Sunday, September 16, 2012

Illuminate Week 1

This is my first assignment for my Illuminate photography class. If you want to read a little bit about the class, you can read about it here.  Each week we have a writing assignment and a photography assignment. This weeks pictures were self portraits. These pictures represent where I am in my grief journey as I live without our Gideon. This week we are to write letters to our babies in Heaven, I have written to both our Gideon and Avery. I decided that I am going to write with no editing, I am just going to write it as it flows from my heart, it might be a little random....So, here goes....

To my little Avery,
I am so sorry that I don't write to you more. I miss you. I always do. You came and left us so quickly. When I see your cousins, Ezekiel and Olivia playing, I picture you with them. You would be 3 and a half if you had been born full term. You would be just a little older than both of them. I wonder if you would be the leader of the pack, or would you let Olivia lead and Zeke tackle you to the ground? Or would you do the tackling? I don't wonder as much as I used to though. I know you are with Jesus and that is the best thing a mommy could ask for. Your daddy and I wanted you so much. But as quickly as you came to us, you were gone. We lost you through miscarriage and that broke our hearts. We spent lots of time at the doctors office getting procedures, and mommy had to get shots for 2 weeks out of every month to make my body ovulate (I even let your daddy give me the shots every day! He was actually really good at it!). I had to take very powerful medication to ovulate and we had to do a procedure to have the best chances of conceiving. The month we got pregnant with you, as your daddy stood by me and I was getting a procedure done, I felt peace. In the next couple weeks, I normally was a nervous wreck, God gave me an enormous amount of peace. Two weeks later, we got a call that we were pregnant. That weekend we told our family we were pregnant with you and Daddy and I went on a weekend vacation to Dallas. We went to the Zoo and had delicious food and toured the city. I remember feeling very tired and being dizzy. Those were my only 2 pregnancy symptoms with you. I told my very good friends about you the next week. But too few days later, as we were continuing to get blood work to make sure you were ok, they called and told me that my numbers were dropping. You hadn't made it. You had been fine, you were growing...but you stopped. You quickly came and quickly went away. Even though we never got a chance to really know you, we love you. I never got to see you, or hold you in my arms, but you were very wanted and greatly loved. You are our oldest child. Your daddy and I believe you are a girl. We gave you the name Avery. It was a name I always really liked, and I thought it would work for a boy or a girl. I like that it ends in a "y" and had 2 syllables like my name. In my mind, your middle name has always been Lynn. That is my middle name and it is also your great-grandpa's middle name. I am sure you know him in Heaven though. I am sure he was there to welcome you when you got home. I know he would have been excited to see you, he always loved his grandchildren. About a year after you went to heaven, your daddy and I sat down and made a memory box for you. We put in it the onesies I made for your daddy to tell him I was pregnant with you, a copy of the letter I made for your Nana & Granddaddy to tell them I was pregnant with you. I also have in it a pregnancy test that I took! And I picture of me while I was pregnant with you. We only have a few items from your short life, but I cherish them. I keep your memory box in your baby brother's room.  About a year after you left us, I had a strong image of you. You were about 2 years old, with blonde curly hair, wearing a tutu running towards me. We were right in the bank of a river and you ran from the edge of the water and you ran straight into my arms. I cant wait until I am in Heaven with you and get to wrap my arms around you for the first time. I love you, Avery. Your daddy and I miss you. Tell your brother we love him and give your cousins hugs from us & tell Grandma and Grandpa I miss them.

With all my heart,

 To my sweet Gideon,
Tomorrow it will be 16 months since I held you in my arms. At times, it feels like yesterday. Where has the time gone? Some days I feel like I am in another dimension where time flows differently than it does here. Some moments fly by very quickly, and other moments drag by very slowly. Those first 6 months after you went to Heaven were tortuously slow. I woke up most days in tears and would cry myself to sleep. I still do some nights. I think of the moments when I held you in my arms and tears fall from my eyes because I miss you so. I used to dream of you often, there were many nights when I would dream of you and I could see you smiling, or you were in my arms, or I could hear your voice. I love those dreams. I can recall so many details of those dreams...Though, its been a long time since I dreamed of you and your face; many months. I talk about you in my dreams, but, I do not dream of you as alive.. Maybe because the reality that you are not here has finally totally sunk in. I want to dream of you again, maybe sometime soon, God will give me a dream of you. I hope so. Though nothing will ever be good enough, no dream. The only thing that will be good enough is when I get to be with you in Heaven, with Jesus.
My heart shattered into a billion pieces when you left us, and God is the only one who can mend my heart. He holds my heart together, without Him I do not know where I would be.
 I think of you every day and I wish you were still here. I wish you were with me every single minute of the day. I wish that you were here to see your little brother and to pick on him. However, I am also so glad you are with Jesus and I know you are safe in His arms. I miss your kicks inside of me and the way it felt to be pregnant with you. Every single day my heart desires to be with you. I speak your name every day, your daddy and I talk about you, your aunts and uncle and Nana & Granddaddy speak of you frequently. I tell your little brother about you.
I can smile when I talk about you, and laugh when I tell the stories of my pregnancy with you, like when I cried at the song "Centerfield" or how much I craved Icees!!! You loved Icees, when I would drink them, you would kick, kick, kick!! I bet when you were older, you would have wanted to drink them all the time!! You and I would have shared Icees all the time! :)
 I miss your beautiful curly hair. I miss the color of it. When I see little boys with your hair color, it always stops me in my tracks. Part of me wants to run up to them and hug them. I saw a little boy a couple of weeks ago with curly hair that matched your hair color. He was just a little older than you would have been. I tried not to stare at him. But I couldnt help it. Part of me wanted to take a picture of just his hair because it looks so much like what I think yours would have. Its been a while since I looked at the clippings we have of your hair. I love looking at them, but it pains me so much because I wish you were still here. Your hair clippings are the only piece of your physical body I have left on this earth, it contains your DNA. And it is so very special to me.
After your sister went to Heaven, Daddy and I tried one more round of fertility treatment. When it didnt work, we decided to give it a break. We felt like God wanted us to stop, and it was very expensive. We felt in our hearts that the Lord would give us a miracle. And we prayed. For 2 and a half years we prayed. We had a healing prayer service and were prayed over for about a year before we got pregnant with you. One week before you were conceived, the Lord spoke to me and said "The child I give you, will bring many to me." And I was so shocked. Because I never really expected to get pregnant. At that time, I had begun to prepare myself for a life without children. And one week later, on Oct 8th, you were conceived. (Which is on my grandmas birthday. It was her prayer and hope that your daddy and I would have children before she died. She was able to see me pregnant with you before she went to be with Jesus, just 3 weeks before you met Him.). We found out we were expecting you on Oct 23, 2010. That was the day your Aunt Kat and Uncle Jason got married. That day was truly one of the happiest days of my life. I still have the pregnancy test I took with you.  You gave us hope. You were our miracle from God. Your life defies all odds. In Feb, right after Valentines day, we found out you were a boy and we were ecstatic! We named you Gideon. Gideon Zeller Mitchell. Gideon after the Old Testament warrior and Zeller after my maiden last name. We cherished every day we got with you. We loved on you and told you how much you were loved each day. I honestly believe that you knew how much you were loved and wanted. You would always kick when your Daddy had his hand on my stomach. He loves you so much.
We made many memories with you. In those 33 weeks, we experienced so many things together as a family. We celebrated every day we had with you. I had never been happier than I was when you were with us. I never smiled more or laughed more. Your daddy dreamed of the days when he would teach you about football and golf. And I dreamed of taking you to the zoo and getting to homeschool you. I dreamed of the days when we could take you to museums and to the park and play on the jungle gym and the swings. We would have had such fun together!!

But on May 15, 2011, you went to be with Jesus. And 2 days later, on May 17 (Mine and your daddy's 8th wedding anniversary), you were born and we held you and loved on you. We kissed your face and looked over every inch of you. Gosh, you were beautiful. It amazed me and still amazes me that God created you perfectly. That God, your daddy and I created you.  You were so gorgeous. I can recall exactly how you felt in my arms and how it felt on my lips to kiss your face.
When you went to heaven when I was 33 weeks pregnant, it left a hole in the family. There are only 13 granchildren walking around, when there should be 14. Your Aunt Kelsey, had your cousin Malachi just a few months before you were born and your Aunt Summer was due to have your cousin, Andrew just a couple months after your due date.  I imagined my whole pregnancy that you and your 2 cousins would be like the 3 musketeers. That you would be 3 peas in a pod. But there are only 2 peas in that pod left. I see your two cousins running around laughing, playing and learning and I wonder what you would be like. I honestly believe you would have been very laid back. That you would have let everything roll off your back and would have been a peacemaker. You would have had a silly sense of humor and you would have been patient. When I see your baby brother, I see you in his features. And I love that Silas looks like you. I love that you two are different but that you really look like brothers. As I watch your brother grow, I can see firsthand how much I missed out on not getting to see you grow up.
But, my sweet boy, I can just see you in Heaven right now. Laughing and dancing in the presence of God. That is good. I often think about the image God gave me of you in Heaven, as a grown man, laughing and so joyful. I think about the days when there will be no more tears and pain and we will be with Him forever. I think about you with him, you never feel any pain, you never hurt or cry, you never get rejected, you always feel complete love, joy and peace.
You make me want to be closer to God, to be a better mom, wife, daughter, aunt and friend.  You inspire me. Your life makes me realize that we have such a short time on this earth, that we must make an impact here for God in the time we are given. You did that in your life, you showed people that miracles can happen and in your earthly death, you brought people closer to God. And that is what I want to do. I want to be able to show people the love of Christ and I realize that I have a short time on this earth to do that. Through your life and earthly death, God has taught me compassion, grace and patience. In situations where I used to get frustrated, I can now laugh in those situations. You give my life beauty in ways that I never saw before.
You have given me a heart for those who are hurting. When I see someone hurting, I want to reach out to them and give them comfort the way that God gives me comfort as I miss you. You have inspired me to reach out to help those grieving. You give me so much.

I thank God every day for your life and I thank Him that He has a plan to give me a hope and a future.
I love you, Gideon, my first born son, my heart. Through all the pain and agony over the last 16 months, the strongest feeling I have is love. Love for you, love for Jesus, love for your daddy and your brother. Love. Love. Love. I love you. My love for you grows stronger every day.

I miss you. I hold you in my heart every day, my little love.

Until we meet again,


Hope said...

So sweet! You did a great job expressing your emotions in your pics!

Stormy said...

Thank you so much, Hope! I truly value your opinion, your photography is so beautiful. <3

Jamie Griswold said...

Stormy, your story about your three beautiful children provide me with insight to who I wanna be as a mother. Too often enough we as humans take things for granted and let insignificant things effect us. Patience is a virtue that I seem to lack more often than not, but you have opened my eyes to look at the bigger picture of a situation and not the simple instance that is testing my patience. If I can do that with the trials I have with my six yr old daughter it will enrich the relationship we have with each other immensely.

Your pictures expel your emotions vividly!!

My favorite is the one where your sitting with your icee looking at the one where the seat is empty. It touched me very deeply.

Thank you so much for sharing!

The Lord is amazing and takes care of all of his children...

Kristy said...


Reese's mama said...

Stormy - you wrote two very beautiful letters that touched my heart. Your faith in God and love for Him and your family shine through in your words. I understand how it feels to watch babies who are close in age to our angels grow up. You sound so gracious when you discuss the two peas in the pod. I loved the Icee story and picture - such a fun and painful memory at the same time. The beach picture is so beautiful, and I love that you included Silas. And the swing picture with Gideon's shoes on your lap is so full of joy. It sounds like you have grown so much in your healing, and you have clearly found the light in a dark situation. I'm inspired by you!
God bless you, Caroline

Nat said...

So so beautiful Stormy. I love reading your letters to your your children, your emotions, your faith. Love to you xx

Chirleen Evans said...

Wow, Story you are an incredible woman! Your letters are so raw, so emotional and so beautiful. Thank you for being so real. Your photos made me smile. I love that you are able to look back on your losses and find comfort in knowing that Avery and Gideon are safe with Jesus.

Chirleen Evans said...

I'm so sorry for the misspelling of your name above, Stormy!

Anonymous said...

Stormy, what beautiful words to your children. Your love and faith shine through. The pics you posted also helped me to visualize your pain, but also the hope and happiness in the future. Thanks for sharing so openly!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is Jeannette. I tried logging in several times to post a message, but after losing it 4 times I didn't try again! I am so bad at computers!

Jim and April said...

Your pictures do a BEAUTIFUL job of portraying how your feeling and what you would have loved to do with them if they were here! I remember last summer writing Annabelle's name on the beach with my son too! Actually, it seems like everywhere I am if I have a chance, I love to write her name out whether its in the sand or on sidewalk with chalk etc... <3 Thanks for sharing this with us! <3

Annette said...

Your letters express such raw emotion and such unbreakable love for all three of your precious babies! I love what you have captured in your photos the whole array of enotions! Beautiful post!

Beryl said...

What beautiful letters to both your babies. I can feel your love shining through in both of these. My favorite image by far is the last one of Gideon's name in the sand. But that first one keeps speaking to me too. Did you notice the sun flare at the top of your head shining in? Looks like you have an angel with you in that image watching over you. xo.