Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dear Judah {31 months}

Dear Judah,

You are growing up so fast. Every moment has become more precious to me since we lost your little brother. I want to be present with you, which is both easy and hard at the same time. Easy because you are such a joy to be with. Hard because I miss little Theodore and also need time to grieve for him. Although I do not have my two children here on earth... I still have two children, and somehow I must learn to mother them both in very different ways.

I've always been dedicated to writing down your little life on this blog. These are the things I dreamed of writing for Theodore, too... little milestones and funny sayings. It seems all the more important now. And so I will double my efforts to record your precious life alongside my grief.

I want to remember the funny little things that you do, and the hilarious things that you say. I've been trying to take more videos of you so we can go back and listen to your cute little voice and way of talking.

I want to remember...

- Our little backseat driver (thanks for that, Papa!) - "Papa/Mama, drive with two hands!" "It's raining, turn the swish-swishes on!" "Red light, stop! Green light, go!". You are very safety conscious in general - you will tell us to be careful with sharp knives etc. Whenever I take my vitamins you say emphatically "Those medicines are NOT for Judah! Only for Mama" (you are a good listener!). When you climb up on a chair (you usually do not like heights) you say "I have to be berry berry [very very] careful!".

- You love to be outside and help Papa mow the lawn with your little lawnmower, or help him dig/rake with your own miniature tools. You spent a lot of time this summer in your kiddie pool - you are a little water baby. We took you to swim lessons this summer too, which you loved. You have very sensitive eyes to chlorine so we will have to get you some goggles to help you be more comfortable with going under water.

- You got to go to your first VBS this summer while Momma and Nana helped out!

- The way you say specific words.... little - "luh-dull", firetruck - "fiyah-trrrrruck", vacuum - "veck-yoom" (you sound very South African sometimes!), rescue "rec-skyoo". You don't have the "y" sound down very well yet, especially in words with "l's" - words like wheel come out like "wee-lul", squeal is "skwee-lul", tail is "tay-lul" and yellow is "leh-low"... it's kind of adorable. Sandwich - "swam-ich"

- You picked up Nana's proper British sayings like "Shall we... go outside/have lunch/play toys?"

- Your incredible imagination... you make up entire worlds that you play in. Sometimes it's dinosaurs... sometimes they are chasing you, and other times they are your friends and you run around with them. Or the media cupboard that you like to hide in becomes an airplane or a rocket ship and you go on long trips to visit a far-away grandparent or the moon. It also turns into a firetruck and you go around "rec-skyoo-ing" people. You have little imaginary friends who live in our air vents... you talk to them and give them imaginary food and water (although one time I caught you about to put some real food down the air vent in our living room...). Sometimes you get them out of the air vent and you "carry" them around in your hand. Your toy cars and trucks go on epic journeys across the living room floor. You pretend to be a dog, mouse, elephant, cow, lion, kangaroo etc. You make us coffee with your "coffee machine", and we have to "drink" it. And you make bread with your "bread machine", detailing each ingredient - flour, yeast, water, salt etc. You also make us "pancakes" all the time (and ask for them every meal). Your imagination is limitless... we love listening to you talk to yourself over the video monitor when you wake up in the mornings, or when you are going to bed.

- When you are in an imaginary world, you will only respond to your imaginary name. If you are pretending to be a cow and I call you Judah, you say "No mama! I'm not a Judah. I'm a little cow!" ... and I have to call you "little cow" instead... same goes for pretending to be a fire man, dinosaur, Harry (from your dinosaur show) etc.

- Conversation example: "Mama I brought you a chocolate money [chocolate coin]! Here, eat it!"... "Oh yummy, thanks Judah!"... (I put the imaginary chocolate in my mouth and pretend to chew)... "NO Mama! You have to take the peel [wrapper] off first!"... (so I take the imaginary wrapper off the imaginary coin and eat it)... "Wasn't that delicious, Mama?!"... "Yes, thank you Judah!"

- You love to sing songs, and you have quite the repertoire.... Jesus Loves Me, Old MacDonald, Let it Go (sigh), Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man, Rolled Away, Deep and Wide, The Wise Man

- The way to talk about and remember Theodore is so precious to us. Sometimes you talk about him when you are lying in bed, and we listen over the monitor. You talk about him when you are playing with your toys. You ask about him when you notice I'm sad. You say things like "Baby brother came out of mama's tummy. He died. He went to heaven to live with Jesus"... "I gave him hugs and kisses! He is so cute! He has little tiny hands and little tiny feet"... "I miss baby Theodore, he come play toys?"... "I go to heaven and play with baby brother? They have firetrucks there! They go mee-maw mee-maw!"... "Mama sad, she miss baby Theodore?". When you weaned back in December at 22 months, I told you the milk was all gone, but that when baby brother was born there would be more milk for him. I expressed/pumped and donated milk for two months after Theodore was born, and you would say "Mama got more milk! It's for baby brother. We give it to him?"... and I would explain to you that Theodore doesn't need it because he is in heaven and instead we were giving it to other little babies who needed it. That seemed to comfort you, but you were still puzzled as to why baby brother wasn't getting his milk. I don't blame you... it's all very puzzling to our human minds that Theodore didn't get to come home with us.

- You have grown up so much in the past two+ months since Theodore went to heaven. I wish a million times to infinity that you could be brothers here on earth, but who knows what God has planned for you through the death of your brother. You have had to grasp things that no two-and-a-half year old should have to even think about. But it has been beautiful... you are learning about Jesus. You are learning about sin and about our Savior. You are learning that this world is not our forever home. Your little brother has given you this gift

- You just LOVE babies and want to touch their little hands and feet, give them hugs and kisses, make them smile and laugh etc. Whenever we see a baby anywhere you get so excited and want to go over and see them. "Mama look at that cute little baby! He's so tiny! His Mama loves him, and his Papa loves him! And they are holding him! I want to go see him. He will laugh at Judah!..." (and so on... the kid talks in paragraphs these days!). I am so glad that we have friends with babies that you can love on and interact with. One day, Lord willing, you will be a wonderful big brother to a sibling here on earth.


Judah William, we are so proud of you. Your bright little mind, your sensitive little soul, and your tender little heart. We love you, oh so much. You are a balm to our empty arms and aching hearts.

~ Momma and Papa

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dear Theodore {3 months}


My sweet Theodore,

In the earliest days after loosing you, I would cling to the hope that in a few weeks... a few months... maybe the raw pain would subside a little, maybe each minute would not be so painstaking. Those first few days the grief was so enormous, it engulfed my body. All I longed to do was to rock you, but all I could do was to rock with silent sobs. Then came some numbness. Perhaps it was my mind protecting itself. I still could not function in normal life... even the thought of making Judah a sandwich for lunch was too much. I walked around in a daze for a week or two. It was as if I was on an anesthetic to numb the sensation of grief, and it numbed all other sensations as well. I once heard grief explained as a big fiery ball - intense and enormous. The only way to deal with it is to enter into the raw pain of the fire and experience the feelings to their fullest. This is the only way to make the fire ball smaller, to keep it from consuming you. And so in small increments I weaned myself from the anesthetic... I knew I had to walk through my grief, but I could only take it in small doses, one aspect at a time.  And slowly, I came back to life. It was not a life I wanted to come back to. I wanted to come back to life with you. Life as a family of four on earth. The blissful early days of newborness.

It took enormous will power just to get out of bed in the morning. I would do battle with myself... longing to curl up and never face the world, yet knowing I had Judah who needed me and a life to live here on earth. Gradually it became less of a battle to get out of bed, a little less daunting to go out into the world. I don't know how I would have done it without knowing Judah needed me, and my mom there to give me nudges in the right direction (and many cups of tea). And now here we are - three months from your heavenly birthday... living life. I go grocery shopping, try to keep the house in order, try to keep us all fed and healthy. We go to the gym, to playdates, to MOPS, to church. I carry you with me always in my heart. Wherever I am, whatever I'm doing. There will never be a time when I don't.

This life without you, as heartbreaking as it is, carries a whole new meaning for me. I used to be afraid of death, before you. It was so foreign to me. And then, you died inside of me right before you were born. I grew you from a single cell - I was your life force, providing you with everything you needed to grow from a tiny cell to a beautiful 9lb 12oz baby boy. The God-breathed process of creating life is just incredible. Because I was so intergral in your life (and I truly believe that you LIVED from the moment you were conceived), your death wrenched from me a part of my own life. A part of me is now in heaven - you, my son. Three months ago today as I labored and gave birth to you, God's presence was tangible in the room. It felt as though we were on hallowed ground. I was giving birth to a heaven-born baby. And I can no longer live as though this world is my home, which was all too easy to do before you died. I no longer fear death. I long for heaven. And I must live for God's glory while I'm on this earth. This is how it should be, and you gave me this gift, my son. You are living in His very presence, and there is no greater reminder to live for Him than having a part of my heart in heaven.

I don't pretend to understand it at all. There are still days when it is the hardest thing in the world to drag my body out of bed. There are still days that I have to enter into that fiery ball of grief and allow myself to deeply feel the pain in order to heal. And even on the good days, there is always a sadness, a constant sense that you are not here. We have seen such goodness, such love, such blessings already come to us through the loss of you, Theodore. Our marriage and our family life are so much richer and deeper because of you. Never have I valued and appreciated things to the extent I do now. I have more patience, deeper joy, greater faith... and such bright hope. Theodore Robert, "God's shining gift", you have brought so much to our family. What I don't understand, and never will on this earth, is this: God is all powerful - he could have brought these good things, these blessings to us and to others in another way - why did it have to be through the death of you, my precious son? Isaiah 55:8-9 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." His ways are higher... His ways are higher.

It resonates deep within me that you were appointed for a time, my Theodore. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2,4 "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven... A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance." You were given to us for a time. The time for your birth and the time for your death were devastatingly intertwined. These are the things for which understanding comes only in the context of eternity with our Savior. Your perfect chubby little body, your long fingers and toes, your perfectly curled little ears... you were completely formed and ready to enter our family. You were absolutely healthy, but for a freak accident - a blood vessel in the placenta coming from you started bleeding and you bled out. But I believe that God appointed your every moment - your life on earth was full in His eyes. You now live the fullest life possible with Him for eternity. And you have enriched my life beyond measure. Everything is different now. Weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing inexplicably woven together... sorrow is deep but joy is deeper. This world is more beautiful, and heaven is breathtaking. Words are more profound... love, joy, peace, and HOPE. We cannot make sense of suffering on this earth. This is our time to abide in love for one another and persevere with joy... knowing full well the time of no more suffering, no more tears, no more pain is coming.

Today, on your three-months-in-heaven birthday, I think back to the day you were born. The solid weight of you, my son. The musky sweet newborn smell. The utterly precious rolls and chub. The feel of you cradled in my arms, held out in front of me, laying up on my shoulder with your legs tucked under and your little bottom sticking out. I wanted to hold you in every way a mama holds her baby, because I knew I would only hold you once. The sight of you in your Papa's big strong arms... arms that longed to fix everything and protect his family... arms that longed to carry you home. The precious meeting of two brothers who would never get to share a room or fight over their toys. The beautiful hours we spent with your perfect little body are forever imprinted in my memory, with a constant longing for more time with you, my Theodore. I cannot help but wonder what you would look like at three months old - the smiles and giggles and coos that you would be giving us.

Lord, help us. Help us live this life You have given us here on earth. Hold Theodore for us - hold him in Your everlasting arms. Help us in our time of grief and give us strength to live with hope until the time of rejoicing - when You will hand us our darling little boy for eternity with You.

Sweet little Theodore. Mama misses you. Papa misses you. Judah misses you. Your big brother includes you in every day life as he plays... "Mama I going in my firetruck now, with Papa and baby Theodore and tubby bear." It warms my heart while simultaneously breaking it. You will always be a part of our life, it will always hurt to miss you and I would not have it any other way.

We love you, precious boy

Mama, Papa, and Judah

We marveled at his perfect little self.

I just adore his squishy chubby little face.


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