Saturday, September 28, 2013

Peace that passes ALL understanding

If I thought I understood the word bittersweet before yesterday, I was wrong. The last 24 hours have been the biggest roller coaster of emotions I have ever been on but they have also played a HUGE part in my healing process. Yesterday marked four months since we said "see you later" to our sweet Sawyer. I wrote this on Facebook:

It's been four months since we said "see you later" to you, our little peanut. These months have been anything but easy without you here, and today gives a whole new meaning to the word bittersweet. Today we are moving in to our new house, but there is a big part of us missing, and that is you. I packed up your nursery the other night. It didnt hurt as bad as I thought it would, but it sure did remind me of all the fun plans I had for us as a family. Losing you was the hardest thing I have ever been through, and probably the hardest thing I will ever go through. I wake up every day with the stinging reality that it is another day I don't get to hold my baby, the baby my arms and heart ache for all the time. You have taught me a lot of things through the short days you were here, and I cannot wait for the day I can pick you up and give you the biggest kiss telling you how much I love you. I hope you know that - I hope you know how much I love you. You will be forever remembered and never forgotten. 
Love always,

Yesterday we also started moving. I was already emotional and after an argument with the carpet cleaners and being told HHGregg didn't have our oven- I was in rare form. I spent the majority of the afternoon with the MANY people who came to help us finish packing and take loads to the new house. A HUGE thank you to everyone who came out and helped, it was a lot less stressful to get it done so quickly. Moving wasn't the only new thing going on yesterday.

I've mentioned before that my best friend, Claire, is pregnant. Most people find it strange that I am best friends with someone who is pregnant. She has actually been one of the best friends through all of this, and it hasn't been weird or uncomfortable at all. Yesterday I got the text that she was in labor and would be having the baby soon. I told her "tell that baby she can't come now - we are supposed to be moving!" I finished packing my bedroom as much as I could stand and headed to the hospital. I know I didn't 'have' to go but I wanted to be there as much as, if not more than, Claire wanted me to be there. It took me about 45 minutes to get there and I was able to see her and say hello. My plan was to just stay for a few minutes and head back to finish packing and they had strict instructions to text me when I needed to head back. I left the hospital and headed home, tearful the whole way. I was so excited for my best friend, but also very much in the midst of grief on a hard day. I stopped to see Sawyer and just told him how much I loved him and that I missed him SO much. While all that was going on my parents were at our old house finishing up a load so I headed there. I got to the house, loaded a few things, and got ready to head to the new house when I received ANOTHER text saying it was time! I ran to my car and got to the hospital in about 30 minutes. She had the baby as I was walking in to the waiting room - perfect timing!

The whole way to the hospital I was freaking out. I didn't know if I was emotionally ready, but I knew Claire wanted me there. I prayed that God had a plan for me being a part of this and I felt like He was telling me to be there. I text a few people asking them to pray for a safe delivery and also that I would be able to keep it together. I'm not sure why I felt the need to hold it all together, Claire already told me she would understand if I cried. When I walked in to the waiting room they were all so excited - but I stood off to the side. I was excited too- but in a different way. I didn't want any attention on myself and I knew I would get emotional when people started talking to me. It reached the point where I had to go to the bathroom and just let my tears flow. I called my dad and he just listened to me sob. I told him how I felt bad that I was so upset and I didn't want any attention on me. I told him how fearful I was of losing my friend now that she has a baby and mine isn't here. I know this won't happen but it's a real fear because of my insecurity of where I even fit in. Him and several other people told me it was okay if I left - but it wasn't okay to me. I would have been just upset if I was at home, missing everything. I needed to experience something good as a reminder that God is good. In the midst of my grief, He was showing me joy. If I said next month would be easy I would be lying. Next month I will be grieving 5 months since saying see you later and they will be celebrating a one month birthday. That is okay though, it's a reminder that I too will celebrate those with a baby here on Earth. After I calmed myself down, Claire's sister came to check on me and we went back upstairs to wait until we could see Claire and the baby. 

It felt like forever, but probably because I was working myself up about how it was going to be. I was afraid of crying too much. I didn't know if I should hold her, or even if I would be able to look at her for very long. The family went back and then it was my turn. I went in and was able to talk to Claire for a few minutes before I saw Charleigh Kate. She is so beautiful! Almost as beautiful as Sawyer, a definite close second! Lol. I knew when I saw her I would feel the urge to hold her. I feel that when I see babies around me, anyways. I always think maybe it will help my aching arms but I never have the courage. Tonight I did.  I held her and I cried. I cried happy tears. I cried sad tears. I cried them both at the same time - the true meaning of bittersweet. I can now say that it doesn't help my aching arms but it is a reminder of God's love and His beautiful gifts and that He will fill my arms again, one day. I felt a complete peace while holding Charleigh and a wonderful reminder of those times I was able to snuggle my sweet boy. I cried because I miss him, but I cried because Charleigh will never meet him this side of Heaven. We decided she will call me "aunt Ashlyn", which I think is perfect because I couldn't love her more if she was my actual blood-related niece. I can't wait to tell her all about Sawyer, I know they would have been best friends. I said my goodbyes to Claire and Sam and decided to make my way home because I have another full day of moving ahead of me. As I left I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I drove home with praise music cranked up thanking God for the blessing of both Sawyer and Charleigh, and for the reminder that He will fill my empty arms again one day. I thanked Him for the strength that He gave me while I was at the hospital. I thanked Him for the peace He was flooding my heart with at the current moment, and something I am still feeling. It is a peace that does pass ALL understanding - because even I don't understand it. I don't understand how I am not falling apart like most people would think. I don't understand the sense of peace He gave me as I held another baby, the first baby, since my baby left my arms four months ago. These are the words I used in a text to describe last night:
"Four months ago I held my baby as he went from my arms to the arms of his Heavenly Father and tonight I held the new life God created. I've never felt His presence more."

I know that many people are going through things that aren't what they had planned for their lives - but let me tell you something: God loves you, SO much, and He wrote your story long before your existence. His plan is perfect, even when we cannot see and even when it is hard, He is still good. Use your story, your struggle, to bring glory to God and the blessings he will bestow upon your life will be more than your wildest dreams. He is forever faithful, forever constant in the trial and the change. I may not ever understand why He chose me to be Sawyer's mommy and why He chose me to endure one of life's GREATEST pains. But let me tell you something - He doesn't make mistakes, ever, and He has a plan for Sawyer's life regardless of if I can see it come to fruition. He is using my sweet boy's story to renew the faith of His children and we are using Sawyer's story to bring glory and honor to the God who has never left our side. He never promised a life without struggles, but He did promise to walk with us through the valleys. "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2 NIV)" I am a firm believer everything happens for a reason, and that is because I believe God has already written out stories. I wish you all could experience what I did tonight. In the midst of my grief, my sadness, my disappointment, I was shown joy, love, and peace. I have to thank Claire and Sam for being some of the greatest friends and letting the birth of their daughter play a pivotal role in my healing. It means more than you will ever know and I am so thankful you have allowed God to work through you both and Charleigh to bring me another step closer to healing and learning to live this life without Sawyer. You three are a blessing, and I will forever be grateful to your family for what you have done in the last for Josh and I and what I know you will do for us in the future. I love you, so much. 

 Psalm 29:11 "The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace."

Isaiah 54:10 "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed" says The Lord, who has compassion on you. 

John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Psalm 89:1 "I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations."

Here are a couple pictures of me and sweet Charleigh Kate (don't mind my eyes being almost swollen shut from crying):

Until next time,

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It happens again every single morning...

"Here is one of the worst things about having someone you love die: It happens again every single morning" 
Anna Quindlen

I guess I thought by now it would be easier, but it isn't. I still get up every morning with the dreadful reminder of what my life is, and what I never wanted it to be. I still feel like most people think I am probably okay by now and that the initial shock has worn off, but it hasn't. The only thing that has changed is the fact that I have become VERY good at acting happy. It keeps interactions with others shorter and allows me to keep it to myself. When others ask how I am I used to try to respond as accurate as possible. There are only so many times you can say "not that great" and the other person say "oh, sorry to hear that" and watch them walk away. My automated response has become "uh, I am doing okay" to most people, but I do have close friends that break through that lie and get to the truth. Some days really are 'better' than others, but I wouldn't count them as 'good' days. I don't even know what the word 'better' means. Teaching has brought a joy to my heart that is much needed and gives me an escape. When I am at school I am so focused on teaching the students and getting things together for them that my mind rarely escapes to those places of utter darkness. The students are also a HUGE blessing to my heart, and especially on the days I have spent my entire drive to school in tears. I am thankful that the Lord opened this door for me, and the fact that everything has been going so well. 

Someone asked me the other day if I was staying busy, which is kind of a loaded question. I like to stay busy to keep my mind off of the loneliness, but I can tell you that being 'too busy' is just has painful as having nothing to do. The other day I left school at 5 (I usually leave around 4) and I cried the whole way home with the realization that if Sawyer was here I would have been late to pick him up. It is all a double edge sword - if I am not busy enough I think about all the things I should be doing with Sawyer, and if I am too busy I think about what I wouldn't have time for if Sawyer was here. With all that being said I am still pretty busy. I am teaching school and I am also getting my Master's all at the same time. I also have some surprising news for everyone! Josh and I have purchased our first home and are moving next weekend! Packing, teaching, and studying has definitely kept me busy.

Moving in to our new home is yet another bittersweet event in our lives. We are so excited to own our home and move in to a place to make new memories, but Sawyer should be here with us to experience it all. I made my mom and Josh promise to replicate the nursery in the new house. One of my initial thoughts after Sawyer passed away was to stay in our current house (we rent) and use the nursery for the next child we have. We realized that the housing market is on the way back up so we made the decision to buy now. Even though we are moving in to the new house, I want the nursery set up the same as it is and we plan on using it, just like we had set up for Sawyer, for our next child (boy or girl). I desperately wish Sawyer was here in the next chapter we are getting ready to begin, and I know I will wish that for every chapter for the rest of my life. I am happy but sad, excited but miserable and I wish it was all different. I know most people wish it was different for us, too. In order to move we have to pack up the nursery, something I am not looking forward to but one of my closest friends has offered to come help. I know it will come with a lot of tears, and that is okay. My mom offered to pack it for me but even though I know it will be sad, I would regret not doing it myself. For some reason I like to do things like that so I can relive my memories and cherish the moments I did have with my sweet Sawyer. 

I am still working on the idea I have for October 15, and I will keep you all posted as soon as I have the final idea. Many people have expressed their interest in showing their support for our family and doing something in honor/memory of Sawyer - for that I am so grateful. Thank you for loving us through the most difficult time in our lives. For those of you who have stood by our side, prayed for us, and just continued to love us - we appreciate you more than you know. I have said it before, but you really do find out who your friends are especially in the midst of a devastating time like this. I am thankful for the promises God has promised to us, and that even when I don't feel like holding on, He holds on for me.

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My hope is in You, Lord

This week has been one that brought some restoration of hope, something I had lost throughout everything that has happened with Sawyer. I had lost all hope that anything would get better, and that I would be stuck in this hole of despair forever. I knew this wasn't true but it was something my head led me to believe. I think it is safe to say that most, if not all, mothers who lost a child feel this way for at least some length of time. When you get married and then pregnant, you have hopes for the future. Hopes that your children will grow up to love Jesus more than life itself and hopes that they will make all of your dreams come true. The dreams of their first Christmas, first day of kindergarten, last day of high school and everything in between. When we lost Sawyer all of my hopes and dreams were destroyed and replaced with the harsh reality they would never happen because Sawyer was no longer with us. I struggled with this for some time. How do I learn to hope for anything when my biggest hope, the dreams for my child, would never come true?

Then I heard this song, and I have been singing it ever since:
"My hope is in You, Lord
All the day long I won't be shaken by drought or storm
A peace that passes understanding is my song
And I sing, my hope is in You, Lord

I will wait on You
You are my refuge
I will wait on You 
You are my refuge"

I have realized that I cannot rely on things of this Earth because unfortunately they are inconsistent and ever changing, but my God is not. I know that it was completely out of my control that the Lord took Sawyer much before we ever wished but it was a part of His plan long before Josh and I had even met. I think about where I am in life and I am in constant awe of how the Lord has orchestrated even the tiniest of details to get me to where I am today. I probably won't ever understand why I lost my son this side of Heaven, but I do know that the Lord is planning something much greater for my life than I could have ever imagined. It is because of His sacrifice that I will spend eternity with Him and that I will see my baby again. Without my faith and belief in my one and only Savior I would be at a complete loss of how to even handle myself. I have to place my hope in the plans the Lord has for me, not the plans I would rather have for myself. It is a hard reality to grasp that there is a light at the end of this tunnel because it seems so dark. I have never doubted the Lord but I have been confused as to how all of this will work together for my good. Something I have learned? God intended for me to continue to tell Sawyer's story to bring glory to His name, and that is exactly what I plan on doing.

This week I have realized that even though I desperately wish that Sawyer was here, the Lord rescued my sweet sick baby and took him home to be completely healed where he will praise the Lord for eternity. I would much rather Sawyer be here in my arms, but Sawyer was terribly sick. After 18 days of suffering through his heart defect and the 5 days after the surgery, the Lord took him and completely restored him with a new heart. If I can't take care of my baby here on Earth I can be thankful that the Lord who hung the stars and the moon is holding him tonight! I still cry every day, and I think that is okay. I am completely human and I miss my baby. I don't think God would expect anything different. It is through His promises and love that I get out of bed every morning and make it through the day. The promise that I don't have to be strong - He will be strong for me: "The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my Father's God and I will exalt Him." (Exodus 15:2). The promise that I can run to Him when I have reached the end of my rope: "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). 

Sawyer's four month birthday was Monday. I posted this on my Facebook page:

"Happy four month birthday, Sawyer! Every day I miss you more and more. I know you wouldn't want mommy and daddy to be sad all the time, but sometimes it's just so hard. I would have much rather woken up this morning and been able to kiss your face and tell you how special you are to us. I had big dreams for you and our family and it hurts to be here without you. Daddy does a good job trying to make mommy feel better when she is sad and she has lots of good friends. Your story is continuing to touch people more than I will probably ever know. I desperately wish we had more time with you, but I am also cherishing the times we had and the days I was able to hold you. I hope you love your new flowers - I'm sure you would have loved the Georgia Bulldog football games as much as your daddy and mommy do. I love you to the moon and back. I can't wait to see you again!

Love you always,
Mommy "

Monday night was also the first night I went to a support group. What a blessing to my heart to be surrounded by women who get it, and understand every emotion I have in a way most people can't. I am so saddened by the fact that I had to meet them this way, but just another way the Lord is orchestrating our lives before we were even thought in to existence by those here on Earth. I have also connected with another mother who is experiencing some of the same uncertainties and fears that I was during pregnancy. I know God has crossed our paths for a reason as well.

October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I would love to get everyone involved in something to honor Sawyer's story and memory. I will keep you all posted on the ideas and see who all is interested in participating. 

Thank you for continuing to pray and share Sawyer's story. I love you all, and the Lord has surely placed you in my life to be part of the story. Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." God isn't finished and He is still writing our story! 

Until next time,

Thursday, September 5, 2013

it starts here.

This is where it all begins. This is where it all started. You are probably wondering what in the world I am talking about, but don't worry I am going to get to that. 

I wear my heart on my sleeve all the time, now. I didn't necessarily used to be like this. I have tried starting a blog in the past and to be honest I thought my life wasn't interesting enough to where anyone would really want to read it. Now I wish it wasn't interesting enough for over 500 people to read every post I write. I am thankful for my followers but at the same time I wish I didn't have followers. I wish I was living the life I thought I would be living one year ago, and not the life I am living today. I wish that God's plan for my life was vastly different than the road I am traveling but I know that His plan is greater than I could ever imagine. I just have to trust that His plan for all of this and the rest of Josh and I's life will be better than this hurt we experience now. 

I have learned a lot over this past year. I have learned:

To cherish every moment, because you never know when memories of those moments will be all you have.

That people will judge you no matter what you are going through in your life, including grieving the loss of your son (I know this shocks people, but it is true).

Forgiveness and second chances to restore broken friendships and relationships because no one is promised tomorrow.

To praise God for sending His son as a sacrifice for the sins in my life so that I will one day live in eternity with Him (and my sweet baby).

To be thankful for the clothes on my back, the roof over my head, and the food on my table - some things that many people live without.

Patience for God's timing, and to cling to His promises in my times of weakness.

That people are insensitive and to just let it go, they haven't ever walked in my shoes and I pray they never will.

NOTHING ever goes how we planned, but ALWAYS the way God has planned.

Live life and grieve in my own way, and forget about what other people think about my grief process.

Be thankful for the people God has surrounded me with during this trial.

That I never really knew what a "life disaster" or "living hell" was and wish I never had discovered the true meaning of those words.

It all started here one year ago. I started learning these lessons one year ago, and I learn something else every single day.

One year ago today we found out we were pregnant with Sawyer. 
One whole year. 
365 days. 
52 weeks. 
12 months. 
I said "it all starts here" because this is where this bitter sweet journey began for Josh and I. This is where it starts with the "one year ago" memories. This is where our family started. 

One year ago was a Wednesday. One year ago we had just returned from a camping trip with our friends. One year ago we announced our pregnancy to our parents. One year ago, life changed forever - something we thought we knew, but now realize we never really knew God's plans for our lives. Let me tell the story from the beginning.

We took a Labor Day camping trip with our friends and on the way home stopped out the outlet mall. The whole trip I had a sneaky suspicion that I may have been pregnant but all the tests were negative. When we stopped by the outlet mall we went to Carter's and I HAD to buy the pink outfit saying "Grandma thinks I am purfect" with cats on the shirt just "IN CASE" I was pregnant. I had to make sure that I was prepared to announce it to our parents if we were pregnant! We headed home and I took a test the next morning but it too was negative. I called my GYN and she said "wait a week and take another test, if it is still negative then call back."

She just told the most impatient person to wait a week... WAIT A WEEK. Do you think I waited  a week? I sure didn't. I waited until the next morning. And guess what? That test was clear as day positive. I couldn't believe it. I showed Josh the test and said "Hey, what does that say?". He tried to act all nonchalant and say "uh, I don't know, it's early I can't read it". We had a brief moment of freaking out, but then I thought... I HAVE GOT TO TELL MY PARENTS- BUT WHAT IF THEY KILL ME?! The excitement, fear, and other crazy emotions were running in high gear - if you have ever been pregnant I am sure you can understand. Luckily it was Wednesday, so I just shot my mom a quick text asking to meet them for dinner before church. We usually met for dinner so I was positive she wouldn't suspect anything. I packed the onsie in a gift bag and went off to work, where I proceeded to freak out all day. Dinner finally rolled around, and I toted the gift bag in the restaurant acting like I had picked up something for my mom at the store. She opened it, paused for a minute and saying "Are you pregnant?" followed by my oh-so-humorous dad saying "You do know how that happens, right?". HA. We headed to church and then went to tell Josh's parents. I think I remember his mom screaming with excitement when she opened the bag. All of the grandparents were SO excited. (We obviously jumped the gun on the pink onsie, right?!). 

I remember how excited I was that my life had changed forever.

I remember how I had secretly hoped the baby was a girl, hence the pink outfit.

I remember wondering how I was going to keep it a secret at least for a few days. 

I remember dreaming of ideas for the nursery,

I remember being excited about growing our family.

I remember wondering what people were going to say since we had only been married 5 months, and now realizing it never really mattered anyway.

I remember.

I remember and I wish I was remembering with a baby in my arms.

I remember and I don't ever want to forget.

Here I am one year later, surrounded by grief and bitter sweet memories of what I was excited for in the future. One year later waking up crying because I thought I would be waking up to the cries of a baby today, not my tears. One year later wishing this last year had taken a completely different turn. One year later experiencing a loss that I pray I never see anyone else go through, but know that I unfortunately will. One year later looking for joy and seeking happiness, something I thought I would have forever. One year later loving and longing for a baby that I won't ever see or hold again this side of Heaven. One year later realizing that I really didn't know what a living hell was, and wishing I had never experienced one.

I don't wish this last year had not happened, but I do wish it had turned out differently. I don't wish it never happened because that would mean I would not have a beautiful baby boy that is unfortunately not here, but one that I loved for the 18 days he was here and will love forever. I never knew how differently my life would be changed when I found out I was pregnant one year ago. I knew a baby would change my life forever, but I didn't know that my story would twist and turn the way it has. I have a lot more posts for this next year, shocking I know. But I want to relish in every memory I have. Every last one. My pregnancy is a lot of the time I had with Sawyer, much longer than the time he was here after he was born.  

This last year has been a realization that we have no control. God has a perfect plan for our lives, and He is the ONLY one who knows the future and next pages of our book. The next chapter of my book would have been raising a baby, not what life is like after you bury your baby. The next chapter of my book would have been full of joyful experiences, not heart-wrenching grief experiences. 

Today I choose to thank God for the beautiful baby He blessed me with, even if only for 18 days here on Earth. I choose to praise Him in this storm. I also choose to embrace my grief. I choose to run to the One who understands it all. I don't have to be strong, He is my strength. I don't have to fight back the tears, He catches them all in His hands. God loves me despite how broken and torn and bitter I may be today. God loves me through the pain. tears, and sometimes uncontrollable sadness. He loves me.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."

Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in your heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

There are many more days to come. Many more days I want to remember and days I have no choice but to remember. October 6, October 13, October 30 December 4, January 3, January 8, February 7, February 11, February 14, the list goes on.  They may not have any significance to any one but me, and that is okay.

Until next time,


Monday, September 2, 2013

& sometimes the sky rains night after night

Well, it's yet another "holiday" that we are spending without our boy. I've heard the first year is tough, but the second is worse - not looking forward to that. The closer we get to Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas the more my heart aches. Remembering the giraffe Halloween costume that a sweet friend bought that will go without being worn this year. Remembering the Santa outfit I bought last year for $3.60 at Kohls that will also go untouched this Christmas. Remembering the "My 1st Thanksgiving" bib and adorable turkey hats that were crocheted for us that will all go without anyone to wear them this year. Remembering all the dreams and memories that will go undone and unmade. How do you get excited for the change of seasons and the coming of holidays when it all just sucks? How do you prepare to wake up Christmas morning to what should be the laughter of a baby playing with their new toys but instead will be silence and tears of two parents who are living life without their son? How?

I've learned there are three types of people when you are grieving. Those that love you through it and continue to be the supportive friend they always have been and always will be, those that act awkward every time they see you and probably will be that way forever, and those that avoid you at all costs because they "don't know what to say". I like to spend as much time with the first group of people than the last two. In fact, if you have been the one avoiding me or my husband at all cost, don't expect to come back around when life gets great again and we aren't so sad and heartbroken all the time. The saying "you find out who your friends are" has never been more true than the last year of my life. I am thankful for the friends that cry with me, laugh with me, and listen to my stories whenever I have the urge to share. I am thankful for the friend that dropped everything she was doing last Monday to take me out for dessert and listened to me sob for two hours. I am thankful for the friend that texts me to tell me what a wonderful momma I am and how proud she knows Sawyer is of me. I am thankful for those friends who listen to my sadness, even when it's the same thing over and over again. I am thankful for the friends that don't try to act like nothing happened, because it hurts when people do. 

I have started to reach the stage where I am struggling to get close to people but I am also trying to cherish life and every moment. I know what it's like to have something you are so attached to ripped right out from under you, and I don't want to feel this ever again, EVER. I also know what it's like to not experience things with my son, so I want to make the most of every moment and make memories with my family and friends. I've been struggling with how to deal with my grief. I've been trying to figure out how to handle the intense pain that comes over me so hard it almost knocks the breath out of me. I know for the most part what doesn't help but sometimes I do those things anyways. I am still working on what does work - usually surrounding myself with a lot of Oreos and having a good cry. I've learned if I hold it in it makes the next wave that much more intense. 

I'm still having vivid memory dreams. They are so real I sometimes wake up confused as to where I am and what is actually going on in my life. I can literally remember everything. My outfit, Sawyers sheets, the yellow color of the wall, the smell of the hallway walking to the waiting room, everything. The one that I have had more and more recently is of the night that Sawyer passed away. I think it was brought on by a picture on my computer I saw a few weeks ago of our family, all three of us, just less than an hour before our baby left our arms and went to be with Jesus. The picture is so haunting and miserable, yet captures so much. We don't have fake smiles plastered on our face and it isn't your typical family picture. We look tired, torn, and hanging on by a thread. If a picture could say 1000 words, this one would say more. My memory dream plays this back just about every other night. Sometimes I wake up with tears in my eyes, sometimes I wake up with the sincere hope it was just a dream and I can go pick up my baby from his crib, and sometimes I wake up wanting to throw up. Every time results in tears. I love remembering my sweet boy, I don't love remembering the look in his eyes the night we said goodbye and his daddy told him "it's okay, you don't have to cry - you are going to be with Jesus." One day my nightly memory dreams will change, for now I figure out ways to deal with it. 
I have been realizing a lot of "I will never's " lately. 

I will never hear my son say "mommy, I love you".

I will never see my son crawl, take his first steps, or say his first words.

I will never experience his temper tantrums in the store. 

I will never teach him how to ride a bike. 

I will never watch him play golf with his daddy. 

I will never watch him have a first day of school. 

I will never watch him graduate pre-K, elementary school, high school, or college. 

I will never watch him get married. 

I try to replace these with "I will" statements. 

I will appreciate the little things. 

I will praise God for blessing me with the most beautiful baby boy. 

I will praise God for the 18 days I had with my baby.

I will keep hope that God will bless Josh and I abundantly. 

I will keep sharing my son's story with all who will listen. 

I will praise God for the blessing of my students who bless my heart every day. 

I will learn to live happily again. 

I will make it through this in my own time at my own pace. 

The other day I had a third grade student come in the door for class. She normally says "hi, Mrs. Murphy", but not that day. She walked right in and said "hi, Sawyer's mommy". I thank God for moments like this. 

I have been listening to the song "Our Hope Endures" by Natalie Grant. The words are great. 

"You would think only so much can go wrong
Calamity only strikes once
And you assume this one has suffered her share
Life will be kinder from here
Oh, but sometimes the sun stays hidden for years
Sometimes the sky rains night after night
When will it clear?

But our Hope endures the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our Hope is unchanged"

I continue to trust The Lord and his goodness for our lives. I may not see the reason for this suffering this side of Heaven, but that's okay. Sawyer continues to touch more people than most will in a lifetime and when people see his footprint on my foot or his name on my wrist, they ALWAYS ask and I ALWAYS share.

Until next time,