Today I plan on getting my four year old up on the counter with me to learn how to make cupcakes. We will haul out the butter and flour, she will sneak bites of the batter when I’m not looking. I’ll be teaching her to do this on Haddon’s birthday because not too many years from now I’ll ask her to make the cupcakes we learned together so mommy can go visit his grave and remember him. But that will be later down the road, today we celebrate 6 years of having him as their brother and our son. Six years of treasured conversation about heaven and what it would be like to be before Jesus, and how neat that someone so connected to us sees him face to face. Our kids have had many years now of seeing mommy and daddy aching to see their brother, yet full of hope, and beginning to understand how getting to live in both of those realities only comes from knowing Jesus. Our kids have a very special connection to the future hope of the resurrection, and so do Ernie and I. I long to see him, but I know I’m one year closer. We will have eternity to embrace one another over and over again, and that embrace will also be when Jesus finally (oh, finally!) wipes away every tear from my eyes.
Welcome to the stories of God’s faithfulness from our grief in losing our first son, Haddon. He was born at 33 weeks, and lived for 40 hours with an unknown virus.
I have saved all the writings from our early days in how God truly showed us the sweetness of His Son Jesus, in the middle of deep sorrow. I hope these words encourage you, some of these days filled with tears over my keyboard are the most precious days of my life.
What Our Days Are Made Of
Remembrance: Where There’s No Straining For My Eyes To See
I am sitting in the quiet of my living room as little ones sleep. This pregnancy has led me to eating lunch around 10:15 rather than noon. So as I unashamedly finish off a plate of spaghetti by mid morning, I sit here thinking about this new little one that has continued to grow inside me.
The gift of children has been quite the journey for us. For two and a half years God has lifted my eyes to trust him as he tells me that his ‘word is upright and all his work is done in faithfulness’ Psalm 33:4, a life giving verse for me in the midst of a trial that wanted to suck the life out of me.
As we first kissed our firstborn and buried him into the ground in the same week, the Lord stood guard over my heart from the hungry sins of bitterness, anger, and hopelessness who were always tempting me in my hours of sorrow. But The Lord stood in my sorrow, loudly declaring for me that if he did not spare his own son for my sin how could he also not provide me all things?
Since then, every pregnancy has been a step of faith onto a path to which the final destination is not visible. We cannot strain our eyes and squint hard enough to make sure we see a baby down the road that will survive after birth. What we can see is the Lord’s faithfulness to us before, where there’s no straining or squinting for our eyes to see. God has shown Ernie and I the power of remembering what He has done.
So I lay here, feeling the kicks of a little girl squirming inside me and I pray that she continues to kick and move and jump for 15 more weeks. I want her to live. I want to watch her grow and watch our son care for his younger sister. I do not want to place her in the ground. But my hope is not in a living child. My hope is that God emptied his anger and wrath on his son. He showed his son no mercy so that he could freely give mercy to me. In light of this hope, I can walk in faith with bearing or not bearing children, raising them or burying them.
Guest Post: My Husband
(Written March 30, 2013)
Today I have the joy of letting my husband, Ernie, share a little about our first son, Haddon. I’m very excited to have this on here, hope you enjoy reading about his love for Haddon and his even bigger love for Jesus. Thanks honey, I love you.
I loved carrying you, little one.
Jesus Reached Down into Death
(written September 3, 2012)
Tonight baby Ernie and I read about Jesus raising Jairus’s daughter from the dead in Luke 8 in his Jesus Storybook Bible, we absolutely love that book. So there was Ernie, drowsy and on my lap and I’m reading along. Then I came across the part where Jesus comes to his daughter, when no one believed Jesus was going to wake her from the dead.
“Jesus walked into the little girl’s bedroom. And there, lying in the corner, in the shadows, was the still little figure. Jesus sat on the bed and took her pale hand.”
I began to cry as I remembered Haddon’s still little figure when there was no longer any life in him just like this little girl. I still continued reading, this was a good story.
“Honey,” he said, “it’s time to get up.” And he reached down into death and gently brought the little girl back to life.
The little girl woke up, rubbed her eyes as if she’d just had a good night’s sleep, and leapt out of bed…
Jesus was making the sad things come untrue. He was mending God’s broken world.”
I told Ernie that one day, we don’t know when, Jesus will reach down into death, into the very grave we visited of his brother, and raise him back to life as if he had had a good night’s sleep. With his mighty hand, he will make this sad part of our family come untrue.
My Two Boys
Sometimes I give Ernie Brooks a tight squeeze and remember God has sustained him and he is such a gift to us, along with any other children that may come our way. Sometimes I whisper to him about big brother, how he’s with Jesus and much happier than he or I could ever be right now. My dad’s sketches of Haddon sit above Ernie’s changing table, and Ernie’s eyes often glance in that direction as he wobbles around during his diaper changes. We like to think he’s looking at the sketches.
These frames of them hang on the wall of my parents house side by side, and my heart just wells up every single time I go over there.
My boys, my boys. I love these two boys.
To Women Who Struggle This Mother’s Day
Perhaps this Mother’s Day is difficult for you and your heart is exhausted from all the celebration. I know that feeling. Last year was my very first Mother’s Day, it had also been just a bit more than a month since I had lost my firstborn. I remember going to church was too painful so I spent the day with Ernie. Now each Mother’s day will come with the desire to have my little Haddon with me as his daddy and siblings gather to say how much they love me. How sweet it would have been to have him today. If you are approaching today having lost a child, or you have longed for a child and cannot have one, you should know your pain never goes unseen by the Lord. I pray that you hold on to this truth today:
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
One thing I keep tucked away during days like this is that while the Lord is gathered with families celebrating with their mother, He is also gathered with the families who are mourning.The Lord is able to both rejoice and weep with his children at the same time. Remember that when the Lord says he is near to the brokenhearted, it is a promise he keeps.
A Year of Sorrow And the Sweetness of Jesus
Isaiah 41:10 has been a verse I run to all year long:
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
This past weekend we were able to celebrate our precious son Haddon’s first year with Jesus. As we were approaching the 31st of March I had no idea what the morning would feel like when I first woke up. Haddon would have had his first birthday, I would have loved to have rushed into his nursery and woken him up with a “happy birthday big boy!” and see him light up and giggle, not really understanding what a birthday means but just enjoying such a greeting from mommy.
But Saturday arrived and as I opened my eyes there was a peace from the Lord as I awoke in a quiet home that my heart longs to be filled with baby chatter; my son is with Jesus, where there is joy unending. It’s been a whole year of delight for him that is unimaginable to me here on earth. I wouldn’t exchange that for him to be present at a party, even when I miss him to a point that feels unbearable.
I opened God’s word to Psalm 33, a chapter that has been a light in the darkness of this year. When we first lost Haddon this is what God used to remind me that all His work is done in faithfulness and that He loves righteousness. That’s where I rested in many days of sorrow. I use the truths from Psalm 33 when I have to battle these sins: jealousy or envy of other parents with little precious newborns, when I’m so thankful a NICU baby makes it but my heart aches to compare how my son didn’t, when I struggle to think the woman in the checkout lane could be more thankful for her children she snaps at, when I stand over Haddon’s grave and when holidays come and I can’t pick out a special outfit (ah the little plaid shirts and ties). But the Holy Spirit does his work, I’m so thankful, and reminds me that God’s work for my child is done in faithfulness and he is not jeopardizing his righteousness to bring us through this deep sadness. Ever.
This weekend I reflected on how God brought me closer to himself because I was able to watch Haddon as he passed away. There is something about watching a life pass that came from your very own womb; it makes the fact that all things belong to the Lord permanently sealed in your mind.
Here are some photos from Haddon’s Birthday, March 31, 2012.