Happy 1st birthday in Heaven, Gideon!
525,600 minutes in a year. That is how long we have lived without Gideon.
8,760 hours in a year. That's how long it has been since we said goodbye.
365 days in a year. That is how long it has been since we held him in our arms and kissed his beautiful face.
But for 365 days, or 8,760 hours, or 525,600 minutes; that is how long he has been with Jesus. He never died. Not really. Those who are in eternity with Jesus never die. They Live. They truly Live.
For one year I have been without him, and I love him more and more each day. I still miss him. So much.
One year. Wow. I almost can't believe it has been that long. I am not sure what to say. I don't know how to wrap up all that I am feeling in just a few words. I am not sure there really are adequate words to describe my heart. I dont know if there are words that exist that can describe how a mother feels about her child. Especially when that mom has a child in heaven.
After 12 months, I still want Gideon here with us, I love him so much and I miss him constantly. Today is one of the hardest days I have had since the first few weeks after he died. How can I describe how I feel? How do you live without one of the people you love most? Todd and I have cried buckets of tears in the past few days. I was looking at his pictures yesterday and it was like I was there again, my heart began to feel extreme feelings of anguish again. The deep agony of losing him. I miss him. So much. I miss his curly strawberry blonde hair. (I am so glad I have clippings of his hair I can go and look at) I miss the way his hair felt under my hand. I miss the way it felt to kiss his beautiful forehead. I miss him in my arms. I miss his kicks inside of me. I miss the 1 year old he would be. I miss the little boy he would be becoming. I miss the first steps and him learning to talk? Would he laugh like me? Would he smile like Todd? Would he be laid back or more excitable? I miss my 1 year old. I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face with a piercing pain in my heart. I love that boy so much. In addition to this pain, I also feel proud, proud that he is my son. I feel grateful for the 33 weeks we got with him. I feel thankful that I am his mommy. I smile when I think that he made me crave Icees and Italian food. (I am going to drink an Icee today for the first time in a year in memory of him). I feel joy that he is in heaven. I am so eternally grateful that I get to be his mommy. And I do feel peace from the Holy Spirit today. I know the only reason I feel any amount of peace and joy is because of the Lord. I am so thankful for His peace. And I am thankful that Gideon's life had purpose and that God used him in so many ways. But, I wish he was still here. Part of my heart is with him in Heaven. As much as I want him here, I would never want to take him away from the presence of the Lord. My heart is constantly missing him and loving him. It is constantly feeling some pain and always feeling joy.
Over the last year, I have changed in so many ways. More than I can even count. God has used the life of our Gideon to transform me into a new person. I am more patient. I am more compassionate. My heart is more accepting of love and I am more open emotionally. I do not laugh as freely, but when I do laugh, my heart is in it. I cry more. I love more deeply. I give love easier. I love Jesus more. I actually want Jesus to come back. I am more thankful.
In the past 365 days, I have learned a lot from the Lord. More than I can even say. I have learned that he truly makes beauty from ashes. His grace extends further than I can even comprehend. He truly is good, no matter what our circumstances. He is faithful. He will always comfort us in our time of need. He is the giver of ultimate joy. His timing is perfect. He is the giver of peace. He is patient with us when we have questions. He may not answer us the way we want him to, but He always answers. He gifts us with salvation. And because of His sacrifice I will get to be in Eternity with Him and with Gideon. And those things are just the tip of the iceberg. I do not think I can list all of the ways the Lord has shown Himself to me in the last year.
Over the last year, we have been blessed in ways we never expected. Despite the horrific pain I still feel. The Lord has given us the deepest blessings and great joys. I am going to list just a few of them here (in no particular order).
1) Our relationship with the Lord is so much close and richer than it was before. He truly is my lifeline. He is the main focus in my life and my he fills my heart. I could write about this for a long time, so I will save that for a later blog.
2) One of the greatest blessings is the love we have for Gideon. It grows and changes every day and the love we have for him reaches into the deepest parts of our hearts. And that love is truly beautiful.
3)A huge unexpected blessing from this year is the gift of our second son, Silas. We love him so very much. He is such a special little boy. He was born on April 16th and he weighed 7lbs 2oz and was 19 and a half inches long! (I will have to blog about his birth story at some point!). He was born one month and one day before Gideon's first birthday. He looks so much like his big brother and for that I am truly thankful. He is one of the greatest blessings in my life. I have been given 2 wonderful and amazing boys. Both of whom, I know, will make a huge impact for the Lord. I cannot wait to see Silas grow and to see what kind of man he becomes.
4) This year (just last weekend), Todd graduated with his Masters degree in Psychology (please pray he finds a good internship, he is still in the process of trying to find one that works for our family). I am so proud of him and God gave him so much perseverance through the past year. He worked extremely hard to finish school despite the grief and difficult days.
5) This year, God has given me wonderful friends. I have met and gotten to know some of the strongest and most beautiful women. They are mommies to children in Heaven and they have the most amazing hearts. Some of these ladies I have met through the support group I go to called, MEND. And some of the other women I have met online. I have also gotten to help a friend whose son passed and we have become wonderful friends. These lovely mommies have become some of my closest friends. I am so honored to know them. I hate how we all became friends, I hate that our children have passed away. But I am so thankful for their friendship. Its amazing that they truly understand what I am going through and we are able to help each other. I truly love their children and they love mine. I cant wait to meet their kids when I get to eternity!
6)In the past year, I have seen how amazing my friends are, my friends from before Gideon died. They have been so supportive and have loved us unconditionally. They never expect me to "get over it" and always are there for me when I need to talk about Gideon. They will talk about him too. They do not shy away from talking about him, because they love him. They miss Gideon. They pray for us and make us laugh when we need it, but will also cry with us. I am so blessed to have these friends in my life.
7) Another blessing that has come in the past year is that God has given me a specific vision for a ministry to help other women who have experienced what I have gone through. He has just begun to open the doors for this. I do not know what this will look like exactly, and how it will manifest, but I will follow where God leads. And I know this will be a way for me to comfort others the way Christ comforted me (2 Corinthians 1:4).
8) So many people have prayed for us this past year, and given us cards and written us letters and sent us gifts to remember Gideon. Each one of those I hold so dear to my heart. It blesses my heart every time one of my friends says to me "I miss him too" or "I love him too" or "He is so beautiful." Each time someone remembers our son, it touches my heart.
9) A great blessing over the last 12 months is that my relationship with Todd is so much richer and deeper. He and I are even closer than we were before. Todd has always been my best friend but our bond is stronger. Our commitment to each other, to be together with each other through the good times and the bad has been tested this year. But, we have stood together, have endured and have thrived! Thank you Lord for my husband. And today is mine and Todd's 9th anniversary! I cant believe we have been married 9 years! Because of our love, we have amazing and beautiful children. I am a better woman because of you, Todd.
10) My relationship with my family is closer than ever. We are more open and talk about our feelings more. We have an even stronger bond than before. My family is truly wonderful. They really love Gideon and miss him with all their hearts. They have a void in their lives where he should be. They let me talk about him every single day and they talk about him too. They always include him and count him. And each one of them has been changed because of Gideon. I know that no matter what, my family will be there for us and will love us. And they always make me laugh and even if I am having a hard day, they can make me smile.
In the past year, God has surprised me with many things. And this one is the most recent and I wanted to share what an amazing blessing occurred. There is a non-profit called Molly Bears. They are a organization started to help mommies and daddies who have lost babies. They hand make bears, designed special for each child, that are weighted the same as the child who died. So if your baby weighed 6lbs, that is how much the bear would weigh. A mommy and daddy, when they get their bear, will be able to feel the weight of their child in their arms again. Wow. People volunteer and make each one of these bears with love. They do this based all on donations, there is a waiting list of thousands of parents and the wait time is about a year. So if you signed up today, you would have to wait a year for a bear. I never signed up for a Molly Bear before because I didn't want to take away someone else's chance to get a bear. Well, just a couple weeks ago I got an email from a beautiful woman who has read this blog and she is a mommy who lost her child. She also makes bears for Molly Bears. She told me that she felt like God wanted her to make a bear for Gideon! She wanted me to be able to have it for his birthday. I couldn't believe it! I wept with joy in my heart. I was so touched and felt so blessed by God! I was shocked, thankful and I was speechless. Which, if you know me, you know that doesn't happen very often.I couldn't believe that would have a bear the same weight as our sweet Gideon. He was 2lbs 11oz when he was born. I have not felt that weight in my arms since he was here.
The bear arrived on May 12th, which is 3 days before the anniversary of finding out Gideon didn't have a heartbeat and 5 days before his birthday. I opened the box and saw one of the cutest bears I have ever seen in my life!! I loved it! It has a beach theme and includes the color orange. Both of those remind us of our Gideon. I lifted the bear from the box and tears fell down my face. I carefully put the bear in my arms, my breath caught in my throat. I closed my eyes and let the weight of the bear rest in my arms. I imagined Gideon there, in my arms again. It was so much like how he felt. I had almost forgotten his weight. But when I held that beautiful bear, I could remember so clearly how Gideon's weight felt as I held him. It felt right. It felt like it does when you come home from a vacation. You remember your house and you remember the smells and the way it looks. But when you walk through the door, you see your house and all your things and you just feel right. You are home. That is how it felt to hold this bear. Like I was coming home. Todd held him and didn't speak. I could see the emotion behind his eyes.
I have cuddled this bear many times in the last few days and it has been so helpful to me. I miss Gideon SO much more these days, since its his birthday. And holding a bear that weighs the same as him has helped this mommy so much. It has given me something tangible to hold onto, since I cannot hold onto my precious son. I held the bear and held our Silas at the same time yesterday and my heart was flooded with emotions. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I held a 9 and a half pound baby and this 2lb 11oz bear. My arms were full. It was amazing. It was as if I had both my sons, like they were both with me in those moments. I know that will not happen, not really, until I get to Eternity. But this bear is giving me a little glimpse of what our reunion will be like, when I get to fold my arms around my children again. I can just imagine it now, us running to each other, smiling and laughing with joy. Me and Todd with our 3 children in a big huddle, all hugging and singing praises to the Lord. What a day that will be!
Here is Silas dressed in his Little Brother outfit with Gideon's bear. Big brother and little brother are hanging out together! I love it!
Over the last 52 weeks, one of the biggest blessings in my life since Gideon went to Heaven is the support group I go to, MEND. Every 2 months MEND sends out a newsletter. And each newsletter has a theme to it, the May/June newsletter deals with Mother's Day and Father's Day. And every newsletter, if your child's birthday is in those 2 months, you can write a birthday tribute to your child or children. So for the May/June Newsletter, I wrote one for Gideon. I think this, in a small way, wraps up how my heart feels.
525,600 minutes without you, our precious Gideon. But that means we are 525,600 minutes closer to when we can be with you again and we can finally be with Jesus!
"So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy."- John 16:22