Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Walking in grace...still

I have been a little quiet lately.  Busy with life, but quiet.

The early days of October were pretty difficult and I am sure blogging about them will be done as I can talk about the two events that shook me really hard.

Both events left  me speechless.  One was a gun man at my son's pee wee football game, (no shots were fired and no one was injured, but the event left images and feelings that are etched so deep) and the other was a doctor appointment from HE double hockey sticks!  In case you don't know what that means, it is the polite version of HELL!

Both of these situations gripped my heart and robbed my soul.  Literally.

And as I sit today and ponder all of the things that we have been through over the last eight years, I see so much bad, so much heartache, so much pain...and if I scroll back to the beginning of this blog, to my book or to my journals in the early days of losing Matthew, I can feel the pain with every word penned, I feel the heartache, the tragedy, the wounds with the deepest part of my heart and soul, I see it all  before my eyes. But in the same breath, I can see God's grace ALL over it!

I posted a Facebook status earlier that inspired this post-

I have spent some time writing this morning...Purging your heart into print before your eyes sure takes you to hard places sometimes! But I cannot help but to see God's grace through it all, even in the bad, God's grace is present...sometimes very boldly, but more often, written between the lines. Thank you God for the grace you give to me daily to live and to survive the days, weeks, months and years since losing Matthew. And for giving me the grace to share with others that are also living with loss and suffering. It is called "Amazing Grace" for a reason!

I can get so caught up in the circumstances sometimes and I think that is so normal to do as  humans, but when I look at the supernatural surrounding me, I am in awe!  Complete awe!  There are miracles everywhere!  And restoration fills my cup daily!  Daily!

When Matthew died, I was permanently injured from the trauma to my body from the uterine rupture. Doctors were unsure if I would walk again.  I got warning labels a lot.  This could be "the year" that you are in a wheelchair.  I remember one doctor telling me that five years post injury, I would be in a wheelchair. Well, I am eight plus years post injury and still walking!

This is where I am going to be all sappy for a moment...

When Nathan, our oldest, was 5 years old, his brother died.  He had no idea if his mama was going to die, neither did anyone else.  As I began to walk again, he saw me learn to lean on his daddy and others to walk, then he saw me walk by myself over time.  I remember him asking me if I was going to be okay...(big mama tears) and it was then I knew I would do everything in my power to be okay.  I was going to do therapy and exercise and do my very best to stay on my feet for as long as I could.  And I have.  His words "Mama Persevere.  Don't give up" still inspire me daily.

Stay with me on this for a minute...When Nathan was that 5 year old little boy looking at me with those big brown eyes asking me this question, my heart and my thoughts jumped ahead to the future of his little life- one of those moments was his 8th grade football game, walking him across the field, another, his 12th grade football game, walking him across the field.  I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to walk beside him proudly...

And when the doctor told me that five years post injury I would be in a wheelchair, I jumped ahead to these football moments again...(big mama tears)

And now, one of these football moments is HERE!  It is tomorrow night!  Tomorrow night I WILL WALK my eighth grade son across the football field proudly!  With big mama tears, I am sure!  

This, this is a picture of GOD'S AMAZING GRACE for me!  This is a  moment I never thought I would have with my son, and he didn't know if he would have it with me!

There's so much bad in this world and we have been through much of much! BUT GOD IS SO GOOD!!!  And he has given us some of the most amazing moments in our lives!  

Today, I can so easily freak out when I think about not being able to walk for his senior night across that football field or I can remember that daily for the last eight years, I have been walking in God's grace when doctors never thought I would!

I think I am sticking with the last one!

The hard question of the day for me is, "What shoes shall I wear when I WALK my son across the football field tomorrow night?

*UPDATE- Tonight was AMAZING and so emotional!  

So much I could say, but I will just say I am grateful and blessed to have had this moment with Nathan!

It was so special on so many levels!

Here are a few pics!  Grateful, grateful, grateful!

I always pray with Nate before games- (he calls me after school in the locker room or on the bus headed to the away games) but tonight, we were able to pray with him on the field. This is what we did before he played his last middle school ball game. He said "amen and I love you" and headed to play ball. I was so glad when I saw this photo on my camera roll! (photo above)  So special! All of tonight was so special!

Thank you God for my family and for the ability to walk in your grace every day of my life!    

PS- It got chilly, so I wore my boots!  No sparkly shoes, but I promise, I was sparkling enough without them!  (in my heart, that is!)  <3

Monday, October 7, 2013

Capture Your Grief ~ October 2013 Photo Challenge

October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and I am participating in Carly Marie's "Capture Your Grief Photo Challenge" in honor of my sweet boy Matthew.

I am thoroughly enjoying the challenge.  It has been so very beautiful to see the photos that others are posting and listening to their hearts through them.  Every child, so precious, and their lives never forgotten.  

Every child loved so very much.  

I am sharing my photos here on my blog as well as on my Facebook page.  I hope that as you look at these photos below, you will also know that our son is missed so very much and loved infinitely and beyond but most of all that you will see that he is still very much a part of our lives.  

Day 1- Sunrise ~ I missed the sunrise this morning, but after school our "rainbow" drew one for me! I sat across from him as he drew this and my heart was filled with warmth and I realized I missed this morning's sunrise for a reason...Through the eyes of a child, I saw a little bit of heaven created in front of me.
In loving memory of Matthew Clark Weatherly 

Day 2- Identity ~ Matthew Clark Weatherly 

When we were deciding what to name our second son, we knew we wanted him to have a strong biblical name and a family name. Matthew means a gift from God and Clark is my maiden name. He was and is definitely a gift from God.

Matthew weighed 8 lbs and 14oz when he was born and lived 25 minutes before he went to see Jesus. My uterus ruptured causing his death. He couldn't have been more beautiful or perfect as I held him in my arms. I studied every little groove in his hands, every detail on his face, and soaked up the smell of the baby lotion that my sister put on him just for me and whispered words that only he and God could hear.

When I think of his identity, I think of our faith and our family, just like his name. That's who he always was and always will be...Matthew Clark Weatherly, my son, my beautiful baby boy, our gift from God.

Day 3- Myths ~ Reading books and Lamaze classes prepare you for birth.

By all counts, I was prepared to birth my baby. I read books, I took classes that told me when to breathe and then I read some more. Added the experience of my first pregnancy and successful delivery, going into my second one, I thought "I got this." I knew what to "expect." Except, I didn't "expect" my son to die. Not one book nor class I took would ever have prepared me for that.

When I was writing my book, it didn't take me long to come up with the sub-title, "What I Didn't Expect When I was Expecting" for this very reason.

Day 4- Legacy

"Legacy is defined as something that is received from someone who has died." 

With that definition in mind I began to really think about Matthew's legacy. I got a little overwhelmed when I reflected upon all of the people I have met not because he lived, but because he died. Many of these mothers I have hugged, I have talked with, I have cried with and I have prayed for because their babies have died too.

Matthew's legacy is shared and penned in my book "Facets of Life," on my blog, through Random Acts of Kindness in Memory of Matthew Clark Weatherly and also at Still Standing Magazine. Each of these outlets have created some pretty incredible opportunities for me to reach others and help those that have suffered loss in their lives. Each of these outlets give me moments to mother Matthew...this is how I mother him, how I share him, how I love him and honor him in our lives. I love being his mother!

I am so grateful that through the years I have been able to speak about him, write about him, remember him, and share him with the world.

When I look at Matthew's legacy in reference to the definition above, I see what he left behind...what I have received from him and pass on to others in his name...and that is LOVE.

Matthew's legacy is LOVE.

Day 5- Memory~

Because of the emergent situation with me after delivery, I never saw Matthew. I only saw the bottom of his feet as the medical staff worked on him. I remember I was screaming at everyone wanting to know why he wasn't crying before I was unconscious. Many medical complications later and two full weeks in the hospital, I was released. When I left the hospital without my son, the thought that he had been in the morgue for two weeks without me just about killed me the rest of the way.

I still had not seen a photo of my sweet son. 

Thursday before his funeral service I sat in the bed and I asked my husband to show me his picture. He gently sat beside me and handed me a folder. As I opened it and saw Matthew the tears began and I don't ever remember them stopping. I traced his little face with my finger studying all that I could in the small photos. (this was 19 days after he passed away)

Two days later, at three weeks, we had his funeral service. This would be the first time I ever held my son and the last. I remember walking toward the room he was in telling my family I couldn't hold him, I was we turned the corner and I saw his little white "bed," I couldn't get to him fast enough. I had to hold him...for the next two hours I held him...I loved him...I talked to him...I kissed him...I mothered him.

This memory is sacred and forever etched within my heart, my soul and my being.

Day 6- Rituals~

Our family rituals to include Matthew into our lives have turned into something very natural, so natural, I no longer think of them as rituals, but rather just living our love out loud for Matthew.

One of my favorite rituals is on game day for my boys. I give them a penny for their pocket, not for good luck, but for their brother Matthew. We have a special handshake we do when the penny is transferred from my hand into their hand. They are sure to never run out of the dugout without their penny.

I have never been able to see Matthew pitch a ball or slide into home, but I have seen his brothers do this many times. And every time they do, they do it with a little piece of their brother. I sit in the stands knowing what their pocket holds and I smile a little, sometimes cry a little as I look at the field of dreams before me and know that Matthew's brothers are representing for him. Matthew is always with us, but a penny is a tangible sign that we can hold and pass to each other when we need it.

My boys turn to me for their penny before each game and what is transferred from my hand to theirs is sure worth a lot more than one cent. It gives me so much joy because even in Matthew's absence, we are still very aware of his presence.

I believe these no longer feel like rituals because we do them now without even thinking about is just a part of what we do, how we remember Matthew, how we love and how we live. We live loving our sons, all three of them. 

Day 7- You Now~

This was a topic I recently wrote about over at Still Standing Magazine.  Since this article sums up just who "I am after loss" I thought I would share it here for my day 7. 

Day 8- Color(s)~

The sun rays beaming down through the wild flowers, the moon reflecting on the water, the stars in the sky, the solar lights surrounding the gardens, the twinkling of lights or a flickering candle... these reflections of light all capture my attention and bring to me great awareness of the beauty that is surrounding me. In these moments I breathe in the air and look around, I soak up the moment and the beauty as much as I can, and in those moments, I feel like heaven is a little closer...

And that feels good.

Day 9- Music~

Oh to just choose ONE song? BUT, it has to be "Glory Baby" by Watermark. My family put together a slide show of photographs of Matthew and played it at his service. I remember hearing this song while I was holding my Matthew...and this song brings a little piece of that back to me. Oh how I wish I could hold him today!

"He just has heaven before we do..."

Listen to "Glory Baby" here ~

Day 10- Beliefs~
I believe with my whole heart that Matthew is in heaven with Jesus and that I will see my son again. What a glorious day that will be!

Day 11- Triggers~

The stupid lullaby (see blog post below) and the scent of the soap at the hospital are definitely huge triggers for me. And of course running across Matthew's death certificate takes my breath away. Every single time.  
I share one of my experiences with that here-

Day 12- Article~

First of all there are so, so many I could name from Still Standing Magazine that have just been amazing to read! I am honored to write with a team of such incredible writers over there! Their words inspire me and touch my heart daily! So just go and check them all out! It is so worth your time to! 

When I really started to pin point an article that UNLOCKED something with me I kept going back to an article I wrote a while back "Exhausted Mom meets Grieving Mom." This article gave me some validation for "grieving mama" that I didn't even know I was looking for, but that I certainly needed. Ever since writing this article, I acknowledge "grieving mama" that accompanies me all day and I take much better care of "her." And I needed that and so did "she." 

Day 13- Book~

I was given many books after Matthew passed away and I tried to read a few, but found it too overwhelming to read the pain of others and feel the pain I felt. I put all the books away and hung closely to my Women's Devotional Bible. This is the book that carried me throughout days and still does. This one devotion below helped me immensely. I was "much afraid" in this story. What a gift God's word and promises have been to me all of my life, but especially after losing Matthew and living with loss. I couldn't do it without this book! *this page is pretty tattered because it has had many years fall upon it...

Day 14- Family~

This is one of my favorite family photos because there are five footprints in the sand. In all of our family photographs, there is always an extra spot for Matthew that many may not see. But this one, this one, everyone can see our sweet boy's presence and that makes me smile.

(We took Matthew's foot mold to the beach for this photograph and to see his little footprint in the sand melted my heart...oh how I wish I could chase that little one on the beach!) 

*photograph credit- Madella Jordan,ShUtUPaNDsmilePHotOgRaphy.

Day 15- Wave of Light~

The wave of light has begun...remembering my little Matthew and all of the sweet and precious babies gone too soon. "Dear Little Ones...You are greatly missed and deeply loved~Forever in our hearts"

This candle was given to me at my blessings shower for Matthew, over eight years ago. It had never been lit until tonight by my oldest son. It was a special moment to see him light this candle for so many reasons. He asked to light it and told me he is old enough now to really understand how special this is. (big mama hug!).

I will let this burn one hour and light it again next year on this date and and the years to follow. The time was right finally after all of these years! In memory of all of our to all!

Day 16- Seasons~

The season that is the hardest for me is the entire month of July. Matthew was born on July 2, the day before my 31st birthday. He lived just 25 minutes before he went to be with Jesus. Because of my medical complications, we were not able to bury him until July 23, after I was released from the hospital. July is certainly a pressing month. The "Happy Birthdays" that roll in the day after my son's anniversary of his death are always painful. This was the 8th year without Matthew and was the first year I decided (was ready) to take a different approach to this time in my life. I can honestly say this year was better because I was at a place in my life where I could ask for this birthday wish in honor of my son! ♥ 

Day 17- Time~

It has been 8 years and 3 months since Matthew passed away. Seems like forever ago, but also like just yesterday. I don't ever remember what it feels like to not have this ache in my heart for my son. I miss him, a lot.

Day 23- Jewelry~

This necklace with Matthew's photo engraved on it is one of the many pieces of jewelry I wear in memory of Matthew. This piece is so special to me and this photo shows just how much this mama wears it! (Our rainbow son drew this for me!)

Will drew a picture of me at school for Mother's Day- you may see the crazy brown hair (because he says sometimes you are brown headed Mom) but the first thing I saw was what was around my neck! My necklace with Matthew's photo! Now that made this mama smile! Love how Will always remembers him too! He captured me completely in this portrait! This is my favorite picture of me ever!!! Drawn by my beautiful gift from heaven, Will! Grateful Mama!!! Look how carefully he drew his brother! So special! 

Day 25- Say it Out Loud~

I challenged myself to reflect upon my own life and I admit I was afraid for years to speak...I was afraid of letting the world know that I was hurting. I was afraid that the pain would be too great. I was afraid to say my son died...saying it meant I could no longer deny it...saying it meant the world would look at me differently.

I am sharing this blog post today because it sums so much of it up for me.

I will add daily to this post as I can.  I am looking forward to reflecting upon this project when I am finished. I know the impact will be pretty profound on me, as it already has.  (It may take me about 51 days to finish the 31 day challenge...but I will do it!  

A beautiful thank you to Carly Marie for this gift!  <3

To learn more or participate in this photo challenge, visit here.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The sweetest story...

While looking through photos earlier today, I ran across this series.  They tell a beautiful story in just four short photographs.

The day I took these photos, I was standing in the background watching my boys say goodbye to their brother.  It was then I witnessed the most beautiful and sweetest sight that still leaves me with tears rolling down my cheeks.    

 1. Nathan was bending down talking to Matthew...Will was really trying to be patient.

2. Will tapped Nathan on the shoulder to tell him it was his turn. (I guess his patience was all used up.)

3. Will bent down taking his position to talk to Matthew.

4. Will leaned in closer to Matthew's tombstone and whispered words I couldn't hear, but when he stood up tears were rolling down his face.

And mine too...

Will ran to me and Ronnie hugging us so tightly and then Nathan pressed in as we all just took that moment to let it be...We let the tears fall and let love take over...We were loving and missing Matthew together.  

Will never told us what he was whispering to Matthew...but I know it was the sweetest story!


Lord, I am crying again typing this!  

We know Matthew isn't there, he is with Jesus...but this is "his special place" and we have had the most amazing moments out there together and each time we do, a little "peace" of heaven touches our hearts!
Like this one.

Thank you Lord for these precious, precious moments and memories and thank you Lord for my boys and the love that they have for each other!  Thank you Lord that the sweetest story never ends...but continues in eternity with you...

Now, I need a box of Kleenexes, a hug and three cookies!