Sunday, March 30, 2014

Painful Progression

I remember driving back to the church after the cemetery. It was just Jason & I in the car. We were both exhausted. Silent. In shock of what we had just witnessed. But, for some reason, I turned to him & said "the crazy thing is that I don't think this is the hardest day." 

It seems impossible - how could anything be harder than watching a tiny white casket get lowered into the ground with the body of your precious son inside? 

But yesterday, for me, was a harder day. With the help of my mother and my daughter and Heavenly Father (Jason was out of town), I went through Link's closet and I took his clothes off the hangers. Pulled them out of his drawers. I smelled them. And I sobbed into them. Soul-wrenching, devastating, angry, sorrowful, sobs. 

There was his little "Stuffed" onesie that he wore on Thanksgiving day when he was in the St. George NICU. The blue and grey giraffe outfit - the first real clothes he wore - on the day we were finally discharged from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The little Santa jammies Grandma Potts gave him that he wore on Christmas day as he was passed around as our "miracle baby." The handmade onesies Aunt Trisha had given him. The orange & grey "All-Star" outfit..Oh he was SO handsome in that outfit! The Broncos sweatshirt that he had worn on a football Sunday. His soft, white blessing outfit, complete with tiny bow tie. Sigh... And then the bag of clothes that were in his dirty clothes - for a year. I couldn't bring myself to wash them until yesterday. And that brought on a whole new set of tears. The blanket he died in. The bear shirt that they had to cut open... it was almost too much. I almost gave up. It's too hard. Just too hard. 

Finally, it was in boxes. And we brought in the girl clothes for Noelle. More tears. I felt like I was betraying my baby boy. Replacing him. Moving on without him. To take out all his clothes - the cars and trucks and sports and bugs and dinosaurs - and replace them with bows and frills and pinks... there are no words. I missed him so much. My only baby boy. 

I haven't yet written about his angelversary. When people ask me how it went, I havne't been able to think of one word to describe it yet. There were some VERY difficult moments. And there were some very peaceful, wonderful, joyful moments. It started with Ireland
coming into our room in the morning & excitedly saying "Mom! get up! There's a beautiful sunrise outside & you have to come take a picture of it!" So - I got up. And she was right. It was full of clouds and pinks and it was beautiful. We let the girls stay out of school that day. I was so thankful my mom was here to be with them. Jason and I headed to the temple with family names and that was the best place we could be on that day. We were able to do work for many ancestors - including 11 (eleven!) sealings! There was so much joy in that room during
those sealings. I am so thankful we were able to be there that day & help our ancestors and feel the spirit of our son. I felt like I was doing something for him to honor him - I felt like I was giving him a gift. Our drive home was a blustery one - it started as rain, but was a snow storm by the time we got to Cedar. Crazy Utah Spring weather! So - needless to say, the time at the cemetery was shorter than I'd hoped - and we had to wait to bring our chain link of family names - but we did bring letters to him as well as let go of balloons. Jason also had bought him a matchbox car to give him & he unwrapped it & placed it on the "racetrack." Then Jason &I took a moment to be by his grave and let it all sink in. And I sobbed. We watched his funeral slideshow when we got back and had to use LOTS of tissues. After it was over, I looked over at McKinley & she had her Link bear over her face and was crying. I held her close and she just sobbed and sobbed. I was thankful to be there with her and cry with her - just as we did one year ago that night. 

In between all of this, there were loving, caring phone calls, text messages, e-mails, visits, gifts, etc. My sweet friend sent flowers.Jason's mom came bearing gifts and love. A wonderful family in our ward who had just experienced their own huge loss came and brought a book and cards. My sisters' families watched Link's slideshow. One of them sent me a picture of a rainbow they had seen. Another one sent me a picture of their family gathering to talk about Link. A couple people sent e-mails with names of temple work they had done for family members (thank you!!) on behalf of Link.One of my good SIDS mom friends had a dream with her son, Link, and another SIDS baby, all playing together on a rainbow quilt. Sweet, tender mercies. 

The evening before his angelversary, we were reading in The Friend magazine & it talked about the story of Jarius' daughter being raised from the dead. They had come to tell the father that it was too late- she was already gone. I am sure I can envision the devastation in the father's eyes and heart when he was told that. Jesus' response was "Fear not. Only Believe." Those words stuck with me throughout the next day of Link's angelversary. You see, lately the questions have come more. The doubts. The "WHY?"s A year later & none of it makes any more sense than on the day it happened. I still just cannot understand why he was taken from us - especially after all we went through to get him cured. But after hearing those words, I felt like the Lord was gently telling me "Heidi... it is not your job to understand. It is your job to believe." And I realized that those words seem familiar. How many times have I told my children, in effect,  "listen sweetheart, you don't need to understand why I'm asking you to do this. I just need you to obey and trust that whatever I ask you to do is going to be for the best."  So - I'm having faith that my Heavenly Father really does know what is best for me. Everything in my plan is going to be for the best. Even the painful things. He is God. I am not. He sees the bigger, eternal picture. I do not. So, this Sabbath morning, as my eyes are still swollen from yesterday's sobbing, I am taking a deep breath. I am looking ahead and trusting that "the best is yet to be!" and I am trying to find the joy in all He has given me. I am truly blessed. 

Link's bench draped with the chain of names that we & other family & friends had brought to the temple. There were 24!! We came to know and love each one of these names & are looking forward to finding more. 


Lisa Riddle said...

Heidi, I am so sorry you had to go through that yesterday. I know Link knows you are not replacing him with Noelle. I think he and Noelle watched over you together when his turn was over and she was waiting hers. I can't wait to meet her and I hope welcoming her sweet spirit to your home can bring some joy to your poor heart. You are so amazing the way you have done so much good in honor of Link this past year. He will definitely not be forgotten by the people who had the privlege to meet him during his short life.

Lisa-Lou-Who said...

As always I am awed by your faith. I know there are doubts and questions but I admire your willingness to believe and leave it in the Lord's hands. And to TRY to trust and TRY to not give up. That is all that is required of us, and you are doing it! What an example of strength.

jkdekelly said...

Heidi, you don't know me, but I have been following your story. Just today, there was an article in the Deseret News about the new addition to the Ronald McDonald House up here in Salt Lake, and it made me think of you, Jason, and Link. Our prayers are with you and your family.

Lena Baron said...

Oh my precious sister, I knew that I needed to wait to read this post for a day when I felt stable and my emotions felt more sure. Today was that day. Oh how I feel your pain... I have to be honest, I still couldn't read every word of this post. Your anguish while you went through Link's clothes was so raw and oh so very real. The day I went through my girls' clothes that would never be was by far one of the hardest moments of our loss. That and disposing of the breast milk that I had pumped. It's all just so hard... And the fact that you are asking why is so very valid! But the answer that you have within your heart is exactly right! And every once in a while you will ask again and that's ok, just continue to be open to His answer and somehow we continue to progress through the pain of the loss. I wish that I could say that the pain eventually leaves... But here I am almost 8 years later and I still have times when it is overwhelming. I had a moment this week and I told myself that I would share it with you, because now you are one who will understand. I'm so sorry you understand... I chose to stay home from the RS broadcast this year and watch it at home. I just couldn't sit in a chapel filled with sisters who didn't know my loss and see all of them with their beautiful little girls... when I couldn't sit with mine. I just couldn't! Sometimes the pain is just too real. I Love you sweet Heidi. I wish I could be there so we could shed tears together and just sit in a silence and "just know" that we understand each other a little deeper... And yet, I am sorry that you know the pain at the same time. Hugs dear sister! Just know that you are not alone. And don't stop writing about it either.

Patricia Potts said...

Sweet, faithful, honest, amazing Heidi. I loved your post (As always). I will forever remember the day of sorting in the nursery...

Thank you for sharing your faith "only believe" as you stand up again and prepare to invite yet another baby into the circle of your love.

As I looked at the links I thought of your patriartical blessing and of your spiritual insight. I think also of when Jesus told the disciples to cast their nets on the other side of the boat so they could catch their fish. I constantly see you choosing to share the sadness of no catch but then cast your net on the side where you catch wisdom then you share it with others.
Thank you.

Em said...

I put some of Eva's worn clothes in a ziplock and sometimes I get it out and Smell her. And I weep all over again that I am forgetting what she smelled like...what was once the sweetest smell on earth to me.

I didn't know you were expecting again. I didn't pack up most of Eva's things until right before the due date. And I took out the pinks to replace with the blues. I wanted a girl so bad I could practically taste it but a boy has drawn more of a separation between Eva and our rainbow. I still want a baby girl again though, so much.

I also like tell my kids that they need to trust and obey. If only I could follow my own words as I learn to trust and obey my God.