At the beginning of 2016, Brian printed out a paper that said “Answered Prayers of 2016” and was full of blank lines. The 3rd thing written on that list was “We’re having a baby!” We learned the exciting news that we were pregnant with our 3rd child on the 11th of January 2016.
On the 4th of January 2017, we laid our sweet, healthy, 3 ½ month old baby boy, Beckett, down for a nap and he passed away in his sleep.
We went through a lifetime in one year. But it wasn’t just a birth and death that happened in that year, it was a deeper change in our family.
Around March I began a bible study with a friend that was centered on motherhood. Through the Bible study, and through her influence, I began to fall more in love with my ministry of motherhood. I began to love and interact with my kids in a different way. Some ways were very subtle, but some ways were more extreme. I knew going into Beckett’s birth that I wanted to take a long period of time off from all other responsibilities and just focus on being his mom. And for the first 6 weeks of his life I did that. I focused on Brooklyn, Boston, and Beckett and I loved it. It was hard. Babies are hard work. I was continuously tired, was still learning what each of his cries meant, and seemed to be unable to put him down for more than 15 minutes during the day without him wanting held. But I knew what I was doing was important. And I cherished it.
It wasn’t just me that was making changes to prioritize our family this year. Brian bonded with Beckett quicker than our other two babies. Whether it was a change in Brian, Beckett’s personality, or quite simply just the grace of God- they were a great team from the start. As Beckett entered the smiling stage, it was his daddy that made his eyes light up and his smile shine. When he was fussy and we couldn’t figure out quite how to make him happy, it was his daddy’s arm and a little koala hold that would instantly calm him down.
Brooklyn loved her brother. She read to him from the time I was 20 weeks pregnant and told her the baby could hear sounds on the outside. Brooklyn’s heart and attitude have changed this past year and she has become sweeter, gentler, and more mature. She’s still a wild 6 year-old, I don’t want to paint any untrue perfect pictures here! But she loved her baby brother with a gentle, genuine love.
And then there is Boston! He had no idea the baby in mommy’s tummy was going to be real until he saw him at the hospital and immediately fell in love. His exact question was, “Where’d this Bucket come from?” And from that point on his brother was called “Bucket” and he thought he was so cute.
To say all of these things in the past tense seems unnatural. It seems unreal. It seems like it can’t be us. I feel numb. I feel intense emotion and hurt. No one knows what to say to us. We don’t know what to say to them. I want him back. I know the road ahead of us is long. I know we will have many different emotions and reactions along the way. I don’t know how I will handle every step of the journey, but right now I am choosing to be thankful.
We had close to 4 wonderful months with our little guy. We got to hold him and love him and create memories that will always be there. We are choosing to be thankful for those 4 months. We are choosing to believe that Beckett was a gift to our family. We loved that gift. We cherished him for the time we had him. I want my little boy back. I want him back so much. But I don’t want him back to do things differently. I want him back because I miss him.
I’m not saying I didn’t complain about the late nights or the lack of showers. I fell behind on housework, on recipe planning, on record keeping, on countless things and I felt like I was failing at times. I’m not saying we did everything right with Beckett at all. But I am saying we enjoyed him. I am saying we loved him well. And when I look back at his short time here, I am thankful for the priorities we chose.
I know our situation has brought out a lot of fear in other new moms and families. I understand and I think it’s natural. But if I could choose for you, I would say don’t let this bring you to fear. Let it bring you to LOVE. Love the moments you have, don’t fear the ones that are unknown.
That “Answered Prayer” list that Brian printed out at the beginning of the year, we went on to write 138 items on it. 2016 was a good year. It was a good year because we looked for the good. We looked for God at work and we saw Him. And 2017 is going to be a good year as well. I know this because I know my God. In the midst of my darkness, in the midst of my pain, He is there.
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. (Psalm 46:1-3,7)