Monday, October 28, 2013

A Different Halloween

"I don't think I have ever NOT looked forward to Halloween, until this year."

This was a text I sent the other day when the realization that Halloween is this week came to the forefront of my mind. I haven't ever really looked forward to Halloween either, but I literally cringe at the thought of this Thursday. I made the decision yesterday to stay off any social media sites on Halloween, and probably the day after, too. It really is too much to handle. I won't forget last Halloween. I was pregnant with Sawyer, sitting in my parents living room, discussing costume options with my cousin. Discussing costume ideas that would never become a reality, for Sawyer at least. To most people Halloween is just another holiday, no big deal. They dress their kids up, take some pictures, and walk them around to different houses until either the parents or the kids get tired. Some will complain it is on a school night, some will complain because their child won't make up their mind about what costume they want to where, and some will complain about how many trick-or-treaters they have come to their house. I would trade anything to walk Sawyer to 50 houses, 100 even. I wish I could change my mind one thousand times about his costume. I wish, I wish, I always wish everything was different. 

Last year we went after-Christmas returning/shopping with some friends. We were at the Belk in Snellville and we spotted the most adorable giraffe costume. I think it was 7$, and was the perfect size for Sawyer to wear this Halloween. Sawyer's auntie Hensley bought it for him because we all just couldn't stand how cute we knew he would look in it, something we still have to use our imagination for today. Here is the oh-so-popular costume:

I don't find it any coincidence that in the window behind me there is the word, wishes. This costume holds more wishes than I thought I would ever have for my life. If you look closely you can see my 'barely-there' baby bump. This was also about a week before our lives changed forever and we received the diagnosis of Sawyer's heart condition.

This Halloween should look differently than it will. Every year it has been a tradition to go over to my parents, eat Chili, and pass out candy to the trick-or-treaters. This year we should be having them over for chili, you know- in our new house. Then we should be taking Sawyer around to the houses for his first Halloween experience. But, instead, my parents, Josh, and myself are heading out to a movie. I will be "that" new neighbor who turns their lights off and doesn't pass out candy. Surprisingly, I don't care. I want to be the farthest place away from Halloween, costumes, candy, trick-or-treaters and anything else that reminds me of all that I will be missing out on this year. I have started to notice that it doesn't matter what store I go to, whatever I need always requires me to either walk past the baby section or the Halloween section. It is inevitable, and I always try to find away around, which usually puts me right in the middle of it. 

Over the past days, weeks, and months I have surrounded myself with people who help me remember and who remind me they will never forget my precious baby boy. It has reached the point where people don't remember the 27th, until I post something on Facebook or Instagram. (For anyone who gets tired of me posting about Sawyer and my journey through my grief process just do us both a favor and delete me.) My heart will continue to ache on these days, I know over time I wont spend so much time reflecting on how different life should be on those days but for now it is still so fresh. Yesterday was a rough day all around. I try to prepare emotionally, but the truth is I never can. But through my grief and sadness, the Lord does continue to show me joy - even yesterday.

I am not sure how much I have shared about the people we met at Egleston or through this journey we had during the pregnancy with Sawyer, but there is one family very near and dear to my heart. I met Lacy through someone I used to go to church with and when I posted my first blog, she realized she should connect me with Lacy. Lacy was pregnant with Josiah at the time (in January) and he had been diagnosed with HLHS (Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome). HLHS is the different from what Sawyer had, but it was the same in that they both would need open heart surgery. During Josiah's first few months of life, he had a rocky start. He was born at the end of January, and when I had Sawyer in May he was back at Egleston and had been placed on the heart transplant list. Lacy and Anthony spent countless days sitting and talking with us, and Lacy and I really connected through email, Facebook and text before Sawyer was here. Since Josiah was born first, she was able to give me an idea of what to expect if Sawyer was to come to Egleston sooner than later (something I knew would happen long before he was born, momma's instinct I guess). Once we arrived, this family become our family. We cried, laughed, and did most things together while in the hospital. Josiah was actually in a room close to where Sawyer's bedspace was, and Lacy and Anthony were able to say hello and meet Sawyer. The night Sawyer passed away, Lacy was the first person we saw, and the first person who we told as we walked out of his room on our way to meet with our parents. Their friendship has meant more to us than they will ever know. Through our loss of Sawyer, Josiah continued to fight and he fought hard! He has had his second open heart surgery and is growing like a weed. Lo and behold, when we left lunch yesterday we ran in to this precious family. I know it was God reminding me that He is STILL good, and that miracles are continuing to happen all around me.

Another special part of yesterday was the Remembrance Ceremony that was put on by Gwinnett Medical. A lot of the women who attend my support group and it was just so nice to be able to share and remember our babies with one another and other sweet mom's. My parents were at our church fall festival but Josh's parents and my aunt Deedy (who is also a NICU nurse) were able to be there! We wrote notes on butterflies and released balloons. Here are some pictures:

   Throughout this journey I have been made more and more aware of the way God is working in my life DAILY, it is unbelievable. I am more aware of how things have worked together and can see distinctly parts of His plan for my life. I don't know all of the purposes for Sawyer's life, but slowly I am becoming more aware of a few. I have been able to minister to other hurting families that, like us, have said goodbye to their precious babies too soon. I have also been able to share the way that God has been working in my life, and share the love He has for not only me, but all of us as His children. I still cry at little reminders and on certain days, but I know He is working on healing my broken heart. This pain will never go away, but I am certain that it will become easier to manage. The day I am reunited with my Savior and my sweet boy will be a glorious day indeed!

Until next time,

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wave of Light- Pumpkin Style!

The Wave of Light is the annual event on October 15 that honors and remembers the babies lost to pregnancy loss, still birth, and infant loss. October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Awareness Month and I have participated in multiple things this month to remember Sawyer, and reflect on the memories and time we had with him. When I realized that October 15 was an event that you all could participate in and help us with my creative wheels started turning. I posted my ideas in the original Wave of Light post. I won't lie that I had my apprehensions about how many people would actually participate. I am sure many of you can relate that when you put an idea out there you have ideas of who will participate, but you aren't even sure if those expectations will be met. My expectations were MORE than met, and Josh and I were completely floored by everyone who participated. 

Some of you were only able to light a candle, and some were able to carve a pumpkin. However you participated, we are SO thankful that you did take part in not only remembering our Sawyer, but all of the other babies gone much too soon. I have taken the pictures and tried to merge them together in to collages. I know there are some repeats, but I think it would be safe to say that I had close to 75 people participate. That is absolutely incredibly, and I am speechless. I spent the first 30 minutes of that hour trying to post my pictures, but my phone was BLOWING up from people sending me pictures and the notifications on Facebook and Instagram. Many of my students participated and were so excited to tell me about their pumpkins the next day at school.

I am posting the pictures here in order to have them for my blog book at the end of the year. If you don't see your pumpkin and/or candle, please let me know so I can add it to this post!


Thank you so much everyone!
Until next time,

Friday, October 25, 2013

On the other side

The past week has been quite the up and down and all around. I try to keep up with my blog the best I can to capture those "big" moments, but also the ones I don't want to forget. Recently I saw a post that said "I never thought I would find myself on the other side of 'that will never happen to me' ". I feel the exact same way. I have always been that person to hear the terrible stories and think "that could never happen to me", and until now I have to be honest and say that I legitimately wanted to believe it wouldn't. Yet, here I am. Here I am on the other side. Every day is still a struggle, but with God on my side and a wonderful support system here on earth I am making it through. I know a lot of people probably think I shouldn't be so sad anymore or doing a little bit better. I am doing better, but this sadness will probably last a lifetime, only getting easier to control. I sometimes feel I take 4 steps forward and get knocked back 10. Satan is constantly working to move his way in between the relationship I have with God. Thankfully I have been able to stand strong in my faith and relationship with Christ despite the clear attempts to steer me away. Instead of letting these things take me over I choose to find joy in Christ and His provisions throughout this dark time. I love Building 429's song - "we won't be shaken"! It is true. My faith will not be shaken, and satan needs to take a seat and leave me alone!

I have lots to share since the last time I have posted. There will be a separate post for all of the pumpkins from October 15. So many people participated and for that I am so thankful - can't wait to share all the pictures!

First things first, we have hung up the NEW memory wall in our new house!

 Here is the new house the day of closing!
New memory wall, absolutely IN LOVE.

As we get more things hung up and put away I will post more pictures! The first week of October we had a fundraiser at school to raise money for our Art/Drama Department. Each day had a theme and the students LOVED dressing up! I decided I should get in on the fun. Here is a picture from each day!

Mustache Monday!

Top hat, Tiara, & Tie Tuesday

Wig Wednesday!

Throwback Thursday (to the Western days!)
Best day of the week - Favorite Friday!
So, of course, I dressed up like a giraffe.
The kids were ECSTATIC :)

I have to share with you what a blessing Trinity has been to me over the course of the last few months and also in relation to dealing with the loss of Sawyer. Many of the students lit candles for the Wave of Light. I was able to share my story with the students and my third graders have not forgotten one bit. They remind me of Sawyer DAILY and I never even have to say a word. On Wednesday October 9 it was his 5 month birthday. They remembered and one student broke out in song with "Happy Birthday" and before I could stop him the WHOLE class was singing. Then I received this on my desk from a student:

""Papper Prayer
Lord I pray for Mrs. Murphy son that you keep him safe in heaven with you Lord. And Mrs. Murfy don't you wory beacause evething is going to be alright. I keep my prayers. And I hope his birthday in heven is wonderful is wonderful! We love Sawyer!"

Blessings to my heart, they really are. Speaking of Sawyer's 5 month birthday - I took him new flowers and his cousins came to visit him! Here is my post from Facebook:

Happy 5 month birthday sweet boy! I miss you so much, especially on days like today when the sadness seems to overtake me. You are the biggest blessing and I am so proud to be your mommy. Lots of people love you and miss you a whole lot but we all know we will see you again one day! I think what makes today especially hard is that it is your Otter Pop's birthday. I desperately wish you were here to celebrate with us, but I know you wouldn't want us to be so sad. I'm bringing you your new flowers tonight and I think your cousins are coming for a special visit. I made cupcakes last night - chocolate with white icing because those are your daddy's favorite and I bet you would have loved them too. I wish the pain was easier but it still stings every morning. I will love you forever, and miss you until I can see you again.

October 13, 2013 marks one year since we made the announcement on Facebook that we were expecting. It is hard to think back to those feelings of excitement because I am still very much in the middle of my grief. I desperately wish I was still living in the midst of that excitement and joy, but I have been left with heartache and sadness. I do find joy in my memories of Sawyer and that I was blessed to be his mommy, but it is not the outcome I had envisioned that brought me so much joy when that announcement was made one year ago.

Monday, October 14, 2013 my support group put on a Remembrance Event in lieu of October 15 and National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. It was a beautiful event and I am so thankful I was able to participate and remember not only Sawyer but all other babies represented by their families. We were able to light a candle in Sawyer's memory and release rose petals over the lake. The families that are a part of my support group are unbelievable and I am SO blessed that I know them, I just wish the circumstances were different. Here are some pictures from that night.

Sorry for the bad picture quality, blame it on my phone!

Thursday night was rough and I went in to school feeling down. I walked in to find this on my desk:

The student told me that he knew how much I liked pumpkins so he wanted to bring me something. (Side note: My school sent out an email with a link to my blog asking the parents and students to participate. I am continually blessed by this school and the community of people. This student told me he read the post about how much pumpkins meant to me.) I thought it was so sweet, and I knew it was God reminding me that not all things are bad. His timing with everything is so perfect! The student had written "from: your favorite student and something was scratched out above student. He came at the end of the day and said "did you see where I scratched something out? It originally said "from: your favorite man". I seriously laughed so hard! These students are great!

These days have been flying by but moving at a snail's pace. How that is even possible, I don't know. I am enjoying life but sad all at the same time. There is still so much I wish was different and I am trying to learn to live without. I am a stronger person but also a changed person. The Ashlyn that existed before Sawyer entered this world is an Ashlyn that will forever be different and that is okay with me. I have learned to cherish the moments and make memories because we don't ever know when we won't be able to make memories anymore. I was only able to make 18 days worth of memories with Sawyer, but they are the memories I cherish the most in this lifetime. I spent last night with my sweet boy. I posted about it on Facebook and someone commented saying they were sorry I had to be visiting a grave and that I wasn't at home snuggling my boy. I am too, but I am thankful for the love of my Savior and His sacrifice that means I will see my baby again. Because of the redemption of Christ and His forgiveness of my sins and my choice to give my life to Him, I will spend eternity with my Lord and Savior, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and my sweet baby boy. 

Look for a post with the pumpkins from Tuesday night's lighting, and a post from the "picture a day" Capture Your Grief challenge I have been participating. They will be coming soon. 

Thank you for your continued love and support, always meaning more than you know and more than I can convey.

Until next time,