You were born on a Monday, the 23rd of June. This month and last, your month birthdays have been on a Monday. It's been strange. I always look back to Sunday the 22nd of June with such heartache - it was the last day before our world crumbled and would never be the same. And it was SUCH a good day. We went to church... I still have the bulletin that Thomas and I played the connect-the-dot game on while taking sermon notes (how old are we?!). We came home, had lunch, and skyped with Nana and Grandad. Then off we went to Touch-A-Truck where Judah had the time of his life climbing through dump trucks and firetrucks and tow trucks and school buses. From there we went straight to our church's summer picnic, complete with inflatable water slides, pools, and sprinklers for the kids... it was so fun and we got to talk with many of our church family. I was hugely pregnant with you and everyone was excited that you would be here any day. The whole day, I just had this feeling that it was our last "hurrah" before our sweet baby boy arrived and we started our new life with him. And I guess I was mostly right - except for the devastating fact that we would be starting our new life without you. We had no way to know that before the end of the week, we would be having your memorial service.
Nine months ago right now, on another Monday, I was in labor with you. The physical agony was nothing compared the pain of the knowledge that I would be giving birth only to say goodbye. Your birth has given me the courage to face every day since then. I think to myself "If I got through that, I can get through anything... I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Women often say that giving birth is the most painful thing you might face on this earth... I can guarantee you that it's not. Giving your baby up to heaven is... it is true physical, mental, emotional agony.
Bereaved motherhood is a hard journey. Nine months in, most days are manageable... I can take care of Judah, get housework done, prepare meals, run errands. But there is always a hole, always something missing. On hard days and anniversaries like today, the hole seems bigger and more achy. It's like being desperately hungry, only nothing will satisfy you. It's a deep ache that longs for you to be home with me, my Theodore, and yet recognizes that this earth will never be home.
There is a song by David Crowder that plays through my mind often:
"Come As You Are"
When I feel the weight of sadness and grief, I often say to myself... "Rest for the weary, rest that endures... earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal". On your month birthdays, I give myself the whole day without plans, because I never know what I will feel. Today I woke up with Judah, and the morning went fairly normally. I read something that made me choke up a little, but then I was ok again. As the hours went by, though, I've had this headache that's been building... like a storm brewing. I put Judah down for his nap, and he had some hard questions about life and death, and why Jesus had to die on the cross. I felt so inadequate to answer them in a way that he would understand. As I rocked him and sang "Jesus Loves Me" before he climbed into bed, I felt the floodgates begin to open... I managed to hold it back until he was tucked in and on his way to dreamland. I sat down to write this letter and let the tears out as the headache slowly faded. I call them "grief headaches" now, and they often surprise me, but I'm learning to recognize them. One of the things that's hard for me right now is that each month, it gets more difficult to picture you at an older age. We are only three months from your first birthday in heaven. It fills me with sorrow when I realize this is the month that Judah started walking and looked so grown up to me... and I will never know what you look like at nine months old. Earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal...
This afternoon when he wakes up, Judah and I will go pick up nine blue balloons to let go when Papa gets home, and some bright flowers to bring some light and beauty into the house. We'll all go visit your little grave... Judah will ring the windchimes and spin your pinwheel and we'll pray. It's not how we pictured celebrating your birthday every month, but it brings us some peace. One of my projects this month is planting a little flower garden memorial in the corner of our yard next to your hydrangea... plenty of bright colors and beauty.
We love you, Theodore Robert. I have no idea how heaven works, but this month I will imagine you taking your first wobbly steps surrounded by angels and light and love in the presence of Jesus.
Love, Momma, Papa, Judah, and baby sister
A few pictures during labor with you, nine months ago right now:
Close up of my necklace, that I wore during labor with you and with Judah