The past few mornings have been tearful ones for me.
Usually, I wake up with a smile on my face due to the chubby baby in my arms and the tiny baby breaths he emits as he snoozes peacefully into the morning. I sometimes use these quiet minutes, before my littles fill my day with their overabundance of energy and love, to check in with the outside world on my phone.
And I can't help myself - I know it'll break my heart all over again, but I've been looking at every blog post and video remembrance the world has been sharing over the death of sweet Ben Sauer.
During his fight with cancer, I couldn't bring myself to keep close tabs on his story. His mother's blog posts were too real and too raw for me to handle. When I did check them out, I easily found myself in her shoes - the mother of a loving, imaginative 5 year old boy whose worst nightmare was coming true. I just couldn't go there. I felt terrible, and I'd offer her a silent prayer whenever I noticed an update on her blog being shared, but I just couldn't bring myself to read.
A couple weeks ago, someone shared the family's PO Box address so the community could send birthday cards to Ben and his twin brother, Jack. It was almost too late to get a card in the mail by the day I saw it, but we did it anyway. I spread out markers and stickers on the kitchen table and asked the kids to wish this sweet little 5 year old the happiest of birthdays. I don't know if they ever got our (very homemade) card, but I felt like it was the very least we could do to offer them support.
When I heard of Ben's passing, my heart sank. Naturally, I relate to his mother the easiest, and I was instantly panicked for her well-being. She is firmly and lovingly dedicated to her faith, and I'm so thankful for that as it's clear that's what's getting her through all of this. But I'm still praying for her mama heart, daily. A piece of it has been broken - forever. I can think of about 1,000 other terrible, horrible things I would rather have happen to me than to lose my child when he's still just a child. I find myself wishing I could take her grief for her - even for just a moment - because in her shoes, I would be begging others to do the same for me. I have no doubt she is praying and asking God to do just that for her today.
I am so choked up writing this today. I wish I could properly convey what a gift motherhood is, despite all of its trials and hardships, and to imagine losing a piece of that - gosh, I just. I can't even explain what I feel for her right now. After watching one of the video tributes, with mascara streaming down my face, I found myself saying, "Why did she only get 5 years? It's not fair! That's not enough!" And I'm not sure that any amount of time is ever enough for a Mother and her child, but I can't get over how devastating only getting 5 years must be.
Despite reading that her recent Mother's Day was a difficult one for her, I was also really thankful that she was able to spend one more of them with Ben. If I were in her shoes - that's what I would be hoping for.
Mother's Day is one of my favorite holidays, now. I get to celebrate the very best part of my life, usually for a full weekend of warm-ish outdoor fun with my family. And my guys are amazing at making it such a wonderful time for me!
Last weekend, on my 6th Mother's Day (7th, if you count 2008's when I found out I was pregnant with Luke!) I woke up to that sweet chubby face I usually wake up to. He was all smiles and snuggles - just the way I like it.
Moments after waking up, my oldest little guy - the one who made me mom - came striding in with my favorite coffee mug, half-full of coffee, sloshing around like we were in the middle of an earthquake. His smile was proud, and adorable, and in that moment I didn't even care if he spilled that coffee on our white sheets. Even the messy delivery was a part of what made that moment just perfect.
Luke (aka, Mr. Celebrations Junkie) instructed me to sit back and relax as he fluffed up my pillows and urged me to sip my coffee. He informed me that I wasn't allowed in the kitchen so I wouldn't see out the back doors where he was working hard with Daddy on my surprise. So I did as he said! Jake and I settled in for some morning cuddles and HBO (which we just signed up for!) while the boys were busy.
Before long, they invited me to put some shoes on and close my eyes as they led me to the backyard. When I opened my eyes, there was a perfect little patio swing (that I've been suggesting we get for months!), and a big display of a giant card and Watson's chocolates on the seat. So perfect! (My favorite part is the handwritten "I♥U"'s and all of the boys' names Luke worked so hard to add to my card!)
As if that wasn't enough, the boys then made me breakfast (pancakes, sausage, eggs, and watermelon + more coffee!), and then we packed up the family to visit a park. We went to Clarence Town Park (where Matt & I got engaged!), where they have multiple playgrounds to chose from. The boys were in heaven! It was such a sunny, warm, gorgeous day - it was so lovely to be out in it with my little guys.
Just before we left, I noticed a log cabin in the distance, and I asked Matt if he'd mind going for a walk to look at it. I've been very intrigued with the idea of homesteading and returning to basic skills, lately, so I was VERY excited to go peek at this sweet little colonial dwelling. The door to it was locked, and we couldn't really see in the windows, but it was still neat to see on the outside. There was a historical museum next door to the cabin - neither of us knew it existed - and to our surprise, it was open! We met a woman inside that was volunteering and she gave us a little history on the area. I wish Henry hadn't been trying to escape or touch every fragile thing in sight, because it was really interesting! She looked at the boys getting antsy and said, "I have the key to the cabin - would they like to look inside?" Well, I don't know about them, but I sure did! ;)
I was SO excited about this - I can't even really explain why. I told Luke that if he'd been born a really long time ago, he would live in a house like this. When we got inside and he realized there was only one room, no toilet or electricity - he was not impressed. I asked him if he'd like to live there and he said, "Definitely not!" - haha!
Time flew by that day, and we were all hungry for lunch. We almost never go to a sit-down restaurant together, but Luke suggested we go to Applebees, and Matt was actually up for it. We had a really, really yummy meal together, and then went home to enjoy my new swing. I relaxed on it with Jake in my arms, and I never wanted to leave! It's my new favorite place to be.
That evening, we visited my mom and we all went out for ice cream. The ice cream shop was offering free sundaes to Moms (perfect!), and the boys chose very messy cones. Little sticky drips covered their arms as they danced to the music playing at the ice cream shop, and I was so thankful for a day like that. Kids being kids, warm sunny weather, a full day of family - it was such a blessing in the middle of every day life.
I didn't know what the day was like for Ben Sauer's mom, of course, until I read it later. And it only made me more grateful for the beauty of this Mother's Day. We never, ever know which year will be our last to celebrate anything. She had no idea that this past Christmas would be the last one she'd share with Ben - she didn't even know he was sick back then. So I've etched another beautiful celebration on my heart, and I'm documenting the details to preserve them for years to come, and I pray that I get to share many, many more Mother's Days with my little loves.
I love you, my babies.
God bless Mindy Sauer.