Hello! I’ve not been hiding. We have been blessed with the presence of my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew visiting us the past 3 days and I was far too busy enjoying them to blog. Watching my kiddos run around with their 2.5 year old cousin just made my heart glow. Oh, and they brought their dog! My kids are on cloud nine.
I’ve been racking my brain as to what to share tonight and I came to my journal entry from 12/21/2014 at 2:50AM. We were in full autopilot mode and I had decided to speak at Caleb’s service. Tonight, I share with you my journal entry from that night and the transcript from words about him at the funeral. These words are very near and dear to me. I share them tonight with the hope that they help you remember Bub like we do and that you can get a sense for where we’re coming from and where we’re going.
“The ache has been intense tonight. I find my nerves are rather frayed and I’m having a difficult time being in large crowds. I went to the store tonight and felt completely drained by the time I got home. Caleb’s service is going to be wonderful and all is coming together nicely. Jen and Emily have been amazing! I feel like I need to speak….I just pray I keep it together and can articulately convey the wonderful and calming things I know as well as some great stories from Bub’s life. We have 9AM Christmas church. I should try to sleep. So many family and friends surround us. It fills us all with peace, love, and joy. Tonight’s epiphany….I don’t believe he was ever meant to be here very long, but we intend to forever be with him as he continues to inspire and help shape our lives. The blessings we have already received are proof of that.”
I then spoke these words at his service on the evening of December 22, 2014:
When we were first talking about preparing for this evening, and I mentioned that I felt like I should speak, Brig was a little hesitant at the idea and anyone I mentioned it to seemed to be hesitant. But, there’s been so many things that I’ve learned through this whole process that I thought it would be a disservice to our Father in Heaven and to Caleb to not share the lessons that I’ve learned because there’s so much to be learned here.
I’ve heard a lot of a couple of phrases over the last week and a half. The first is, “He’s such a cute little boy, such a sweet little boy”, referencing our little boy. When Caleb was about a year and a half old, on the recommendation from some extended family members, I got a series of books by a Dr. Leonard Sax and the first one is called “Gender Matters” and it talks about the differences between boys and girls. In that there’s one phrase that pretty much summed up Bubba for us. He says that one of the main differences between boys and girls is that girls are nouns and boys are verbs….and Caleb very much is a verb! The other phrase that I’ve heard repeatedly is, “I’m sorry for your loss” and that’s the one that I have a hard time with because, in my book as his mom, he’s not lost to me. He is found. He is saved. He is with our Father in Heaven. And on that note, in our church and in our faith, we have something called “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and it talks about the eternal nature of families. I’ll quote a little bit from it:
“ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny….IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave.”
That last sentence, because we know God is a just and loving God, but that doesn’t mean that he makes sure that nothing bad ever happens. Or, as I tell my kids, this just sucks. There’s no two ways about it. But the divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. So, to us, he is not lost!
I made sure to write down thoughts from the time he got transferred to Iowa City, keep a journal, and wanting to remember my epiphanies and tender mercies that myself and my family has received because nobody expects their child to go in for a tonsillectomy and die and few days later. I know if he were meant to stay here and live to be 100 years old, God would have seen to it. I know my Father in Heaven does not take any life lightly, or allow any life to be taken lightly. The only reason our Bubba would be with Him right now is if his mission on this earth were complete. His final act of loving kindness, to us and for us, was to remind us to always live in the moment. Our little verb taught us to enjoy every second of every day. Out of 6 kiddos, I could always look at them and picture what they might do with their lives. Who they might become, what profession they might go into. But Caleb, I never could. He took all of my energy and effort on every single day just to keep up with him. There was no looking to the future and figuring things out for someone who burned so fast and so bright. The day after his surgery, the morning he got to Iowa City…he got there at 4:30 in the morning…and at 7:15, I sat down and I wrote this:
“Through this all I have come to more fully understand some things. I know with all my soul that we are not our bodies. The broken little body in the bed next to me is merely a mortal vessel for who he is. He is an energetic, bouncy, happy, sneaky ray of sunshine. He is his spirit. That is always whole. Caleb is not a brain injury. I also know that Christ lives and loves me. I know He is playing and running with Bubba while I can’t. Caleb is in His care and I know the Lord will keep him safe while his body does what our Father desires. I do not know what the future holds, but I do know that the Lord is with us. That He lives and that families can and will be forever. I testify of these things.”
That was on December 13th. Caleb was pronounced brain dead at 10:09PM on December 17th. There are countless people in this building right now who have cared for Caleb in one capacity or another since he was born. He had a lot of living to do and he wasn’t going to wait to do it. So, he came 6.5 weeks early! They said he’s going to be in the NICU for 5-6 weeks, it’s going to be a long road. He said forget that and came home 7 days later! I said, “Get off of there Caleb. That’s too high!” and he’d jump down. I’d say, “Don’t sneak that!” and he’d run to his room, hide in a corner, and eat it anyway. I’d say walk down the stairs and he’d walk half way down and jump. Our Bubba did not get in bed at night. He climbed up onto the dresser and Superman jumped onto the toddler bed. When we were watching my best friend’s little kiddos, and they were staying the night at our house and we had an extra twin mattress on the nursery floor, I’d hear repeated thuds and I walked into the nursery to find Caleb, along with his sister’s, jumping Superman style off the top bunk onto the twin mattress on the nursery floor. I would repeatedly hear thuds in the nursery while I was making dinner and would run there, the first few times it happened, to find him jumping off his dresser onto the floor. A four drawer dresser! With perfect form! I was so afraid he was going to break his leg until I saw him land! Then, I went , “You have amazing control for a two year old!”. L2 has been in physical therapy for about a year and Christina, her physical therapist, is here tonight. She can attest to anyone in this room that that boy had motor skills far beyond his years. He was and is a verb and continues to be. I know that we will all have the opportunity to see him again.
I started an epiphany page, they kept coming so quickly, and a couple of memories and epiphanies that came to me that I wanted to share with you. The first one… *child squeal in congregation*… I love squeals! Caleb was loud! Oh my goodness! Anyway, we were at the Ronald McDonald House down in Iowa City. Part of Caleb’s blessing to us in his death was not leaving us in the OR at [name withheld]. I know there are a lot of you here who saw him in the ER and again in the OR at [name withheld]. He could have died before transfer, but he didn’t. Because he didn’t, he was able to save the lives of many other people. We wanted to make sure, and Iowa City was fantastic about making it happen, that he wasn’t pronounced on his birthday. And that he made it to the OR for his donor surgery on his birthday, so he could give lots of presents on his birthday. Then, we went back to the Ronald McDonald House and fell asleep. I woke up the next morning, the day after his birthday, and I wrote this:
“This morning I woke up and noticed that the new room we’ve been sleeping in at the Ronald McDonald House has yellow walls. I opened the blinds and the first thing I saw was a bright and sunny day and a bright yellow Nissan Xterra in the parking lot. Everything today is bright yellow and Caleb is saying, ‘Hi!’”.
Leading up to his surgery, he had a pre-op appointment. I wrote this memory from that day:
“On the way in it was raining and Caleb accidentally stepped in a rain puddle. I asked him to be careful and not do that again because he didn’t have his rain boots on. So, he watched every puddle and stepped around. On the way out, he walked the path leading to every single puddle in the parking lot and carefully stepped or jumped over every single one. However, on the biggest and last one, right next to our van, he stomped right in it and ran to the sliding door of the van….laughing. He knows what living and having fun are all about. We can spend life avoiding things or we can jump right in and not worry about the wet shoes, but laugh about them.”
In conclusion, I wanted to share my final thought with you. This was my epiphany on the 20th:
“Children are not our own for this life. They never are. They are ours for eternity, so long as we live worthy of that great blessing. We plan to, and we will, see him again.”
That is the reason we can wake up each morning and put one foot in front of the other and laugh and cry and talk about him and remember him, because he is never truly gone from us. He is always and forever with us.
I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.