I had a hopeful saying in my 20s, “four kids by 30.” I was excited to discover around my 29th birthday that I was expecting baby #4! With boys ages 5 1/2, 4, and 2 1/2, our home was busy. And with my belly growing daily, it appeared my hopeful saying was to come to fruition.
February 8th 2006, stands as the “baddest day” of my life. My precious 2 years-9 months old son, Tucker, was found dead in his crib, by his Daddy. No amount of CPR or screaming out to God would change it. He was gone from us. Our world crashed. Five months passed and much investigations, to receive a death certificate: seizure disorder & bronchial pneumonia. Too many details to share – tuckersalisbury.com.
For a decade, we’ve journeyed with God through a darkest valley, more trials, and are changed and now living our new normal.
Recently I turned 39. Around this birthday celebration I discovered I was expecting Salisbaby#9. I’m long humbled past declarations of “blank blank by 40″, and was grateful for whatever the Lord had planned for this year. (We’ve experienced approximately 19 miscarriages but have chosen to count those birthed.)
As this February 8th, 2016 drew near, snuggling my now 2 year- 9 months old sweet son, Zion Valor, spread over this ever growing pregnant belly, I was overwhelmed by strong emotions of being in a similar place as 10 years ago…
Pregnant, blessed, and rocking a sweet 2 years-9 months old little boy in my arms… On the cusp of turning another decade older.
This day came and went – February 8th, 2016. My schedule was full – meetings, schooling, errands, quick jaunt to cemetery, home to make dinner, babysitting for a friend while my Biggies & Dad were out for evening activities, and finally bed at 10:30 for all. Long day. I sunk into bed, no bedtime routine for me, same clothes and no charging my precious cell phone.
In hindsight, it was too long and busy of a day.
10 years have taught me much about grief.
It happens. Whether we want it to or not. It’s not predictable or to be controlled. If you don’t purposefully make time for it, it will come.
I released emotion a couple days prior, when I received a text from a dear friend with a photo of Tuck’s Pooh Bear on his gravestone. It was refreshing to remember and to feel. Numbness has a way of becoming normal in grief. I prayed and reflected, it was good.
Yesterday, Tucker’s 10 year anniversary of his Move to Heaven Day, a few countable tears, while I shared with an acquaintance a brief overview of Tuck’s story. I wrapped up the brief emotion, concluded the meeting, and headed home to a full schedule. I answered many questions from the children about Tucker, what happened, and about Heaven. Ving and Hunter, the boys-now-men that lived through it didn’t say much. The younger five only know what they learn of grief and Tucker from us, so they talk, and ask, and try to relate. “This is very, very, sad.” Was a profound statement from a Middle, as I witnessed him wrestle in his heart the emotion and reality. I was conscious to keep environment healthy for the children to process and grieve.
Many sweet and thoughtful messages of love and remembrance filled my phone and FB. Thank-you, each was received, read, pondered, and appreciated. I was surviving the day, purposefully not engaging grief or replying.
I haven’t been a fan of the cemetery, and rarely found it helpful to visit. My son wasn’t there. Irv however, spent many hours caring for Tuck’s space and visiting. Last February 8th we were out of town, and I really longed to be able to take the family to Tuck’s gravesite. The day felt dark, dreary and I experienced an early miscarriage so was secluded to bed, far from home. That day, a sweet text delivered a hug, a heart purposefully grief-stomped in the snowy tundra, around his gravestone. Significant photo as I was wrestling with feeling loved, God’s love, and grief.
As this year’s date approached, 10 years, I marked the calendar for 4:00, “pick up Dad at work and go to Oakwood.” With 9 balloons in hand, we loaded the Salisbus and made the journey across town. Balloons have been part of our grief journey. Tucker’s funeral service wasn’t complete without many. We’ve released them multiple times on his memorial dates. As the cashier inflated my yellow smiley balloons yesterday, he repeatedly commented, “I can’t fill these without smiling and laughing.” I drove home thinking about the joy of heaven and Tucker.
The visit was short and sweet. The children measured themselves against Tucker’s life-size photo commenting on his stature for just 2 years – 9 months, so tall. Questions began. We remembered and discussed the many words and photos etched into his memorial stone. His blue pacifier, thomas train, green Build-A-Bear Frog in attempts to potty train, Pooh Bear, Taggie, and his few words: “Super-Batman, eggs & sausage, B-I-B-L-E, M-mmmmm Mom, Twinkle-Twinkle, Jesus, broccoli-celery, you back!, you okay?” His favorite song, Jesus Loves Me, and comforting scriptures of the hope of Heaven, God’s faithfulness, and how He knows each of our every days from first breath to death.
10 years. Life continues. I survived the day, celebrated, engaged with children about death and grief, remembered, and kept busy.
Today, February 9th – I awoke with overwhelming grief. I know better. I know that if I attempt to survive, but don’t stop and make time to grieve, process with Jesus, it will determine its own. Grief determined today.
It took all I had to get out of bed. Children’s backpacks ready, filled with Valentines to distribute to friends at CC Co-op party. Individual presentations ready, completed and packed. Lunch boxes awaiting just ice packs in the fridge. Clothes laid out and ready for warm bodies. I awoke everyone, already later than needed, and I jumped in the shower. Anger, frustration, tears, and overwhelming emotions I could not tame. From shower to arrival to CC, I interacted with seven loved ones not well: teenagers texting to bring them forgotten items, children fighting, children crying, children teasing, children not getting ready, laundry still in washers from yesterday despite verbal and written requests to be taken care of, bad grades on essays, too many words, children fighting over van seats, child crying over forgotten lunch box in van – it was a normal morning. But I was ugly and unable to function. I cried, yelled, was angry, inpatient, disciplined, and all was just wrong. I needed alone time. I know better. If I don’t find my Jesus time to process grief, life and emotions – grief and sin will win.
Arrival at CC campus had me unable to enter public. Ugly. Grief attack. They used to happen often, but now they are few and far between. A friend escorted the children into building, while I found this far away parking space that I’ve been tucked into the past 2 hours. Grief is here. God is here. I am grateful, but still too ugly. Tears and boogers won’t stop.
Thank you for prayers, support, patience, understanding, resources, remembering, loving, caring, and journeying with me. I miss Tucker, I miss him much. But mostly, I remember joyfully and I am grateful for the gift of Tucker, the blessing of the Tucker chapters in my life story and all that God has done through Tuck.
We speak of Tucker whenever the topic or memory surfaces; with love, joy, and honesty.
10 years. Ten is a big number, a decade. In the moments it doesn’t seem possible to have been so long ago that he was our normal, but at the same time it is forever ago I loved on him. The past decade has been a journey of grief, hope, joy, and experiencing the faithfulness of God.
We have a new normal. Our family was a family of five 10 years ago, and now we are soon to be a family of eleven.
The first days of grief I asked God for a rhema, a specific Word from the scriptures, to anchor my aching heart. Psalm 40:1-4 it was, and while I didn’t understand it all at that time, these words are profound and true to my journey.
“I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.”
I’ve been reminded lately of all the lives changed and touched by Tucker’s life, and what God had done through his short time on earth, “Many will see and fear the Lord, and put their trust in him.” It’s humbling. I believe there are many I will never know this side of Heaven. It’s a privilege to be his Mmmmm-Mom.
I could provide long lists of the my battles and struggles this decade has journeyed. As well as longer lists of blessings, gratefulness and gifts. But that’s all of our lives, isn’t it?
I am glad to have the Truth to cling to, the Savior Jesus to free me to survive in this sin filled world and truly live.
I made it home from CC co-op now, and was greeted by my independent, adolescent man, asking about the morning. My tears came again. He approached with out stretched arms, and hugged me long. Not a typical gesture for his young man. I cried and discussed grief, I asked for forgiveness for this mornings words and anger, and I was forgiven. He found me a tissue, stating, “Yesterday was a really hard day for me too, Mom. I cried a lot. The cemetery was tough.” It felt good to hear his words, to know he remembers, cares, is tender, and grieves too. May he be a better Man for loving, grieving, and comforting.
The years and decades will pass.
I will love and live each day that God gives me, to their fullest.
My Move-To-Heaven day could be now, or 4-5 more decades.
Regardless, some days will be ugly, some cloudy, some pretty and many sunny.
I pray I seek Jesus more, grow in humility, say sorry when needed, love my husband better, mother these children with supernatural power, show kindness and Jesus to those in my sphere of influence, forgive, and may I live and celebrate life loud.
Soon, and very soon, I am going to see the Lord … And my Sweet Tucker.
? “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 (NLT)
Are you needing more? Comfort, healing, love, and emptiness filled? Please ask me, and check out: http://proverbs31.org/do-you-know-jesus/ and www.GotQuestions.org