Monday, February 24, 2014

The Sun Flooded In

I woke up that morning and had realized that I just had the best night's sleep in 5 months. February 23 was a day that is forever etched in my mind. I mean, of course, the 22nd is the day my son died and I will never forget it, as long as I live. I will forever remember the last breath he took, when I had to give him up, leave him there. I will always remember that, but I will remember the next day because, as it might sound really cold, there was a spirit of relief in my heart that I had not felt since September 24. From the day Noah was born, I could not get to sleep at night, I could not sleep deeply, I could not wake up without immediately calling the NICU or CVICU. I could not leave the hospital without making sure I had a full charge or a charger with me, just in case they called, just in case something went wrong and I had to rush back. I didn't leave often, away from the campus of the hospital, but when I did I was on egg shells. When I would force myself to go sleep in the room at the RMH, I would stay up just laying there, sometimes reading, sometimes deep in journaling and the occasional netflix binge on my laptop. I  just couldn't sleep. My husband was 6 hours away, as was my baby girl, my son was in critical condition, always, and I could not rest. I could not relax. My body and mind were in a constant battle with my heart. I trusted the Lord, sometimes it was harder than others and often I had to force myself to really hold tight to the TRUTH, but I could not actually release myself into deep sleep or comfort. There was always too much to be aware of. But, that morning, it was different. For the first time in 5 months I slept. I really slept. We didn't set an alarm that night, once we got back to our room from leaving the hospital. We just went to bed and wept awhile. We held each other and both of us slept the best we had in months. I remember waking up and the sun was pouring into the room. We had just checked into that room earlier in the week and I had been sleeping up in the CVICU since Noah was so critical. I hadn't realized the morning sun was so heavy in that room, but that morning it welcomed me and hugged me tight. It was like the Lord saying, "good morning dear, I'm still in control". Don't get me wrong, there was this heaviness in my heart that my son was truly dead and nothing I could do would change that. Out of habit I picked up my phone and realized that I didn't need to call. Noah was fine. I showered and got ready for the day, we packed up our jeep, made one last stop by the CVICU for a memento we made of Noah's hand and then we said goodbye. We stopped by the Starbucks, walked passed the dining hall and walked out the doors to the parking garage. 5 months. done. For 5 months I lived there, I was rooted there. I never really left there and then all of a sudden it was all over. I keep the last parking garage ticket in my Bible as a bookmark. It is like a little altar that every time I see it I thank God for that season. I also thank him for that day we left the hospital, because even though it didn't end like I wanted it to, God was still answering my prayers. I was coming home. I was coming back to my husband and daughter, my family, my church, my own bed. There were things that I had prayed for since we left home that God was giving me back and I realized that. I needed to be reminded, especially in the heartbreak of leaving my son "behind" that I was headed towards good things. I knew life wouldn't be the same as when I left. I knew that our home would be comfy and inviting, but as soon as I walked in, I knew I WAS DIFFERENT. I felt that I didn't belong, that I wasn't needed there. Nick had done such an amazing job at raising our girl, keeping our home and making life keep going here that I longed to be back at that hospital. Yet, I  knew the way God worked it all out, would be ok, someday. I would probably never understand it, but I would learn to accept it. As I sit here, in this home, Ava is sleeping soundly in her bed after a full day of snuggles, giggles, outings and "the good life". Nick doesn't travel every Friday-Sunday. He doesn't have to be a single dad nor does he have to sacrifice being with his son to keep a job and stay committed to it to provide for our home. We are able to go to the park together, minister at church again, be involved, soak up the times in life like dance parties in the living room, watching Ava pretend to be a ballerina on the "stage", to sit at the dinner table together, to laugh until our sides hurt. These things make life good again. They lessen the sting of the loss and fill it with healing. There will never be a time when I don't miss my son, but I can tell you that after one year of him being gone and earnestly seeking God and his goodness, He has not let me down. I am learning and growing, changing and I guess you could say, getting to know myself. After such a life changing event, one has to stop a minute (months) and re-evaluate, make decisions and changes as well as realize just how amazing you were to begin with. God has done this and is still doing this in me. Seasons are meant for change. We must seek out ALL that God is asking of us and also what He is doing in us, for His plan and glory. It makes it all worth it.

Somehow this year has been relief, even in the deepest and darkest grieving of my life, there is relief. There have been days where I couldn't get out of bed, some days I was hateful and mean to everyone I came in contact with, and some days I didn't say a word. All of these days were hard and I am not "past" it. I know there are days coming that will be dark and hard as well, but amongst it all, there is a peace beyond understanding (Phil 4:7).

We came back to Ft Worth this weekend and being in that place reminds me that it all REALLY happened. Life was lived there. Our life was lived there. Our son came into the world, changed it and then left it, all in that place. This weekend was blessed, it was so perfect to take it all in, fresh air, the three of us just enjoying each other and the "relief" of being in the middle of God's will, not the life we all begged God for, a life with Noah in it. I will tell you though, Noah is still in it. Everyday we see how he has touched our life, touched others' lives; we are amazed and blessed by all the outpouring of encouragement, love and support. WOW! God is so gracious to us through y'all and we could not have made it this year without you. Thank you and we love y'all.

Noah's momma

Here are some of our favorite pictures from Noah's celebration last year.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"It's Ok"

I was sitting across from my best friend as we ate our ice cream and swapped "momma talk" and giggled about the little one wiggling and growing in her womb. Life in that moment was giddy and sweet. Literally.

 There is something about having a couple of days of uninterrupted friend time, with delicious food, refreshing conversation and simply being in each other's presence. Text and social media are a blessing in keeping a twelve hour friendship close, but aren't always enough.

Momma talk is fun and I love thinking back to when Ava was a baby and replaying it in my mind, picking out the parts I feel are good nuggets of experience for my friend. It is fun to discuss babies, mommy stuff, stay at home mommy needs and things not to forget or let fall through the cracks when it comes to a momma's heart, needs and the fun things that will always be "her" that she will not want to lose in the long days and nights of motherhood. Remembering to enjoy lipgloss, cute shoes, your favorite candle and indulging  in some chocolate when needed (or wanted)! :)

It is something special though, when you can discuss how she will be having a baby boy. She will get to watch her son grow up, take first steps, have a first birthday, get a drivers license and get married. Life is full of excitement and blessing as they begin life with a BOY on the way. All the while, knowing that I am not able to enjoy the things they will with my own boy. There is something profound that comes when a friendship has a core value of Christ with honesty and openness that transcends even the hardship of the death of a child. I have not known anyone, besides my husband that I can be so transparent and honest with and vice versa.
There is something so special about this baby boy. This baby will forever be a symbol of "it will be ok". From the moment I knew this baby was coming, even in the sting of slight jealousy, an overwhelming joy and excitement entered my heart and mind. I love that my best friend is with child. I love that she is having a precious boy and even when it hurts, it's good. Every time that boy hits a new milestone, I will remember God is GOOD. He is holy and he is the God of detail.

I don't know how to be right now. The first anniversary of Noah's death is Saturday. It is coming. It is almost here and I want it to keep being something that is coming not something that has gone. A year goes by and then another one will and another. Time doesn't stop, but in my heart Noah stopped. His life stopped. Everything else keeps going. I realize in the sweetest of moments  with Christ though, that Noah's heart stopped for a second and then he entered eternal movement.
A year ago, nick and I were in a whirlwind of decisions and emotion. I am certain that no parent goes into parenthood, even knowing your child will be born with an illness, where you are planning on taking them off of all life support. I never once in my life imagined I would be the mom of a baby boy who would leave this world before me and I would have to decide, in a sort of odd way, when that would happen. I can remember the day like yesterday. I remember being so thankful that Dr. J was on call because I knew we would have a  leader who was praying for us, asking God for guidance as well and would ride the waves with us through the day. When the decision had to be made, I remember wondering why we had to say "ok, it's time". It WAS NEVER going to be "the time". We thought it would be a fairly quick process and we didn't know what to expect. It was a surreal 10 hours. There are details that will forever be mine and Nick's. I will tell you, though, that as we listened to worship music and took turns holding him, the Holy Spirit was in the room. Until the moment Jesus came to get our boy, the Spirit never left. He is our helper, our comforter and He provided exactly that. Noah means peace. That day was peace. Those 10 hours were quiet, calm and rich in peace. The weariness of 9 months of planning for, having and walking beside our son with half a heart, began to wash away, melting off of our tired bodies, as our son's battle was being won, forever. Every procedure he endured, every line drawn, every needle poke, every battle he fought was being redeemed, reconciled and made victorious through Christ and his work on the cross, as he entered perfection and eternity of complete wellness, wholeness and PEACE. He finished his race, he won the prize and now I never once will have to worry for my son, wish he were ok, try to make it better for him or wonder what life holds for him. He is forever ok. He is always near. He has arrived and I will live each day in anticipation that His time came and so will mine. Time isn't passing by me anymore, it is coming towards me (thank you Beth Moore) with joyous fervor and great expectation.
So yes. I hurt. I ache. I can hardly breathe. I long for him. I wish I could put him to bed, kiss his head and watch him sleep. I wish I could see him grow into a man. I wish I could know him and what he would have liked, been skilled at, gifted at and cook him his favorite meals, celebrate birthdays and hold him tight. I wish all of those things. I don't wear myself out wishing or wondering why. I have since last year, but less now. I know that nothing changes what happened, but I know that what happened has changed me.
My son is my hero. He is my inspiration. He was God's way of getting my full and complete attention. He was how I became brave. He taught me to like myself and even enjoy being me. He reminded me to enjoy life and not be so serious. He taught me to thank others. He showed me how many people love me. He brought nick and I closer than ever. He forced me to trust The Lord with Ava, more than I ever had in my life. He encouraged me in my mothering, to share Jesus with Ava in every way possible. He showed Nick and I how much we would endure together and how thankful we are and will forever be for our families, our church and our community. I will never see life the same.
You see, Noah died, my heart has a deep pain and a hole where his physical presence is missing, yet with his half a heart, he has taught mine to trust more, love deeper, extend grace, give chances, live richer, give thanks, stop and take note, take chances, dream and be involved.

If you were touched by our son and would like to celebrate his first year in heaven. Take a picture of a heart, share what you are thankful for in your life and tag the picture #themightynoah

We would love to hear how God is moving in your life and as you share with everyone, Noah is remembered and God is honored!!!! Join us and celebrate.

My friend and I wrapped up our sweet visit and saying bye to the little man in her womb was like saying hello to the next season of God's goodness and rich blessing.

"It's ok." It always has been. It always will be.
This baby in my best friend's womb is proof that "He makes all things beautiful in His time".

Please share your heart picture, your thankful heart words and tag it "#themightynoah anytime between now and the 22nd.

What a joyful celebration we will have the next few days!!!

Thank you for supporting us in this as always!!
Noah's momma