The evening that Reece passed away I remember saying to Terry that someone could storm in, hold us at gunpoint, and I wouldn’t even bat an eyelash–I felt so numb to life. That numbness has gradually lessened over time. That intense period of being oblivious to sincere safety concerns was very short, thankfully. I then went through several months of feeling a loss of interest to make decisions that would somehow re-engage us in life activity. It has been a very slow process of taking on small things that start to integrate us back into normal circumstances and to begin trying to really “live” life. We are still working on this on many fronts. However, where I really struggled those first few months was in my willingness to take on anything further than that to which we had already committed. We had our girls, our home, and our current life at the time. I had no desire to even entertain the thought of doing more. My thoughts were solely about caring for the girls, figuring out what God’s ultimate calling was for me (which I accept may solely be taking care of my kids and husband), and completing it. I really spent most of the day with my head focused on Heaven and Reece and getting there in the minimum amount of time God would require. I could not fathom making decisions that would tie us here any longer or doing things that would tie us to this life any further. This may not make sense to you, but my thinking was to do the best I could with what we had chosen to take on and not entertain engaging in anything that might get us invested in life here any further. It sounds strange, but to me, it makes perfect sense in the context of what we’ve lived through. We’d witnessed so much–our innocence had been lost–and other than raising our girls, I wanted nothing further to keep me here. In the back of my mind, I know that God doesn’t work like that, but that was where I was at and I know that He understood it, perfectly.
Then, late last Fall, I happened to watch an interview of Barbara Bush on the TODAY Show. (Click here to view this clip.) Interviewed by her granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager, the former First Lady discussed the passing of their second child–a daughter named Robin–from leukemia; she was three years old. I had no idea that George H. W. and Barbara Bush had lost a child and as the interview continued, she discussed some intimate details regarding watching her daughter pass away. What she described hit very close to home in our own experience of watching Reece pass away. Most people, including myself, do not discuss such details publicly and it was helpful to hear her talk about it. She spoke of how she and the former President still discuss their daughter and how they felt about losing her. She mentioned that now, as they are approaching the end of their lives on earth, they discuss her even more and how excited they are to see her again. As I listened, it occurred to me that they had several other children after Robin died. George Bush went on to work in many high level positions, including being the President of the USA. They raised five children (four having been born after Robin died), including one future US President. They figured out a way to hold it together, to heal, and to be active again in life. They took on new challenges. They didn’t stop having children, they didn’t let it cripple their plans in his career, they didn’t crumble as a family. Watching this interview helped me to realize that it would be okay, at some point, to take new things on in life.
A few months ago, I posted this picture on my Facebook profile page:
I stated that this is what my dream looks like–to hold Reece again. I’ve actually already lived and felt my dream. It has temporarily left me, but it will be realized again one day. In reality, it will be different from this, as you will notice, not all of our kids are part of this picture. My dream contains this scene, but it includes more people than what are pictured. Reece is only part of it–the entire picture is having my family reunited. In all likelihood, that could be close to 100 years from now, but I strongly believe it will happen. I have come to accept that I will never have a family photo with all of us together on Earth. We won’t ever feel “whole” here, as a family. Once I accepted that reality, I was able to better understand that we still had a strong desire of the heart to raise three kids together. We have wanted for quite some time to have the dynamic of three children in our home. This desire did not go away with Reece’s passing. Certainly, I thought we would raise Reece, Britta, and Scarlett together–I really wanted that. That will never happen for us. So, after careful consideration and definite prompting from the Lord, we opened our hearts to having another baby. One month later, I was pregnant.
Here we are, beginning our second trimester, feeling blessed, overwhelmed, and slightly confused as to how we exactly got here. We considered not sharing the news until later in the pregnancy, but this being my fourth baby, it is not as easy to hide my belly this time around! In all seriousness, I want to share that this isn’t some attempt to replace Reece or distract us from the process we are going through. This isn’t about trying to have another boy to somehow fill his absence. He is “The Boy” in our family. We are excited to have either gender and excited about the prospect of potentially having the family dynamic of three children in the house…even though we are having our fourth child. We went into this pregnancy with our eyes wide open to the entire spectrum of parenting–the wonderful and obvious blessings, the heart-wrenching moments, and the gems that can only be uncovered through trials and tribulations. In my opinion, it has been a much more difficult endeavor to entertain having another child–considering the understanding of what it is like to physically lose one–than it would have been to not have another baby at all. Ultimately, the blessing of loving a child–no matter how short a period we were blessed to have him with us–far exceeds the emptiness that would have been felt by not having him in the first place. This is true for all of our kids–born and unborn. So, we went back to the desire and calling of the heart and it was, indeed, to try to have another baby.
We talked at length with Reece’s doctors, after he passed away, about whether or not having another baby would be a negligent decision. They assured us it would not. There are only a few cases of siblings having childhood MDS. We know that anything can happen to any of our children, but we did not feel that Reece’s diagnosis should be a deterrent for having further children–at least from the perspective that we would be putting future children, knowingly, in harm’s way.
Here we are, pregnant again! We are excited and cautious; overjoyed and still fresh in grief. This is, indeed, a blessing. We have no expectations for a boy or girl–no hopes one way or the other. We hope for a healthy baby, but we know no matter what, this child is loved by us and three older siblings.