It has been fifteen years since the Thanksgiving morning when I delivered my stillborn son, Matthew. 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 share this story every year on his birthday for two real reasons. One because I could never think of anything else to write about on November 22. That one day immeasurably changed me – my life, my priorities, my heart and my family. And two, because I hope above all hopes that my story and struggle can reach someone else when they find themselves in the depths of despair feeling like they may never again be normal or whole again.
When you lose a child I believe you stand at one of the greatest forks in the road. There are two paths and only you can choose the one you take. Your loss can become your crutch – your reason for why everything is so hard, so incomplete, so not how you imagined your life. Or your loss can become your light. Matthew changed me more than any one event in my entire life.
I let go of fear and worry (for the most part), and embraced love, patience and trust in God. I have 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.
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.
I always thought I’d have a big family, a bustling household full of love, chaos, laughter and disorder. For many years I entertained the thought of having another baby. Trying again. My head knew that I shouldn’t, with my blood clotting disorder, but my heart had other desires. I mentally came to terms with the fact this year that my family is complete. And I am SO blessed. I am closer to grands than to having more children of my own. It is often hard to reconcile the way you dreamed something would turn out with the way it actually did. Isn’t that the crux of so much heartache?
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. My precious son is in Heaven with Jesus, and that is a joy I don’t yet know. I am comforted by the promise that we will be reunited with Matthew in His presence. 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
join me as I travel, decorate, create & celebrate
Instagram | Pinterest
perfectly planned trips & our travel adventures
Book Now | Learn More
Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest
DIXIE DELIGHTS DELIVERED
16 thoughts on “Matthew”
After many miscarriages, I finally had a viable pregnancy but he was stillborn at 32 weeks. I had what would have been called a nervous breakdown in the old days. However, I did not want to live like that for the rest of my life. I became a teacher, figuring that if I couldn’t have children one way, I could have them in my life another way. I retired from teaching a couple of years ago; that career saved me, brought me joy and satisfaction, and gave me more kids than I can count. Life brings sorrow and heartache but it’s how we move forward that is important. Bless you.
Bless you for your love of teaching and your love for your students.❤️
Your story about Matthew comforted a dear friend who had a stillborn beautiful baby girl at the height of COVID, in labor alone. It was hard to see how she could ever move forward, but every year, you seem to have walked through your grief a little taller, and sharing your story brings a bit of grace to others. My friend ended up having surprise twin girls the following year!
Blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving!
Beautifully written as always. Happy Birthday, Matthew <3
I always think of you about this time. Your story is great reminder to us all to cherish the best life has to offer. Bless you.
I had a miscarriage with my first pregnancy and then Blessed with 3 amazing children. Raising them has been the most wonderful experience of my life. In January my oldest son went to be with Jesus due to a rapid lung infection that took him in just a few days. I am so sorry you lost Matthew, that is a heartbreak that only a mom knows. My thoughts, prayers and love for you on this day.
Love and hugs Marty <3
I knew your story of Matthew & saw how you handled it with so much love, strength, & hope before I experienced my own life changing loss. I truly understand your written words above, you have been such a bright light. For years, you have inspired me to celebrate with my girls. Everyday truly is a gift and you live that, I really admire it. Thinking of you today, you are a blessing to so many XOXO
Dearest friend, you are a beautiful person. Thank you for sharing your Matthew – your life is a beautiful testament to him. ❤️ xo
You’re in my thoughts at this time every year. And each year as I read your beautifully written words, my eyes fill with tears. The way you’ve chosen to live your life is truly an inspiration. A great reminder for us all. Sending hugs to you and your family.
I read your post every year about Matthew but this year it is such a perfect description of how I’ve felt for 40 years after the stillbirth of my baby, Elizabeth. The fork in the road is an apt description of how I managed my grief. After all these years, I still feel that loneliness in my grief. I am the only one who remembers her birthdate. I find comfort in my belief that I will see her again one day in heaven. My dad and FIL both spoke of seeing her in the hours before their deaths. Five years later, I had a son and now have a young granddaughter and grandson. I love them both dearly.
Thank you for the reminder to love our children through all the highs and lows of parenting. You’re right, the time flies by too quickly. Thank you for sharing Matthew’s story.
May God bless you and your family this weekend and may Matthew’s tree and lights shine brightly upon your warm home and hearts. ✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨😇✨😇✨😇✨😇✨😇 ✨ Jane ~ San Diego
Every year I read this and cry my heart out. I held my stillborn grandson with the gorgeous red hair…Adam. You are so sweet and your words mean much to many.
Thinking of Adam today <3
Always think of you and remember your Matthew at this time of year-especially when some criticize the “early” holiday decorations of others! You are celebrating his birthday in such a sacred way each year when you do this!