House

Being with Theo, our bodies joined, taught me how to sit, listen, rest. Pregnancy overwhelmed my mind, taking over my body. It was so refreshing to do only what little boy Theo wanted. Sit, eat, lie down, walk, stand, sleep, yoga, sing.

Now I still try to hear what other people are saying, what I am needing, what the world is crying for, where the mountains are calling me. Its peaceful and now, its another little gift from my sweet boy. And tonight I can hear the house. I can hear the sounds of my own cries and anguish, reverberating back. My tears have been private, the deep expanse of my pain mostly contained in this home. It held me and heard me, not judging in return. These walls have supported me when I scream that its not fair. Its waters have let me wallow in my grief, and then washed away the mess.

Thank you old house. Everyone needs a spot to release their load, you carried it with ease. With Love and Gratitude, Emily

Heart Colorado

A last lovely night in Colorado, crickets sounding their night call, the air clear and temperate. I’ve picked my spot on the swinging bench, trying to memorize this. I remember when Theo was alive that my fear was forgetting all the details. What if I lost his scent or the color on the wall or the name of his favorite nurse or the places he was ticklish? Panic, dread. For I knew it would come, God made this human body incapable of storing all the gifts He gives us. We need Him to remember. And I do still remember, Theo’s hair is a feeling on my fingers that I can still feel. Theo’s crib had Care Bare blankets. Theo had a soft cry, the sound still ringing in my ears when its quiet enough.

I ask God again, please memorize this home and this place for me. Guard it in my heart. Each place you go and break bread and hold new hands, these places keep a part of your heart. I can leave it here, along with part of my son, to plant and grow. To keep loving this community of blessed people, mountains and adventures.

I left my heart in Colorado.

Goodbye Home

I sit for one moment of stillness, peace and quiet waiting for the movers to arrive. My eyes wander across the street, there sits the hospital sweet Theo was born at. I squint to see if I can peer through our window, is anyone filling that space that was our home for 24 days? What family is preparing to take their little one home or say goodbye for this life? Do they know to hold on tight, value their time?

I will miss these thoughts. I will miss those windows and the dreams I once saw through them.

Maddie sits on my feet, demanding to be pet, bringing me back to this space. Even though we never got the chance to bring Theo home, settle him into his crib and splash together in the bathtub. Even though we never got to sing him lullabies in his rocking chair or tickle his belly on our bed. Even though, this is still our home. This home is our family home. I can hear him in the walls and see him in the floors and feel his touch in every crevice of this house. He is here and now we must go.

My prayer is this, please bring Theo with us, in our hearts and in our new walls, our new windows and new faces and new friends. A mother cannot leave her child behind, so please carry him with us.

Community

This weekend we had the great joy of celebrating and sharing in the fundraising party of a lifetime. Our friends are knee deep in the adoption process, hoping to bring home two kids from Ethiopia soon. Just this past Friday this couple was told by their adoption agency that they owed nearly $4,000 for the next step in the process. The next day friends gather, food is shared, great home made beer is brewed and $4,000 is raised. There is no doubt, God is in this adoption.

Its a lovely story to be a part of and to watch, much like I feel about the community who has shared in the life and death of our son Theo. Our process was ugly and sad and beautiful and moving, and still yet people so deeply yearned to share in it with us. Some days we had the urge (and we still do) to hide away and hold Theo to ourselves, unwilling to share him. But then a friend would call and say, “I just really want to be with him, can I come visit?” Or my mom, “I need my Theo fix!” And then a sister “helping the only way she knew how to” by setting up a Caring Bridge website. Every day Theo said, open your arms, I have more to love.

I was uncomfortable and exposed, but Theo gave me much more in return. He taught me that community means investing in each other’s lives. Through the pain and suffering that cause ugliness. Through the beauty that comes from life shared. The people who have committed to getting on the same sidewalk as me and walking through this grief, have felt the deep loss but have also known the great beauty and love of my son. Co-workers, family, strangers and friends are investing in our community…there is always plenty to be grateful to Theo for!

Today’s Death

Today, this day, one year ago my sweet boy died in my arms. Theodore picked his spot in God’s playground and peacefully took it.

As I sit in the yard you never got to play in, I can feel you here. Your death gives me a glimpse of heaven, my own little slice while still here breathing, living , sorrowing, aching, sharing. The trees’  new leaves create shadows on the lawn, moving with the breeze. Its the movement of heaven, kids and grandparents and lovers and friends playing in God’s playground. These shadows of death, romping in the heavens.

My son gives me these gifts.

Thank you sweet boy, mama can’t wait to join you someday for good.

 

Heartache

Try as I might, my heart will never fill. That sweet spot for you my son, is all yours. Can daddy fill it? Oh, how he tries. Bless your loving father, baby Theo. Can all the blue waters filled with all the fish in the sea fill your spot? No, my heart still swims. And what about Madeline your puppy sister? She curls up in the arch of my tummy, filling the spot you once rested for 9 months and yet there is still that ache for you my boy.

Never will the warm sunshine cover your spot, never will another baby cradle the hole in my heart.

I keep it for you. Filled with all the earthly pain of missing you and still more joy from loving you.

This day, one year ago

On this very same day, just one year ago, Theodore was 6 days old. He was full of baby fat and smiles and yawns and soft cries. He brought light and love to my every breath, I was thrilled to be his momma.

But on this day, the neonatologist came in and gave us the results that changed everything. A few days back the MRI brain scan had been done and we were all waiting for a result that would promise a future. I was so expecting to take my boy home and tirelessly work with the needs he had. But God had a different plan, that had been hidden until now. The doctor asked if I wanted to look at the scans of Theo’s brain but I could not. I saw everything I needed to see, in the crook of my arm. He was beautiful, my son.

Sean came back from the room, the doctor shadowing behind him. I knew from his wet face that it was not the plan that we had prayed for. He put his arms around Theo and I and whispered, “i’m sorry.” The doctor sat heavily, showing her years of grief for all the babies she could not save. “Emily, the MRI showed that Theodore has only 10% of a brain, and of that 10%, its very….scattered….disorganized.”

I don’t get it, what does that mean? Can we fix it? Look, he’s doing so well!

Emily, the brain does not repair itself. There is no growth from something that is not there. Emily, Theodore will be brain dead, he will be in a vegetative state his whole life. Without his brain, there is nothing telling his body what to do. Slowly the rest of his body will shut down. We can do surgery to make those things better, but they will get worse again. Its your choice, we will do whatever you tell us to do. We can let him go or we can prolong death with surgeries for the bowel.”

It was as if she was talking about someone else. Who was this boy she was speaking of?

She left the room for Sean and I to ruminate. But all we could do was cry. Theo was alive and happy, held in my arms, and death was looming at my door.

The decision was made for us, God had made sweet Theo to live for just 24 days. I was angry, confused. I’m still angry, asking WHY?!? But on that day our hearts took over and held our son. I wanted the decision in my hands, but instead Theo was in my hands. So we held him and he held us, for 18 more days.

Psalm 127

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.”

On Theo’s birthday morn I was searching for something of comfort and came across this verse from the book of Psalms. Speaking to my aching heart and wet eyes, it gave me the gift of gratitude.

Happy Birthday Theo

Today, March 17, is my little man’s birthday. I promised to write Theodore a birthday letter every year on this day. Today I will share his very first one.

Dear Theodore,

Happy Birthday my sweet baby Theo! Just one year ago your daddy and I welcomed you into the world at 9:22am. I remember how peacefully you arrived, with very soft cries. Dr. Kiley carried you over to me and I kissed your sweet face. Daddy was crying with joy, we could both see how beautiful you were. Your hair and features, even the green eyes, were just like mama. But your hands and heart were replicas of daddy, pure love.

I remember being so proud that you were a big boy, weighing 7lb. 2oz. On your birthday you met g&g Tanke, Uncle Matt who baptized you, and godparents Dan and Abby. We poured out all of our love to you but in return you gave us so much more. Your love has filled my life, even through all the sadness I feel for missing you. Every moment of every day I have carried your lesson of gratitude with me. I am so thankful to God for making you my son. You are beautiful and strong, selfless and open to loving all God’s people. Thank you for choosing me to be your mom, I promise to love you and honor you through the rest of my days.

Please shine through my heart Theo, hold me in your love because I miss you so much. I love you sweet boy. Enjoy your special birthday.

Mama