Two weeks since I've kissed his sweet, warm, pink cheeks. Our baby boy. Our only son.
It started out as a pretty typical Tuesday. The girls got off to school. Jason went to work. I took Kezia and Link with me to the store. I put his car seat in the cart. He was a little fussy as I dropped off a prescription. He cooed & talked to me & played with his toy giraffe as I waited to have a key made. He fell asleep in his car seat as I gathered things and put them in the cart. I saw some of my neighbors in the cereal isle. We talked. One of them asked how Link was doing & I smiled as I told her how wonderful he has been. How he has grown. I let her peek at him while he slept.
We got home. He was awake & I put him in his exersaucer while I brought groceries in and put things in the freezer. By that time, he was hungry and fussy, so I got him out of the exersaucer and fed him. His sister Ireland got home and kissed him. My mom called & we talked and Link smiled & kicked his legs as Kezia put the headset on him and he heard his grandma's voice. He was getting tired, so I swaddled him, sang to him, kissed him and put him down for a nap like I always do. This was right about noon. I sat down with the other two girls to eat lunch. We started eating and I heard him fussing, so I went back in - put his binki back in and stroked his face & shushed him. This was about 12:15. The last time I saw him alive.
I took a nap while the girls watched a movie. I was really tired & slept soundly. I got up about 2pm. At about 2:30 I went in to feed him because he needed to eat before I left for my dentist appointment. When I got into his room, I noticed he had rolled over. He was still swaddled, but he had completely rolled & was face down - with his head toward the bottom of the crib. I thought that was strange, but I didn't panic until I picked him up. He was limp. He was cold. He was blue. He wasn't breathing. I held him as I ran out of his room. I screamed. I called 911. I put him on our living room rug. They walked me through giving him CPR. After a while some police came & took over for me - giving him CPR. I called Jason. I cried. I screamed "He HAS to be okay! He has been through too much in his life already! He HAS to be okay!!" They were asking me questions & I was trying to answer between sobs and screams. I felt nauseous. I felt sick. I felt despair into the bottom of my stomach. Jason came. The paramedics came. Jason went with Link in the ambulance & I waited till my sweet friend Diane came to get Kezia & Ireland. Then I rode with a police officer to the hospital. He drove fast, but not fast enough. I called my mom. She said she had to look at the caller ID to make sure it was really me. I was frantic. We said a prayer on the phone.
We got to the hospital. Jason was there. We went to the room that they were working on him. There were no signs of life. I sobbed. I went to where his body lay & held his tiny hand and the doctor told us that he was gone. I remember that I kept walking around & repeating "but he's my baby boy. But he's my baby boy..."
Everything else is kind of a blur. People were there helping, talking, giving hugs & holding hands - our bishop, our friend Mark Corry, Jason's brother, Jeff. An officer put us in a tiny room and asked a bunch of questions. I kept looking at this guy like he was speaking a foreign language. I was just in such shock.
We eventually left the hospital and went home. I went into my room & sobbed. My friend brought the girls to our home & we had to tell them that their baby brother had returned home to Heavenly Father. Friends and family were coming & going - helping with the girls. Cleaning.
That night was the hardest night of my life. Every time I closed my eyes, all I could see was his little blue face. All I could feel was his cold lifeless body. We let the girls sleep in our room. Jason slept on one side of me. McKinley slept on the other. We were all so close & they were breathing in and out, in and out. I just felt like they were breathing for me. They were my life support when I felt like I couldn't make myself breathe. Still, even though they were breathing for me, my heart was still shattered, and I could not sleep. I tossed & turned. I felt shock and grief in the pit of my stomach that kept coming. Finally, sometime in the middle of the night, I got up & went into Link’s room & grabbed the blankets from his crib. I laid down in the bed next to his crib & just sobbed & sobbed. Oh, how I needed my baby boy in my arms. How I NEEDED him. My prayers were desperation. They were pleading. They were demanding. They were "God - can't you see? Can't you see how badly I NEED him? I need him! Please NO!" They were "Oh God, NO! You have the wrong girl! I CAN'T do this! I CAN'T! Other women can. They are strong. They are courageous They are faithful. But I can't. Please don't make me!"
After a while, Jason came in there. He laid there & cried with me.
The next few days were full of things that no parent should have to do for their child. And, indeed, my mind would NOT accept that this was happening. We chose pictures, we went to the mortuary and picked out a beautiful tiny casket, we went to the cemetery and chose a plot, we put together a program for the funeral, I put together a slideshow, we dressed my baby boy's body for burial....and all the while my mind is screaming "I am not here. This is not happening. I will wake up. He is fine. He is beautiful. He is healthy."
Words came from my mouth. I blinked. I breathed. I pumped milk for a baby that wouldn't drink. I cried tears constantly.
And in the background were angels seen and unseen. My parents who drove to me the minute they heard & helped & cried with me and helped with the girls. Jason's mom and sister who came right away & were there for me. Jason's brother who kept coming from St. George to be there. My sweet sisters who helped get the girls' outfits ready. They put together pictures and items to be displayed for the funeral. They ran errands. My sweet friend, Lena, dropped everything, found a sitter for her three boys, and drove from Fredona, AZ to come and hold my hand and help me breathe. She had lost baby twins and she knew what to say & do. So many amazing people were coming & going. Flowers. Cards. Paintings. Gifts. Food. So much love. I have to admit that at the beginning, I didn't want any of it. I just wanted it to all go away. I wanted it all to disappear & I just wanted my baby boy back in my arms. But I felt the love & support. I felt the prayers.
Most of all, I turned to my husband. He told me everything was going to be okay - even when I was looking at him with tear-swollen eyes and asking "How? HOW can it be all right? How can we do this?" He is my anchor. He is my rock. He helps me to breathe. To remember. To kneel. To trust.
The day of the funeral was horrible and sweet and surreal. Somehow I got up and got dressed. Somehow the girls got dressed, too. Trisha fixed my hair. Tiffany helped with my make-up. Somehow I got to the church & as a little family, we kissed & talked to Link's body. Somehow I stood there for an hour and a half while people came. They came. From all over. Minnesota. Texas. Park City. Vernal. Salt Lake. Richfield. ALL OVER. Family. Friends. Loved ones. They hugged me. They told me they were sorry. They told me how beautiful he was. Somehow… somehow I listened as my father gave a prayer. Somehow I tucked my baby boy into a casket of white and watched as they closed the lid – never to see his face in the flesh again until the resurrection. Somehow I sat through a funeral where heartfelt prayers were said, beautiful talks were given, memories were shared, sweet poems were read, powerful songs were sung. Somehow we got to the cemetery and I listened as my sweet husband dedicated the grave. Somehow I stayed there after everyone left with my groom by my side and watched as they put his tiny casket into a vault and placed the lid. Then somehow I left the cemetery and came back to the church and talked some more. We sat by Vic & Molly Jackson, who had lost a 2-year-old daughter and I clung to their words and their love. Somehow we came back home and I talked and cried and smiled & even laughed with Jason’s family from Texas.
Now... it's been two weeks. It still hurts. I know it will for a while, but I cannot disregard the tender mercies - the love letters from heaven - that have happened in our lives since the passing of our son. Some of them are too sacred to share here, but they are real. This whole experience has tested my faith in the Plan of Salvation, but I can say that I KNOW that I will see my baby boy again. I know he is happy. I know he watches over us. I know my Heavenly Father loves me. At first I wondered how he could do this when he knew how much it would hurt me - and I'm sure I will keep on wondering that - but at the same time, his peace & love have abounded. There was a rainbow on the day of his funeral. The forget-me-not plant that my grandma gave me is blooming like crazy. I've had some amazing dreams. I've heard some very healing, loving songs. Read and heard some wonderful talks. The fact that he died on the week of Easter - with General Conference to follow the next weekend - is a complete tender mercy. I wrote this the week that he died:
An empty crib.
An empty room.
An empty car seat.
An empty exersacer.
An empty jumper.
An empty Bumbo seat.
An empty swing.
An empty tiny chair.
An Empty Tomb.
I am SO thankful for the resurrection of my Savior. SO THANKFUL! How horrible it would be to think that this was the end for my precious son.
It is still going to be so very hard. I know it will. Please bear with me as I begin this grieving journey & sort through all kinds of emotions and pain. It really does amaze me how such a tiny person can leave such a huge hole in our hearts and in our family.
But I KNOW that he truly is our LINK from heaven to earth!!
THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU to everyone. We don't know that we will get time to personally thank each of you for the cards. The flowers. The gifts. The text messages. The facebook messages. But we want you to know that we have read every one and appreciate them with all. Thank you.
Below is the slideshow I put together for the funeral. I put it in Picasa, so you could hopefully open it a little bigger to fill the screen.