Thursday, December 11, 2014

Heavenly Peace

Sleep in heavenly peace...

That was the part of the song at church a few weeks ago that had Mommy's mind thinking and my emotions turned up to high gear.

The song came back around to the beginning again.

Silent night...
Holy night...
All is calm...
All is bright...

I had heard it a thousand times before during church service, on the radio, so many places. For some reason during this moment in church all I could think about was you.  This song is about this joyous day when this most precious baby was born. This song is about Jesus. This song that reminds us of the good news somehow reminded me of that most awful night in Mommy and Daddy's lives.   How the words in this song were so far from true for us on the night you left us.  The night you went to be with Jesus in heaven.

As the song played on a memory from that sad night flashed in my mind. Standing right there in the middle of church I could almost hear myself, all that time ago, crying the saddest cry all over again. I remembered it was not at all a silent night for any of us. In this moment on the outside, Mommy did everything to hold it together.

Instantly empty. Lost. I  remembered feeling so many different things on this night. As I stood beside Daddy at church, moving my lips ever so slightly to the words of this song I could remember the confusion and disbelief that came with the heartbreaking news. Mommy remembers thinking only of all that was lost.

Nothing felt calm.  Nothing felt bright for a very long, long time.

With perfect harmony and the purest sound, the worship team sang the next words.

Sleep in heavenly peace...

These words took on a completely different meaning to Mommy in this moment.  Sure, Mommy knows these words are really all about the baby Jesus.  But in this moment, these words were about you.  This phrase warmed Mommy's soul.  This phrase reminded Mommy of where you are and who you are with.

This Christmas season Mommy thinks of you.  As always I wonder what kind of joy we would be experiencing having you here with us instead of there.  But finally, after all this time, Mommy sees the precious gift we have in you being there with Jesus. Mommy sees how heaven is so much more real to us because you are there. For that, I feel such a blessing.

At night Mommy sleeps peacefully.  It's because I know fully that heaven is where you rest my sweet girl.

Loving and missing you always in the silence and stillness of this late night my sweet Kaden Layne...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Ladybug

A few weeks ago Mommy and Daddy enjoyed a day with Layne at Keeneland in Lexington.  It had been a few years since we had last taken Layne to see the horses race.  What started out as a chilly October morning quickly turned to a beautiful and warm fall afternoon.  It was a perfect way to spend a Saturday as a family.

Between the races Mommy and Daddy took turns with Layne playing in the grassy area.  As usual, Layne was quick to make friends with two other kids who were also playing in the grassy area behind the stands.  Pretending to be sleeping giants on the stone wall, Layne and her new friends played for over an hour together.  But soon it was time for her friends to go.

As Layne joined the grown-ups at the little table on the backside of the race track it was easy to tell that she was disappointed her friends had to go.  It wasn't long before she found another friend.  A ladybug.  This little ladybug had been crawling along the short wall that sat behind our table. For a while Layne watched the ladybug move along the wall.  Soon she scooped it up and began to talk to it like it was her baby. Quickly, Layne had made it her new friend and pet.

She continued to carry it and talk to it and care for it like it was her little baby.  Mommy even found a little box from my purse for Layne to use for the ladybug's house.  Layne was so proud of her ladybug and took very special care of her.  Anyone who stopped by to talk was introduced to her ladybug and was given the chance to carry her.

It wasn't long before Layne realized her ladybug was asleep.  No longer moving, just laying still.  Layne continued to brag on her ladybug and shared her with anyone who would listen.  Always quick to mention that her ladybug was sleeping, Layne spoke proudly about her special pet.  When it was time to go Layne insisted on carrying her ladybug in her special box.

That night when Layne was going to bed she asked if her ladybug could sleep with her.  Mommy told her it might be  better for her ladybug to sleep in the special box on her dresser for the night  She would be able to see her ladybug again in the morning.  That was a good enough plan for Layne. It was easy to see that Layne loved her ladybug.

That night Mommy and Layne said our prayers like usual. All was well in Layne's little world.

The next morning when Layne woke up the first thing she spoke about was her ladybug.  Mommy could hear her in the monitor talking about seeing Ladybug.  Mommy heard Layne pop open the box where Ladybug had been sleeping. What Mommy heard next broke my heart.

"Oh Ladybug..." Layne cried.

The sound of Layne's little feet running on the hard wood floor to Mommy's room made it clear that everything in Layne's world wasn't ok.  With her arm stretched out and the little box in her hand Layne's tears said it all.  Ladybug had passed away.

Mommy held Layne as she cried in my arms.  This cry was so different than the ones Mommy had heard before.  This one was the cry of a broken heart.  As Mommy held her close and tried to soothe her the best way I knew how, Mommy, too, began to tear up.  Mommy's heart hurt because Layne's little heart hurt.

As Mommy held Layne in my arms that morning Mommy couldn't help but to think of you - my own little ladybug.  Just like Layne doted over her little ladybug, Mommy did the same with you.  I was always so proud to share you with others and talked about you every second I could get.  Mommy's heart was so full when you were here and life was so perfect.  When you passed away part of Mommy's heart was taken with you.  Seeing Layne experience her own kind of grief reminded me of just how broken Mommy was those first days, weeks, and months after you passed away.

As time has passed Mommy is able to think more about the good memories we were able to have with you and less about the sad times.    I can see this happening for Layne and the memory of her ladybug, too.  It's sad to see her experience grief, even in this small way, but I am glad she is able to find the joy in the short time she shared with her little friend.

Loving you, missing you, and thinking of you always my sweet little ladybug.

 Kaden Layne's first birthday party - February 2010.

Your first birthday party had a ladybug theme.  It fit you so well. :0)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Magic Umbrella

When your cousins, Bailey and Tatum, were about Layne's age I remember watching them at Papaw's house running down the driveway with pure delight.  It was the adult-sized umbrellas they carried that made this moment so fun for them.  This was at least ten years ago and way before Mommy could fully appreciate how magical this little moment was for them. 

How coincidental is it that last Christmas when Layne sat on Santa's knee the only thing she asked for was an umbrella.  Sure enough, Santa brought her a Doc McStuffins kid-sized umbrella.  After her birthday last May she now has two.  Perfect for when friends come over.  Mommy loves the fascination young kiddos have with umbrellas.

A few months ago Layne became obsessed with umbrellas even more. It was after her Bobby (your Donna Ma) took her to see Mary Poppins at the play house in Louisville.  The minute she got home she asked Mommy for her umbrella.  She insisted that I use her other one to play along as Mary Poppins.  She continues even today singing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as loud as she can as she prances around the house holding her umbrella in hand.

It was about three weeks ago when Layne said the most thoughtful thing of all out of the blue to Daddy while driving in the car from school.  "I wish I had a magic umbrella like Mary Poppins." she said. 

"You do?" Daddy responded.

"Yeah, I would fly up to heaven so I could play with Kaden."

Mommy's not exactly sure of what Daddy's response was like, but I can imagine it included a big sigh and the thought I wish I had a magic umbrella too.

Since that day Layne has told countless people of her wish for a magic umbrella.  Her innocent and simple way of looking at life is just precious to Mommy.  Sometimes it helps to ease the hurt of losing you when I see her thinking so much of you and heaven.  Occasionally I can even see it all as a gift. 

This request of Layne's to have a magical umbrella has open the door to many deep conversations about life and loss.  Well, as deep of a conversation as a three-year old can really handle.  Mommy appreciates the opportunity these conversations have given her to share with Layne about the many other people we could visit if we had a magic umbrella that could take us to heaven.

After her request to see you, there was her request to visit Sammy - our cat who passed away last fall after getting hit by a car.  Layne talks about him all the time.

Mommy told Layne about Grandma Wanda, Grandma Trish's Mommy, whose pretty pink vase sits in her room and whose bell Mommy rings everyday at school.

Mommy told Layne about Bobby Jack, Mommy's young cousin, who passed away when he was just six and how neat it would be to see what he would have been like all these years later. 

Mommy told Layne about Grandpa Goose, Papaw's Daddy, who loved cars and boats and time together on the lake.  Mommy wonders what kind of fun you are having up there with Bobby Jack and Grandpa to play with.

Mommy told Layne about Bobby's Daddy, Poppy Art, who is Daddy's grandpa and someone Mommy never got to meet.  Mommy sure hopes you have met him by now and wonders how much he is like your Daddy.

As tough as it is sometimes to saying things in just the right way so that Layne can understand, Mommy sees these talks as gifts.  Mommy loves these opportunities to share with Layne how important family is to us.  I love the way she enjoys hearing stories about the people in her family she never met.  Most of all, I love having an open and ongoing conversation about you and heaven.

Love you, miss you, and thank you for all the gifts your little life gives to all of us.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Brand New Experience

My Sweet Baby Girl,

Life seems to be passing by so quickly these days.  I cannot believe it has already been another month.  Mommy's belly is getting bigger and bigger with each passing day.  Anticipation and pure joy has filled Mommy's heart once again.  It reminds me so much of what it was like when I was expecting you.

While time seemed to pass a little slower in those days, I can still remember being so excited about getting to do all the things mommies-to-be get to do.  From browsing online for nursery ideas to shopping for new clothes for Mommy's ever growing belly, it was all fun to Mommy.  Mommy remembers being one of those people other pregnant mommies disliked because I LOVED every minute of being pregnant with you!

The day Mommy and Daddy found out you were a girl was one of my favorites!  Daddy had always said he wanted a little girl. On Daddy's side there were no little girls just yet, so having you as the first girl would make you even more special to the family.  Mommy and Daddy smiled from ear to ear after hearing the news. 

Wow how Mommy's pregnancy this time is so
much like mine with you! 

Mommy thinks back to this point in my pregnancy with Layne.  My how things were so different.  Mommy recalls the day we had our ultrasound with Layne.  What would have been an exciting time for most Mommies and Daddies was filled with a roller coaster of emotions. 

Being that it was just a few months since you had passed away, Mommy wanted so bad to be expecting a girl.  Mommy missed you so badly and wanted so much for a piece of you to be part of this new little soul growing inside my belly.  Mommy was nervous, sad, happy, mad, glad.  You name it, Mommy felt all of it. Unlike my time with you, Mommy was sick with anxiety waiting to hear what the gender of this new baby would be.  When the ultrasound revealed she was a girl, Mommy felt a huge sigh of relief. While having a baby girl would never replace you, Mommy worried so much about the grief I would feel if I never got the chance to love on a little girl again.

Thankfully Mommy's prayers were answered when we heard she was a girl.

This go around things were completely different than with Layne.  When we went in for our ultrasound Mommy truly was indifferent to the idea of having a boy or a girl.  Mommy knew it would be special to have a little boy for Daddy.  Mommy also knew that having a little girl would be pretty sweet, too.  Having a girl would mean Layne would have a sister here to play with and Mommy would get a glimpse into what it might have been like had you been here with us.

For months Layne only spoke of girls. When asked, she would always say that Mommy's baby was going to be a girl.  It was sweet, but at times it also broke my heart.  For Layne's sake, Mommy started to hope our new baby would be a girl. For Daddy's sake, though, Mommy also hoped it would be a boy.

A boy it was! Daddy's prediction was right!  Mommy went from feeling pure joy for Daddy to grief for Layne.  Poor Layne.  She would never have the chance to play with and grow up with a sister.  Even though Mommy would assure her that she didn't need a sister because she already had one, it was difficult to hear her say things like "But I want one here with me". Mommy would feel anxiety for a different reason now.  What if Layne was disappointed? way!  Layne was elated to learn our new baby is going to be a boy.  It's sweet to hear her speak of him and correct herself when she accidentally calls the baby a her. 

Thinking back through it all, Mommy decided that God knew exactly what he was doing when he blessed us with this baby boy growing inside my belly.  Mommy thinks God wants this experience for us to be a new and an unexpected one.  One that will make us feel nothing but joy.  Not wondering what it would have been like...just enjoying what we are soon to be.

While Mommy misses you like crazy and still wonders how our family would be if you were still here, Mommy trusts that God's plan serves a purpose bigger than anything I can understand.

Love you...miss you...remember you always...


Monday, August 11, 2014

The Big Day

Hi Sweet Girl...

Today was a big day for Mommy.  It was a big day for Layne, too.  Today was her first day of preschool.  How significant it was that it just so happened to be your day, too. 

Last week was a week Mommy had been worrying over off and on for the past four years. How would Mommy feel?  How would I get past this event?  Would it be harder than I anticipated or would I be surprised?  Would Mommy just stay so busy so as not to even think about it?  For years I wondered how it would feel. 

Last week your friends started kindergarten.  And last week, believe it or not and to Mommy's surprise, I was ok.  On that day a dear, sweet friend and mom of a former student from when Mommy taught kindergarten left a gorgeous bouquet of my favorite flowers on my desk. Along with a bag full of my favorites, a card was sent to brighten my day. This sweet soul anticipated that this day might be one that Mommy might need some extra TLC. My heart was warmed in such a big way.

Mommy has come to accept that there will be a lot of things along the way that I will just have to wait a little longer to experience.  Whether Mommy has to wait until the day I see you again in heaven or wait until Layne is the age to experience what you didn't get to, Mommy is content.

Today was a good day.  Mommy feels blessed to have had the experience of watching Layne go to school for the first time. Mommy has waited a long time for that kind of experience.  And oh my, how I loved and cherished every part of it.

Love you and miss you my sweet girl..


Friday, July 11, 2014

Making Room

My Dear Kaden Layne…

Yesterday marked four years since you were last here with us.  In many ways it feels like forever ago, but sometimes it still feels like yesterday.

This week has been an emotional one for us.  It has come time for Layne to move to a big girl bed.  With the help of Aunt Heather, Mommy was able to find a vintage twin bed for Layne's room.  Daddy worked to paint it and make it extra sturdy.  Mommy and Daddy set it up for her this week.  It looks so pretty between the two windows in the room that was once yours.  For the first time in over five years we no longer have a baby bed.

What started out as your room became Layne's so early.  Nothing ever really changed in your room when Layne was born.  There was no need.  It had taken Mommy months to pick out the perfect fabrics, paints, and furniture when I was expecting you. Daddy and Norm Pa had worked so hard to make the polka dots on your walls.  Your Donna Ma made all the pretty bedding and window treatments look so nice.  It was so right the way it was.  Still so new, so pretty, so you.    Mommy felt like keeping it the same meant keeping part of you here with us a little longer.

 Daddy putting together your bed January 2009.

You loved your Big Bear so much! 

 Your Grandma Judy got you your personalized rocking chair on your first Christmas.  
We still keep it in your room.  

As time has gone on Mommy sees that your room is now hers.  The pillows on the bench that stores all your precious things are beginning to look worn and flat.  The pink fabric on the glider Mommy and Daddy rocked the both of you in has begun to sag.   Even Big Bear seems to need fluffing a little more often. These are all indicators that this room, your room, has been well-loved and well-used.  

Mommy thinks now might be the best time to make a room just for Layne. In the next few weeks Mommy hopes to muster the courage to let go of the pink and green walls and polka dots for something new and different just for her.  Mommy knows Layne is completely indifferent to the idea of a new room, but sometimes I feel like I missed out on the chance to put together a room special for her.   I enjoyed it so much when I was expecting you and I  know I would enjoy doing that for her as well.  Mommy's fear is that whatever I come up with, it will never be as beautiful as it once was.

There is another reason why now may be the best time for a change.  Early January 2015 Mommy and Daddy will be making room for a new baby.  After two years of unanswered prayers, Mommy is finally expecting again.    Mommy had almost given up on the idea of having another baby.  I had come to terms with the idea of having just one child here and you there.  Mommy and Daddy even donated most of our baby things to charity the month before we learned our prayers had been answered.  Mommy knows God's plan is not always ours.  Over the last four years I have learned to trust that it works for a purpose greater than I understand.

Layne already pats Mommy's belly and already says the baby is a girl.  She wants to name her Kate.  

Mommy knows you will be a good big sister for this baby, just as you have been for Layne.  Thank you for being the little angel in heaven who watches over us and connects us to Jesus in a real and personal way.

Love and miss you sweet girl...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Hi Sweet Girl…

Last weekend I was scrolling through the movies on ABC Family.  Mommy was looking for some good ones to record for Layne.  Among the many that were listed, Mommy came across the movie Up. Mommy recorded it.

The next morning Mommy turned it on for Layne.  As the movie played Layne sat as still as a statue on the couch beside me.  The beginning of the movie was very tender and sweet.  It showed the start of a friendship between a shy little boy and a free spirited little girl.  The boy was curious and loved balloons.  The girl was talkative, enthusiastic, and adventurous. It showed how their friendship grew into love for one another.   The girl kept an adventure book that help keepsakes from the many adventures she had as a kid.  Somewhere near the middle of the half-filled book she hand-wrote the page - Stuff I'm Going To Do.  The next page of the book showed a drawing of a place called Paradise Falls.  It was a place she hoped to live one day.  The many pages that followed were empty.

It wasn't long before her dream became his.  The movie flipped quickly through the years highlighting all their adventures together.  Just a few minutes in, the movie showed them growing old together and her passing on.  His love for her was evident in the way he held close to the memories they shared in the home they lived.  From the mailbox they shared, to the chairs they sat beside one another in each day, he held on closely to the things she cherished and loved.

As Mommy sat on the couch with Layne, tears streamed down Mommy's cheeks.  Not only was the movie incredibly touching, but Mommy found something very ironic.  This happened to be the movie we took you to when we went to drive-in movie theater with our good friends and the boys- Jacob and Lucas.  Mommy remembered how fun it was to have you three roly-poly little babes hanging out in the backyard.  We even laughed about the idea of one day you and one of the boys going to the drive-in together as teenagers.  Then we laughed even bigger when we captured this picture of you.  We thought it was a nice display of how you felt about boys. Daddy liked it. :)  Back then, the movie was touching, but nothing like it is now.

As Mommy sat on the couch and watched more of the movie with Layne, I couldn't help but think of my version of your adventure book.  It was your scrapbook.  I thought of how your Uncle Jamie held it up during your funeral service and talked about all the fun times that were documented inside.  He also acknowledged how many empty pages would never be filled.  I think that's what made this sweet little movie I was watching with Layne break Mommy's heart so much.  

I thought of how many people, just like Mommy, have empty pages they were never able to fill.  I thought about Mommy's own grandma and how grandpa passed away over twenty years ago leaving her behind to fill her adventure book alone.  I thought about the families who were barely able to begin their adventure books because of SIDS.  I thought of countless others whose life adventures have been altered or cut short because of heartbreaking circumstances.  That made Mommy incredibly sad.

It was the end of the movie that reminded Mommy of the real lesson.  Throughout the main part of the movie the man was doing everything he could to hang on to what he had left of his beloved wife.  He found it difficult to enjoy the people around him and find happiness in new experiences. He worked tirelessly to try to honor the dream she had as a young girl.  All the while and unbeknownst to the man, his wife had left him a message at the end of that adventure book.  The message read…Thanks for the adventure…Now go have a new one!  

Mommy thought back to those early days without you.  I remembered how long it took before Mommy and Daddy found joy in our days again.  In the beginning, Mommy remembers feeling guilty about making new memories with Layne.  Mommy felt like happy days meant that I wasn't missing you like I should be.  It took time…lots of time.  Finally Mommy began to feel good about having new adventures here without you. I guess it's because I know in my heart that your little book of adventures is still being filled.  Oh man, I can't wait to hear all about them! Mommy knows that one day, hopefully a very long time from now, Daddy and I will hear about and share new adventures with you in your place of paradise. Until then, Mommy will appreciate the joys and adventures that each day brings and know that it's okay to let go in order to do so.

Love you…and miss you sweet girl! 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Baby Dedication

Hi Sweet Girl,

Today is Mother's Day.  Today is also your day - the 11th.  As always you are never far from my thoughts.

This morning was sweet. Mommy woke up to Layne softly calling from her bed, "Oh Mommy…Mr. Sunshine waked up!"  Daddy, being so sweet, offered to go and get Layne from her bed so I could sleep in. But, being Mother's Day, Mommy felt even more excited to see Layne first thing.

Today was Baby Dedication day at church.  For the past three years we had missed this day for one reason or another.  Usually it was because we were in Louisville visiting Mommy & Daddy's moms.  The two Mother's Days you were with us we missed the day because we attended church with your Donna Ma and Norm Pa.  After you passed, Mommy felt kind of sad that we were never able to have you dedicated.

Nonetheless, this was the first time since before you were born that Mommy and Daddy attended a Baby Dedication Ceremony.  Sweet were the little baby girls in their pretty dresses and the baby boy in his button down shirt. The four families that stood before our service to dedicate their babies were so happy.  I was happy for them too.

Throughout the ceremony, Mommy kept hearing the same phrases being restated:

"Children are a gift from God, and parents are the caretakers while they are here. As parents, we are given the responsibility to raise and guide them to know God until they are called home."

During the ceremony tears began to flow from Mommy's eyes.  It was like the floodgates had been opened and without warning.  Mommy was completely caught off guard.  Why was I sad all of a sudden?  Mommy's mind raced for answers.

Was it because you never had the chance to be dedicated?  Was it because Mommy and Daddy never had a chance to raise you in the ways of the Lord?  Was it because Mommy was happy - knowing in my heart that Layne has been dedicated already (even though it's not official) and a big reason has to do with you? Was it because all of the infants had siblings standing nearby or off stage?  Was Mommy so emotional for all the moms out there who were broken hearted by the idea that some of God's children are only on loan for a short time?  Or was it because Mommy knew your purpose had already been fulfilled?

As Mommy sat through the rest of the dedication ceremony and the Mother's Day service, I reflected on all these questions.  I realized the answer to all of Mommy's questions was yes.  Mommy was happy and sad for all these reasons.

Mommy didn't get to have you dedicated, but I never needed to.  I know you are safe in the arms of God.  Mommy didn't get a chance to raise you in the ways of the Lord because our time ran out, but now I get the chance to raise Layne to know Him and have you as a way to make it connect for her.  Mommy has come to realize that God's purpose for your life must have been fulfilled in that short time you were here.  I can think of hundreds of reasons why I need you here, but I am told that it's God's purpose that I need to trust.  Mommy is just a little selfish, I guess.

Mother's Day will always be bittersweet.  Sweet is the memory of Layne being born on Mother's Day just three years ago.  Her birth was the beginning of the rainbow after the storm.  What a rainbow of joy and light and healing she has been for all of us, too!  Bitter is the emptiness that still exists in Mommy's heart.  What would the joy be like if there were two of you to share this day with?

Loving and missing you this Mother's Day, my dear Kaden Layne…

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wish Upon A Star

Hi Sweet Girl,

It's another spring. The weather is turning nice and the school year is winding down.  Last week was Spring Break for Mommy and Daddy.  So, we did something we have been waiting a long time to do…we went to Disney.

Layne loved every bit of the trip!  A nice friend Mommy met through school helped us plan our week.  Each morning we started bright and early.  Each night we finished late.  It wasn't until Wednesday and Thursday, our last days away, that we planned to visit the Magic Kingdom.  Saving it until last kind of made it extra magical for all of us…especially Layne.

On the last night we made plans to stay late for the ever popular Disney electrical parade and firework show.  As the light show ended and the fireworks began, Mommy watched and thought of you.  

"If you wish upon a star..." I heard the song begin to play as a quick flash of sailed through the sky just over Cinderella's castle.

Instantly Mommy's mind was taken back.

"Makes no difference who you are..." The song continued to play.

Again, Mommy's mind remembered.  How significant that night back in July of 2010 had been to both Mommy and Daddy.

"...When you wish upon a star... your dreams… come true…" The song played on some more as another flash of light made an arc over Cinderella's castle once more.

Mommy couldn't help but take a mental step out of the present and into the past.  While watching the beauty of the flash of lights, meant to be shooting stars, and while listening to the simple music that played all around, I couldn't help but remember another shooting star.

It was Tuesday night, July 13th, the day before we would say our final goodbyes.  Mommy and Daddy had spent the day before in Louisville, standing for hours beside your worn, pink flip flops, glow worm, and favorite books that lay close to you. Sharing memories. Sharing tears. Occasionally even sharing a laugh here or there.    We stood there for all those hours, next to you, with such heavy hearts.  The next day was a day that was much the same.  We shared more tears and the same sweet memories with our friends and many acquaintances in Georgetown during your second visitation.  Another exhaustingly difficult day.  But we knew, even then, the most difficult day hadn't come.

Weary and exhausted, but supported by friends and family, Mommy and Daddy enjoyed the company of others that evening  at our home.  The time was nice.  It was a good distraction.  Hours had passed and before Mommy and Daddy knew it, most people had said their goodbyes for the evening.  As the last couple got  in their car and pulled away, Mommy and Daddy stood together on the front porch, all alone for the first time again since getting the sad news.

Daddy looked up and noticed the sky.  It was clear and dark and quiet. The stars, what seemed like a zillion, shined so bright.  Daddy went back in the house and grabbed a blanket.   When he came back out he invited Mommy to lay down with him and look up in the sky.

Feeling empty and sad, heartbroken and lost, Mommy and Daddy held hands.  As we lay there looking up in the sky, we both weeped.  No words were necessary.  We both knew exactly how the other was feeling.  

After several minutes we decided to pray together.  Praying had always been something we had each done more on our own and not very often together.

After a few minutes of quiet think time, Daddy prayed aloud first.  Daddy's prayer was a request for God to somehow show us that you were with Him and that He was with us.    Daddy chose his words carefully. Each one was muttered with sad emotion.

Then, it was my turn to pray.  With Daddy's hand still holding mine, I began.  I kept my eyes closed as I stumbled over my words. My prayer's focus was on strength,  hope, and healing for Daddy and me.  Just as Mommy began to wrap up, Daddy started squeezing my hand ever so tightly. I could feel him trembling all over! He shouted out -  A SHOOTING STAR!

A shooting star had whipped through the sky in the blink of an eye.  Having had my own eyes closed, Mommy missed it completely.  But... Daddy saw the whole thing!  Had Daddy's prayer been answered?! It sure felt so by Mommy and Daddy.

Going in to the funeral home the next morning, we felt completely different.  A sense of peace had come over us - at least on this day.  We felt excited to share  about our prayers and the shooting star with our closest friends and family.  As crazy as it seems, it felt like a sign from God that He had His hand on us and on you in Heaven.

I hadn't really thought about that night for a long time….Watching the man-made shooting star go over the castle at Disney reminded me of that July night four years ago. It reminded me of how we were so desperate for God's presence then when things were so tough.  It also reminded me of how God is always present and waiting for us to seek Him. We don't always have to wait until things are bad to share or make our requests.

That night in Disney Mommy made a wish on one of those shooting stars.

Love you and miss you the same…

Kaden's First Easter - Spring 2009

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Phone Calls

One of your little sister's favorite things to do is to pretend to talk on the phone.  She mimics every move that she sees Mommy, Daddy, and Bobby do on the phone.  Whether it be pacing the floor like Daddy, holding her arm in the air to balance the phone on her shoulder like Bobby, or rambling on like Mommy, Layne LOVES to pretend to talk on the phone.  Talking on the phone is one of her favorite pastimes these days.

When you were several months old Mommy got you your very own little play phone.  It had just a few buttons and flipped open and closed.  You would carry it around the house. It was often a go-to toy for when we were running out the door.

Mommy remembers our trip to Nashville.  Mommy knew that it would be a long weekend away from home so I made sure to pack a variety of toys for you to choose from.  Among the ones I stashed in the bag, your little hot pink phone was along for the ride.  In the back of Mommy and Daddy's packed car everything you would need for our weekend away was there.  The pack-n-play, your favorite blanket, suitcases, snacks, and your bag of toys.

With each bump of the highway we would hear it.  Even the slightest hump would set it off. During your nap in the car it seemed to be louder than ever. "Dunt, dunna, nu, nu, dunt, dunt."  Your little phone sang the only song it knew.  Sweet, right?

At first Mommy and Daddy laughed.  After awhile, though, it started to get annoying.   Mommy remembers having to climb to the back of the car, dig through the heap of stuff we packed, and pull out your little phone.  At least in your hands we wouldn't have to hear it repeat so often.

Fast forward several months.  It was the fall of 2010.  Mommy can't remember when for sure, but I know it was just a few months after you had passed.  It was after Mommy and Daddy's friends cleared our house of all things that called baby.  From toys to cups, diapers to lotion.  It was all put away.  No toy was left out.  Not a sleeper, a towel, or even a sock of yours could be found.  Our friends took care of the task of putting it all away.

That's what made it such a surprise.  On one of those fall days Daddy picked up his guitar for the first time in a long time. To his surprise he heard a familiar tune.  Dunt, dunna, nu, nu, dunt, dunt.  It was your little toy phone and it was inside Daddy's guitar.   When Daddy shared this news with me I remember feeling overjoyed at first. It felt like a reminder that part of you was still near.  Shortly later, though, Mommy became sad. Not too long after, I started laughing through my tears.  The sound of that tune reminded me of our trip in the car.

 A few times Daddy had laid his guitar flat on the carpet for you.  With your little hands you would grab at the strings and make your own music.  You must have dropped your little phone inside without Daddy noticing.  Mommy loves that.

A few weeks ago Mommy cleaned out our junk drawer and came across two old cell phones.  They were ones Mommy and Daddy got the year you passed away.  Thinking Layne would love playing with a "real" phone, Daddy dug out the old chargers and plugged them into the wall. It didn't take too long for Layne to find the pictures and videos of you.

This past weekend, Layne had your friends Jacob and Lucas over for a playdate.  It was neat to watch Layne share her phones with your pictures and videos with them.  I'm sure part of it was the interest in a cell phone they were actually allowed to have, but Mommy likes to think they were all curious to learn more about you.  It was sweet seeing them watch you so intensely and hearing them say your name.

Isn't it too bad we all can't just call you in Heaven? Oh, how Mommy would give anything to talk to you.

Love you, miss you, and think of you always my sweet Kaden Layne.
Lucas, Kaden, & Jacob celebrating Daddy's birthday March 2010.

Jacob, Layne, & Lucas May 2013.

Daddy & Kaden on Daddy's birthday March 2010.

Kaden  - March 2010.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl...

Happy Birthday Sweet Baby Girl,

It's crazy to think you would have turned five years old today.  Last night was a pretty sad night for Mommy.  Memories of the night before you were born played out scene by scene in Mommy's mind.  From the late night Mommy spent preparing Valentine activities for my second graders, to the UK game Mommy watched with Daddy on TV.  The giant kick Mommy felt from you was such a surprise -that's what started it three weeks earlier than Mommy was due.  What an exciting time it was for Mommy and Daddy.  So much anticipation, nervousness, and uncertainty.

In the first days after you were born, Mommy was so concerned about how close your birthday was to Valentine's day.  I didn't want you to grow up having to compete with such a holiday.  I wanted your day to be special for you. Mommy already had it planned out for your birthday to be separate every year. Valentine's Day would just be a bonus!

And so, it was nice that it was on Valentine's day when we first brought you home from the hospital.  Mommy and Daddy called you our little valentine.  You were the best gift Mommy could have asked for.  Mommy and Daddy fell so in love.

Such sweet memories…

When you passed away our hearts were broken.  While time has helped, our hearts have not completely healed.

Today, on your fifth birthday, Mommy wonders what you would be like.  On Friday, Valentine's Day, Mommy will remember how you filled our hearts with so much love.  Everyday, Mommy will think of you and be grateful for the joy you brought to us in your short little life.

Love and miss you always...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Picture…Not Quite Perfect

It's a new year.  Almost four since you were last here.  Mommy thinks of you everyday still and misses you the same.

Another holiday season has come and gone.  This year was one of the best Mommy and Daddy have had in a long while.  It could have been that your little sister, with her big imagination and pure joy, brought a certain kind of excitement and life to our Christmas.  Or maybe it was because by now we know what to expect around the holidays.  Nonetheless, it was one marked with more smiles than tears, and that's progress for sure.

Mommy can remember back to the first Christmas we had without you.  Mommy remembers how sad Christmas cards made me feel that year. Perfect pictures of families complete - each was a reminder of what we once had and what we would not have again.  That year Mommy kept the cards in a basket with the photo-less ones on top.

This year, as the Christmas cards rolled in, Mommy hung them on the door of the hall closet for all to see.  Layne especially liked looking at the ones with her cousins and friends.  Mommy brought out the card we sent to our family and friends with the picture from your first Christmas.  Perched in a frame, Mommy placed it out on the counter as a decoration next to Layne's.

Your First Christmas - December 2009

Christmas cards and family pictures will probably always make Mommy a little sad.  Every time we have our pictures made as a family Mommy feels a nudge in her heart to think of a way to include you. No matter how beautiful the photos turn out, to Mommy they are not quite perfect without you.

In our home images of you can be found all around.  Mommy loves each one for the memory it holds. Some are of us as a family.  Many are of you by yourself propped up next to ones of Mommy and Daddy with Layne.  Most times they make me happy.  Sometimes they make me sad.  I wish there was a way to have us all together somehow.

Love you and miss you always sweet Kaden Layne…  

                                                                         Pictures with Layne and you on Mommy's fridge.