Friday, June 13, 2014

One Month Later

Today we celebrated Ben's one-month heaven anniversary.
 
And by "celebrated," I really mean, "had a stomachache almost the entire day because of how much I missed him."
 
There are a few things I've learned about grief in the past few weeks. It is unpredictable. It is volatile.
 
And I absolutely hate it.
 
Not only are we working through the feeling of being a family of five-minus-one, but we are also preparing for another one to join us in about thirteen weeks. We are trying to find a new normal, celebrating Ben's life while also mourning his loss. It's tough. I remind myself of scriptures that point to God's hope, His peace, the strength He offers to those who hurt. And yet there seems to be a big disconnect between my head and heart. What I know to be true and yet what I feel to be true. I still cry out to God in pain, asking why He had to choose Ben. Why our family. Why our son. But then I remind myself that I am not God. These things are not for me to decide. God is sovereign and He is Love. He is working out a bigger picture and we just need to trust Him.
 
Sometimes, you just have to fake it 'till you make it.
 
Our biggest concern has been for Jack's well-being. His behavior was up-and-down. In addition to his moments of being especially thoughtful and sweet, he was whiney. Easily irritated. Angry. And neither me or Andy knew how to handle it. We prayed for wisdom, to know how to appropriately act and react to his constant mood swings, from super sweet to super irritable. When to simply love and when to discipline. Jack has always been the more independent one, likely to tempt the limits, but the past few weeks have seemed to push his tendencies to the extreme.
 
Last weekend, I searched online for helpful ideas to support Jack through his loss. I found a site called "The Twinless Twin," and read about how to counsel a family going through the loss of a twin. They said losing a twin - much less that of an identical twin - can be as painful as the loss of a spouse. I read through much of that information in tears, feeling so sorry for my firstborn. That he had to give up his twin. That he would now grow up as a twinless twin. His birth certificate even identifies him as a twin and always will. Would he always feel this loss? Would he someday have guilt that God chose to take Ben home and not him? My thoughts twirled all over as Andy and I cried over our loss. Jack's loss. Megan's loss. Our unborn baby's loss. It is such a deep hole that has been left. How would we ever recover?
 
Overall, the site did provide some encouragement. The suggestions they made to provide stability to the surviving twin were things we were already doing: keep pictures around of the twin that had passed, be open in talking about your emotions, and finding opportunities to celebrate their life. I went to bed that night slightly encouraged, but still completely overwhelmed.
 
As we pulled out of the driveway for a play date that next morning, Jack randomly said, "Mom, I just wish Ben could have grown up to be a man." I started bawling. I couldn't help it. All of my emotions about my twinless twin emerged from the night before and I cried out of sadness and confusion.
 
"I know, Jack. Me, too," I said in between tears. "I really wish he could have grown up with us here in earth. It makes me sad to think about how much I miss him."
 
Jack's wisdom - once again - took me by surprise. "Mom, it's okay to be sad sometimes. But Ben is with Jesus in heaven. How many times do I have to tell you?" We laughed about the fact that he's the one encouraging me when I'm supposed to be the one that is comforting him. "Don't worry, I'll keep reminding you of things to be happy about," he told me.
 
Tell me again: why am I worrying about this boy?
 
I told Andy about our exchange that morning and we agreed: Jack is going to be just fine.
 
That afternoon, it occurred to me that, in addition to mourning his brother's loss, that he was working through the normal lack of routine that summertime brings. Now that preschool is over, our family has lacked any regular structure that had been part of our lives since September, even through Ben's sickness. So Andy and I sat down and instituted a list of chores for Jack to complete every day to support our family, as well as an allowance schedule. I'm not sure if it was just good timing or if that's what he really needed, but he has really stepped up to the challenge and seemed to have found a bit of identity and purpose. His behavior in the past five days hasn't been perfect - he is a normal five-year-old, after all - but we have noticed a huge difference since giving him more responsibility around the house again. He seems to have found a new sense of purpose. A source to receive encouragement. And it has been helpful to everyone.
 
He and Megan are also learning to interact again. But this time, without their mediator. It has been refreshing to see their relationship transition into a new one. Slowly.

 
But oh, how I miss my Benjamin. Especially through these nice weather days. Days where we would lazily watch both boys chase creatures in the backyard, go to the zoo, the museum, and to my parent's house. We do all the same things. Just without Ben. I hate it. But I suppose I'm getting used to it. Because I have to.
 
I'm learning that I will never come to a point of being finished with the mourning process. I will never be able to say that I am completely over it. Never. I feel Ben's absence almost every minute of the day. He was a significant part of our family and that's not something that you can just get over. I cry to remember our hospital stay, the pain he had to go through, and how he blindly trusted us to care for him. It hurts. And I hate it. But I am learning to redirect my thoughts. Focus on the positive. Celebrate the laughs, the blessings, the good that God has brought from it. Because I cannot make things better by wallowing in the events of the past. I cannot change a single thing that has happened by simply crying about it. I don't want to be bitter. I want to be a good wife, a good mom, a good friend. While it's okay to be angry at God sometimes, it is not a place where I can stay. It's an empty hole that only gets deeper, the more time you spend there.
 
And so we move forward. One foot in front of the other, one step at a time.


I told Jack this afternoon that we were going to visit Ben's grave tonight after Daddy got home. "Why?" he asked.
 
"Because it's been a month since he's been in heaven. It's a way to celebrate his life."

"I don't want to go," he said indignantly.
 
"We're going to go when Dad comes home. It's a way to remember Ben."
 
"But I remember Ben. I don't want to go!"
 
I was nervous to push him into doing something he didn't want to do. But I also didn't want too much more time to pass before we made our first visit back to the burial site, a place we pass by at least twice a day and yet have never stopped with the kids. Andy and I decided that I wouldn't say too much more about it, but that we would stop for a short time on our way to dinner.
 
Perhaps I should have mentioned proper cemetery etiquette before getting out of the car. Jack was all over the place, climbing on the gravestones, and jumping over plots while chasing the ball he was throwing in the air.
 
I had a much different idea of how this was going to go.
 
We put a few roses on my Grandpa Albrecht's grave (who we buried last May just four rows ahead of Ben) and then stood at Ben's site and thanked God for caring for him in heaven. And then we made a swift exit so neighbors wouldn't be offended at the way our son was jumping around the existing gravestones.
 
Aye.
 
 
 
But Jack had made it clear that he did not want to be there. I suppose his actions were a way for him to cope with the situation. To handle such a weird event. It must be awkward, to talk so much about your brother being in heaven and yet your mom insisting that you visit the place where his old body is buried. I'm glad we went, though. He did ask a lot more questions as we left and I'm sure our next visit will be a bit more smooth.
 
 
Tonight at bedtime, Jack reiterated his love for his brother. "Mom, Ben was my favorite boy in the whole world. He was a really nice boy. Everyone in the world loved him."
 
Normally, moms would take a comment like that and throw it up to five-year-old exaggeration. But there are a lot of people out there who have come to know - and love - his brother. Even strangers that neither of us know at Target mention how much they love Ben and have grown closer to the Lord because of his testimony. Jack's comment might not be too far from the truth.
 
Jack asked to feel the baby kick after we read a story, his eyes widening as if each time were the first. I told him that at twenty-six weeks, the baby can hear noises outside of the womb. So tonight, we heard a lot of, "Hi baby sister! This is Jack! I am your big brother! This man is Dad, this girl is Mommy and this girl is Megan! Can you hear me!?"
 
I honestly have no idea how we'll get through tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the one after that. Each milestone we celebrate without Ben, each anniversary seems to get more and more difficult. But those are not things I can think about right now. I'm only thinking of today.
 
I know we're going to be alright. I know we're all going to be okay. Not because we won't feel the pain in a few years or forget how much we loved Ben. But because we choose to keep going. To find JOY. To celebrate the good, weep over the bad, and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Because as much as I long to be with Ben, I can think of no one else I would rather care for my son than my heavenly Father... at least until I get there.

90 comments:

  1. Grace and peace to you in the midst of mourning. May that grace of God be sufficient for each day and all of your tomorrows. Thanks be to God for the resurrection through Christ our Lord!

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  2. Bless your hearts as you walk this road together. Thank you for sharing your life with all of us.

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  3. <3 I have been thinking about you today. I still pray for you and your family every day.

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  4. I am also a twinless twin. My sister and I were born 3 months premature, and she only survived 2 hours because her lungs weren't developed. Even though I didn't really know her I miss her every day.

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  5. I firmly believe that God takes us when our work here is done. Ben's work was done: In such a short time, he brought so many people closer together and closer to God. I believe that was Ben's work. Many prayers and thoughts to you still.~Rachel Kanzer

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  6. Dear Mindy,

    Thank you for writing in the middle of your grief--in the middle of learning what your family's day to day, moment to moment looks and feels like with your sweet Ben in Heaven.

    I pray you'll continue to find solace.

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    1. Mindy...I pray for you and your family daily that God will give you a peace beyond words. Thank you for sharing Ben with the world...and a part of yourself...and your family. And tell Jack that the world loves him, too. Throughout this all, we can't help but think of, and love Jack when we think of, and love Ben. He's been an amazing boy, brother and son through this roller coaster of life he can't get off of. Bless you all. You have our hearts and prayers.

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  7. amazing to me that you find a way to willingly open your heart. I know each day is a new mountain, but just know there are people out here who continue to care and to pray. Peace.

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  8. I am in awe of your strength. You are an amazing mother and the things your beautiful children say are absolutely a reflection of this. I still think about and wonder how your family is doing all the time. Take the time to grieve. It was an unthinkable loss. But Ben could never be forgotten-and what a wonderful gift to see and remember him through his older brother. Prayers to you and your family.

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  9. I'm lying in a wind storm in a tent in Africa wishing I could give you a hug... Thanks for sharing with us. This is holy ground.

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  10. Absolutely beautiful words I read your blogs every time u post a new one and my 9 year old wants me to read it allowed so he can hear it every night before bed we pray for your family god bless u and your family and to Andy I'm sure its gonna be tough on Sunday (fathers day) but little Ben is in a great place and he will be always watching over u all have a great night xoxoxo

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  11. Thinking of you and your Ben. Always.

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  12. Thank you for updating. My porch light is still Blue4Ben and it makes me feel good when I look down my street and see Mine is not the only one still Blue. I think of Ben everyday. My nephew is 3 and I spend time with him every day, with every minute meaning more. I still cry everyday for your loss and wonder just about daily how Jack is doing. You are incredible! My heart breaks for you in such a way I can't even explain. I know you will be get through your life, because you have no other choice but this just shouldn't have happened at all. You are a miracle solely for the grace in which you have battled through. God love you all...

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  13. Thanks for still writing Mandy. Oh how we grieve the losses of these sweet boys. We are coming up on 3 months with my nephew, Kai (who was 2.5 years old and passed from a brain tumor) and his birthday is in 2 weeks. These milestones are OH so hard. The only way you will get through tomorrow is Jesus - He will continue to give you the strength and grace. Each day.

    www.in-due-time.com

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  14. Mindy,
    I too, thought of you and your family today. Being the 1 month anniversary of Ben's passing made me think how you are all coping. Please know that we continue to keep you in prayer and as a mom, I think about you most days. What I do see, is the precious phrases that Jack continues to say, how he can melt your heart in sadness and in joy, and how I see God's words being expressed through him!

    Cherish what you can, love as much as you can and as you push forward - Ben will always be in your Heart, Mind and Soul.

    Your sister in Christ.
    Sophie

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  15. You leave me speechless each time. My heart aches along with yours. I miss Ben as if I knew him well so I cant imagine what you are experiencing. Know you're being prayed for and loved.
    Your sister in Christ,
    Courtney

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  16. Your hearts will never move on just forward because you have to move forward. Your family is in our prayers

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  17. My boys are twins one is Terminally ill , are 13 nie Liam is on palliative care now. Been sick since 4 months old. Fighting hard. His brother Joe is a amazing wroth him, I think about the days coming when Liam becomes an angel and how it is going to effect Joe. Thanks for all you write. Helps alot. Thinking of u and your family.

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  18. Mindy;
    have you ever heard the song Dancing In The Sky
    it is by Dani and Lizzy every time i hear this song i think of your son and it make me feel better to know he is happy in his new Home. My heart hurts for you and your family is loved by so many people :) so try and listen to the song. God Bless you all

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  19. Tonight as I laid with my 3 year old son I asked him what he wanted to pray for. He said "mom, do we need to pray for Ben anymore?" I haven't talked with him about Ben in at least two weeks (although I think of you and pray for you often). I think it is special to know that Ben has impacted even the lives of such young children. We spent a long time talking about what all Ben is probably doing in heaven tonight....he said catching fireflies and frogs! Then he asked me if his great grandmother (who is in heaven) knew Ben. We decided they have probably met. Then my Andrew said, "I bet Ben has made lots of new friends in heaven." I agree. He has certainly had an incredible impact on those of us still here. Sending love and prayers your way today and each day as you take one step at a time. Thank you for sharing Ben and your entire family with us.

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  20. Mindy there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of you and Ben and the rest of your family. I live in Arizona and I know the chances of me ever meeting you are very small but I did want to tell you the difference Ben has made in my life because of you and Ben I started letting the Lord back in my life and am praying daily which is something I never did. Thank you for sharing Ben with all of us he has made a big difference in my life.

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  21. Even though I didntbknow Ben I find myself missing him right along with you as I, a mother of twins have followed your story since the first entry.please keep writing..what an encouragement you are for all of us to fight the good fight. My prayers are with you, andy,jack and megan

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  22. My son is a twinless twin as well. One time when he was about 2 yrs old I heard him singing in His room late at night. I went in and asked him who he was singing to and he said to his brother Moses and then pointed to the corner of his room and said "He's right there_, M." Gave me goosebumps. Even now at age 8 he talks about His brother... Wishing he was still with us. Prayers for you all as you figure out what grieving looks like to you.

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  23. Its been 35 years since my Christopher (3yo) passed. I tell you its never easier but you find a way to live with it & you relive memories daily as situations arise. I dont cry every day or every month but holidays are hard and every once in a while some family post a pic on facebook without warning me & i am broken for a few days. But alwats i move on & with the expectation that i will hold him (somehow) in heaven when my turn comes. Until then i picture Jesus cradling my boy & rocking him like i used to. Contine to live in the present & build new memories because you & your children will need them. God Bless.

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  24. My brother's pastor at their church has a grandson that was born about 3 weeks ago prematurely with some other birth problems. He was able to get off the vent, but can't swallow and never probably will so he has a feeding tube for nourishment. The family took him home this past Monday and have contacted hospice, Of course all are devastated, but even in the midst of their pain and suffering and grief, they see God's work in that nurses at the hospital asked to be able to take care of this baby because they felt a presence there they never had before. Nurses asked to be able to come to church where the grandfather is a pastor and have shown up and dedicated their lives to Jesus. It doesn't make the family's pain any easier, but they see God working in their lives through this little baby just like you have seen and will see God working in the lives of so many because of your precious Ben. But it doesn't take away your pain and suffering and grief and for that I am sorry (as I am sorry for my brother's pastor's family) but I rejoice that even in the midst of suffering and grief, people are coming to know Jesus or recommit to him.

    Continuing to pray for you and your family.

    betty

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  25. I am so sorry for your loss. I have been reading your blog and feel like I know you and your family. I lost my precious daughter 13 years ago due to a car accident. She was 21 years old. To this day, she is always on my mind and I think about her all the time. Family pictures will never be the same, because she is missing. I see the empty chair at the Thanksgiving day table and she loved Christmas. But, I can remember her with both tears and laughter now. I don"t cry every day like I used to. I can look at her picture now and smile. I finally was able to let go of her clothes, shoes, purses. I have kept the things I know were precious to her and I treasure them. Yes you will be ok, because you have other children to care for, a loving husband, friends and family
    And your faith. You will have days when you don't think you can go on. But you do, you will. Time lessens the grief and pain. But time will never let you forget Ben and the memories you have of him. God bless you and your family.


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  27. The Rauch lays you and your family on my heart throughout the day...thoughts and prayers are not far from my lips. I cant imagine the loss you're going through, Im so sorry for the pain. I know when I feel sad, what helps is to either pray or worship through song and dance.Take these times with the kids by turning on worship music, gather together and Davidic dance. Its fun as a family and also its wonderful to show how to worship Yah in a different way with the kids. Smiles of Joy will be on your faces and it will bring much healing for everyone. Google Davidic dance...you can find step by step instructions. Be encouraged Yah is with you. Ben is behind the veil watching his family, continue to talk to him, show him things...Be encouraged, as much as you think Ben will never know your unborn child...he's been with her already, holding her, talking to her, hugging and kissing her and Im sure telling her all about each one of you ~ Blessings

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  28. God bless you all as you take this diffucult journey without ben..Thoughts and prayers with you all x

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  29. Mindy ~

    I'm so glad to read another posting, to know that all is as right as it can be at this time.
    I like that you tell of how Jack seems to be improving as he tends to the list of chores; he is finding a way to excel on his own.
    Not only is he a twinless twin, he is the twin of a little boy who everyone in the world loved, who has become close to perfect in people's memories. And of course, Jack is wise enough to realize that he is not perfect, so therefore he is not loved by everyone.

    I would caution you to not have Ben's memory become one of perfection. A friend once shared with me how she & her husband had to remind themselves daily that their young daughter had been naughty at times, sometimes very naughty. They knew it would be wrong to have her memory turned into that of a saint on earth, especially wrong & unfair to their other children. I think the same is true of your Ben's memory.

    I admire your walk...I cannot imagine how you manage to stay upright most days. God bless you!

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    1. Funny you should mention that, JoAnn. Jack keeps mentioning how Ben always liked to tell on him when he did bad things, "to get me in trouble." It made me laugh. Grateful that we can joke about the stuff that wasn't so perfect, even in his twin's eyes! :)

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  30. Such touching words! Keeping you all in my prayers!!!

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  31. Your family is still in my heart

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  32. Mindy, I like many others as strangers have read right along your journey of what is a parents worst nightmare and sobbed every single time I have read your blogs or watched anything about Ben and your family on t.v. I am truly amazed and inspired by the strength and courage you show and your love for God. You probably feel that your just another normal wife and mother like any other but you are simply extraordinary! Simply a blessing to so many! I often think "What do you say to someone who has lost a child" and I don't think there is anything you can say that is the right thing to say so I pray your days get a little easier as time passes on but know it will never just be ok. Like you said all you can do is take one day at a time and trust that the Lord is caring for your sweet boy. God Bless you and your family!

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  33. Your family is constantly in my thoughts and prayers. I don't know if this will encourage you or not but I have been praying for my 6 year old son (named Benjamin also) to get saved. One Sunday morning at the end of May he came to me asking a lot of questions about Heaven. I told him your Ben was in heaven ( he remembered we had prayed for him). He asked how he could go to heaven too and that morning he got saved! Thank you for encouraging this mom with your words!

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    1. Beautiful, Jennifer. Just beautiful. <3

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  34. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and raw emotions. I have continued to keep your family in my thoughts and prayers. I was just wondering the other day how you were doing. Our son is undergoing major surgery this week to remove his cancer (pleuropulmonary blastoma). I admire your faith and dependence on our heavenly Father!

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  35. I have been reading your blog for the past few months, amazed at how you have such strength through this journey, but also saddened by the truth of your words and the pain you have been going through. I am so sorry that your family has had to experience all that you have...
    When I read of Ben's passing, I was truly saddened and confused. Just 2 days later, my father passed away suddenly and unexpectadly at the age of 64. I could not believe that I was now on this journey with you. In fact, I still cannot believe it.
    Your posts resonate with me even more now...especially the last one, when you said "Sometimes you have to fake it 'til you make it".
    I thank you for your posts, for your honesty, and for your faith even in hard times. I'm struggling with all of those things right now, and it helps me to check in and see how others are muddling their way through this process of grief and loss.
    My thoughts and prayers are with your family...

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    1. So sorry for your loss, Beth. It's never easy to say goodbye to our loved ones, no matter how old they are. So grateful for the assurance of heaven. <3

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  36. The Sauer family, Mindy you are a very amazing women to share your grief with us. My heart absolutely breaks for your loss every time I read an update. I often think of Ben and I ask God the same thing why him, he was so young it's not fair and I cry with angry but I know God had a purpose in all he does! I thank you for continuing to share your family with us, you have an amazingly beautiful family!! Ben has definitely became a kind soul I think of often. May you continue to find the strength, courage and wisdom God has given you. God bless you all -xoxo

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  37. Please tell Jack that everyone in the world loves him, too! It's always harder on the survivors...praying for your sweet family.

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    1. The other day, we went to the elementary school (where he will attend kindergarten.) Dozens of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade girls waved to him and said, "Hi Jack!" He thought he was the king of the world. It'll be interesting to see him there in the fall, with so many people/kids aware of his story and loving on him just like a celebrity! :)

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  38. May the God of peace and comfort continue to hold you and your family up. Your writings have encouraged so many. Had lunch with my siblings yesterday and we commented about not seeing a new blog lately. Be encouraged to know that people are praying for you and your family still.

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  39. Hi Mindy,
    Thank you for sharing your progress with your Christian family. I agree with the previous post and can only add that everyone in the world loves your entire family. I pray for you as well as for your extended family. Stronger every day!

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  40. "Because as much as I long to be with Ben, I can think of no one else I would rather care for my son than my heavenly Father... at least until I get there." This made me smile Mindy. <3 Think about you guys and your Ben all of the time.

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    1. I'm glad you could sense the slight sarcasm, Mary. ;) As much as I would rather be the one to care for Ben, it seems silly to assume that I could do a better job than Jesus. That really does bring me a lot of comfort. <3

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    2. My daughter will be there with your Ben soon Mindy and I know she will seek him out, for when she leaves this world she leaves her 3 year old son which kills her deeper than than cancer ever could. She followed and PRAYED deeply for your Ben and she was destroyed beyond imagine for the boy she never knew and his mom. She too suffers from GBM (inoperable) & was just placed on hospice. I look to you and your posts as to see what is next for us...your family is just one step ahead of mine. I don't like where we were when we got the news on Feb 7th. ..i don't like where we have been over the past few months with watch her suffer with the loss of everything she new as normal. She has been paralyzed since Feb, loss of eyesight, steroid disfigurement and now loss of speech and uncontrollable staring seizures. ..and yet I do not like where we are going to be next any better...except for the comfort of knowing she will no longer be suffering. God is huge in my life. He us truly ALL we have. Everything else can leave, be taken or just disappear....except GOD. HE is truly all we have. I don't want to go to the next stage...so bad I don't wanna go, but for some reason unknown to us we have been chosen to go...so go we must. I'm so scared. She is so scared. I'm so sorry you have & had to go through all of this. I'm so sorry for your loss, but Thank you for leading the way for the rest of us to follow. Your words are always what are in my heart. God Bless you and your entire family for eternity!

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    3. Dawna, I'm so sorry about your daughter. Sending hugs to both you and Mindy. And Mindy, Jack was right: people everywhere really do love Ben--even moms like me all the way in Oklahoma. Praying for peace in whatever ways you might benefit from it.

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  41. An idea for cemetary visits...teach him how to make gravestone rubbings.

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  42. Still praying for your beautiful family.

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  43. My Blue for Ben bracelet perches on my pretty bottle of pink hand lotion on the bathroom mirror shelf where I see it every day and think of you and your family. The Lord bless you and keep you...

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  44. Each post is more inspirational than the next. Such beautiful words and feelings and a pinch of humor ...life. Gratitude and prayers to your family.

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  45. I had my picture taken at Chautauqua Mall with Ben,Blue4Ben.I now have that picture up on my wall in my family room.Never knew that picture would have a great impact on my life.My heart cries for Bens family.The pain lesson but never goes away.May god help you through you time for sorrow.I hope someday that burning question Why will be answered.

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    1. Yes. Someday when we get to heaven, all of our questions of 'why' will be answered. Though I'm not sure the answers will even matter to us very much then. <3

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  46. Yes, everyone in the world loved Ben, but we love you all too. I can't tell you how many times I've wished that I knew you all personally so that I may hold your hands or hug you.

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  47. Though I have never met your family, my heart and life have been changed by your little Ben. Thank you for expressing with raw emotion the path that your family is on. From my own experiences and journey that God has called us to walk, I can share that one day your heart and mind will once again align together in Truth.

    You may have already heard of this book, or even have it in your home, but I wanted to recommend The Invisible String.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0875167349/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=36280151259&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=10616130704762771448&hvpone=14.41&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_664atpdmdv_b

    Much love, frequent tears, and fervent prayer!

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  48. Praying for you guys every day. I just pray God will give you comfort that no one would understand. My heart breaks for you. You have helped so many with their relationship with christ and also the awareness of childhood cancer.
    Love you all !

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  49. Praying for your family. You are such an amazing mom and have helped so many people to have a better trust in God.

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  50. I just wanted to say that you have been an inspiration to me. My daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma 8 months ago and has been through 4 surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. She is in remission now but I remember clinging to The Lord during that time for his strength, comfort, help and encouragement. It was not easy. Through your writings you have shown your faithfulness to God and God's love and faithfulness to us. But you also kept it very real and I appreciate that. You don't know me but I have been praying for you and your family from the beginning. God bless you and keep you!

    Michele

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    1. Thank you, Michele. God's best to you and your family as well! <3

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  51. Mindy, i hope wherever I am laid to rest, there are children climbing and playing and laughing with joy! Cemeteries should be places where we can grieve and also celebrate the circle of life!

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  52. A friend recently told me that, after a huge loss like this, you don't get over it. You have to build over, from the foundations up. It has helped me, with my own grief, to remember this when confronted with others' lack of understanding, or my own self-criticism that i should be "getting over it."
    Also: A child dancing and playing on my grave would be just about the best thing I can imagine. That was what Jack needed & wanted to do, and though I know some people would see it as disrespectful, I wanted to let you know that some of us see it as beautiful - a kind of reversal, that even in the midst of death & loss, there is life. my sympathies, and my best wishes, to you and your family.

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  53. Mindy, you ARE going to be ok..even though every minute you think of Ben. As time goes by you'll heal..and so will Jack. He's going through so much, but how beautiful that he wants to think of things to make you happy. What a sweet boy♡ I hope you are able to feel a little more happiness and JOY as each day passes..for all the blessings you have here and for the promise and that you will be with Ben again someday. Have you ever read the book "Jesus Calling"? If not, I highly recommend it as a daily devotional of prayer. I found a fitting devotional that made me think of you.."You are my beloved child, when you need comfort, I enfold you in My loving arms. My constant Companionship is the summit of salvation blessings. No matter what losses you experience in your life, no one can take away this glorious gift." ( Sarah Young)

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    1. Oh, my word. SUCH a great devotional! Yes, we have it and Andy and I read a page every night. It really has helped keep things in perspective. A fantastic, quick read for anyone going through any kind of tragedy (or just daily life!)

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  54. This was as especially tearful post for me to read, thinking about Jack and his life now without his twin. I have identical girls that are four, and a two year old son, so our family dynamic is similar to how yours was before. I feel for Jack so often because I witness everyday the bond that my girls share I have a hard time fathoming how one would continue on without the other. Jack seems incredibly strong and confident in himself as an individual, so it seems you have truly done something right in how you raised them. I am so sorry your whole family has had to weather this storm. You in all still in my prayers.

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  55. It's only been a month.......it took nine months to make him. Give yourself the gift of time. You are blessed!

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  56. Mindy, I too as so many have been following your posts. Your strength and commitment to God is so moving. I hope you know your courage and vulnerability is such an inspiration to others. I am often brought to tears by your faith and bravery. Please know that I like so many others continue to pray for your entire family as you move through this awful grief.

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  57. reading about jack in the cemetery made me smile. when my siblings and i were younger we frequently played boisterous games of hide and seek in our church cemetery while waiting for our dad (the pastor!) to finish up whatever he was doing in his office.some of the older graves were particularly conducive. probably in poor taste.....but oh, such fun......

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  58. Bless you, Mindy, for once again being so raw and up front while you walk through grief. Please know that I am praying for you and your family. Keep shining. Keep writing. Your blog touches us all.

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  59. A month has gone by but it's still so soon after saying goodbye. Your hearts are heavy with the loss and we understand your pain. May you be surrounded by love. RIP Ben.

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  60. Mindy,
    I continue to be in awe of your faith, strength and wisdom. I never met any of you, but I agree with Jack...EVERYONE loves Ben...and your entire family for that matter! I am expecting twin grandchildren next month...a boy and a girl....and your story has both terrified me at the "what ifs" and gave me joy thinking of the close bond they will have with one another. I wish you the very best of luck with your own upcoming birth and continue to pray for His healing power and grace to be upon you all.
    Patti Percoski (Michelle Taylor/McIIroy's aunt)

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  61. I came late to Ben's fight, but since his passing I have missed seeing your posts. Yesterday morning at church, a friend who was doing the sermon while our pastor was out of town included a video interview of you as a part of it. I was so excited to see you. At the end there were a lot of teary eyes, as we mourned with you and remembered a year ago Easter when that same man and his wife lost their year-old grandson. After church my daughter asked me if I had heard about Ben from their daughter, whom she said had known you in college. The funny thing is that I hadn't--Ben was so well loved that I heard about him from someone else entirely. But God has knitted all of us together now through Ben. Your family continues to bless us (your oldest son really touched my heart today), and we will continue to pray for you all.

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  62. Thank you for the update. I grieve with you, I think we all do. You have so graciously let us in to your life. Thousands of people cried when you cried, smiled when you smiled and got to their knees, even if they hadn't in a long time. Now we grieve with you, each of us carrying a piece of the pain with you. Through your eloquent words, Ben was brought into our lives, becoming part of our families.
    I am praying for you and your family. God bless you all!

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  63. Mindy,
    Thank you for sharing your family's story. I am heartbroken for all of you and pray for your family daily. I admire you for leaning on God for strength and choosing not to be bitter. We cannot control our circumstances, but we can choose our reactions to our circumstances. You are truly an inspiration and your precious Benjamin is still ministering to us here on earth.

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  64. Mindy~ I just wanted you to know that you and your family are constantly in my thoughts. My heart breaks for you! I just recently lost my three and half year old daughter, Lunden, due to an accidental drowning. She passed away on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. It seems that in some ways I am grieving the same as you are grieving. To me each day gets harder and harder because the reality sets in that she is not coming back. However, I know she is in the arms of Jesus now! I have also started a blog called, Healing Mom: Coping with a loss of a child. If you are interested, you can read mine as well, crystalchappell.wordpress.com. I feel we as Christians should lift each other up during difficult times. I hope I can be an encouragement to you just as you have been an ecouragement to me! I will be praying for you. Blessings!

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  65. Hi Mindy,

    I have been following your blog for about two months now and I just want you to know how much your testimony has affected a stranger’s life in Texas. I am not married, have no children and am just a 20-something trying to find myself as a young woman and adult and navigating through life and trusting Him with each day. I can only hope I’m as half of a Mother, Wife and Christian Woman as you are when my time comes. Your loss and your trust and your bravery is LITERALLY growing the Kingdom and it is good. So, so good. Well done.

    May His praise be continually on your lips so that you never forget all the ways He has shown Himself faithful.

    All my love from Texas <3

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  66. Dear Mindy,

    My name is Marianne, and I am a blogger friend of Lynn Minter. I read about your dear boy, Ben some weeks late on her blog, and commented, and today I received an email from her to let me know that Ben is now with Jesus.

    As a mother, my heart fell with sadness for the physical loss of your sweet child. And in reading your post I am amazed at the beauty and perfection with which you are able to express your feelings. And yet, I also know that words cannot truly express your heart's ache.

    Your children are beautiful! And little Jack truly is expressing God's words to you. Though Jack is experiencing the pain of physical separation from his dearest brother Ben, he is also, I believe, very acutely aware that Ben is still alive. In fact more alive than ever. He knows that Ben is not really gone, just not here, on the earth. This is what, I believe, he is trying to convey to you.

    It's strange to realize that children, at Jack's age, are not so long from the presence of God, and they still retain a knowledge of that realm and presence. But being in human form, they are also subjected to human emotions and feelings that at his age especially may be hard to express at times. Hence his acting out. But he is determined to remind you that there is still happiness around you, and I believe he will succeed with that.

    My dear one, I am so sorry for your loss, and again, words do not express my feelings for what you are going through...which is saying a lot because I usually have so much to say.

    Speak over your children, and your yet to be born child. Speak protection (Psalm 91), over them, bless them every day.

    I wish for you God's grace, mercy, and protection on you and your family...now and forever...Amen.

    with love,
    Marianne

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  67. Thank you for continuing to blog. As you can see, you are encouraging so many people -- and bringing even more meaning to Ben's life by sharing your experience with the death of his earthly body. It is SO hard. It is supposed to be hard. Death was never part of God's original plan, and He knows how hard it is -- Jesus cried at Lazarus' death even though he knew he was going to resurrect him. There are nights I wake after a dream that a wonderful loved one is still living -- and when I realize that it was a dream, the pain for an instant is just as fresh -- and that is after 27 years.

    I am writing because you suggested that you find our comments to be an encouragement to you -- just as your blogs encourage others. I hope so -- because that it what I want to do. I want to encourage you and your husband and children and all your extended family -- everyone whose heart is breaking because Ben will not "grow to be a man" on this side of the veil. You will survive -- you are surviving -- and you are doing so many, many things right. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep breathing and, in the really hard minutes, remember that you have an army out here praying for you and holding you close through God's family.

    With hugs for all of you -- and a frog for Ben's grave,

    Leslie Hayes (SC Mom)

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  68. Dear Mindy,
    My heart breaks for you and your family. Losing a child is never easy. I can only speak from our experience, We lost our daughter to stillbirth at 41 weeks on May 18, 2012. I can tell you there is never a day that has gone by that we don't think of our daughter Skylar. She would have been 2 and doing so many things now. The hurt is always there, I know you probably have heard so many times time will heal your wounds. Form me I may not cry everyday like I did in the first year. I cried everyday for our baby for 4 months. As the days past I may have not cried everyday but it never took away the love we have for her. I can now look at her pictures and remember her brief life inside me with happiness and not pain. Although there are times when certin things just make me think of her and I break down. We will always miss her but we know God will hold her till we get to Heaven. I can also tell you when we visit the cemetery to visit her earthly body our oldest daughter does not like to go. She said it makes her sad. Yet our 7 year old will kiss her spot all on his own and shows his love that way.

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  70. God bless you and your family. Thank you for allowing us to encourage you along this seemingly impossible journey.

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  71. Glad to have found your site. Keep up the good work! DB Product Review

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  72. I think of your family and Ben often. I happened upon this song and it made me think of your family
    http://youtu.be/qyUPz6_TciY

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  73. Amen and Amen. From another Mom who feels what you feel. Wes was 19. He was amazing. Thank you for your writing that helps me heal. I wish we could have tea and talk about our sons that we adored, but that are now in Heaven with our Savior, the incomparable Jesus. One day we will be at the River of Life with them, but not yet…not yet...

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  74. Continuing prayers for you and your family. Your story is a reminder that God is so faithful even under the worst of our pain and circumstances.

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