First In Line

Where do I begin… First of all I can’t express my gratitude enough for the food, messages, and calls from friends, family, and people I had never met offering comfort in this difficult time. I’m sorry I haven’t responded to everyone, but talking is not my strength, so it will take me some time to respond.

Secondly, I feel it is only fair to share the events that led to Benjamin gaining his first in line position at the gates of Heaven. Yesterday, Benjamin started with diarrhea. After only one diaper, he turned a little pale and his heart rate increased. After a few hours of trying to manage at home, we decided around 4pm that I would take him in for some fluids and we would return home a few hours later. After attempting fluids by IV for a few hours, Benjamin showed no signs of change. I kept a close eye on him, and started noticing his heart rate decreasing. Normally this would be a sign of improvement, but I was cautious. After a few minutes at an “improved” heart rate, the monitor started to alarm. I looked over assuming it was a high heart rate alarm and noticed his heart rate was low. Looking at Benjamin, I yelled at him and he didn’t respond. I started yelling for additional support. They started chest compressions and I started bagging. Looking up I saw his heart had stopped, but we continued. I continued bagging until another came in to relieve me. After an hour long attempt to revive Benjamin, he was officially gone. I know Benjamin passed away right in front of me, but I wanted all attempts made to save him.

I have always had a peek into Benjamin’s future, whether I realized it at the time or not, since he was in the womb and this was no different. Benjamin has struggled for the past few weeks, and I noticed after making a slide show for his birthday, just how progressive his diagnosis was. He hadn’t moved or smiled like he previously did, but because we were just so happy to have him, I barely noticed. I was so aware without realizing that an hour before he died, we had a talk. Never expecting that today would be the day, I told Benjamin, “Whenever you are tired of fighting, you just let me know. That is between you and God and it should be on y’all’s terms. We will be OK.” Never did I expect yesterday to be the day. We had gone in too many times in the same situation and been just fine. Benjamin just needed to hear, “We will be OK.”

Knowing we would probably lose Benjamin at an early age, I had always prayed for him to go peacefully…and he did. His heart just gradually slowed down and stopped. No struggling and no discomfort, and I thank God hourly for listening to my prayers.

After they finished trying to revive him, a priest came in to give him his last rites and to pray with us. The staff cleaned up Benjamin beautifully. He looked like an angel with flawless skin. His absence of movement was not far from his own ability so holding did not feel different at all. I did have them remove all tubes, cords, and lines. I had never held Benjamin before without his life lines. KC and I sat there for hours holding Benjamin, kissing him, trying to remember every part of him, crying, and consoling each other.

Today I woke up in a bit of a nightmare. Trying to figure out what to do, how to grieve, how not to second guess my decisions, how to be an example for the girls, how to console others, how to continue. We will continue to take a moment at a time and we appreciate all prayers for strength.

I try to keep this time more of a celebration of his life than a grieving of his death, but it his hard. I have to remind the girls that Benjamin is the lucky one in this situation, and that it’s ok to miss him.

I’m so happy knowing he spent his third birthday surrounded by family and friends that loved him dearly. He was truly a special kiddo and loved by so many. I thank him all the time for saving me and for making me a better person.

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At this time, the funeral is set for 2pm on Friday at Jesus the Good Shepherd with the visitation before from 12-2pm. We are asking in lieu of flowers, that a donation be made in Benjamin’s honor to the Smiles Park in West Monroe, LA.

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Our Vatical Valentines

IMG_1634In the dictionary, vatic is defined as “characteristic of a prophet.” It is a perfect adjective to describe the estimated 30 men that showed up on our doorstep on Valentine’s Day.

Thursday, I received a call from one of the men from the retreat that sang in church on Sunday. They had read our story, and asked if a few guys could come pray over Benjamin. My response, “Of course!” Not only, do we want as many people as possible on Benjamin’s side, but also because I think Benjamin has an unbelievable affect of others that should be shared. So Saturday, I was prepared for a “few” gentlemen to stop by.

When I opened the door, I fought back tears. There were so many trucks (North Louisiana 🙂 ) parked outside and more people walking up (we live in an amazing neighborhood.) They filed in introducing themselves, bringing food, flowers, and a keyboard and they kept on coming. I didn’t count, but our home was full, full of prophets…our Vatical Valentines.

We prayed, sang, laid hands, and cried over Benjamin. When I heard they would be singing, I can’t lie, I was nervous. Nervous I would fall apart again, with the ugly cry, but the moment could not have been more perfect. A moment I will never forget, and I am sure they won’t either. I can’t thank them enough for what they did for me not only today, but this week. I know I wasn’t able to verbally express my feelings well, (that has never been one of my strengths) but I hope they were able to see and feel my gratitude. Moving to a new town this past year, at times it’s easy to feel a little alone, but I know I should never have that feeling again.

After writing the other night, Benjamin has been more himself and so have I. I know it’s from all the prayers that have been said in our name this week. God pushed me to write that night, and God pushed others to pray…and in good timing…God’s timing. These men, our families, and our friends helped drag me from the valley I was in, back up to the peak where it is easy to see how blessed we truly are.

I can’t think of a verse more perfect for what we witnessed today than Mark 12:31: The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

We ended our wonderful day with a quick dinner at Nonna’s (only kids there) before KC headed to work.

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Rush stayed home with his big cousin. 🙂 He snuck his first icing treat yesterday when I wasn’t looking.

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Happy Valentine’s Day.

His Breath In Our Lungs

The past few weeks have been tough. It’s tough getting over having to save your child, it’s tough getting over watching him slowly heal, it’s tough seeing him get a stomach virus that completely dehydrated him, it’s tough staying in the hospital, it’s tough missing your kiddos and husband, and it’s tough having to continue with life like nothing has happened. I have always considered myself a positive, glass half full, optimistic person, but the last few weeks have been difficult to overcome.

I feel selfish for feeling down, especially since Benjamin is still with us, but sometimes I just want to be sad, angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed. I want my husband to automatically know when his non-emotional wife needs to be emotional. I want just a few mornings in a row where I don’t have to listen to alarms going off while watching the nurse suction him repeatedly. I want my son to breathe.

Sometimes, we need a good reminder that we are not alone, and I can’t focus on things that “I want.”

Sunday we had a beautiful Mass. It was the day when the men returned from a retreat full of energy and faith. The music was upbeat, and the kids and I were able to sing many verses without looking at the words since we sing many of them in the car. It was an emotional service, and not just for me. I wasn’t the only one with tears. I was completely fine and composed throughout mass until Communion, and the chorus sang, “It’s Your breath, in our lungs.” I sat down in the pew and cried. (The ugly cry). This chorus may not normally seem to be so touching, but to a Mom who watched her son struggle for a breath, these words were healing. These words reminded me that even when I watch Benjamin fight, he is not fighting alone. It reminds me that Benjamin belongs to God, and that his weakened body is given to me temporarily, before Benjamin returns to run to Him. Though this moment was a moment of healing, if I allow it, the healing lasts only briefly, and I am once again swallowed with sadness the next morning when the alarms are blaring and the suction machine sounds like a construction zone.

So, for now, I take a moment at a time, my husbands listens and consoles, and I try to remember how blessed I am. KC continues to remind me that no matter what happens in the future, Benjamin is here today because of the excellent care he has been given. He has already exceeded many people’s expectations. I WILL be thankful for every moment we have, and I WILL fight the selfish feelings that can consume me. I am so thankful for what God has taught me through my children, and will continue to rely on His breath in our lungs.

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(Isla and Benjamin hanging out in the bean bag at the Mardi Gras Parade: Isla told us just to go catch some beads for her.)