An answer to prayer

I sit, holding Asa, watching him sleep. Mookie leans over to give him a kiss. I smile . . . then shudder.

For it occurs to me that this is how old Mookie was when his big brother died.

And I remember a moment a few days before that. I was sitting on the couch takinng off Mookie’s wallaby blanket in order to change his little diaper. The kids were running all over. Tiggy had a cold. The house was a mess. And I was overwhelmed.

I didn’t know how to get everything done, but mostly I was scared of getting pregnant again. I didn’t know how to take care of seven children. It didn’t make sense even then, but I remember praying for some help, some relief, some peace.

And on windy nights when I held a squirming Mookie too close through my tears I would think of that prayer and feel pangs of guilt. As if I had somehow asked for this because for one moment I was overcome by all the responsibilities before me. And it was hard to admit even to myself how much I wanted another child. And how difficult it was to go to the doctor and find out that the issues I was having didn’t really need treatment but would affect the likelihood of having another child. But I couldn’t really talk about that with anyone because who fights back tears over not being able to have a seventh child?

I knew my motives were mixed. I knew another child wouldn’t fill that hole Tiggy left. Nor would it take away an evening of feeling overwhelmed at the thought of a seventh. But feelings are what they are and mine longed for one more child to hold and to count and to raise.

And now here he is. Number seven. In my arms, asleep and showered with kisses by his big brother.

I lean over and whisper in his ear. “You are an answer to prayer, little Angel.” Because I want him to know that even as number seven, he wasn’t an accident. He wasn’t an after thought. He is our little “healer.” Our little reminder of “victory.” In Christ, over death and through new life.

I dreamed about Tiggy

It’s not something I do very often.

I remember every one. Some more clearly than my memories of him.

He was there, playing with his vroom vrooms, smiling that ornery smile. I went to touch his wispy hair, but he ducked and giggled.

He was there, lying under the table, and still that smile. I kneeled down to reach for him, but he rolled away and giggled.

And so the dream went on. With him happy and full of life and always just out of reach.

But it was different than my other dreams of him. In every other dream, I have been acutely aware of the fact that he is dead.

Some are strange and dark. Where he shows up and I know it can’t be him but it is. And I don’t know what to do because if I tell anyone, I know he’ll be taken from me because no one will believe it is him and that he is my son. And so I hide him in the basement, but I don’t even know how to tell my husband and how long can you hide a toddler in the basement, anyway?

Some carry such relief. I wake up and realize I just forgot him at the hospital. And there’s this mad rush to get everyone ready and I’m stressed and trying to figure out how to explain that I just forgot him there, but really I’m not a bad mother and can I take him home now?

But usually, I know I’m dreaming. Like the first one. The day he died. I fell asleep and was there in the hospital, sitting in the room the nurse had told us he’d be moved to, looking at him in the incubator I imagined he’d be in, listening to the ventilator they told us would be breathing for him. Holding his hand. And waiting. But then I started to wake up and I panicked, because I knew that Tiggy was only there in that dream and if I woke up, I wouldn’t be able to sit with him anymore.

Or the time I sat holding him in a chair in the center of the front room. The house was a mess. Toys and clothes and dishes everywhere. My husband came home and was upset, yelling at everyone. He started to clean and I just ignored him. “You’re not even going to help?” he accused. But I didn’t care. “I only get to hold him until I wake up,” I answered and laid my cheek back against his head where I could smell him for a little while longer.

But this time, I didn’t know. At least not fully. So I just followed, partly amused by the antics of this sweet little boy so full of joy but becoming increasingly distressed that he was always just out of reach. Until I suddenly woke up, staring into the darkness and knowing too well why I couldn’t quite reach him.

Thankful

Skimming over Facebook posts. The night before Thanksgiving. All the talk is about turkeys in the oven and pies cooling on the counter. Potatoes being peeled and cheesecakes setting in the fridge. And I think,

“I put my turkey in the brine . . . .  four hours after I meant to. Does that count for anything?”

I probably won’t even start cooking until tomorrow afternoon.

And suddenly I miss the three year old boy who should be here.

The weight of missing him is crushing. I feel like I can’t breathe. It’s unexpected. Like the day I opened a bag and found his hair, still caked in blood, in a little plastic bag from the hospital. And the tears come in choking gasps as they did while I washed it out.

And I am so thankful. Thankful beyond words.

Thankful that this . . . this pain, these tears, this death . . . this is not the end of the story.

Happy Thanksgiving and God bless.

Beauty for ashes

One day, we will be given a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of the spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:3). We received a taste of this back in February as we celebrated Tiggy’s short life with a little road trip over what would have been his third birthday.

Please share with us a little of our pain, a little of our joy and a little of our perspective.

Thank you so much, Amber, for putting this video together for us.

We are also pleased to announce that due to favorable exchange rates, the amount that we need to raise in order to fund the building of Tiggy’s House is $40,000. As of June, $25,349 has been raised. If you would like to help in any way, please consider donating directly to Tiny Hands International, and remember our etsy shop when shopping for gifts for family and friends. All profits from our shop and from the advertising and sponsors on this blog are donated to this effort.

To donate:

Donate via Tiny Hands International. Simply select “Tiggy’s House” from the “Choose a charity” menu found on their website.

Send checks to:

Tiny Hands International
P.O. Box 67195
Lincoln, NE 68506

Please mention “Tiggy’s House” so your gift is credited properly.

Thank you so much and God bless.

Sharing Tiggy’s stories

In a drawer in my room lies my most prized possession. It rests there, sheltered and protected. My husband took it to a friend to have it prepared to display and I could hang it up . . . display it . . . share it. But it sits in a drawer, partly because I don’t have an appropriate rod and partly because I am afraid of what might happen to it.

In my lap is a little boy, just 19 months old. In two months, he will be as old as Tiggy was when he died. My chest tightens. It is hard to breathe. When I look at him, I see so many of the things my little Mattias was learning and doing and I remember how he used to give up the swing for the baby, sit next to me on the couch to pet the baby’s head and drop everything to sit down and hold the baby any time I said he could. I remember how he loved his baby brother.

I want so much for little Micah to know his big brother. To share those special moments when they seem to have their own language that overcomes Micah’s small vocabulary. To fight over toys and space and the number of times Micah knocks over a tower of blocks because he doesn’t know how else to get his brother’s attention. And my heart aches.

But Micah knows what is in that drawer, too. He knows it is something special. So when he has a chance, he goes in and opens the drawer. He takes out the treasure and opens the special pocket containing a little blue tractor. He points at the pictures and wants me to tell him what they are.

And sometimes it seems that my very soul is tearing in two, but that little smile and that little finger pointing and that little, “Eh?” hold it together just enough to allow me to smile while I share Tiggy’s stories with his little brother Micah through a blanket spread out on my bed.