Saturday, April 25, 2009


As I approach the fourth month without Webb, I am still bewildered, scared, unsure and confused.  I think about the last four months and seems like at least 4 years.  I cannot fathom this is our new reality, but I guess it is.  And when it is, there is nothing left to do but (I shudder to say the words)....accept it.  Accept that one child is gone.  Accept that I have a baby I will never see grow up, never see get married, never hold his firstborn.  I wanted to worry about him making the baseball team, taking out his first car, drinking in college.  And I wanted to tell everyone about how, when he was a baby, he would roll instead of crawl, laugh as loud and crackly as an old man.  I wanted to look back on those memories and smile, barely able to remember.  Instead, those memories are all I have of sweet Webb and I keep playing them over and over and over and of course I will never forget.  Webb was almost 19 months when he died.  Old enough to have his own personality.  Of course he had a twin and and a brother 18 months his senior, so we had lots of developing personalities in the house.  And as I sit here, I have no idea what his favorite color was (actually, I don't know that about my other 2 boys either).  But I know he loved orange juice (a little too much, it is all he would drink), Elmo, any kind of "ball" he could find (including Christmas ornaments, apples, etc)...I know he would sit and hide behind the brown chair when he finally wrangled a toy away from his brothers and just quietly, peacefully play there.  He loved playing on the couch, jumping from side to side and making me a nervous wreck.  He was my cuddle baby and would lay on my chest for hours.  Bo and Whit would never do that...maybe Webb knew I would need that memory later.  He was serious like my father, silly like me, looked like Zac.  He was all boy and all of us combined into one perfect, precious child.  How can you even measure the void he has left in our hearts and souls?  I can accept reality.  I am an analytical, accepting kind of person.  But I just can't accept that a soul that precious, that alive, isn't right here beside me as I type this.  I had a dream about Webb last night.  He and Whit both walked into the room.  I kept looking back and forth, back and forth and touching both of their heads, trying to make myself understand there were two there.  Zac had brought them in and I said, "It's Webb."  He said," Yes, they managed to keep him alive, but he only has tonight.  What should we do?"  In my dream I did not respond.  I just scooped him up and rocked him, kissing his sweet face over and over.  The dream eventually ended, and I was still doing just that.  I believe in my heart that dream was no coincidence.  He knew I needed him last night.  I went to his cemetery yesterday and told him how much I missed him, and if I could just hold him one more time, I'd give anything....  call it what you will, my mind giving my heart what it wants, or whatever non believers say.  All I know is I felt his skin and smelled his hair, and for me, it felt a lot like heaven.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ups and Downs

This week has had its ups and downs.  I started out feeling optimistic after Easter.  Literally for the first time since Webb died, I started to have some fleeting moments where I felt like things were going to be ok.  I even started thinking about the future (which is usually too scary).  However, that feeling did not stick around for long.  Some close family members have been faced with a tremendous challenge, and I have been thinking again about why bad things happen to good people and God's completely unpredictable plan for us all.  Webb, as usual, has been at the forefront of my mind, and he has become the focus of all of these thoughts.  I have been spending a lot of time just staring at his pictures.  I look into those beautiful blue eyes and try to take myself back to that moment captured in the seems so far away.  I cannot always conjure up a clear memory of Webb, and that scares the hell out of me.  What if I can't remember??  What if I start to lose the only thing I left - the pictures in my mind??  I already feel so disconnected to the person I was December 23.  I feel like she was a little girl I was friends with in my past.  The way I thought about things then seems so immature, so unrealistic.  How did we get so far from that place where everything was safe and warm?  How did we go from our biggest problems now being 100th on the list?  How have we gone from imagining the future with our three healthy, smart, growing boys, to this nightmare where one is in a cemetery?  I want to know why, yet I am not strong enough to understand.  I am so tired.  I feel like I am putting on a front all day long just so I don't crumble.  Is that what you do to survive?  I suppose it must be.  After all, if we were allowed to feel how we wanted, we would probably die from the pain and exhaustion.  I have no trouble talking about my situation.  I can set my jaw and speak about the hospital, the funeral and the aftermath - often without shedding a tear.  Sometimes my ability to do that scares me, but it is a part of who I am and how I have always handled things.  It is not denial.  I do not know exactly how I do that, but it is so contrary to how I feel on the inside, that it almost feels like I am playing a role in a movie.  A horror movie.  Where do we go from here?  

Sunday, April 12, 2009


We made it through our first holiday without Webb.  It was not without tears, but we did a good job of "protecting our hearts" for the occasion.  We decided a while ago that we would spend this holiday alone, as a family of four.  Even the most well-intended comments have a way of sending us over the edge, so we decided it best not to be around a lot of people today and chance it.  After all, only we understand the true depth of this pain, and nothing except each other comforts us when we are sad.  No one really knows how to act around one knows whether they should bring up Webb, or stay silent on the subject, or pretend like everything is ok.  Of course, that is understandable because it is a horrible thing that has happened, and really, what do you say??  However, it is extremely frustrating for us as well, because we never know how we are going to feel at any given moment, so often we feel like no one is saying or doing the "right" thing.  Unfair, I know, but when you're grieving, there is a whole different set of rules and standards.  We are trying to be patient, but for this first holiday, we knew doing "nothing" was our only shot at getting through the day.  Last night, I cried as I assembled only 2 Easter baskets.  When the morning started, and I was only dressing two little boys in their Easter best for church, I got choked up again.  After we got to church, and I sat and listened to the sermon, I started feeling differently.  I started to truly feel Easter is the most special holiday for the bereaved.  We have a living Lord!!  Jesus is alive.  And not only that, but He is with Webb at this very moment, and they are waiting for us in Heaven.  What an amazing gift this is, the gift of eternal life.  The fact that Jesus died to save all of us is something I have believed in my heart for a very long time.  But now, it has a more important meaning because it is the truth I cling to every minute of every day.    Now, it is just not a belief, it is a reality for one of my children.  I have an angel with Jesus this very minute.  He lives! He lives!  Christ Jesus lives today!  He walks with me, and talks with me along life's narrow way.... Never has life felt more narrow than it does for us at this moment, and never have we felt the presence of the Lord more.  It is such a overwhelming, humbling mix of feelings and emotions.  We are grieving, scared, miserable, aching and tired, yet we are also blessed, thankful, hopeful, loved and satisfied.  He lives!  He lives!  Salvation to impart.  You ask me how I know He lives?  He lives within my heart.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Quack, quack...

In the past few weeks I have been struck by how many people telling me how great I look.  Literally, I hear it every day.  I am not sure what they mean...I have not had my hair done in almost 5 months, I rarely wear makeup, I don't care what clothes I wear, I have dark circles under my eyes and sunken in cheeks.  I feel like crap.  So if I look great to people, it must be one of two things: 1.) I look better than anyone thinks they would after losing or child, or 2.) I am being the best "duck" I have ever been.  This is not an original analogy.  Many people will compare a bereaved person to a duck...smooth, quiet, calm and unruffled on the outside, but paddling like hell below the surface.  It is a fair analogy.  Grief is hard work.  I have never worked so hard in my life.  It is taxing and exhausting and a day to day grind.  I feel like I am running a marathon in my head....wake up, think of Webb, play with kids, think of Webb, eat a little without enjoying it, think of Webb, work, think of Webb, work, work, play with kids, think of Webb....and that's just an overview.  I think of Webb 100 times that amount.  I think of him alive.  I think of him laying in the hospital.  I replay the funeral.  I try to imagine the future.  I don't know how to keep the stamina up for the grieving I have yet to do.  Yet there is a part of me, an inexplicable part of who I am, that is still trying to comfort others and trying my best to make sure my presence doesn't make anyone uncomfortable.  I smile a little bigger, make some jokes, pat people on the arm when they bring up Webb....all because I am desperately trying to avoid "running" people off.  No one wants to be around the mom who lost her baby.  So I feel like if I act just like the old Ashley, people won't leave.  People won't feel uncomfortable around me.  The truth is, most people would not be able to handle the real me.  Some days I can't even handle the real me.  Have I mentioned I am a pretty good actress?  Sometimes playing the role of the old Ashley is a welcome break from battling the snakes in my head.  Sometimes, pretending to be that person brings me as much comfort as I am hoping it brings others.  After all, I can't go around sobbing all day, even if I want to.  And I miss the old Ashley.  I miss her so much.  I miss her carefree, "perfect" life.  I may be pleased with the woman I end up being when I make it through to the other side if this, but I will always miss the woman I once was, before I knew this pain and heartache.  

And compounding it all, it seems like twins are everywhere.  Every B-list celebrity is having twins.  They are everywhere I look around town.  Everytime I see a pair, I feel like a knife is twisting in my heart.  I loved having identical twins.  I loved how people would look at us and laugh and say how "full" our hands were.  I loved people asking how we could tell them apart.  I loved their relationship and their twin talk.  I loved dressing them alike and dressing them different.  It seems so strange that Whit will continue his life without his other half.  How will we explain that to him?  Who would he have been if Webb had lived?  Will he feel his spirit?  Will Webb be his guardian angel?  I truly believe he will.  If Webb is "with" any of us, I have a feeling it will be Whit.  

I am so sad for us.  I am so sad for all the moms and dads I have met on this journey who have lost children.  It is a close knit club no one wants to be a member of, yet we all need each other.  We need to make sense of this horror.  We need to know you can live through this and laugh again.  We need to make sure we are not going crazy with our feelings.  And most of all, we just need to be comforted in the fact we are not alone.  "Misery loves company" has a new meaning when it comes to losing a child.  Just knowing there are people out there who have been through what I have is a powerful source of comfort.  Thanks to all of you moms who have reached out to me.  I am praying for you and your angels.

I will close with a bit of Scripture.  I have always loved reading the Bible but will be the first to admit I have much to learn when it comes to the Lord's word.  I will continue to study it and seek it and let those ancient words work through me and in me all of my remaining days.  It is so amazing to me we have a book that answers every question of our heart.  Any self help book you can find pales in comparison to the help you can find if you simply open your Bible and seek God's wisdom.  It's pretty incredible.  Anyway, I do not have a favorite book of the Bible.  I never read in order, I always skip around and pick out certain excerpts.  My one exception is the book of James.  I love it.  It is simple and powerful.  Anytime I read it, it's from start to finish (admittedly, it's pretty short. :) ) This is one of my favorite verses in James.  I hope it speaks to you, too.  I repeat it over and over and remember it throughout my day.  It is such a simple truth.  Enjoy, and Happy Easter.  

"Come near to God, and He will come near to you."  James 4:8.  

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A prayer

Lord, please help us.  Please look down upon us and shine Your light in our hearts.  We are in so much pain, Lord.  Pain only you can fix.  Please help to warm our souls and see a glimpse of Your plan.  We are hurting so much, God.  We are inconsolably sad without our sweet Webb.  We do not know how life will ever get better, or how our family will ever be put back together.  We trust You and believe in Your purpose, but we are so confused and broken.  Our "strong" moments are starting to slip away.  Please come quickly, Lord, and give us the strength only You can give.  We come to You in humble prayer.  We have little to offer, other than whimpers and cries, but we come to You knowing You are the Great Physician and can heal any ailment, especially those of the heart.  We ask You to hold Webb close until we are together again.  We ask You to continue to work in our hearts and in our lives and the lives of our precious sons.  As we reflect on Easter and the purpose You had for Your Son, please remind us that Your plan may not always make sense to us, but You love us so unconditionally you sent Jesus to die so we may live forever.  We cannot even comprehend the greatness of You.  We believe in You and love You with all our hearts.  Please give us the peace only You can give, the peace that transcends ALL understanding.  In Your precious, Heavenly Son's name we pray, Amen.      

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Mother's Love

Yesterday was my birthday.  It was rainy and dreary in Atlanta, and that matched my mood perfectly.  I only celebrated one birthday with Webb, but his presence yesterday was missed to an unbearable degree.  I sobbed most of the morning, aching for him and wanting him near.  I feel so lost without that little peanut.  Most days I am still sad.  I am functioning, of course, but the sadness and heartache are very near.  Lately, some things have been reminding me of the hospital, and I truly hate reliving that horrible time.  It is gut-wrenching and full of agony.  My mother gave me a framed picture of Webb and me for my birthday present that has the following quote written on it:

"A mother's love is something that no one can explain; it is made of deep devotion and of sacrifice and pain.  It is endless and unselfish and enduring come what may for nothing can destroy it or take that love away..."  Helen Steiner Rice  

I read that quote over and over last night, thinking of the new meaning those words have since Webb died.  Surely, most mothers never feel this level of pain or sacrifice, thank goodness.  Most mothers do not know what it is like to lose one of the precious extensions of their souls.  My endless love for my children extends out of this world and into the next, in a way most mothers will never understand.  That is not to say I love my children more than other mothers do, it is just that I have had a different journey of motherhood that makes me a different kind of mother to my children.  I still get frustrated when Bo whines or disobeys.  I still feel annoyed when I cannot get them to go to sleep or listen.  But I do not take one single second with them for granted.  I thank God every morning for their mere presence in my life.  I do not worry about what school they will go to, or whether they will be good at sports, or whether they will graduate at the top of their class.  Those things are simply unimportant to me now.  Perhaps that is the gift Webb's short life gave me - to love my children no matter what they do or what they become.  To know that the only important thing is that they are healthy and happy.  There is no sacrifice I would not make to ensure that happens.