Monday, February 25, 2013

Noah's Move to Heaven

I love this blog. It's my therapy. I can say anything about Noah and not worry about making anyone uncomfortable. If someone reads this, they're probably already prepared to read something that might be difficult to hear. I have to think about things that are difficult to think about. The day of Noah's death is one of them. Sometimes I'm just going about my day doing random things and it dawns on me that he's gone. My mind automatically goes back to that day and I relive it in my mind all over again. This is how I naturally and unwillingly bring myself back to reality. I don't want to be reminded of where Noah is by thinking about this. So, I'm hoping that writing it down will help me to heal. I probably won't read this again because it is very painful to write, but here goes.

Steven, Noah, Theo and I traveled to Oklahoma to visit family and friends on Monday, November 26th. We flew over night so we arrived there Tuesday afternoon. We had flown to Dallas and then drove the rest of the way to Tulsa. I remember Noah saying how happy he was about getting to Grandma and Grandpa's house. I will never forget the look of excitement on his face. We spent the evening at my parents' house. My aunt Ellen and aunt Cindy(who came from Minnesota), came over for dinner. Beans, cornbread, and fried taters. Noah just loved being around his family. He talked to everyone.

The next day (Wednesday) my mom, aunt Cindy, and I spent most of the day shopping at the mall. Noah and Theo spent the day at home with their grandpa and daddy. Steven said Noah would not leave his grandpa alone all day. He just kept talking to him and climbing on him. Grandpa even tried to doze off a few times, to no avail. Once we got home, we went to dinner at Cracker Barrel with Mom and Dad. Noah got pancakes, his favorite. I remember being so tired and grumpy during that dinner, a big regret of mine. After dinner, Steven and I left the boys at Mom and Dad's to go shopping at Wal-Mart. We had a big Christmas party planned the next day at Aunt Ellen's house. While we were gone, Noah and Theo made some Christmas ornaments with Grandma. Those ornaments will be cherished forever. When we got back, Noah was there to greet me at the door with is usual "Mommy!" followed by a hug. Noah helped my mom and I make some chocolate treats for the next day's party. He was just acting a little confused, but totally normal. It just seemed like he was tired. Before bed, his grandma read him a book, Goofy's Big Race. Noah was good at memorizing books, so he read most of the story to her. I gave him a hug good night and tucked him in to bed. He was sleeping in the dining room/formal living room. I told him that I loved him and blew him a kiss. He said, "love you too Mommy, good night." I went back in to the den, which was the next room over, to finish wrapping Christmas gifts. Noah got up one time to go to the bathroom, just a few minutes after he went to bed. This was pretty normal for him. He didn't go to sleep for a while because he was playing shadow puppets with the flashlight Grandma gave him in case he needed to get up in the middle of the night. I had peaked in on him while he was doing this and told him to go to sleep. Those were my last words to him while he was alive. A couple of hours later I needed to get more wrapping paper out of a closet where he was sleeping. I snuck in there to get it and heard him stir because of the noise I made. Mom and Dad had gone to bed earlier. After a finished wrapping gifts, Steven and I went to bed.

The next words I heard where from my mom, "Jenny, I need your help, I can't get Noah to wake up." I immediately jumped out of bed and ran to where he was. "Noah...Noah...Noah?" were my words when I found him. He was laying the way he always did when he slept. Laying on his tummy, face to left, hands tucked under his chest. I rolled him over, his body was stiff, lips were blue, eyes were closed. My son had died in his sleep. I got up to get Steven and almost ran in to him as he was running in to the room. The next thing I did was let out a scream. It just came out without even thinking about it. The only other time I screamed like that was when I thought I was going to lose him when I was pregnant with him. I grabbed the phone to call 911. I was shaking beyond control and had to tell the dispatcher that my son was not breathing and hadn't been for a while. He was telling me to turn him on his back and tilt his head back. Steven was holding him at that point so I told him to do that. I remember Steven saying, "he's gone, he's been gone for a while." After hanging up with the phone I sat next to Noah and just kept saying, "my son, my son." I remember my mom crying and saying, "God, why?" The paramedics came. A short older man walked in first and I could see the sadness on his face as he let out an "oh no." There was another lady there and I asked her if they could tell me what happened. No. The investigators came and asked us questions. The chaplin talked to us. Steven's mentor and the pastor who performed his service came. My aunts came. The police had to go find my dad, he was going to meet someone. Uncle Marvin and aunt Mickey came. They live an hour and a half a way but it seemed like they were there in a matter of seconds. It was all a blur. We had all moved in to the other room while the police and everyone else were doing whatever they were doing. I had to make a phone call to one friend in Oregon to ask my church to pray. When it came time for them to take his body away, Steven wanted to see him, but by law they could not let him. Later the sergeant who had to tell him no sent an apology through Dan, the pastor. I asked my aunt Ellen if we could all go to her house so as soon as the police left, we all went there. Both of our brothers and their wives came over. I think my friends Melissa and Stephenie came that day, or the next. I don't remember exactly what happened the rest of the day. I know I cried and felt like my world had stopped.

"Don't be afraid for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Steven and Theo were riding in the car the other day and the song "Glory to God Forever" by Steve Fee came on the radio. The chorus is:

Glory to God
Glory to God
Glory to God forever

Theo started singing along, but instead of singing the right words, he made up his own. "Where Noah go, where Noah go, where Noah go." He meant, that's where Noah is. With God. My hope, prayer, dream, need is to think of Noah in the presence of God first thing when the time comes to think of him gone. I don't want to have to keep the imagine of him lying in his bed without life, or in a casket. Noah's earthly body is buried, but my Noah, his soul and who he is, is in Heaven. I just wish God could give me a glimpse of him there so I can picture that instead. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Faith Like a Child

Dear God, surround me as I speak,
the bridges that I walk across are weak.
Frustrations fill the void that I can't solely bear.
Dear God, don't let me fall apart, 
You've held me close to you...

They say that love can heal the broken.
They say that hope can make you see.
They say that faith can find a Savior.
If you would follow and believe 
with faith like a child.

The lyrics of this song by Jars of Clay has new meaning to me. It has always been a favorite of mine, now I love it even more. One day last week I tried to watch a video of Noah. I couldn't make it through the first minute without crying. Theo had been watching cartoons so I just assumed that he wouldn't notice. To my surprise he came over to me, looked right at me and asked me, "what's wrong Mommy?" I just looked at him and said, "I miss Noah, Theo." There was a pause. He didn't move his gaze from my face. Then he said, "yeah, miss Noah." He ran to get a "napkin" (role of toilet paper), brought it to me, and said, "It's ok Mom, blow you nose." I had tears of sadness and laughter at the same time. Just hearing him say "it's ok Mom" reminded me of when I had to tell Noah that his red fish named "Blue" had died. I was so nervous to tell him because I hated to see him cry. His response was, "It's ok Mom, Blue's in Heaven." Sometimes when I'm in a dark place of despair and I feel like I can't breathe, I pretend that I can hear Noah say, "it's ok Mom, I'm in Heaven." To have faith like a child is something I desire. 

A few of my friends have told me stories of how their kids, Noah's friends, have expressed their thoughts and feelings about Noah's move to Heaven.  I asked them to write down their stories so that I could remember them. I'd like to share some of those stories: 

Dylan and Noah always loved to play together. After Noah passed away Dylan was at a church event where he made a salvation necklace. Each colored bead represents a different aspect of Christian faith. Black: darkness of sin without knowing Jesus. White: Jesus washing our sins white as snow. Red: the blood He shed for our sins. Green: new life in Christ. When explaining the gold bead, Dylan said, "streets of gold in Heaven... where my friend Noah lives!" He also understands that Noah is there waiting on us. 

Lily and Jordyn are sisters and have been friends with Noah since we moved here to OR. Lily asked if Noah would recognize her as she will probably be old when she gets there. Also, since he has a new body, will he still look 5? Jordyn says that, now that Noah is Heaven, he knows everything and doesn't have to go to school to learn it. She also says that he knows how to drive a car. They both hope he has made good friends in Heaven. 

MaryBeth is also a good friend of Noah. They laughed a lot when they were together. Now that Noah is gone, she draws numerous pictures of him. She doesn't usually draw pictures of her friends, but she does of Noah. Once she drew him surrounded by lots of sunlight. When her parents were telling her that Jesus is heaven she replied, "where Noah is!"

His good friend Lauren recently became a christian. Here's her story from the perspective of her mom: 

On Jan 5, I had talked to Lauren a lot throughout the day about what it truly means to be a Christian. We were having one of those talks & I wanted to make sure she understood that following Jesus is a choice & that not everyone chooses it. I wanted her to know that her decision was a choice to follow and something that would be for the rest of her life. I said that some people don't even believe in God or Jesus and don't think there is a Heaven to go to when we die. She said, "Mom, there has to be a Heaven because that's where Noah is". After a little more discussion, she prayed a prayer to choose to follow Jesus and became a Christian. I felt like Noah being in Heaven helped to make it more real to her.

I often wonder what goes on in the minds of Noah's friends, knowing that they will never see him again until Heaven. I hope that Noah's life will continue to give them hope about Heaven. Their ability to easily say that he is there is a comfort to me.  I am at peace knowing that's where he is, but I do not yet have peace with the fact that he is gone from me. My heart just doesn't seem full without him here. 

My Noah. I love you so. See you later pal. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Silver Linings

On the way home from a church event the other night the DJ on the radio asked people to call in and tell him about their bad day. His promise was to help them find a "silver lining." I don't know if it was the jovial tone of voice he had or the fact that this week was really hard for me, but this just about sent me over the edge. It was almost like someone was telling me to smile a little. (That actually happened, by the way). I wanted to call in and dare him to find the silver lining in my "bad day." Where is the silver lining in a life without my Noah? I miss him so much. So much that I physically hurt. I miss holding his hand, hugging him, hearing him say "I love you mommy," watching him draw, everything about him I miss. 

Once I realized I was so bitter that it was going to take me a while to get out of it, I prayed. 'God, you tell me what the silver lining is in all of this.' Immediately I imagined Him telling me, "Heaven. With Me." Oh yeah. I already knew that. I am so sad without Noah, but he is perfect in the presence of God and never sad. I knew about heaven before Noah was there. I never really felt or thought about the yearning for it until now. "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11 Not only do I have a yearning for heaven, but my relationship with God has changed. I know His love, compassion, forgiveness, strength, friendship, etc. I know that He is eternal. I'll never know God's reasoning for this, and I'm not supposed to. The only thing to do is trust and "know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

If you are having a bad day and reading this, please remember two things: 
1. It's ok to have bad days. They allow you to be thankful for the good days. Things could be worse, trust me. 
2. God is greater than our suffering. 

I love you pal. You're always on my mind and in my heart. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Good Grief

"Good grief!" says Charlie Brown in exasperation. I could say the same thing, Charlie. I get frustrated about a lot of things, easily. I could also say that grief is good. Wait, what? How can grief be good? Well, if I didn't have my grief, it would mean that I didn't miss Noah. I miss Noah because I love him SO much and he is not here with me. I went to MN last Wednesday to be with family during the service for Alex. The first thing I said to Amy was, "I wish I could take your pain away." Her reply, "but that would mean that Alex would not have been here." She is absolutely right. That doesn't mean that we want this pain or that we want Alex and Noah where they are. Of course we would rather them be here. But, God gave me Noah for a short period of time. I'd rather have him for that time than not at all. Sometimes I feel my sadness slipping away and I just want to yell, "No! You get back here!" To me, my grief means that I had one of the greatest gifts God could ever give me. I don't want my sadness to go away because it reminds me that he was here, he had a great life. A life of purpose.

Knowing where Noah is gives me great comfort, but it doesn't make me feel any less sad. I don't want to be rushed through the pain. The grief can't sit on a shelf somewhere waiting to just disappear. I want to face it so my heart can heal. I do want to be restored, someday. I will be still and know that he is God. (Psalm 46:10.)