Happy Birthday, My Son

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 This is about all I can muster up at the moment, but there will be more to come.

We are celebrating Mattie’s 4th Birthday today, breathing in and out, celebrating the gift that we were given and mourning deeply that he is not here.

October 20, 2010

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October 20, 2011

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October 20, 2012

 

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October 20, 2013

 

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Almost 4

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Oh son, I celebrate your life every moment of every day.

I wake up and breathe in the pain and the miracle all at the same time.

My heart will be forever changed.

You gave and gave and gave, and you left your very spirit emblazoned on my heart.

I’m certain today that all of heaven is rejoicing and celebrating the silly brown eyed boy with the wild curls that blow in heaven’s breeze.

I’m certain today, the angels are rolling back their heads in laughter at the crazy faces you make as you chase them down.

I’m certain the Father of All has tossed you in the air just like your earthly father did and is whispering beautiful love songs in your ear.

I just wish I could see it all.

I wish there was not this great divide between heaven and earth.

Until that day, I close my eyes…… and I love you.

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If you would like to celebrate with us,  I would ask you to take a photo today with a cupcake, a balloon or a pinwheel to wish our little man a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Use ‪#‎happybirthdaymattie‬ please on Instagram or Facebook.

I’m Not Mad At God, I’m Just Kind of Mad

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I’m not mad in the “crazy furious, angry” kind of way.

I’m not mad in the “out of my mind, insane, lunatic” kind of way. (at least not most days)

I’m really mad in the “this is not what I had planned, I feel gypped, this is not fair, scream at the sky” kind of way.

It’s not directed at God, this anger of mine.

It’s just there.

Mingled with overwhelming sadness like a casserole of emotions and everything is touching.

I can’t always separate sad from mad.

I wanted to see him walk.

I wanted to hear him talk.

I wanted to celebrate when he outgrew his need for a trach.

I wanted to see him get on the school bus. (ok, not really!)

I wanted to watch him kick a soccer  ball.

I wanted to see him make friends.

I wanted to watch him put his arm around a little girl and give her a kiss.

I wanted to take him to Target.

I wanted to go swimming with him.

I wanted to go to his first school program.

I wanted to take him to see his first movie.

I wanted to chase him in the back yard and hear him laugh.

I wanted to watch him go on a date.

I wanted to see him get a job.

I wanted to see him do so many, many things. 

I wanted to see him experience so many, many things.

I feel really mad.

Gypped.

We fought so hard just to live.

And we did.

So when I get mad. When I feel unbelievably sad.

Or when I feel like that emotional casserole is just freaking dumped on my head

I remember.

I got to read him so many books.

I got to watch him learn to crawl.

At one of his sickest moments, he woke up from death and signed “Momma”.

I got to teach him how to sit on a bike and work on pushing his feet.

I got watch him cruise around the kitchen in a walker.

I got to push him in the swing at the playground.

I got to take him on his first vacation.

I got to lay on a blanket with him at the park.

I got to give him his first bottle. 

I got to give him baths and put lotion on his sweet little body. 

I got to feel him touch my face. 

I got to watch him belly laugh over the silliest things. 

I got to celebrate four Christmases with him.

I got to throw him three birthday parties.

I got to put icing on his tongue. 

I got to see every silly face he made.

I got to watch him learn to clap his hands.

I got to be his mom for 1402 days.

And that is good. Very good.

But I’m still very sad.

And I’m still very mad.

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving Normal

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Leaving Normal Sign

There is nothing normal about any of this, yet normal rages all around me.

I’m walking around in a “normal” world with a gapping hole in my heart.

I get on Facebook and the “normal” world makes my head spin.

I walk around Target, I stop to get gas, I go to the gym. All normal things in my very abnormal world.

I can’t watch the news.

I have no space in my brain for politics or ethical controversies.

I have to do normal things.

I have to make dinner and run the vacuum.

I have to try to run a business.

I have to help kids with homework and take them to swimming lessons and gymnastics.

I have to take a shower and get dressed.

I have to get kids on the bus on time.

And some days those normal things make me want to scream.

Normal RAGES all around me.

They tell me I will find my “new normal”.

I assume they are right.

I sure haven’t even come close to finding it yet.

I left “normal” 2 months ago.

And I feel like it’s going to be a long journey to find my new home.

 

 

 

Why Are You Here?

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988679_10151587989483595_738925914_nI’m not sure how this works exactly, but I’ve been told it gets better.

Not easier. Just better.

I’m sure if you’re here for the long haul, you’ll see the shift, the slow and sure change from deep, unbearable grief, to sadness that lingers on for long months, to an empty spot that will change me forever.

I’m sure you’ll watch me transition from being totally broken, to being healed a little each day.

I’m sure you’ll watch me smile more and cry less.

 

We’re not there yet. We’re at the “holy sh**, this gets harder and harder each day” stage.

I’m not sure why you’re reading this.

Part of me fears that my blog is suddenly depressing, and you’ll tire of my naked heart.

Why do you read the ramblings of a broken woman?

Why do you?

Sure some of you know me intimately and you love me.

Some of you are my family.

Some of you are dear friends.

You won’t get tired of me. You don’t get to. You love me.

But what about you? You’ve never met me.

Why are you here?

Maybe you’ve followed our story for so long that it has become part of your own.

Maybe you fell in love with a little boy because of the words I’ve penned on these pages.

Maybe when I told you he was gone, your heart sunk to the bottom of your feet and you couldn’t catch your breath.

I don’t know why you’re here.

But I’m glad.

Thank you for listening.

Thank you for letting me grieve out loud.

If you want to tell me why you’re here, I’d be glad to listen.

It helps me.

Really.

It does.

 

From Ann Whiston-Donaldson’s blogpost on What You Can Do To Help A Grieving Family, #19 is really important to me.

19. Even if you didn’t know the deceased, consider sharing what the deceased means to you NOW. Eternal life is, well, ETERNAL. Jack’s life is affecting people in ways we could never imagined, and we are blessed that so many people are making the effort to let us know, through emails, blog comments, letters, or person. This helps ease the sting. Have you had a dream about the person who passed away? Tell the family.

 I’d love to hear your stories. How did my son change you? How did his life impact you? 

 

 

No Good Reason

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There is no good reason why I randomly chose to rake up last year’s dead leaves from beside the front steps in my white sneakers,

Wearing a flannel shirt I grabbed off the floor this morning, not realizing it had smears of BBQ sauce on it from last Saturday,

In jeans that Aiden declares are old and should be thrown away.

It was something to do I suppose.

And who needs a good reason anyway.

I rake and think about the last time my boy sat in these leaves, these dead, crushed to the ground leaves,

Or had his picture taken on the front steps,

Or the last time he was carried down these steps to the ambulance while I ran after him in my bare feet.

There’s no good reason for any of it.

No mother should have to bury a son, and spend weeks and years of life with just memories.

No mother should have to, it’s just not natural.

Mary Beth Chapman said,

No mom can come up with words to express the ripping pain of losing a child . . . and no words can do justice to the mysteries of God in the midst of tragedy.

There are no words to describe what its like to have part of your heart torn out of your being.

There is no reason that a woman should be able to keep on walking and breathing when her son is no more.

There are things we will never know, never be able to explain, “whys” that will be asked, yet answered with deafening silence.

I don’t expect answers.

I do expect to somehow figure out how to walk and breathe again.

I expect to find a way to put one foot in front of the other and traverse across these twists and turns, these dips and divots, these hills and valleys.

The Eternal is my shepherd, He cares for me always.
He provides me rest in rich, green fields
    beside streams of refreshing water.
    He soothes my fears;
He makes me whole again,
    steering me off worn, hard paths
    to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name.Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness,
    I am not overcome by fear.
Because You are with me in those dark moments,
    near with Your protection and guidance,
    I am comforted.
Psalm 23:1-4 (the Voice)

Yes somehow He is near. Thankfully He is there as I inhale and there as I exhale.

I don’t have much to say to Him right now other than, “Oh God, please help me.”

And I’m not hearing Him but I am feeling Him.

For if I did not feel Him, I would be not survive.

The Kind of People Who Love

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DSC_0376The hours and days immediately following Mattie’s death contained a swirl of people coming to the rescue.

Friends brought our children to the hospital and were at our side as we told our children the unspeakable.  Who wants to be that person? The person who gets a call from the hospital chaplain, telling him that your friends have lost their son. Who wants to drive to the home and gather children who do not know, but know something is bad. Who wants to take them to the hospital, knowing they will hear words that will forever change the course of their lives?

We told our oldest children privately while the little ones played in a play room next door. We wrapped arms upon arms around each other, trying to hold together the pieces of what remained. It felt holy and broken and utterly crushing. Watching my grown children weep like that, with that kind of pain in their eyes, will be forever etched in my mind. We needed them to have space to mourn out loud without feeling like they needed to protect the hearts of the Littles. Yet now I wonder, did the Littles hear the wailing from the room next door? What were they thinking? Or were the caught up in the moment exploring a room full of toys unaware that their lives were about to be changed forever?

Who wants to be the friends who bring three precious Littles into the room to watch them hear those words?

John and I knelt in front of them and tried to have our arms touch them all. They looked frightened. We were all frightened. Words poured out of my mouth, coming from some deep place in my soul. Surely the Holy Spirit was speaking for me, because I felt like a spectator in my own drama. Who wants to explain that to their children? Who really can? I looked up at the social worker at one point, she nodded firmly and her eyes told me that I was doing ok. I glanced up to see friends praying and bearing the weight that might have crushed us to the ground, but God.

We walked down the hall to take our children to see their brother’s beautiful, yet way to still body. Friends sat the at the door for hours and prayed. They held our children when we could not.

For hours, we were with him. Because who wants to walk away? How could we go home without him? Aiden shook him and tried to wake him up. Emma asked questions and needed blunt answers, “He’s dead. The medicines didn’t work.” She would repeat, “Mattie’s dead? The medicines didn’t work?” Elia would hold his hand and weep deeply. My children all in one room, gathered around a brother they loved more than words could ever express. Holding each other, big ones and little ones, feeling their hearts ripped to the core. And all the while my head is spinning because this cannot be so. Please, God, don’t let it be so.

“I think we need to take them home,” I said at 2AM. They were tired. Friends helped us gather our things, Mattie’s things, our children. Oh, that they could have helped us sweep our boy off that bed and take him home too! I could barely walk out of that building without him. My legs hardly held the weight of my body. They helped us to the van, and got us all home. They hugged us in the dark shadows of our front yard, and as I looked up to see the light from his room shining out across us, they said, “We’re here.”

And then darkness of early morning gave way to the sunrise. We woke from what little sleep we were able to get to the jolting reality that life as we knew it had changed. 

When shock sets in, it is impossible to remember one moment from the next, one day from another. But in the days to come, friends came. Friends texted for a list of things we needed at Costco and delivered food.  Precious women showed up with iPads and notepads to help us make a plan for the days to come. How do you memorialize a life like this one? Why on earth am I even planning a funeral for Matthias Samuel Loux?  I don’t know how to do this!

So I sat with beautiful women in  my living room, all of us with tears in our eyes, but each of them strong enough to step into my pain and serve me. They made lists, they delegated, they helped me find the words to tell them what I needed. These women came and washed my feet with their tears, as the served me and carried me. They made phone calls, ran errands, and helped me put my own love into words and actions that would allow me to celebrate the life of my son. Who does that? Who’s brave enough to do that? Women who love well, that’s who.

I did things no mother wants to do. I bought clothes to bury my son, and I wept at the checkout. I cancelled appointments. I made sure we all had something to wear that day. I choose a dress. I wanted to like it enough to wear that day, but not like it enough that I would ever want to wear it again.

My husband and I chose a casket and a piece of earth where our son’s earthly body would rest. We signed papers and were told his death certificate would come in 2 weeks.  And in the midst of pain, I hear my children up late singing in Isabelle’s room, writing a song that would tell the tale of a brother so beautiful that songs must be sung. I would wander down the stairs to see my artist son, Taylor, rendering a drawing for the cover of the program. And day after day I would answer the question, “Buddy come home? 5 days?” Oh my sweet son, Aiden.

And you, many I have never met from near and far, plastered my Facebook wall with words of shock, of pain, of love. Those who know me well texted me. You prayed. I know you did. I felt it. Precious friends, texting daily, and ending with “don’t answer, I just want you to know I love you.” Text after text. The phone rang, I wasn’t able to answer. I couldn’t. You loved me anyway. With words as my love language you have all carried me with your words. Every comment on my wall like balm to my soul.  Even when you didn’t have words, you gave what little you could muster. “I love you!” or “I’m praying” or even just that silly little heart symbol that I still don’t know how to make. 

We walked through Mattie’s Celebration with grace and strength that only comes from God. I could hardly put on my clothes that morning. I didn’t look at my phone. Couldn’t even open texts. I had to talk myself into every step. But we did it, we celebrated our son. Every minute of the service, exactly how we had wanted it to be. Except we didn’t want it. We didn’t want it at all.

And you came. Many of you came to surround us with your love. You spoke words of love and held us. We saw you. We’ve read your words in the guest book. We needed you to be there, and you came from near and far. One dear friend came to hug me during the viewing and said, “I’ll be in the back with your children. I wanted to be the one to take care of them for you.” Friends sat behind me during the service and prayed. I asked them to be  my armor bearers and they did.  Friends managed all the little things that I couldn’t keep in my head. Flowers came. Food came. Water. Tissue boxes appeared where they needed to be. Mints arrived. 

We placed our sons body in box in the ground. And you love us through it all. We stood there numb and in shock, and you let us be. In the days and weeks to follow, we walked in numbness. And eventually the shock wore off and reality, oh the reality of it all, set in. And here we are, feeling it so deeply. We live in a house where he was “Buddy” and “Son of our Love”. We live in a house where his light remains on. We can’t turn it off, nor should we. We live in a house where his toys are still on the shelf, his diapers still in a basket, his medicines still on his dresser. We live in a house where he changed us all. And we have to figure out how to live.

And you’ve honored us and loved us well. You’ve stayed away when we needed space, and oh how we needed that space. You come when we’ve needed you to come. You’ve brought muffins and granola. You brought meals to our home. You gave financially to help offset the insane cost of burying a child. You’ve made plans with me, and been ok when I had to cancel. You’ve sent gifts and cards. You paid for childcare so we had a nanny to help us when we needed it the most. You’ve brought meals and sent gift cards for take out. And bravely, some of you have said, “I don’t know how to do this with you. What do you need?” And even if I don’t even know how to answer, you asked, and that matters.

What kind of people are you?

The kind of people who love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll Find It. I Promise You.

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Imagine you were thrust into a medical emergency with no medical training and no guide book in your pocket, but someone’s life depended on you.

That’s how the loss of a child feels.

I feel like I am walking through the middle of a crisis with no guide book in my hand, yet I am expected to survive. I need to survive.

I need to help my children survive.

My husband needs to survive.

The loss of a child is a tragedy that crushes the soul so deeply that there are days just breathing is hard.

I know, I know, “Don’t Forget to Breathe”. Thank God those words are engraved on my arm.

There are moments that I am able to smile and enjoy little bits of life.

And then there are moments that I close my eyes and see him. Inhale and I smell him.

And dizzying pain whirls through my brain, presses into my chest, and takes my breath.

It’s literally.

It nearly makes me pass out sometimes.

The deepest part of my soul cries out, “NOOOOOOOOOO!!! He can’t be gone! The boy of my dreams cannot be gone from my life!”

My heart resounds, “THIS CANNOT BE TRUE! Please someone wake me up! Hand me my son and tell me it was just a bad dream.”

So how is one supposed to live with that?

How do I survive this?

I know that I can. That I will.

I know the truth.

But for a minute, just let me ask, “How do I do this?”

And don’t give me an answer.

I’ll find it.

I promise you.

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