Friday, August 6, 2010


This week, Tate started 3 year old preschool at a new school. He is loving every minute of it! He has a precious class and teachers, so I am really excited about what all he is going to learn! This little guy is one of the sweetest, brightest, and has one of the most loving little heart's I know ! It has been very challenging this year, explaining to him about Mills. Because of Tate's age, we never took him to actually "meet" Mills. However, he was actively involved in praying for him, shown pictures, and knew he was born, just in the hospital because he was too small. Roddy and I really struggled with whether we should have taken him to meet him. We kept waiting week by week, if Mills condition improved, then we would take him to see him. Unfortunately his condition never improved substantially, and we never felt a complete peace about taking him. The sounds of the NICU is one that is forever etched in my mind. Lots of beeping monitors, tubes, noises, and tiny babies in small plastic bubbles. While I'm thankful for modern technology, its a place that brings me back to a lot of pain.Many hours spent beside our baby, when all we could do was just pray for him. A place where I had a lot of heart to hearts with God. A place where I had to relinquish total control of my life and questioned everything that I believed. A very helpless feeling, when we were only allowed to touch him through the holes in the kangaroo bed. I didn't like seeing my baby like that, it was a very difficult thing to process for us, much less for our three year old son. There were many a times we would be there and Mills or another baby would "de-stat" which is what they call the babies stats going below normal ranges and causes all kinds of alarms to go off. There were even times families around us were brought in to say their goodbyes to their babies, and we would just have to leave because it just hit too close to home. It was a very anxious, helpless feeling, you just want to reach in and grab him up and just hold him, and protect them from any harm, but you can't.

Tate has a very sensitive heart, and he is very perceptive. My fear was that the whole NICU hospital experience would have frightened him more than helped him understand. Had he been older, and needed to meet him for closure, then that would have been different. But at three years old, he wouldn't have remembered seeing him in the future, and it would have only caused even more confusion and fear.
People have asked me how our children were doing with all of this,(obviously Jon Walt is too young) and what we shared with him and what we withheld. As a parent, the natural desire is to shield them from sorrow and keep them from being overwhelmed. With Tate, he had trouble understanding the finality of death. The week before Mills was born, my grandfather passed away. He and Tate were very close, so explaining death and heaven to him has been with two very close family members. We felt like Tate has understood that Papaw and Mills had died. Though not fully comprehending they would never come back. We were told specifically to use the word "died" to Tate not "lost" We did this many times, but as I said he is very perceptive. We would be in town somewhere, and someone would come to me and say, "I am so sorry about your loss" A normal and courteous thing to say from one adult to another. But to a child, the word "lost" means something different. They see things very tangible. One day we were driving down the road and Tate said, "Mommy, we lost a baby, I don't want to be lost." Through trying to hold back my tears, explained to him, that we didn't "lose" anything. We know exactly where Mills is and we will see him again one day. Just like us, children are often comforted by the idea of heaven, but it doesn't provide total relief. Heaven is a wonderful place, but it doesn't fix the hurt. It doesn't fix the hurt for me, and I believe in it! How much more difficult is it for a child to comprehend?

I have really struggled with being transparent with him about our hurt. Like I said, as parents we feel like it's our job to shield our children from any kind of pain. Whether it's divorce, depression, job loss, or death. We feel like we need to put on a smile and let them think we are ok. That life is ok. But the truth is, they know when we are sad and things just aren't right. They know the way we fix their lunch and tuck them in at night. Even the youngest of children sense that. The more we try to hide things and gloss them over, the more insecure children tend to be. We will all experience hurt, unfortunately even our children. When Tate takes those moments to share his heart with me, I try to explain the best that I can. I pray a lot that God would give me words and that I would know exactly what his little heart can handle at this young age. I have told him that Mommy was sad, and that I wish Mills was still here. I tell him that I don't understand why this had to happen, but I reassure him that it is ok to be sad and ask questions about heaven. My prayer is that by being transparent, he will see that I can handle his feelings, and he will be more likely to share his feelings with me.

Several weeks ago, my sister and I were out at the sandbox with Tate. He was busily playing with his dumptrucks and diggers. He looked up from playing and said, "I think Papaw is rocking baby Mills in heaven" We both looked at each other(trying not to bust into tears) like where did that come from? "They are not coming back, you know?" We both assured him we knew and that Mills and Papaw was in a wonderful place and although we miss them very much, we will see them again. Its tough when you get the questions like"Why won't Jesus let Mills come home?" Like Jesus is holding him hostage or something! Wow, the mind of a 3 year old! Those are the questions, I really struggle with answering. I sure don't understand "Why?" But, atleast my adult mind is able trust that I don't need to have all the answers.

With Tate's age, we have had to continually explain things to him about Mills. It wasn't a one time conversation, it has been a process. He still asks questions about "when is Mills coming home?" even though we have explained to him many times. Children that age are very in the moment. We have tried to incorporate Mills into a part of our family in many ways. We made a flower bed in the backyard we call "Mills Garden" We received a lot of wonderful plants from dear friends after Mills passed away that we planted in his garden. It is a great way to involve our children in something that will make it easy to talk about Mills. I know everyone deals with their children and death differently. We can only pray that God will give us the grace to know just what to say to their tender little hearts. Children's innocence is one of the most precious things!I love my little Tater-bug and am thankful for his sensitive spirit. Our prayer for our children is that they would one day know the Lord and love him with "all their heart, soul and mind!" And that we would ALL have faith like a child!

"And He said:"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children; you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven!" Matthew 18:2-4

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