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February 29

February 29, 2016
Last TCH picture...until we ended back up there a few days later.

I don’t think I ever posted this picture. It was right before we left the hospital–we had no idea I would beg to be readmitted to NICU within the month.

One of only a few pictures of all 5 of us.

The second time we were all together, and the first time at home. This is one of only a few pictures of all 5 of us.

Today is the first anniversary of the day we brought you home from the hospital. I’ve been waiting for this day for three years, glad it was on a leap day, knowing it may be the last of the firsts.

I received two surprise Lukey packages in the mail this afternoon. One was a deer pillowcase that I ordered last week. (OK, not such a surprise, but it had slipped my mind until it arrived and I didn’t coordinate it to arrive on this day.) The other was a beautiful arrow necklace from your Aunt Paula for my “one in the target”. What sweet timing–I feel like it’s happy mail from Jesus.

2016-02-29 17.21.30

January 5th

January 5, 2015

Today is your third birthday. A day also full of meaning to two of my sweet friends. One who lost her mother on January 5th, 2013 and another who was carrying a baby that would never see its January 5th due date. A few more friends have experienced tragic loss in Januarys past, and I can’t help but remember them as I think of you. When everyone else is focusing on the new year, and all seems fresh and new, we are thinking about the past. Remembering, reminiscing, reliving. The first few days of each new year will always be tender for us.

The past three January’s have been more than tender–they have been exhausting. Weeping at everything for no real reason other than my emotions were so raw, wounds so fresh. In the years since you have been gone imagining what you would be like, what our family would be like if things had gone differently. An impossible task. But this year feels different. My thoughts are consumed with you, but rather than drained, I feel hopeful. Tears are still just under the surface ready at a moment’s notice but so far, they’ve held their position. Just sweet memories today.

It was on your first birthday that I memorized this scripture. I didn’t feel it, but I wanted to claim it for our family, for myself. And I chose to believe it was true even though I felt stuck in a pit.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19.”

We still miss you. Every day. Every. Single. Day.

But when my world came crashing down, he made a way for me in the wilderness. Emotionally, spiritually, relationally, physically…I’m not as dry thanks to streams he made in the wasteland. And where there has always been peace, now there is healing. An extraordinary amount of healing in only two and a half years. It’s a new season. He is doing a new thing and I can finally perceive it. I am beyond thankful.

Happy birthday sweet Lukey. This morning Liam was disappointed to learn we won’t be going to heaven for your party. Me too, but we will celebrate anyway, with cake and balloons and family, because your 5 months on earth was more than enough for a lifetime of celebrations.

Two Years

June 16, 2014
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March 4, 2012. Look at that squishy face.

This morning I drove the exact same route, at almost the exact same time, as I did on June 16, 2o12. On that morning two years ago I was on the entrance ramp to 610 from I10 when I got the text from Daddy. “Vallet park, a nurse will come get you.” I said “That bad?” He said “Be safe but hurry.” I had been talking to my friend Lesley so I sent her a screenshot and said, “Oh God, not good.” I didn’t get sick but I thought I might.

Two weeks ago, when the scheduler offered an appointment for Audrey at TCH for June 16, I immediately knew what this date meant. I considered turning it down and asking for the next available, but in that moment thought, What’s the alternative? Sit around and cry? No reason to put off her check-up. So I took the opening. But it didn’t click that at 2:02pm today I would be in the same building–on the same floor as it turned out–where you took your last breath exactly two years ago.

I replay the whole day over in my head every now and then, but never so often as this time of the year. I call it Lukey season. It starts at Christmas, hits its peak in June,  and contains every memory I have of you. December 25th–your Abbey stocking on the fireplace. January 5th–your birthday. January 13–It’s a boy! January 20–renaming you Gabriel Luke. February 29–leap day–first homecoming from hospital. Mother’s Day–skipping church and being all together at the hospital. June 14–first time you gave me a smile of recognition. June 15–buying a gift for Daddy from you. June 16. June 17–worst father’s day ever. June 18-20–mostly a blur. June 21–funeral. And all the days in between are well documented too. I let my other blogs go during that crazy season of life but not yours…and I am so grateful for that. The memories are few but vivid.

We miss you and think of you everyday. Your brother includes you in every single conversation we have about our family. Every prayer he says “Thank you for Lukey” (though he might forget Daddy). If I’m talking about our family to someone else and don’t mention you, he is sure to remind me. “And Lukey!” Yes. Of course Lukey, always.

I don’t usually bring you up to others unless they already know the situation or I think it might be awkward if they find out later rather than sooner. I am a stuffer, remember? Anything to avoid crying in front of someone. So when you are the topic of conversation, I pull back and talk about you from a broad sense. I can recite the facts without tapping into the emotional side. I am able to smile, because the memories really are sweet.

And then at night I process. Once or twice a month, after everyone else is asleep, I find myself diving into the details. Mostly I focus on the best moments and try not to dwell on the events of this day two years ago. There are some memories and images that I doubt will ever disappear, though I wish they would. At some point I always discover that my pillow is wet under my cheek. It isn’t an active cry, but it is cathartic nonetheless. That’s when I ask Jesus to pass along a hug from me.

We know a sweet family who lost their daughter not long ago. (By the way…I think when you go through a loss like that it is always “not long ago”. The pain isn’t constant but when it hits it will forever be strong enough to feel like just yesterday.) The dad said he wouldn’t wish her out of Jesus’ arms and into his own. I remember those words often and they resonate. After being in God’s presence, you would be miserable back here in your broken little body. But my arms are itching to hold you and I am looking forward to the day when I can wrap them around you myself.

In the meantime, I’ll keep sending you big squeezes through Jesus. Happy anniversary Lukey. I love you.

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March 1, 2012. Liam just walked up as I was looking at this photo and said, “Awww, it’s Lukey! My brother! Will he be my best friend one day?” Yes, you most definitely will.

Mother’s Day 2013

May 12, 2013

Today I thought over the last couple Mother’s Days. Two years ago we found out we were expecting you. Last year we had planned on dedicating you during the church service that morning but you ended up back in the hospital. So instead Daddy and I taught our high school class and then grabbed Liam and Audrey to spend the day with you at the hospital. Mema and I were given chocolate covered strawberries at the cafeteria. After many sweet hours together, Daddy took your sibs home and the night was just for you and me. It was a really great day.

Today was good too. We had a full day and I was kept pretty distracted. Daddy gave me my Mother’s Day gift on Saturday night. It was the best gift I could have received–a video he made using pictures of you kids over the years. Some of these pictures are sweet, some are just plain silly, but each one has a strong memory associated with it. I cried and I laughed…mainly I cried. And the song he chose, “Garden” by NeedToBreathe, is just perfect.

I wish you were here to help celebrate this Mother’s Day. But I am thankful for your Daddy who made such an effort to make it a special day anyway.

I’m A Stuffer

February 17, 2013

Blogging has been hard for me lately. It’s not that I’ve had nothing to say. Rather, I’ve started dozens of posts that have yet to be finished. But the words aren’t coming easily. You see, I’m a stuffer. And blogging requires thinking and processing which usually leads to crying and sniveling. And by nature I do my best to avoid these things. It’s easier to stuff all that emotion down and sit on it for a while. I am a stuffer. So when my computer screen becomes blurry with tears, I walk away and find a distraction.

But even though it’s easier, I know it’s not better–it’s not healthy. Writing has always been the most productive way to organize and essentially clean up my thoughts. I can’t tell you how often I will sit down to moan about a circumstance just to be surprised when I stand up from the computer feeling better.  A burden has been lifted and I am encouraged. God uses this time to put thoughts in my head that weren’t there before I began. More likely this spot is where I listen the best. Regardless, I know I need to face the emotions by writing them out.

So in order to get the ball rolling I thought I would start with an incredibly superficial post that is certain not to cause any tears.

Today I found my first gray–well, really WHITE–hair.

I was hunting for it…I woke up this morning sensing it’s presence and was determined to remove the offending hair. And sure enough I found it, not even trying to hide from my tweezers, sitting directly on my part line.

I blame 2012.

(Uh oh. My eyes might be moist. But maybe it’s just from the plucking.)

Valentine’s Gift

February 15, 2013

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Usually we pull Audrey’s meds just a few days at a time, but last night Daddy and I pulled 7 days worth in preparation for going out of town. Standing in front of the medicine cabinet laying them all out, counting and recounting, bagging them into the appropriate groupings…I couldn’t help but think of you. You only were home for about 6 weeks total, but there’s no telling how many hours we accumulated standing at that counter with your meds.

I keep a clean house. I promise. But tonight, with your meds on my mind, I found a little reminder of you in our fridge. Sitting on the bottom shelf right behind the milk was this tiny syringe.  You are the only one who ever used a syringe this small so I am certain it was yours.  The liquid had dried up, but it left the hardened medicine at the bottom pulled to .4ml–Prevacid. Daddy and I are both baffled at how it could have gone unnoticed for 8 months. (Has it really already been 8 months?) This is the drink shelf…iced tea, extra gallons of milk, juice, bottles of water….it gets plenty of use.

Despite another strike against my housekeeping skills, I am thrilled (and of course teary) to have found this little token. It’s been awhile since I have come across a forgotten piece of Lukey memorabilia. For it to happen on Valentine’s Day when I am missing my LB–my Love Bug–is especially sweet. Like always, I pray this one isn’t the last.

Giving Thanks

November 22, 2012

Odd to have a first Thanksgiving without you, when we never really had a Thanksgiving with you.  Yet here we are.

I don’t have any strong memories from last year.  I looked back on your blog hoping to find a story that would spark remembrance.   Our high schoolers apparently did something to make my heart glad. Wish I wasn’t so cryptic because now I haven’t an idea what that was…

I know we went to lunch with Grandpapa and Honey and then to Papaw and Mimi’s for dinner. Surely you made feasting difficult by taking up most of the room in my belly. Of course we still thought you were Abbey then.

Thanksgiving 2011

We had a solid 9 weeks to go when this picture was taken. I really just snapped it to show a friend what I was wearing to a church event that evening, but now I am grateful for every last photo of you. Even awkward belly pics.

When we went to lunch today, we sat in the same section as last year. We had the same server and the next table over were the same cheerful and chatty ladies.  They remembered us. And I wondered…did they remember you? Did it occur to them that we should have had one more in our group, a baby of almost 11 months?  Were they just too polite to ask? If so, asking would have been more gracious. Holidays are hard when you miss someone. It seems as if others remembering that missed someone would be a relief.

1 Thessalonians 1:2 — We give thanks to God always for you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers.

Indeed we do. Every night when Liam says prayers, we thank God for Mommy, Daddy, Sissy, Liam and our time with Lukey.