When the answer is no

He was described as smartly dressed, slumped over on the lawn Tuesday morning, November 6th.

Don’t look at him.

His body broken and lifeless.  Quick!  Grab the familiar couch blanket, wrap it around him, and carry him home.

Don’t look at him.

Hours before, he was locked in his office building.  Leaving his last earthly fingerprints, washing dozens of coffee  mugs and spelling out L-O-V-E with them in the break room.

And in an instance, that Monday night, his body slammed into the stone building, meeting the cold hard ground.   The grass grasped under his hands as he crawled while his heart poured out into his chest.  His injuries taking him quickly.  And his body lay broken on that grassy rooftop.

Don’t look at him.  Bring him home.  He is our brother.  He is their son.  Wanted and loved.  Adored and cherished.  Don’t look at his lifelessness.

On November 28th the father buried the son.  The mother planted beautiful flowers.  His name is on a plaque.  His name.  How can this be?

One more hug.  One more embrace.  One more chance to carry him home.  One more anything involving light in his eyes.  And the answer is no.

His kind face at the memorial service on December 15th, staring from a picture right into your eyes.  The smile lines, the warmth, the intentionality.  And the ache to hold his face and kiss his cheeks.  Feel his shoulders and see his eyes.

The ache is so painful.  To grasp and know, the answer is no.  No where in the world are those cheeks, those eyes.  Gone.  And the answer wells up like shards of glass.

We turn our eyes to the heavens, they have fresh meaning today.  He is there.  He is whole and complete now.  All he ever wanted to be and more.  And the weeping grows deeper.

Jesus, you knew.  You knew 32 years would be whole and complete.  You knew this father would bury this son.  You knew those moments when the grass was grasped under his hands.  You were there.  You saw.  You knew.

And yet You weep with us.  This affliction.  This fallen-ness.  This utter separation.  You know and You knew.

This earth holds a new dead-end.  He is no longer in Edinburgh.  The option for embrace cut short.  But not to you oh Lord.  And as my voice cracks to utter praises, the praises of my soul, he feels none of that.  The chains are broken.  He is free.  His praises to You flow out of reflex and desire.

My longing for that time of desire to praise you is cut open, exposed and bleeding on that grassy patch in Edinburgh.  In the answer of “no” you call home your beloved to an everlasting yes.  And we are taught to mourn as we struggle to emulate the creator.

We fall with him.  To our Jesus, to life.  Painfully searching for the beloved brother, we find him with his Lord.

Soon shall close thy earthly mission, soon shall pass thy pilgrim days, hope shall change to glad fruition, faith to sight and prayer to praise.

Timothy Warren Cunningham, littlest brother and cherished son, whole and complete in 32 years.  He finished well and we will see him again.

Praise be to God.  Tearfully, praise be to God.

Tim

Tee’s last night as a 5 year old

Well, yep, 5 was just as sweet as 4.  And I’m dazed and blinking with my mouth open at the computer, in disbelief another year has passed.  His last night as my 5 year old.

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Catcher, how old will Tee be tomorrow?

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Be still my heart; oh the morning comes too soon!

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Happy first birthday Atticus!

It’s been a year, dear one! A year since we all laid eyes on you! That red hair, cheekbones, heart-shaped tongue tie…You had the biggest hands when you came out and a loud cry.

Your dad and I couldn’t get enough of you those first 24 hours. Trying to take it all in, your sweetness…it was like our eyes couldn’t see you enough!

Your brother’s adore you. They established that very first day of your life the drive by kiss. It was impossible for any of them to be in the room with you and not kiss you.

Life became sweeter just a year ago today because of you, cherished Atticus!

You made it!  We did it!  Happy first birthday!

Loving you is so easy…

A year ago tonight: the eve of Attie’s first birthday

I’m reflecting on the darkest night of my life, one year ago tonight.

Those hours with a predictable rhythm as wave after wave of contraction pushed Attie closer and closer to meeting his family. I didn’t know he was about to rip his placenta from my uterine wall. I didn’t know that type of stabbing pain yet. I didn’t know I was going to feel that silence, darkness and power of death.

Those moments before his head emerged, I believed he was dying. Little did I know my blood was pooling from the placenta ripping. I would have a placenta sized clot come out right after him. And the blood just kept coming.

But I pushed him out, ready to rip apart to make way if he needed it, knowing there was no more time.

I look back at these pictures at a woman I no longer am. Attie has changed me. That sort of despair at the feeling of death changed me. Feeling as if I’ve been cut off at my knees in a slow recovery changed me.

I don’t understand what the Lord’s plan was for the events of that night. But I do understand I need Him more today than a year ago today. There are new eyes to see my utter despair and His complete sustenance.

In all of the “little did I knows” of that night, He knew it all.

And there are eyes to see my thriving 11-month-and-30-day-old-red-headed-baby-boy and thank God for filling our arms with this bountiful gift. I understand a year ago tonight this wasn’t guaranteed the outcome. From the depths flow gratitude. Gratitude grown from pain goes deep and takes root, I’m finding.

Praise you, Lord, that in all the foreshadowing these pictures hold for me, the rawness, the pain, the fear of what was to come hours later, You were in control. I don’t have to look back on these images and run to warn of a scary road ahead. You were there. You did not forsake me. Praise You for this journey and praise You for the deep cry from Attie that filled the room with life one year ago tonight.

Blessed is the swim instructor of toddlers. And brave.

day one of swim lessons

It’s a fresh little crew starting out their 2012 swim lessons. The goggle clad Tee and Catch are somewhat self-sustained in the pool (they won’t sink like a rock). And those toddlers, Olivia, Reese, Brooks and Ollie, well, they will fearlessly and eagerly…sink like a rock.

We have a wonderful swim instructor and a beautiful setting to teach our Florida babies how to enjoy the water! We are hopeful for kicking legs, blowing bubbles and floating in about a week.

day one of swim lessons

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We did learn this today: take more pictures because the chaos of cuteness doesn’t stop. Must be captured. Furthermore, they all get really hungry. More food needed. Lots more food.

Attie and Truett were there. They are dragged all over the place and are super troopers. They should be in some of these pics with their hands raised as “PRESENT, I didn’t have a choice but present!”.

There is never enough time for all the turns on the big tree swing. Start earlier with the turns.

And last but not least, that grunt thing Ollie does towards me when he’s being a pill, yep, he’ll do it at his (patient) swim instructor too. Just drawing out the sin patterns…one swim lesson at a time.

On to day 2!

Ollie has the best bed head

Ollie and his bedhead

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I get the biggest kick out of this kid! He naps hard in the afternoon…then wanders, slowly, downstairs holding his blanket, thumb in mouth. He is warm and soft and squishy with a feathery mop on his head. It’s a treat to catch him at the bottom of the stairs still covered in nap…and quickly then my kisses!

Boys love dirt

They take one step into our backyard and come back looking like this. Head to toe. In between their toes. In their hair and under their nails. In every crack and fold, there is dirt.

They fill boxes with dirt and watch it flow down the slide. Digging holes they discover wiggly worms and build piles to blast their cars through. It’s transported in trunks, buckets, flower pots, shovels, pockets, hats and cupped hands. It fills the vessels of their limitless imaginations.

I’d love some grass in our backyard. But this dirt offers my boys joyful hours in their childhood.

Can you smell their warm hair? It’s the smell of soft dirt, all minerally and bright sun.

Dirt makes for long play hours, big appetites, drained water bottles, deep rest and snuggly little bookworms after baths. I’m starting to see I wouldn’t change this dirt for gold…or grass.

Tee and Catcher love dirt

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