Monday, July 13, 2009

Brand New Day

Brad put this song by Joshua Radin on the last cd he made for me and the kids. I listen to it over and over and smile because I feel like it's a song for me and our family. A Brand New Day...

Some kind of magic
Happens late at night
When the moon smiles down on me
And bathes me in it’s light

I fell asleep beneath you
In the tall blades of grass
When I woke the world was new
I never had to ask

It’s a brand new day
The sun is shinning
It’s a brand new day
For the first time
In such a long long time
I know
I’ll be ok

Most kind of stories
Save the best part for last
Most stories have a hero who finds
You make your past your past
Ya you make your past your past

It’s a brand new day
The sun is shinning
It’s a brand new day
For the first time
In such a long long time
I know
I’ll be ok

This cycle never ends
Gotta fall in order to mend

And it’s a brand new day
It’s a brand new day
For the first time
In such a long long time
I know
I’ll be ok

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The fourth trimester

Jasper turned 12 weeks old yesterday. We have officially finished our fourth trimester. Brad and I first heard this term after having Zane, our first son, and we have hung on to it because it makes so much sense of the chaos and sleeplessness and lack of life pattern that follows the weeks after a baby is born. It has helped us to not try and think of those weeks as if they should be normal but rather like we are still in the "pregnant" phase, giving ourselves grace to just fall apart instead of trying to get it together.

And, true to 12 week old form, Jasper is finally starting to sleep longer stretches through the night. Last night he only woke me up once! I guess it goes to show that babies do what babies need to do. I worried so much with my first that if I held her to much she wouldn't sleep. But, this round, there has never been a baby that was held more in his first three months of life and here he is sleeping in his crib at night just like the first. As wonderful as it is to have him, there truly is relief in finally sleeping a bit more! I am feeling once again more like myself and not quite as hormonal. And having Jasper truly is like a balm to my wounded heart.

Ah, my heart, it does still ache and I am coming to accept that it may never go away. I mostly live each day pushing my mind away from very focused thoughts of last year. But then it will hit me and knock me down again. As I sorted through my clothes, shedding the maternity and larger items, I fumbled across the white sweater I wore to Sully's service and it all flooded back to me. The tears blurred my vision and made me stop my project. A million times I will walk by Sully's little hand and foot prints on our wall. Then, for some reason, I stop one time and just stare and them and think that his flesh once made those impressions. I feel my breath catch and I'm paralyzed again by the tears. On vacation, I heard Oh Heavenly Day come up on our ipod, and I just sobbed as I held Jasper even tighter to me. What I realize is that I hope these moments always catch me through out the rest of my life. Even if it hurts, it still is a connection to my son, a reminder of the love that changed me immeasurably.

Lake Jocassee, Devil's Fork State Park, South Carolina

Friday, May 15, 2009

What's in a name?

Jasper Keats. I waffled on his name after he was born wondering if he should have been given his brother's name in honor of him. After much consideration, Brad and I decided that this little guy should have his own name and that we could always honor and remember Sully in other ways. As the days carry on I see more clearly how Japser's name and it's meaning is the right one for him.

Jasper means guardian or treasurer. Keats can mean poetic or also it can mean melancholy. I questioned using a name that could mean sadness but it's the two names together that take on significance for me. This little wonder in my arms I have named the guardian of the sadness, the treasurer or keeper of the poetry. As I talk to him and hold him against my chest I feel how much he is keeping the sadness at bay, how much his arrival has begun to heal my wounded heart. The gift of Jasper to our family is like a salve for us all. I often wonder where I would have ended up had this little guy not also been a part of our story. The bitterness and angst is still inside but would it have festered uncontrollably had my arms always been left empty? I don't know. Having Jasper without a doubt has helped me to once again see the beauty of life, it's poetry. And, strangely enough, even though so much pain came along with Sully, he also brought such a depth of feeling and "poetry" if you will. Sully's story will always be a part of Jasper's and so, he is rightly named the "keeper of the poetic". He is such a dear little baby, so hearty, so happy. He gives us so much joy, my Jasper Keats.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Sunday

We made it to church this week. It took a great amount of effort but we both knew we wanted to make it there for Easter. I knew I probably wouldn't be able to pay attention to the majority of the service with tending to a newborn or walking out with him when I needed, but, still, there was something to just sitting in that back pew. It, of course, brought back so many memories of the Sunday we took Sully to church. Now, a year and a few months later we were back in that same spot, sitting with the same dear friends, with an infant in a car seat. Yet how much has changed. As the service ended and the congregation sang Amazing Grace I felt the tears well up in my eyes and stream down my cheeks. There is such joy in holding Jasper and yet still such a rawness inside of me, a wounded faith as I described it to a friend the other day. I recognize that I still have so many questions and yet, in those moments of singing that old hymn, I knew that despite my faith being shaken to its bare bones, it is, in deed, still in tact. I do still believe that one day I will know my Sully again. This Sunday is such a celebratory one because I do believe in the resurrection and all that it means for me and for my son and for my family.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I think about him everyday

Sully is never far from my mind. In fact, I can't think of a single day since his presence entered our lives that I haven't thought about him. I wonder if as time goes on there will ever be a day where my mind doesn't go to him. I hope not.

I wondered if Jasper would look like Sully. I don't really see Sully in him. I might catch glimpses of Zane in a profile or see Ella in his nose and eyes but Jasper really looks like his own unique self to me. But, all of us have called him Sully at least once. It makes me wonder if perhaps we should have given Jasper his brother's name for a middle name.

Today is day 8. My Jasper has been with us for over a week now! On day 6 I don't think I could put him down at all. Day Six. The day Sully left us. It made it all the sweeter to hold Jasper and see him begin to open his eyes to the world and become more awake and aware. But it also made Day Six a year and a month ago that much more terrible. How did I live through that? How did I ever hold my child as he died? I can hardly believe that was me or my son.

And then day 7 came with our Jasper. And everywhere I turned I could see our house on the day after Sully died. I remembered the way Ella's tree looked outside and how cold the weather had turned. I remembered the closest of friends coming into our house, warming an incredible meal that I put into my mouth but couldn't even really taste. I remember a sense of relief but also a great numbness. I sat at this computer and chose pictures of my beautiful Sully for what would be his funeral. How different this day 7. Instead of the sounds of silence and an empty crib I heard a hearty cry and held close to me the warmth of my fourth child. All of these things came crashing down on me last night. I stepped into a hot shower and just sobbed for all that has been and all that is now. I cried out of sadness and joy, bitterness and hope all at the same time.

And then I slept a sweet sleep, a much needed sleep. Brad tended to our Jasper all night and would bring him to me when he was hungry. And here I am, this morning, on day 8. What a gift each day seems to me.

Monday, March 30, 2009

just some photos

The cousins

Family all around to hold our newest bundle

Our babysitter and family friend Jordan who just loves newborns

Jasper's buddy, Graham, and Aunt Mandy and Uncle Kyle

Grandpa helped Brad put up the crib. It felt wonderful to be ready for the crib to go up. I just love looking in the room and seeing it (even though Jasper probably won't sleep there for a while still).

Grandma and Grandpa

Big brother Zane

Big sister Ella

Letting go...

I have been trying to explain this "shifting" to friends as they ask how I am. I have been sorting through and trying to figure out exactly what it is. I know I am a jumble of emotions and many of the things we are experiencing now and over the past year will take a lifetime to sort out. But, I think part of this "shifting" has been described so very clearly by a recitation instructor of mine from a course I took at the beginning of this pregnancy. She describes it this way:

"There is this tension that is inside that you have from the moment you know you are pregnant until the next baby is actually born. Until the baby is born you can’t relax or let go completely even though you are trusting God all the way. You know deep inside that bad things do happen and that there is real pain in this broken world. I get it and I think what happened is the letting go of that tension- it isn’t necessarily worry or fear but a somewhat tense “can I hope?” anticipatory waiting to see the outcome. Now you can relax and enjoy the fruit of your labors!"

She goes on to speak of the pain experienced that causes the blessings to be enjoyed even more. And this is so true. I have never felt so grateful and blessed to hold a healthy baby as I do now. I have never found such joy and contentment in being up in the night just holding my baby. I am so thankful and my heart feels such a sense of fullness and gratitude. This past year has held so many struggles that it felt like the only truth hitting home was the reality of the pain and suffering of this life. But, as my former instructor and holding my strong and healthy Jasper reminds me, "not all of life on earth is hard and sad. God does grace us with glimpses of the world being recreated in His image - heaven." These are days of great joy and relief for me, days of enjoying a sweetness on this earth, of basking in the sunshine of restoration, of relishing a taste of what heaven must be like.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A shifting world

Brad and I were up and down all night for our first night home with Jasper. He is most content in our arms, and I have no problem at all giving in to his demands. He did manage to find himself in the bassinet a few times and it didn't take him long to fuss about it. His lusty cry sounded like music in my ears. I may find myself tired for many weeks to come but I don't think I could ever complain about it. My heart is just so thankful.

The moment Jasper was born and I held him on my chest, the world shifted. It was so subtle and yet so monumental all at the same time. The images in my head are of a knocked over plant being set upright again, a spilled glass set back in place so it can be filled up once again, or a crooked painting carefully shifted back just so. Nothing is perfect. The story we have been given is still the same. I still lost my Sully. There is no replacement for a lost child. But, somehow, in ways I don't even think I know how to explain just yet, everything does feel so very different.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A long awaited baby

He's here, he's finally here! Jasper Keats Anderson was born on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 10:47 p.m. He weighed 9lbs and 1/2oz and was 21 1/2 inches long! He is healthy and strong and feels so good in our arms! Here are some pictures and a video that Brad made is at the very bottom.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Squeaky Shoes

A very dear group of women gathered together this past week to celebrate the impending arrival of this little one I’m carrying now. It was such a lovely evening down to the very last detail: a beautiful home filled with fresh flowers, a delicious and savory dinner, choices of wine, decadent desserts and best of all, the dearest of friends each of whom over this past year have loved me in their own special way through one of the hardest seasons of my life.

And they brought gifts, oh so many sweet little gifts for this baby boy! Out of one pastel blue bag I pulled a pair of shoes that will squeak when walked on. My friend shouted out that they would fit him next summer. Next summer. We will have a next summer with this baby. All the way home her words played through my head. Do I dare believe we will really have a next summer? And the oh so fun bright green Christmas overalls, will he really be with us this next Christmas to wear them? Hope is pressing forward, pushing me onward and I want to embrace it, and yet it feels so very dangerous still. But I can’t help but fall into it, to want to embrace it. How compelling hope is.

I have been regularly meeting with a couple of my friends for a few years and lately we have been reading the Francis Schaeffer book, Affliction, together. We discussed this past week the topic she brings up of our asking the “why” questions. My friend gave the example of her 11 year old daughter asking her father (a highly intelligent surgeon) a question and then doubting his answer as if she really knew more than him. It is so easy to see how she doesn’t even have the fundamental knowledge to be able to grasp the true answer which her father could try to explain to her. How very like her I am to demand an answer and think that I am capable enough to judge whether it is the right answer or not.
I forget or don’t want to accept that I am the created being, not the Creator. Then I think on how very patient this father is with his daughter, how caring, and how bright and delightful this little girl truly is, and it makes me wonder if despite my questioning and doubting that perhaps I could be loved in that way by a “father”, too.

I see that I will never understand the why of what has happened in our lives. I see that as this little boy comes to us I will always think of Sully as well. They are so connected. I don’t know why this little boy has the hope of staying with us for a lifetime and our last didn’t. It’s very strange to think that if all had been normal last time this little life wouldn’t even be here growing in my belly. And yet, this is our story. As Brad keeps reminding me lately, we each have to live our own story. Everyone has suffering and heartache. No one can escape it in this life. But then there is the hope that pushes above it all in the gift of squeaky shoes, there are the friends who gather around you to cushion your fall and to pick you back up and help you celebrate life despite the loss and the tears. This, too, is part of my story.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A New Season

The first half of this month was hard emotionally. I was prepared for some of it and other times, as always, it would just surprise me. I think that's when it was the hardest. This past week has felt different. On Friday I woke up and went through our normal morning routine but somehow, I felt something different. I felt hopeful. I felt like a new season was beginning for us. I felt joyful and excited about our next child coming to us and really thought for one of the first times that all would be well. Not perfect but that, like I just wrote, a new season was upon us, a season of joy and new hope.

A friend sent us this scripture recently as her prayer for herself and for us. I think about it all the time: "And now, God, do it again - bring rains to our drought-stricken lives. So those who planted crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest. So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing..." Psalm 126:4-6.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The weeping mother

I cried more today than I expected. Everything just hit me in that way, and maybe because it is the one year anniversary of his birth I allowed myself the liberty to feel it all and weep, no keeping it together or carrying on with normal life, just stop and cry. I kept thinking of an image another mother who lost her son gave to me, the image of how we build a room onto our emotional house and in that room is the weeping mother. Over time, we go in that room less often but she will always be a part of who we are. Today it felt like I opened the door for her and she walked all through my house.

Tonight, I found myself sorting laundry in a desperate attempt to ground myself in something very mundane and ordinary, something necessary and functional, something non-emotional. I am very tired and emotionally drained. I thought I would want to relive each day of Sully's six days but I told Brad tonight that I don't know if I have it in me to take myself there each day. We relived so much today, so many memories. It has been good but very hard. We are grateful to the dear friends in our lives who have shown us particular tenderness today with cards and calls and beautiful tulips. You have been Love surrounding us once again...

Surround Me

Brad put on the music that he made Sully's memorial movie to last year. This was the second song and it fit so well then and seemed to even more now. As I heard the gentle guitar and then these words I just lost it. Everything came rushing back so vividly, with the same force of the ache that I felt then, that I feel now...

Surround Me
Ben Taylor

Love surround me with all your reach, now while we're here alone
Now our bodies our ocean our beach, blessings of waves and stone
Floating a lonely sound you found me
Now that the tide is finally down

Surround me, surround me
Surround me

Love, move for me, roll beneath the sky
Shadows and silver cross your face, pools of moonlit night
Weak from standing on sandy ground, you found me
Now that I'm finally fallen down

Surround me, surround me
Surround me

Love surround me while you can till these waves get cold
Gone too deep I can not stand, I burned before I froze
Running to save my life and leaving you
And now in the heat of this dreadful dry
I'm needing you

Surround me, surround me
Surround me

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The gift of Sully

One year. I feel like I'm in a time warp. It seems like a life time ago that Sully was with us. Other times I can hardly believe that it has been an entire year that he came and went. I told a friend the other day how disappointed I am in myself sometimes. So much fell away while I carried Sully and in the days surrounding his life, all of the meaningless struggles, the stupid cares that sometimes could cloud my vision. I thought that I would forever be changed after Sully, that I would never again struggle with some of the things I had before he came to me. But, a year later, I am still just walking through daily existence with the same tendencies and proclivities towards sin that I once had. I still lose my temper at times with my children, I still struggle in certain relationships, I still feel overwhelmed by dishes and laundry. A year later, I still am just like everyone else. But Brad reminds me that while we haven't been made perfect, we have been forever changed.
We will celebrate Sully's life tomorrow. In the morning on our way to school, we will take six heart balloons to his playground and tie them on his swing. Ella and Zane want to take their Sully picture books to school to share with their friends. After dropping them off, Brad and I will go together to find our Sully tulips, this the final journey finishing a year of my monthly quest. Then, we will head to the beach where we last said good bye to our boy. I think I am looking forward to the solitude of the beach at this time of year, to the magnificence of the ocean reminding me that Sully is a part of something so much larger than I can comprehend. We've promised the kids a celebratory lunch and so we will pick them both up at noon and head somewhere fun (they have voted for either McDonald's or Moe's - kid's are so easy to please - me 8 months pregnant not so much). Zane and I picked out a rainbow cupcake mix and Diego cupcake liners the other day for us to make on Sully's birthday afternoon. After dinner, we'll take out his candle holders and light them in honor of his life and dive into the sweet treats. At some point during the day, we hope to look through our special book of Sully's photos and remember our favorite moments with him.
I think it will be a good day mixed with tearful moments, but even those will be good to have. These seem like small activities that we have chosen for the day but the quietness and simplicity of it all feels right for our family. What I want most is to celebrate the gift he was to us and the ways that he did change us for the better.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's coming

I sense it with everything in me. It is now less than a month for the year marker. As I drove to get my 11 month Sully tulips I thought about how next time it would be an entire year since he was born and died. I talked with a friend whose little one shares the same birthday as my Sully. I wanted to know the details of what she was doing, how she was growing all though I can imagine everything. We couldn't talk long because her little one began screaming in the background and needed her - a pretty good indicator of the 11 month stage. So, I went on their blog and checked out the daily details that way. It's so strange. All I want to do is see every detail, to see that sweet face and imagine my Sully but at the same time it just hurts so much to do that. What an odd push and pull I feel within me.

I imagine what I would have been doing at this point in preparation for our third turning one had everything been different, had he been well. In just three weeks we would have had a birthday cake and presents. Ella and Zane would have been so excited. I wonder how to mark the year instead. I know I want to light his candles for each of his days, the sterling circus shaped holders I bought for him when I first learned of my pregnancy should parade candles somewhere, somehow. Should I give a gift to each of my children since presents should always be at a birthday celebration? What about the day he died? What do you do on that day?

I feel my anxiety about this pregnancy growing immensely. I know it has a reason and it's place but I also wonder if it is connected to the fact that this year anniversary is slowly coming upon us, a year since I gave birth to a child destined to die. I find myself worried about things in this pregnancy fearing that somehow I will end up with empty arms again. I don't want empty arms again...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A New Year

I am ready for it. I want it, all things new. I want the hope and possibility of days being brighter and full of happier times. I feel myself embracing it as I eagerly return all of the Christmas decorations to the attic, as I clean out old toys and boxes full of things not used in years, as we empty out Zane's room and wash it from top to bottom in preparation for the kid's bunk beds. There is something very cathartic about it all to me. Underneath the bustle of all this cleaning and sorting activity is what can only be hope that 2009 will be very different from this past year.

There is also the nagging thought that something else can happen. I don't know if that will ever go away. As we create a new room for Ella and Zane to share in preparation for a new baby, I see that we still hold back. Ella's old room is now the "play room" because even though we are hopeful, that hope does not move us to the certainty of setting up the crib yet. In time that will come, I hope...

Ella has asked me three times now if this baby will die like Sully. Then, on New Year's day, she happily sat on her top bunk and said that she just loved the new room and she wanted it to stay the same even after this baby died. My heart sank. I've tried to explain before as best I can how Sully was made differently so that he just couldn't stay here very long but that this baby is made more like her and Zane and that we hope he will be with us for a very long time. But her uncertainty is my own uncertainty. I can't say to her without a doubt that everything will be fine from here on out. Yes, this baby is genetically well but more than ever I know the fragility of life. We heard of a family who lost their 20 year old son in a car wreck New Year's Eve, and I thought, we could lose them at any point, 6 days or 20 years, we have no guarantees. I try to be as hopeful as possible with her, but I think it will take this baby actually being with us, actually becoming an annoying little brother, for her to know he is here to be a part of her life for a long time. I think it will take the same for me, too.

I read parts of Job today. It has been the book that has been in my mind most often. Growing up, the book of Job didn't quite fit with the "health and wealth" gospel espoused in our church so it was just blown off as an exemption to the rule. But in these past months how glad I am that the book of Job is there - right in the middle of the Bible - there for me to see Job's angst and frustration - for me to see him not understanding why tragedy had come to him - for me to see his friends give him terrible explanations and accuse him of it being his fault. At one place, Job says of God, "how faint the whisper we hear of him!" How that resonates with me. It seems as if my understanding of God is so very dim. Yet, as I struggle with God and wrestle with my faith, I see the beauty of the very end of Job. God does show himself to Job and make him see how understanding God is not even in his reach. And, then, I would expect God to say, you little peon, how dare you question me and accuse me, go back to the tragedy that your life has become and stay there forever, you don't deserve anything good. But he doesn't. I weep as I read that the "Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first". It must have been so different for Job. Surely the blessings were sweet, but it seems that his greatest comfort must have been having seen the Lord and living with those blessings given with such humility. Perhaps that is my hope for 2009 and for whatever days are ahead.