Today our son would’ve been 11 months old. Did I really read the calendar correctly? Are we really just one month from celebrating his Heavenly birthday? His day is so vividly imprinted in my memory and on my heart that most mornings it feels as if it was yesterday that I was holding him. I’ve lost a lot of the sensory memories from that day... I don’t remember what he smelled like or what his skin felt like. I don’t really remember what he looked like. I remember seeing so much of his daddy in his face and I remember his little ear folds perfectly, but beyond the details, the big picture is fuzzy; except that it feels like yesterday. Every day, no matter what, my arms remember holding him. My heart bursts with the overwhelming love I had and have for him. I remember the sound of his heartbeat and those little coughs as he was slowing down and taking his last breaths.

It was less than 4 hours from the time the dr told us there was nothing more they could do for him and when we kissed him for the last time. His whole 16 hours is a whirlwind of doctors and nurses and updates.... but those last 4 hours were gut wrenching and hard. They were filled with tears and this sense that I was outside my body looking in. Wondering how we got here. Begging God to prove the doctors wrong and let this little boy live. Why did God give us this fighter only to have to say goodbye? I remember calling my dad to let him know it was time to bring Audrey Nole to meet her brother. Something we had hoped wouldn’t happen for nearly 4 months. From the moment he was born, we had hope and all the adrenaline that goes with hope. But when we made that walk into the NICUs private room, the hope was gone; or at least changed. We were no longer hopeful that our son would survive, but instead filled with the hope that comes with knowing Jesus and what would come next for our precious baby boy.

I don’t particularly look forward to these 10th days of each month,  but once I get through them and look back, I’m so thankful for the (somewhat forced) opportunity to intentionally remember our son. To relish the few memories we have of and with him. To be grateful for the time we had with him. To be honored by the gift of being his parents. And more deeply examine the details of his day in a way that I can write them down. It’s usually through tears, of joy and of pain, but he is worth every tear I’ve shed and every tear I will ever shed. He is worth all of the pain because the joy he brings to our family is so much greater than the sorrow that followed his death.

This week last year, we were anxiously awaiting our son’s arrival. He had defied so many odds and though his prognosis was grim, he was alive and well in my womb. He wasn’t supposed to live, but he did, and that was such an incredible gift. When I was looking back at my journal from this time a year ago, I was clinging to the words from Psalm 139. They were fitting then and they are fitting now.

George Mason, God knew you before you were even the faintest idea in my heart. He formed you perfectly and intentionally. You were made in His image to carry out His work. As hard as it is for your daddy and me to have said goodbye so soon after we met you, it’s wonderful to know you are God’s child and that He entrusted you to us for the 9 or so months that He did. Your heavenly birthday is going to be hard for Daddy and me. But son, I’m going to spend the next month imagining what the celebration in heaven is going to look like. Because I imagine things like that are pretty wonderful.

"For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them." Psalm 139: 13-16