Four months ago, before the fated day we found out Everett’s heart had stopped beating, I was anxiously planning all the cute pregnancy photos we should take and how to do so without taking away from our recently promoted middle child’s 1 year photo shoot with the talented T. Marie Photography. Dreaming of how big my 6 month baby bump would be and all the adorable ways to announce if we were adding a little Mr. or Mrs. to our growing King crew. You see I am that Mom. The over sharer that uploads way too many pictures of her children on social media (Yes, I am aware of what I’m doing & No, I do not plan on stopping). The one who has her kids faces plastered over practically every free wall in their home. The one who gets yearly family photos taken several times a year and would pay whatever the cost for those priceless moments captured in time. The one whose life revolves around her children. Being a mother is my identity, it is what I was born to do; it is ingrained into my DNA.
My children are the life force that runs through my veins; their love and laughter is what fuels me through my hectic days and living without one of them is the hardest things God has ever placed before me. I wake up every day to a world where one of my children is dead. I know, I know, harsh words, but that is the reality that I live in and a lifetime of memories with my sweet sunshine babies won’t change that. Everett may have only lived 20 short weeks inside my womb on this Earth, but he is just as much a part of my soul as Jack and Lucas are. His DNA will literally forever be entwined with mine; it is called maternal fetal microchimerism and it is the most amazing biological after effect of pregnancy. The emptiness in my womb his death left behind is constant aching reminder of the life we must live without him.
In just three short months without him, that life has taken a toll on all of Everett’s family; but it has been especially hard on me. I am not the same mother, wife, friend, or person I used to be. I will acknowledge that some of that change has been for the better but the fact of the matter is, my reflection is no longer my own. Everybody grows and changes over the years, but this change was drastic, sudden, irreversible and unwanted. When I look in the mirror I no longer see the woman I used to be staring back at me; I am unrecognizable and everyday I pray to catch glimpses of my former self peaking through the dark clouds surrounding me. I pray to see the rainbow at the end of the storm; a sign of the promise God made to his people, a sign of His never ending love.
I found myself sending up that same prayer of hope in our driveway as I held onto the only piece of Everett we have left; our Everett bear. Instead of capturing my growing baby bump that day at Lucas’ 1 year photo shoot we would be capturing our family without Everett. Our Everett bear would replace my growing belly and represent our missing piece. I prayed that Tiffany would find the perfect way to honor and memorialize Everett and that I could look at these pictures and see love and light in our eyes; not pain and sorrow. I longed to see my family whole; not broken up and separated into the dead and living. I wished beyond all logical thought that somehow, someway, I could look at our family photo and not see a family ravished by the loss of a child.
Let me start by saying this: I know Tiffany is not a miracle worker, but I do believe she is one of the most genuine, caring, empathetic, God driven women I have ever met and that God sends people into your life for a reason.
That day, Tiffany captured our family; not a family torn between Heaven and Earth, not a family lost and finding its way through a life without one of its members, not a family trying to mend their broken hearts, but our family. She patiently (what can I say, my husband and children don’t love pictures as much as I do), captured the beauty behind our emotions. She capture smiles, tears, and tender moments of love. The pictures we received from Lucas’ 1 year photos where everything I dreamt of, everything I prayed for, everything our family needed. They will forever be loved and cherished just like our sweet baby boy and will serve as a reminder that God hears our prayers:
Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth. -Genesis 9:16