Thursday, April 28, 2016

HOPE. It's a four letter word with which I constantly struggle. I want to hope for a future filled with joy and peace and I know God will provide it to me but whenever I start to rely on His promises, doubt seems to creep into my mind. Why did God let my son die from SIDS? Why did God move me home just to have my dad die only months later? When I find myself in a place where I doubt the hope He provides, I turn to this scripture, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)

FIRM. I am told so clearly by His very Word that my hope doesn't rest in what has happened to me but in what He promises to give me. I am a child of God. Chosen, set apart. He is resolute in His choice to adopt me. It's irrevocable and my name has been written in the Book of Life.

SECURE. I have hope I will live on forever and one day be reunited with all my loved ones. I need to remind myself that this world is only temporary and that in the grand scheme of things, its just a fraction of eternity. When I am reunited with my son and my dad, what a glorious reunion that will be.

Another translation, "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast." (NAS)

SURE. God is unhesitating, unshakable, definite.When I start to get pulled down by my doubts, I need to remember God is certain to fulfill what He has said.

STEADFAST. He is loyal, faithful, dependable, constant and true. He is unwavering in his devotion. He will never leave me or forsake me. He is tireless in his pursuit of me.

Another translation, "Hope's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God." Hebrews 6:19 (MSG) 

UNBREAKABLE. God's love is long-lasting and indestructible. He has seen me through all my trials. I am never alone because God Almighty who was, and is, and is to come is always by my side. He never lets me down, He never abandons me, He never fails.

LIFELINE. When I feel like I am alone, God is always with me and he surrounds me with His presence. God is my constant connection to my son. My son was not taken from me, he was just allowed to skip to the head of the line. The hard part is being stuck at the back of the line, waiting without him.

By praying, reading His Word and worshipping, I will not sink. He will keep me in safe harbor as long as I trust in Him and allow His hope to be my anchor.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

My interview with ABC News

Mom of Child Who Died from SIDS Pens Blog to New Baby
Mar 24, 2016, 5:09 PM ET

In a moving blog post, Jenna Brandt addressed her now 9-month-old daughter on the same day her son passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) two years ago.
"Nicole: today you are 8 months, 26 days old - the same age your brother, Dylan, was when he passed away from SIDS," she wrote. "He never reached 9 months old, so I pray and hope you will make it past this day.”

In her post, the Bakersfield, California mom opened up about her fears of losing her daughter just like her son.

"Sometimes, I am consumed by my fear that lightning can strike twice. I watch you sleep and touch your arm just to see you move to prove to me that you're still breathing," Brandt wrote. "I want to live free from the burden of fear, but losing Dylan was the worst moment of my life and I can't fathom going through it again if something should ever happen to you."

SIDS affects 3,500 children in the U.S. yearly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. SIDS is often the result of health issues that affect infants while they sleep or conditions around their sleeping area, such as soft bedding, pillows, objects or becoming entangled in cribs.

But the deaths are often listed as unexplained. Such was the case for Brandt's son.

The mother told ABC News she was "naive" about the ordeal.

"You think, 'Oh, that's not going to happen to me.' You hear these stories of people who've lost children and you think, 'That won't be me,'" Brandt said. "But now I'm very aware that you can lose a child.”

“It literally is the worst feeling in the world," she added.

Brandt said she found comfort in the positive reactions to her post, which have been read by thousands of people.

"I had such a huge response [from] it," she said. "No one talks about infant loss. They're afraid people are going to be uncomfortable.”

Since losing her son two years ago, the mother of three daughters said she's changed how she parents. Although her son Dylan didn't die because of his crib conditions like most SIDS deaths, Brandt still said she now uses a sleep monitor for her daughter and has removed toys and blankets from Nicole's crib. Instead, she dresses her in a wearable sleeping blanket.

"It's just changed my perspective," Brandt continued. "It sounds so cliche, but I take in every moment more and I look at it like this could be my last moment with them."

She said that even in moments of frustration, she stops to think. “I say, 'But what if it's the last thing I say to them? I want it to be, "I love you, have a good day.'"

Brandt credits her faith and counseling with helping her to overcome her fear while parenting her newborn daughter. She and her husband decided to have another child through in-vitro fertilization, but she says it wasn't because she was trying to replace Dylan.

"I always say she didn't erase the pain, but she helped ease it. When I look at her and she smiles and she giggles and I'm playing with her, it makes me happy," Brandt explained.

"I'll be honest, there's always a twinge like, 'Oh now she's doing things he didn't do,'" she added. "It sounds funny, but holding her and focusing on her, it really helps ease the loss of him."

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Just Beyond the Horizon

Dylan & me at Newport Beach 8-8-13
I feel the ocean breeze, ever-so-gently blowing my hair across my shoulders and cheek. I am amazed at how much peace and tranquility the beach has always provided me. An oasis when my life is in crisis, a refuge from the world that so often has brought me pain. You, my son, were my greatest surprise and my greatest loss. I find it profound that one little soul could hold so much influence but you changed everything for me. You were the perfect little boy I had always dreamed of but thought I would never have. When I looked into your eyes, nothing else mattered. God blessed me with you and I couldn't imagine my life without you. And then you were gone in a blink of an eye. One moment here and the next, you slipped away like the waves fall back into the ocean. It was so quick, so brutal and so final.

As I am looking out at the ocean and thinking of you, my third born and only son, I realize you would have loved it here. Even though you did get to visit the ocean one time before you departed this world, being only two-months-old, you never got to experience it the way a child should. You never felt the rush of having the waves crash into you or the salt water engulf you in a sea of foam. You never got to feel the soft sand tickle your feet as you dug your toes into it or feel the warmth of the sun dry your wet skin.

I watch your sisters and cousins play in the ocean and I think of how you are missing. No playmate for my nephew who is now the only boy in our family. No little duck tagging along after them, trying to keep up with the "big" kids. Like every other moment of every day, you are gone. Absent in a way that I have accepted but will never be accustom to. I can't escape the feeling that every moment is lacking you.

In the moment, the moment I knew you were gone and I would never see you again on this earth, I changed, morphed into someone else. In some ways, a fraction of the person I used to be but in others, I have grown in ways I never thought possible. Most of the time, I'm good at hiding my pain but there are the rare occasions that I am awkward, that my words come out odd or I answer with tears. I accept my new me and hope others can do the same. I have become acclimatized to the world I live in and the person I have become, a mother to a child that has died. I can say it a thousand times and I can write it a thousand more but it will never become easy. There is nothing easy about losing you.

The ocean is vast. As I look out over the water, as far as the eye can see, there is just endless blue. I find it comforting that even though we are farther than even oceans apart, that there is something out past the horizon. I may not see them but there are others past the deep far-reaching sea. I can't see anyone right now but someone is just beyond. It makes me think of how earth and heaven might be. I can't see heaven right now but it doesn't mean you're not there waiting for me, just past where I can't see, just past the horizon.