Saturday, June 23, 2012


Well, we're back at the house, but it feels all wrong. Cori went to the hospital carrying a baby, and we were supposed to come home with a baby in a carrier. We were supposed to be up at all hours changing his diapers. We were supposed to be feeding him almost constantly. We were supposed to be doing rock/paper/scissors to determine which one of us had to get up and rock him back to sleep. Make no mistake about it, we got our sleepless nights... It's just the reasons that are all wrong.

You may be familiar with the old Chinese proverb that says, "Even a small stone creates big ripples, but the water must be still lest they go unnoticed."... At least I think it's a Chinese proverb. Maybe it's Indian. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm only mostly sure that I didn't make it up just now. You should probably Google it. Anyway, let's pretend for a moment that it's definitely an old Chinese proverb, because most of what I say next won't make any sense otherwise.

Back in February I mentioned that previously negligible events had suddenly acquired the ability to provoke a substantial emotional response. That's more true now than ever before. Cori and I both struggle with frequent flash floods of frenzied feelings. We're surrounded by tiny reminders of our son, small stones that keep dropping into the water and making huge, excruciating ripples.

Cori has a fancy-schmancy Android tablet, and had placed a little countdown widget on the desktop that shows the number of days left until her due date. Yesterday she fired up the tablet to check her e-mails and was greeted by a brightly colored icon gleefully announcing that there were zero days left. She cried so hard that she couldn't even muster the strength needed to drag the widget to the trash can.

As we left the hospital yesterday morning, Cori being pushed in a wheelchair and me plodding along carrying the luggage, we passed a young expectant couple being given a tour of the labor and delivery area. Their eyes glimmered with hope for the future, for the promise of a perfect angel baby. It took an embarrassing amount of willpower for me to keep myself from shouting them into a corner and interrogating them on why they would dare to believe that they deserve a healthy child.

Over the last few weeks, Cori had been keeping kick count logs at the request of her nurses. Every night, she would sit and count how many times Aiden punched or kicked her in a certain number of minutes. Sitting in our living room last night, she found her kick count papers on the side table and broke down sobbing.

Should a computer icon, a happy couple and a sheet of paper covered with tick marks on it be so emotionally devastating? Of course not, but they are. They are also just the first few examples that came to mind. The last days have felt like a carefully organized effort by the entirety of the universe to sap us of what little strength we have left.

That said, there are other ripples... Better ones. Surprising acts of kindness from friends, family members, and complete strangers that bolster our resolve and lift our spirits.

I stopped by a local gas station yesterday afternoon to pick up sandwiches for lunch. One of the joys of living in a small town is that the convenience stores often double as the eateries, and this particular one has a nice little sandwich shop inside. The staff there is truly wonderful, and I'm often happy to pay a few cents extra per gallon to just to stop by and share a laugh. Yesterday, as I walked in, I was nearly tackle-hugged by the women who work there as they offered their tearful sympathies. It seems that another feature of a small town is that news travels quickly. After hurrying to prepare my sandwiches, they refused to let me pay for them.

In the last few hours, a parade of friends from our church have come by to drop off food and share in a good cry. We are certainly going to be the most well fed grieving couple around, that's for sure. It seems that while words often fail people in situations like this, a good chicken casserole never does.

Phone calls and emails have poured in from all over the world offering kind words and condolences. This blog, this humble, cathartic experiment of mine, has been viewed by over 90,000 people since Wednesday morning, and it seems that roughly half that many have written to me on Facebook, sent me an email, or called. I have been greatly encouraged by all of you.

My father, who arrived yesterday with my mother after a long drive from Ohio, was clearly impressed by the outpouring from the community. He said, "I guess in a small town, when someone's barn blows over, everyone just rallies and helps put up another one." I think he's right.

Do these good ripples outweigh the bad? Perhaps not, but I'm certainly glad to have them. I think the water is going to be choppy anyway. We're heartbroken, and that's not likely to change soon, but we also have much to be thankful for.


  1. I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to lose my son, but, if I may, and even though I know you know this; and may not be a huge comfort right now; we have the hope and assurance that he is in a better place, and it will just be a matter of time before you are all reunited together. I hope that the 90,000 plus people reading this understand that with faith in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, we can all have assurances of spending eternity in a better place!

    Aiden is getting to enjoy now, what we all have to wait for, and that is to be in the presence of God!

  2. BJ, I just heard from Alex. I have no words - anything I can think of sounds so hollow. I am so very sorry for your loss. You and Cori are in my prayers and sweet Aiden, and your little ones. I pray for comfort and peace for you all while you walk this journey.