This post first appeared on my friend Anjanette’s blog. She offered to allow me to post our story since I wasn’t sure whether or not I would want to blog about our life. I have actually found writing to be extremely cathartic, so I have decided to write about the realizations I have had as I travel this path through my grief and sorrow.
Two weeks ago my dear friend Tiffany watched the life unexpectedly leave her little baby boy’s body. He was only six weeks old. I cannot imagine the pain of saying goodbye to a child, and I know there is nothing that any of us can do to make up for such a loss. However, as she grieves, Tiffany has been sharing her story and her memories with others. Her love and her testimony of God’s love is a blessing to everyone around her. I have offered to give her this space today to publicly share about the life and death of her little Silas someplace that is easily accessible to all.
You may leave comments here for her to read as a show of support, or you can contact her through the Facebook page Blessed by Silas Winston Rondomanski. The rest of the words and photos in this post belong to Tiffany…
Mommy’s Memories of Silas
I am copying and pasting what my friend wrote to explain the circumstances of Silas’ journey to heaven. I just can’t go back there right now…
Silas was seen at the pediatrician late in the afternoon on August 8th for a follow up on his reflux medication. He cried on the drive to the office, but settled as Tiffany held him in the office. He was examined by the doctor and seemed fine. Afterward, he began to cry, as though in pain, and when Tiffany attempted to nurse him, he was oddly limp and cold. She immediately got the doctor, who is an ER doctor from Children’s Mercy. She, and then the Lee’s Summit paramedics and Children’s Mercy transport team, tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate him for approximately 45 minutes. Everything humanly possible was done to save him, but it just couldn’t be done. An autopsy will be done to try to determine what happened exactly. Tiffany said visitors are welcome at their home. They are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and so appreciative of all the support they’ve received.
My First Facebook post…two days afterward:
Lying here on the couch, I start to relax … And then I remember someone is missing. My hands raise to my chest and cradle my baby who’s no longer here. I imagine him snuggled on my chest, his head with silky hair pressed against my cheek, the rise and fall of his back and his breath on my shoulder as I hold him close to me. Silent tears fall endlessly. My husband comforts me and I imagine that together we are holding him. But it’s been two days since my arms have been left empty. Two days since my heart broke into a million pieces. Two days since my baby left my arms and went to Jesus’. How long will I imagine what might’ve been? I never want the memory of what was to fade, but it is agonizing to remember so vividly.
Our journey to Build-A-Bear Workshop
Christopher, Lily, Milo and I made Silas’ heartbeat bear at BABW. We each kissed a heart to place inside. The heart on the outside of the bear is for Silas. Notice the stitches because it is patched on… We chose this bear because Silas’ heart valves were donated to help a little sweet baby in need so another mother will have joy.
When we went to purchase “Winston” the employees handed me a sack with his certificate and told me I didn’t need to do any more and it was taken care of. Tears fell as I thanked them. I looked back to thank them again and saw tears falling with mine. Love is finding us in all places.
What I failed to convey in my Facebook post was that this bear we set out to make was Silas’ heartbeat bear because with each pregnancy I purchased a recordable sound chip and recorded my babies’ heartbeats at my OB appointments. Silas’ bear has his heartbeat inside its paw.
When we went into the store, I looked at the bears and chose this one. I walked through the store looking for clothes, but none seemed to fit. I was trying to decide if we should put four hearts in the bear, one from each of us, or put five in to include Silas. As I was pondering and gazing at the bear, I noticed the heart and the stitches for the patch. I asked my husband if we could dedicate that heart as Silas’ because of his heart valve donation. Christopher agreed. The heart valve donation means so much to us, but especially to him.
We were contacted regarding the donation at six in the morning the day after we had lost our beloved son. We weren’t sleeping anyway. I was taken aback. I didn’t expect a phone call like that at all. When asked, I hesitated because he was my baby, but I remembered the peace God had given me and the confirmation I had felt that my baby was truly gone. I looked at my husband, saw the slight nod of his head and said yes. The contact on the phone was surprised by our quick agreement and thanked us for the gift. We continued with the formalities and that afternoon I went to the hospital to have my blood drawn as necessitated by the donation procedure. The lab technicians were very sympathetic. I cried. I told my husband it would’ve been easier to donate his organs or have him donate mine.
I was so surprised by the comments we received regarding our donation and the BABW story. I was unaware my friend’s son has had several donated valves in his short lifetime. I was unaware my other friend’s son had a heart valve defect. I had no idea people I care for had benefited from the choices other mothers and fathers before us had made.
The support of friends and family has meant so much to me during this time. My friends have let me cry as they held me and wept with me. They have listened to my ramblings and memories of Silas. Without them, I couldn’t have talked through these sacred moments and discovered the blessings God had given us. He protected us. We weren’t supposed to be at the doctor’s office that day. We were supposed to schedule the appointment the next day, but it was busy and I asked to come in a day sooner. Every day I realized how much worse things could’ve been if we’d been at home, at the zoo, or in the car. God protected us by sending us to the doctor’s office so we could have the blessed assurance that everything possible had been done to save Silas’ life. I truly know he was called home by God.
I began to desire to share these blessings with friends and family who would gather with us as we said our final goodbyes to our son. I didn’t think I could stand and speak in my emotional state. I wrote out the words for someone else to share. But, I wanted to convey the love I had for Silas. It’s amazing how much courage a mother can muster when it is for her child. I realized that I loved sharing the story of Silas because it allowed me to relive the blessing that he was and is. I was terrified of the day of the service. I was scared it would reopen the wounds God had been healing during the week.I posted on Facebook “Tomorrow will surely be the second worst day of my life. Saying goodbye a second time will shatter my heart. The finality of it all is devastating. But, I know he is at peace, and I want to share how much he blessed our lives.”
The morning of his service I posted on Facebook, ”I lay awake in bed this morning, not yet ready to get up. I remembered the feeling of morning with my baby here beside me and how I couldn’t tear myself away from gazing at his peaceful sleeping face. And then I thanked God for the sweet memory.”
It is not word for word since I was able to speak from my heart, but this is what I shared at his service:
I never knew how peace could exist in situations like this…but now I do.
Three words have come to mind when I think of Silas. Blessing, gratefulness, and peace. Our story of Silas begins long before he was born. It is a journey of storms and the peace afterward.
I remember thinking often of a scripture a friend had shared after the birth of her third son.
1 Samuel 1:27: I prayed for this child, and The Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.
I prayed 10 months before we found out our family would grow to a family of five. Those months were filled with doubts I continuously had to hand back to The Lord. Joy filled my life when I found out about Sy. But, then the storms that had previously happened in my life brought fears and doubts. I was afraid I would miscarry again like I had the year before. Then I was blessed with the feeling of peace and the thought that I should enjoy every moment with this little life. I was reminded that if anything should happen, I would need the support of my friends and family and felt I should share the excitement of the news with our close friends and family. So, we told a handful of people and enjoyed our baby.
The second trimester came. More peace settled on my heart. We found out he was a boy. The next storm came in the form of gestational diabetes. I feared for his safety during the pregnancy and delivery, but God gave me peace. He let me feel that everything was progressing as it should, and it was.
Silas was born three days before his due day which was two days before the scheduled induction necessitated by my gestational diabetes. Looking back, I think he was eager to meet us and I am grateful for that extra time with him. He was 6 pounds, 14 ounces, and 19 inches. He was only one ounce bigger than his brother had been and I knew the peace God had given me when I had felt the pregnancy was progressing normally had been real.
When he was seven hours old, the next storm came. He was taken to the NICU because his oxygen levels were low and he was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. We went to see him in the NICU, and he was responding well so the fear was replaced with peace. I told my friends he was so “zen” lying there, but now I realize he was peaceful, and his peace brought me peace. After his administration, a special prayer, he began eating again and I relished holding him and loving on him and gazing into his eyes. I enjoyed every moment with him. When the nurses offered to feed him for me, I said no-I knew what I was signing up for and I want to feed him every time. I needed him as much as he needed me. I would take some extra time during those feedings to hold him out in front of me and tell him he was just so tiny…and the NICU nurses would look and him and say, you’re so BIG!!!
There was no adjustment period when Silas joined our family. He fit perfectly in our family, our home, and our hearts. It was as if Milo walked through a magic mirror when he approached Silas because his movements changed from rough and tough to tender as he approached Silas. Lily would hold him and touch his ears, his tiny feet, his tiny hands, and I could see the awe and wonder on her face.
I held no expectations of what life would be like with him. I just felt love. When you have your first child, that child takes up your whole heart. You wonder how you can divide that love when the second comes along, but there is no division…your heart grows. You just know that your third will fill your heart with so much love it will grow again…it was a love overflowing. Because I held no expectations, I honestly feel that he brought the truest, purest, love I have ever felt in my life. He was so easy to love.
He and I weren’t learning the dynamic of the parent/child relationship together…we just knew each other. My amazing love for my first two children taught me so much that I was able to relax and enjoy what I was given with Silas. I spent my time with him trying to soak up every precious moment before it could change. I would look at his beautiful face and see the subtle changes of his growth and tell him “You’re growing up too fast. You’re breaking Momma’s heart!” I never wished away a single moment. Not a single diaper change–or a diaper change immediately following the first. I can look back on my time with him with absolutely no regrets. I enjoyed every moment with him. I would hold him out in front of me and look at his face and tell him, “You are Just.So.Precious.” I would stare deep into his eyes and wonder if he could see how deeply I loved him.
On the day my baby went to heaven, fear gripped my soul like never before. I was overcome with grief. Devastation filled my soul. I felt like my heart and soul were being torn from my body. I wailed for my baby. The only thing that can almost compare in intensity is natural childbirth, but this was emotional pain, not physical. My husband tells me that from the moment they told me his heart had stopped beating, I never stopped crying for “my baby, my baby, my baby.” Oh, how it hurt. So badly. But, as I held him, my heart longed for my last moment with my baby to be filled with peace…just as our relationship had begun. Our relationship revolved around my desire to calm him when he was sad, and I couldn’t leave him with the pain and anguish I was feeling. The Lord let me know and understand that he wasn’t there and that he was at peace. Grief and sorrow remained, but there was peace.
In my reflections, I can see how God gave me peace so I could truly enjoy every single moment with my baby, and I am grateful.
Silas was a blessing to love.
My friend shared a song with me that touched my heart and I could see the hand of God in the path of my life with Silas.
O Father, You have given
much more than I deserve
And I have felt your hand of blessing
on me at every turn.
How could I doubt your goodness
Your wisdom, Your grace
Oh Lord hear my heart in this painful place.
What did I do to deserve such a precious baby? He blessed my life and the life of his father. He blessed the life of his sister. His blessed the life of his brother. He was a blessing to everyone.
All this grief, all this pain, all this sorrow…it was worth it just to have the memory of looking into his eyes and pouring my love into them…and seeing him look back at me so intently, and I KNEW he loved me, too.
After my reflections, Mandisa’s Broken Hallelujah was played.
The songs that we played at his visitation were:
Love has a Hold on Me by Amy Grant
In My Arms by Plumb
Anyway by Martina McBride
Godspeed (Sweet Dreams) by Dixie Chicks
Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) by Billy Joel
Smile by Nat King Cole
Over the Rainbow by Eva Cassidy
Moon River by Audrey Hepburn
Hourglass by Mindy Gledhill
This Little Light of Mine by Addison Road
Lullaby by Dixie Chicks
I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe
(They Long to Be) Close to You by The Carpenters (I sang this song to him often, and on the day he died.)
Beautiful Things by Gungor
Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus) by Chris Rice
Love Never Fails by Brandon Heath
The songs we used in the service were:
Piano arrangement of Jesus Loves Me (I played this for my children often. I didn’t get to play it for Silas in person, but I did while he was in utero.)
I Will Carry You (Audrey’s Song) by Selah
Return to Pooh Corner by Kenny Loggins (Christopher was named Christopher Robin because of this song and wanted it played for Silas.)
Broken Hallelujah by Mandisa
Wonderfully Made by Scripture Lullabies (Photo video)
August 19…early am hours, the funeral was complete, I began to feel that the memory of Silas could start slipping away…
“As time passes, please don’t be afraid to talk to me about Silas. When I talk about him, I relive the love. Don’t worry if I cry; tears help wash away some of the sorrow and make it more bearable. Your friendships, old and new, are a blessing to me and always will be.”
That night I couldn’t sleep. I felt such despair. I was about to head back down the dark hole that was my life those first two days. I was ready to fall down that hole and wallow in my misery, but something was holding me back, leaving me teetering on the edge. I plugged in my headphones and listened to Natalie Grant’s “Held” so loudly and realized that God was keeping me from falling into that devastation. I fell back into His arms and accepted the comfort and rest He was offering. I felt led to share my feelings with my friends on Facebook. Yes, I know I’m addicted. It is healing during this time. It is my therapy…and cheaper than paying for it! 😉
“Nights are sleepless. Mornings are painful when I realize my reality. Just when I was on the brink of falling into overwhelming despair, I felt rescued from the cliff and knew I was being held.”
My journey through my grief is ongoing…I don’t know what will happen next. I just know that sharing my feelings helps. Friends help. God helps.