As you can imagine, today is an extremely bittersweet day... and I believe it is for many people... those who have lost a child, those who have never had their dreams of motherhood realized, those who have lost a mom. I am so fortunate to still have my mom here... a mom who has modeled for me what it means to love, what it means to do anything for your child, and who has been there for Spencer and I in every way, especially over this past year. My mom is not only a fabulous mom to me and my sister (and my step-brother, step-sister, my brother-in-law, and Spencer!), but she has also been a wonderful grandmom to Isaac. Despite the bittersweetness and the pain that is involved with Mother's Day this year, I am grateful for my mom.
I think the "bitter" half of this bittersweetness goes without saying. It is a difficult thing to figure out what it means to be a mother when your only child has died... when your "proof" of motherhood isn't with you in a stroller or a car seat. And it's days like today when my heart just physically aches just wishing that he was.
But there's also the "sweet" half of bittersweet. The sweetness of those 9 months that I carried Isaac, getting to know him a little bit while he was in the womb. In many aspects, I had a great pregnancy... I felt great physically, was able to bond with Isaac and savor the time I had with him, and knew to relish in the little things. Then there were those 16 minutes he was with us. I wouldn't trade them for anything.
Yesterday my sister and I celebrated Mother's Day with my mom and went to see a movie that starred to of my favorite actors/actresses. Towards the end of the movie, the guy is talking about this girl had to choices: to love or to live with regret. He explained how there can be great pain in love, but that even with great pain, the choice to love was better than regret any day. This particular actor doesn't typically deliver lines that are overly profound; but this one stuck with me.
It is so true. We knew that loving Isaac would come with great pain... but he was worth it. The time we had with him was worth all the heartache... and we could choose to love well because we knew that God would show us how to do it, and that He would be with us in our time of heartache and grief. And He has.
Below is the letter to Isaac that Spencer and I wrote and read at his memorial service, and while I shared it back in October, I just wanted to share it again today. I am just so proud of him, and so proud to be his mom.
I don’t know how to put into one letter everything I would want to tell you in a lifetime… but I want to try because Daddy and I love you so much. We are so proud of you.
From the moment we found out about you, Daddy and I were so excited to meet you. As you grew, I could feel all of your kicks and wiggles, especially when I would drink a fizzy Zazz or eat something sweet. I remember the first time Daddy could feel you kick, too. As you grew, I would feel you move in new places, and that made me so happy because I knew that you were growing and were full of life. I loved it.
Some of the doctors we met with suggested that we let you go; but that was never an option for us. You are our child. We have loved you from the moment we found out about you, and wanted nothing more than to be your Mommy and Daddy and to shower you with as much love as one could possibly give in a lifetime.
I remember the day that Daddy and I chose on a name for you… Isaac Timothy. We chose the name Isaac for two reasons; first, because of the story of Abraham and Isaac in the Bible, and feeling as though we were being asked to take a large step of faith in entrusting you into God’s care; and secondly because Isaac means “he will laugh.” We both just loved the thought of you laughing with joy. We chose Timothy as your middle name because Timothy means “to honor God.” We knew that your life would be honoring to God, and we wanted your name to reflect that. The night we chose your name, Daddy made up a name certificate and we prayed as we named you… we couldn’t wait to tell people your name so that they could pray for you, too, and start to get to know you even more. We loved naming you because at that point, you became even more personal and we felt even more connected to you as your Mommy and Daddy.
While you were still in my tummy, every morning I would sit and write you a letter while playing you music. You really liked when I played Wonderful, Merciful Savior and How Deep the Father’s Love for Us. After the letter was finished, I would read it to you. On my way to work each morning, I would talk to you, telling you about the colors in the morning sky, or simply just how much I love you and how proud I am of you and to be your Mommy. Every night, Daddy would say good night to you… he told you how much he loves you and how proud he is of you, too. We wanted so much for you to hear our voices and know that it was your Mommy and Daddy who love you, Isaac. I hope that you heard us, and that in hearing us, you just felt so deeply loved.
Did you know that while you were in my tummy we took you all sorts of places? We went hiking at Sugarloaf Mountain and walked through the tree-lined path. On the Fourth of July we watched fireworks and listened to their big, loud “booms.” We took you to the beach and jumped waves with you in the ocean. You and I even sat on the beach in the early mornings and I would tell you all about the beautiful sunrise and the sounds the seagulls made. Over the summer after a big thunderstorm we would often see a rainbow; I wished so much that you could have seen them, too. I told you all about the beautiful colors and the way each one would stretch across the sky. Towards the end of the summer we went golfing with Daddy, and I know he was excited to share that with you. We went to weddings, and football games, on picnics, and to so many other places; yet there are still so many things Daddy and I would have loved to do with you. We just weren’t finished making memories with you yet.
October 7th was the greatest day of our lives. You were born at 8:33am; you weighed 4 pounds, 12 ounces, and were 17 ½ inches long. Not only did your body have weight, but your life has weight, and significance, and you matter. You still matter, sweet Isaac. You matter to the One who so uniquely created you. You matter to the people whose lives you have touched and who you have brought closer to Jesus. You matter to me and to Daddy; you will always be our first child and our son. We are so proud of you because you…your life… has made a such a difference, especially to us. The sixteen minutes you were with us were the sweetest sixteen minutes of our lives; and I am thankful to have had that time to whisper in your ear over and over again how much I love you… to have kissed your little nose and sweet cheeks, held your hand with all your perfect little fingers, and then to hold you for hours afterwards, just studying all of your perfect little features and seeing how beautiful you are.
Isaac, we miss you so much. My arms are heavy and ache with the emptiness of not being able to hold you and snuggle with you anymore. But, we are so thankful to have had the chance to meet you… to look at you and just take you all in; to look at your cute nose and realize it’s just like mine; to see how your toes are just like Daddy’s; to look at the details of your little hands and feet, and to be captivated by the beauty of who you are. You are the greatest miracle I have ever been a part of, sweet Isaac. We loved being able to kiss your soft little cheeks and little button nose, and to tell you over and over again how much we love you and how proud we are to be your Mommy and Daddy. We hope that you heard us every time we told you we love you, that you felt every squeeze, and hug, and kiss we gave you, and that we somehow managed to give you all the love of a lifetime in the time we had with you. The sixteen minutes we were able to share with you were the sweetest sixteen minutes of our lives. We know that Heaven is the best place to be, and we long for the day when we will get to see you again. Please know that you hold the most special place in our hearts, and that we will never stop loving you.
Mommy and Daddy
I also wanted to take some time to honor a few moms whose only children have passed away. Some of these women I have the honor of knowing in real life, and some through e-mail.Losing a child is the most devastating thing for anyone, even with other children at home. My heart, though, is just extra heavy today for the moms whose "proof" of being a mom is gone... for the moms who many might say "don't count" because they don't have other kids. To those moms, I would say that you do count. A mother who has lost her child is still a mother.
Carly- Her beautiful baby boy William Michael was born on January 17, 2008. After an uneventful pregnancy she was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia in the beginning of her 6th month. After spending 10 days in the hospital, Will was born 3 months early at 26 weeks. He was 1.3 lbs. and 11.5 in. Will was such a fighter and he was in the NICU for about 10 days. He brought more joy to his mom and dad than one could ever imagine.
Taylor- Taylor and Josh's son, Nathan Taylor, was born on June 24, 2008. He lived for just a few minutes before going to be with Jesus. Nathan was diagnosed with Trisomy 13.
Ashly- Ashly and Denny's son, Brooks, was stillborn on September 18, 2008.
Susi- Susi's son, Lucas, was born at the end of October, 2008. He was born a healthy baby, and they brought Lucas home. He ended up passing away about a month later due to an undiagnosed heart defect.
Trish- Trish and Dustin's son, Maxson, was born on December 5, 2008. He lived for almost three hours. Max was diagnosed with Trisomy 18.
Nicole- Nicole's son, Dylan James, was born on December 28, 2008 and passed away just 7 hours later. Like Max, he too was diagnosed with Trisomy 18.
Cortney- Her son, Matthew Phillip, was born on January 6, 2009 at 28 weeks. He passed away on January 11, 2009 due to an infection he developed. Cortney and her husband, Ken, currently reside in Greece, as that's where Ken is stationed. Cortney will be returning the States in June, with Ken to follow in later summer/early fall.
Whitney- Whitney and CJay's son, Isaac Liam, was born on March 5, 2009. He was diagnosed with Trisomy 18.
Amber- Amber's daughter, Megan Grace, has been diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta II. Though Megan is still safe inside her momma's womb, she is not expected to live once she is born. Amber is doing an amazing job loving her daughter while she is here, doing whatever she can to get to know her and make memories with her. Megan is due to arrive in early August.
I wanted to end with a poem that many people have shared with me. I have hesitated to post it before, because theologically, I don't believe it is completely accurate. But the sentiment is sweet, and I think that the author's main point is extremely true.
I thought of you and closed my eyes
He took a deep breath and cleared His throat,
When she goes to sleep,
I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek,
Your babies are born here in My home,