20 Months of Emotion

2018, Family, grief, loss, Toby

When I first started my professional career I told my mom, “I’m going to have my own company in my 30’s.” I wanted it to be a combination of marketing and community involvement. I never could have predicted that my company would be founded in memory of our son. We never could have predicted how August 24, 2016 would alter our lives. We could have never imagined the impact that Toby’s life would have on so many people and families.

We spent most of today going through legal steps for The Little Fox. We made phone calls, wrote emails, looked at other fundraisers, researched contacts to connect with to help with the mission of Toby’s Foundation. There is joy in seeing milestones completed and seeing an official starting line for this project that we’ve been working on a mere weeks after Toby’s death. There is also an overwhelming sadness that can creep in. We wonder “why us?” “Why Toby?” “Why can’t we trade it all to have him back?” There are no answers, but that is grief. Especially over the loss of a baby.

We went to visit Toby today. We stood at the foot of his grave. It was windy, raining, and so gray. I stood there staring at his stone, but I couldn’t feel anything else. I felt like I was watching us from afar. There was no sound. Over and over in my mind…20 months. 20 months since this cemetery became part of our weekly routine. “I really cannot believe this is our life,” I said out loud. Dan just looked at me and squeezed my hand.

Instead of taking a day off work to take our two boys to the Zoo, the Science Center, the park, our time now is spent visiting our youngest son, at the cemetery. Bringing flowers or crosses, cleaning his headstone, talking to him while we cry.

It is unbelievable. The way our lives and our family has changed since August 24, 2016. 20 months of heartache. 20 months of wondering what Toby would look like now, what words he would know, what his favorite book would be. 20 months spent trying to live each day to the fullest, because we have experienced exactly what it means to not know “when your time on earth is done.” 20 months of trying to make a difference through Toby’s memory in the lives of others. 20 months of missing my son more than any number of words could ever express.

All the Love

2017, faith, Family, Home, Parenting

To the new mom who is running on two hours of sleep; no shower in a few days; same clothes you slept in from the day before; three week old baby asleep on your shoulder and the living room in front of you a mess from toys your two-year old has been playing with – I’m praying for you.

To the new foster mom in line at the store. Your cart not only filled high with food, clothes, winter jackets, hats and gloves, diapers, formula, soap and juice, but the two little girls that you just opened your home and heart to – I’m praying for you.

To the women in line at the pharmacy, holding a pregnancy test, your stomach in knots because you don’t want to go through the heartbreak of yet another miscarriage but yet you want a positive test; to be able to carry a healthy baby full term; and finally hold your child in your arms – I’m praying for you.

To the grandmother who has raised a family, watched her children marry and now have families and children of their own. Who have silently grieved while being strong for your daughters and sons as they have endured miscarriages, deaths of children, infertility and continual longing – I am praying for you.

To the mother who is now caring for her own mother. A women who adored her family and yet today no longer remembers who they are or who is caring for her, but loves you anyway and smiles as you brush her hair or sing her a song – I’m praying for you.

To the women who has done everything possible to conceive; ate all the right things; taken every pill or shot they’ve prescribed; prayed 1,000 times over and yet nothing is working and you feel like you’re body is failing you; preventing you from being the mom you always wanted to be; from your husband becoming a father; your parents a grandparent – I’m praying for you. 

To the grandmother who is now raising her grandchildren, for whatever the circumstance may be. Who has opened her home to the laughter and tears, long nights and fights over what everyone wants for dinner, but goes to be each evening thanking God for these little blessings – I’m praying for you.

To the stay-at-home mom who would give anything for a night out, even if that just meant a trip to Target and a coffee on your own. Who was up before her family to finish laundry and pack lunches and who will have toys, books, craft supplies and dinner to clean up after bath time tonight – I am praying for you.

To the working mom whose alarm went off at 5am so you could get a workout in before the rest of your family was awake, worked a 8-5 day and only stopped to go to the bathroom once and whose lunch consisted of a pack of crackers and a diet coke. Who is on pick-up for daycare this week and would give anything for her email to stop while she’s watching just one episode of Mickey Mouse with her toddler before bedtime – I’m praying for you.

For the parents who have one child in the hospital and one, or more, child(en) at home. Who haven’t been in the same room with each other for weeks because they are focused on making sure each child is taken care of and feels like everything is going to be ok. Who take shifts sleeping and working, just to pay the medical bills and buy groceries, and sometimes don’t know what day of the week it is – I’m praying for you.

To the father holding the weight of the world on your shoulders so that your wife and children do not have to bear it. Finding all the right things to say when someone asks “how are you?”; defending and protecting your family with every ounce of strength you have that when you hit your knees to pray, all that comes are tears – I’m praying for you. 

To the women and men who teach and care for our children while their parents are at work each day. Who comfort them when they are sick or skinned their knee playing outside. Who discipline them, even when you don’t want to, and show them how to share and pray. Who high-five them when they ace their spelling or math test and say “wait till you tell Mom & Dad” – I’m praying for you.

To the mother and father who’s weekly routine involves multiple visits to the cemetery, either before or after work, because you’ve suffered the loss of one or more children. Who spend time each week telling your children about what you wish you were doing with them, here on Earth, instead of them watching you from Heaven – I’m praying for you.

To anyone that reads this and can relate to any of these circumstances, I admire your ability to do it every day. I have seen each of you over the past few months and if it wasn’t for the death of my son, Toby, which caused me to look at life in a different way, I may not have seen you, or recognized how hard you are trying. I admire the patience you have, your ability to face each day and your dedication to those that depend on you. I wish you grace and peace for whatever road you are on. I know that you want the children in your lives to feel important and loved. And no matter what anyone says, they DO and that’s because of YOU. You do it best. You love them best and the exact way that they need to be loved.

I am praying for each of you this month because I have seen you and you’ve made an impact on my life, without knowing it, and how I look at every situation. Know that someone is praying for you and wishing that, if even for one moment of your day, you can see yourself and think “I am brave” or “I am doing my best.” 

You do not feel it at all, I know. I’m right there with you. But you are. You are brave, and you are wise, and I hope you feel loved.

I found this leaf on the ground yesterday morning as I dropped Luke off. A little sign from our angel, Toby.