Baby On Your Six



Thursday, April 28, 2016

One Decade

Hi Aaron,

Today, we're celebrating your 10th birthday.  You won't be there, just as you haven't been there for every birthday celebration we've held for you.  It's just hard to believe that 10 years have passed since that hectic late-evening ambulance ride to a hospital I'd never heard of to watch you be born 14 weeks too early.

I'll never forget the peculiar mixture of terror and excitement that took up residence in my gut when they told your mother and I that you would need to come now.  Excitement, because I would get to meet you so soon.  Terror, because I'd be meeting you too soon.

There are so many crazy stories that came out of that night, and the weeks that followed, surrounding you, your mom and I, and the rest of your family.  But one of my favorites is the one about the moment I truly became a father:

We'd already changed your name earlier in the evening - as far as the doctor knew, he was hard at work delivering Owen into the world, even though your mom had decided that Dad was being overruled and we're going to be named Aaron.  (Your mother was right by the way, you were totally an Aaron.)  Your mom was being operated on, I was sitting by your mom's head, holding her hand.  They'd lifted you free, and carried you over to a small surgical table to the side to make sure you were stable and you let out two tiny, but world-shattering, cries.  I turned my head to look at you, still holding your mom's hand, and started to stand up to come over to you.  Like I was struck by a lightning bolt out of the sky, I was transformed by those tiny cries (the only ones of yours I ever heard, by the way), and I immediately became a father.  I stood up to walk over to you, to help you, to do whatever I could to make you well, to make you happy, to appease your cries.  It was only your mother, tugging on my hand, and saying, "Honey?  What are you doing?" that brought me back to reality - there was nothing I could do for you.  You were in the hands of skilled, highly-trained professionals.  I was...I was just your father.  No matter how much I wanted to help you, I couldn't.  But for those few moments, after you cried to me, to your mom, to the world, I was just a dad trying to help his son, and I thank you for giving me those moments.
May angels lead you in.
Hear you me my friends.
On sleepless roads the sleepless go.
May angels lead you in.
May angels lead you in.
May angels lead you in.
And if you were with me tonight,
I'd sing to you just one more time.

- "Hear You Me", by Jimmy Eat World
Life was strange for your mom and dad for a very long time after you were born too soon, and left us even sooner.  We were Mom and Dad to a sick baby, who fought for life very hard, and made us immensely proud in the fighting.  Then we had to make funeral arrangements for a baby.  I can remember hiding in the hospital bathroom with your mom, right after you'd passed away in her arms, and fighting through shock and tears, hastily deciding where your final resting place would be, and remarking that we were 26 and 27 years old - how were we supposed to make arrangements for our child when we were only barely not kids ourselves?
And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

- "Fix You", by Coldplay
Then we spent several years just trying to survive.  Watching friends and family have babies, silently and guiltily rejoicing every time they had a baby girl instead of a boy.  Finding ways to remember you any way we could without feeling like we were guilting others into remembering you with us if they didn't want to, and euphorically rejoicing every time they did.  Smothering parenting instincts that would keep bubbling up when we were with one of your cousins.  Fighting depression, anxiety, weight gain, and just struggling to get through the day sometimes.
Stronger, wiser
You'll be fine they tell ya
Life will heal and love will bind
Weaker, slower
Keep in mind it's over
Take a breath and take your time

Disaster has a way of remaking our hearts

Long after all the thunder and scars
Days pass and bit by bit we began to restart
Our disaster hearts

We will be the last ones (we will be the last ones)

To finally see when we're done (to finally see when we're done)
And we will be the last ones
To finally see when we're done

Disaster has a way of remaking our hearts

Long after all the thunder and scars
Days pass and bit by bit we began to restart
Our disaster hearts

- "Disaster Hearts", by I Fight Dragons
Then...well, then things started turning around.  People would say, "We've noticed that you seem happy," and we'd look at ourselves and say, "You know what...we kind of are a little happy."  Good friends and family had a lot to do with that - supporting us in our various endeavors to remember you, just being a listening ear and sometimes crying shoulder, or simply letting us know that they were there for us when we needed them.  Your little brother had something to do with that too - it's amazing to see Sammy run and play, to give us glimpses of how you might have grown up with us as your parents.
I'll wait up in the dark
For you to speak to me

-"Release", by Pearl Jam
Through it all, you've been a constant presence, despite your absence.  At times, I've felt you comforting me.  At other times, I've sang a song, or just a verse, out loud to you in the car (or in my head at my desk) because the lyrics reminded me of you, of the heartache of losing you.  I know that Sammy knows you're around too - he knows your name, and he's learning more about you every day.  My heart positively broke the day he asked your mom where you were.  We haven't really explained everything to him yet, but we've got a few books to read to him when that time comes.

I love you Aaron.  I love you as much today as I did the moment I first heard you cry in that operating room.  I will love you until the day I die and we are finally reunited.  Happy 10th Birthday, Aaron.  Here's to many more.

With love, Dad

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

2 Years

Two-years ago on May 31st, the world I knew was destroyed. I say this not in a depressing way, but more in a look how far we have come way. Two years ago, our baby boy went to heaven. We were crushed. Josh and I as well as our families. For someone so sweet and innocent to die was beyond our comprehension. I have been writing this entry in my head for 4 days now, but I wanted to get some of it down on paper. To have something go that wrong in your life is truly a life changing experiment. We started counseling right away and were told that we would need to work on finding the "new" us. I am really not sure what that means, but I know we have found it - or at least that we have found some of it.

I have changed in the last two years and I know Josh has as well. We have done all that we can think to do to remember Aaron. We have met some amazing people and gotten close to them that have also lost a baby. We have in two years had two very successful March for Babies teams and in doing so we have raised over $10,000 (in two years) for the March of Dimes. We have volunteered for the March of Dimes and have met some amazing people through that effort as well. We have had 2 very successful Christmas Toy Drives that have made HUNDREDS of sick children very happy. We have become closer to each other and closer with our family and friends. We are better people because of this.

It still hurts...daily. That hurt will always be there, just less. I am starting to be able to think of happier times and remember them. But I am proud of what we have done. Of course, I would rather have a two-year old running around and driving me crazy, but I am beyond proud to be Aaron's mom...in whatever capacity I have to do it in and I know my little boy is smiling down on all of us :-)

I love you Aaron, and I miss you beyond what words can express. I will never stop being a mom to you and you will always be baby. I hope that we can continue remembering you in whatever way we possibly can. I hope when you see all of the things that we are doing you smile and say 'That's my family, my friends, and MY Mommy and Daddy'. We love you more than there are stars in the sky. XOXO, Mommy

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Aaron!

Dear Aaron,

Happy Birthday, peanut! 2 years...Wow! Last year on your birthday I spent a lot of time remembering what happened the year you were born. This year I spent a lot of time thinking about what would have been. What it would be like to have a 2 year old running around. What it would have been like to throw a second birthday party. My guess would be that at this age you'd be into trains, trucks, airplanes etc. On Saturday we had a party for our March for Babies team. Daddy and I and the kids let balloons go for you and yelled, "Happy Birthday Aaron!" We were at the church and right by the memorial garden. We had a very nice party. On Sunday we did the March for Babies and we proudly wore our A-Team T-shirts. We did SO well this year. We raised over $6,300!!! All in memory of you! It made mommy and daddy so proud that we were able to do that. We were just thrilled. Yesterday, Daddy and I took off...we went to lunch with Grandma Pam, Grandpa Keith and Uncle Dan. It was nice. Daddy and I were just able to spend the day together, but I know a lot of people were thinking about you. I hope that you had a wonderful birthday in heaven and I know you were watching us and smiling this weekend.

I love you Aaron! Forever and ever!

Millions of Birthday Hugs and kisses,
Mommy

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Holidays

It's incredibly easy to get down during this time of the year, feeling like something (someone) is missing, and that the holidays are just a charade without it (them). However, I've decided to try and remain focused on the good things that have come out of losing Aaron - namely, our now 2nd annual toy drive (which is shaping up to be significantly larger than last years', our March of Dimes walk team which raised over $4,000 last year (and is aiming even higher this year), and the ongoing Aaron's Angels project (preemie-sized knit caps which are distributed to various NICUs).

Aaron may not have been around long, but he sure left a big mark, huh?

Finally, DrummerWife and I had the chance to meet David Fleming, the author of Noah's Rainbow, over the weekend at a book signing in Harrisburg. He was there to sign and promote his new book, titled Breaker Boys, about the Pottsville Maroons. We asked David to sign a copy of his new book, and asked if he wouldn't mind signing Noah's Rainbow as well. He couldn't have been nicer, and kindly obliged us. We took the opportunity to tell him how much Noah's Rainbow meant to us, and how much it had helped us, and others we'd told about the book.

He signed the book "We both know that hope prevails." And it does - as hard as it may be to see sometimes, I think that all the charitable activities that DrummerWife and I have become involved in are evidence of that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's that time of year again...

Hi folks. Long time, no post. Sorry about that.

Anyway - DrummerWife and I would like to announce that we are going to be doing our little toy drive again this year, in Aaron's honor. We've contacted the Hershey Medical Center, and received a list of items they can accept for the children's ward. Without further ado, here's their wish list:

Holiday Wish List 2007
Penn State Children’s Hospital
Child Life Program

All Ages
  • Pre-Paid Phone Cards-60 minutes
  • $5-$10 Gift certificates - Old Navy, Best Buy, Circuit City, Toys R Us, Dick’s Sporting Goods, i Tunes, Target, Blockbuster, Bath & Body Works
  • New release DVD - G, PG, PG-13
  • New release CD’s - Lullabies, Disney, Teen
  • New release PS 2, X-box 360, Game Cube games - rated E only
  • 8-Pack crayons (can not accept 24 or 64 count boxes)
  • 8-Pack Classic Crayola Washable Markers-Broad tipped
  • Blank CD-RW’s
  • Children’s Cartoon Band-aids
  • Model Magic-individual packets-all colors
  • Color Wonder Activity Pad and Marker Set (no finger paint)
  • Perler Beads (Individual Kits)

Infants and Toddlers

  • Rattles, Teethers, Baby Einstein products

Preschoolers

  • Thin coloring books
  • Stickers
  • "Thomas the Tank Engine" trains
  • Play-Doh (Play-Doh brand only)
  • Play-Doh Easy to Do Sets
  • Play-Doh accessories

School Age

  • Small Lego kits
  • Sports clothing
  • Craft kits
  • Fuzzy posters
  • Barbies
  • 24 piece puzzles

Teenagers

  • Body lotions
  • Body wash
  • Nail polish
  • Word searches
  • Lip gloss
  • Jewelry
  • Festive socks
  • Sports clothing
  • Latch hooks

Unable to Accept

  • stuffed animals
  • matchbox cars
  • books
  • VHS tapes
  • Decks of cards
  • Board games

We'll be collecting the items at our house, and transporting them to the hospital ourselves, as we did last year. If you need to contact us with any questions or concerns, you most likely know how to do so. If you don't, email aky.toydrive@gmail.com for more information.

Last year, the toy drive was a huge success, not only in terms of collecting items for kids who have to live in the children's ward of the hospital, but also in terms of including Aaron in the holiday. Please help us collect toys again this year, to remember Aaron, and also to do something wonderful for kids who don't get to have a holiday like we do.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Life...it's always interesting

Last night was a scary for my family. My sister called my mom last evening and said the house 3 homes down from them was on fire and something exploded. The fire was large and because they are in attached townhomes they did not know if it was going to spread to their house. She told my mom to call people and ask them to pray...we immediately began calling family and I had Josh call his parents to put it on their prayer chain. The story is long and complicated, there were two deaths, however they found that the children that lived their initially thought to be dead were safe. It is all under investigation. However, my sister and brother-in-law (and my puppy niece Daisey) are all safe. They were lucky enough to even be cleared to re-enter and sleep in their house tonight. There were 3 other families who sustained damage and had to stay elsewhere. It was a crazy night.

I talked to my sister this morning for about 30 minutes and I could still tell she was a little shaken up. We just chatted. I think she told me 3 times or more that she loved me. They said if it had not rained the day before and that day all the houses probably would have burned. It seems to me even in the middle of this tradgedy God was somewhere in the midst of it...not trying to be "preachy" just saying how thankful I am for the way things turned out. It also makes me realize that things things happen in the news all the time, but we are used to it...it's the norm. But when it's happening to people you know and love it is so real and is once again a reminder of how fragile life can be.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Letter to Aaron - October 3

Dear Aaron,

Hi sweet pea! We are back from Disney and we had a WONDERFUL time. We were a little worried (along with others) about how it would be seeing all the kids etc, but it didn't really bother daddy and I. It was so nice to be away and be doing such fun things! One night while we were there I was lucky enough to have a dream about you and daddy and I being in Disney together. We were having so much fun. Riding rides, watching shows, hearing you giggle, even hearing you cry a little...it was very nice to have that dream. We even took you to meet Mickey. I wish we could have done it for real, but for the time being I will take the dream. Thanks for meeting me there.

Now today, the Phillies start their playoff series with their first game. I have no doubt that daddy would have had me dress you in Phillies gear today. How I would love to see you watch the game with daddy...napping on his lap or just to watch you play in the living room while daddy watched the game. That sure would be adorable. I can remember you being in the NICU and daddy telling you all about the Phillies...so I bet you are a Phillies fan and you'll be cheering them on from heaven. I miss you peanut and I love you!

Hugs, kisses, tickels and giggles,
Mommy