George's Guardian's of Grace Projects
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Life is just not the same without our little monkey. The thing I miss the most is his cuddling with me. My boys were always daddy boys when they were babies, but he was mine, just mine. Gabrielle, for the first time a few days ago, tucked herself under my chin and cuddled with me for the first time ever just like George used to. Since then, I could not get that moment with her out of my mind and also think about all those blessed moments I had with George and so thankful in those moments that I knew enough to cherish those moments and now the memories are worth more than any amount of money.
I would give up all these earthly possessions like my home, money, and anything else besides my family and those I love just for another moment with my son in that capacity. Ironically, the dream I had about him right after he died was just that. I had been praying to God to help me through all the pain and was so sad I had not had a moment to say goodbye. One night I had a dream and he was in it. I knew he was dead but I held him just like I did when he was alive. His little head was tucked under my chin and our hearts beats just were in sink as I stood there holding him. Eventually, my time was up, and I knew he had to leave. With a heavy heart I handed him back to an angel, Jesus, or God(not really sure who it was at the time I did know but all I can focus on now was that feeling of holding him again and my spiritual goodbye to him) and watched as they left.
I know I will again have that someday for an eternity but for now I just hold tight to the memories I have. We all miss him in our own way and I know that moving is stirring up a lot of emotions for us all. Even though we are leaving the only place he ever knew as home, nothing can take away the memories we have and the time we were blessed to have him here with us. Even when the worst things in life happens, there is nothing that can take away those blessed moments that we had with him.
We all miss you little monkey and can't wait to spend eternity with you but until then know you are forever loved and remembered by us all! You have touched our hearts in such a special way. Hugs and kisses and lots of I love you's are being sent up to you in heaven! We LOVE YOU!
Friday, June 24, 2011
There are so many things in life that we can't understand,
like why a tragedy like this can happen in this land.
One moment life is perfect and the next it falls apart,
leaving us with nothing but an eternally aching heart.
Our souls cry out in agony amidst the suffering and despair.
We feel the pain and tear our clothes and scream "It isn't fair!".
Spirits are now shattered. Hearts will never be the same.
We grasp at straws and seek to find the one who is to blame.
Horrific as our life now seems, one thing remains quite true.
Our little ones have now been freed to do things angels do.
They can't recall the horrors of those last days they were here.
They remember not the terror, the hurt, nor the fear.
There is no fear in Heaven. No more sorrow. Only Joy.
It's filled with joyous laughter from each little girl and boy.
We can only try to imagine, in spite of all earthly wrongs,
our little angels are learning the words to the Angel's songs.
Amidst the children's laughter and their Heavenly play,
there's also more important work going on there today.
Jesus is building mansions, never taking time to sleep,
for Reunions are being planned, yes, even as we weep.
The children gather around Him and listen to Him speak,
for He has all the answers that they curiously seek.
He tells them for a time, in Heaven, they must wait,
and then they can meet us at Heaven's pearly gate
The night before, when I put him to bed, I remember telling him I love him and placing the sign of the cross on his head and saying "Father, Son, Holy Spirit...God watch over you while you sleep". Every night before I put my kids to bed that is the last thing I do and have done since the day they were born. I have no idea why I have done it but I have and always will. I can vividly remember the look on his face while his music cd played in the background(a cd I can no longer listen to because we played it every single time he went to sleep...it was his favorite and he would not sleep without it on.) and I went to turn the light off. He lifted his little head off his bed and gave me a sad face but knew it was bed time and just looked at me one more time before he started to suck on his thumb and drift off to sleep listening to all the pretty little horses. Never did I think it would be the last time I would see him alive.
I then thought about the very last moment I ever got to be with his little body. It was at the funeral home and we took our last pictures of us with him in them we would ever have. The pain is vividly depicted on our face, there is no escaping the feelings that those pictures transcend. Knowing other parents who have lost children, we all have one of those pictures where the broken heart is just not able to be covered up by anything...the emotions are raw and right there in a photography forever captured. I asked everyone to leave me with him and sang his song as I held him in my arms one last time and kissed his little head and just told him I wished I could have saved him and that I loved him with all my heart. That was the hardest room to ever leave and ironically, it was a funeral home, a place most people hate to be at and avoid at all costs.
How do you move forward without having a chance to say goodbye? Are there moments that God has given to those who had no idea their loved one was leaving where you actually have that chance without knowing it? I truly believe there were moments like these for those in my family and we didn't know it. Never in my life had we ever been able to afford a trip to Disney World. It was always a dream of mine to go there with my whole family. For whatever reason, last minute my mom had the money and we talked her into coming with us and then my brother and sister also opted to come too. The day after Christmas we all headed out to the happiest place on Earth. That week was one of the most memorable weeks in my entire life. George rolled over and we all had the time of our lives and we got to do it as a family. We were only missing my sister Tara who was unable to join us and I wish she had been able to be there but she was in her own dark place at that time. It was like we got to "Make a Wish" and didn't even know it! I'll never forget his face as we stood there watching the Christmas lights blinking and his two brothers waved light up swords above his head...he was so fascinated! He spent time with everyone that week...something that was very unlikely to ever happen. I think God gave us all a gift that week and we didn't know it.
Then I remember the few days before he died when my parents watched him for me I was behind on making my hours for work for the week and wanted to catch up so that come Friday I could be done early and spend the rest of the weekend with the kids and Hugh. Hugh had to go to Atlantic City to pick up his mom who had last minute asked him to take her and pick him up and told him that she had already made reservations she could not cancel and she wanted to tell everyone that his dad died. That left me very frustrated with George when he got to his fuss time and my mom was on the phone as I was trying to juggle the kids and work. She told me to just drop the kids off at her house, even the baby(my mom is not a baby person and usually does not sit for them. With it being winter she hadn't seen him much other than the week we were in Disney and a few other times, we had such a cold winter that year) I was hesitant but wanted the time with the kids so I took him over. Finally I got caught up enough to be able to not be too far behind even with having to take time off for Hugh's birthday the next day. I will never forget the memories from picking him up and how he was so happy and not the typical fussy little boy. My parents were in their recliners and he was there rocking and my mom said how good he was which was such a surprise. I really believe that was his goodbye to them.
For me, my time with him was the night before he died, Hugh's birthday. We gave him some birthday icing even though I was not one for giving him stuff at his age with all the tummy troubles he had. To this day I am thankful that I threw out my "doctor" hat and just got to be a fun mommy where I gave him icing. After cake I went to finish another hour of work so I would only be left with 3 hrs the next morning which I planned to wake up early to finish. Hugh was caring for him and I finally finished my work. I went up the steps to find him in his favorite place, his bouncer! His little face just lit the room up when he saw me and of course melted my heart all over again and widened that special place he already claimed even more than I thought possible. The shower was calling my name and Hugh decided to put him to bed while I was in there.
When I came out he was still crying and I went in to get him. I wasn't going to, I was going to let him cry it out. Something in me said..."what would happen if he didn't wake up tomorrow, you would be mad at yourself for not going in!" Despite Hugh's scowl I opened the door and he tucked himself under my chin as I walked to the couch with him in my arms. The two of us sat there play for a while. I had missed that time during the day and finally the stress of the week we just had melted away as I realized that I only had a few hours and I could then spend the whole weekend with the new little light in my life. It was a special playtime, one like no other where all my problems had subsided for that time and all I was focused on was playing with George. I know that was his Goodbye to me and I didn't know it. I even remember almost not doing the sign of the cross but stopped in my tracks yet again thinking of how I would hate myself if I didn't do it and went back to do just such.
Without even knowing it we all had our goodbyes in our own way. The boys got to have a party with their little brother and that is exactly what they would have wanted. My kids love parties and it was their daddy's birthday so there was no better thing for them especially when they would like to have a party just because the wind blew. They had made pictures and hung up a few balloons and made cake. If the boys could have chosen a way to say goodbye it would have been just that way and it was even though these moments just now bring so much pain when in the moment they just brought such innocent and unconditional love. I don't know if anyone else in my family ever looks back and sees their last moments with him and feels as if they did get to say goodbye without realizing it but I know I do. Those memories are so vivid and now bring mixed emotions with them. We didn't get to utter the words or do what we would thought we wanted to do if we knew he was going to die but instead we were just granted special moments where our world happened to just revolve around George even if it was only brief.
I thank God for those moments now with all my heart and that he made me go back in there and enjoy the time rather than being distracted by the outside world like usual. The last few moments I had with my son alive were happy ones and I am so grateful for those because I am really trying to focus on that rather than all the stuff that transpired the next morning when I never did finish those hours for work, the dirty dishes were still in the sink, and my world was just turned upside down. Cherish every moment for none of us know when it will be our last. Learn to forgive and move forward because holding a grudge only hurts you in the long run and clouds your very being. Forgive yourself and don't take it too hard. When the rains pour remember God's promise to walk with you the whole way and carry you when needed and that things in the end will be just as they are suppose to even though it may not be easy. To this day I will never look at a rainbow the same way. My son taught me that often times it isn't a word or phrase that can express a feeling but rather just truly living in the moment and cherishing it with all you have and all that you are. My goodbye were those special moments I was blessed with.
Below is the story of a beautiful little girl, please take the time to read and educate yourself in honor of George, Alayna, and all those other babies who are now in heaven without their parents waiting to be with them again some day.
Alayna Vivian Goetz 9/25/10-9/26/10
I was 5 days overdue when my labor started on Friday night (September 24). We made it to the hospital on the evening of Saturday, September 25, after my water broke at home. I was admitted at 5:42. Alayna was born at 8:35 in the OR (They were prepping me for an emergency c-section because her heart rate kept dropping, but when the nurse went to put in my catheter, her head was already emerging. I delivered vaginally and drug free.)
Alayna was 7 lbs, 14 oz and 20 inches. She was perfectly healthy (APGAR scores of 7 and 9). I was able to breastfeed her almost immediately after she was born.
Shortly before our family left for the night, a nurse wheeled Alayna down to our room in her plastic bassinet. It looked like Alayna would be sleeping in our room that night. I had no intention of her rooming in with us, especially since I was so exhausted. I think I’d slept about 4 solid hours since Friday night. But I figured it was time to start being a mom, so I didn’t protest her being with us. Plus, my husband Paul had been told by one of the nurses in the nursery that Alayna should sleep pretty well that night since most babies do right after being born.
Well, Alayna was obviously not like most babies. When Paul went down to the car to get his bag of clothes, she began fussing. Of course, she was just out of arm’s reach. I hadn’t been out of bed yet and I was afraid to get up for the first time without Paul being there to help. So, she continued to fuss until he came back and was able to give her to me. I knew she needed to eat, but I couldn’t get her latched on. After struggling to nurse her, I sent Paul down to the nurse’s station to ask for help. He said they were all finishing up our paperwork and would be down shortly. I was starting to get frustrated with Alayna for not latching on. I eventually got her latched on, but it just didn’t feel right…it didn’t feel like it did when I nursed her earlier. So, I took her off…I’ll always question why I did this. For the life of me, I couldn’t get her re-latched. She sure had my personality: stubborn to a T. I was getting even more frustrated, and I’m sure she was, too. I finally decided to push the call button for a nurse around 12:15 a.m.; a nurse came down.
She tried helping me get Alayna latched on in the normal nursing position, but once again, Alayna’s attitude got in the way. She wouldn’t latch on to either breast, so we tried the football hold…no luck. Finally, the nurse decided we should try the side lay method. So, I laid down on my left side and Alayna was laying on her right side facing me. The nurse propped her up with a pillow behind her and my left arm was somewhat supporting her neck. I was a little bit nervous and I remember thinking to myself “Just don’t roll over on her.” However, this worked! Alayna finally latched on. The nurse stayed with us for a little while before leaving our room around 12:45. Shortly after she left, Alayna came unlatched, but I was able to put her back on. This was progress! In the meantime, Paul got ready for bed and laid down on the couch across the room.
The next thing I remember is when another nurse came into our room at approximately1:15 a.m. I had fallen asleep. I know she took Alayna out of my bed and asked me some question (maybe it was if I had been nursing her?). Next thing I knew, she said she had to take her down to the nursery and she ran out of our room with Alayna. Before long, I heard Code Pink being called over the PA system. I immediately began panicking and I was yelling at Paul to wake up. He came over to the bed and tried to calm me down. No one told us anything. Someone came and even shut the door to our room without telling us what was going on. I was sitting up in bed, crying, panicking, and flailing my arms. I begged Paul to let me call my sister who was a nurse; I clearly remember her saying she knew what Code Pink meant, but that she didn't know what Code Yellow was (that was called for my emergency c-section). He appeared much calmer and wouldn’t let me call her at that time of the morning. At one point, he even said that we didn’t know the Code was even called on Alayna. I, of course, said something to the affect of, “The nurse just ran out of the room with our daughter. Something is wrong!!” He just kept assuring me that someone would be down soon to tell us what was going on. This wasn’t good enough for me. Once again, I pushed the nurse call button. The lab tech lady came in and when I asked her what was going on and what was wrong with our daughter, she didn’t answer. She just said something along the lines of “The doctor will be down soon.”
I was really beginning to fall apart when a doctor and two nurses ( walked into our room and shut the door. To this day, I have no clue how the doctor broke the news to us that Alayna had died at 1:47 a.m, just 5 hours after her birth. It’s just something I knew once they walked in the door. As I’ve always said, they don’t send in a doctor and two nurses to tell you everything is perfectly okay. I know I fell apart. I was crying and screaming and questioning the doctor. I kept saying, “I did this. I did this. I killed my daughter, didn’t I?” The doctor told me more than once, “We don’t know that.” “You can’t say that.” and “No, you didn’t.” Paul was very quiet through all of this. I remember at one point asking the doctor, “So, if I didn’t kill her, what do you put on the death certificate? SIDS?” He said he wasn’t sure. The doctor and nurses assured us they did everything they could for Alayna for the 14 minutes they worked on her. They offered multiple times to make phone calls to family for us, but I was insistent that we make them. I did ask for them to call my midwife, though. Before they left our room, they said they would get Alayna ready and bring her back down to our room.
I called my family, but I don't know what I said. Paul called his mom and simply said, "She's gone." Our family all came back to the hospital. A deputy coroner and our priest were also called. Despite the doctor and nurses saying they would bring Alayna back down to our room, the deputy coroner would not allow this. We could not touch her again. We had to say our last goodbye through the nursery window.
Somehow, Paul and I got through the next few days and weeks, including Alayna's visitation and funeral. On Monday, October 18, the County Coroner called my cell phone while I was at work. She had the autopsy results. Sure enough, the cause of death was “overlay.” When I asked what that meant, she told me that Alayna basically suffocated. With those words, my worst nightmare came true. (After talking further to my midwife and nurses, they believe Alayna came unlatched and rolled in toward me. She was found lying next to me with her head turned down into me and the mattress.)
I called Paul right away; he didn’t really know what to say. I went back to my classroom and told the ladies I worked with. I was an absolute mess and just kept saying, “I did this. I did this. I killed her.” Of course, the ladies were quite comforting and kept assuring me that it was not my fault. They kept saying it was in God’s plan and that I did everything right. This seems to be the common response from people when they hear my story.
However, I can't get past the tremendous amount of guilt I have over this entire situation. Knowing I wasn't found literally on top of her did help with some of my guilt. But, the bottom line is that despite having no intention of co-sleeping, I fell asleep while nursing my 5 hour old infant daughter and she died because of it.
For any of you who are reading this who do co-sleep, please think twice before you place your child in bed with you. No one should have to suffer the pain and guilt that I deal with daily
Thursday, June 23, 2011
For me I relive this moments over and over again whenever triggered and try to think of all those mom's and dads and others suffering with this sort of thing just like I do and my heart just breaks for them. It is so unfair to have to watch your child die and then people expect you to somehow get over and through it. You are just never the same ever again. We had no choice in any of this and would give anything to not have these memories and our children back in our arms. After reliving this and thinking of others I often times have to ask Why? I don't really get any of it but have to rely on my faith and that I just don't see the bigger picture. Then I will get mad in general at the human race for being so screwed up that this sort of thing has to be endured and God sees reasons for these sorts of things. I still have never been mad at God directly because I get it but than in another sense I don't.
Going back to the bible I think of how he must have felt. He had to knowingly sacrifice his child for the benefit of us all and our sinful ways. I think of my son and how often times I know lives were changed by his death but sad by the fact it took my son's life to change the lives of others. Why couldn't we learn in a different way? I think of my dad who has no idea what he believes and how sad I am for him and often wonder if all we are going through is because God is calling him through us. My dad has changed so much over the years, for the better, but most of it has come through my children for some reason. Is loosing our son and now our house God's way of helping my father listen to his calling? I really don't know but would I endure all this pain just so my father can know God and give up my son's life here on Earth for my father's eternal life and never be upset about that. It really made me think a lot about how God must have felt knowing there was no other way to save the lives of those he loved here on Earth. The thought is such a powerful one.
After much contemplation about the pain of loosing a child and having to live with the memories of watching him die, I wondered how God handled watching Christ suffer and die on the cross. For some reason, the song Ten Thousand Angels Cried came to mind...I knew this song from years ago and always loved it then but now it truly has a different meaning. I've also just finished this book called Heaven is for Real...a little boys close encounter with death that took him to heaven and his experience there. In the book it touches on many things but the one thing that I could not shake was the fact that God turned his head when Christ died on the cross.
That of course lead me to do some research online about the meaning of it and to also come up with my own thoughts on the passage. There is so much debate on this subject...way more than I ever thought there would be. Some say he didn't turn his head from Jesus but rather from the sin that put him there while others feel God couldn't bear to watch his son die. No matter the reason, it gave me much comfort knowing that God understands the feelings that I have where the death of my son is concerned. Nothing compares to watching someone died but especially your child. I watched all of the chaos that ensued after the death of George but I was not actually there for his last breath and that just breaks my heart. If he had to go, I wanted to walk him home in that capacity but was not given that opportunity.
I really don't think that God would have turned away from his son but can understand why he would because I know I would give anything to not have those memories myself. The feelings I have about not wanting to have to loose my son for the sake of others is also something that I can understand God having for his own son and turning away due to the sin factor. On both levels I completely understand the whole passage no matter the meaning of it all. It does however make me know that God's understanding of my pain is first hand and I also know how much I would also give up for the eternal life of someone else that I love. The difference however is that God made his choice willingly and mine was forced upon me. I cannot say for sure I would have willingly given up my son knowingly. That very thought tugs at my heart on so many levels. It does however also show me how great God's love is for me.
There was also a passage in the book Heaven is for Real that spoke about how the little boy met his sister that the parents had lost to miscarriage. Often times so many mom's and dad's wonder if their children are really there in heaven and especially those who they never had the chance to meet or hold. For me I always wondered since George was not really baptized until after he died. They address this very fact in the book when this boy mentions this to his family and he didn't know anything at all about the miscarriage but he meets his sister. The father happens to be a pastor and after they told the story to the congregation, a woman comes to him and asks him if the young boy knows if her child she miscarried was in heaven too. He is completely baffled as to how to answer this woman but is given wisdom by the holy spirit and gives her the best response that he can. He basically tells her that he means as much to God as she does and that if God loved his child enough for them to be in heaven than her child must be there too.
This book of course has many skeptics but you have to take from everything in your life and decide for yourself what you believe. I don't think there really are any right or wrong answers. You really have to follow your heart. My heart tells me my son is in heaven and that God loved his own son, Jesus, no matter the case and if he turned his head and it's meaning. All of these things just prove that a parent's love for their child is a unique bond that nothing can ever break, even death. I am sure God was elated after his own personal trials and suffering having watched his own son die. It makes me think of how great the day is going to be when I get to see my son again...it's going to be great and will be worth the wait.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Yesterday was one of those days. All day I could only think of him and missed him so much. Father's Day was just another day here and nothing really like it used to be. We took Hugh to the movies with the boys and went to church in the AM but still there is something that just lacks. It is that pain of knowing there is something missing. I think it finally just all hit me hard yesterday when looking at Gabrielle I thought how much she looked like him and wondered if he would have looked like she does now. It was finally more than I could take when she nestled her head under my chin just like he used to. There was nothing I could do to hold the tears back as I held her cherishing every single second yet also being torn apart inside with pain...so very bitter sweet yet again.
I don't really know how I am suppose to live like this the rest of my life. After talking to many mom's who have said goodbye to their children too, they all feel the very same way. For many of us this is when we have to rely on God to carry us because we would choose ourselves to just lay down and die right there in that moment. No physical pain can ever compare to the pain forever in our hearts. I had to go for testing myself yesterday(we are still trying to find out what is wrong with me) and I was listening to the christian radio station, like always, and it was as if every single song was picked just for me. Yet there were people calling in and saying what was going on in their lives and they too were in very dark places in life and having to rely on faith. That's when you really realize God is one busy man!
I think of my own life and how difficult of a road it has been and how often times I would pray for some sort of mercy. To me that meant an end to the situation but for God I think it was just his love wrapping around me and letting me feel his presence just as he did yesterday. It was that bitter sweet moment where I held my daughter thanking him and cherishing every single second and yet hurting for my son no longer here. I knew God was in the moment just there wrapping his arms around me as tears just fell from my eyes. His grace is the very thing that brought Gabrielle to our family.
We are walking such a hard path right now with so many mixed emotions and there are days I just don't want to even get out of bed. Somehow I do and move on with the day even if it has to be one second at a time. I cannot imagine not having faith and having to walk this path. The other day my dad told my mom he didn't know what he believed and my heart just went out to him. How in the world does he make it day to day? Please keep him in your prayers and that he find God's presence in his life. I can't even begin to think what he went through when George died and now goes through from time to time without any faith because I know how much I rely on mine and so does Hugh.
Today I am asking that you just pray for all those out there who have said goodbye to their children way too soon. Every day is a struggle for them even if they look fine on the outside...they are dying inside. If you know a father especially, know they often times are forgotten in this all and cope differently but still feel that great loss. 1 in 4 people will have to bury their child...every time I hear of someone else loosing their child my heart breaks for them knowing the path they are now on.
Video Tributes/Celebration of Life Footage
Here is a link to a video tribute that was made by Richard's dad in memory of George. Get out your tissues!
We Finally have footage from the service up and running:
It is in 4 sections running about 17 mins each. If you were unable to attend, you can now see what you missed. We were so blessed to have everyone there with us in person and in spirit!