The Path of Transition

2018, Creating Change, Family, grief, Joy, loss, Parenting, Toby

I’ve spent the last week swimming in baby items. Most of which were Toby’s. The switch over of the nursery has hit me in waves. I feel joy & love in my heart in places that have been so broken and painful for 25 months, it scares me. Then the pain begins and the tears fall while every sense is engaged by grief – my eyes see flashbacks to certain moments when Toby is right with me; I can smell him when drawers are opened or blankets are moved; the sound of toys that jingle or crackle take me back to the 2am feedings where he would be wide awake and the happiest baby, just wanting to laugh and watch you talk to him.

I can’t make it through a day lately where I don’t have a huge breakdown, missing Toby and wondering how on earth am I going to be able to mother our third little boy without constant fear?

I’m not sure there is an answer, enough therapy, or strong enough medication to take away the fear.

Yesterday I pulled the car seat from the basement. It was buried in the corner of the room where items that needed to be gone from site were placed two years ago. It had never been cleaned. The interior inset had spit up on it and smelled moldy & musty. Toby’s frog toy still hung from the handle. When I pulled at it, it rattled back to the top. I imagined him laughing, watching me, even though I was crying.

I spent an hour last night pulling the whole thing apart. Shouting the entire inside before placing it in the washer. I wiped down the straps and placed them in hot water to soak overnight. But I couldn’t stop thinking that this was the last place I saw my baby boy. He was in his seat, happy as can be, when I left him that morning. That evening, we brought the empty seat home. And Toby never came home.

I pulled the insert out of the washer this morning. Clean. Smelling of detergent. No sign of the marks that were there last night. Those pieces of Toby that had been there for two years were gone. I was mad at myself for cleaning it, well knowing it had to be done, but wishing to God the pain could have gone down the drain with all that other muck.

I put it all back together and brought it upstairs, setting it in the stroller in the living room. I sat on the piano bench and stared at it for a few minutes, tears welling in my eyes.

There are many days lately that I can’t believe how close we are to having our third little boy home. How quickly it went. How some days it doesn’t even feel real. Being on the cusp of 30 weeks pregnant and after doing this two times before still feeling like, “Am I ready? Can I do this?”

It’s that motherly fear.

It doesn’t go away. It manifests itself in different pockets of pregnancy and the newborn stage. We’re all afraid of something. If you don’t think you are then your lying to yourself. No one knows how to do this. No one does it perfectly. The grass is not greener on the other side.

Maybe you’re just getting more sunshine that day?

Did you ever think about it that way?

I didn’t until lately.

Through continual prayer, novenas, and the help of Toby from Heaven, I’ve been able to walk through the last few weeks, grieving when I need and for as long as I need, and focusing on myself and my boys. I know that is where my focus needs to be right now.

Two years ago, when I started writing about our journey, the word that resonated with us; described the 12 weeks and 5 days we had; and also symbolizes how we made it through another day without Toby, is JOY.

#joyfortobystern became our rock and became a trend that was spread across the US to share Toby’s story. The impact it had on everyone who read about Toby or saw his picture was remarkable to see and many times we witnessed how Toby brought JOY to others, in their time of need.

Toby and his JOY are with our family now as we stand at the doorstep of another chapter for our family.

I have faith that God will see us through.

I have faith that Toby will guard our family with his army of Angels.

I have no doubt that we will experience JOY again in the coming months and it will be delivered by our blue-eyed angel, Toby, who sits at His Thrown and is now protected by His graces for eternity.

I have faith that Toby’s JOY will support us as we wade through memories of him and make new memories with our third little boy. As we transition from #ourfamilyoffour to #ourfamilyoffive.

To The Parents Preparing For School to Begin – A Note From A Grieving Family

2018, Creating Change, Family, grief, Lucas, Parenting, Toby

Lucas will start Pre-K this fall. With his first school application, we had to write a letter about our family. I was absolutely not ready for this. I knew we’d have to do it one day and know this is only the start of these conversations with teachers, administration, coaches, and families that we will meet along the way. But the triggers it brought were another layer of grief we were not prepared for.

The administration was very welcoming and told us that one of the first things classes do is a family tree, which also has a discussion about family amongst the children and asked if Luke would be comfortable with the conversation. I both cried and beamed with joy.

Luke is so proud of Toby. He may not say that exactly, but he talks about him multiple times daily, includes him in his stories and games and in his prayers at night. I have no doubt he will proudly talk about Toby during family discussions and projects at school.

Lucas & Toby – July 2016

I saw this article from Today Show and it triggered the tears. I don’t even have to read the article. We’re not even there yet, Toby would only be 2. But I know this will be me in two years and every year after that, for the next 20.

Every sport, every play, every class project, he will visually be missing from the class of 2034, but I know I will watch that Class and wonder he would be.

My mothering heart prays that school, classmates, and other parents will be kind to my little boys. This is our family, not by choice, God knows. These boys are our life and we will talk about them proudly, holding Luke & our Rainbow tightly and doing the same with Toby’s memory.

If by chance your family has a grieving family in your class, whether you know from the first day of school or don’t learn about it until mid-year, please be kind.

You may not understand. We don’t expect you to. We just ask for you to be kind to our boys – they don’t know any different and to them, we aren’t different. Luke is a big brother. Toby is his little brother, who to him loves baseball and the color green.

And if you really want to experience something amazing, take a moment to ask Luke about Toby. You may just find yourself hugging your own kiddos a little tighter that evening and thanking God for the blessings you get to kiss goodnight and tuck into bed each evening.

Remember, we are a family, just like you.

One of our sons just got called home a little sooner, to do God’s work.

 

Article from Today
Author: Jennifer Swartvagher

Dear Kindergarten teacher: My son will be absent on the first day of school

PSA: Spend the Money. Buy the Owlet.

2018, Creating Change, Family, grief, loss, Parenting, The Little Fox | Toby's Foundation, Toby

Over the past week, I have been asked multiple times about the Owlet Baby Monitors.

  • Are they worth it?
  • Should I spend the money?
  • I’m on the fence about this monitor, but…

What is unspoken is the BUT in each of these instances.

  • But, I don’t want to have to worry about my infant while they are sleeping.
  • But, I don’t want to have to continually check if they are breathing.
  • But, I don’t want to have additional anxiety overnight times or naps.
  • But, I don’t want to be you.

I don’t take offense to that last statement.

Believe me. I don’t want to be me either. Every morning I wake up and look at Toby’s face on my nightstand, instead of going in and getting him out of his bed. Every day I put shoes on one child, instead of two. Every day I drop one little boy off at daycare, instead of both of my boys. Every night we pick one set of books to read before bed, instead of having to compromise on two books for two little boys favorites. And, every night we say prayers and we have to tell Toby we love him without seeing him and “We hope you had a good day in Heaven.

No one wants to be this mom. This family. No one wants this life. No one.

Yes, the Owlet is expensive. But it could alert you and tell you if there’s something wrong with your infant.

Yes, $300 is a lot of money. Owlet offers payment plans if you cannot purchase in full. They have also worked to accept FSA’s through some provider’s health plans across the US. If you don’t know if yours will cover it – contact Owlet and ask. 1-844-334-5330.

From a family who has done the whole shower/registry list – if you are contemplating placing one of these monitors on your list of needed items – do it. Skip the swing or the bouncer. Family and friends are more likely to purchase one of the more expensive items because these are normally must-have items for a baby. The Owlet Smart Sock is a must-have.

The Owlet is able to tell you heart rate and oxygen levels; sleep trends; red notification reports to view and talk with your doctor about what led to the red notification, and all of this data can be instantly shared with your family or doctors. Every single day.

Yes, they say that the first three months of an infant’s life are the most vulnerable. The Owlet can be used up to 1 year old – imagine not having that anxiety for 12 months.

 

We have spent the last month talking to a number of daycares in the Pittsburgh area who have never used a device like the Owlet, but are open to the conversation and once they have learned what it can offer their families and staff that care for infants each day, they are receptive to having these in their programs. This is another step in offering families “peace of mind” when they have to leave their little ones each day and go to work.

The Little Fox – Toby’s Foundation will continue to push this conversation and the importance of using this monitor with your infant, starting right here in the Pittsburgh area. That is part of our mission – to promote Safe Sleep and to educate others about safe sleep practices and the tools available to families to try and prevent a SIDS death.

This is our mission because this is our life. Toby may have only been here 12 weeks and 5 days, but his life and his memory will make a difference to the lives of others. I know our son’s impact is far from over and as grieving parents, it is our job to keep his memory alive and help prevent our grieving parents’ circle from getting bigger.

If you have questions about the Owlet or any of the organizations across the US that are partnering with Owlet, like The Little Fox – Toby’s Foundation, please contact us. We would be happy to talk with you about the device and any open application calls that we know of to possibly receive an Owlet for your family for free.

thelittlefoxfoundation@gmail.com

 

If you need confirmation from someone else on the importance of this device, check out Jessica Alba’s interview with InStyle Magazine on Parenting Tips – skip to 1:36.

https://www.instyle.com/videos/jessica-alba-parenting-tips-breast-pumping

One More Moment

2018, Family, grief, loss, Parenting, Toby

It’s the 24th again. Another milestone. But, not one where we can tell the world your new favorite book or food. It’s another month of you being away from us.

It is also the month which starts the season that coincides with our time with you on Earth. Two years ago you were still safe in my belly. I was finishing my last days of work and my heart was full of excitement as I couldn’t wait to meet you.

Now, I cry looking at pictures, listening to the birds outside, watching the sun set, watching Luke play in the yard – there’s just emptiness, right where you should be.

I was traveling last weekend and drove by myself. On my way home I stopped to get lunch at McDonalds. It was busy so I ordered and sat down waiting for my food. I didn’t see it when I walked in, but as I sat at the table by myself, I was surrounded by children. Sitting with their families, playing in the play area, running with their siblings. I didn’t even have a moment to think about it, but tears were pouring down my cheeks. It was a moment where the pain of my son dying, of being robbed of every joyful moment as a parent was all right in front of me. I sat there crying as I tried to finish my meal. There was a little girl sitting a few tables a way. Her parents were getting her brother situated with his meal and when I noticed her she was just staring at me. She waved at me.

She couldn’t have been more than two as she was in a high chair. I tried to smile to wave back to her, but I couldn’t. I cried even harder. I waved and she smiled at me and then her attention was back with her family at the table.

I got home to an empty house. Dan was at his parents with Luke and took Murray & Theo with him. There are moms that beg for empty houses – alone time, me time. Empty houses only bring me pain and sadness. I love our home. I said that a week ago when we celebrated our two year anniversary of buying our house. But, Toby’s always missing. The pattern of his feet running after Luke upstairs. His giggle. The sound of his voice.

I know that being a mom is hard. That being a parent is challenging on a relationship. That it’s easy to complain about the little things in life. But try and remember – that’s what they are, little things.

  • Reading yet another book before bed.
  • Listening to your children argue about what show they want on.
  • Letting them have 5 more minutes playing before dinner starts.
  • Taking a shower while they talk to you outside the curtain about their day or what snack they want.
  • Doing 10 loads of laundry a week. (I hate laundry, but I hate it even more because none of Toby’s things are there to fold.)

These are little things. And you have them. We never will with Toby.

So today, when you have a moment as a parent where you want to lose your temper or tell them to be quiet, take that extra moment and think of every parent who has lost a child or children. Pray for them. It doesn’t matter how long it has been. Their hearts need strength.

Pray for them and then give thanks for the moments you do have with your children.

I’d give anything for another moment with my son.

Learning to Live

2018, faith, Family, grief, loss, Parenting, Toby

Life is hard. Grief is harder. It gets worse before it gets better. This makes everyday challenges & situations sharper and hard to not take directly to heart. I look around the world some days and then I look at Luke and think “Am I doing this right?” Honestly, some days I’m not sure.

My heart has been very heavy lately. Some days I feel like I’ve been pulled back into the first few weeks without Toby. It’s scary. It’s sad. It’s heartbreaking. There have been a few days that I’ve felt so consumed with grief that I questioned how I have made it for 18 months. I don’t know. I don’t know that I ever will.

I sat on the floor the other evening after folding a load of laundry, with Toby’s picture book in my lap, crying. Crying because I didn’t have laundry for him. Crying because in 18 months I haven’t opened the drawers in his room, except for once. And the one time that I did, the sight of clothes he never got to wear and the smell,his smell, made me so ill I shut it and haven’t dared open it since.

I cried for at least a half hour. I could physically feel pain inside my chest and the tears on my face. It hurt, but felt like my body was unloading emotion that I couldn’t hold anymore. I’ve had so many of those moments since this year started.

When this year started I promised myself I was going to try a few [different] things to try to manage my grief. I started to read the Bible. No specific book or part, just random, open up and start reading. Yes, of course, I am searching for something in what I’m reading; some sign of Toby; some direction for our family’s path; some sign that God has a plan for us. Something.

To be honest, I don’t always find that. But, on the mornings that have followed, there have been devotions in my prayers for things that are not among my daily thoughts or things weighing on my heart. I don’t have a sure sign of where they come from, but I am starting to think that maybe it’s God’s way of using my pain.

There is a spot in the events of the day that Toby died that causes me so much pain. This spot is a place, outside our home, that I have to see and face daily. And everyday I sit there, with the heartache, the pain, the death of my son, staring back at me. I’ve succumb to its presence in my daily routine. Some days I cry. Some days I stare. Some days I have to close my eyes and remind myself to breathe because PTSD kicks in and the sounds all come rushing back my head. Some days I stare, as I sit in my car by myself and say “Why?”

About a week ago I was near this spot and the one thing, the one physical thing that always brings the emotion back, had been blocked, by a pile of dirt. I looked at it and was genuinely surprised that the pain that I expected to feel, that I felt daily, wasn’t there. “Huh.” I heard myself say. “A break?” I was asking God.

We all have those moments. Those moments when we plead with God for a break. Or a sign. Or an answer. When we’re in the midst of frustration or disparity. When we haven’t had a day go right.

These moments are more devastating for a grieving parent. These moments are faced with unending questioning of how strong we are; how much we can handle; how misunderstood can we be; how rude and uncompassionate people can be; how quick to judge society is; how much more can our heart break; before enough is enough. It is a continual test, to which the answer and the Judge is not in this world.

I have a lot to learn in life. Some things, through the years. Some things, through experience. Some things, through prayer.

A lot of the weight I am physically carrying is because of fear.

Fear of no control.

Fear of the unknown.

Fear of my heart not having any more ways to break.

Fear of not being able to save those most important to me.

Fear that I may forget. Forget anything.

Fear of disappointing my parents, or worse, my children, because I’ve been so handicapped by grief that I can’t give it my all.

These are all worth fearing, but do you know the ultimate fear of a grieving parent?

Fear of what will never be.

Fear of having to carry that pain – every.single.day. – for the rest of my life.

There is no “getting over” the loss of our son. It pains me that anyone would even think that would be possible for a parent or family dealing with any kind of infant or child loss. There is no timetable for grief.

What I’m struggling with is learning to live with grief and without Toby.

God’s Timing

2018, faith, Family, grief, loss, Parenting, Toby

I lay in bed last night listening to the rain on the windows of the house. The wind blew so fiercely it felt as though it was something swiping through the air, grabbing, lifting whatever it could – then it was gone. I listened to it for a few moments. It happened two, three, times. It felt like I was having a déjà vu moment. I closed my eyes tightly trying to recenter my thoughts, away from the weather outside, then the rain hit again. When I opened my eyes, it hit me. I hit the home button on my phone and Toby’s smiling face appeared; I scanned to the date – the 23rd.

17 months ago Toby was asleep in his crib. 17 months ago this morning I could have looked at him on the monitor and he would have been right there. 17 months ago I could have walked down the hall ten steps and been standing over him. Today, if I walk 10 steps, everything’s still there – except Toby.

For the past 17 months I have honed my “selective hearing” powers. Although well intended, more often than not, a cliche phrase hurts me, more than someone saying nothing at all.

He’s in a better place.

God needed another angel.

Everything happens for a reason.

God never gives you more than you can handle.

…Yes. Yes, actually he can. He did. I was given more than I could ever possibly handle. Our son was given to us – healthy, beautiful, thriving, sweet, handsome, funny, loving – absolutely perfect. Exactly what we prayed for. Then, after 12 weeks and 5 days on this Earth, in one strong swoop, like the rain/wind last night, he was taken from our arms and given his wings.

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It rained the night of August 24. I remember sitting on our living room couch, staring at the wall, listing to the rain. It was pouring. I literally could not wrap my head around what was even happening. I thought “Why would Heaven be crying? They gained the most beautiful angel this evening. They have Toby – why would they cry?”

I’ve had many different discussions with people over the last 17 months having to do with our control in life. My realization thought 17 months of grieving the death of my son – we have no control.

We can do everything possible. Reroute our days; change our schedules; plan for everything; stress over the ‘What if’s?’ It is not in our control.

Matthew 24:36 says:

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

We think that we have time. Time to get healthy. Time to take a trip. Time to move across country. Time to take a job you’d never considered.

We think that we have more time. I’ll call my parents tomorrow. I’ll apologize in a few days. I won’t say something like that next time. I will stick up for them (or myself) next time.

What if there isn’t a next time?

We are on God’s watch. Here on Earth.

During the first few weeks after Toby died I walked around in a fog. I’d replay moments in my mind and guilt would set in – What if I didn’t do enough for him? I’d literally drive myself into a paranoia. Until one day, I was so deep in grief and angry with everything and everyone. I stood in our empty house, at Toby’s crib, with my hands gripped on his bed rail – yelling anything and everything to the Heavens.  “Are you listening? We are good parents and we love our boys with every breath we have.

I sank to the floor, crying, repeating “Why did you take him! I don’t know how to do this without him! I can’t do this without my son!

This dark day forever changed my relationship with God. No, I did not receive an answer from Him. I will not have an answer until the day I stand before his thrown, Toby in my arms. I have accepted that. I have not yet accepted His timing. I have not fully placed my trust in His Plan.

This is what I am working on.

There have been numerous times over the past few months where I’ve veered off course. My light has gone out and I’ve had to stop and re-center my thoughts. Sometimes this takes days. I deal with anger, despair, loneliness, emptiness. It is very heavy and dark. But I fight for the light.

We were having a really hard time a few weeks ago. I cried every day. I withdrew from anything that wasn’t necessary. I felt like I was sucker punched with another round of grief. I was fighting for light. I stood at our kitchen sink looking out the window. The ground was blanketed with snow. The sky was grey and I thought “This looks like my life. I never thought this would be my life – no color.” I blinked and to my amazement, right down on our fence post sat a cardinal. There it was – my light. I’ve held onto that moment for the past few weeks – it’s been my center. I am waiting patiently for the Lord. I am working to be brave and courageous.

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To our sweet Toby – I hope your days in Heaven have been beautiful. For every day that passes, I am one day closer to seeing you again. You are our light and Luke is our rock. I will never have a prouder moment than being your and Luke’s mom. I love you to the moon and back, baby boy.

Xoxo,

Mommy

 

Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out.

—Ruth 3:18

Finding Our Footing in 2018

2017, 2018, Creating Change, Family, grief, Joy, loss, Marriage, Parenting, Toby

As I sit in our home on the last day of 2017, my heart is fragile. This holiday season has been hard. The reality of Toby being gone, forever, was ever present over the past few weeks. Where many experienced cheer and love, we felt abandonment and sadness.

It is hard to believe 2017 is nearly over. A full year without our son. No hugs or kisses. No first steps. No presents for Toby under the tree. As we stood in the cold on Christmas Day at the foot of Toby’s grave, I kept thinking to myself – I never could have imagined this is how we’d spend our holidays. Why is this our life? I fought like hell to find all the excitement and happiness I could for the holidays, it exhausted me.

We spent the last few days holed up in our house, doing a whole lot of nothing. Surprisingly, it was refreshing. We watched a lot of movies. We played in the snow with Luke, Murray & Theo. I read a lot – posts, articles, and books. I came across a passage yesterday in my reading that has been on my heart since.

Through this past year, while trying to spread Toby’s joy with as many as possible, I have continued to carry a heavy piece of grief with me. It has darkened my days and tested my relationship with God. I have sat at Toby’s grave; on my knees at the foot of the cross; and continually on my drive to work when I’m alone in the car asking “Why? Why would You take Toby? Why did this happen to our family?” This question has become a staple in my devotionals for our family and our healing. I hear this question in the midst of everyday routines. Well knowing that I will never have an answer, until the day I am standing in Heaven with Toby back in my arms.

Yesterday, I came upon this passage while reading:

“We have no right to ask

When sorrow comes,

Why did this happen to me?

Unless we ask the same question

For every joy that comes our way.”

-Philip S. Bernstein

This passage led me back to something that was given to me, by my mom, a few months ago. It is a song title ‘Glorious Unfolding.’ She had given me the CD to listen to. Instead, we Google’d the song and found the video to go with it. This song is emotional, and I can imagine, it can take on many meanings for those struggling – with anything – with death; with illness; with job loss; with financial insecurity; with family turmoil; with marriage struggles; with stumbles you may have had in the past year.

There’s a message for you in this. Open your heart, quiet your mind, and listen.

Glorious Unfolding – Steven Curtis Chapman

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I have no idea what 2018 holds. This past year held moments of JOY that I do not want to let go of. They were moments from Toby, that I know he delivered to us. I felt it. There were moments of pure excitement and happiness with Luke that I thanked God, repeatedly for.

My one hope for 2018 is that I can loosen the grip on this question to which there is no answer – “Why?” And in trying to do that, help us see more of the Joy that God is placing in our path. I have to believe it is there. There is no other choice.

I know that this will not be easy. Grief is hard. It is ruthless. For grieving parents, the reality of a child dying, never goes away.  But life continues to move forward. Things change.

Our path has changed, our journey has been altered. We must now find our footing on this path and keep climbing. I am not sure where we are going – figuratively or literally. And I know this will not be easy. It will not be without hurt and tears. But I pray that on our climb we find places to rest, recharge, grieve, and enjoy our family – all four of us.

Here we come, 2018, with joy in hand. Be gentle on us.

18 Month Milestone

2017, Family, grief, loss, Lucas, Parenting, Toby

To our sweet boy, who would be 18 months old today: my mind lately is continually trying to visualize what you would look like today?

I look at Lucas from that age and wonder, ‘would your hair be as straight? Or as blonde?’ I doubt it. I think you’d look very much like Daddy with darker hair and eyes. Sleeping is becoming hard again. I feel like it’s my body trying to adjust to a routine that we should be in, but we’re not, because you’re not here. I keep waking up in the middle of the night and then I’m awake for an hour or so. Staring through the crack between the window and the blind, wondering what you’re doing.

The past few evenings I wake up from a dream I’m having, although I don’t know what I’m dreaming about. My eyes seem to be slightly open and there’s flickering light but when I open them, I’m wide awake and it’s pitch black. I’ve convinced myself that it’s you and your angels visiting us in the night. I wish I could open my eyes quick enough to see you.

We’re working on getting the house ready for Christmas. I wish you could see it. Luke loved the lights when he was one. He’d sit and laugh looking at them. Everywhere I go I see fox ornaments. Aunt Megan said the other day “I’m not sure if they’re everywhere or if we just find them because we’re looking.” I feel the same way, but again, I’d like to think they’re little signs from you.

Daddy, Luke and I miss you, Toby. This really isn’t getting any easier. But we are trying. I look at pictures of you smiling and close my eyes, hoping I can still hear you laugh. Your laugh made my heart flutter and it made Daddy laugh, too.

On the way to work this morning, Luke said “We’re going to play baseball and Toby and I are going to win the trophy. No one else.” I’m sure you’ve heard us tell him that he can’t always win and that he’ll always have teammates. But, this morning, I said “Good. I like that plan.” My heart hurts knowing how much he misses you and knowing how much fun you two would have together. If you can, maybe visit Luke in his dreams. I know he’d love to run the bases with you, Toby.

Daddy and I will stand at home plate to high-five our boys as you score the winning runs.

Happy 18 months, baby boy.

I love you.

Mommy

My Boys Hero

2017, Dan, Family, grief, loss, Parenting

I am sharing this today as a tribute to my boys hero. He loves them unconditionally. He is the best role model and the best teacher. Luke is his shadow and if you’d ask him, “Daddy can do everything better” 😉 but I’m ok with it.

Toby was Dans twin, right down to the hair on his head. He loved to be held by daddy and he laughed and smiled so much in his arms.

Often times, I think Dads get sidelined in the grief journey. But they shouldn’t. They grieve too. They cry too. Their hearts are broken too.

My Faith in God

faith, Family, grief, loss, Marriage, Parenting, Toby

This has been a difficult week for our family. Grief is hard. It’s exhausting. It comes from nowhere. No warning. And it stays, for as long as it likes. You can have a good moment and the next you are crying. That happens with me a lot. Your body can ache from the physical pain of grief, not just pain from your heart.

We pray for strength. We pray for understanding. We pray that Toby sees every tear that we cry, not because we want him to see the pain – there is no pain in Heaven. Our prayers are that he see the love. The love that comes with every break of our hearts and every tear we have shed over the last 14 months.

I am sharing this because we have said from the beginning that we want to educate people on what it is like to be grieving parents. To have our infant son, die. This is what it is like.

 

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Today I read a post from another grieving mother reflecting on what she feels when she visits the cemetery. She talked about experiencing peace and a connection with being there with her child. I envy her perspective. I envy this amazing trust she seems to have in Gods plan.

Today, while it started off well, quickly turned difficult. My arms ache to hold Toby, to hear him laugh with Dan or Luke, to feel his hair and see his bright blue eyes.

I drive home past the cemetery most days and most times I need to stop. But today there is more anger here. I hate that the ground has fresh cut grass – that reminds me of how long it’s been since we buried him. I hate that the leaves are falling – a reminder of a season that I used to love, but now holds my broken heart. I look at his stone and want to pull his name from the marble. I don’t want there to be an end date etched in there. I don’t even want to be here. As I start to descend over the hill to this hand-picked spot, I can’t make it past the last stone before his, before tears stream down my face. Every time.

I want to have faith in God’s plan. I want to have joy in knowing Toby is in Heaven walking in His Kingdom. I want to take heart in knowing that he felt no pain – that his heart will never break, like mine or Dan’s.

But as a grieving mother, sometimes my faith in God is shaky. My vision in his goodness is blurred by days of tears, wishing for my Toby to be back here, on Earth, with us. Sometimes, even falling to my knees to pray, my heart still feels heavy and my arms empty when I get back up.

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Do not be afraid to ask about Toby. Do not be afraid to ask how we are feeling. And also, on a day when we may not want to talk, please understand and do not hold it against us. You do not know what we are struggling with. You do not know the memories that are flashing through our minds. We understand that too. We only pray for patience, consideration and respect.

We are parents of two beautiful boys, who are our world. They are loved unconditionally and they make us very proud.