Saturday, December 27, 2008

Seeing All We'll Miss

Well, Christmas has come and gone, and our trip to Utah is more than halfway over. For the most part I've done pretty good with keeping my emotions in check, but still letting myself feel the longing for my son on what have been his first Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I've had my faucet moments (the tears just come...sometimes harder than others, and sometimes I feel like a water faucet that is turned on and off). It's crazy, how at times, moments I imagine would be very difficult aren't as hard as I thought they might be, and moments I thought I would be just fine...I loose it...last night I had one of those moments!

My dad has been working really hard on getting all of our family film strips and videos put into DVD format so that we, as a family, can enjoy watching them more often. We've known about it for a while because one of our good friends has been doing a lot of the work on them. One day last month my dad called Rob after previewing one of the early filmstrip DVD's that had pictures and silent video of me and my two older brothers when we were just small. He was so excited for us to come home and see these darling moments of us being so cute and Innocent. After the phone call, we too were excited to watch the DVD's and see me as a little girl. This is one of those moments we imagined thoroughly enjoying, and not for one second did I imagine it being hard or difficult.

So, last night after opening gifts with my family we put in the first DVD and started watching. Right at the beginning was video of my mom when she was pregnant with my oldest brother. Initially I thought...oh, how cute! I hadn't see many pictures of my mom while pregnant with any of us. However, it didn't take too long for me to see the similarities between my mom and me when I was pregnant with Branson...and suddenly I could feel some very strong emotions beginning to build. Then, the next segment of the video was at the hospital shortly after my brother was born...the doctor holding him up proudly for my mom to behold her son for the very first time...he was screaming, filling his lungs with air, being weighed and measured, swaddled in a new receiving blanket, and passed to my mother's arms...things I never got see and experience with Branson. And...I lost it!

Tears started to freely flow down my cheeks and I began to feel sobs building inside my chest. However, not wanting to distract the rest of my family, I tried really hard to keep those sobs inside. I hate the feeling when I do that. It feels like there is a giant boulder sitting on my heart...the weight of that boulder is heavy and almost unbearable. It's like trying to keep a boulder that's hanging on the edge from rolling down a steep hill, and with one person pushing against the weight of that boulder, it can't be stopped for long.

I'm guessing my parents noticed the tears, and felt like they should change the they put in the second DVD, and I thought, oh the boulder will go away. Boy was I wrong. This video was filled with images of my brothers in the bathtub together, darling birthday cakes made by my mom, birthday parties, proud parents showing off their sons, Christmas's, crawling, cute outfits, baby waves, first days of school, and camping trips...and the boulder felt heavier than ever!

Until now I had mostly missed the baby things about Branson....stroller rides, bath time, breast feeding, cooing, swaddling, rocking, sleepless nights, and changing diapers just to name a few. I had pictured him only in the baby clothes that adorned his closet, and I had only "seen" him sleeping in the cradle and crib we had set up for him in his nursery. However, like a giant suname wave, I began to "see" all the things we'll miss in years to come.

My "loss" was being multiplied right in front of my eyes. We'll never get to see Branson in that way, or doing all those "little boy" bath time with younger siblings, no birthday parties, no first day of school, no helping daddy in the yard, no playing cowboys and Indians, no crawling...none of it. I couldn't help but notice how much my older brothers looked like their sons, and my boulder began to roll...I wanted everyone to say...I can't believe how much Branson looks like you Nat. But, most of my family has only seen pictures...and that's all they'll ever see.

I had to get up and leave the room...I had to let the boulder fall. I couldn't support it's weight anymore. I hadn't even noticed that Rob too had left the room, but as I walked into my bedroom, I saw him lying on the bed with a tear stained face. I said, Are you okay? And that's all it took for both of us to loose it once again.

We just held each other and cried...letting the sobs flow freely. Somehow, in my husbands arms I felt strong although moments before I had felt weak. We talked about why it was so hard to watch that, and how it just isn't fair that we have to miss out on all of those moments with Branson. We commented on the fact that the only video we have is special to us, but not fun to's finding out Branson's heartbeat had stopped, it's filming the tears as I got ready to go to the hospital, it's a lifeless body being held in his mother's arms, it's daddy giving the only bath Branson would ever's hard to watch, and even harder to think that it's the only video we'll ever have of him.

We got up and drove to the cemetery where our little boy's body is laid. We just sat there in silence letting some of the scare tissue build where the boulder had ripped our hearts apart. Once again we had to learn how to "deal with it", for what else could we do? I told Rob, Even when we have other children, I think part of my heart will still ache for Branson. I imagine that even experiencing these moments with our other children will be bitter/sweet.
I felt last night, more than I've felt before, that a permanent piece of my heart will always belong to him...and a chunk of my soul will be gone until that day the miracle will replace it.

So today as I sit here and type, the one thing that gets me through is knowing that someday we'll sit on a couch in Heaven with our eternal family, and there together we'll watch a most incredible video. We'll watch the video of our Earthly experience and we'll see how Branson has truly been a part of all of these moral moments in a Heavenly way. We'll see his influence wind through our lives, and we'll say to ourselves, we wouldn't have made it without his help. Then, we'll put in the second video and we'll see what Branson's been doing up there. We'll see all the people he's touched, and the lives he's changed. We'll see the knowledge he's gained, and the difference he's made. We'll see the missionary he's been and the valiant son of God he's remained. We'll see him come down to check on us, and help us over hurdles we'd face.

One day, together, we'll see our lives come full circle with day we'll see we haven't missed anything, because we'll have it all. Until that day, we'll keep missing you Branson...but we'll look foward to the best movie night we'll ever have!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas With Jesus


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 the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart.
For I’m spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

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.

So please let your hearts be joyful
And let your Spirit sing,
For I’m spending Christmas in heaven
And I’m walking with the King!

--Author Unknown--

Merry Christmas little guy...we miss you more than words can say, but we take comfort in knowing that you'll be having a spectacular Christmas with Jesus this year! We know that you'll be consumed with love, joy, and peace as you celebrate this special birth in Heaven. I pray that we'll feel you close as we too celebrate the birth of a king! We love you!

Thank you Heather for this beautiful poem that has brought me so much peace at this time of year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

In Everything I Do

My dear Branson, as I go throughout the days, I can't help but be amazed that everything I do, everything I see, everyone I talk everything...I think of you, feel you, and see you. From small, seemingly insignificant things to the big, monumental things of everyday life...every where I turn, there you are!
I can't help but see you in our home. The cradle in our bedroom, the swing in the family room, our new, beautiful family pictures, your bath robe hanging behind the bathroom door. 
I can't help but feel of your pure, sweet spirit as I walk past your nursery and stop to take a peek. Or as I enter there to read or just sit in the rocker to sooth my aching heart.
I see you in the beautiful flowers daddy planted for you this spring. The flowers that were meant to make our home perfect for you to come home to.
In the stretch marks that beautifully mark your life upon me forever.
I think of you every time I see an infant. Every time I hear a baby giggle, cry, or coo...a giggle, cry, and coo I never heard from you.
I wonder what your up to every time I find myself bored. I think to myself, "I bet Branson's not bored...what would he have me do?"
I see you in your daddy's eyes, and your grandpa's hair. 
I can't help but yearn for you as my heart pulls when I see other new moms cuddling their little ones. 
I miss you at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I can't help but compare every other baby to you, and think that they're just not quite as perfect handsome, or cute as you. 
I feel you in the missing piece of my soul and the expansion of my heart. 
I can't help but miss you as I feel Christmas creeping closer. As I see a stocking hung, and presents wrapped. As I hear Santa's "ho, ho, ho" and as daddy reads our favorite Christmas stories to only me. As I anticipate my first Christmas without you, and every other "first" this year. 
I see you in our Christmas village, and your special nativity from Dustin and Kim.
I feel you as daddy and I cuddle each morning and wonder what our next hug with you will be like. 
I see your light in the lives you've touched, and feel you in the hearts you've softened. 
I can't help but see you as I look at your cute little cousins and see you in them.
I miss you every time I wake up and realize I had another full nights sleep...another night without a crying baby.
I feel you as I let my tears fall and my heart swell with loneliness and pain.
I miss you tremendously every time I walk into the garage and see your stroller standing there covered with a plastic bag, a bag to protect it from gathering dust.
I see you in the missionaries that serve in our ward, and I wonder who you've taught today.
I am grateful for you as I learn new things, and gain a new perspective on life. 
I think of you with every breath I take because I never got to see your lungs filled with air.
I think of you, see you, miss you, long for everything I do!
You have changed my heart, my eyes, and my life forever. I will truly never be the same. I love you!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mary, the Mother of Jesus

A dear friend sent me this beautiful picture that was in the back of the Ensign this month, with a touching letter. Since I received it, I have been thinking a lot about Mary and her beautiful baby boy. I love how closely Mary is holding baby Jesus in her arms. And I love the emotions that are portrayed on her face, "concern and peace...concern for what lies ahead for her child, yet peace in knowing that this Child's Father in Heaven is over all" as my friend put it.
For as long as I can remember I have stood in awe of Mary...her worthiness, beauty, care, obedience, tenderness, love, selflessness, and purity. She was blessed to have the privilege of carrying and giving birth to her little boy, and the Savior of man kind. She had the opportunity to love him, to teach him, and to be his Earthly mother. She was able to see her baby grow into manhood and watch him choose a beautiful path and live a perfect life. I imagine she was filled with pride as her son paved the way and made it possible for all of God's children to make it back to Heaven to dwell eternally with him.
However, this year Mary means much more to me than a beautiful mother that brought the Savior into the world. She is now an extraordinary example of a valiant daughter of God who not only did these beautiful things, but a valiant daughter that did some very hard things.
I'm not sure, but I can imagine that growing up Mary might have pictured the path of her life taking a different course than it did. I can't imagine the heartache Mary felt as she was looked down upon by society for carrying this heaven sent son of God while being espoused to Joseph. While Mary had the joy of feeling her sweet baby grow and come to life inside her womb, she was faced with ridicule and judgement by those that surrounded her. Although the timing may have been difficult, she willingly accepted the call to be the mother of Jesus.
As the baby grew and the date of Jesus' arrival grew near, I imagine that just like me, Mary was filled with great anticipation and excitement at the thought of meeting her first born son, and bringing the greatest gift the Earth has ever known into the world. As she planned and prepared, I am not sure that the thought ever crossed her mind that she would bring her baby into the world in such humble circumstance. I've been wondering what Mary thought as she learned there was no room for them in the inn...was she disappointed, worried, or concerned? Regardless of how she felt, she went forward in faith. She followed her loving husband to the stable where she would soon give birth and lie her newborn son in a manger of hay. She took the most modest of circumstances and made the best of what she had. I wish I could go back to that night and see the light...the love that surrounded them.
I can't even comprehend the pain Mary must have felt as she watched a ruthless crowd shout at her son, mock him, beat him, place a crown of thorns on his head, and nail him to a cross. I don't understand the anguish that must have consumed Mary as she learned that her son was to be crucified, and that he would be leaving her so soon. I am sure there was a wrenching of her heart that was intense and real. And although I think Mary knew this part of his life had a special purpose, and that her son would be okay....I don't think it took away any of that pain. I'm sure that she too did a lot of crying, and I think she must have missed her son every day she was here without him.
Mary had to "let her son go". I am thankful for her valiant example. I am thankful that she accepted hard things that she may not have wanted or pictured for herself, and followed the plan God had for her. The beautiful, joyous moments Mary shared with her son, combined with the painful, heart-wrenching trials she faced turned out to be the most beautiful Christmas gift we celebrate. The birth of her son, his perfect example and teachings, his sacrifice in Gethsemane, his Crucifixion on the cross, and his resurrection from the tomb...all the things that make it possible for me to return to live with my Branson forever!
I pray I can be more like Mary. I hope that like her, I too can accept every part of the plan God has for me, even the parts I had pictured differently. I'm grateful beyond description for my first born son. I am filled with pride because of the path he choose, and I pray I might be the kind of mother to him that Mary was to Jesus.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Is This Really Happening?

Tonight I can't sleep. As I laid in bed, tears streaming down my face, my body seemed so numb. Numb to the idea that this is all really me! Sometimes as I replay the events of the past 5 months over and over in my head, I have a hard time believing that they really happened. The shocking news that our son's heart had stopped beating, a birth, a death, a funeral, unbearable heartbreak, shattered dreams, unfulfilled visions, an empty nursery, a constant aching soul...all of this is mine.
I try so hard to keep the numbness from consuming me. It makes me feel forgotten, robbed, and left behind. It clouds my vision and takes hold of my heart.
I never wanted to accept that even though I've always tried my hardest to do what's right, that life would still be incredibly hard sometimes. I always knew there would be stumbling blocks and rolling hills to cross, but I never imagined the steep cliffs I would fall down and have to climb back up. I never heard a talk in church that explained that my family might look different from every one else, come in different timing than most, or come only to be taken away. I never had a young women lesson that impressed upon me the need to prepare for future heartaches, or a Sunday school lesson that helped me feel that infertility is real and that it doesn't mean somethings wrong with me.
I did hear a lot about preparing to be a homemaker and the importance of trying to be a stay at home mom. I heard over and over again about my divine destiny and nature as a women to be a mother. I always perceived that this role, this gift would be mine...mine to acquire with ease.
So, it's been my "mind game" over the past few months to sort all of this out in my head...and I guess I'm still working it out. I realize that the lessons probably did teach me those things, I just didn't "hear" them. I just wish, that someone would have sat me down and said "Ya know Natalie, even though you may do all in your power to do what's asked of you, life will be very hard! Even though you want to be a mom more than anything in the world, you might not get that when or how you have dreamed." But then again, maybe I'm glad they didn't...I don't know.
My heart and my mind wrestle between what I feel and what I know. It truly is a double edged sword right now. One edge is so sharp and painful. On this edge I question and doubt, fear and tremble, weep and feel paralyzed. This edge is Mortal agony and disbelief.
In contrast, the other edge is full of new insights and light. The things it's taught are beautiful. It's patient and full of perspective. It's eternal joy and unwavering love.
I guess tonight I'm praying that one day the mortal edge of the sword won't be so sharp. Tonight I am trying to grasp that this is happening and that although it was never part of the plan I had pictured for myself, it is part of His plan for me. I am loving that I am a mother...a mother to an angel. And although it's not what I've always pictured, it's more than I've ever deserved.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

We'd Love to Have You Join Us!

Dear Family and Friends,
Happy Holidays! We hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you’re enjoying the Christmas season as it comes into full swing. Especially at this time of year we think of you often and count you as some of our greatest blessings.
As Rob and I have thought about what we could do this year to celebrate and honor our sweet Branson, we have decided to start a new family tradition…and we would love to have you join us!
Since we can’t give Branson any “Earthly” gifts, we’ve decided to do something that we hope will help us stay focused on the real reason for this beautiful season and honor our little guy at the same time.
We purchased a stocking and had it personalized with Branson’s name. We have decided that for the remainder of the Christmas season we are going to make an extra effort to perform small acts of service. As we do so, we are going to record these small acts on strips of Holiday paper and put them in his stocking. On Christmas Eve we are going to wrap all of these strips in a box and put it under the tree as our gift to Branson…a gift of pure love shown to those in need.
Our goal is to fill his stocking to the brim with the love that is given and the peace and true joy that is received by doing service for others. We would love to have your family participate, and help us with our goal. So…if you’d like to, simply perform an act of service in honor of Branson’s memory. It can be anything…big or small…taking a plate of cookies to your neighbor, helping an elderly person our with their groceries, donating a toy to a charity organization, giving someone a hug, or a stranger a smile…the possibilities are endless! After you’ve done your act of kindness, we would love to have you email us, leaving your name, the service given, and where your family is currently living. We will print these out and add it to his stocking. My email address is:
Our hope is that with your help we can spread pure love across the nation in remembrance of our Savior and sweet little boy, Branson. We pray that as you do this you will in turn be blessed with all the things your hearts desire.
We love you and cherish the relationships we have with you. Merry Christmas!
All Our Love,
Rob . Natalie . Branson