Friday, December 11, 2015

A Camera

Christmas 2009 ~ You were 10 months old. 
Mommy finally saw them.  The two of them were running down the long corridor.  Thank goodness they made it just in time.  A feeling of relief rushed over Mommy.  It was passed to Daddy, and quick hugs and a kiss were exchanged. Mommy was so glad to have it. Mommy never could have imagined how important that moment would be, how precious of a gift it would become.

That was the night Mommy went into labor with you.  Three weeks early, Mommy was only partially prepared.  Our bags were packed, and we had one of our own, but the difference this one would make would mean so much. 

A camera.  This camera was the real deal.  Aunt Keshia had a good one, much better than Mommy’s. It was like the professionals.  It was quick to shoot and easy to focus.  The quality of the images was what Mommy was most excited about.  Thank goodness your Aunt Keshia and Grandma Trish made it in time for us to have a good camera. 

As the doctor was performing Mommy’s c-section, Daddy was prepared to take pictures of your grand entry.  The camera dangled from Daddy’s neck.  Mommy could tell he was a little nervous.  I think the anesthesiologist could too.  That’s when she asked if we would like for her to snap a few pictures for us.  Daddy was quick to say yes.  Mommy was glad he would be able to watch you enter this world with his own eyes, instead of through the lens of a camera.

The camera clicked away.  The dark room with the large spot-light on the main attraction made for the perfect pictures.  Mommy and Daddy joked later on that we should have paid that sweet anesthesiologist photography fees.  That’s just how good the pictures turned out.  It certainly didn’t hurt that we had a good camera.

Those pictures we have are so precious to us.

Fast forward to last week.  On Friday, December 4th your Aunt Keshia welcomed a baby boy, Felix, into this world.  This was the first baby she has had since Mommy became a mom.  As Mommy walked down the long corridor of the hospital with Grandma Trish by my side, Mommy thought back to the night you were born.  That image of Aunt Keshia and Grandma Trish rushing down the hall at the exact moment I was being whisked away to surgery was so vivid in my memory.  To think that a few seconds might have meant not capturing this moment, Mommy’s so glad they made it.

Mommy is so thankful for the sweet memories.  It’s these memories Mommy holds close.

Love you, miss you, and think of you often baby girl.

Meet your newest cousin, Felix.  Isn't he the cutest little thing? :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Five People

Many years before you were born Mommy read the book The Five People You Meet in Heaven.  The big lesson Mommy got from the book was, while you may not realize it at the time, people are placed in your life at certain times and for certain purposes.  It's not until you get to Heaven that you discover the true purpose.  Events that may have seemed insignificant at the time, can sometimes have big effects on us later on.  For someone who doesn't read books often (outside the realm of my second grade classroom :), this book was one Mommy couldn't put down.

August of 2003 is when Mommy and her started working together.  We were both graduate assistants in the College of Education at EKU.  We worked together everyday, just about.  Our favorite part of our day was eating lunch at Powell.  That's where we had some of our best conversations.  That's when we talked about things that really mattered.  That's where she shared about her mom.

Several years before we had met she had lost her mom to breast cancer.  It was easy to see how much she missed her mom and how not having her mom deeply impacted her ability to experience complete joy in life's biggest events - her wedding, graduation, first job- and the small things too. Watching and listening, she reminded me how precious and irreplaceable the mother-daughter relationship is.

She also talked about God.  She talked about her faith.  She talked about Heaven.  We prayed together and became very close friends. Three years later Mommy asked her to be a bridesmaid in Mommy and Daddy's wedding.

Fast forward...

July of 2009 is when Mommy first met her.  Mommy had started a new teaching position in kindergarten.  She was several years older and her children were older too. One a teenager, the other in middle school.  Mommy and her hit it off right away.

It happened just a week before school was to begin.  Her son and his close friend had been involved in an accident.  Her son turned out to be ok, but his best friend had passed away.  This tragic event devastated so many people, especially her son.

That year was tough for her. Many Thursdays we spent working late on the next week's plans.  During these late nights we would talk about things -our kids, our pasts, our families, the tragedy.  Mommy did a lot of talking (imagine that :) and even more listening. That year we got to know each other very well.  

We were both new to kindergarten so we worked closely together every day.  Our classrooms were even joined together, our desks just a few feet away.  She loved teaching and she loved having you visit our classrooms.  You had a way of livening up our days.

The next summer tragedy struck Mommy's life.  That's when you passed away.  The whole next year she did the listening and often lent Mommy a shoulder to cry on.  Her, along with Mommy's teaching assistant, provided the strength, encouragement, and laughter Mommy needed to get through the day to day.

As time moved forward, so did Mommy's teaching partner.  The next summer Mommy found herself working with a new partner.  Fresh from Fayette County and with several years of kindergarten teaching experience under her belt, Mommy was happy to be able to learn from someone new.  It was also exciting for Mommy since this new partner also had a baby about the same age as Layne.  Having this new friend with so much in common was just what Mommy needed.

Over the next two years Mommy and this new friend got to know one another really well.  Even Layne and her son had become good buddies too.  Dates to Chickfila turned into invites to birthday parties and after school playdates at the park. As time went on we became each other's rock when strength was what we needed.  She listened when Mommy wanted to talk about you, and I listened when she wanted to talk about things private to her.

Just when Mommy's life was beginning to look up, and as we were about to start exciting new jobs together at a brand new school, the most devastating news imaginable was given to her family.  Her husband, just 34, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  Surgeries, chemo, tests, scans.  Grief, sadness, lost hope, overwhelming anxiety.  Over the past two years Mommy has walked alongside her.   To talk, to listen, to just be a friend who understands a little about grief.

Just a few weeks ago she was given the unbelievable news that her husband has

just three to six months to live.  Last weekend her husband was baptized.

As Mommy thinks about that book...Mommy thinks about people like Sarah and Debbie and Jessica. Mommy thinks about my life path and the paths of all those others who just so happened to collide with mine. Coincidence? I think not. God must have known how much we would need one another at different points.

And that's just three.  Mommy wonders about those I have yet to meet. Perhaps it will all make sense one day when we meet in Heaven.

Until you, miss you, think of you every single day sweet Kaden Layne...

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Empty Spot

Hi Sweet Girl...

It's hard to fathom another month has passed.  The days seem to go by in a blink of an eye.  Jack is crawling and in to everything these days, and Layne can't seem to find a moment to play without him trying to grab everything in sight.  While it frustrates her to no end, Mommy and Daddy are secretly enjoying their little squabbles.  We've waited so long to finally get to experience the joys and trials siblings bring to a family.

One thing your sister, Layne, really enjoys to do with Jack is swing.  She loves to swing him in the little red baby swing we have hanging out back.

Mommy thinks back to when we first got that little baby swing back when you were so small.  Inspired by Papaw's swing in our big favorite tree, Mommy picked this one up at a yard sale when you were about six months old. Daddy hung it under the deck right by the steps.  It was a perfect spot since the decking was so high.  As you grew older, you could swing so big.  Mommy remembers the certain creaky sound it made as it moved back and forth through the air.  Swinging made you so happy and your smile would be as big as your face! :)

Mommy remembers back to the day after you passed away. Coming home with Daddy to our quiet house on that July day, Mommy remembers going outside to the deck to have some time by myself. Sitting there in the quiet thinking of you, Mommy heard the light creaky sound of your empty swing beneath me being pushed around by the wind.  The thought of your swing was too much for Mommy to bear.  All Mommy could do is sob as I thought of how desolate life would be without you.

Just like a lot of your other things, Mommy and Daddy put your swing away.

The next summer, several months after your little sister was born, Daddy got out your old swing and added some fresh red paint and hung it beneath a new part of our deck.  We would swing Layne just like we did you.  And just like you, she would smile the biggest smile.

As time has passed your little sis has grown too heavy for your little swing.  Layne's legs stretch down to the bushes that line the patio beneath.  While your little swing is still the perfect size for Jack, Daddy knew it was time to build something new.

And build he did!  On top of the hill, behind your special garden, Daddy spent all week digging holes, measuring posts, mixing concrete, and ordering parts.  Daddy stayed up late measuring and putting together the hardware for the swings and trapeze.  He even woke up extra early on Friday to hang everything just right. On Friday afternoon, Daddy surprised Layne (and Jack, too) with their new swing!

With the sweetest look of excitement, Layne ran across the yard, climbed into the center swing, and began to pump her legs back and forth as Daddy pushed.  Mommy put Jack in the baby swing next to her. It was in that moment that Layne, with pure elation in her voice, made her innocent observation.  "Daddy," she said. "There's a spot here for me, Jack, and Kaden!"

Mommy and Daddy just looked at one another and smiled a despondent smile.

We sure wish you were here, Sweet Girl, to take pleasure in that empty spot on the swing set.

You and Mommy
You and Daddy

Friday, September 11, 2015


Mommy picked up the frame and wiped the dust from the edges.  My heart began to race.  Mommy said a little prayer under my breath.  God, please let me have courage...  Please don't let me cry.  As Mommy walked through the crowd to my chair, Mommy felt excited.  Then nervous.  Then sad.  Then worried.  What if this becomes more than what I want it to?  What if they have questions?  Will I have all the right answers?  What if the others get upset that they weren't included?  So many worries spun around inside Mommy's head in that moment.

Mommy sat down in the little green chair.  I wiped more dust off the glass and turned the frame around.

A few weeks earlier school had come back into session.  As always, Mommy was excited and nervous about beginning another year with a new group of students.  Back when you first passed away Mommy found solace in work.    It was the one thing that was constant amongst all the chaos all around.  It was the one thing Mommy could control back when so much of life felt out of control.  

Teaching was my identity before Mommy became a mom.  Hours were spent planning, preparing, loving, and caring on my kiddos at school.  When Mommy was pregnant with you Mommy loved sharing my experiences with my class of second graders.  Each week a different student would help measure to see how much bigger around my belly had grown. We kept a belly chart posted on the wall.  They made the journey toward motherhood that much more exciting!

The night you decided to start your journey into this world Mommy stayed well past six getting Valentine's Day activities ready for the next day's centers.  Excited. Nervous. Sad.  It seemed like this was the cycle of emotions Mommy felt throughout the night you came.  As Mommy's students entered the classroom the next day they were greeted with a sub and a giant banner that read "Welcome Baby Harris"!  Surprised was the main reaction.  You weren't suppose to come that soon.  Mommy wasn't supposed to be gone that soon either.

The transition from teacher to full-time mom was more difficult than Mommy had anticipated.  Mommy missed the daily conversations and hugs I would get from my students. Mommy missed the fast-paced schedule and  predictable routine. In the beginning for a short time, Mommy even had bouts of the post-pardum blues. I look back and wonder how much of it had to do with leaving a group of students Mommy loved so much.

As time went on Mommy's students from that year grew to love their substitute teacher. I grew to love you more than Mommy ever knew I could love something.   It became clear as the school year came to an end that Mommy would be better off working at a school closer to home.  That way, I could be closer to you.  That's when Mommy took a job in Kindergarten.

Here is the artwork students from Model Laboratory School created in your memory. 
 Next to it is a placard with your picture and these words: "Experiencing life, love, and loss with their teacher."  
It hangs by the indoor garden near Mommy's old room. 

As the weeks in Kindergarten turned into months, Mommy found so many teachable moments that involved you.  Stories and songs, books and puppets were all first tried on you at home.  My new students at my new school loved hearing about you more than anything else. They asked about you all the time. And having a classroom assistant who was like a grandma to you made Mommy's new school a perfect fit!  

It was a little over three weeks after you passed away that Mommy was due to return to work.  Many people wondered if Mommy would take some time off.  Time off to do what? I wondered. Without you at home Mommy felt lost.  Mommy's identity as a mother was suddenly take away.  I didn't know who I was.  The only thing in life that was familiar at the time was teaching.  And teaching is where Mommy would escape.

When school went back into session that year Mommy added two new pictures to the wall behind my desk.  Collages of you that your Aunt Keshia had made for your funeral.  In the beginning Mommy would just stare at the memories that were captured in that frame.  Sometimes I would cry. By the end of the year Mommy was able to smile.

Occasionally there would be a kindergartener notice the frame.  They would comment with things like That's a cute baby or She's a pretty little girl.  When your sister Layne came along many of Mommy's kindergarteners would look at the pictures and assume the little girl with the bow in her hair was her.  Anytime one would ask, Mommy's assistant was quick to intervene just so Mommy didn't have to have the conversation.  Whatever she said to them must have been just right.  She always had a way with talking to kids.  

Mommy would avoid conversations about family with my kindergarten students.  If any of them asked, Mommy would focus on Layne and our cats, Frank and Sammy.  It wasn't that Mommy didn't want to include you, it was just that Mommy wasn't prepared to answer questions they might have.  Mommy worried about making them worried.  Not knowing what it was that took you from us, made it even harder.  Would four and five year olds understand?

So when Mommy moved back to teaching second graders, keeping your story private seemed much easier than having that conversation. For two years Mommy did just that.  Mommy kept your picture on the windowsill behind my desk.  When any student would look at it and comment how cute "Layne" was, Mommy would smile and think of you.  

All that changed a few weeks ago.  As my new second graders spent the week bringing in pictures and telling about their families, Mommy realized it might be time.  

So as Mommy sat down in that little green chair and as 26 pairs of eyes were glued on me with my picture of you in one hand and Jack's birth announcement in the other, Mommy got brave.  

"Many of you look at this picture.... Many of you look at it and see Mr. Harris and me and this little girl.  Many of you see this little girl and say ' Awe, isn't Layne so cute?'"    

Mommy smiled and took a breath.  The kids in the middle of the rug smiled back and shook their head.  The whole class was still and quiet.

"Well, let me tell you about this little girl in this picture."  Mommy's voice was calm.  The words came to mind much easier than I expected.

"The little girl in this picture," Mommy said slowly, "Her name is Kaden -  Kaden Layne.  This is my little girl." Mommy said. 

This is our last family photo with you.  
It was the end of our vacation at the Outer Banks.  
We sure had fun making memories that week.  

It felt so good to say your name. Like a good secret bottled up, it was a relief to share you with them. I went on.  

"She passed away in her sleep when she was 16 months and we aren't really sure why."

Mommy and my students went on to talk about you and about how some families look a little different from others.

  "She's a part of my family." I went on to say.   "I haven't had the courage to talk about her with a group of students until now."  

To Mommy's surprise, this group of students responded with the utmost compassion and concern.  Instead of asking questions that Mommy wasn't prepared to answer, many of them responded with sweet comments and expressions of love.    Being free to remember you openly felt so good.  Being able to talk about you helped Mommy revive your memory. I love that most!

Next year my class of second graders will be the class you would have been part of.  I can already foresee Mommy standing back as the girls play at recess and wondering who it is you would have been friends with.   For now, Mommy's going to use this year and this group of students to help me prepare. 

Love you Sweet Girl...

This was you at 8 months.  It's neat to see how much Jack looks like you. 
He loves to smile a wide-open smile like you did.  

 Here's a little flashback.  Jack looks just like you at 8 months. :)

Here's another with your Harris Hopper's class t-shirt. :)


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Club

Sweet Girl...

When Mommy was young I remember wanting to be a girl scout so bad.  I can recall the first time I learned about them.  It was a friend I met at my new school in fifth grade.  Mommy was trying to find my place in the new group of people. There was something about being part of a club that seemed so neat to me. At ten years-old, it was probably the cute uniform with all the patches that appealed so much to me.  Unfortunately joining the girl scouts didn't really fit into my family's schedule or budget. And Mommy was okay with that. :)

Later on, when I started high school, Mommy made it a point to be part of as many clubs as I could.  From Key Club to Beta Club, Mommy loved the chance to be part of a group.  I loved the way each club had its own focus and opportunities for service.  Most of them cost little to nothing to be part of and left Mommy's schedule over-the-top full.  Clubs were just Mommy's thing.

When Mommy went off to college the same was true.  Mommy joined a sorority and was part of the Panhellenic Council and Student Government.  It was through these groups that Mommy met some of my best friends.  The people I had the privilege of working with taught me so much about drive and determination.  They were often the models of service too.

Mommy loved the idea of being part of the club.

In July of 2010, Mommy found herself part of one club no mother, daughter, sister or friend ever wants to be a part of.

Club Grief.

In the days, weeks, and months after you passed, Mommy met and learned about so many other mothers who unexpectedly lost a child.  Several reached out to Mommy to share their story.  Many gave Mommy books or cards offering encouragement and support.  They became like mentors. Some Mommy met at your visitation.  Others were complete strangers.  Strangers or not, we shared one thing in common.

Being a part of this club helped Mommy know that the feelings I experienced were completely normal.  Someone understood the emptiness and the bizarre feelings that were often associated with everyday, simple routines and tasks.  Even my closest friends, whom I had known for years, couldn't understand the roller coaster of emotions grief brings like those who shared this common bond.

It's kind of ironic. This club Mommy was once thankful to have, is one Mommy has grown to despise and hate so very much in recent years.  Why, you might wonder? The club has grown larger in number.  From car wrecks to SIDS, miscarriages and random accidents, there have been too many.  Mommy's heart hurts so much for these mothers experiencing these fresh wounds.  Each time Mommy learns of another member, I can't help but feel the need to reach out.

And it's not just the mothers.  It's the friends whose husbands are battling cancer and whose lives have been flipped upside down.  It's the daughters who have lost their own mothers and are trying to navigate this life without the support and encouragement they so desperately need.  It's the family who's faced with divorce and having to find a new normal.  When Mommy looks around I see so many hurting, grieving people.

The Club. It's not always easy.  It's hard to find the right words when greeting the new members. There's no badge of honor worn on our lapels.  Instead, there is a heavy weight that rests upon our shoulders.  It's hard to get through the days and it's often difficult to think beyond the loss.  Members may not wear uniforms, but in our eyes you can see.

Grief is hard.  Mommy thinks about all those people experiencing it now.  Mommy's prayer is simple...

God, please bring peace and comfort to the broken hearted...

Love you and miss you sweet girl!

You at 6 Months

Jack at 7 Months

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Once Upon a Dream

You at 5 months old. You're about Jack's age here.

Hi Baby Girl...

One of the things your little sister Layne loves to do more than anything is dance.  Each day she'll ask for Daddy or Mommy to put on music.  She'll waltz in the living room dressed in a princess costume wearing her ballet shoes.  If we are lucky we can sit back and watch.  But most of the time she insists one of us dance with her. 
  Layne dancing around the living room.

This summer has been especially rainy. In our house rainy days mean movie days!  Layne and Mommy love theses kinds of days.  We often veg out on the living room floor watching Disney classics.  We've probably watched Frozen a hundred times.  Even Jack has been known to pay attention a time or two as well.  Movie days are definitely lazy days for us.

Just a few weeks ago Mommy put on the movie Sleeping Beauty. Layne had seen it a few times before but this was one of the first times for Mommy. As we watched, Mommy really began to enjoy the pretty singing voice of Princess Aurora.  One of Mommy's favorite songs from the movie was Once Upon a Dream.  As the song began to play Layne stood with her arms stretched out toward me. "Let's dance, momma!"

How could I resist?  Holding Layne's hands, we did our own version of the waltz around the living room as we listened to the words...

I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream
I know you, the gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam

Yet I know it's true that visions are seldom all they seem
But if I know you, I know what you'll do
You'll love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream 

But if I know you, I know what you do
You love me at once 
The way you did once upon a dream 

I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream
I know you, the gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam 
And I know it's true that visions are seldom all they seem
But if I know you, I know what you'll do
You'll love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream

It's been a few weeks since Mommy and Layne first danced to this song.  Ever since, Mommy cannot seem to shake it from my memory.  I find myself singing it all the time.  Each time I find myself thinking of you.  
You just a week before you passed away.
Yesterday marks five years since Mommy and Daddy last had you here with us. The first few days after you passed were filled with tremendous shock and sadness.  Soon after, Mommy remembers feeling so desperate to know what it felt like to be with you again.  Mommy's prayers became requests to God to let me see you again, at least in my dreams.  It was probably two or three weeks after your funeral when Mommy finally dreamed of you.  

Mommy remembers being on a beach, kind of like the one we last vacationed at in the Outer Banks.  Mommy remembers seeing you and me running toward one another and then hugging the biggest hug.  It was a lot like the scenes from one of those sappy love movies.  It was strange because I was able to watch both of us, as if I was a bystander.  Mommy wasn't sure what that was supposed to mean.  It didn't matter. It felts so good to dream about you and me together.  Even though it didn't last long, it was just enough to leave mommy feeling a little more full.  Mommy has only dreamt of you one other time since then. 

When I hear that song I often think of how Mommy once knew you oh so well.  I often think about how our short time together, with the memories and emotions that linked us together as Mommy and Daughter, feels so much like a dream.  Sometimes I think about what it will be like to see you in heaven one day.  In my mind, Mommy plays this song and imagines you and me dancing and hugging and holding hands. Mommy misses that so much.

Because I knew you, I walked with you once upon a dream...

Love you and miss you always my sweet Kaden Layne. 

These are our last pictures you and Mommy had taken together.  We were at Uncle Mike and Aunt Linda's July Fourth cookout.  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Our Hat

The last family vacation we shared with you was spent with our friends in the Outer Banks.  Mommy remembers how fun you were as a big girl.  You were almost 16 months when we went. You were old enough to walk and dance and play in the sand.  But you were also still small enough to carry on Mommy's hip and you still loved riding in your stroller.  Mommy and Daddy knew this would be the best vacation yet!

It was the middle of our week in OBX.  It was a shopping day.  The mommies and their little ones spent the afternoon walking through the quaint shops and boutiques.  Mommy remembers you riding in your pink umbrella stroller.  You loved the entertainment you got from your big kid friend, Skylar, and your friends Elly Kate and Jacob. They kept you smiling as we went in and out of the different shops.

One of the last shops we went into was a sweet little corner boutique.  It had a nice wrap around porch with clothing racks and baskets of pretties.  Inside were sweetly decorated rooms with every kind of goodie that a girl could imagine. Purses, scarves, jewelry, charms, candles, hats, trinkets.  If you can imagine it and it is pretty, it was there.  

Aunt Mary and Mommy picked out some things to try on. Mommy remembers you and me and Aunt Mary and Elly Kate crowding into the oversized dressing room.  As Mommy and Aunt Mary tried on our dresses, you and Elly Kate toddled and crawled around in front of the mirror smiling and laughing together. It was so much fun being with you girls this day.

On our way to checkout Mommy and Aunt Mary came upon a rack of oversized hats.  We took turns trying on different ones as we talked about how perfect they would be for the beach.  The brims were bigger than any we had seen before.  That's what made these hats a must-have. We knew they would be great for blocking our babies from the sun as we carried you on our hips. Aunt Mary picked out one with yellow around the edges and Mommy liked the black and white one.  

We were right!  Our big brimmed hats were exactly what we needed for the beach and even more perfect for carrying our sweet girls on our hips.  We wore them constantly the rest of the trip.

It was a month after our vacation when we lost you.  Mommy never wore that hat again.  The shadow it made was far too big for just one person. Wearing it only felt right with a baby on my hip.

Mommy held on to that hat for a few years thinking one day it might feel right to wear it again.  It sat on the top shelf of Mommy's closet and collected dust.  When Layne became the size you were, the thought of wearing the hat we once shared still didn't feel right.  Mommy knew by the time I felt ready to wear it again Layne would probably be too big to benefit from its shadow.  A couple years ago it was tossed into the yard sale pile.  It sold for $5.

Today, for the first time in awhile, Mommy thought of our hat.  Mommy and Layne took your baby brother Jack to the pool.  As I dangled my feet in the water and watched Layne swim with her friends, I found myself trying to block Jack's tender skin from the sun.  No matter which way I faced some part of him was always exposed.  Today I needed our hat.

In that moment I thought of you my sweet Kaden Layne.  I remembered our trip and smiled.  I thought of our friends and our fun we shared. I thought about how nice it would be for Jack to share the same shadow you once shared with Mommy.  I even thought of how all of us could have probably fit perfectly beneath that big brim. Today I missed our hat.

So much has changed since you've been gone.  The way Mommy thinks of you comes from the smallest of things sometimes.  It is a song or a picture. It's a book or the blue of someone's eyes. And sometimes it's a hat that once made a shadow big enough for us to share.  After all these years these are the things that make me smile and remember you.

Love you, miss you, and think of you often my sweet girl...

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Perfect Little Print

Hi Sweet Girl...

Yesterday was Mother's Day and like every day, I thought of you my sweet girl.

Time is speeding along so quickly these days.  Jack is getting so big.  Most recently, I love the feeling of his smooth, chubby little fingers wrapped around mine.  Holding his hands reminds me of holding yours.  Mommy missed these kinds of things so much when you first passed away.

Envious was the way Mommy felt of mothers with little ones on their hips.  I would watch their young hands tug and pat on their mothers and wish it could have been you tugging and patting on me. Watching little girls hold their mother's hands as they crossed the parking lots - it was almost impossible for Mommy to see.  Mommy wished so much to feel your  little warm hand in mine just one more time.

It was a week or so before you passed.  Mommy and you must have been playing on Mommy's dresser.  I imagine Mommy had you seated in front of the mirror, holding you under your chubby little arms so you wouldn't slip and fall. I can't be sure, but I can guess we were probably playing a silly game or singing one of our goofy songs.  Somehow, in the midst of our fun, the clearest little handprint was left behind on the mirror that hung above. A perfect little print.

That little print became a precious piece of you, especially after you passed. Mommy was quick to place a sticky note beside it.  Kaden's handprint it read.  Please do not clean.  In the early days Mommy looked for it often.  It was easy to see in the mirror.  As time has passed, small flakes of dust have gathered around it and has made it much harder to see. The dust is a reminder of how much time has passed and how long it has truly been since our time together.  Still, Mommy looks for your little print. I don't think I will ever have the courage to let that little piece of you go.

To some it may look like a dirty, smudged mirror.  But to Mommy, it holds a precious memory of our time together.  My how I miss those little hands...

Love you my sweet Kaden Layne...

Mommy loves this picture of you.  You found so much joy in swinging. I love how it shows your sweet hands.
This is another favorite of Mommy's.  I think you look a lot like Jack in this one. 

 Mommy and you had so much fun together in Nashville.  I loved holding your hand as we walked the streets.

Mommy misses seeing you hold your daddy's hands.  

 Before, Mommy would click right passed this picture of you and me.  But now, Mommy sees something special in the way we are holding hands so tightly.  Mommy misses that so much!

Saturday, April 11, 2015


When you passed away one of the most difficult things Mommy and Daddy had to do was pick out a spot for you at the cemetery.  It was a difficult decision.  Should we have you here in Georgetown where Mommy and Daddy are, or find you a place in Louisville where Mommy and Daddy grew up and most of our family still lives?  In the end, we decided we wanted you close.  Georgetown Cemetery it was.

Mommy remembers the day we walked through Babyland to pick your spot.  Mommy saw row after row of tiny headstones.  Most had remnants of overgrown greenery, unkept flowers, and faded bows.  Small baby dolls and toy cars lined some of the headstones.  Others had beautiful fresh flowers.   Never before had I known that cemeteries have a special place for babies.  Many of the babies in the Georgetown Cemetery were just days old when they passed.  Some were over a year.  A few were as old as you, but not many. Mommy can remember thinking about all those mothers and their brokenness.    

That day Mommy and Daddy agreed on a space right in front of a holly tree.  It could be seen from the road and had plenty of space around it for flowers.  It seemed like the perfect spot...if there could be a perfect spot.

A few days before your funeral, Mommy remembers thinking about all those babies from Babyland.  Mommy imagined all those babies in heaven.  Mommy thought of you being there all by yourself. No mommy, no daddy, and none of your friends. For some strange reason Mommy hoped you would have someone to play with when you were there.  Mommy imagined Jesus greeting you with a hug and a smile but then becoming busy with all those others he would be welcoming to his kingdom.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

Tied with pink ribbon to the stems of daisies, this was the verse that Mommy and Daddy's friends and family included.  At the conclusion of your funeral, the children of our family and friends stepped away from your spot to place pink daisies on the markers of all the babies in Babyland. It didn't take long for them to run out.  Mommy and Daddy returned the next day with more daisies to finish the job.

With this small gesture, Mommy's hope was that somehow you might make friends with all those sweet babies that had passed before you.

It wasn't long before the funeral flowers that had been left at your spot began to wilt.  Soon after, Mommy and Daddy placed a statue of an angel in the place where your marker would one day be.  Daddy came to your spot every single morning to tend to the grass and have quiet time with you.  He planted pink flowers and Mommy made you pink bows.  On Sundays Mommy and Daddy would get fresh donuts and milk and come sit with you under the holly tree. With all the attention, your spot had grown to have the most beautiful pink blooms and green grass. When the seasons changed, so did the theme of your flowers and ribbons.  Your spot was always well manicured. Mommy and Daddy made a promise to ourselves that your spot would always look nice so that you would always feel loved.
Layne at Kaden's Spot ~ Spring 2013

As the days turned to months and months turned to years, things changed.

It's been almost five years now since we picked that spot for you.  And with each passing year Mommy and Daddy feel less tied to it.  We used to think that was where you were, and that was where we needed to be, too.  With the passing time, we have come to see that the spot we once sat at each day and week on end is just that, a spot.  We know you are with us, even if we are not there. We carry you with us everyday.

Usually when people visit your spot now, they see a small headstone with remnants of overgrown greenery, unkept flowers, and a faded bow.  To them, it might seem sad. Unmanicured.  For Mommy and Daddy, it's a sign of healing.

Just as it did back then, Mommy's heart goes out to all the mothers who have their babies' names engraved on markers in Babyland.

Love you, miss you, and think of you always my sweet Kaden Layne.