Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Two Weeks

Two Weeks.

14 days.

336 hours.

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.

Empty eyes.
Empty arms.
Empty laps.
Empty hearts.

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. 


Mindy said...

We love you and your family Heidi.

Robyn said...

So much heartache, so many tears, so many prayers, so much denial and hate and pain and grief and love. I am so sorry this is happening to you. Keep breathing, you WILL learn to live again.

Heather said...

Heidi -- I was stunned to hear the news of Link's passing. I wept freely as I read this post. You are that daughter of God, a woman of faith.

Thank you for making it possible for the rest of us to "mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" even though we are not close by.

Truly you stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death--that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life.

Meanwhile, Link can be a missionary now... he won't have to wait until he's grown. -- I can only hope that our family will be close by so that we can witness your joyous reunion which will surely take place someday within the many mansions of our Father's House.

Tiff Meister said...

I sure do love you guys Heidi! Thank you for sharing this precious post. We miss you!

{We Are The Wade's} said...

Oh Heidi, I have no words. You and your family are in my thoughts all the time.
You are one on the strongest most spiritual women I have ever met, and you and Jason will get through this, as hard as it is and will be. SO many people are praying for you. Such a sweet video of a sweet baby boy. <3
~The Wade's

Jennifer Strand said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and very real emotions. We love your family so much. W love and miss Link. I think of you everyday.


Thank you for sharing this. It has helped me remember why we are here...to carry out His plan not ours. Being a mother myself my heart aches for your loss and I know nothing I say can take your heartache away but I just wanted you to know how much I appreicated your words in this post.

Trish the Dish said...

Heidi. I don't know how you wrote this. It was beautiful. It was heartbreaking. I sobbed and sobbed. I felt like I was right there next to you through the whole thing and couldn't do anything. I too am so grateful for the Resurrection. For the plan of salvation. For Christ.I'm also so thankful for a sister who is such a Christ-like example to me. You are a rock to me. I love you.

Sue said...

Again I sobbed as I read your words. Our Father in Heavens Plans is far greater than we will ever understand. But what Faith, Strength and Love you possess. Hard it will be, but you will even though each moment you wonder how. Why? Because you Love so deeply. You are also well LOVED!!! May the Comforter be your constant companion.

Patricia Potts said...

I must dido everything that Trisha said.
You are so beautiul inside and out. Thank you for sharing with us.

Deedra said...

Heidi - Reading this post breaks my heart... I wish I knew what to say and how to express how much I care. Words just don't seem enough, but please know I'm thinking and praying for your family. You're an amazing person and your faith is truly inspiring.

Lena Baron said...

Ahh my precious friend. You are on your way. You have allowed the Atonement to work within you. It is hard to find the words to share what is in my heart. Sadness, hope, understanding... I will keep my words short right now. But just know that Links life and now his passing has touched me deeply and I am profoundly grateful for our friendship. Hugs!

The Bollinger Family said...

This is absolutely beautiful! My youngest two walked in as I was watching and decided to join me. They kept commenting on just how much he was loved and how beautiful he is. I am so sorry you are going through this. Thank you for sharing your story. It is such a testament of faith and hope.

Ryan and Shannan Hoffman said...

Heidi, I love you. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful thoughts. When I read about how you and your mom said a prayer together on the phone... broke my heart but I thought that was so beautiful. I am so sorry for the loss of Link. I wish I had the chance to meet him in person. I love you and am thankful for our friendship. Prayers, thoughts, and hugs are with you.

Gardners glad tidings said...

You have been in our prayers since the moment we heard. I followed his amazing story and progress. I am so so sorry. I have no words...

We love you. May the Lord continue to bless and keep you.

lindsay said...

Oh Heidi... your sweet words are filled with so much strength; I am amazed by you. You are truly a woman of GREATNESS and Link is a lucky little boy to have you for his mother. xo

Anna said...

Heidi- My heart aches for you. I want you to know how deeply I have been affected by Link. He is so blessed to be part of your family. I wish words could adequately express my sorrow. Please know how loved you are. I pray daily that you will feel the love of our Savior.
With love,
Anna Evensen

Anna said...
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Kalli said...
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Cindy Lou Who said...

I love you my dear sister, my heart hurts for you and with you. I am so glad I was privileged to be able to be with you that first week. You are amazing-even though I am sure you don't feel amazing right now. I am so glad I got to hold little Link during his hospital stay, at Christmas time, and again at his blessing. He is so precious! You are so brave to post so soon and share so freely of your heart and spirit. Again, I love you, I pray for you, I mourn with you, and I wish I could be there to hold your hand through more of this.

Cindy Lou Who said...

This is Kalli. I just want you to know that I love you guys so much! More than you can possibly imagine. That includes little Link. I will miss him, but I can't wait to see him again. That will be a wonderful day. Remember that if you need anything, I'm here. I'll try to help with whatever I can. Send my love to everyone! <3 Kalli

Candie said...

Heidi - I can only imagine you heartache. I am so sad you are experiencing this trial. I think about you and your sweet family every day, and will continue praying that you will have peace, comfort, and strength.

Elise said...

Heidi, my heart is broken for you and your sweet family. As I read this beautiful post, I was crying my eyes out. Ezra came in and wanted to know what was wrong. I told him I was reading about baby Link and that it made me so sad. He said, "It's okay Mom, Jesus will go to Baby Link." I immediately sobbed back the reply, "But what about his poor Mommy?"
It sounds like Jesus has come to you too. Your faith in the atonement and the plan on salvation is inspiring. You are so strong my dear friend. I wish we could be there to cry with you and hug you. Please give your girls big hugs from us. Love you Heidi!

Unknown said...

Heidi and Jason, this is one of the most heart wrenching experiences anyone could go through. We love all of you so much and pray that this will get easier with time. If it could be, I would take the pain myself. I know that you two are so strong and brave and those little girls are so special and so blessed to have you as parents. Love you all so much! Carol H.

Gina said...

Heidi your strength and beautiful words show the love you have as a mother. You shared something unimaginably difficult. I have and will continue to think of you and your family and hope the best for you all in your future.

Jessica and Jimmy said...

Heidi, I am heartbroken for you and your family. I have a dear friend who has been through this. But she does not have the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation that you do. I am so impressed by your strength and faith. Sending prayers and love your way.

Colby~Megan~Hayden said...

I read this almost as soon as you posted this. I have had to wait a couple days to gather my thoughts before commenting. Colby and I cried together reading this. You guys are in our thought and prayers. I think of you and your sweet family everyday. Your testimony is inspiring. I am so glad you took a lot of pictures of him! He truly is a perfect baby both physically and spiritually. He has and will touch so many peoples lives in this life and the next. I know you have had a ton of help but if there is ANYTHING- ANYTHING Colby and I can do for you guys and/or your girls please please let us know! We love and miss you guys-

Merri said...

Heidi, I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in our prayers! Thank you for your example of faith.

Britany said...

I read this a couple of days ago and have thought about what I could say. I can't imagine what you are going through. I do know that you are such an amazing woman to even start writing your testimony so soon. I have always looked up to you as an incredible mother and special person. Know that you are in my prayers.

Sending love and hugs!