; front and center: cousin Missy
Thank you for continuing to lift us up in prayer, for continuing to encourage us, and for continuing to walk with us. It's my hope that your Christmas will filled with love and peace as you celebrated our Savior's birth.
Posted at 8:50 AM
Thursday, December 25, 2008
It would have been out of character for me to have not gotten up "before the sun" as my mom always says... be it Christmas or any other day, this seems to be my pattern. In fact, at one point my mom had to implement a rule that we weren't allowed to get up before the sun on Christmas morning; of course as a child (and, admittedly, as a teenager) my anticipation kept me awake anyhow. This morning seems to be no different, though I don't believe it's my anticipation that awoke me this morning. Because truthfully, this Christmas has been hard... really hard.
I may have mentioned that we haven't really done anything "Christmas-y" this year. Sure, we've participated in some of our same traditions with family, but this morning, the traditions that we wanted to start as a family... with Isaac... aren't happening the way we had envisioned. Instead of playing Christmas music and opening a few gifts (whatever that would look like with a 2 1/2 month old), we'll be starting the tradition of spending some time on Christmas morning at the cemetery... a place where no one dreams of being with their child on Christmas. The only real "Christmas-y" thing we did this year was send Christmas cards... mostly because I know it's the only year that Isaac's sweet face will make it's way onto our annual Christmas photo card. I also enclosed a letter this year, which I wanted to pass along to my faithful blog readers as well...
Dear Family and Friends,
This has been a year of unspeakable grief for us; yet even in the thick of it, we know that we are incredibly blessed.
It was on February 26 of this year that we found out we were expecting Isaac. On April 21st, we learned that there were some major concerns, and on June 17th, we found out just how grim Isaac’s outlook was. With great resolve, we decided to do everything possible to enjoy my pregnancy and the time we had with him, and by God’s grace, we were able to. Not without tears and tremendous heartache, but God graciously allowed us to enjoy the time with Isaac that we did have… for nine months in the womb, and, on October 7th, for the sweetest sixteen minutes after. Isaac was buried on October 11th, and we honored his life with a memorial service on October 18th. We miss Isaac daily, and his absence is profoundly real to us, particularly during the holiday season. But in the midst of it, God is teaching us how to navigate this “new normal” way of life. It’s a slow and difficult process, but we are learning.
We know that many of you are familiar with Isaac’s story. So rather than reiterating the same details, this is our hope: that this Christmas, you’ll hug your loved ones a little more tightly, linger with family a little bit longer, and most importantly, see Jesus a little more clearly.
In other family news, Spencer is still plugging away with his graduate work in school administration through Hood College’s partnership program with Montgomery County Public Schools. His coursework will be completed this summer, and he will then begin his internship next fall. Stacy has returned to work and is slowly getting back into the swing of things. We recently learned that she achieved her National Board Certification for teaching, a rigorous process which she completed last school year.
In closing, we just wanted to reiterate our sincerest gratitude for all the ways in which so many people have come along side of us and supported us over this past year. We are truly grateful.
Spencer & Stacy,
with Isaac forever in our hearts
I would pass along the photo we enclosed as well, but you already have seen it if you've been here before... the photo at the top of the page in the header (on the left).
Blessings and peace to each of you today and in the new year. God's grace is sufficient for each step...
Posted at 6:51 AM
Monday, December 22, 2008
Thank you all so much for your suggestions about where to stay in Jamaica. We had our travel agent run several of the properties you suggested, but many of them were booked (go figure... with less than a week!) We had a few options, and decided on the Iberostar Rose Hall Suites, adjacent to the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Resort. Should be really nice!
Again, it has been longer than I typically like between posts. Here are a few, rather disjointed updates...
12/18/08-- Our 4-year wedding anniversary. Spencer had class, but his classmates were kind enough to devise a ploy to get him out of there so he could come home. We actually celebrated the following evening at a new restaurant that opened near us.
12/20/08-- Ended up on tripadvisor.com reading some pretty horrendous reviews of the resort where we're scheduled to go in Jamaica leaving this coming Saturday. So, our trip is up in the air at this point. We're currently trying to change resorts... we'll see. If we can't, then we're cancelling the trip altogether (gotta love trip insurance!) I just can't deal with the headaches that are possible to encounter based on the reviews. If anyone has any suggestions for resorts in the Montego Bay area, let me know... ASAP!
12/21/08-- Back at our church for the first time in a few weeks, and I am just so thankful for our church. Many of you posted in response to our experience last weekend at my mom's church (the church I grew up attending... which I LOVE). This past Sunday, our Pastor got up and acknowledged that this time of year can be so hard, particularly for people who have recently lost someone they love. Within the last week, a few members of our church experienced the death of a loved one, and our Pastor had them come up so that we as a congregation could pray for them. I am just so thankful that our church is a place where people are known... where you can come as you are, be authentic, and know that you will be met with the love of Christ.
Spent some time at the cemetery as we usually do. I noticed the abundance of wreaths, poinsettias, and other Christmas decor everywhere. It was both beautiful and saddening at the same time, seeing how many people were missing loved ones this Christmas. Spencer also noticed one of the graves in Babyland (the section where Isaac is also burried)... it was from the 1960's (the exact year escapes me) and there was a brand new toy there that we hadn't seen before. Forty years later...and these parents are still remembering and missing their child.
Had a chance to visit with my mom's side of the family at my grandad's house. It was wonderful to be able to catch up, and I am so thankful that my family mentioned Isaac. My grandad and Maria (his wife) had pictures of him up, right along with their other great-grandchildren. My aunt and my cousin asked about Isaac's playground and offered to come and help once construction and installation of it begins. They asked what we were doing to remember Isaac this Christmas... I just love it that people ask. I know I have communicated here that I do sometimes fear that people will forget him; and so being asked those types of things is so good for my heart because it helps me to know he isn't forgotten.
On a different note, I have recently started thinking alot about the relationship between Christmas and Easter, and have started thinking about the crucifixtion in a whole new light. For years, I have thought and even given Young Life talks about the birth of Jesus as the start of God's redemptive plan for humanity... and about Jesus's death on the cross as him bearing our penalty for sin. And both of those things are deeply true.
But lately, I have started thinking about both of those events from Mary's perspective... from the perspective of a mother. I still have a lot to mull over and will write more about it once those thoughts can give form to words.
This post is a bit all over the place, so I will end with a few prayer requests...
1- That we'll figure out what to do with this Jamaica trip... either a new resort, or that we can cancel it. It has me a little stressed.
2- For Christmas... this week is heavily weighing on my heart. I am just missing Isaac so much.
Posted at 6:28 AM
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Posted at 1:10 PM
Sunday, December 14, 2008
"Are you ready?"... to leave, that is.
Spencer turned and asked me this about 3/4 of the way through church this morning. We don't ordinarily just pick up and leave church like the way we did today, so let me explain.
Tomorrow is my mom's birthday, and so Spencer and I went up to Baltimore, back to the church I grew up attending with my family and then to brunch afterwards. I usually love going there, and it's a great church. So, I thought this was a good idea because 1-we got to celebrate my mom's birthday, and 2- because the children's Christmas pagent was taking place at our church this morning and I just wasn't sure that was something I was going to be able to handle.
Little did I know, that what I was in for was a lot harder.
I've shared on here that it has been difficult for me into the Christmas spirit his year... the whole "holly, jolly Christmas" thing just isn't where I am. So when worship started and we sang nothing but Christmas carols, I was a little on edge. It probably didn't help that one of the worship leaders had a big pregnant belly. But, given the spirit of the season, it was something that I could sort of let roll off my back, an even somewhat enjoy.
The sermon started, and to be honest, this is where it went downhill, and for me, it went downhill fast. Just about every analogy made had to do with pregnancy and babies. I mean, I do get that... at the heart of the Christmas story is a teenage girl who is pregnant with the Savior of the world. What I had trouble with was over and over hearing phrases of us as Christians being "pregnant with possibility." And truthfully, it was a creative illustration and metaphor; but as a mother who just lost her son, it just wasn't working for me.
What I had more trouble with was when the "hardships" of the holidays were described as traffic at the malls and getting together with family that can sometimes be difficult.. and that we needed to "get over it." Because, of course, there are parts of the world that are far worse off.
Get over it.
Really? To the wife who just lost her husband as he was fighting in Iraq and for the first time won't be here for Christmas this year, she should get over it? To the man whose wife is fighting a terminal illness... and losing, he should get over it? To the mom and dad whose teenage son died in a tragic car accident last month, they should get over it? And to the moms and dads who have given birth to a child and have held them as they died just minutes, hours, or days later, they, too, should just get over it?
I acknowledge that we are a prosperous nation and that in numerous ways, we can't begin to imagine the hardships of poverty and disease-stricken countries in other parts of the world. That is absolutely true. But there's another truth of the matter and that's this: tragedy exists in America, too. Not just in the blatantly visible ways, but also in the hearts of men and women who are or have experienced deep, profound, and unspeakable grief.
And for those people, the holidays can be excruciatingly painful. For some people, the frustrations aren't with the trivial things like traffic at the malls, but with trying to reconcile who God is with the pain that He is allowing them to face. Trying to figure out what it looks like to have hope again in the midst of their grief.
Later this evening, though, I thought more about this question of "Are you ready?" So often we find ourselves asking each other this question in regard to Christmas, frequently referring to whether or not we've accomplished all the things on our to-do list... the decorating, shopping, and cookie baking.
But as I thought about it further, I think a better question in terms of "Are you ready?" is thinking about whether or not our hearts are ready to be reacquainted with the story of Christmas... the fact that we're celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world and the start of God's redemptive plan for humanity. Because of Christmas, we can have hope. Because of Christmas... the beginning of Jesus's life here on Earth, ultimately sacrifced as not just a ransom for many, but for each of us personally... because of those truths, I know that my sweet Isaac is safe in the arms of God.
I want to be ready to be reacquainted with those familiar truths in a fresh way this Christmas... and I'm getting there. Will you join me?
Posted at 5:55 PM
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Posted at 8:39 AM
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Today, Isaac would have been two months old.
It's snowing here in Maryland today, and Isaac isn't here to see it. He isn't here to see the twinkling Christmas lights all over the neighborhood, or the beautiful sunrise I saw on my way to work last Thursday. Oh, I really wish he was. I miss him so much.
Today, instead of taking him to church with us, we'll visit Isaac at the cemetery. When we were there last Sunday, I remember turning to Spencer and saying, "I can't believe that this is really our life... that this is what we do now on Sunday mornings." In some ways, it still seems a little surreal; yet most days, the reality of Isaac's absence is extremely edvident and incredibly heavy on my heart. Thank you for continuing to pray for us.
I want you to know how much Daddy and I love you, and how much we miss you. Our hearts hurt. Today you would have turned 2 months old, and we're so sad that you're not here. We think about you so often. Please know that you will always hold a most special place in each of our hearts. We miss you.
I love you, sweet Isaac.
"...And I'm the one who's loved you all your life... all of your life."
~ Meredith Andrews
Posted at 7:28 AM
Friday, December 5, 2008
We are overwhelmed by the number of generous offers we have received from people to help us fundraise money for Isaac's playground... from food, to kitchen gadgets, to beautiful tiles, and now make up and face care products! There's another offer on the table, and I hope it will continue to help you with your Christmas shopping!
Elizabeth is a Mary Kay consultant and has offered to donate a portion of her sales to Isaac's playground when the "Isaac's Playground" is mentioned when ordering.
The fundraiser will run now through December 15. Orders will be shipped so that you are able to have them by Christmas.
20% of the sales will go towards Isaac's playground. If you are interested in booking a web/catalog show, $10 will be donated for each show booked. If you desire to sign up as a Mary Kay consultant, contact Elizabeth and she will personally donate $25 towards the playground.
As an FYI, all orders of $40 or more will receive a special gift. Shipping is complimentary.
If you are interested in placing an order, please go to Elizabeth's personal Mary Kay website at: www.marykay.com/estank
When placing your order, please include "Isaac's playground" in the comments section.
In other news, we received Isaac's birth certificate in the mail on Wednesday. I had been anxiously awaiting this because I was excited that he would have this same certificate that other babies have... a verification that he was here and that he was alive.
You can understand my shock, then, when I saw the word "DECEASED" stamped across his birth certificate. I jsut started bawling.
Of course I know he's deceased, thank you very much. I know he's not here... the quietness of my house, the emptyness of my arms, and the heavyness of my heart remind me of that every day. There are death certificates for that sort of thing. I just wanted so badly for him to have what other babies have, and for it not to be tarnished by that one word that cut so deeply into the wound on my heart that's already there.
Like I've mentioned before, the reminders of Isaac's absence so often come in unexpected places... like, of all things, a birth certificate.
Please continnue to pray for us, particularly right not just for protection of our hearts... there are so many reminders of Isaac's absence and they seem to be multiplying now that the holiday season is here.
Posted at 9:17 AM
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
In case there was any doubt in my mind that the Christmas season is upon us, Macy's on 34th Street in NYC on black Friday confirmed the fact that it is. This time of year has always been filled with much joy for me... the decorating, the shopping, the cookie baking, the caroling, the flipping around radio stations just to see if I can find Josh Groban's or Celine Dion's rendition of "O, Holy Night"... I love it all. The time with family, and the time reflecting on the miracle of Jesus's birth.
But this year, I am just not in the holiday spirit.
I remember back to last Christmas, just a few short months after my miscarriage, thinking, "Surely, next Christmas will be different. By then, we'll have a little one here, or just about here, and it will be great. There will be strollers, and burp cloths, and cute onesies..."
Boy was I wrong.
My dad asked me recently what I wanted for Christmas this year, and honestly, I had a really hard time thinking of anything. There are some things I could use, but what I want he can't give me. Nobody can. Because what I want is Isaac. I want him back. I want him to be here.
There's nothing like the holidays to bring a blatant reminder of what's missing, or in our case, who is missing. Just when I thought that hole couldn't get any bigger, it has. And it's hard... and it hurts. So I am not sure how much of the "Christmasy" things we'll be doing this year... to be honest, it's just too hard. 'Tis the season... but I feel anything but jolly.
We would appreciate your prayers through this difficult season... for comfort, for peace, and for God to help ease the ever-present ache in our hearts. We just miss Isaac so much.
I would also like to ask for your prayers for another momma who will be delivering her sweet baby, Max this Friday, December 5. You can read her story at http://ourmiraclemax.blogspot.com/. Max has been diagnosed with Trisomy 18, and they are not sure how long he will be here with his sweet parents before meeting Jesus. Please pray for them... that God would be ever-present with them in these next two days leading up to Max's birth, that the c-section would go well and that Trish would come through it in good health, for the moments that Trish and Dustin have with Max... that they would be very present in each moment and able to just love on Max as fully as possible. Please pray for God to calm their fears and provide His peace.
Thank you for continuing to walk along side of us in our journey, even 8 weeks after Isaac's birthday. Thank you, too, for praying for Trish, Dustin, and Max.
Posted at 7:25 AM