Saturday, May 14, 2011

Emotional Week 7


This has been a bit of an emotional week for us. We worked on packing up your bedroom on Monday. It was very difficult to go through your things. Part of me wants to keep everything just the way it is. Another part wants to get rid of everything. Right now, the reminders are hard to bear. Almost every book we read to Caden was yours. Most of the toys he plays with were yours. Even the majority of his clothes are yours. I see you everywhere. It was really hard on your dad to go through the toys. We had to decide what to keep, what to give to your brother and what to get rid of. We filled a hope chest full of things and still have a couple things that won't quite fit. I told your dad that I couldn't handle seeing Caden in your clothes, especially the 4t and 5t things, so we are planning to get rid of them.

Tuesday, I went to see Mrs. Wilson at your school. The school yearbook was in already. They made sure to find pictures to include in the yearbook that had you in them. They also put together a special memorial page to you near the back. That made me cry. Then, they handed me a package of pictures of you. Apparently, when the yearbook coordinator spoke with the group that took the school pictures, the photography studio decided to send what they call a "sympathy package" of pictures to us to help keep your memory alive. It was the biggest package that could have been purchased when the pictures were taken, plus the CD with permission to print more as needed. That started me crying again. One of the things I remember saying to people was that I wished we'd gotten more of your school pictures. We had no idea when those school pictures were taken that they would be the only school pictures you would ever get to take.

Wednesday, I had a couple of appointments. Unfortunately, I didn't have anyone to watch Caden and had to take him with me. The only way I knew to keep him occupied and out of trouble was to take your DS with us. He's learning how to play Go, Diego, Go on the DS. It was difficult watching him play with it, but I guess since you're in Heaven, it's his now anyway.

Today was the Inaugural Head for the Cure 5k - North Texas. The turnout was exceptional. The organizers were originally expecting between 200 - 500 participants. Actual registration was 2,219 people!!! We also raised over $100,000 through registrations, donations, and sponsorships. Jenny ran today in your memory and placed 3rd in her age group. I can't wait until next year. I'm already working on putting together "Team Caleb" for next year's run.

We also got a new air conditioning system installed today. I'm so grateful that we won't have to worry about the air conditioner not working once the temps start getting higher.

Monday is our final MOPs meeting for this school year. I'm going to be speaking on the importance of support during times of adversity. I'm actually looking forward to it.

Honey, I want you to know that I love you so very much. You were my miracle child. I will NEVER forget you. The pain lessens a little every day, but it's still here. Thanks to a loving Savior, and a wonderful network of family and friends I'm making it through. I continue to hold onto Jesus through this time. He is my Rock, Refuge, Fortress, and Shield. He is my strength when I am weak. He is my all-in-all. I am so very thankful that we told you about Him from birth. You were raised to know who He is and how much He loves you. And now, you are experiencing that love first-hand. I stand in awe that you are in His presence and will never hurt again.

I love you,

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My first Mother's Day without you

My sweet, sweet Caleb,

I love you so very much. It's been an emotional couple of days for a number of reasons. On Friday, I was interviewed by a local TV station about the blog & why I've kept it going even after you died. (here's the story)  Basically, it's good therapy for me. I get a chance to tell you how I'm feeling and doing, in words. Everyone else is just along for the ride. Hopefully, what I speak will help them. If not, that's okay too. I just want to be able to share with you what's going on with us in a way that I feel comfortable. Writing is comfortable for me.

Friday was also your biological mom's birthday. I'm grateful that we got a chance to tell you about D. and your half-siblings. I'm even more grateful that you were able to spend some time with her and one of your half-siblings before you died. I can't imagine what she must be feeling right now. I've lost you, but she's lost you twice. She is an incredible woman and I'm honored to have her as a part of my life.

Saturday, I took Caden out to Founder's Park by the airport as we waited for your dad to get back from Grandpa Bob's funeral in Florida. Caden was awed by the planes, just as you were when we waiting for Dawn & Connor in 2009. A plane would come in to land & Caden would holler, "Again, again!" I can still picture you saying the same thing. You'd run around with your arms spread wide pretending to be an airplane. We didn't get to stay long this time so I'm going to make plans to go out just for plane watching (and maybe a picnic lunch). I bet Braeden, Gillian & Garrison would love it too, so I'm going to ask Ms. Gwen to go with me.

The Saturday before Mother's Day is also becoming more widely known as Birth Mother's Day. It is to honor those women who chose life for their child, but, for whatever reason (by choice or not), placed that child in the arms of another woman to raise. I choose to honor publicly the two women who blessed me with you & Caden. After I posted a note about it on Facebook, I got the following message from S. & share it with her permission:

Angela, on this Mothers Day I have so many mixed emotions as im sure u do as well. There is one thing im sure of and one thing im able to find happiness from. Thats knowing that i chose the right family for the precious son i could not have raised. I know in my heart that there is no other family that could have loved Caden the way you do. Im so honered that he is your son and so greatful for you and richard. I pray for you all daily and hope that God continues to hold you strong. Your faith is unmeasurable and shows to all. I love you angela and from one mom to another...... Happy Mothers Day!

Thank you, D. & S. for allowing me the honor and privilege of loving & caring for Caleb & Caden.

Which leads me to today -- Mother's Day. My first Mother's Day without you by my side. It was definitely a bittersweet day. Your dad truly outdid himself this year. He made me cry first thing this morning before breakfast! But, it was in a good way. Remember when we had the pictures done back in August with your brother & I said I wished that daddy could have been with us? Well, he took one of those pictures &(with Ms. Gwen's help) had himself put into it so now it is a family portrait! It turned out great & I absolutely love it.

He also got me a Food Saver, which I've wanted for years. Your brother decorated a tote bag for me at ELC that says, "Hands down best mom in town." It has his little handprints on it. It reminded me of the one you did a couple years ago when you were still at ELC. I bought myself a small gift from you. It's a butterfly necklace. I think it is something you would have picked out if you'd had the chance.

After church this morning, Ms. Cosette came up to me with a gift bag. Inside was a picture she had taken of you & me about 3 years ago. She'd had it enlarged & framed it with a little plaque that says, "My Little Angel" on it. That had me crying again.

We went to Taco Bell for lunch. I know it's not the typical Mother's Day restaurant, but your dad first proposed to me at a Taco Bell, so it's one of those sentimental things. Besides, there wasn't a line out the door there like most other places. Also, Daddy promised to grill me a steak for dinner & I'd rather have one of his grilled steaks than eat out anywhere else. So, when we left Taco Bell, we went to Albertson's to pick up the steaks. While there, I saw the most scrumptious looking white-chocolate covered strawberries. We picked those up for dessert.

After we got home, Caden & I both took naps while Daddy watched the Mavs game. Go Mavericks! One step closer to the championship round. When Caden woke up from his nap, he started playing with Daddy's iPad (or as Caden says, "my hipad") while we finished watching the game. After a few minutes playing games, he found his way to YouTube & pulled up the video from your Celebration Service. The tears started again. I just couldn't handle watching or listening to it today, so I left the room.  It's not that I don't want to see it. It's just that I hurt so badly from missing you & I didn't want to spend all evening weeping. Besides, when Caden watches it, he tends to watch it over & over & over. I'd bet that over 100 of the views on YouTube are just from your brother! He misses you so much. We all do.

Caleb, you are loved more than we could ever express. You are missed that much & more. I never stop thinking about you & wonder what you're experiencing now. I know that Jesus is holding me close to help me through this. Would you please give Him a hug from me since I can't physically do it right now?

I love you,

Friday, May 6, 2011

Television Interview? Really???


I got a call on Thursday from Dawn Tongish at KDAF-33. She'd heard about our journey with you and the blog. She came out this morning to do an interview to get more information on how things are going. Right now, it looks like the interview will air tonight. She's going to get back with me to let me know for sure when it will air.

We couldn't have done this on our own. God's love and strength sustains us through the most difficult time in our lives. We've opened ourselves up for the world to see. What a humbling experience. It's been a comfort knowing that what we're doing is helping others in some way. That's one of the things we wanted to be able to do through this blog -- help others. Even if it's just providing words of comfort when they are having trouble, or lifting them up in prayer as they go through a difficult trial, or giving them strength because of the strength we have been given through God -- it's all so very worth it.

I pray that this interview will impart strength to others. I want to let people see God's light shining inside of us and always know that God is in control. No matter the circumstances people may be facing, God is still on the throne. He knows what He's doing. He has a purpose and a plan that will benefit them.

I'm so thankful that you found God's purpose and plan for your life at such a young age. Your love for God was apparent in everything you did. From your earliest moments, you loved to listen to worship music and hear God's word read to you. We didn't get to have you around as much as we wanted, but we truly loved every minute we got to have with you.

Caleb, you were such an inspiration to us. Your light, love, courage, and giving nature are the things I continue to hold onto during my darkest moments. When I am weak, hurting and in pain, I think of your strength. You rarely complained about the debilitating pain you were in, so why should I complain about my pain. It is nothing compared to what you endured. You still encourage me on a daily basis. You were truly my miracle child. I'll never forget you and will love you to infinity and beyond.

When I think of you, I smile. I remember so many of the fun things we did together. Trips to Going Bonkers were a blast. Sliding down those huge slides and hearing you scream in delight still make me smile. I remember you asking so many times to go back, but you weren't physically capable of handling the trip or the play equipment. I wish we could have taken you one last time.

I wish we'd taken more family pictures. I have so many memories of you that are captured on camera forever. Watching you eat your first waffle, that was bigger than your head, was so funny. The first time you got to play in the snow. Your first amusement park ride with Kendra. Your dedication at church. Your finalization day when you were less than 6 months old. Holding & rocking you to sleep. Singing to you. The memories never stop. I am flooded with thoughts of you. You truly are my hero. There is no one I could have imagined loving more. I am so thankful that you were a part of our lives for the time we had you.

I was so looking forward to having pictures done in the bluebonnets again this year. We had so much fun when Dawn & Connor were here for it. It was so windy that day. Do you remember? I'll miss our trips to the Zoo. It just won't be the same without you.

I love you so very much and always will. I wanted you to know love like you'd never known before. But my love pales in comparison to the love of God. Now, you know love more fully than I could imagine.

I miss you. I miss you. I miss you. I long for the day when we see each other again, but know that I must keep living my life here. Keep watching over us and loving us. I hope you are having a wonderful time learning all about the things of Heaven. You make sure you tell Jesus that I want a purple mansion. Help decorate it if you can.

I love you, sweet Caleb.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Week 6

My darling Caleb,

Tomorrow marks 6 weeks since you entered the presence of Jesus and the glory of Heaven. Everyone keeps asking how we're doing. I think we're all doing okay overall.  We have our rough moments, but they're not all the time. However, I miss you so very much. I miss hearing you laugh, seeing you smile and watching you play. I miss you coming into our bedroom EVERY morning before 7 a.m. saying, "I'm hungry." I miss telling you to go back to bed. I miss reading bedtime stories and singing songs. I miss you singing along with my phone every time it rings. I can still hear your voice singing, "I don't want to go through the motions. I don't want to go one more day, without Your 'welcome-suming' passion inside of me." You never could get the "all consuming" part down quite right. I miss laughing as you mispronounce it, but rejoicing because you knew what it meant.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks as we continue to adjust to you being gone. Your dad's gone back to work. Some things there are still in a state of fluctuation, but we know that it will all work out.

Caden's back at ELC and loving every day he goes. He's learning so much, so very fast. He's recognizing colors, shapes and much of the alphabet already. And, he's talking so much clearer now. I'm relieved at that. I felt so bad at having to kinda push him to the back burner for a few months while we were almost over our heads with taking care of you. I don't regret it because I think I knew that I would have the time to "retrain" him and help him catch up. I also think that a lot of his progress is because we had to send him to stay with so many people during those 5 months. They all loved him as their own child and kept him learning every day. I didn't have to worry if he was being taken care of because I could tell when he came home -- happy and safe.

Do you remember telling us that you wanted to teach Caden how to say "elephant?" Well... he knows how to say it now. I was so amused the first time you tried to get him to say elephant. He was only 3 months old! But you kept trying. "Caden, can you say el-e-phant?" You'd sound it out nice and slow so he could hear each syllable. He had absolutely no clue what you were saying, but you never let it stop you. Brilliance in action.

Since Caden's at ELC twice a week, that leaves me with some alone time. It hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be. I think that's mostly because I keep myself as occupied as I can. Thankfully, my mind turns to worship more and more now. It seems I pray and sing almost all the time now. I also keep reminding myself that you are happier than you could ever be on Earth. You are pain-free and enjoying the presence of God.

I've also finally started playing the Wii again. It was really difficult for the first few weeks because that was how we spent a lot of our time together. I'm sure you remember that, somehow, all our progress on Super Mario Brothers got wiped out and we had to start all over again just a couple weeks before you died. We had just gotten to World 2 again. Well, I'm back up to World 6 and moving right along when I do play. I've gotten really into Mario Kart recently. I loved watching you play that in the playroom and in your room at the hospital.

Aunt Jennifer said the pancake breakfast fundraiser they had turned out really well. They didn't have as many people show up as they anticipated, but it all worked out since they pre-sold the tickets.

We received word late Tuesday night that your Grandpa Bob passed away unexpectedly. As I lay awake that night, I thought about our trip to Florida when you were about 9 months old. We planned the trip just so you could meed Grandpa Bob and Grandma Nancy. We stayed with them for a couple of days then headed across the state to introduce you to my grandparents, Nana and Pop. You had the wonderful opportunity of swimming in the Gulf of Mexico one day & the Atlantic Ocean the next. We had so much fun on that trip. You were just learning how to pull yourself up and "cruise" around the coffee tables everywhere we were. If I remember correctly, that was your first time in a swimming pool as well. You loved the water so much that we kept calling you "Our Little Fish."

Your dad is going to his dad's memorial service. We had to send your brother to Ms. Gwen's to spend the night last night so we didn't have to drive to Uncle Terry's with him in the middle of the night. It was Caden's first night away from us since you passed. He had a really tough time getting back to sleep. He stills asks about you frequently. Since he's only 2 1/2, he doesn't really understand yet. When he asks where you are, we just remind him that you've gone to live with Jesus. He says, "up in the sky?" I reply, "yes, sweetheart, up in the sky." He then says, "And in my heart, Mommy." And through my tears, I say, "yes, Caden. He's always in our hearts." Then he'll follow up by saying that you're in Mommy's heart, Daddy's heart, doggie's heart and kitty's heart, too.

Oh! I almost forgot. We finally got your headstone placed yesterday. It's absolutely beautiful. I believe you'd like it a lot. We took several pictures of it last night (actually it was around 1:30 a.m) when we got to Elkhart. I went back out there on my way back out of town and took a few more in the daylight. It looks like G-ma Kay put up some butterfly windchimes for you as well.




I had to take Caden to the doctor the other day. Somehow, he developed a boil on his buttocks. I know how painful a boil can be, so I took him right in.  While we were there, Dr. P. mentioned that he'd missed the memorial service and apologized. I told him no apology was necessary. Then he explained why he missed it. His wife has recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor and the doctors are not giving very good news about it. I am devastated to know that someone else we care about is going through this. I was so blessed to be able to minister to him for a while during our visit. If what we went through with you was only so I could bring him comfort during their journey, then it was worth it. I am praying for them daily as so many prayed for us.

I also recently discovered that there is a 5k run/walk taking place in Frisco called Head for the Cure 5K - North Texas. It's on Saturday, May 14th, at Frisco Square in downtown Frisco and starts at 8 a.m.  I wish we'd found out early enough to put together a team to participate in your memory. I posted it on Facebook to help spread the word. This is the first year for this race in north Texas and there are already over 1,400 participants registered! I got a message from Jenny M. saying that she is going to run in the race this year in your memory and that if we put together a team for next year that we can count her in. I am so touched and honored that she would do this. Well, since I can't physically handle the 5k this year, I'm looking into volunteering during it so I can participate somehow. It's important to me to do this.

Well, that's about it for now.  You are missed more than you can imagine.

I love you to infinity and beyond!