Matthew

November 22 in 2007 was Thanksgiving day. It was also the day I gave birth to my precious, angel, stillborn son Matthew. It was a long and sorrowful labor lasting about eighteen hours in total. He was the tiniest baby I’d ever seen, and also the most perfect. I treasure the few hours I had to hold him, and used every second of that time to memorize his face, hold his little hand in mine, and marvel and the perfect son we would never grow to know. Those couple of hours had to be enough to last a lifetime.

I came home from the hospital broken, physically and mentally. I vividly remember walking in the door of our home to find my parents and sister there. Mother had been cooking, John was waiting at the door with “aunchie” in his little turkey john john, knee socks and bucks, and Daddy-O was holding down his spot on the sofa. The house was fully decorated for Christmas, the trees twinkling and music playing, and it was one bright shining light in what felt like an abyss of darkness and loss. Every year since then, I decorate early and then I light up all of the trees in the wee hours of his birthday morning. Now that the boys are grown and sleep in, I do this alone. It is peaceful and poignant.

Losing Matthew was the impetus for a tremendous change in the way I lived my life and the way I parent my boys. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t let Matthew’s death define me in a sorrowful, woeful way. Instead, I let go of fear and worry (for the most part), and embraced love, patience and trust in God. I had the very real knowledge that tomorrow is not guaranteed, and that even with healthy children we really have such a short time with them. We celebrate everything. We prioritize family. We say “yes” as often as we can. We go and do and see and smell and try and learn and taste and experience. We are thankful for every day we get.

For many years after his birth, I could hardly function on Thanksgiving. Time does heal all wounds. Today, on Matthew’s birthday, I spent the afternoon preparing for a SURPRISE “sweet” sixteen for John this evening. When coordinating this with John’s friends, I had to blink a few times before I read his bestie’s text “the best day for everyone is Nov 22.” I wanted to say, “that’s the worst day for me,” but I took a deep breath and typed through welling tears “That will be an amazing day to celebrate John!” I have never doubted the timing of Matthew’s birthday and I marvel at the fact that John’s birthday falls just four short days later. For fourteen years now, my pendulum swings from the pits of despair at losing one son, to the pure joy of celebrating his brother in a matter of days (and sometimes minutes). God’s plan is the perfect plan.

Little Matthew lived a very short life, but it was one filled wholly with love, joy, wonder and adoration.  He never hurt, never wanted, never knew meanness or anger.  Just love.  And that’s exactly how I remember his life cut short.  With love. Until we meet again, I will spend my time trying to fill the days of the two boys I was able to bring home with joy, laughter and unconditional love.

Thank you, friends, for coming here to offer your love and support each and every year. I will reserve November 22 to remember Matthew for as long as I write this blog. When you lose a child that only you knew, the feeling of loneliness can be consuming. Having all of you remember him too is an extraordinary feeling. <3

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26 thoughts on “Matthew

  1. Sending you hugs on this day. The way you parent and live your life is an inspiration. And wishing a Happy Birthday to John!
    xo
    Shelley

  2. This post makes me cry every year; I pray every year on this day for you and your family. Hugs to you, Amanda, and thank you for trusting us all with your story ❤️

  3. I always remember Matthew on this day because it’s the day before my birthday. My heart hurts for you because I too, know that pain. You’re a great mom and I know Matthew would be proud to call you Mom <3

  4. This is a beautiful tribute to your son. I love your tradition of turning on the Christmas lights for him. May you be blessed abundantly for opening your heart and sharing your story.
    ~Kandace

  5. How beautiful that you get to plan a celebration of John on Matthew’s birth day. It’s almost like a gift from one son to another. I marvel at your openness to share such deeply personal details with strangers, I just know you are helping someone feel a glimmer of hope that they will smile again. Hugs!

  6. Amanda, I have been a blog reader for many years now and have always found your post about your sweet Matthew to be the most beautiful. The way you have looked toward the light coming out of the darkness inspired me after losing my sweet Ronnie. When you know first hand no tomorrow is guaranteed, it does change the way you live and love, but in a good way XOXO. Celebrate big, try new things, say yes again, rebuild and remain thankful for all the great things God gives us. Happy Thanksgiving to your family!! XOXO

  7. Sending much joy and thanks, as this post is a reminder to love deeply and appreciate the time we have with our loved ones. Much needed today and always.

  8. I cry each year when I read this too. You are a wonderful mother. I also held my stillborn grandson Adam a few years ago. How I wish I had known him. Peace to you. Hug.

  9. Thank you for sharing your heart! The way you chose to look at life in the most positive light after your darkest moment is so encouraging! Blessings to you all.

  10. Thank you telling and sharing your story about your precious angel Matthew each year. I pray it will help other Moms who have experienced the same sadness of losing a child. This happened in my own family this year. My husbands nephew and wife were expecting their first child to be born right around Christmas. They lost their precious little girl at 6 months due to a condition called Hy-Drops. I had never heard of it before but basically its a overaccumulation of fluid in the lungs and other organs. I think by celebrating Johns sweet 16 on Matthews birthday it honors them both. Blessings to you and your family on Thanksgiving.

  11. What a beautiful tribute. I love the thought that you used his brief life here on earth as your inspiration for how you parent . ❤️

  12. I have been reading your blog (and love it!) since Whit was around 2 (and they were the “littles”) so have read this story each and every year and I continue to get tears in my eyes every time. Peace to you and yours.

  13. oh Amanda! every year you write this post I cry. you have such a beautiful way with words. I am sending you sooo much love and hugs right now. I’ve been a follower for years and the way you make things so special has inspired me. you are an amazing mom and he is your guardian angel <3

  14. Every year your reflections on losing Matthew touches me. How blessed you are to see the light through the darkness and to fully grasp the preciousness of life. I love that you continue to honour Matthew’s memory, as we all honour those who have gone before us. May this Thanksgiving fill you with peace, love, light and laughter. xoxo

  15. Sending warm hugs and many prayers to you, Amanda. I always think of you when I light one of my little trees. Have a sweet time with your family this weekend, with Matthew watching over all of you and filling in the spaces with pure love and joy. May God bless you always. You are a very brave, giving and special person. ❤️ Jane ~ San Diego 💫😇💫

  16. I bet there are many moms or want-to-be-a-moms out there who read your post and are feeling a little less lonely or anxious after reading it. I don’t have any children and have never lost a baby, but I can only imagine how devastating it must feel. For those who are facing fertility problems or loss of a child, your post also illustrates that faith in God and knowing His plan for each of us is all part of His great love for us…even when we can’t possibly understand why. God bless your family Amanda.

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