Sunday, May 10, 2009

Honor

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.

Dear Isaac,

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.

Love,
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.

What Makes a Mother?
Written by Jennifer Wasik

I thought of you and closed my eyes
And prayed to God today.
I asked, "What makes a Mother?"
And I know I heard Him say,
"A Mother has a baby."
This we know is true.
"But God can you be a Mother,
When your baby's not with you?"

"Yes, you can," He replied
With confidence in His voice.
"I give many women babies,
When they leave is not their choice.
Some I send for a lifetime,
And others for the day.
And some I send to feel your womb,
But there's no need to stay."
"I just don't understand this God.
I want my baby to be here."
He took a deep breath and cleared His throat,
And then I saw the tear.
"I wish I could show you,
What your child is doing today.
If you could see your child's smile,
With all the other children and say... '
We go to Earth to learn our lessons,
Of love and life and fear.
My Mommy loved me oh so much,
I got to come straight here.
I feel so lucky to have a Mom,
Who had so much love for me.
I learned my lessons very quickly,
My Mommy set me free.
I miss my Mommy oh so much,
But I visit her every day.
When she goes to sleep,
On her pillow's where I lay.

I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek,
And whisper in her ear.
Mommy don't be sad today,
I'm your baby and I'm here.'
"So you see my dear sweet ones,
your children are okay.
Your babies are born here in My home,
And this is where they'll stay.
They'll wait for you with Me,
Until your lesson's through.
And on the day that you come home,
They'll be at the gates for you.
So now you see what makes a Mother,
It's the feeling in your heart.
It's the love you had so much of
Right from the very start.
Though some on earth may not realize,
you are a Mother.
Until their time is done.
They'll be up here with Me one day
And know that you are the best one!"
I don't believe that Isaac sits on my pillow at night, or that he even misses me... we are the ones doing the missing. He is full and complete and relishing in God's glory. But I love this author's point: the fact that it's not whether or not your child is still here that makes you a mother; it's the love you have for them.
Thank you for reading this far, and for continuing to walk this journey with us. Please be praying today for the moms whose children aren't here... whether they have other children or not, it's so hard to feel like someone is missing from your family. I would invite you, too, to take a peek at the blogs for the mom's mentioned above... get to know them, and please pray for them today, too.

To all the moms out there reading this... Happy Mother's Day.

PS-- I found this on my friend Sarah's blog this morning. Look closely at the petals...

34 comments:

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

Love to you, sweet Stacy on this Mother's Day. You have one of the most beautiful mother's hearts I have ever seen. This letter to Isaac was so beautiful...and this post was one of my favorites you've written (and I have loved them all!). Your love for your precious son is amazing. I love that you wrote your letters to Isaac every morning (which I knew) and talked to him...and took him places. I love that you were able to treasure the time you were given with him in such a beautiful, precious way. Isaac's life did have weight and it does matter...it does matter so much to the One who holds him today and the same One who holds you...and to so many hearts that read the story of beautiful Isaac and his beautiful mother with the beautiful heart. Thank you for this post...

Love and Prayers to you and all the mothers today...

Seraphim said...

Stacy, I wish I had your gift with words. You have been in my thoughts today and I send my love to you. I will visit these other blogs and honour your request. I wish I could do more. xxx

Anonymous said...

Stacy,

I have been following your blog for a few months now. I just wanted to send you prayers and good wishes on your first mother's day as a mom. Just because Isaac isn't here with you, you are no less a mother and this is a special day to honor the love that you have for your beautiful boy. Though you don't know me, I think of you and pray for you often.
Thanks for sharing your life and your son with me through this blog.

Fondly,

Mindy

AJinVA said...

Blessings for you on Mother's Day. There is a post on the nest (parenting after a loss) thinking of you. Just wanted to let you know you are always a mom in our hearts and we will never forget Issac.

boltefamily said...

thank you for sharing Stacy. Your words ring so true. I am joining you in prayer of all of the hurting moms out there this mother's day. I am thinking of and praying for you. I am so sorry Isaac is not with you, but I am so grateful for the gift of him.

Angela said...

I am so sorry that this Mother's Day has you without your Isaac. But he is so lucky to have you for a mom. You are such a wonderful example of God's love and sovereignty. I know that the reunion of you and Isaac in heaven will truly be one of the sweetest ever.

Misty Rice said...

Happy Blessed and Bittersweet Mothers Day Stacy. I LOVE the photo of the flower and the names written on it. That's beautiful.

Wonderful and beautiful.


God Bless Sister.

Scottish Twins said...

Happy Mother's Day Stacy. You will be in my thoughts and prayers today!

Anonymous said...

Happy Mothers Day. You are in my thoughts and prayers today.

Missy

banbear2 said...

I am thinking of you today as I am very familiar with the bittersweet feelings that you have. I find your strength and courage and faith in god to be amazing and I still find you incredibly inspiring. Enjoy the day!

JackiJaguar said...

I just wanted you to know that I'm thinking of you today and sending prayers your way.

Sonya said...

I will be praying for you today.

Trennia said...

Happy Mother's Day.

Annie Marie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annie Marie said...

Stacy, you are so amazing and filled with such an amazing love. I pray that today will be filled with blessings and love.

Anonymous said...

Your words are so kind and thoughtful. Thank you for the prayers on this difficult day. I hope your day will be peaceful as you remember your special little boy.

Hugs,
Susi

Katie said...

Thinking of you and your son today.

Cort said...

Hi Stacy, thank you for your sweet tribute to our matthew phillip. actually i'm sure it was just a typo, but he was born in 2009 and passed in 2009. the days are correct.

thinking and praying for you and your husband today. i know remembering sweet issac is both sad that he's not here with you all but joyful because he is with our KING in a PERFECT place.

blessings to you today...
cortney

Stephanie said...

Happy Mother's Day. I have been thinking of you a lot today.
God Bless you, Stacy.
You are an amazing mother and have shown all of your readers what an incredible mom looks like.

Kim said...

I loved the picture at the end. Doesn't it just warm your heart to unexpectedly see your sweet baby's name in writing! You are a beautiful mom and Isaac is smiling down on you today!

Amber Stoneburner said...

Stacy, I am thinking of you on this day. You are so right, it is very bitter sweet. This morning a friend and I shared in church. We have both lost babies in the last year and a half and have started a ministry for the 13 other women in our church who have also lost. This morning we got up and shared and acknowledged and tried to honor the mothers that are with out their babies. We also read the same poem you have here. While like you I don't agree with it all, it is a comfort.
I want to say, You my dear are a wonderful mother. Although you are in pain and cannot hold you precious baby, I am blessed and astounded by the grace that you show in honoring his life. While you are still trying to grasp what has happened your baby Isaac's life has touched many. This day is also for you, sweet mother of Isaac.
Many prayers and blessings to you, and all the mother's hurting.

Tammy On the Go said...

In light of the recent loss in our church, my pastor specifically talked about grieving mothers today, and of course I thought about you. I hope you have peace today and you are filled with sweet memories that don't hurt, of Isaac.

Sheila said...

Happy Mother's Day Stacy - I always love seeing pictures of you and Isaac.

Taylor said...

Thank you so much for this post... and for remembering my sweet Nathan and how much we miss him today. I am still praying for you as each of us learn this "new normal." Happy Mother's Day.

Connor's Mom said...

Happy Mother's Day to you because there is no doubt you are a mother. You exude an unconditional love for Isaac that is not at all common but I thank you for the example you are. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

shawna said...

I don't know you nor do you know me I am sobbing right now! I want to first of say Happy Mother's Day to you. My name is shawna and I am a mother to a Premature son named Talan. My water broke at 24weeks and I was kept on hospital bedrest and delivered my son 6 weeks later. Talan did make it but it was the scariest time of our lives leaving our son in the care of nurses for 7 long weeks. I admire your courage to speak out and share your beautiful story, I have no idea how I came across your blog, it somehow was ment to be:) I was interviewed by our local news station here in Seattle. Please feel free to read my blog and meet my family. I am 31yrs old married to my highschool sweetheart and mother to my beautiful son Talan. my blog is: http://www.karuna-karan.blogspot.com/
You inspire me, I have met many women since my arrival into the hospital on Nov.10,2008 that have lost their children and some in the hospital now wondering??? We did the March of Dimes last saturday and also met so many wonderful people, and heard so many wonderful stories. I hope that you will read this and check out my story.
Love, Shawna slkk@comcast.net

Sara said...

The picture at the bottom of the post is just beautiful. Simply beautiful. I hope this Mother's Day brought you some sort of comfort. You are such a wonderful writer & an even more amazing mother to your sweet Isaac.

Miche said...

Hey sweetie! What a wonderfully written post. I'm going to read all of it later because I'm at work but I got through the majority of it and loved it all.

You crossed my mind along with a few of the other Mom's you mentioned below and a few you didn't. Overall, I actually had a good day but I had to wonder how I will feel next year after Megan Grace is gone to Heaven.

Also, if you could pray for this sweet Mom. She lost her son over the weekend to Anchephaly.

http://noahbenjamin-ourstory.blogspot.com/


Take care and have a good week!

Anonymous said...

www.babyfaithhope.blogspot.com she is also an amazing mother too!

Lorraine-bo said...

Many beautiful thoughts in this. You are a lovely mother to a beautiful boy who is now perfect and whole with his King. May you feel extra comfort in the arms of Jesus and others around you this Mother's Day week.

Linda said...

Your Blog Title says it all sweet Stacy,...He will Carry You!

Praying for you.

Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

Carly K. said...

Stacy-

Your words are so inspiring. Thanks so much for thinking of all of us, you are so sweet. I thought of you a lot over the weekend. You are in my prayers and in my heart. Love, Carly

Jen Manlapaz said...

Stacy,

I love this post. I thought about you all weekend, and I prayed that as hard as Mother's Day would be, that you did find some enjoyment, and that the day was not a totally sad one for you. You are one of the best mom's I know. Isaac is so lucky.

Love,
Jen

Shannon said...

What a beautiful post and tribute to moms.