First Christmas

It was a beautiful day today – the sun was out and we made the most of it by going on on walks with the family, taking out the biggest kite we’ve ever seen (thanks Richard!) and spending time at the “blue park” as Kai called it where Maya and her cousins made many, many laughter filled trips up and down the slides. A day of mixed emotions – so incredibly much to be thankful for, our cups truly overflowing, but simultaneously a stark emptiness felt from Kai’s absence and the pain still resonating so deep. Shawn said it so well – everything now to some degree feels broken and incomplete and I think that’s just us feeling the reality of this world.

But we go to bed now, with hope and joy in our hearts even if a tear may come along and we are so, so, so thankful for today and the moments we’ve been lucky enough to experience in this life.

Tonight we wanted to include Kai in our Christmas celebration. Kai loved Christmas lights and sparklers, so it seemed only fitting that if Kai’s up in Heaven celebrating, I’m pretty sure he found a way to probably find the best sparklers ever. So we read aloud the poem below (thank you Kathy for sharing this on fb) and then lit up sparklers to celebrate Christmas with Kai. And thanks to Aunt Caroline, Uncle Colby, Uncle Michael and Shawn, we had some fun with “sparkler” writing that maybe, just maybe Kai somehow could see.

We wish you all a wonderful holiday and thank God for you and the hope you bring us each day.

christmas sparklers

My First Christmas in Heaven (Author Unknown)

I see the countless Christmas trees
Around the world below,
With tiny lights, like heaven’s stars,
Reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular,
Please wipe away that tear.
For I’m spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs,
That people hold so dear,
But the sounds of music can’t compare,
With the Christmas choir up here.

For I have no words to tell you,
The joy their voices bring.
For it is beyond description,
To hear an angel sing.

I can’t tell you of the splendor,
Or the peace here in this place.
Can you just imagine Christmas,
With our Savior, face to face?

I’ll ask Him to light your spirit,
As I tell Him of your love;
So then pray for one another,
As you lift your eyes above.

Please let your heart be joyful,
And let your spirit sing.
For I’m spending Christmas in Heaven,
And I’m walking with the King!

I know how much you miss me;
I see the pain inside your heart.
But I’m not so far away,
We really aren’t apart.

So be happy for me, dear ones,
You know I hold you dear,
And be glad I’m spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I send you each a special gift
From my heavenly home above.
I send you each a memory
Of my undying love.

After all “love” is the gift,
More precious than pure gold.
It was always most important
In the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other
As my Father said to do,
For I can’t count the blessings
Or the love He has for you.

So have a Merry Christmas and
Wipe away that tear.
Remember I’m spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year!

-Author Unknown

Thankful

Is this thing still on? In the spirit of a difficult but wonderful Thanksgiving, here is some thanks…

Everyday I am thankful for Kai. He is the one who changed our lives most significantly. Not when he left this world, but when he entered it.

Everyday I am thankful for Maya. She does a lot of things that remind us of Kai. She has similar dance moves and makes the same noises. From another room those giggles and laughs and baby talk can sound just like Kai. On a daily basis Maya asks (demands) to watch videos of Kai and so we wonder how much of the similarity is innate and how much she has learned from her big brother. We are so fortunate to have enough little videos that Maya can know her brother a little bit. But then she can be so different, which is probably a good thing. We need to make sure not to judge her behavior based on Kai’s. We need to be careful that we don’t overlook her uniqueness fearing that it could diminish her big brother in our memory.

Everyday I am thankful for Aki. Her selflessness and love always seems to outweigh any varying levels of stress, pain, and drain in any of her days. She takes care of everybody before herself and is a rock as we all continue forward.

Everyday I am thankful for family, friends, and strangers that provide comfort, love, and support to our family and to others. There are so many people in need of something and I see that more clearly now. We can’t all support everything, of course, so seeing everybody support something is what we need.

We have some pictures of Maya and Kai on our wall at the base of the stairs. When we walk past with Maya she often yells “Kai Kai!” or she tells him “Hi!” or “Bye!”. This is a picture of her talking to the picture on the wall. First she talks to the baby (which she doesn’t understand is her) and then she talks to Kai. I love that she is looking at him and then the picture of Kai on the floor looks like he is looking at her. I love these kids!maya talking to kai

Gifts

Six months. Six months…I wish I could be writing something else after those two words…maybe like today marks six months since Kai learned how to ride his tricycle or look how much Kai has grown in six months. But, today marks six months since our sweet boy was able to let go of all the pain and suffering he felt and be free.

For some reason, this milestone is hitting us harder. I think they say it’s because the shock is gone by now and it’s just… real. The absence of his physical presence – the whirlwind of energy, the little voice talking nonstop, the constant to/from the refrigerator or pantry because he loved eating. This past weekend we had an amazing uplifting weekend of getting to do the Houston Head for the Cure race and spend time with friends who are family to us. But coming home from trips out of town always makes his absence feel so much more present, coming home isn’t complete without him. My home here, well, in my mind and heart should have Kai in it.

I’d love for Kai to be in this home, but he’s Home now.

The smiles and joy I had the chance to see on his face here is nothing compared to the joy and smiles God has prepared in His home, and for that, how can I be nothing but on my knees grateful to a loving God that Kai is not suffering, but instead living this new life of goodness and joy I can’t even imagine. I try to keep that image of the true Home in my heart and plant my roots there and keep my eyes focused on Him while living this life. I feel that I fumble so much in doing this, but I am trying.

It’s interesting they say that at six months the shock is gone because now I feel like Shawn and I are more often saying, wait, what just happened?!? I find myself asking, “Kai was real, wasn’t he?” I know that may sound stupid, but I think I ask that so much because now it feels like all of it was too good to be true.

Kai was born – healthy, beautiful, crazy, awesome. Maya was born two years later – healthy, beautiful, crazy, awesome. We got to see a brother and sister interact – Maya’s first smile was because Kai was tickling her; she crawled for the first time because she was trying to get to Kai. I got to sit in-between them while they both cried in their car seats on long car rides – Kai holding my one hand and Maya the other.

It was almost too good to be true.

None of those gifts were because we deserved it or we were entitled to it. Not one single thing on this earth is because of that. Every thing is truly a gift. This moment, this breath, this memory, this love and pain in my heart – it’s a gift. Those moments, the good, the bad, and the ugly, they were a gift.  So even though these six months have been marked with pain, they have also been marked with an infinite number of gifts and opportunities to live with purpose and love more. We have encountered so many people who are suffering and yet they are giving, loving and sharing with others. I want us to do the same. We have so incredibly much to be thankful for, we should be sharing these gifts.

I wanted to share this video, well because I love it so much. I think I just loved this moment I had with Kai and this video seems to capture so well the sweet side of his spirit – it was a rare, quiet moment when Maya was first born and was actually asleep. Kai at the time had taken to sleeping on the floor and he decided this little sleep mat was his “new bed”.  You’ll hear him say “there’s no daddy on there”…. Ahh “kids these days” and their technology – he thought we were FaceTiming with Shawn and expected to see a smiling Shawn he could talk to.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your support, prayers, friendship, messages, kindness, donations to charities, and so much more. We are sincerely grateful and would not be able to be still standing today without you all.

Roller Coaster

It’s been over five months.

Those five months are a small part of a roller coaster that won’t end for a very long time. It’s a roller coaster that goes up and down so much that by the time you recognize you’re at a high point, you’ve already leveled off and started a descent. I’ve walked into Maya’s room at midnight and been lifted to a peak only to walk into Kai’s room next and find myself plummeting!

My thoughts are a roller coaster. For many months I lost the ability to zone out – to focus on nothing when it was a luxury to literally think about nothing. Like those times when you find that you’ve driven for 10 minutes but don’t recall actively thinking about driving – you just went from point A to point B! I could not do that anymore. My heart and thoughts and soul permeated with thoughts of Kai nearly every instant that I was not actively thinking about something else. Driving. Eating. Sitting in a dentist chair (really). Kai. Kai. Kai! Those thoughts were always a 50/50 mix of despair and joy and they are totally exhausting. Nowadays those thoughts are heavier on the joy side. I think less about those terrible days in the hospital and more about Kai playing with his sister.

Speaking of Maya – she insists on watching videos of Kai on our phones. It’s the first thing she wants in the morning. If you take your phone out during the day she’ll reach for it and say “Kai, Kai”. She knows her brother and her face lights up when she sees him. She is forcing me to see the beautiful times with her brother. She even learns from seeing him in these videos. It’s amazing to see the likenesses between the two of them and so gutwrenching that we won’t see the two of them grow up together. Kai’s love for Maya is so evident in those videos and Maya’s love for Kai is so evident when she watches them.

On a micro level so many good things have continued to happen including weddings and healthy new babies to friends and family (including a new nephew honoring his cousin with a middle name of Kai!). Yet I’m also more aware now of all the dreadful things that are happening – car accidents and cancer and very sick babies. It is so hard to see friends struggle inside life altering events that it gives me great respect for everybody that has supported us along the way. Providing support to each other (and accepting it) won’t fix everything, but it holds us together.

While I don’t cry as often as I did a few months ago, I miss Kai more than ever. You can’t help but wonder what he would be doing with his sister and his friends. How would he grow with them and learn from them and teach them? I wrote a letter to Kai on his birthday – here is one line: “I would give anything to go back to a point where we are totally exhausted every single day because keeping up with you was like a never ending marathon.” Kai’s missing energy will never be totally replaced with exhaustive grief because the love that was always there will never go away. The roller coaster has always been there. The only thing that’s changed is that while Kai was riding on it with us for a few years, he got off early and is waiting for us at the end.

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