Landon’s Service

On Friday April 30th, we held a visitation and service to honor Landon’s life. We played songs that are a compilation from hand picked lyrics and music coworkers have given us over the years. Favorites include I Trust in You, by Lauren Daigle. The first time I heard that song I was driving on a trip and had to pull over to sob. Then spent the rest of the drive memorizing the lyrics and singing way too loudly. That one reaches me. Another favorite, very special to Karson was Brother Let Me Be Your Shelter.

We played photos and shared some special items that make us smile. It took hours to put the photos together, possibly because I couldn’t stop looking at them over and over. Nearly 8 years of memories. It was a healing process to look at the journey we’ve been on, and so special to see and stare at those two sweet faces together.

Ben Borsay spoke, highlighting scripture from Romans 8:28, as well as Psalms 23. He spoke of a risen savior, and that because Jesus is risen indeed, this life isn’t all there is, and I will someday hold and hear these sweet boys again.

I spoke, and said a tearful version of the following:

1 Corinthians 13 tells us that Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not envious, or boastful, or arrogant, or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

When I look back on the last 8 years, it would be easy to remember the pain, the sad, the hurt, the fear.  But I first and foremost remember the faith, the hope, and the love.  I think one key reason for this is Landon has lived his life as the epitome of Biblical love.  He has endured all manner of things, enabling us to believe in all things.  He was patient and kind.  He was a protective big brother to Nolan and in ways that are hard to explain to people who didn’t see it up close, he put Nolan’s needs first.  I watched his existence, his open acceptance, and his gentleness teach Isabella about the love of a caretaker, as one of her favorite things to do was to bring him stuffed animals and hold his hand.  She and Karson would climb in bed with him, and read books, sing songs, and tell him about their world.  When I stand up or am about to change tasks, I almost automatically say “I’ll go check on La La”, to which she replies, “me too”.  Isabella, you loved Landon perfectly.  I watched Landon teach Karson about putting others first, about the blessing of serving, but also about the blessing of being served as so many within our community, our village have looked out for Karson throughout this journey as well.  That has helped shape him in to the most compassionate, empathetic little boy I’ve ever known.  For nearly 8 years, Karson has given Landon unconditional love that couldn’t be returned in conventional ways.  Love that required him to give, wait, change plans, cancel his own, and give again of himself repeatedly and without expectation.  Karson, you loved Landon perfectly.

Landon taught me about Faith over fear, hope rather than resentment, and love above all else.  Landon loved perfectly. And he taught me to love him perfectly too.

I’m going to be really honest and tell you that I got stuck here when writing this and couldn’t come up with the right words for three days.  I kept thinking if I could figure out what my point was, what I wanted the message to be, I could figure out what to say next and how to tie it together.  But I couldn’t find the words.

I was hung up on the earthly ending, but the earthly ending of two children is an unbearable pain, for which there are no right words. 

But a heavenly beginning…I can find joy in that. I can find peace in that.  The idea of a heavenly beginning is what got me through the pregnancy, knowing that if they never made it to my arms, they would make it to God’s.  The idea of a heavenly beginning is what made the 3 and 7 years of life bearable, knowing that their pain would never be permanent, and that something better was ahead.  The idea of a heavenly beginning got us through Landon’s last night, because we all kept picturing Nolan greeting him with open arms.  The promise of a heavenly beginning will carry me through the rest of my life, because I know I will join them some day.

A heavenly beginning allowed me to live and mother, not out of fear, but out of faith, hope, and with a mission purely of love.

  • The kind of love that led 1,000’s of people over the years to ask about Landon and Nolan, ask how you can help, or pray for us, sending thoughtful notes, even gifts to a family many had never even met. 
  • The kind of love that led siblings to forego many of their own goals and needs understanding that sometimes, often, they couldn’t come first.
  • The kind of love that led a cousin, to sit out a trick or treat opportunity, so she could help Landon hand out candy instead.
  • The kind of love that led a retired nurse, at a day care, to quit her job and re-enter the nursing world and love two little boys beyond measure.
  • The kind of love that led coworkers to make cd’s, make t-shirts, crochet hats, host fundraisers in honor of birthdays, and pray for our babies as if they were their own.
  • The kind of love that enabled us to raise and donate over an estimated $25,000 over the years by selling those t-shirts, tacos and bracelets one at a time.
  • The kind of love that powered a mom through sleepless nights and impossible decisions.
  • The kind of love that made people show up to help that mom even when she didn’t know how to ask for it.
  • The kind of love that knew when to fight, and when to let go.
  • The kind of love that was patient and kind.  Did not insist on its own way.  Endured all things.  And will never end.

I prayed without ceasing nearly 8 years ago that these boys would receive a miracle.  That God would change the path, that God would take this away, and make everything good.  As I stand here today, I can finally tell you that while God did not take this suffering away in quite the way I had asked, He did miraculously change me.  I’ve been saved by His mercy and held in His Grace and lifted by His love.  And through your perfect, enduring love over the years, He showed me through you that the world still has so much good.

1 Corinthians 13 also tells us, these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

May the Lord Bless you and keep you. 

May the Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

As we hugged, and forced ourselves to walk out, we listened to Fires by Jordan St Cyr as well as We The Kingdom & Tasha Cobbs Leonard – Holy Water. If you’ve never heard them, please give them a listen. If you’re having a hard time or know someone who is, please give them a listen. If you’re on top of the world right now…even then, give them a listen.

We walked out for the balloon release, which considering the wind turned out beautifully. Hugging the kids, we enjoyed the beautiful blues, the comfort of being surrounded by friends and family, and Karson asked if we could go back in one more time, so of course we did.


Celebration of Landon

We’ve made progress on planning Landon’s service and celebration of life.

Coldren Crates (Findlay Ohio) will host the public viewing from 2:00-4:00 pm on Friday, April 30th. We will have a short service at 4:00. After the service, weather permitting, we will have a blue balloon release. An official obituary will likely be posted on Monday in Findlay, Somerset, and Romney newspapers. We understand many who would like to attend will simply not be able to, or are not comfortable traveling, and we completely respect that. If you are able to attend, masks are encouraged for those who can wear them.

We worked with Sink’s Flower Shop and Green House (Findlay Ohio) for his flower arrangements. That process today felt very easy, I already knew what I wanted, and we were helped by a very kind person who made the process simple.

The pastor will be Ben Borsay. Pastor Ben was there for us during the pregnancy, counseling us, introducing us to other special needs parents, and coming to the hospital for the birth and to visit the boys. It feels comforting to have him here with us for the end as well. We will meet with him on Monday.

We chose clothing today. My mom and Justin’s mom came with me as we went shopping for missing items for my whole crew, all focused around Landon’s outfit. Choosing from those too little suits that should be worn for parties, weddings, or Easter was hard. Landon will be so handsome though. It felt good to do a good job for him, and I think we got it right.

I’ve been asked about a balloon release. As mentioned above, we plan do to one (weather permitting) at the conclusion of the service for those in attendance. If we are unable due to weather, we will send balloons home with those who want to release later and take a photo. For those who cannot attend, please feel free to join us from your home in releasing a blue balloon, placing a blue rock, or planting a blue flower. Please send me a photo if you do (text, Two if by Faith Facebook page, My personal page, Facebook messenger if we are connected, etc). Karson and I looked at Nolan’s green balloon pics so many times, and I posted them publicly. It was amazing to see people from all over joining in a final special send off. I have a special plan for the photos we receive, and will share that with you once completed.

I plan to write for the service, and hope to be able to speak again as well. So far, I honestly have no words. I hope they come to me soon.

We worked on Landon’s room a little, I’m trying to make that a normal process that we (especially the kids) are comfortable with. We boxed up 5 boxes of medical supplies that we will donate to The Parker Lee Project. It’s an amazing charity that will help get these supplies in the hands of families that need them. It feels like a beautiful way to honor Landon as well. We’ve donated to them in the past, and I understand the benefit to the supply recipients. Until now I’m not sure I realized how much it helped the sending families as well.

I have also been asked about gifts. We plan to gather, add to, and donate monetary gifts to charities such as Make A Wish, and Awakening Minds Art. I’m hoping we may even be able to sponsor a wish. The funeral home will help administrate (links pending, bear with me) or if you want to work directly with Justin and I let me know. We will announce later what we were able to donate to the charities.

If there’s a question I’ve not answered, please let me know and I’ll provide updates. My mom/Karen and Dee Dee can also help.

We are holding up fairly well. I’m trying to make sure I don’t spend the entire day only focusing on what I need or what Landon’s planning requires. It would be much easier to crawl in a hole for the next week. Maybe I want that, I’m not sure. A couple of Kentucky cousins came up for the weekend to keep Karson company and that has been a perfect distraction. We had s’mores this evening, and at Karson’s request, we finally had that adult vs kids nerf war he’s been asking for for a couple of weeks. The adults dominated. But based on smiles it felt like everybody won.

Mom Alarms

The hours following Landon’s passing have been very difficult to say the least. After a very hard night, I napped briefly Friday morning, then woke early to ensure I could be there if Karson came looking. I have no idea what the right way to parent a 10 year old through their second sibling loss is…in fact that was awful just to type. But I wanted to make sure he saw me up, coping, and ready for the day. Even if my eyes were swollen and red. We’ve cried together, and when he wants to go to Landon’s room we do. We’ve also laughed together, and I remind him grief isn’t a straight line, or a recipe. It just is, and he can experience it however he needs to. I’ve been so proud of him.

I’ve been in a fog. Maybe I’m physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually tired. But I’m also feeling like a fish out of water. I’ve dedicated so much of who I am and how I live to making sure the twins, and then Landon, were properly cared for. How they were doing and what they needed drove my thoughts, my actions, my pulse.

I’m the caretaker. I’m the face cleaner and the hand holder. I’m the medicine doser and the treatment giver. I’m the night watcher, and the day monitor. My body wakes me up in the night if there’s a beep a cough or a cry. I can’t sleep past 6:00 because my body says “there’s someone waiting on you to start their day off clean, warm, and loved”. At 8:00 am and 8:00 pm my internal clock alarms that it is time for medicine. All day long my internal instincts alarm – “watch, be ready, take good care”. When I walk the hall I look in his room to instinctively check on him. When I stand I almost utter “I’ll go check on La La”. Then I remember he isn’t there.

I am about to start a journey to figure out who I am now. But even as I learn more, I already know I am a grieving mom, but also still a mom. I am still a caretaker. I’m the face cleaner and the hand holder. I am a grief counselor and a comfort giver. I am a well-being watcher and a laugh monitor. I am simultaneously the creator of fun, the master of memories and the wiper of tears. So much about dealing with this grief is bigger than me, and may become my most important mothering yet. All day long my internal instincts alarm – “watch, be ready, take good care”. And I will do my best.