Sunday, March 18, 2007

Teagan's Birthday.





I'm mixing the pictures up a bit today in this post in memory of Teagan. That top one is a picture of a card that we got from Grandma Karen as we marked Teagan's first birthday in Heaven. I have kept it on a memo board in my kitchen for 5 years now. It hardly seems like it's been that long, but it has.
For me, when I look at pictures of Teagan, or recall memories that we shared, they could have happened yesterday- they are that clear in my mind. Even as I spent time thinking about our birth experience with her and all the changes we made with having our first baby, now 10 years ago today, it hardly feels like it could be so long ago. I remember my thoughts and emotions and how perfect Teagan was when she was born. I remember hardly being able to breathe... probably partly from just having a baby, but truly, she took my breath away. I think it was the way she felt in my arms. I had been so against having a baby in my life, and I was so afraid of not being able to love this baby when it was born. I look back now, and can't believe I wasted so much time stressing about and worrying about something that never happened. Something that couldn't have been further from the reality that took place.
The moment Teagan was placed in my arms, tears started rolling down my cheeks. I was smitten. I would have died on the spot for her. And any of my other kids when they were born too. It just happened naturally to me. Instant, absolute, pure love. I remember trying to fall asleep that first night, (yeah right! Teagan was up squawking for most of it!) and thinking to myself that my heart could burst- I had no idea I was capable of so much love.
There were lots of challenges with Teagan as a newborn in my life. I felt isolated in my home alone most of the day- alone, but with Teagan. As a firsttime Mom, I was nervous to go very far and struggles with figuring out how to do everything...like baths and grocery shopping and stuff I never thought would be an issue. It was tricky. As many of you know, parenthood changes the dynamics of your relationship with your spouse too. There were lots of things we had to adjust to...but as we learned to adapt, I was more and more comfortable with my new role as a mom, and I grew to love this new part of my life every single day.
As Teagan grew, so did I, in many respects. I not only realized how much I loved having kids, but also that I couldn't have been happier than when I was home just being with my family. When I had to go back to work, part-time, Teagan got to come with me to the office and it worked out great, but I realized I just loved being a mom most of all. Through the years, and with a second and third baby, it became a priority of mine to be home full-time. It also costs a lot to have three kids in daycare, so we crunched our budget and made it work so that I could stay home and be with our kids.
I loved it.

I thought I 'had it all' when Wyndham was born. We were living in the first home we had bought just months earlier, in a quiet neighborhood with a fenced in back yard. We had great friends, Chip liked his job, we were happy at our church, and life just seemed to be "going our way". Really, it was like that. We stressed once in awhile if we had a car needing a repair, or I wished I could see our family in Minnesota more often, but by and large, things were rosy in our corner of the world.
At three weeks of age, Wyndham had a medical problem...she stopped breathing and we called 9-1-1 and she ended up air-ambulanced to Hurley Hospital in Flint, MI where she spent 5 days in the ICU on a respirator. We were able to bring her home, and although we were all shaken by this incident and concerned and aware of how close we had come to losing her, we were very grateful to have our little family back together again. I felt that God was telling Chip and I to never take what He had given to us for granted- even our kids. So, I didn't. I loved my kids in a 'new way', realizing that they could be gone if something ever happened. I was more protective of them, and yet more patient, because I realized they were kids, and I wouldn't have forever with them. They were growing up and I was aware of how much I just needed to soak up this time with them while they were so young.
I was living that and loving that and thought life had tested me and that I had come through my experience as a better person. I was 'living the good life'. At least the way Chip and I had decided we wanted to live life. Comfortable, secure, happy.
Teagan couldn't have been happier. She followed me around the house all day, or outside, "helping me" and asking questions, playing with Brock and making us all laugh at her antics. She would sing and dance and run and play Barbies and color and paint and just basically had the kind of easy childhood that every kid deserves. She loved being a little girl. She loved her birthdays, and when her fourth birthday came, she said, "I just want to be four forever!". She said it for the next four and a half months, from time to time. I always thought is was unusual that she wanted to stay four, but she held her ground on that wish.
I think about that wish of hers more than anything, each year when her birthday rolls around. I wonder if God made her say that so often, so to ease some of my sorrow in the way that it sort of does. I mean, I have a hope of Heaven. There is no doubt in my mind that Teagan is there. She prayed and asked Jesus into her heart the day before she died just before she ate her lunch. I know that is all God asks of us if we want to gain eternal life- simply believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins, and we in return are given everlasting life in Heaven. I believe that He is true to this promise, and since Teagan prayed a little prayer, asking Jesus to come into her heart, I live with the assurance that I will see her again when I die.
That hope, that reality, that even though she is separated from me now I will see her again someday, was the one thought that made my pain bearable when she died. I miss her in my life every single day. Some more than others. Like when I stop and think too long, or when we do something that I know Teagan would have loved doing, or in our family pictures...I always see a 'hole' where she should be. It's true. It hurts more than I could put into words here, at times.
Today Teagan would have turned 10. I have no idea how she would like to style her hair, or what her favorite subject would be in school. I don't know if she would be playing an instrument, or what sport she would like the best. I don't know if she would want a puppy or would have wanted a sleepover with her friends. I don't know what kind of cake she would have had me make; I have no idea what would have topped her birthday wish list of presents. There is so much I don't know, that if I spend too much time thinking about it, I can't type through my tears. And that pain that gets pushed in to a little corner of my soul...it comes at me in full force. It hurts. It's sad and it's not fair that the arms I have that once held her and felt love like no other from the moment she was placed into them, cannot give her a simple, little birthday hug today.
I could go on and on, but I have learned, after celebrating 6 birthdays without her now, that my heart would rather celebrate what I had, and what I still have in life, rather than getting hung up on what I am missing out on. I wouldn't trade the hug I got in that picture above from Teagan that time. And that picture is only one of several hundred hugs around the neck that I got in her 4 short years. The smiles, the laughter, the joy, the challenges, the changes, the ups, the downs, the realization that I was so lucky to have her in my life- and all the blessings that our family has been given since her death- that is what my heart celebrates on Teagan's birthday. I posted a picture of Brock and me from our lunch out today, as a family. I sat there thinking how different things would be if Teagan were here, and really I can't say that I know how things would be for sure.
A part of me knows that I was lucky to not have lost Brock and Wyndham at the same time as Teagan's death. I don't know that I would be the person I am today if that had happened. So, I was thankful for them. And for Chip. And for Isabella who showed up in my life when I thought the timing couldn't have hardly been worse...and yet when she was born {4 days before we marked the first anniversary of Teagan's death} the timing was perfect. She filled my arms again, not that she could replace Teagan, but she diverted some of the sorrow of my soul, and created a new purpose for my pain. I had to look beyond some of my sorrow and embrace what life (I believe God planned her all along) was giving to me. I am thankful for Ava too. She likely wouldn't be in my life if Teagan were still here. Again, I don't know for certain, but Chip and I weren't planning to have a family of five kids. Now we have five, but one is waiting for us in her new home in Heaven.
Sometimes I feel like Teagan can look down and see everything we're doing in life. I don't know if she can for certain; it just feels like it sometimes. I know that if she was watching us today, she would see that we still love her like crazy, that there is a longing in our hearts to know everything about her, and that we can't wait to see her in Heaven someday. In the meantime, we are doing our best to make sure that we remember to laugh and live and love, and to tell others about Heaven. Because we want everyone to have a chance to meet her...and more importantly, to meet God- the one who has changed our hearts forever.
Happy Birthday, Teagan from your whole family on earth. You were celebrated today, and are in our hearts always!

34 comments:

tommiea said...

Wow. you are able to put into words what is so hard to say,

So glad you are able to have a good day...

not sure when I read it...but the time you said,'she wanted to be four forever' has stuck in my mind!

nicoleq said...

I've sat here wondering what to type or to say... but no words are coming.
Your post was beautiful.

karen said...

you amaze me everyday Jody.

I picture Teagen in heaven, watching over your family AND happily eating buttercream frosting on this special day.

((HUGS))

Jill B said...

What a wonderful reminder of the reason to celebrate to each day.
God has not promised us tomorrow, but we have today. Thanks for reminding me to live it with my children and not be anxious about the next day, year, etc.
May the memories of Teagan grow more vivid with time.

Anonymous said...

I have read your blog now for several months, never leaving a comment. But have to today--only to mirror what so many other people say--you truly ARE an inspiration, in so many ways.

I have a 12 year old daughter and a 2 year old daughter and just can't imagine losing either one of them. I never met Teagan, but now I can't wait to--and one day I will!!!

Thank you for sharing your life with us, I sincerely appreciate it.

K :) Family Historian said...

What a beautiful post for your glorious little girl. As I type through my tears, I pray that I will heed your words and remember to hug my girls a little tighter and allow them to be children a little longer. God Bless.

a friend to knit with said...

oh jody, i really don't know what to say. as i sit here typing through my tears, i can't even imagine what your life is like without one of your loves beside you...although she is in spirit. Please know I thought about you all day yesterday......like others have said, you are an inspiration and you remind us to cherish every moment.........

Jiggy said...

Jody...I so related to your comment about there always being a hole in the picture where Tegan should be...I lost my 2 month old nephew Cody to SIDs seven years ago and I always feel the same way when we do family pictures. Your post made me happy that Cody and Teagan are celebrating her birthday together and I am glad that you are able to celebrate Teagan's day with hope and happiness in your heart! Thanks! Jiggy

Randi & Family said...

thank you again for a beautiful post which included another beautiful, strong, empowering message. You have so much to give and teach because of all you've learned through your struggles and victories. I pray for you daily.
- Randi - :)

ellen said...

I was thinking about you and your family yesterday. That is a beautiful post. Thank you.

~Lea~ said...

I am a tad emotional today...so this post hit me hard. The way you think about and remember Teagen is just beautiful. I can just picture her up in heaven dancing, and singing and praising God...waiting for the day that you will all be reunited. HUGS to you.

Monica said...

What a beautiful post and tribute...thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I have been following your blog for a few monthe now. You and your family were in my thoughts all day yesterday, as you are many days. I love how you are so real, so honest and so raw at times. You tell it like it is, and for that I thank you!
Your pictures are so fun, I love how you take pics of the everyday things (like pinky promises), you have opened my eyes to captivate the everyday things that I want my kids to remember.
Thanks for the pics of Teagan, she is so beautiful!

Joy said...

The faith that you show, despite the hole in your lives and the ongoing challenges you face is a real inspiration to me. Our family has been through a rough month and I'm struggling with so many questions. Thanks for sharing the ups and downs you've been through.

Carrie said...

I was on my way back to work from my lunch break at church when I passed the ambulances coming off Hayes and heading away from me. By the time I got back to the store, the news was coming in already. I'll never forget that day, and you have so clearly communicated that you won't either--in so many more ways and for many more reasons. Most important, you have such a ministry about you through this and thank you for being willing to share that ministry. I remember hearing that you were pregnant with Isabella after I moved to Seattle and keeping you in my prayers even then--as you still are today. Much love!

emilyruth said...

wow...
that was amazing...
i just sat here & cried & cried
thank you for your words
& for celebrating your little sweetie
what a gift:)

ps i got to you from cathy zielske's blog...i actaully didn't even read what you wrote to her today..i just like your screen name...now that i have gone back to read what you wrote to her i can see that it is a good day to remember & be proud & love every minute...thanks

Cris said...

That was beautiful post Jody and the perfect way to honor Teagen. ((((((((HUGS))))))))

linda t said...

Such a beautiful post of your precious Teegan.
I just posted today about my nephew Noel. Ten years ago this week Noel died as a result of a basketball accident. He was 19 years old and we still miss him so much. We are sooo thankful he is with the Lord and that the Lord has used this and Teegan's death for His glory. And Jody, we will never know just how miraculously He is using these stories to point others to Himself!

FlipFlop Mom said...

You and your words are a blessing!! I know it can't be easy to share your heart out in the open.. but I'm so glad that you do!!!

Alyson said...

Happy Birthday, sweet Teagan.

Becky R said...

Teagan shares her birthday with the anniversary of my Nana's passing. 20 years ago! I can still smell her dusting powder on some days...Teagan is a beautiful angel, smiling down upon us all! Happy Birthday sweet little one!

Anonymous said...

You are my inspiration AND my reminder to stop and kiss my kids more (and more). You share your expereince with such grace and I thank you for sharing it. God bless you and your family and hugs to your ^honey^ in ((heaven))
xox Laura Solomon

Heather H said...

THANK YOU!

Elisha said...

There is really no way for me to truly offer comfort understanding or anything over a blog, but I truly admire your outlook on life and your undying faith. Thanks for being such an inspiration, and happy birthday Teagan!

Kathy said...

That is a beautiful post Jody. And such a nice tribute.

Brooke said...

Jody,

You have such a beautiful way with words. You are so open and giving in what you tell and share, it's amazing. Sounds like your family is lucky to have you and you them.

Brooke.

KeanaLee said...

Jody, I have a 10 year-old daughter who was born 1.31.97 & I can tell you that, yes, she would want a puppy or a kitten or some small animal she would love for a really long time, like my daughter does. Yes, she would probably play an insturment or sing in the 4th grade chorus not only because you have to pick one but because "all your friends are doing it" --- she would hang out at websites like webkinz.com; girlsense.com & clubpenguin.com because that is what all the 4th grade girls are doing. She would like clothes & shopping & Saturday shopping days with mom, because this is what my daughter likes. She would probably be watching "That's So Raven" & "The Suite Life of Zach & Cody" at the "every weekend" sleepover that goes on at a house like mine with a 10-year old girl in it. I imagine she would be fun, sweet, kind, honest & a little sassy, like all 10-year old girls. God Bless You & your family.

Priya said...

Your words touch a chord inside my heart. You write beautifully. No wonder I keep returning to your blog. I am sorry for your pain. I also realise that probably that pain is responsible for some of the words you write that touch me so. Please keep writing.

Debbie said...

I thought about you all. My continued prayers are with you. Your post was beautiful, as always

Debbie R

House of Big Cheese said...

I am speechless.

Anonymous said...

I just read your blog,and I am so amazed that you were able to express your feelings to your friends and family. I am a 18 year old girl, and I lost my mom when i was 14 , unexpected, so when i read your blog, it put me in tears, I know that my mom and your Teagan are safe in heaven with Heavenly Father and Jesus...My heart feels for you!!

Craft Tea Lady said...

Wow, thanks for sharing your story today. Friday we marked 6 months w/o my oldest son... he was 20, but I feel the same way. He is missed and there is not a day that goes by that i don't think of him. Thank you for sharing your heart w/ me,someone you don't even know.

www.xanga.com/crafttealady

Gina

Wendy P said...

Hi Jody,
I just found your blog this morning from a post you made on a friend of mine's blog. I was reading along until I read this post. I had to find what happened to Teagen. I can't believe you are the family I remember so well hearing about on the news and watching on Oprah. My daughter was 2 and I was on bed rest with my son. When you were on Oprah, I remember hearing your story and crying and wondering if I would be able to forgive like you had done. I remember hearing about your story on the news right after the accident and talked with my husband that something as simple as going to eat lunch can change your life forever. The thought of losing a child is unthinkable and I thank god and the universe everyday that I have both my kids. You are a great inspiration. I am glad I stumbled upon your blog this morning. I will visit again. :)

Susan said...

Thank you Jody for sharing your precious memories of your beautiful Teagan.

I'll never forget her beautiful face and the words you shared in this post.

God has truly walked along side of you on your journey.

You have been such a testimony to His faithfulness in ALL things, and He's being glorified through your amazing testimony.

I can't imagine how much you long to see and hold your daughter. One day you will again.

Praying for you! (sniff, sniff...)