Trying to find the words...

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked how I'm doing these last few weeks. Each and every one, well-intentioned and sincere. Usually the response is... "I'm good" with a smile, or "we're doing okay", so as not to come across as doing "too good". As I walk away, I usually think to myself... Did that seem fake? Did it look like I was trying to hold back tears? Was I too cheerful? Was I transparent enough to show how I really feel inside? ...And then I get that same question from my best friends and family... the ones that really want to know. (I don't mean others don't, but how do you share that with everyone?) I usually end up with something like "... I just don't know."

It's the complete, honest truth. I just don't know. I don't know how to explain it or make it coherent. Each time I try, I don't make much sense and I end up just sitting there, looking down and trying to find the words. There are just so many contradictions. I am good... but I'm not. I am so blessed... but I feel like a piece of me is gone. I feel so normal... but so out of my element. I feel like every other mom in the grocery store... but I want a sign on me that says "be nice, my son just died." I can laugh like I used to... but I cry like I never have before. I can feel like life is moving on... but somehow it is completely standing still. I have such a passion to help other girls suffering and grieving... but I am still walking through it myself. I feel like the Lord has overwhelmed us with His presence... but I can still feel so down.

I miss Maddox. I miss him so much. And yet, I think maybe I can finally say this now without sounding ugly or weird... I don't miss him physically as much as I miss him emotionally. I miss all that could have been. All that I imagined. I can't even say "would have" or "should have" been, because I KNOW 100% that "what is" is part of God's plan... but I do miss all the "could haves" of life with him. ...It's the confusion, the pain. It often resurges, as it did last night as I sat in a MOPS meeting. Last night a question was asked... raise your hand if you have one child? one and expecting? two? three or more? My hand immediately, almost without thinking, went up at one child... I have one here with me, I rationalized. Then one of my best friends leaned over to quietly remind me "You do have two children... you can raise your hand for two!" It was one of those moments that I just let pierce my heart. I do have two, but how do I do that the rest of my life? Do I get into a big, long conversation with every person that asks a simple "how many kids do you have?" I know the moments will seem right to share if needed, but in most cases, the answer will probably be one. But then I feel like I'm acting like Maddox didn't exist? Like this was all a dream... Am I allowing others to think that I've "moved on" when truly, I will never ever forget? Again... so much confusion... so much contradiction.

I really could go on as many things keep coming to mind, but somehow what I'm trying to convey is that through all of the lows, all of the questions, there are many highs and many more certainties. Life does go on and I am steadily, confidently trying to go that way... in a forward direction... forward where the Lord is leading.

Like the previous post, He has promised so many great things to our family. He has promised to love us more than we can fathom, to bring us peace and comfort, and to walk with us through these difficult times. He has promised to restore our hearts and to call us to Him when He is ready. He has promised an eternal home, but asks of us that while we are here, we live this one "sold-out" for Him. We knew, but through this now understand on a much deeper level, that life is so wonderfully precious... that each child brought into this world is a miracle... if health is intact, just that much more incredible. The Lord knew of these deep waters in which we would be swimming and I pray that He trusted in us and the character that we would display as we persevered in Him.

As I continue trying to find the words, I will share something I heard that might help explain where I am right now: "If I'm crying, don't have me committed... If I'm laughing, don't think I've forgotten." I'll admit that when I first heard that, I didn't think it was very "eloquent" at all... Somehow though, in trying to move forward, I feel it important to share with everyone.

We ARE doing well... We ARE laughing... We ARE loving life... We ARE excited about what God has in store for our futures... We ARE so blessed and so thankful... We ARE moving on... But, we simply haven't forgotten.

"Praise the LORD, I tell myself; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, I tell myself, and never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He ransoms me from death and surrounds me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle's!"- Psalm 103:1-5


Susan said…
Hey Kenzie,

Just stopping by to simply say, I LOVE YOU, and I'll continue to pray for you and your precious family~
danielle said…
i forget how i stumbled upon your blog - probably via the CFhusband. anyway, as a PICU nurse regularly interacting with parents losing a child, your posts have been very insightful for me. through your honest words, i get a glimpse of what parents like you are experiencing. i pray this insight makes me a better and more compassionate nurse, person, and Christian to those for whom i care. just wanted to say thanks for being so open and transparent in your posts.
Choofy Mama said…
I just had to post, b/c your's so nice, in a sad way, to read someone else's blog, who feels JUST like me. It's nice to not be alone, although it's never, ever nice to know another family that has lost a child so soon :(

I posted before, I think, but in case you don't remember, I'm JEN, christian mama as well, to Mairi, born 12/04, and Catriana, stillborn at 41w, 1/07.

Once I had a complete meltdown after a cashier asked me how many children i had and i said one...and i didn't WANT to say one :/

Anyway, you are such an incredible woman of faith, yours has inspired mine, and I continue to pray for your family daily.

bookworm said…
You have an uncanny way of writing about things just as I need to read them, of putting into words what I am just beginning to understand for myself...I am so grateful--and so sorry--that there you are on this road of along side me (another of these contradictions). And I am so thankful that you have such a gift with words.
Always in prayer,
Heather Paulsen said…
Thank you for your honesty. I fully enjoy reading your blog and the manner in which you have walked through this season of your life.

Praise God for your faithfulness!
Laura said…
I have been following your story for a while now....I too had a baby die shortly after birth. We found out at our 20 week ultrasound that she had a fatal condition and would die while in utero or shortly after birth.

I have been talking about so many of the things you wrote about today! Moving on = forgetting Moving forward= remembering and honoring your baby as you continue walking.

You are a courageous woman. There are so many who are cheering you on the journey...those ahead of you as well as those who are following you.

Peace to you-
Chelle' said…
Kenzie- I wonder if you are supposed to "know". I wonder if you are supposed to have an answer to the question, "How are you?" Your family of four is temporarily a family of three. And though we understand the temporal nature of earth and your family here... many will not. So, unfortunately, you will have to answer seemingly black and white questions with an answer that is clearly grey. I'm not sure you'll ever feel "right" about that... but I do think it may become "easier" (for a multitude of reasons) with time.

What I do know is that you are not to be concerned about how others feel regarding your response to that question. I know that you are not to worry about seeming fake or appearing too cheerful. You are not to safeguard your answers to protect others from potential discomfort.

You are who you are. And Maddox is with Jesus. So when confronted with the question "How are you" from friends, family and or acquaintances... you will show yourself in your response sometimes with joy, sometimes sorrow, sometimes confusion but always with security in the One who calls you His own and holds Maddox close to Him until you're reunited. Whichever response you give however, is never to be considered regarding others... we are all strong enough to take care of ourselves. Right now and for however long hereafter... you need to take care of YOU!!!

Which by the way... we're all here to help you do that in whatever way we can.

**And as a sidenote- if wearing a sign telling everyone to be nice would help... I'll have that sucker printed up for you immediately!!! :0)

Hugs and Prayers,
Marlina said…
I've been watching your blog and praying for your family since before Maddox was born, and grieved for you all. I have not lost a child, but I have walked through a loss with my cousin who is also one of my best friends. Her son was 4 when he died, I was very close to the family, and it was so very hard. The neat thing is that I have always been able to talk with my cousin about him, asked questions, remembered his birth and death dates. It's so hard to know what to say to someone who has lost someone so dear to them. But, I so appreciate her being open with me and sharing her hurt with me, crying together many times. I admire that she has never lost her faith in God. She has also raised her two younger children (one she was pregnant with when she lost her son)to know and remember their brother. He is still a part of the family, we try to tell them things about him so they can know him like we did. We always say that she has three children, one is in heaven. So don't feel bad for sharing yourself with people, and your grief, maybe they need to be in it with you as much as you need them to be there for you. (A really neat thing that God did is that my cousin's other son and his wife had a baby last year on his deceased brother's birthday, how's that for a gift from GOD?!)
With love and prayers for you,
Jessica said…
Thinking of you Kenzie!
and praying........Love Jessica
Devin said…

I've missed talking with you lately. These words really hit home....I posted nearly the same ones after I lost our little one too. I can let go of what will never be (and, as you know, I know the pain that comes along with all the "what ifs?") but I will never, ever forget.

And we shouldn't.

God put Maddox into your life forever, he just happens to live in a much better place than we do for awhile.

I have the same trouble with the number of children question. You do have two children, I do have four. We always will. But, I speak from experience when I say that if you try to tell or convince people of that, most will not understand....until you walk this road, you just don't really get it.

But at the end of the day, what really matters is the fact that YOU and I know the truth :-).

Love you girl, and praying for you everyday.
boltefamily said…

It is so great to read your words! I couldn't have said it better and it makes me feel not so alone in this! Thanks for sharing! I am still praying for you guys!

Love you!

Very well put Kenzie. Your heart is a true reflection of our Father's. Remembering Maddox's life with you. He's a piece of you always. Love in Christ, Heather Rice
7 years ago a good friend lost her 8 month old to a brain tumor. Their medical journey started at 6 weeks. I was pretty involved in their lives, at home and during hospital stays. Like the trauma of the abuse I grew up with, his death has forever changed a lot of us, beyond his family. There has been much healing, yet his short life and early death color MANY things in life. I am amazed how God speaks to me in everyday situations remembering what we all lived through during his 8 months of life. His parents have had moments of revelation about God that others don't get. God heals, but living without a child forever changes you. It seems that the secret, like we all have to discover through trials, is how to allow God to keep our hearts tender to Him, not get hardened by the circumstances.
Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep---life is a full package of both.
Angie Luce said…

Wow! I feel like you just expressed exactly what is in my heart. It is a life of paradox in many ways. i cringed when i heard the question you were asked in MOPS. I know that my first reaction would have been to do exactly the same thing. But just like you wrote, God isn't letting us go. He is continuing to work, just as much as He was when our little ones were still on the way. I say amen to the verse you chose. He fills my life with good things. He ransoms me from death! Praise Jesus.

much love my sweet friend!

Anonymous said…
I've never commented on your blog before, but wanted to thank you for the second paragraph in this post. While I haven't lost a child like you (mine was a very early miscarriage, so I barely had time to register anything in my own heart and mind, and my husband definitely didn't have time to connect), I feel those combinations of paradoxical feelings right now. And for me, it's not even about the miscarriage, but about where my life is at and how I feel so alone most days even though some of the evidence tells me I'm not. I long to be a hermit, and yet I long for someone to invade my space and just be here with me. But neither gets to happen. I have to go out there and participate in my world, and no one reaches out to me in any real or helpful way. People reach out in casual friendship, but once they discover that I might actually have a need, they back away and don't know what to do. I am so homesick - for Heaven and for my family and friends 2,000-ish miles away from where I live now.

My tears have been stuck for what seems like forever. But reading your second paragraph today just released them, and even though it hurts, it also feels like a relief. Thank you for sharing, for it seems I needed to hear what you had to say.

Emily said…
You bless me so.
Tabatha said…
It's me again! It's so unreal to read your post b/c those are all the things I have battled through. I just want to let you know that you will come out the other side....but all b/c you come out the otherside does not mean that you will every forget and I know that you are already learning that. When someone...anyone ask how many kids I have, I use to pick and choose when to say one or two (before Tegan was born)then I started to realize that what felt right to me was to say two and now I say three. I don't go any further unless they say "Oh how old are they" and I follow with a girl that is five, a son that passed away at birth, and a son that is 6 months. I find it easier to recognize him than to not. It's unbareable to me to pretend that he was never here. I know that you are happy to see that life is moving on but sad to see this time slipping away. You feel out of place and then suddenly one day you will realize that you are getting use to being back out in the world. Please email me if you would you have this overwhelming feeling to help do I. Tabatha
Lezlie said…
Praying for you. Love you.
Jennifer said…
Hi Kenzie... we have never met, and in fact - I just heard about your site through a girlfriend of mine who thought I could relate to you. This Saturday (March 15th) has been known as "Ethan Day" to my family and close friends. On March 14, 2005 I went into my OBGYN for my normal 5 month check up and found out that there was no heartbeat. I delivered my son, Ethan, the next day (the 15th). Words cannot express the pain my husband and I felt. I still get choked up thinking about it. The months that followed were difficult for both of us, but one of the MOST difficult parts were dealing with other's questions or sometimes lack thereof. My worst fear was that people would forget Ethan - act like he never existed. I too, struggled with answering questions like, "how many children do you have?" or "How are you feeling today?" I wasn't afraid of talking about Ethan - in fact, I appreciated the people who DID ask about him and us. I might have been emotional while talk about it, I might not have been. It just depended on the day. I loved that my friends knew that it was OK for me to cry several months he was gone. It was ok if I didn't. It's hard to believe that this Saturday will be the 3rd year since my Ethan went to live with Jesus. My heart longs to be with him again, but until then, I take refuge in knowing that my God is taking care of him. I tell you all of this to let you know that strangers are praying for you and understand. May the God of peace be with you and your family and heal your broken hearts.
walkingbyfaith said…
"If I'm crying, don't have me committed... If I'm laughing, don't think I've forgotten."

Wow. That quote is SO true.

I'm glad to hear that you and your family are doing well. Your strength is conveyed through your words and is definitely an inspiration. May God continue to strengthen you. =]
Laurie said…
Love this post Kenzie. Love your heart and your honesty and Love you. You teach me so much about how to comfort someone and how not to. What to say and what not to say. I need to learn this as I don't want to be one of those people who freeze up when face to face with this personal of a loss. I want to be prepared to encourage and you are showing me the way through your journey. Thank you so much for continuing to share your heart here with us. You have a beautiful heart and Maddox is right in the middle of it, helping you to heal the pain but never forget. He has opened too many eyes and hearts to ever be forgotten, especially in my home and heart. He is a miracle in every way. Sounds like your eagles wings are growing:)

Love and Blessings, Laurie in Ca.
CAGB said…
I don't know you, but our prayers are with you. We lost our first daughter in 2005, and we now have a nine month lovely old girl. The dilemma of how to address strangers never gets easier. It truly is difficult to explain how many children I have, even now. (And the constant question during my pregnancy, "Is this your first!?") People always mean well, and there is nothing they can say that will make you feel better (or worse). You just have to do what feels right to you. The process of grief does get easier. And, as the emotions settle down, each child settles into his (or her) place in your physical and emotional life. The sadness never goes away and the crying jags don't stop. But, it changes over time. I promise, it does happen. Prayers for you and yours.
Jen in Al said…
Dearest Kenzie, I pray you can feel how much you all are loved. you don't have to know what to say. it is okay not to know how you are doing or for it to be different from one minute to the next! you are walking this journey with grace and seeking the Lord. i thank God for all the people you are touching for Him through sharing your heart. Know that while you may be uncertain whether or not to tell every person about Maddox, those that love you and are praying for you will NEVER forget that you are Maddox's Mommy too!!! You are not acknowledging him any less if you discern that a particular time doesn't feel right to talk about what you have been through. thank you for your beautiful honesty! Praying every day for you and yours, jen in al
Kim said…
How beautifully and clearly you express that-your family has touched my heart. I pray blessings for your family and want you to know what an encouragement to my faith reading this blog has been-thank you.
Joanne said…

It was ten years ago in February when we lost our son during my 2nd trimester. I still keep his ashes by my bed. I still have the journal I kept when he was alive inside of me. A few months after we lost Robert Clay we became pregnant again. This time they told me that there were cysts on my baby's brain and that Trisomy 18 was the almost sure prognosis. I remember thinking that if only I could hold my baby this time for even a moment, it would be ok. Grace Anne was born healthy and a few years later came Samuel (we were told the same about his cysts on the brain, he too was healthy. There have been many hardships since the loss of our son, yet my darkest hours were the weeks and months after he left us. When my mother passed away from cancer, I was oddly joyful knowing that my son would now be in her arms. It gave me peace knowing that her heartache of leaving her grandchildren here, would be turned to joy in Heaven. I know that this precious baby of mine will be one of the first I take up in my arms when I finally go home. I look forward to meeting your precious little one too.

In Him, Joanne

p.s. I found you through my friend Chelle.
I have been following your blog for some time now. I am so glad you e-mailed me, how crazy is that! Just one of those God-things. I seem to be having a lot of those these past few months. I am walking this same road with you, my precious little girl went home to be with Jesus on Jan.22 of this year. This post says everything that I am feeling. I am right there with you.
Julie said…
Everyone mourns and heals at their own rate and in their own way. You do whatever feels right to YOU - don't worry about what others may think or say.

Praising God for His work in your lives (and my heart).
Oh Sweet Kenzie,
I love you girl. I have felt those same things and it's just hard. It's amazing how good you can feel and the very next second be in the tank - out of now where most of the time. And sometimes I can feel fine about a conversation with someone and walk away and wonder why I feel like poop (lack of a better word) and just want to go home and crawl in a hole.
We KNOW we are blessed, We KNOW God loves us and We KNOW we wouldn't have changed being Mary Grace or Maddox's Mommys, and we KNOW He will carry us through this - but that doesn't mean it's going to be easy. As long as we live here in this world - it's going to be a battle - but a battle worth fighting. We have so much to look forward to in Heaven now more than ever - our sweet babies are there and oh how I miss them.
I went to a camp this weekend with families who have lost children. This question of "how many kids do you have" came up. There are many different ways to handle it - one lady said she says - I have four and three are with us and one is in Heaven - and if it's someone who really doesn't care or it freaks them out - it's done! then one lady said - it depends on who asks her and if she is in the mood to take it further. I think I feel like I WANT to say I have three girls and one is in Heaven. never know and I don't think anything you do will be wrong- just go with your heart and gut at the time. I hope that helps. Another night I asked Chris if anyone had asked how many kids he had and what he said (he started a new job and is meeting lots of new people), when he told me yes and that he said two - I understood but it hurt my heart that Mary Grace was left out - that told me that I don't want to answer it that way. Not that it's how you would or should feel!
You are precious and I love you. My heart hurts for you / us.
After Easter let's get together -
P.S. You are always in my prayers!
Michele said…
Such an awesome post, Kenzie! You are such an excellent writer. You know, you answer the question the way you feel you should. You will never forget Maddox-you will move on and be joyful and there is NOTHING wrong with that. You are not disrespecting the memory of Maddox in any way by working through your feelings and letting God restore your joy. What an inspiration to so many!
Anonymous said…
God is using you in such a powerful way. You can't imagine what your words have meant to me. Someday, down the road maybe you'll write a book. Moms out there need to hear what you are saying and you write it so well!! Thank you for being the clay God can mold for His glory.
PS. I love the music on your blog!!
Melody said…

I think that "contradiction" is a perfect word for this time of your life. Every thing you wrote makes perfect sense. I think death, more specifically our feelings about death, are just that: a contradiction. We are so happy that our loved ones are free from the pain and hurt of this world, and living with Jesus, and yet we are so sad that we dont have them living here with us.

I agree with all of the above commenters, who stated that you can only respond to hard questions or say what fits for you. Continuing to pray for you and your family. :)

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