A New Year.

I met a woman today who made me feel so good about my life choices in the most unusual way.

She told me to stop apologizing. She explained that my moral compass and my heart will tell me how to feel, think and act how I deem necessary. That by no means does this mean I’ll never have to apologize again in my life, but that if I feel I’ve done the right thing in my heart, not to dwell on it.

Next, she told me to learn to say no. She explained that nothing and no one are more important than my health and my happiness.
That by saying no it’s not saying I don’t want to spend time with you, or this/that is more important. It’s simply an “I can’t today, how about another time” or “I’m sorry, I’m tired and need a ‘Lisa’ day”.

She made me realize that I need to begin taking time for myself and the things I want to do. After all, life is about being happy, not creating happiness built for others that pulls you down.

That being said. My New Year Resolution is to take things slow, enjoy each day for what it is – a blessing. I’m going to remind myself that it’s totally and completely ok to say no to plans, ideas or suggestions of any kind if it’s not truly what I want/need. More importantly for me, I’m going to stop apologizing for the sake of apologizing. I’m so quick to say I’m sorry for any little miscommunication or difference in opinion from those around me. I let other people’s unhappiness or uncomfortableness with themselves or my grief tear me down; and I’m done.

This is me. Take it or leave it. I know struggles will always come and go, I know that this year life has thrown me and all of my loved ones curve ball, after curve ball and that’s ok. Through all of the hardships I’ve learned a lot, I held a beautiful baby boy and loved him unconditionally, I fell in love with my husband all over again, and I was reminded of the guardian angels who sit around me day in and day out in the form of some of the best friends I’ll ever know in my life.

Grief can be ugly and nasty. It can take a seemingly normal life and make it a living hell. Losing a child is gut wrenching in every way, BUT has so much beauty wrapped into it. Somewhere along the way, I began to lose myself, and today, Ms. V reminded me of who I am and what my son wants me to stand for. I am Tyler’s mother. I am strong. I am weak. I am broken-hearted, yet I am loved.

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I would live this life 1000x over just to hold you again. It is because of you that I know the true meaning of love.

 

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Holidays.

Recently I’ve come to realize that for the rest of my life, I’ll always be searching for something that isn’t there. That 3am feeding, the colicky cry that accompanies an upset belly, the giggles when something is amusing and we can’t quite figure out why. These small things that build up to a lifetime full of memories has been taken away from us. I have lost the single most important thing in my life, my baby.

I hear “you’ll have another one eventually” and “you shouldn’t grieve forever” on a pretty regular basis. My question is this, how do you stop the grief?

How do you not long to hold them in your arms again?

More importantly, why do people seem to think that having another child will some how replace the one that we’ve lost?

This world will never have another Tyler. He was special, he was innocent and so pure, he was nothing short of a miracle. I am so incredibly blessed to have the title of his momma. I smile and often times cry at the bittersweet memories we have of him.

With the holidays rapidly approaching, I can feel myself becoming bitter. My heart hurts and everyone around me seems to be so happy. I can feel myself breaking minute, by minute, and I’m so lost on how to pick myself up and keep going. The sad truth of it is, I’ve lost friends and I’ve lost family throughout the journey of losing my son. I am so blessed to have a handful of good people who I know I can turn to in my times of complete and utter despair. It’s sad that something so heartbreaking, ultimately shows you who these individuals are. Those who think of you without being asked to, the ones who aren’t seeking special recognition for a kind gesture. Those who genuinely hurt with you on your bad days, and smile alongside you on your good ones. Those friends that will remember Tyler not only on ‘special’ days but, always.

The world expects so much now days, but gives so very little to those who need it. This holiday season, I ask that you remember those who are hurting. Those who can’t afford to feed their families, or buy gifts for their children. Remember the families who have lost loved ones, young or old. In the back of your mind, always remember there are battles people face daily that you may never see from the outside looking in. Soften your heart to others and let love in. Keep a kind heart and remember the reason for this season. Cherish those special memories and create new ones with your loved ones. Surround yourself with the people who matter in your life and do something good for society.

Wishing all of our friends and family a very Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

The Dance.

My world stops turning on a daily basis. I wake up each morning to be reminded of the fact that my precious son is no longer here with us. Today is different. Today my world didn’t continue on after I came to terms with the hell that we’ve endured this year. Today is simply just, one of those days. My body aches in the absence of Tyler. I wonder what he’d be doing at this point in his new, little life. I feel mentally defeated when I think about the things Billy and I will never get to experience with him.

October has always been my favorite time of the year. The weather’s starting to cool off; the leaves are changing colors and filling the sidewalks with such natural beauty. This year October will hold a harsh new meaning with the reminder that my family and many others are mourning the children they were never given the opportunity to know, to watch grow, or to raise in our arms. I’m trying to prepare myself for the events of the coming months as best I know how. October is known as ‘Infant and Pregnancy Loss’ awareness month. This is a time when bereaved families ask that you remember and honor the children that have left us all too soon, alongside us in our daily struggle with grief.

With November brings another ‘first’ we’ll again miss out on with our Bubba. From birth to the 12 month mark seems to be a constant struggle. On top of the absence of baby T, Billy and I will be apart for the first time in 5 years. It’ll be my first year as a pre-diabetic, where I have to watch every little thing that I put in my mouth. It’s going to be our first Thanksgiving without a huge piece of our world.

December. Oh, December. Christmas will be hard. There’s no other way to put it. Last year we picked out an outfit for Tyler to wear on Christmas Eve. We were already so excited about our first year as ‘Santa’. We couldn’t wait to show him off to family, and move him back home to Texas where we would raise him around all of his loved ones.

After the holidays it seems as though this vicious cycle will only start again. Beginning with what would be Tyler’s 1st birthday. Unlike many families, three short weeks after his celebration we’ll be faced with the year anniversary of his death.

Where do I go? What do I do? Is there anything that makes this pain just a little more bearable? Grief is a funny thing. I went from clinically depressed, to feeling strong and worthy of love. At this point I feel like I’m slowly circling back around to the rut I found myself in just six months ago. Grief is ALL consuming, there’s no doubt about that.

I listened to a song the other day that I had always wanted played at my funeral, ironically. As I sat and took in each and every word, I cried. I realized that the lyrics struck home to me more than I would ever have realized all those years ago. I realized just what I’m experiencing with my grief. It’s a dance. Our lives are truly a dance.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, none of us ever do. I do know that by going through this God awful loss we’ve experienced, we’re going to become better parents, spouses, siblings, friends and overall people because of it. We will always love deeper and appreciate all that we’ve been given.

In the midst of my sadness, I ask for your continued patience with us. I don’t know when this struggle will stop, or if it ever will. I do know that I have some special individuals who tell me just what I need to hear on days when I don’t know how to pull myself together. They remind me of the love that Tyler spread all around this world, even to those who never knew us, or him. They remind me that he will always be loved by those who really and truly love us.

I miss my baby with each and every ounce of my being. I love him so deeply, always and forever, without any doubt. Billy and I are some of the luckiest people on this Earth to have felt the presence of such a little angel. All that we do is for you, Bubba. XO.

October 15th is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss remembrance day.

“When a child loses his parent, they are called and orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.” – Ronald Reagan

For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him. 1 Samuel 1:27

Listen to “The Dance”.

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Texas.

I’m at a point in my life where I feel as though I have nowhere left to turn, except for home. I feel as though my life has come crashing down on me for not the first, but the second time in a year. I hurt with every ounce of my being, my faith has been tested to no end and my sadness occasionally consumes me.

We always wonder why things happen or question how we got to where we are in life. I can honestly say I’m beyond perplexed at this next step fate has pushed me into. As I walk blindly in my faith yet again, I’m reminded of just how fragile life can be. I cry for my son, I cry for myself and I cry for my husband and our family. I cry for what was, for right now and for what is yet to come.

After leaving my home of the last four years, the place where my little one was born and the shell of a home he was in for such a short, but sweet time. The place where we made friends we’ll be bonded to for a life time, where the community picked us up each time we fell – I feel like I can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Leaving Fort Irwin has felt like a weight that’s been lifted off my shoulders.

With that relief still comes a sense of sadness, as well as the pressures of a new area. An area full of people asking questions they really don’t need the answers to. It’s as if society as a whole just wants to write your life out for you and make your “story” much more interesting than it really is. I promise there is no hidden agenda as to why I’m here, I just needed a break. I needed to come to grips with myself again.

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Tomorrow is my 28th birthday. All I can think about is how I don’t want the day to come. I’m not prepared to spend my first ‘milestone’ or family gathering without Tyler. I would give anything to have him here. To hear his little cry when he’s hungry or feel the rise and fall of his breathing against my chest. My life has drastically changed so many times within the last year. From a normal married couple, to soon to be parents, to BEING those parents and now as bereaved parents. I hate that. I hate to think of myself as a bereaved parent. I didn’t get the chance to parent. I didn’t get the chance to watch my child grow into the beautiful person I know in my heart he would have been. I didn’t get to watch him play little league football or dig in the dirt like most other little boys. Every ounce of my being yearns for him.

I’ve been doing better lately, if that’s even possible. I don’t cry 24/7 anymore, I don’t constantly mope around – I’ve stepped back into the human race in a sense. Its amazing what a smile can hide. How strangers on the street have no idea of the hurt inside your heart and only see you as another person that’s just simply passing by.

That being said, tomorrow is going to be hard. VERY hard. If you think of me, please think of Tyler. He’s the best gift I’ve ever been given and I just pray people always remember him and think of his sweet little soul when they think of our family. No matter where we all may be at any given time.

 

Love.

Do you ever have moments in your life where you sit back and reflect on the things that are happening around you? Wondering how you got to where you are, in that very moment. I was traveling recently and watched out of my window as the pilot warned us of possible turbulence. I could see this storm brewing within the clouds next to me, watching the lightning crash down onto the ground with each strike from this monstrous storm cell. All the while, I sat there and held my son’s teddy bear with odd looks from strangers as we coasted by seamlessly in the sunshine. How can you be right over a storm and not feel the same effect its having on others around you? Tears fell down my face as I thought about Tyler and how different my life would be if he were still here. I thought about how these people around me only saw an adult grasping onto a teddy bear and not the pain that’s right under the surface.

People have mastered the art of silence; and I want to break it. I want to speak out and remind the world that I will forever be a mother, that I have a beautiful son who will live forever in my heart, that CHD’s effect on average 40,000 babies a year, and that I am 1 in 100! Life can twist and turn so abruptly at a moments notice, it’s better to reach out and hold onto someone or something before letting the darkness consume you.

Over the last week I’ve learned so much about myself. I learned that even though I smile, it doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten my son; and that even though I cry, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t grateful for the time I was given. Each day is a constant struggle. Each day has the potential to bring me to my knees.

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I’ve met many bereaved parents over the course of the last six months. So many of them illuminate strength and courage when they speak of their lost little ones. I hope and pray that one day I’m able to reach that point. I’m ready for this storm to break and let a little light shine through, so I can grow from this experience and mold myself into the person I know that I’m now meant to be. I’m ready to get up, smile at my little boys picture, get dressed and bring more kindness into the world!

We were made to love, and I plan to do just that. Tyler has taught me that the greatest gift in life is that unconditional, real, true love is unlike anything else you’ll ever experience. It was because of such a deep love from our Father, that I was able to feel my love for him. I am beyond blessed and forever grateful to be Tyler’s Momma. No one will ever know the absolute joy that he has brought into our lives. Billy and I, as his parents, will always treasure the time we had with such a perfect little angel.

Open your heart to the world and let your love flow. Release your bitterness, and let those around you see your light! We all fall, we all fight, but it’s how we pick ourselves back up from those moments of weakness and despair that make us who we are. Choose to be a better person tomorrow than you were today and let that true love guide you.

 

 

 

 

 

Pain.

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I have a pain that haunts me daily. It’s a pain that cannot be healed in any way. A pain that is so deep I would wish it upon no one. These last couple of weeks have shown me what life will forever be like without Tyler. We were in the midst of what should be an exciting time in our lives, yet my husband and I both felt numb and disconnected.

Looking through model homes and potential builds was a fun and exciting experience until the realization that when we transfer into this new ‘home’, we’ll be alone. Just the two of us. No responsibility for anyone other than ourselves and our two dogs. What a concept. One of our biggest fears before starting a family was letting go of the selfishness of living only for what we wanted, and what new adventure we could seek out each day. Now, we’d give anything to have the responsibility of a child back. Not just any child, but our child, Tyler Matthew. Our precious gift from God.

I’ve come to realize that even though my world came to a screeching halt, life around me hasn’t stopped moving. People have picked back up with their everyday lives and fallen back into daily routines. I’m not quite sure just where I’m at in this journey yet. I have finally accepted that I’ll never hold our son again, until my time here is done, yet I can’t push past the excruciating agony of it all some days. I have moments where I look at pictures of Tyler and smile, watch the little videos we have of him taking us in as we spoke to him, and I can feel my heart overflow with love and appreciation for the time we were given. Yet some days it’s the total opposite, those same sweet mementos of his life send me into a dark place that feels nearly impossible to escape.

While we were home in Texas over these last couple of weeks we were able to sit and visit with him almost daily. Through the humidity, heat, mosquitoes and lack of any cloud cover – we enjoyed every moment we sat there and spoke to him. We told him about how much we love him and about how we cherish those three weeks of pure bliss with him in our lives, we explained how much we all miss him and think about him with each moment that passes. It’s an odd concept to talk to someone who isn’t there. Someone once told me that the burial process really isn’t to honor the dead, it’s a way for the living to cope with their loss. I truly believe that. I feel so much closer to Tyler when we sit at his resting place. I feel a deeper connection than I do when laying in bed at night speaking to his picture that sits next to my side of the bed. I suppose that’s the reason for the sudden shift in my mood since returning to California. I feel like by leaving Texas and leaving the cemetery behind we have in a way, left him.

My emotions have been on overdrive lately thinking about all of the change that’s to come. I return to work this week part-time in the office as opposed to being at home, I fly to Virginia the following week to face my co-workers who have never met me – yet know my story, in four short months we begin our big move back to Texas, the day after our anniversary we sign on our very first house, Billy begins one of his final rotations at Fort Irwin in the coming weeks and he deploys overseas sometime next year. It’s overwhelming to take it all in. I look at our life from an outsiders point of view and wonder how we manage to keep ourselves together at times. I wonder how we will do financially and as a couple when our lives are uprooted and moved back to the state we grew up in.

Through all of these things, my mind still focuses on Tyler. I find myself thinking about the new house and what room he would have been in, about how when we move – his things will be packed away and likely not come back out. How we’re leaving Fort Irwin and the place he was born and lived with us for his short time. I’ve found myself back in the land of constant questions. The why’s, how’s, and when’s are killing me inside. I want to feel in control of my life when I know that honestly, I never will be. I need to learn to let go of that urge and just put my faith where it belongs, in the Lord himself. I want to be able to hold onto my memories of Tyler and reminisce with my  husband over the good times we shared with him as opposed to live in this constant fog of anger and confusion. I want to prove to the world that I can and someday, I will, begin to seek the positive things in life through the darkness. I know that my heart will never heal and that I will miss him everyday for the rest of my life; however I want to overcome this constant anxiety and fear and always remember live each day for my baby boy.

 

Ramblings.

So many things are beginning to change in our tiny little world. Billy is preparing for the next chapter in his career, I’m beginning to step back into work and our little man is up in the clouds watching it all. My grief is unforgiving and torturous at times but I feel it slowly getting better day, by day. I’ll catch myself staring at pictures of Tyler while I work from home at my desk, smiling, day dreaming about the adventures he’s on in the sky. I have always viewed his life as a complete blessing but I’ve begun to appreciate the time we were given more so now, than ever. I know that I was the lucky one to have had such a miraculous three weeks with the most precious child I have ever laid my eyes on. The hurt hasn’t gone away, nor will it ever. However, I have learned to deal with it a little better. I’ve managed to speak with a complete stranger and say, “YES! I do have a child. He’s not in my arms, but he’s all around me.” I’ve done and said these things without shedding a single tear, and have even gone on to share some stories about his brief time here with a smile on my face. It’s taken a lot of energy, time and mental anguish to see what my husband has been telling me all along, I need to live for Tyler. I need to appreciate each breath I’m given, each step I take and live my life in a way that honors my lost child.

I’ve always been ‘the nice  guy’ and I have no intention of ever being anyone different. I take pride in my genuine concern for others, and I can empathize in ways that I would have never imagined possible. No one ever expects their life to go wrong, we all just walk around and assume that things will eventually fall into place or that problems will work themselves out. I’m here to say, that still holds true. My husband and I have experienced something that no parent should ever have to endure. We’ve lost the love of our lives and the little being that we created out of pure love for one another. We buried our child and pre-planned our own funerals to accommodate being next to him in the afterlife. We didn’t expect it, we had no warning, and yet here we are, falling back into place. Perhaps this is the problem we were destined to “fall into” so that we could learn to live and love on a much deeper level. Maybe we were given this heartache because God knew we could turn it into something great. We could appreciate the gift that Tyler was and always will be and share that with the people surrounding us.

I have received some of the most off the wall gifts since we lost our son. They come in the form of friendships that I will treasure for the rest of my life, hardships that teach me to be a stronger person and allow me to say no – when enough, is enough. Jewlery to memorialize our angel, clothing to help keep the butterflies near, prayers, inspirational quotes … the list could go on and on. What I’m trying to say is, thank you. If you’re reading this and you’ve been by my side through this journey, thank you. Thank you for thinking of me, for praying for us, for just reaching out and letting us know that you care. It does not go unseen or unnoticed. I hold each of you so close to my heart and pray that one day I may give you the same feeling you’ve given me through any route necessary.

I encourage you all to step out of your comfort zone and say hello to a stranger this week, buy coffee for the individual behind you in line, take food to a homeless person or commit to any other random act of kindness. Open your heart to unfamiliar territory and allow yourself to feel appreciated and to know that you caused someone else to smile. I promise you, it’ll be a rush. Don’t let the negativity of this world, the hurt and the anger bring you down. Shove other’s opinions aside and just be YOU. Be the you that you want your child, your parent, your sibling or your spouse to be proud of.

I know that I plan on being the one who Tyler can be proud of, and in my eyes, that’s the best “me” that I can be. I will be one of Tyler’s Warriors.

Afterlife.

As I was walking out of the store today on the way back to my car, I felt the warmth of the sun light on my skin and couldn’t help but think about how small we as humans, really are. I find myself questioning God and my beliefs since Tyler was taken from us, but when it all comes down to it — how else can you explain this life? How else can you describe living things with a soul as anything other than eternal? I can’t and won’t accept that when my time here is done my soul will just cease to exist. There is so much of our minds that we don’t use, who’s to say that what we experience here isn’t preparing us for our next life? We’re put here to make decisions for ourselves and to choose the people we feel we’re meant to spend the rest of our lives with, God included. With Christianity, if you don’t choose Him, you choose to throw away a never-ending life with all of those who have passed on before us.

A friend once told me that if I believe and He is real, I’ve rewarded myself with eternity, but if he’s not, I’ve essentially lost nothing. Being a Christian teaches you to be kindhearted and to love everyone, even if you may not agree with their life’s choices. I pride myself on being the “nice guy” and always reach out to those in need when and where I can.

Today marks Billy’s first Father’s Day. He unfortunately wasn’t able to be at home but I hope and pray that he knows how much he is loved. My husband was such a delight to watch with Tyler. One of my absolute favorite pictures of them together is of little man curled up in his daddy’s lap asleep, while Billy was playing video games on his computer. It was such a perfect glimpse of what life could have been, what I feel life should have been. My husband is nothing less than amazing. He never fails to amaze me with his dedication to our little family. He IS our rock.

I’ve watched Billy transform from a 22 year old boy, to a 30 year old man over the last 8 years and can’t help but love him more and more with each passing day. I know many people feared that Tyler’s passing would push us away from one another but our little boy has done nothing but draw us closer, and I couldn’t be more thankful. Billy has shown me what true faith really is. He has opened my eyes to what the world has to offer and shown me real, deep, true love. He was and still is completely devoted as a father to our son and faced each doctors appointment and rough night with grace. I often find myself wishing I had even an ounce of his strength. Making Tyler proud is his goal, and I know without a doubt he achieves that on a daily basis.

I love you Mr. Newton. In my eyes, you have roped the moon! If you find yourself reading this, know that you are an amazing Father to our most precious gift, Tyler. Always & Forever my dear.

Happy Father’s Day!

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Broken.

I wake up everyday and wonder when the constant pain will stop. People seem to think that just because I pull myself together and face the world that my heart has healed. I’m always at a loss when I see someone and they excitedly ask how I am. How do I respond to such a question? Tell them how I really feel? My heart has been ripped into shreds, I’m forced to face a reality that no one ever dreams of, and I miss my baby more than you’ll ever be able to comprehend. I can’t put people in such an awkward position, it’s not in my nature and it’s not who I am. I normally just smile and say “as best as can be expected”. What is expected though? What is it that people think I SHOULD be doing or thinking at this point in my grief?

If I could, I would just curl up with Tyler’s things and never leave the house. I would put up walls and build a little safe haven in our home with everything that matters to me; where I can keep it safe and protected. I have friends. In fact, I have some fantastic friends. Friends that I’ve found in the most unlikely of places and oddly enough have never met face to face. I have a supportive family and a husband who would do anything for me. So why? Why am I still unable to pull myself together and move forward? Everyone tells me it’s what Tyler would want. If that’s so, shouldn’t I be running full force ahead with all of my might?

This year has shoved the word loss into my face. It’s shown me that no matter what we seem to think, tomorrow is NEVER promised. I learned that sometimes people’s ‘dark places’ grab hold of them and pull them so far down that they’re unable to bring themselves back to the light. I’ve learned that if you love someone you should remind them daily. Never make anyone feel like they are useless or unappreciated. I think most importantly I’ve learned that no matter what someone looks like on the outside you never truly know the pain they may be facing on the inside. Essentially what we’ve been taught since grade school, never judge a book by its cover.

I miss my baby boy more than he knows. I pray that God helps to ease this suffering and tells Tyler all about his mom and dad, daily. Rest easy little one, we’ll be there soon.

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June 1st.

Another month begins with the painful reminder that you’re not here to experience it with us. My life has completely crumbled around me over the last week. Just as I take two steps forward I’m pushed back with such a force that it would knock an elephant to the ground without hesitation.

I woke up to news on Memorial Day that yet another family has been forced to face this awful pain within our community. I want nothing more than to reach for her, hug her so tight that she can’t breath and let her know she is not alone. I want to introduce her to the wonderful people that have graciously welcomed me and my grief into their lives. The ones who will always allow me to speak about Tyler’s life, even if it’s through tear filled eyes. I want her to know there are people who understand, although it doesn’t seem like it right now.

Facing our move at the end of this year frightens me. Having to explain myself to others who haven’t been around to know what’s happening. Meeting new families who will likely ask if we have any children out of habit and natural curiosity when meeting someone new. How am I to respond in these situations? If I cry, I frighten people and make them uncomfortable. I don’t aim to make others antsy when talking about our baby boy. He made such a huge impact on our lives that it comes naturally. So much love and adoration for such a tiny little man.

As a bereaved mother for almost four months now, all I know about myself is that I’m afraid. I’m so terrified of living my life without Tyler, I’m afraid of what’s to come when we are placed in a new surrounding with new people. I’m afraid that I’ll never see my baby again. I’m afraid to go back to work and face those who knew me through my entire pregnancy.

I feel like at this point in my life the world around me has resumed normal activity. People have moved on with their lives. I don’t know how to do this, and I’m not sure I ever will. I feel like so many people have forgotten the life changing loss that we have suffered and look down on me for having not picked myself back up yet. I know that Tyler will never be forgotten but I fear that the pain of his loss will. It’s impossible to express the agony you feel on a daily basis after losing such a vital part of your life. A life that you and your spouse/significant other have created. It’s a pain that I do not wish upon anyone, but pray that “outsiders” understand it will not ever leave those of us who have suffered through the death of their child.

I ask that you please be patient with us, open your heart to understandstanding and pray. Even now, approaching that four month milestone… Nothing fills my heart more than to know that we’re thought about and prayed for. That others hold enough love for us and baby Tyler to remember us during their quiet time with the Lord.