Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Earthly Angels

"But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me. Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind." Jeffery R. Holland

Over the last 8 months we have encountered many "earthly angels". They have been sent in times of need, they have provided love and support...light and direction, they have brought peace and comfort, they sent words of encouragement, and they have spent time on their knees on our behalf. We know that in God's love and wisdom, he could see that we would need these angels as we would embark on this journey.

Two of these angels are Michelle and Amber. Strangers in our lives until June 30th, 2008 ...angels ever since.

On Monday, June 30th, we learned the heartbreaking news that Branson's heart was no longer beating. Our world stopped with that news. We were in shock. Sometimes I think back to that day and wonder how our lungs even managed to keep pumping air, how our hearts had the strength to keep beating, or how our legs had the courage to keep walking.

I remember coming home that night, our minds in a fog....what?....why?....how? I remember these questions circling over and over again though my mind. As we sat on the couch in our living room we couldn't do anything but hold each other with tear stained faces and broken hearts.

Luckily, my parents had been with us that day at the hospital when the news came. They made the difficult phone calls to family and friends, they coordinated things with the doctor and hospital, and kept our world afloat.

Later that evening I remember my dad came into the room to tell us about a phone call he had just received. Someone from Utah had called to tell us about an organization of photographers who offer their services free of charge to families who's babies are born still. My initial reaction was..."what? Wouldn't that be weird? Am I going to want people I don't even know in my hospital room taking pictures of my with my baby who's dead?...I couldn't quite wrap my mind around it. I wasn't quite sure how to respond.

Then we brought Rob's computer into the room and went to the website that told more about these incredible, and we were able to see some of the beautiful pictures that they had taken of other families...and something spoke to my heart...yes, this was something we needed to do.

We found the phone number of one of the photographers in our area, and my dad made the call and set up a time with them for the next afternoon. On such short notice, they must have dropped whatever else they had going that day...families, their businesses, their lives...to help someone in need.


At 4:00 the next day, their was a light knock at the door...and two people walked into our lives...Michelle and Amber. They entered the room with quiet respect, an understanding smile, and countenances full of love and light. We introduced them to Branson, and they made us feel like we had the most beautiful baby they'd ever seen.

They went about setting up their lighting, and they had even brought their backdrop along with them. They just started snapping photos. They didn't pose us, or ask us to do anything that we hadn't been doing all day...we just held our little one...and they captured it!

They captured his every feature...his toes, his hands, his perfect little ears, his long feet, his cute little nose. They captured the love and loss that his grandparents felt. They captured pictures of him in all three outfits we had him dressed in that day. They captured a proud daddy, and a new mommy. They captured the sweet, tendure moments that we shared with him...but best of all, they captured our family...just the three of us.

They took their time...they didn't rush. It almost seemed as if we were the only people in the world that mattered to them at that moment. They finished up and said their goodbyes, and left as quietly as they'd come.

Even at that time, I didn't realize what a gift we'd just been given. I didn't fully appreciate or understand how much those pictures would mean to us, or how precious they would become. We had taken our own photos at the hospital that we developed quickly and cherished very much, but we waited anxiously for the email that had some of the professional images attached.

About a week and a half later (very fast for how many shots they had taken, and considering they still had full time businesses to run) we received that email. Rob and I sat together on the couch and opened the first attachment....and we were speechless...it was the most beautiful picture I had ever seen in my life. Branson looked so perfect, just like the angel he was.

Since then there hasn't been day go by that I don't look at the pictures these two women took of our little one. They make up his website, his memorial video, his scrapbook...they fill many frames, and adorn our walls.

There also hasn't been a day go by that I haven't thought about these two earthly angels, and offered thanks to God that they shared this beautiful gift with us. They touched our lives in a way that no one else could. They've helped us heal through their work, they've helped us remember just what Branson looked liked, they've met our angel....they've changed our lives.

I can't think of a more selfless act than capturing the moments shared with families and their babies who've had to leave too soon. Michelle and Amber...thank you! These two words seem so inadequate to explain the gratitude we feel towards you. We love you.

Members of this organization won't take any money for their services, however, they do take donations at their website. Please visit it to find out more about them and this incredible service. Please tell everyone you know about this...for you never know when someone will need this information...
Follow this link to their website

There was also an aritcle written about the organization lately in Newsweek...
Follow this link to read the article.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Precious Child

Today I have felt...well...lonely. I woke up this morning, and just felt that emptiness resurfacing again stronger than usual. I haven't been motivated to do much but lie around. I've tied to get up and clean, get ready for the day, or for that matter...just brush my teeth. However, when I try, I just find myself lying on the couch or my bed once again.

I finally decided to sit down and work on my blog...something I haven't had much motivation to do lately. Usually writing helps me process the emotion I'm feeling and it's healing for me to get it down in words. However, as I sat down to write, I found myself not wanting to face the loneliness, the emptiness. I didn't want to acknowledge the aching inside. I didn't want to muster up the courage to let it all out, because at times it feels better to keep it all in.

So, instead of going straight to my blog, I danced around other blogs. Reading about friends, family, and other angel babies. I then opened my friend Michelle's blog who also had this song playing. Instantly I started to sob.

This is a song I heard shortly after Branson's birth. It's a song that's part of his memorial video. It's a song that's special. It's a song that's painful. As I sat here today listening to this song, I was overcome with grief...with loss. I wanted my baby back in my arms so bad...wanted to see his beautiful face and touch his little toes.

Today this song captures my emotions...the pain, the hope, the longing, the remembering, the loneliness...the love.

"In my soul there is a hole that can never be filled.

In my heart you live on, always there...never gone.

Precious child, you left too soon.

Though it may be true that we're apart, you will live forever in my heart."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Door

The other day I was walking into the post office. I had my hands quite full with my purse, a bag with some items I needed to mail, and a large box full of packaging noodles. Walking in front of me was an older gentlemen. Assuming that he had probably noticed me and my full load, I also assumed that he would hold the hinged door open for me as I entered. So, I looked down once more just to make sure I had grabbed everything I needed from the car...not for a second worrying about the door.

Next thing I knew, there was the door...and there was me running right into it as it closed. In my assumptions, I hadn't even thought to look and make sure this older gentlemen had seen me, or that he was holding the door open for me. Instead, I found myself juggling my packages, trying not to drop any of them.

My first thoughts were those of disgust...how could he have been so rude? Surely he had seen me..did he just have no common courtesy? As I finally pulled the door open and got myself inside where I could set down my packages (muttering and complaining to myself the whole way), I had a chance to look at this man with whom I was so angry. He was old and had that warn look of life. However, he was smiling at me and his eyes were full of love.

I was instantly humbled. Here was the beautiful old man, with absolutely no malice in his heart who hadn't seen me entering behind him. I was sure that had he known I was there, he would have held the door open wide for me to enter, and guessing from his smile he probably would have allowed me to go ahead of him in line.

On the way home, I couldn't get this incident out of my mind. I wondered, how many times I too had unknowingly let the door shut on someone behind me? Then almost as soon as that thought came into my mind, so did this scripture and picture...

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and him with me."
Revelation 3:20

This is a scripture and a picture that I am very familiar with. I have seen it many times before. I've always noticed that there was no door handle on Christ's side of the door, because it is up to us to turn the knob and let him enter our lives. However, as I pondered this picture now, I couldn't help but think that this door too must have hinges.

In order for a hinged door to remain open, it takes work. Someone has to stand at the door, holding it open...or it closes on it's own...and I was impressed that day that we are the only ones able to hold open the door to our lives. No one else can do that work for us. If and when we decide to step away, or leave the door...if even for a moment, it closes.

I've thought a lot about this since that day. I know that too often, I have been like that older gentlemen at the post office. At times, especially with the passing of Branson, I am unaware that Christ is right there beside me, waiting to come in. I go on with my life...absorbed in my grief and sorrow, my busy-ness, my anger, my questions, and at times...flat out laziness. Then, without realizing what I'm doing, I let the door shut behind me and leave Christ standing on the other side. I'm afraid that too often He's just about to enter...just about to answer a prayer...just about to abide with me in my darkest hour...or just about to comfort me with peace, and I, being impatient...not wanting to do the work, let go of the door and it shuts.

Before, I looked at the door in this picture like the front door to our homes...staying open after we answer, unless we purposefully shut it. Now, I am convinced that this door has hinges, and that because it has hinges, we have to constantly work at keeping it open. Opening the door once isn't good enough.

I am dedicated now to doing more each day to keep my door open. I am not sure exactly what keeps it open completely all the time, but doing things like scripture study, visiting the temple, praying, walking forward with faith and not fear, fulfilling my church calling, and having the courage to keep moving are some of the small things that I think at least keep it ajar.

The amazing thing about Christ, is that even when we stop working...or we become discouraged or impatient...and we let our door shut...he still waits on the other side... full of love, and understanding. As soon as we open the door again he is there. He never leaves. He is always at the door to our lives...knocking...waiting to enter.

I know that I will feel the presence of Christ, his peace, and his love more fully in my life as I work at keeping my door open.