Dec 152015
 

I once read a poem about relationships and people… it talked about people come into your life for a Reason, a Season, and a Lifetime.   The idea was that God would place someone in your life for one of these timeframes.  The first was a Reason, a small amount of time, to get in and out and do what he needed.  You may know them, you may not.  The are there to do their thing and move on.  A Season was someone who stayed for a little longer, maybe months, maybe years, a season of life.   They and you contributed to each other, but eventually moved on.   Lifetime is pretty self explanatory.  I loved it.

In Alexandria we were given all three.  She is the Reason we’re at St. Matthew.  It’s hard to admit the failure I was in bringing my children and family to Christ.  I didn’t know how.  I didn’t have the instructions and teachings that so many do from early in life… and I didn’t look for it.  I was angry when Aden was born, I was angry and how our church at the time didn’t support us.  I no longer blame them, they didn’t know how…  but it and other events cause me to walk away.  I had often worried about Gabriel and Ethan’s relationship with God… but done nothing to nurture it.  Alexandria changed all that.  She brought me to my knees.  It’s ironic, you’d have thought I’d be angry again, that I’d have just lost my mind towards God…. but I didn’t.  I was wholeheartly drawn to St. Matthew without knowing why, to talk with Pastor Rob…  I had to save my family.  I had to get us help.  I had to find a way home.  I remember my initial phone call to Pastor Rob to setup a time to speak with him, I remember meeting him and pouring out everything we had gone through.  Looking back now it was a lot to lay on him… but he handled it with grace.  I attended the church alone that Sunday and pastor asked me to speak…  As I walked to the podium I had no prepared speech… but in front of a sea of strangers the words just came.  Aden, our challenges, and Alexandria.  My baby girl.   I never expected the reception I received that day, it still affects me to think about it.

Over the Season of the pregnancy Kimberly was welcomed and held by the women of the church.  They prayed over her, they gave her comfort and support that could not be matched.  After her birth our church family did everything they could to help us have time with Alex, it was and is truly amazing.  My family could not have asked for better examples of Christ’s love and sacrifice then what we received from these people.

The Lifetime…  she changed our lives.  She changed my life.  Not a day goes by I don’t think about her.  She’ll always be here with me.  She changed my focus on life.

She’ll be 4 tomorrow.  4.  She’d be in dresses, having tea parties, and watching Frozen until I tore my hair out.  Maybe that’s why I’ve never seen that movie… maybe subconsciously I know I can’t watch it with her… so I don’t watch it.  I so wish she could have known her little brother Michael.  I know they’d have had so much fun playing together.  I love her so much.  I miss her so much.

 

alexkim2

 Posted by on December 15, 2015 at 9:06 pm
Oct 202013
 

Today was a difficult day.

First, let me bring the rest of you up to speed on what everyone on facebook already knows.

Over the last year God changed my heart. Kimberly always wanted more children, but I was done. I did not want to go through the pain, or put another child through, what we’ve gone through again. We learned of new medical research and even found a plausible explanation for our children’s conditions, and a way to treat it. I was still done. But God’s a patient man. He changed my heart, and after a lot of prayer and placing our trust and faith in him, Kimberly is expecting in April.

Kimberly and I have had a terrific few weeks. We receive results of a “Harmony” test, a new diagnostic test that with a simple blood sample from Kimberly can tell us our chances of a genetic abnormality. Our baby, within 99.99%, is healthy. No chromosomal abnormalities. Our boy.  He used the research to put me at ease, and slowly gave us the courage to try again.  God is good.

So it’s been a great few weeks. I’d been waiting for this day for some time. You see, we’re building a new addition onto our church… a family life center. Gone is the entrance I walked Alexandria into our church so many Sundays, the entrance I carried her casket into and out of for her funeral. In its place is the shell of a fantastic new space that will be used in countless ways for the glory of God.   When they were preparing to tear it down we were offered pachysandra that was around the entrance, which I took out and planted around the front of the house. It grows around the flowering plant Kim’s parents gave us when we found out about Alexandria’s condition, and the Love Rose given to us by our small group in memory of her…   The boys run around the yard constantly, having fun, playing.  A scene I’ve pictured in my mind occuring in the new family life center.  They will play with their friends there, learn of Christ, have plays, shut-ins… but Alexandria would never get those experiences. It’s bothered me. A lot.

So as i said, we’re building this new addition, and a few months back we were told that the congregation would be offered the opportunity to write bible verses and prayers on the floor of the center, so that we could walk on the word of God. These would obviously be covered up by carpet… but they would be there. I knew what I wanted to do. I knew what I wanted to write.

I missed her so much this morning. I cried long and hard before we got into the van to go to church…  It brought back so many memories and briefly made me feel empty again.  But I have a wonderful family, a fantastic church family, and that feeling doesn’t linger long anymore.

When the time came to write, I found one of the main doorways and I counted 12 steps into the room, one for each disciple. I wanted to be able to find that exact spot whenever I wanted too again. I sat down on the floor and began to write. I wrote Mark 10: 13-16, “…And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.” This was the top of the cross I was going to draw with scripture. The middle, Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, 14. “…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” The base of the cross is Psalm 23. “I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”

These were the scriptures from Alexandria’s funeral service. They bring me comfort.

At the top of the cross I wrote Aden’s name, Matthew, Gabriel, Ethan, and Alexandria in the center, and Baby Vogt at the base. I also wrote a small prayer off to the side, which Kim and I both signed.

This church has given us so much. A debt I can never repay. I know this building will help them, help us, spread his word. God is good.

 

Scripture Cross on the floor of St. Matthew

 

 

 

 Posted by on October 20, 2013 at 10:50 pm
Jun 132013
 

I’m beside myself.

Kimberly and I lost our second son on January 26th, 2006.  Kim was in her first trimester… Matthew had triploidy and an additional 15th chromosome.  When we lost him, because he was so small, all of his remains were used in testing for these conditions.  We were told, at the time, that the hospital was required to keep them for 10 years, as a part of the hospital record.  The woman we spoke at the time was very understanding and she placed a note with his remains with our phone number and an explanation that after the 10 years were up they should call us so we could lay him to rest.  It was an extremely difficult situation for us to be in, knowing we’d have to wait so long.

A few days ago I had this feeling I should call and make sure everything was “ok” with him.  I called and didn’t get an immediate response, which is different.  Two days ago I received a voicemail message from Spectrum Health Bereavement Services asking me to call the hospital.  I wasn’t able to get a hold of them, but figured I knew what it meant.  I was sure they’d lost him.  Or they’d destroyed him.  For the last two days my head has been swimming in agony trying to connect and find out what was going on.

They called this morning.  They asked me exactly why I was calling and I explained the entire story from start to finish.  She told me, “Well, all of what you said is true, but there’s been a misunderstanding…”

“Here it comes” I thought.   Every possible horrible situation ran through my head… they lost him, they destroyed him, they were going to keep him another ten years…

she continued, “… if you come into the hospital and sign some forms we’ll release his remains to you, through a funeral home.”

They’re going to give him back.  I get my son back.  I get to lay him to rest, next to his sister.

I’m beside myself.

Proverbs 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

 

 

 Posted by on June 13, 2013 at 8:49 am
Dec 162012
 

Dear Alexandria,

I miss you and I love you so much.  I pray that you know how loved you are and how many hearts you’ve touched, most deeply my own.  I still have trouble without you sleeping on my chest, feeling the warmth of your breath brush past… smelling your wonderful hair, holding you night and day.  I saw you today, in your mothers eyes.  She looked at me in such a way that I could see you, those wonderfully big blue eyes smiling back at me.  Gabriel speaks of you often, he misses you, as do Aden and Ethan.  I long to see you again, to hold you, to let you know how much I love you.  You are always in my mind, my heart, and my soul.  I love you baby girl… happy birthday.

Daddy

Alexandria and Me

Alexandria and Me at her 1 Week Birthday Party

 

 Posted by on December 16, 2012 at 12:05 am
Dec 102012
 

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

After Kimberly and I were engaged my sister Marybeth pulled Kim aside and told her, “If you ever have a daughter, the sun will rise and set on her.”  I denied this with great gusto, but in my heart I knew she was right.  I wasn’t even married and I knew what I’d say to boys when they showed up to court her, “I have a gun and shovel, I doubt anyone will miss you.”  Granted I’ve toned down a bit over the years…

We spent our honeymoon in the mountains of Vermont.  The trees were changing color for early fall, it was postcard serene.  It was a beautiful small town, a wonderful inn, we had a great time.    We’re simple people, small town kids, and it was a warm wonderful getaway.  The trip felt like going home for Christmas during college; that cozy familiar feeling of home, with an air of newness.

Example Dollhouse

Example Dollhouse

One of the stores in town was a doll-house shop.  I know what you’re thinking, a doll house shop?  Sure enough, a business entirely dedicated to the building of custom dollhouses.  Life-like miniature houses with tiny furniture, carpet, even electric lights.  The gentleman that owned the place was working on an exact replica of this woman’s estate to give to her granddaughter.  There were houses of all shapes and sizes, alongside all the tools and supplies to build them.  Kim saw the gleam in my eye, I was going to build one of these someday.  I had modest carpentry skills, I’d built a small light-up church for the top of our wedding cake… but had no real tools at this point in life.  However, I was set on building any daughter a dollhouse like this, not buying… building, one with all the works, real lights, carpet, tiny furniture, the whole deal.  Kim didn’t blink, she’s always supported my odd endeavors.

A few years later we bought our first house.  It was an 100 year old craftsman 2 1/2 story with quartersawn oak floors and trim.  It was in rough shape though, and we gutted it down to the studs.  I saved the woodwork though, carefully cataloging it as we took it down and stored it in the basement.  We replaced the entire interior, except the trim, in a few months.  It was my first attempt as a general contractor, and was also how I began to assemble “the shop.”  The second floor trim of the house was a total loss, but we wanted it to look like everything else, so I build that trim from scratch in the basement.  That required tools.  🙂  Over the year I built and refinished all the trim in the house.  I honed my skills.  I did ok.

Before/after remodeling our first house

Before/after remodeling our first house

Kim's Hope Chest

Kim's Hope Chest

Time passed and Aden was born.  For a while our dream of a big family was put on hold, but eventually we decided to have more children…  and hopefully one day a daughter.  The dollhouse was still in my mind, but other projects popped into my head as well.  A trunk, for our sons.  Toys.  Every daughter needs a Jewelry Box.  A hope chest.  Kim didn’t have a Hope Chest, and that seemed like a good start… so I built her one for Christmas 10 years ago, complete with dovetailed sides, all out of good aromatic cedar.  Another project to fine-tune my skills, I believed I’d build another one of these.  One for a little girl.  One with secret compartments for a diary, or jewelry.  The daydreams became bigger too, like what would I build for wedding gifts… a bedroom set?  A dining room table?   I never seem to dream small.  Kim laughs that I never dream small.

Once Ethan was born I began to push those dreams into the distant future, they began to fade.  Kim and I had conceived four boys, the chance for a girl seemed less and less likely.  Instead of building them for a daughter, I began to think that perhaps it would be granddaughters who’d get a dollhouse, jewelry box, etc.  The hope of walking my little girl down the aisle began to fade…

But that changed on August 12th, 2011.  For twenty minutes my mind was swimming.  All of our dreams were coming true.  We’d just bought a new house, had great neighbors, a good new school for Aden, and now we were having a girl!  Everything I’d dreamt, thought, and hoped for with a daughter came rushing back.  All of the things we’d get to do with her, all of the things I’d build for her.  It was coming true!

And it all came crashing down.  Hard.

I can still hear Kimberly’s cry of horrible disbelief.  The anguish in her voice, and the waves of confusion, fear, and almost palatable nausea that swept through the room.  I do not know how we’d have gotten through it without Dr. VandenBosch.  She was kind, compassionate, and clearly cared about our well-being and the well-being of Alexandria.  She broke the news as well as is possible under those circumstances.  No doctor could have done better then her, we were very blessed to have her.  It hit us harder than anything prior.  We were having a girl, and she wasn’t going to stay.

The future, so often in doubt, became clear very quickly.  No dollhouse.  No jewelry box.  I wouldn’t get to walk her down the aisle, but instead I would carry her to the grave.  I had the skill-set though, I could make her something to protect her and sleep in for all time.  I’d make something worthy of her, I’d honor her by building her casket.

If you’re out there researching building a casket for a child on google or yahoo you’re going to be sorely disappointed.  I found plenty of sites that were willing to sell caskets, but extremely few that outlined how to build one or have designs.  I had an idea in my mind of what I wanted, but found nothing close to what I wanted.  Perhaps I was looking for something too specific…  there are concepts I had about the casket, some were simple woodworking ideas, others were casket specific.  I wanted that all in one place.  Something to help me think it through.   Maybe Google just… doesn’t have them indexed properly.  Maybe there aren’t that many like me… I don’t know.  I can’t be the first.

I won’t be the last.

I started out looking for a good wood supplier.  Most of the companies in Grand Rapids that used to supply wood have gone under.  I was able to find one that had what I was looking for, good Cherry stock, great woodgrain, it was perfect.  I didn’t have a complete plan for the casket yet, just an idea in my head.  I returned a few days later with a list of stock that I needed.  During conversations I avoided explaining the project, just that it was small, the sizing, etc.  Eventually while assembling the order the owner outright asked me what I was building.  I couldn’t avoid it any longer and told him, “A casket.”  He could tell by the look on my face, the requirements for wood quality it was important.  “This is for someone you really care about.”  “Yes.”  He figured out by size requirements what that meant.  He offered to give me the wood for free.  I thanked him for the offer, but said no.  I didn’t voice it, but I wasn’t going to take charity on this project.  I would pay for this with my own money, earned through my hard work, and build it with my own hands.

So building began….  Gabriel often came into the shop.  By the time she was to arrive he knew what a casket was.  “What’s a casket?”  “Well, it’s what your body is laid to rest in after you die.”  “Why is Baby Alex going to die?”  “She’s very sick, but not sick in a way you can get sick.”  We had that conversation a dozen times.  It helped him process it, come to grips with the concepts.  Vogt boys need to hear the same thing over and over. 🙂  Sometimes he’d work on “his own project,” which consisted of stacking some wood and banging it with a hammer.  Other times he’d help me, sand some parts or hand me tools.   He had a vested interest in it.  It helped us connect.  It helped me cope, and I think it helped him cope too.  “Won’t she be scared in there?”  “You aren’t scared after you die, you don’t feel fear, or hot, or cold.”  “What about when she wakes up?”  “She won’t wake up in here, she won’t be sleeping.   When you die your body no longer moves, you don’t eat, you don’t sleep, you don’t breathe.”  Words we’d been given to help him through counseling, through talking with other parents in our situation.  It’s hard to help a 4 year old grasp death.

Over time I had a few people (friends/neighbors/family) come into the shop and ask what I was building.  Some knew what to say, others were understandably awkward and said nothing.  I think it was too real for them.  There are people now that can’t talk to me about her, won’t look at her picture, watch her videos.  They don’t want to hear it.  I think the thought of going through what we did, with their own children, is something they just cannot face.  They can’t conceive of it, and it’s too close for them.  I needed that though.  I needed people to ask.  I needed people to be interested.  I needed to talk.  I’m thankful to those that could, that can.   I love talking about her.  I may cry, but I love talking about her.

As the casket progressed I began to think about what I wanted the inside to look like.  I asked Kim is she wanted to make the inside, the mattress, sides, and pillow.  That… was a little too much for her.  Kim did not want to see the casket until it was done.  It was too close and brought too much too close.  For me, making the casket, was therapeutic.  For Kim, making her blanket was.  Once I knew she did not want to make it I knew exactly who I wanted to do it.  My mother-in-law, Gretta.  She’s incredibly talented with sewing, has made all three boys wonderful teddy bears, has made quilts, you name it.  When she was visiting one day I pulled her into the shop and  showed her what I’d built so far.  She said all the right things, we cried a bit, and then I asked if she’d be up to making the inside.  She said yes, she’d love too.  I gave her a rough drawing of the inside measurements, that I would like white, and how big/thick I thought everything should be.  A few weeks later she returned with a mattress, pillow, and side-rails.  It was perfect.

 

Casket Mattress, pillow, and sidewalls made by Gretta

Casket Mattress, pillow, and sidewalls made by Gretta

I finished it shortly thereafter.  I often prayed that we would not have to use it.  I kept it in the shop for a long time, but did bring it into the house to take pictures of it once.  Eventually I wanted to make a set of plans for it, so if someone else was in my position they could use them as a guide… to have more information thanI did.

 

After she was born, I put it out of my mind.  In January I moved it into my office… the shop was cold, and I didn’t want this to be cold.  When the time came, if we did need it, I wanted it to be warm.  I knew what would need to be done when she passed on, Gabriel would need to see her laid to rest in it.

And she did.  She left.

We knew it was important for Gabriel to understand death.  To understand Alexandria was not asleep, she was not going to wake up, that she was gone.  We’d done our best to prepare him for that, to make him understand that this casket would be her resting place.  I included him in every step, from building, to the end.  “Do you want to help me lay her down?”  “Yes”  We carried her to the casket, which I’d moved into the dining room.  We laid her down, he tucked her in.

We closed the lid together.

“Can I lock it?”

“Yes” and I handed him the key.

Gabriel Locking Alexandria's Casket

Gabriel Locking Alexandria's Casket

He was begining to understand the finality.  We took pictures, so he’d remember the moment, so he wouldn’t think it was a dream or that she did not die.  That was difficult to do, but necessary for someone so young.  He “cleared the way”, walking in front of me out to funeral directors car, where we let her go.

Douglas with Gabriel, carrying Alexandria in her casket

Douglas with Gabriel, carrying Alexandria's casket to the funeral director's car.

So, over the last few months, on and off, I’ve worked on creating a set of plans for the casket.  I created a fairly close approximation of her casket in Google Sketchup, so that other people can benefit from what I learned.  Hopefully it will help others.

You never know the path your life will take.  You never know what God will call upon you to do.  Sometimes his plan is so difficult to see.  But we must have faith, he’s never let us down before.

 

 

Child Casket Woodworking Plan

Child Casket Woodworking Plan

Child Casket Woodworking Plan

Child Casket Woodworking Plan

The Google Sketchup file can be found here:  Child Casket Woodworking Plan

Hardware:

Full Mortise Small Box Lock

Full Mortise Small Box Lock

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woodcraft Small Box Lock

Flange Hinge

Flange Hinge

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rockler Flange Hinge

 Posted by on December 10, 2012 at 9:44 am
Dec 072012
 

Last night Kimberly and I went to a grief panel.  A number of individuals sit on a panel, all of whom have lost a child for one reason or another.  They answered a list of 8 questions, in round-robin fashion, explaining what happened, how people reacted, how they coped.  One couple is from our church and have lost two children.  We have spoken to them before, they attended Alexandria’s 1 Month Birthday Party, they are incredible people.  As I heard their story again, from them, they said something I had taken for granted.  They had/have a wonderful church family which has provided them with terrific support.  It naively didn’t occur to me until last night that everyone in that church knew what to say and how to help us, because they had walked that walk with them.  They had learned what to say, how to help, how to comfort, how to support.  I am so sorry that they had to be the “trail blazers”, but we benefited, Alexandria benefited, from it so greatly.  Perhaps that’s why God led us to St. Matthew, he knew this time we were not strong enough to be the trail blazers.  I feel guilt for that.  I hope they know how much their support and help has meant to us.  They are good friends.

I had a rough time throughout the evening.  It made everything real.  It was hard to push things away.  Which brings me to the most terrifying revelation of the evening.  We walked out, talking, and even joking about every day life issues with our friends.  One of them asked if I’d ever met “Nancy”, the woman who facilitated the discussion.  I said “No, I’ve never seen her before.”  Kim gave me this odd look.  “What?”  “That’s Nancy, the councilor,”, Kim replied.  Kim had taken me to see a councilor, someone I’d seen several times and even blogged about in Pentecost.

I had no memory of her.  I didn’t recognize her.  I didn’t associate with her with anyone I’d ever known.  Unconsciously I knew I didn’t want to get close to this person at the meeting, which now I understand.  My mind had completely blocked her out.  “Didn’t you think it was odd that she called you by name?”  “I thought she read my name tag.

That’s a bit scary for me.  I can pull lyrics from songs I knew in my youth from just a few notes, I have a fairly good memory, albeit not with names…  but I know when I know someone.  I realized I couldn’t even picture the face of the councilor I’d seen.

Not sure what to do with that.  Not sure what this means.

 

 Posted by on December 7, 2012 at 8:32 am
Oct 112012
 

A year ago today I walked into Pastor Robert Appold’s office at St. Matthew Lutheran Church.  I had called him several days prior, explained I was someone who’d attended his church once or twice, and needed someone to talk to… some help.  Kimberly and I had learned of Alexandria’s diagnosis two months prior and were in complete mental and spiritual freefall.

I laid everything out for him, and I mean everything.  I told him about Aden, how we found out he had Down Syndrome when he was born, his deafness, the difficulties we’d had over the years.  Our loss of Matthew.  Our struggle to find a church home.  Alexandria.  I was going to lose my daughter.  I had to get my family through this.    I wanted all of my children to know God, even Alexandria, no matter how much or how little time we were given.  I had to be able to explain God, the afterlife, and death to our extremely inquisitive three year old.  We were lost, we were drowning, and needed help.

I can’t even imagine someone laying all that at my feet in an hour.  I feel a little guilty about that.  I often wonder if this type of thing shows up in his office every now and then…  Either way, I am very thankful God sent me there.  There were things Pastor Rob said during our conversation that confirmed for me I was in the right place, things I believe the Lord knew I’d need to hear to be comfortable.  Trusting does not come easy to me.  It takes me time to open up to people.  We spoke for quite a while and he believed his congregation would welcome us without fail.  He asked me to come on Sunday and either he or I could explain Aden’s condition, his behaviors, so that people would understand him better… and share what I could about our family.

Sunday came.  I sat in the back, hiding myself away.  I wasn’t sure I could do it, I wasn’t sure I could stand up in front of 200 strangers.  I lack a gift of public speaking.  Pastor spoke briefly to the congregation, then asked me to come up.  I looked out at all of these people and did the same thing, I laid it all out, from Aden to Alexandria.  My family is in crisis.  I need help.  Please help me.

I did not expect the reception I received after service…  they flocked to me afterwards.  They opened their hearts, hugged me, I was overwhelmed with support.  There were families there that had experience with losing a child, people who knew sign language, educators familiar with the developmentally disabled…  It was, and it is, the right place.   Luke 9:11 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  I never had a prayer answered so quickly and so completely.  Each step of the way through our journey with Alexandria the congregation of St. Matthew has been there with us.  Even now, as I struggle with her passing, they are with me. 

That day, a year ago, changed our lives.  I can never thank you enough for saving us.

 

 

 Posted by on October 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm
Aug 272012
 

We are coming up on 7 months since Alex’s death. At this point it almost seems like a dream. If it weren’t for the massive amount of pictures and video, the clothes hanging in our closet, and the tons of memories we created with her, I might question myself on that. Was it real? It reminds me of the Imagination Movers concert we took the boys to last April. A year and a half later it feels like – did we go there? did we really meet and talk with them? did that really happen? 

I feel like Alex was a celebrity.  Picture it – The limo driving up for the red carpet. The paparazzi cameras flashing. The crowd trying to get a good look. Trying to get eye contact, a wink, a smile, a wave – to be noticed by her. We were the ones that got to ride in the limo with her. We were nervous but we hopped in the car. As with any celebrity meeting, you want to say the quintessential, most perfect thing. So many things we wanted to make sure we said to her. So many things we wanted to make sure to do with her. We were graced with her presence and tried to savor every single moment we had with her not knowing how long the ride would last before her driver would drop us off and she would drive off into the sunset without us. I feel so priviledged that I spent her entire life with her. She was a bright shining star who’s light went out so quickly; a candle who’s flame lasted long enough to blow it out. And for that brief moment in time, I got to see and experience a life that few got to witness or be a part of.

My Little Celebrity

My Little Celebrity

Life is so short. We can be here one minute and not the next. And we have no idea when that minute will end.

This all reminded me of the movie “The Usual Suspects”. The part at the end where he says “and like that.. its gone” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkJqKOb0ZhY

and these bible verses:

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14 NIV

Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow. Psalms 144:4

I know in relation to the beginning of time, our life, let alone Alex’s brief life, is just a grain of sand on the beach. But like birthdays when you were little and it seemed an eternity until the next one, it seems like such a long time until we can be with Alex again. And that it where the emptiness lies.

 Posted by on August 27, 2012 at 10:45 am
Aug 042012
 

She left us 6 months ago today, but I find myself thinking more about her birth then her death.  Not her springing to life after her baptism, or the gasps of the staff in the room, but more about the good moments afterwards.   She had such incredibility cute ears, it was hard to keep them under the hat we had for her.  New baby skin is incredibly soft, her ears were super floppy.  Tiny little floppy perfect little ears.

Getting her dressed for the first time was a challenge.  I was so afraid I’d hurt her, and let me tell you she was one strong little lady.  She had no interest in having her her arms moved into sleeves.  Alexandria felt so fragile, I wanted to be so careful as to not hurt her.  One thing she did love about the experience was the warming lamps she was under.  In the photo below I was sure my hair was going to catch fire.  She was very content there, very happy, calm, when she laid there, at least while I wasn’t try to wrestle her into clothes…

Getting her dressed for the first time (12/16)

Once the boys arrived they were very interested….  Well, some of them.  Aden wasn’t, he knew the drill and you could see “oh man, that’s a bundle of trouble” in his eyes.  Gabriel was thrilled though, he knew momma was having a baby again and it fascinated him.  Ethan… wasn’t so sure, his facial expression was along the lines of “Where in the world did you get that?”

 

Ethan and Gabriel approaching for a first look (12/16)

 

Alexandria and Kimberly (12/16)

 

 

I was so incredibly happy.  We were getting time.  We were getting to meet her, to speak to her, sing, hold, cuddle… to love her.  It was scary, she’d have episodes and it could all abruptly end, but when she was happy and cooing the way small babies do, I’ve never been happier.  Even when she scrunched up her face to let us know she wasn’t terribly happy with being pulled from the warm, quite comfortable home inside momma…. I still beamed with pride and happiness.

Douglas and Alexandria (12/16)

 Gabriel too was proud and excited.  With me and NILMDTS taking pictures he had to grab momma’s camera and take some of his own.  He wanted to be a photographer like his daddy, to capture these moments with his sister…

Gabriel taking pictures (12/16)

 

It was such a perfect day, the first of many.  The holy spirit filled up that room, it felt so safe.  We were wrapped in it.  We prayed thanks, we held Him up who’d granted us such a wonderful season.  Thanks be to God.

Kim and Alexandria and me (12/16)

 Posted by on August 4, 2012 at 12:55 pm
Jul 192012
 

I’m a sentimental man.  I tend to observe anniversaries.  I remember important milestones, probably more then I should.  For a long time the day of my mother’s death was a hard one.  There are a few more, along those lines, that are what I would call “not great days.”  I focus on the past a lot, I know more then I should.  I pray often that God will free me of the ties of the past, give me the strength to remember with love.

The date of Alexandria’s death, I thought would be one of those days…. but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Kim and I have spoken about a couple we know, Aleisa and William, who have a young daughter Nora with Edwards Syndrome.  God has blessed them with an abundant faith.  Aleisa has seen three birds, on more then one occasion.  Usually this occurs when she’s looking to God for a sign, an acknowledgement, and seeing them gives her comfort, lets her know he’s watching over her and her family.  She feels it is a consistent sign from Him.  There are people who would discount things like this, some are in awe of it.  I believe God speaks to us in ways we sometimes don’t recognize and often tailors his messages and signs personally to each individual, in a manner they can interpret.

I wasn’t looking for any signs.  I was reading a post a week or so ago on Aleisa’s blog and she mentioned seeing three birds again, in her doctor’s office.  For just the smallest moment I thought, wow, I could really use that right now.  I could use a sign.  But I didn’t ask for one, and in the back of my mind I got the feeling that if given one I wouldn’t like the message anyway.  God’s news isn’t always fun to hear.   A few days later a friend of ours posted that she was pregnant.   As I’m reading through the comments from friends and relatives about the good news someone asked her what her due date was.  February 4th.  It hit me like a brick.  The day Alexandria left.  The one-year anniversary to boot.  I immediately wondered what the meaning behind that could be.   Was it just a coincidence?  If not, I was just… well I was hurt.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m extremely happy for my friends and that they have another child on the way.  But this day was mine.  Selfish, right?  No one should be happy about “that” day.  It was a dark thought, and unworthy one.  After considering it, and praying about it, I began to think…  maybe this is supposed to tell me that February 4th isn’t to be marked like that.  She went to be with Jesus, she went home.  This was, in many respects, a good thing.  I should celebrate her life, not focus on her passing.  It was a good message, a good thought.  Being as human as I am, I pushed it out of my mind.  I didn’t want to hear it.  I mean, seriously?  What were the chances that a friend of ours would have a due date on the day of Alexandria’s passing…  that wasn’t a sign.  I didn’t want it to be a sign.  Nice thought that came to my mind afterwards, but not a sign.  I would ignore it.

This past Sunday another friend announced that his wife was also pregnant.  Last night, on their post, someone asked her due date.

February 4th.

Ok… ok.  I get the message.  This day will be one that good things happen on, it’s going to be “ok.”  It may be rough, but new miracles will abound.  Remember her, let go of the pain, celebrate her life not her death.  Trust God.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:13-14

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by on July 19, 2012 at 10:28 pm