the boys

the boys

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Against all odds, there is so much joy in our life right now.  At the very end of Zachary's burial service when only Jeremy and I were left to linger for just a few moments longer than everyone else, our priest said something that has been nearly life changing.  He told us that Zachary brought JOY even in all of our sorrow.  I believed him and agreed immediately, even as I stood looking at Zachary's tiny casket.  Faith brings joy and our faith is strong.  Our joy is overwhelming. 

So in this time of extreme difficulty, we are finding joy.  I find myself looking for it every day and frequently it finds me.  God is putting joy in my life and putting it right in front of my face.  Here are some examples:
  • Despite our extreme sadness the moment Zachary was born we also felt joy.  Joy in meeting our son and in finding out that (shocker) we had another boy!  Joy in seeing his round little O'Brien face just as we had 3 times before.  Joy in giving him a name that honored my grandpa and knowing that now all 4 of our grandpa's names are represented in our boys names.  Joy in having him immediately baptized and knowing that his sweet soul is safe and loved in heaven. Joy even in heartbreaking sadness. 
  • My marriage to Jeremy is stronger than ever.  I love him more than the day we were married and I know he feels the same.  We say it to each other.  Joy.  We rocked this tragedy with a togetherness we had never experienced.  We were on the same wavelength at every single step.  That's not true for other challenges we have come across, but it was true for this.  True love.  Joy. 
  • I smile every single time I leave my house because I have a beautiful tree (soon to be two) in the yard with a guardian angel sitting beneath it.  Joy. 
  • We have seen and heard from friends that we haven't seen in a while.  And it's been wonderful for all of us.  Joy. 
  • We are raising an amazing amount of money through donations to Synergy Services for children who either have no home or their home is unsafe or so chaotic that a shelter with caregivers that are strangers to them is a better choice.  Those babies will be rocked in chairs, sleep in beds, and cared for between the walls that are paid for by our family and friends simply because sweet Zachary will never get that opportunity.  Joy for those kids.  They will feel comfort, love, and security that they would not otherwise have without our help.  I have rocked all of my babies and I was able to rock Zachary.  Rocking babies tugs at my heart and these babies will be rocked with love.  Joy. 
  • Our kids are learning grief at their own pace.  They are gaining an understanding on what it is to lose someone, even someone they did not know, and still be able to live a life full of joy.  They are learning that its ok for adults to cry and cry hard.  Ugly cry with hacking sobs of grief and there have been many.  They are learning, Leo in particular, that it's also ok not to cry if that's not what your heart feels in the moment.  It's ok to be ok.  It's so ok to feel joy. 
Tonight my joy came from William.  At the burial service we had each of the boys place a Hot Wheel with the casket.  The nursery has always had a Hot Wheels theme and Zachary missed out on all of the Hot Wheel fun.  In typical 2 year old fashion, Will refused to leave his.  He clung to it and did the age old "MIIIINE!" so we let him keep it.  It's a Hot Wheel fire truck and it's been sitting in the car for the last few weeks.  A few days ago he randomly brought it inside and I've told him several times that it's Zachary's fire truck and that he is allowed to play with it.  Will has been clueless to what has happened and only recently realized I'm not pregnant.  Tonight, to my great joy, he put the two things together.  He asked about the baby in my tummy and when I reminded him that the baby is no longer there and the baby's name was Zachary, his eyes lit up.  He ran upstairs to get the fire truck and has held on to it all night.  He is "sleeping" with it now (using the word sleeping loosely because.....he's not!).  He's been walking around saying "Zacccree fire truck" and maybe, just maybe, he has created a memory of his brother that will stick with him.  Joy.  And peace. 

My friend Rachel sent this devotional to me tonight just as I was starting to write this blog.  Joy.  Thank you Jesus for all of the JOY in my life. 
"I continually call you to closeness with Me.  I know the depth and breadth of your need for Me.  I can read the emptiness of your thoughts when they wander away from Me.  I offer rest for your soul, as well as refreshment for your mind and body.  As you increasingly find fulfillment in Me, other pleasures become less important.  Knowing Me intimately is like having a private wellspring of Joy within you.  This spring flows freely from My throne of grace, so your Joy is independent of circumstances.  Waiting in My presence keeps you connected to Me, aware of all that I offer you.  If you feel any deficiency, you need to refocus your attention on Me.  This is how you trust Me in the moments of your life."

Thursday, August 13, 2015


First of all a super odd thing:  the last blog I posted was exactly a year ago today.  I obviously don't blog much anymore but tonight was blog-worthy and so I'm drawn back to it.  I miss it so much.  I hope to make more time for it again soon.

Our sweet and tiny baby boy, Zachary John, was born two weeks ago.  He was immediately received into Jesus' arms.  It's been a long two weeks.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem real.  Our priest told us at the burial that Zachary brought joy even through our sorrow and it is so true.  We have received amazing support from family and friends.  Two groups in particular have given us very special gifts.  Our daycare family, past and present, have bought us a tree for our yard in memory of Zachary.  We are so excited.  It’s the perfect gift.  Jeremy has always wanted a tree in our side yard and this is the perfect way to honor our baby.  Then today we got a knock on the door.  Another tree, this time from my amazing college buddies.  So now we have two trees, which has always been Jeremy’s plan for the side yard.  Joy in our sorrow. 

My heart aches and my tears overflow as we realize that Zachary will always have a place in the yard where the boys mow with their dad all summer and sled down the hill in the winter.  But that’s not tonight's only story.  The rest of the story is that Jeremy and I put the boys to bed tonight and invited our friends, Ellan and Robert, over to help us figure out where to plant the trees.  Ellan is our daycare provider and a landscaper extraordinaire.  So we chatted inside for a while about which trees we were getting and how far apart to place them.  Then we went outside to place some stakes in the ground to prepare for planting.  That led to chatting and a few tears as we talked about sweet Zachary. 

Then the cops drove by.  Not super common, but ok.  Then they turned around and came back.  And slowed down.  And stopped.  So I walked up the hill to the driveway to see what the officer needed. She said “do you have three small boys?”  My heart stopped.  I swear it did.  I could not handle any more bad news. I couldn’t process why she was asking until I looked back at the house and saw Justin standing at the window on the phone (with 911 dispatch).  The officer told me that they didn’t know where we were and they got scared so they called the police.  I guess we were outside longer than we realized and they got out of bed and couldn’t find us. I yelled for Jeremy to go get them inside.  He says their faces were indescribable when he walked up. 

They came rushing down the driveway where I was still leaning up against the police car trying to gain composure that nothing was wrong with them.  Leo gave me the BIGGEST hug and Justin’s face was ashen.  Will was just chilling on the driveway.  So the story goes that Will wanted out of his room and was banging on his door for us.  The big boys couldn’t figure out why he was being so loud so they came downstairs and realized we weren’t in the house.  They looked outside and could not see us (because we were in the side yard).  Leo said he wanted to go outside and check but Justin wouldn’t let him in case there was something dangerous outside.  So Justin called 911.  LOVE THAT KID!  He wasn’t sure of our address but he knew our street name and the elementary school down the block from us so he was able to lead law enforcement close to us.  Dispatch told him to turn on the TV and just relax because police were on their way to help.  Justin demonstrated how his hands and whole body were shaking as he made the phone call.  It makes my heart hurt and melt to know how scared he was but how he stepped up and took care of his family.  They were so nervous.  Leo talked a mile a minute when we got inside (typical anyway) about how he kept thinking “I hope they didn’t take their phone with them” and how relieved he was when they found my phone.  They did it all exactly right.  They made safe choices.  Whew.  My kids are safe.  Three are safely in their beds and one is safely on Jesus’ lap being rocked to sleep.