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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Blessed walks. The morning and Madeline and me.
Theo would not have been able to walk most likely. At least thats what I understand from the mysterious wasteland of neuroscience. With only 10% of a brain and that 10% being “highly disorganized,” all things I know, do and understand instinctually would be impossible for my little man.
But every morning his tiny, precious soul is with me.
No need to understand mom. God lets me walk, right here with you. Deep in your heart.
Thank you Theodore. I am so happy to be your momma.
I am searching for just the thing that will feel right on my heart. What to do on the day of Theo’s birth? On the days of Theo’s death? And what to do for 24 days in between.
A dear friend reminded me that others want to remember him, his love and his life. Do I let people in? Can I share this with the world? My heart wants to crawl back in bed and hide my face from the world for 24 days. Skip work. Don’t cook. Leave the dishes in the sink. Turn my phone off. Boycott the gym. Forget everything and let go of the guilt.
But then I remember how we shared Theodore’s life with the world. We let visitors come to the hospital to meet him when I preferred to hoard him all to myself. My sister made a website for hundreds to watch his story. I could not bring myself to look at this site for months after he died, agonizing over having shared him when I wanted to be selfish. But my little boy could not hide his face from the world, he just squeezed his way through his mother’s tight grip and let everyone feel his love. If it were up to me I would have hid. But Theo in his 7 pound body had his own plan. He called on all the angels in heaven and shouted to the earth, “Come meet me! I have love to share!”
So this one year after his life and his death, the purpose is clear. Share his life, share Theodore’s story and his love. When I stop and listen, I can hear my son leading my heart. I will take days off of work and I will skip the gym when I need rest. I will let others help me cook and scrub the piles of cleaning needing to be done. Theodore’s friends always want to help.
And I will slow my pace to the rhythm of Theo’s heart.
This is my man, with his little man. Sean and I celebrated Valentines tonight since I have class on the actual holiday. To the naked eye, this man and baby have little physical resemblance (Theo had my blonde hair, green eyes, fair skin, everything!). But the most important feature daddy and Theo had in common, matching hearts.
Theodore’s heart held his easy nature, peaceful simplicity, and radiating love. Valentine’s 2012, I am ever so grateful to the man that gave our son this beautiful heart. Forever be mine, sweet baby Theo and daddy.
(Also, this photo shows a great example of Theodore’s favorite spot to be held in. Chest to chest we called it. He would nearly purr.)