I am a Sweetheart to One and a Mommy to Four Loveable Babes, one of which is smiling down on us from Heaven. I am learning to dance in the rain. Come with me on my journey as I make the most out of Life's mud puddles.

Put on your rain boots. Great adventure lies ahead.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Mother's Love

I am home from church with the Little Guy today. We both have been having some health issues of late that have prevented us from going to church the day of the Primary Program. Blast.

I have been thinking about my last days with Bennett this morning. As in, my last days with his body. We were blessed to have a lot of time with him after his passing. That was a gift. Simply a gift.

After we learned that Bennett had passed away hours before we found him, we were told that the medical examiner would be arriving shortly and that we would have 15 minutes to spend with our boy before he was taken away for an autopsy.

That was simply not okay with me.

I immediately pulled our Investigator aside and told him that though I knew I couldn't do anything to bring my son back, I knew that I HAD to handle this in the a way that would promote healing for my family.

And so, I asked for Time.

Time to hold him, time to caress him, time to bring his siblings in and tell them what had happened. And time for David to give him a final Father's blessing. The investigator heard this Mother's plea and kindly relented.

What happened in the next four hours was heartbreaking, harrowing and nothing short of sacred. I wrapped him in the blankie I had made for him before he was born. I held his body close to mine. I kissed his sweet little cheeks. I ran my fingers through his hair. I gently pushed back his eyelids to once again see his lovely baby blues. And I told his brother and sisters that Bennett was called Home. That is, to his Heavenly Home. And that - though at times we would feel him close - he wouldn't be living in our house anymore. That is one of the hardest things I have ever done. E V E R. No mother should ever have to have that conversation with her children.

After four beautiful hours together, the medical examiner arrived and I was told it was time to take Bennett away. I refused to put him in a body bag so instead I opted to wrap him in a beautiful white blanket and personally "tuck him in" the car. Fastening him on the gurney was one of the most surreal moments of my life. I experienced firsthand what it feels like to have your heart break. Literally. Break. As they closed the door, I stood outside the vehicle with my mother. My nose pressied against the glass as I took one last look at my boy. I couldn't get enough. I just needed more. More time, more kisses, more cuddles, more giggles. More bedtime stories, more holidays, more birthdays, more memories. Just. More.

I received a call from the mortuary Monday night notifying me that Bennett's body had been received. They needed time to prepare him to be seen. I don't know if I was prepared for the trauma of an autopsy. Even though I could feel no life in my child, no mother wants to see their child in that condition. That said, the Spirit fell on us and we were able to see him as our son. We held him, touched him, kissed him, dressed him and whispered sweet sentiments in his ear. I knew he heard every word because I knew he was with us. There is no where else he'd rather be.

In the next few days, we spent every moment possible at the mortuary. In fact, it was on the couch holding Bennett that David and I penned our joint funeral address. Our children LOVE story time - Bennett included - and so we decided to share our thoughts in the format of a story. I'm sure it was Bennett's idea. ;0)

During one of our visits at the mortuary, our tender mortician asked us if we would like Bennett to spend his last evening before burial in our home. We tearfully replied yes. We thought it would be a perfect opportunity for our little family to say our final "see you laters."

After our first viewing Thursday night (that was five hours long . . .), we retreated to our home and Bennett followed us shortly. With tender love, the funeral directors carried his little casket in our home and asked us where we wanted him to be. The Family Room, of course. For the next hour, we held him, caressed him, did our family cheer, had a family prayer and sang some of Bennett's favorite songs. While we did so, a gifted photographer that kindly offered her services to us captured every moment. During our time, Ashton (who had been quite reluctant to see his brother's body) took his car and kept driving it up and down Bennett's chest. "Wake up, Bennett! Wake up! Let's play cahs!" he kept saying. My heart smiled and broke all at once.

As time quickly passed, we soon realized that we had to get at least a few hours of sleep before the viewing and funeral the following day. And so we sang Bennett's song (a tradition every night before he went to bed), tucked him in, and even left a light on in the hallway for him. Just because. And I couldn't help but steal an extra kiss or two from my boy. Time was short. I knew it. And I had to take advantage of each moment.

I awoke hours later, unable to sleep. I snuck downstairs and picked up my boy, trying to take in every moment in the quiet hours of the morning. With the dawn would come new realities. Like burying my boy. While each moment spent with him confirmed that he was not with us, each second was a treasured gift. My heart took a picture. I knew it would not last forever. And I knew that I would look back on these moments for years to come, trying to remember every. little. detail.

How right I was.

Awhile later, David stumbled downstairs. He too wanted to share some quiet moments with our son. Within minutes, the girls joined us, each wanting to cuddle, hold and create "a moment" with their little brother. Their ease and affection amazed me. They loved him in death as they did in life. It was such a lesson to me. How blessed I am to be their Mother.

Around 7 or 8, the funeral directors arrived. When they walked in the home, we both knew that my time with Bennett's body was nearing an end. Though I could touch and caress him in his casket at his viewing, I knew my moments to hold him in my arms were over. I held him close one last time, cupped his fingers in my hand, kissed his sweet little face and whispered tender reassurances in his ear. And then I tucked him in and they took him away.

The viewing that morning was far different than the one the night before. The previous evening, I had our time with Bennett at home to look forward to. We were strong, we were comforted and we wanted to share our peace with others. But the morning of his burial, all I could feel was loss intermingled with heavy doses of God's love and peace. A chapter in our family book was closing. One that's story had just begun. And one I was not ready to finish.

After emotionally greeting many loved ones at the viewing, family and close friends gathered as the doors to the room closed. My Father offered a beautiful blessing on Bennett and on our family that gave me the strength I needed to do what was ahead. When his prayer was over, one by one, family members approached his casket to say their final goodbyes. Many members of my family had written love notes to Bennett that would surround him with love until we were reunited. I loved that.

And then it was our turn.

As I approached the casket, I longed to hold my baby again. In hindsight, I wish I had. That perhaps is my only regret. But instead, I caressed his hair, I covered his face with my tears and kisses and I even took off his socks to kiss his sweet "toesies" (something he loved) once more. David joined me and did the same. Together we stood, learning over the body of our son, holding each other up. We would make it through. We would tread this path together. And - with the Lord - we would do whatever was required to be together again. THAT was for certain.

And then, we closed the casket.

Why am I writing about this now? Because my arms have been aching - ACHING - to hold my little man this week. And though it would be ideal to hold him in life, I would even settle for holding him in death. Though not the same, it was so precious to be with him. To hold him, caress him and shower him with all the love and adoration we have for him. He was adored. And he knew it. And I pray that after looking down on how we continued to care for him after his passing, he knows that more than ever.

So for now, I reach my arms heavenward. Whenever they are feeling extra empty, I ask God to fill them with Love - His Love - for me. Sometimes that comes in holding one of Bennett's siblings. Sometimes that comes in holding another little child. And often it occurs in the form of putting my arms around another who is in need of peace, love and comfort.

Because as I help other's feel God's love and grace, I feel a little bit of Heaven in my home. In other words, I feel my Bennett. And I'm one step closer to being with him again.

And heaven knows there's no where else I'd rather be.


  1. Oh sweet Amanda, this was incredible to read. I have wondered about the events that transpired right after his death...and your wrote of it so tenderly beautifully.

    I know that you must ache more than I could ever comprehend. So with that knowledge, just know that I love you and think of you often. You are a tremendous example to me of faith and there is no doubt that you are helping many MANY women heal though this blog. And not only that, but you are giving a great gift to us who have not lost a child--the reminder to be grateful for every moment we have with our children in this life.

  2. Amanda, thank you so much for sharing such a personal experience! With tears flowing my heart aches for you! I can imagine myself standing by your side as you said your “see you later!” Not goodbye, but until we meet again!

    I hope my own children know of my love for them. The love of a mother who would give anything, change place with, anything for that of a child. I love you Amanda and honor you as a mother! Bennett will be blessed eternally! He too is waiting for the opportunity to be loved and caressed by his loving mother!

  3. Incredible experiences. Mandy, you are able to write through a special spirit. The feelings felt through your words are deep and meaningful. I still have Bennett's picture in my car and I look forward to seeing it daily. He is a special boy that looks over us and comforts us in our time of need. Sure love you.

  4. Thank you for sharing these sweet, sacred moments! How beautiful and yet heart-wrenching your final moments on earth with him were...How we admire your strength and how you have chosen to become because of your trials. Thank you over and over! Hope your heart is filled with His love today!
    Love Jenny B.

  5. Absolutely incredible. My heart is heavy, but filled with hope.

  6. Oh Amanda...my heart is literally aching for you and for me too. What an amazing blessing it must have been to have had that "extra" time with him after he returned home. We didn't stay long in the hospital after Jack left because they we agreed to donate his organs. But OH how I wish I had that extra time to love him. It all happens too fast and there is never enough time is there?! Your sweet sunshine boy, I'm sure tenderly watched as you cared for him, but from a much different prospective.

    Sometimes when I get to "aching" for my little Jack, and I almost feel like a weight is on me...is when I think Jack is closest. I miss him. I know you Miss your sunshine....he's close. I promise he's close and he loves you more than you can know. He misses you too and I bet his arms ache to be inside yours just as much as you long to hold him.

    Just know that you are in my heart and in my thoughts and prayers. What an amazing mom you are!

  7. Thank you so much for continuing to share these special, sacred moments and feelings with us. Reading your blog truly helps me feel closer to our Heavenly Father.

  8. Such tender and personal memories...thank you for sharing them.

  9. Oh, Mandy. I have no words. Only tears. The ache you must feel. I ache for you so often, and it is so very often that I think of you. What an amazing mother you are.

  10. mandy these words brought so many tears being there for some of this that you spoke of, its bringing back those ender memories. I still have those photos i have saved of you walking him the car and the driveways good byes... they are your when you are ready. until then i keep them safe....
    i love you. but even more i love your words. you are amazing.

  11. Oh Mandy...thank you for sharing your words. Thank you.

  12. Thank you for sharing such tender personal memories. I can't even begin to imagine what I would do in a situation like that. It is amazing that even under such trauma your mother heart still took over and allowed you to see past your own pain to find ways to help ease the blow to your other children. The thought breaks my heart for you and your family. Hugs and loves to you sweet friend.

  13. Oh Mandy...you write so beautifully...such tragic moments those were, and you looked for ways to soak up the few drops of good in the situation and (like Ashlee said in her comment) you & Dave helped your sweet children make it through it, together, as one loving family. I have no doubt that your Bennett boy has been so proud of his Mom through all of this. You're an example of staying strong and faithful during dark times the rest of us can only imagine going through. Love you sis.

  14. I can not begin to imagine the range and depth of emotions associated with this post and more importantly those moments. God bless you and you family. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Wow! What a beautiful post. I sat and cried through the whole thing. I didn't know they would let you take your child home with you like that. What an amazing thing for you and your sweet family to have that extra time. I wanted so badly to pick my sweet Hailey up from her casket. I guess I should have just done it. I hope that your aching arms are filled this week. --Melica (Hailey's mom)

  16. Amanda,
    I know as you wrote this your heart probably broke all over again. I know while reading your precious words mine did. I regret that I didn't get to hold Gabie in my arms after he passed. The last time I held him he was surrounded in cords and wires in the hospital. When they were done with the organ harvest they sent him straight to the coroner and then to the Mortuary. David (my husband is David too) and I did dress him and get him ready for the funeral services but because he was so stiff I didn't feel like I could really cuddle and love on him. I kissed his hands and cheeks and smoothed his hair but I never held him. I wish I had.. I'm so glad you had that wonderful opportunity. Thank you for sharing such sacred moments with us, your readers.
    Love Amy
    BTW I LOVED your Christmas card it is so perfect and so cheerful. Thank you for thinking of us.

  17. Tears running down my cheeks while reading this. Love to you and your sweet family Mandy, you are a blessing to so many!

  18. My heart was breaking for you and your little family while reading this entire post. You have such a way with words, and I appreciate your willingness to share Bennett and such tender moments with us all. You are constantly in my prayers.

  19. Thank you for sharing these touching and tender memories. I pray that Heavenly Father will continue to comfort you and your family in ways that surprise and strengthen you all.

  20. I am sitting here at work...half way through this post and I'm fighting back tears so hard that I can't continue reading right now. My heart breaks for you and I think about you every.single.day. I can't imagine the heartache that you did and are experiencing. It hurts me for you.

  21. This was so beautifully written. You are so talented with words, Amanda. I am grateful for your openness and sharing you so freely give us all.

    I can't pretend imagine what it must feel like to have your arms ache to hold and love on your child again. Reading your words always reminds me to be more present with my little guy and all those I love.

    I am impressed your mortician was so willing to let you spend so much time with Bennett. He must of been a tender man to know that your family needed that. Time is a gift, indeed.

  22. Oh Amanda, you have such a gift for painting a picture with your words, and I thank you for sharing such a sacred beautiful experience. I had to get up half way through reading this until the lump in my throat went away. These feelings of loss and longing are still so fresh to me... and it breaks me to imagine the ache that would come from it being your own child. I have learned so much from you, thank you sweet friend. I love you.


Thank you for being a part of my journey. I appreciate your supportive and healing comments. Here's to a Promise of Sunshine!