Easter 2016

I’ve always liked Easter. As a girl I liked Easter egg hunts at our church the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. Then on Easter morning I remember waking up excitedly to see what the Easter bunny (my mom – thanks mom!) had brought me. I loved the shiny green grass with jelly beans hidden in it, fun little toys, books, cassette tapes. As an adult Easter grew in meaning that Jesus really did die as an atoning sacrifice for everyone’s sin, past, present and future. I was in involved in Bible studies and I prayed. However its like my faith in what God really did for me, for you, for all of us didn’t hold the weight that it does now that Max is in heaven with Jesus. Having someone I desperately love and miss in an aching way gives God’s plan so much more weight and importance beyond measure. I remember at Max’s dedication getting choked up realizing that he was really on loan to us, that he was a gift from God and that we were chosen to be his parents – that we got to have him and how special that was. But I never thought that God would allow him to leave us when he was three years and 7 days old to go be with Jesus. So Easter is a big deal.

Jesus Christ Is Risen Today

By: Latin carol, 14th cent.

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly king, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured; Alleluia!
Now above the sky he’s king, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
Praise eternal as his love; Alleluia!
Praise him, all you heavenly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Alleluia!

Notes;
Hymn # 127 from Lutheran Worship
Author: Lyra Davidica
Tune: Easter Hymn
1st Published in: 1708

 

My three babies

katie's baby boy - Page 002 mmm Jake final

 

Above are the birth announcements of Max, Molly and Jake. It is so strange to me that Max and Jake weren’t ever on this earth at the same time. It feels like Jake has always been here even though he’s just two months old. It seems like it was so long ago now that Max was here. And then there is Molly in the middle who has known and loved them both. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the right words to really describe how it feels to have your child die. When Max died Molly was nine months old. It was so hard to try and appreciate and love her while my soul ached for Max. Almost every moment of every day was a struggle to not want to die to to go and see my first baby. I wanted to make sure he was really ok. I wanted to make sure he was happy and that if he got cold someone would make sure he had a coat and help him put it on because he couldn’t do that yet. Little mommy things like that. This very intense time period lasted for what felt like an eternity. I think it was just letting up when March rolled around when I would have been planning Max’s fourth birthday. The thoughts that he wasn’t here to turn four hit me so heavily. Its basically indescribable. Max’s birthday is April 30th and the anniversary of his death is May 8th. Those two dates made for an incredibly sorrowful spring for me. I was also pregnant with Jake during that time period. I was full of a lot of intense and complicated emotions. People can tell you that the first anniversaries of a loved one’s death or their first birthday without them is hard but you have no idea until you live it. In my case all of those people were right. With all of that said right now feels so different from then. With Jake here with Molly I have two kids again which feels SO good. Its like my family is complete and yet it will never be here on earth again. Only with the hope of heaven will I ever be united with all of my children again. Max is still gone but the sadness isn’t as intense as it has been. I am curious how this spring will be. We have plans to get out of town and try to have fun during those hard dates. I might bump up my therapy sessions and Kelly and I will probably start seeing our marriage counselor again sooner rather than later. Well I have dinner to get to so enough of my rambling for now.

What Addie said

My dear cousin Michelle has a four-year-old, Addie and two-year-old twins, Jonah and Cora. They live in Portland so we don’t see them as often as any of us would like but we email, call each other and visit occasionally. When we did get together Max and Addie had a BLAST together. Michelle and I had so much fun watching them play. I loved that she and I used to play together and now our kids were playing together. It was beautiful. Here’s what Michelle emailed me about a conversation she and Addie had.

This is a dialog between Addie and I tonight when we took the kids outside to see a beautiful rainbow.

Me: “rainbows are one of the most beautiful things God makes”

Addie: (pauses deep in thought and looks up at me) “so Max helps Him make them then??”

Me: “yes he does my love” (with tears in my eyes)

Wow that kids gets me sometimes.  In case you ever wonder we still talk about Max a lot.

DSC00952

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Addie and Max playing

IMG_4886 IMG_4889

Max loved Addie’s dog Maya. He would always say “hi” to her when we would come to visit first. Then warm up to everyone else.

IMG_4893

addie 1They are screaming here at the top of their lungs!

addie 2

addie 3

addie 4

addie 5

addie 6

addie 7

Match Making?

My good friend Naomi has four precious kiddos. The youngest is a little younger than Molly. I think it is special that she and I were pregnant at the same time. We spent quite a bit of time together for the last two years. Max and I would go over and play with her at the time three kids. Max loved it there. They also lived right next door to an awesome park that Max loved!

Anyway, she has one four-year-old son. He is adorable and she emailed me the following today:

” I have to tell you something funny. Kai was a little sad that it is not ok to marry people in your own family, so he decided he’d like to marry Molly. He said he knows he needs to get her a ring, and then he asked if they just had to dance together to be married! LOL! I told him the girl has to want to marry him as well, and you go through a ceremony. I would love for Kai to have awesome in-laws, though there are many years between now and when dating and marriage is a real possibility. I just thought it was so cute. :-)”

She also reminded me of the time we all went to the zoo last spring. Here are the pictures that I took that day.

four

 

Max's first solo carousel ride. He was so sad when the ride stopped,
Max’s first solo carousel ride. He was so sad when the ride stopped,
Our four kids (that weren't in our bellies at the time) This picture is very special to me.
Our four kids (that weren’t in our bellies at the time) This picture is very special to me.
This is the horse he picked out.
This is the horse he picked out.
Such a sweet picture.
Such a sweet picture.

I mention him

My friend Angel put this on my facebook page a while back and I deeply identify with it. I didn’t write it so this mom’s situation probably wasn’t just like ours but both of our sons are in heaven.

I Mention Him

I Mention Him

Not to make you uncomfortable,
He’s my son, I should be able to talk about him.

Not to dwell,
He will forever be my son, part of my life, my heart.

Not to make you feel guilty,
He is a child just like your own, but he’s in Heaven.

Not to bring you down,
It brings me joy to speak of him fondly.

Not to get attention,
He exists in my life just as your topics of conversation exists in yours.

Not to gain sympathy,
Believe you me, I wish I did not have to speak on him the past tense.

Not to bring you down,
My grief is lifelong, my healing is in the only life he has now, his mommy.

Not to rub it in your face,
I would never wish this on ANYONE!

Not to make it about me,
I am just another parent trying to speak of my kids the way you do yours.

Not to suck you into my world,
Your world is just as important to me.

Not to distract you,
I want to hear how your life is going, your happiness is relevant.

Not to take away from the conversation,
Yet life as well as death is a part of common conversation.

Not to make my life seem more important than yours,
I am my own person in my own journey and I share what is in my heart just as you do.

Not to remind you of your own grief,
We all walk our own paths and stumble as all humans do, we should pick each other up.

Not to garner your support,
Everyone gives whatever they can to enrich the lives of the ones they care for.

Not to remind you,
No one needs to be reminded of the loss of a child.

Not to haunt you,
It sucks, it truly does but not speaking of him haunts those who love him.

He is my son, I mention him, his life, his passing, and the times since then because I live every one of those moments in real time everyday.  He is a part of my being.  He is a part of my soul.  He has a place in my heart.  I carried him in my womb.  I watched him struggle.  I made the hardest decision a parent will EVER have to make…I let him go.  But understand, though I let him go physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, he will ALWAYS be with me!  I am thankful for it, it’s all I have and at this point, it is all I need.

Necklace

For a few years I have really liked all of the “kid necklaces” that a lot of my friends wear. I was going to order one before Max died but I wasn’t quite sure which one I liked and then life and busyness got in the way. Well my friends Amy, Michelle and Sabrina remember me complimenting their necklaces a few months ago at during our small group. Those ladies knew Max from small group and being in the nursery and with the two-year-olds during church on Sundays. So they knew them. He played with their kids. Their kids knew Max. This is a big deal to me. Well they gave me a necklace yesterday that they had made for me. If we have another baby I can add his or her name a birth stone to the necklace. I cried when they gave it to me. I have been thinking lately that the further out that I get from when Max was alive the more strange it is. At least so far. It feels like time is frozen when he was alive last spring and I’m stuck there because he’s still there as a little giggling, curious, helpful, mud loving three-year-old. Yet I’m also living in the present with Kelly and Molly. Molly is growing and developing and Kelly and I are aging as well but we still have a three-year-old son and Molly has a three-year-old big brother. But he’s not here – he’s in heaven. It is still all so strange and it just doesn’t make any sense to my human brain. I also feel that the further away Max being alive becomes the more and more he will be forgotten and that being a reality makes me so very sorrowful and I just ache all over. I don’t want for people to not know Max because he isn’t here. Hence the necklace is very special to me because it acknowledges that he is our son and Molly’s big brother. I don’t need the necklace to remember Max but it is very special to me.

necklace

http://www.metalstampedmemories.com/

Cousin Time

We got to hang out with Ma & Pa, Uncle Christopher, Aunt Laura, Grace and James today. Here are some pictures from our fun.

Molly and Laura

I  love this picture of Molly and Laura. It is so very sweet.

Grace and Pa

Grace wanted me to put a clip in her hair but then she wanted more and more until they were all in her hair. She picked them out and told me where to put them. I think she looks like a mermaid princess. She and Pa are watching Looney Toon shows 🙂

Laura and Molly 1

This picture of Laura and Molly is from Friday when we visited I just forgot to put them up in my last post. Max and Grace used to try and take turns on this car and another Little Mermaid one. I think the last time we were there Max rode on the Little Mermaid one 🙂

molly and james 1

Kelly’s cousin Vanessa and her husband Bubba had their daughter Aubrey and then their twin girls Annie and Paisley. Vanessa generously gives us their hand-me-downs! We naturally get doubles of some items. Laura and I thought it would be fun to put Molly and James in matching, “Mommy loves me” onsies.

molly and james 2

Molly and James 4

Molly and James 3

I cannot get over Molly’s face here! She’s been doing this a lot lately. It cracks me up! It reminds me of the face Max made when he tried pureed carrots I made him for the first time when he was almost seven months old. They must be related.

first carrots

 

 

Where God has been and where God is

max and mollyMax holding Molly for the first time and patting her when she was two days old.

I wrote just some snippets of what I was thinking and feeling in the days after Max died. I read them at the next MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting at our church the Tuesday after Max died because I wanted to share a lot of stuff with the women there. I also didn’t want people to feel that that couldn’t ever talk to me or that I was the woman who’s son died and ssshhhhh don’t talk to her. So here it is and its not necessarily going to make sense but I thought I’d post it anyway.

Looking back God has been preparing our hearts and minds for this for a while.

Max was innocent! He will never know how awful and broken this world is! He has a great life! He lived every day full throttle with complete joy! He wasn’t kidnapped and murdered. He passed away in his sleep! He wasn’t scared or alone! God wrapped his arms around him and took him home.

I am thankful for Max being diagnosed with epilepsy last September. It caused me to slow down a little bit, take more time with him and Molly, being willing to read another book, not get as frustrated when milk would get spilled or a tantrum would happen. Also I didn’t want Max in MOPPETS (childcare during MOPS meetings) because I didn’t want him to have a seizure and have me not be there. So my mother –in-law who I adore offered to stay home with him on Tuesdays. And they had a ball together! So Max and Betty had this very special bond. Also I went to my parent’s house in Kent every Monday night so Max and Molly could really know my parents. I am so thankful for that. My sister got to babysit Max a lot so she also had a special bond with him. Kelly’s grandma who I also adore was able to spend the night after Max’s third birthday party on April 27th and got to play with him and Molly.

My husband Kelly was supposed to be in British Columbia Thursday morning but his passport was expired so he was on Mercer Island instead and when I called him was able to get home in 20 minutes.

I am thankful to God for giving me the free will to realize that I had a drinking problem and choose to ask him for help to lift it from me. And he DID. Now I don’t have guilt that Max ever saw me drunk and was scared or that I was passed out and he cried out for me in the middle of the night but I didn’t hear him.

Kelly and I can’t blame each other for Max’s death. He passed away straight into Jesus arms while he was asleep! I didn’t have to watch paramedics try to resuscitate him and have a shred of hope that he would come back only for him to not.

I would tell Max, “I have secret for you.” He would excitedly say, “What?!” I would whisper in his ear, “I love you.” Then I would say, “I have another secret for you.” He would again ask, “What!?” Then I would say, “You’re my favorite boy.” He had never said that he loved me on his own until early last week. We were playing

—–Whenever Max would get an owie we would usually pray for God to heal it.  He would tell me, “God is healer! God is healer!” and not let me put Aveeno on his eczema on his wrists. So now I need to believe my baby that God IS the healer of all and that He will heal me.

We have Molly! So I get her as therapy every day and she smiles and laughs. And I have to eat well so I can feed her.

Also I have two choices I can shrivel up and die so I can go to heaven asap to be with my baby or I can choose God’s joy.

I’m mad at what happened and would do almost anything to change it but God is already using Max’s death for good.

I chose in the last six months to start staying home more from play dates so Max, Molly and I could just play with each other.

Also my husband had been working from home a lot in the past few weeks so they got to play together more than usual.

On Wednesday Max woke up with a very snotty nose. We were “supposed” to go visit a girlfriend of mine in Woodinville that doesn’t have kids. I probably would have let Max watch shows on my phone for the majority of our visit so I could have “my time” with my friend. Max would have liked that but it wouldn’t have been that great of a day. So looking at all of the green snot pouring out of Max I cancelled on my friend. And we had the best last day on Wednesday. We read books and highlights magazine on the couch. Laid out in the sun on the deck and read more and just played. Max wasn’t feeling good and said his tummy hurt and he had a fever. So we gave him ibuprofen and he asked to have a sink bath eat popsicles and watch shows and we let him. I gave him his epilepsy medication before bed time and I checked his temperature and it was back to normal. my husband Kelly gave him Motrin before bed to keep his temperature just in case. I did his bed time routine with him like I usually do. Max picked out three books and they were long ones. I usually bargain with him and ask him to trade a long one for a short one. But Wednesday night I didn’t. I read three long books and he laid his head on my shoulder and I gave him a kiss on his forehead. He was so tired that I told him that he could just lay down after the third book and then I started to sing him his songs that I usually do – Jesus loves the little children, Jesus loves me, This little light of mine, You are my Sunshine and Mr. Sun by Raffi. He was asleep before I finished Jesus loves me. So I quietly left his room.

The medical examiner told us that Max didn’t have any infections, she is still going to check for viruses, further study his brain. The medical examiner did say that his brain was enlarged and swollen. I have peace in that because I wouldn’t have been able to tell that! And to me it doesn’t matter what caused Max’s death because it won’t bring him back. I have no regrets with anything in raising him. At Max’s last appointment at Children’s his neurologist said he was the healthiest kid she’d ever seen. We were able to meet with her yesterday and thank her for taking such good care Max. She was completely confused as to what happened. And as a pediatric neurologist that lady is smart. It was so nice to give her a great big bear hug and reminisce about Max and what a joy he was.

Through Max’s death my husband Kelly and I really know what a supportive community we have. Our house has been filled with family and friends that come and give us hugs and pray with us and talk and laugh about Max and life. I had friends drive down from Bellingham and up from Portland just to give me a hug and pray with me! Thank you to those of you who are praying for us! I

Max loved parties! For Christmas and Easter my husband Kelly and I blew up lots of balloons and put streamers up in our living room to celebrate Jesus’ birthday and resurrection.

I already have a therapist I trust that I will start seeing asap. I’m already on anti depressant and anti anxiety medication.

We only want two kids. My huband Kelly is going to get a vascetemy eventually but hasn’t yet so if its God’s plan we will be able to have another baby. I’m looking forward to having that pure joy and bliss again.

I’ve never been afraid of death for myself and I’m not afraid now. I used to want to live though until I was very old. But now that has changed a little. If I only live until I’m 65 that’s okay because I just want to see my baby. I want him to tell me in his little voice, “Come on Mommy! What are you doing Mommy! Why did you take so long. Mommy I missed you. Come chase me mommy! Come play set go with me mommy. Mommy my tummy’s cold – I need hot cocoa.” I will wait because I have to until I see him again in heaven.

If you would like to be praying for me and us this is what we would like you to pray for: For God’s peace, for God’s comfort, for Kelly and my marriage, for the image of what Max looked like when I found him to be replaced by Christ and for our daughter Molly to not be lost in the shuffle.

Max

I started this blog post having it be about Molly turning 10 months old but instead I feel like I can blog a little bit about Max and his death. He was here when Molly turned 9 months old but now today Molly is 10 months and he is in heaven. It hurts so much that he is not here for me to hear, hold, read books to, snuggle with, kiss, help get dressed and just watch grow up. I think I’ll use my blog to write every once in a while about how I’m feeling to help me and so you can kind of know how I’m “doing.”

My friend Jenn wrote this on her blog soon after Max died and I feel it is a beautiful description so I’m reposting it for you.

A year or so ago, we had a large stump in our back yard that we wanted removed.

“Kelly is coming up to visit us this week,” Mike said.  “He can get it out for us!”

I knew it was true; on more than one occasion, I had seen our friend Kelly use his truck to successfully pull things out of the ground.  After all, Kelly is the type of person who gets a glimmer in his eye when a piece of electronic equipment needs to be fixed, a fire needs to be started, or a couch just needs to be blown up.

With this in mind, I implored Mike to call a tree removal service.

“No,” Mike firmly told me.  “Kelly can do it.”

And he did.

Knowing this, you can now maybe imagine how glorious life was for Kelly and Katie Keeton’s three-year-old son, Max.  A grand adventure of tools, construction sites, rain boots, and car parts.  A mommy and daddy who valued silliness, play, and surrounding their kids with family, friends, and faith.

So, it is with monumental, unfathomable sadness that we are now grieving the loss of Max, who passed away earlier this week.  He was with us for only three years…but what a three years he had. Both sides of grandparents to dote on him, little and big friends to play with, and some amazing parents who helped him get dirty, explore the world, and learn to play on his dad’s pinball machines.

We last saw Max on New Year’s Eve, which we spent with the Keeton’s on Whidbey Island. Max gleefully played with his grandparents all evening, running through the house in his cozy pajamas.  The next morning, he agreed to dress up in clothes a friend had brought back from Thailand for he, his sister Molly, and Luella.  He sat sweetly for pictures during the ensuing photo frenzy, giving Molly a little kiss on the head as she sat beside him.

We’re going to be missing our little friend at every holiday and get-together, and, well, all the time in between.

And to the one and only Max:  thanks for letting us be part of your life, pal.  We’ll keep on loving you, your sister, and your strong, big-hearted parents.  And if he’s lucky, we’ll probably even let your dad pull more stumps out of our yard.

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Here are some of my favorite pictures of Max from this past April and May. We had a grand time every. single. day.

max and molly sink bath

m and m

drinking rain water from the table

fishing reading max

     favorite sink bath pic

favorite sink bath pic

beach max birthday max 2 boy in a bin bunny max carrot cake muffin 1 carrot cake muffin 2 carrying max and molly daddy and max dad's 59th birthday diaper and boots mxa doll hair at natalias donuts from grandma darlene helping max IMAG0597 jump rope max max holding molly 2 max holding molly max not wanting his pic taken max wanting to hold and nurse molly pizza max 2 pizza max 3 pizza max 4 play dough playground max shenanigans sliding max train max whidbey sink bath 2

Higher level thinking

Max will be three this month. Yes, THREE. He’s almost getting his drivers license he’s so old! Every day I can tell he’s getting smarter. Kelly or I read three books to him before his nap and before bed time. If he’s being a little rascal and not following directions getting ready for either slumber session we take away one book. Yes, we are horrible parents and punish our child this way. It works fairly well though because that kid loves books! Yesterday I had to take one book away before nap time and Max was not happy. In his room I told him to pick out two books. He was dilly dallying around and so I told him two books or no books. (I was pulling out the big guns.) He told me, “Mommy, don’t be mean to me because it makes me feel mad.” Whoa a little almost three-year-old cause and effect! I informed him that I was sorry if he felt mad but he still needed to pick out his books.

Here are some activities Max has been up to:

boy in a bin

Reading in the clothes hamper.

bunny max

Being a cute little carrot eating bunny. The boy loves eating carrots!

carrot cake muffin 2

This is Max saying no to the mommy paparazzi. He was just so dang cute in his “farmer hat” eating his carrot cake muffin. I couldn’t resist.

carrying max and molly

We had some spare time on Friday so we walked to the school to play on the playground. There are some horses nearby. Well less than a mile. Round trip it was about a three hour walk. Molly fell asleep and Max had a great time finding dandelions, rocks and sticks. He liked getting to see the horses and hear them make funny noises. On the way back he started to get tired. He would tell me he was tired and needed  rest so he would just sit down on the side of the road. It was pretty dang cute. I offered to carry him on my back and he loved that idea. It was quite a lot of effort to get him up there while having Molly attached to my front but as you can see it worked out. We were quite the sight!

daddy and max

We had this strange kush type ball that Max loved playing with.

diaper and boots mxa

He just had to go outside as soon as possible and didn’t have time for clothes! Who needs them anyway?!

doll hair at natalias

We were at a friend’s house who has a daughter the same age as Max. I saw him brushing the doll’s hair. It was so cute and sweet! He gave her hair a few brushes then decided to run around.

max not wanting his pic taken

Peek!