more pictures

I wanted to post some more pictures of Gabe.  I really miss him.  I know I keep saying that but it’s true.  He’s on my mind constantly.  Looking at pictures of him helps so I decided to share some more.  I’m working on my post about his delivery and will get it up as soon as it’s ready.  (I’m also working on creating my own theme for my blog – I’m not a programmer [yet] so it might take me a while!) For now, please enjoy these pics.  I found a couple where I look better and more like myself for those of you I’ve never met face-to-face.  🙂

Daddy and Gabe

Daddy and Gabriel snuggling

Snuggle bug


Mommy and Gabe

Gabe and Mommy (after a shower; boy do I look better!)

Dylan and Gabe

Brothers (Dylan and Gabe)

Mommy Daddy Gabe

Proud Parents


Daddy and his baby boy

Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams


Disclaimer: Today I need to vent and be real and honest about my feelings at the moment.  I don’t wish this on anyone. I know that things will get better. I know that people are here for me. I know that God loves me and has a plan for all this. I know I will see my sons again someday.  Just let me write these things today.

I’m a little grumpy today.

Not because the kids are misbehaving (they’ve been pretty good today).  Not because I’m in pain (because it’s not too bad right now).  Not even because my house is a complete wreck (not too far off from normal).

It’s because Christmas is coming.

It’s because there are Christmas commercials on TV.  It’s because the kids have been singing Christmas songs and are watching a Christmas movie tonight.  I am not ready for this.  I am not ready to think about Christmas.

All of this brought on a “why me, why them” day.  Why did it have to be my baby again?!  Why did it have to be my babies ever?  What about this could possibly “benefit” me or anyone else??  I’m all about helping people but why this way?  I could have thought of a million different ways to help people while avoiding the loss of my sons.

I expected to be shopping for little baby toys and clothes.  I expected to be putting a new “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament on the tree.  I expected to try to be Santa in between feedings on Christmas Eve.  But I won’t get to do that.  Christmas is a time when we gather with our family – and ours is forever incomplete.  This is Christmas #2 that I will be crying for a missing child; for missing children.

What I’m not expecting is for every day to be good or easy.  I don’t expect to be happy all the time.   I don’t expect my family and friends will expect that I be happy all the time.  (thankfully)  I just hope that if I do get upset, cry or get angry that they just let me and understand.  I hope that if I need to leave a gathering (or at least take a time out) they will understand and not chase me or  judge me, my motives or feelings.  I don’t need anyone to try to “fix” it or make me feel better.  I need to have the space and the time to be upset and to grieve.

My sons are dead.  My babies will never spend one Christmas with me.  I won’t get to read them the Christmas story before tucking them in on Christmas Eve.  I won’t get to see the wonder on their faces as they see their presents on Christmas morning.  I won’t get to see the reflection of the lights in their eyes.  I won’t have pictures of them in a pile of wrapping paper or playing with the box the toy came in instead of the toy.  Their stockings will be empty; their graves full.

So, maybe you can see why I’m a little grumpy today.

only temporary

My dad stopped by the cemetery on his way to work and noticed that our temporary marker had been placed.  He called my mom to let her know it was there.  As he was reading it to her he read “Felix David Groce April 14, 2008” and my mom said “the date is wrong.”  Then he told her there was a cross on it.  She told him “they asked for a dove.”  Then he called to let us know.  He went into the office at the cemetery to let them know and they said they would get it fixed.

This just excites me to no end, let me tell you.  (can you hear my sarcasm?)  First of all, they said they would call when the marker came so we could go out and place it.  That should have been last week.  Now it’s not even right!  So, we decided to go by to look at it.  I may post a picture once Brian gets it off the camera.  He is going to call the office to make sure they know what changes need to be made.  It makes me nervous about ordering the monument.  We checked over the paperwork for the temporary marker ourselves, twice, before he faxed it to the company.  It’s sad that we can’t trust people to be able to read and then transcribe what was written.  I think a large stone would be a much bigger pain to fix.  Hopefully we won’t have any trouble then.

Oh how I wish my biggest problem at this point was trying to keep Gabe from peeing on me when I change his diaper!  Instead we have to deal with stupid cemetery crap.

UPDATE:  Here’s a picture of the incorrect marker.

wrong marker

two weeks later

Two weeks.  Why is it that time seems to speed up after a tragedy?  Has it really been two weeks since Gabriel drifted into – and out – of our lives?  Ugh.

I have been recovering fairly well.  No fainting, no illness (well, I have strep throat but no vomiting!) and the pain has been pretty well controlled.  I’ve been trying to be still but that is hard with 3 little ones who still need Mommy.  Especially 3 little ones who don’t understand why God didn’t heal their baby brother. [Read more…]

my littlest love

I wanted to share a few pictures of my Gabriel Elliott with you tonight.  Oh how I miss you, pumpkin.

precious Gabe

Gabe, Mommy and Daddy

Gabriel's breath on my face

sweet boy

Mommy and Gabe

cuddly baby

goodnight, my dear

Well, we made it.  We’re still standing.  Today we buried our Gabriel.

The weather was absolutely perfect.  (70 degrees and clear blue skies – I still love October)  So many people came that I lost count.  God was most definitely in that place.  The service was so beautiful and I don’t think the set-up scared anyone.  I was actually able to speak and to pray.  I sang (quietly) but only along with the songs that we played.  We had some scripture read and Brian’s dad said a few words at the end.  Then everyone made their last pass to say goodbye.

We tucked him in, along with the stuffed animals and the picture that Chloe drew, and closed the casket ourselves.  Then my husband and my brother carried him out to me and put him on my lap for the ride to the cemetery.  (which was about 200 yards away)  At the graveside we played 2 songs by Andrew Peterson (our favorite): After the Last Tear Falls and More.  In between the songs I read Psalm 23.  It was just precious.

Afterward we went to a nearby church for food and fellowship.  It was nice to have everyone sit down to a meal together.  When that was over we had my in-laws take the kids back home so we could go back by the cemetery to take the last of our pictures.  We have documented EVERYTHING with pictures.  Our funeral director was even so kind as to take pictures of us while we were busy with Gabe.

Though I really wanted a nap after we got home (we were up until 2:30 am this morning and got up around 7 am, not the best idea) the kids were not cooperating.  I am really ready for some hard sleep tonight.

As I sit here and reflect on the day I am so thankful for the time we were given with Gabriel and the opportunity we were given to say goodbye the way we wanted to (considering).  I have just been surrounded and filled with the peace of God.  Don’t get me wrong – I have had some emotional outbursts and weeping episodes.  But overall there has been a deep and lasting peace, and dare I say joy, in the midst of this.  Losing Felix was like getting hit by a truck.  This time was much different.

I feel like I’m rambling now and maybe later I will have some clearer thoughts.  I’d like to finish off with the lyrics to one of the songs we played today.  This one is just for you, my darling boy.  I love you, Gabriel Elliott.  Sweet dreams, baby.

May the Lord Bless and Keep You

Goodnight, my dear, go to sleep;
til you’re floating like a ship across the sea;
go to sleep.

May the Lord bless and keep you;
the Lord shine his face upon you, child, and give you grace.
May the Lord turn His face toward you, love, and give you peace.

Goodnight my dear, be at ease;
till you’re floating like the sunlight through the trees;
be at ease.

May the Lord bless and keep you;
the Lord shine his face upon you, child, and give you grace.
May the Lord turn His face toward you, love, and give you peace.

So lay down, breathe deep.

May the Lord bless and keep you;
the Lord shine his face upon you, child, and give you grace
May He turn His face toward you, my little boy, and give you peace.

-Andrew Peterson

like the dickens

Brian and I are sitting here planning Gabriel’s funeral.  (which will be held on Monday)  We’re choosing music that has touched us and we’ll be creating a video slide show.  We’ve asked the kids what they would like to include: Chloe wants us to have Psalm 23 read and Dylan wants “song number 8 on the Andrew Peterson CD – you know ‘Sarah take me by my arm.'”  (that would be Canaan Bound from Appendix A)  I’m not really sure what Ezra was trying to tell me.  I think he wants to do a dance.

We are really going to mess with some people’s heads.  We’ve asked them not to wear their “Sunday best.”  We’re also setting up the chairs so they face each other.  We want this to be very simple and comfortable and family-like.  Tonight I was thinking I wanted to sing something (with others joining me in case I can’t make it through).  I’m not sure what but I really desire for this to be very worshipful.  Losing our son hurts like the dickens but I also want to be reminded, and remind others, that Gabriel is in Heaven.  He is with Jesus – can you imagine?!  He’s met Noah, Moses, Elijah, the disciples… and his brother Felix.  He knows why God allowed this to happen to him and to us.  He knows all sorts of things that we can only speculate about.

Since it’s late (and I’m supposed to be helping my husband) I will end here.  Please keep praying for peace and comfort.  Tomorrow we go to the funeral home to get Gabriel dressed and ready for our final (worldly) farewell.  It’s not forever – just for a while.

welcome, Gabriel

My love, my son, Gabriel Elliott Groce was born on Monday, October 19th at 12:05pm. We got to hear one little squeak from him.   I watched him move his mouth.  I felt his breath on my cheek.  He stayed with us a glorious, wonderful 32 minutes before going home to Heaven.  He was not in any pain and for that we are grateful.  I’m sure he and his brother are having a great time together.

He is just beautiful.  He has a good amount of hair and blue eyes.  He has his Daddy’s fingers and feet.  In the face he’s a great combination of his brothers.  Who, along with their sister, were able to meet him today.  My OB arranged for us to go to her office so the kids could come there to see Gabe.  They were so precious.  They had a lot of good questions but mostly just wanted to love on him.  Each one got their chance to hold him.  They kissed him a lot.  They told him they loved him.  We got great pictures.

I am doing well.  I am sore and worn out but I’m well.  I have never felt such peace in my life as I did during Gabe’s delivery.  Thank you all for your prayers as we certainly felt God’s presence in that operating room.  I will write out more of the details of his birth at a later date.  For now I just wanted to let everyone know that he is here and we are okay.

(update: I had the time wrong… he lived for 32 minutes!  I was drugged and not watching the clock.)

Here is a picture of Gabriel meeting his sister and brothers.

Our darling kids

far from emotional (aka the funeral home experience)

We had an appointment at the funeral home today.  Good news, we did not see hide nor hair of the lady I spoke with on the phone.  Lucky for her.

It was pretty much uneventful.  I mean, the guy was very obviously stumbling through everything because he was uncomfortable but at least he didn’t say anything incredibly stupid.  Well, maybe he did.  He had spoken with the general manager about opening Felix’s grave to put the boys in there together and got approval for that.  But we had already purchased a plot for Gabriel and upon mentioning that he said that we could just save it for someone else.  WHAT?!  I really hope we don’t EVER have the need for another grave!  After I told him that he said we could use it for mom or dad or donate it to someone.  Okay, the donating makes sense.  Keeping one grave for one of our parents does not since both of our parents are still married to each other.  (What do you suggest we do, have a drawing?)  I am really trying to believe that he was so taken aback by our situation that he just had no idea what was coming out of his mouth.

I’m not sure if I was playing Egyptian (floating in DENIAL) or if it was true peace but the whole time we were there I just felt like “Thanks for the info but we’re not going to need it.”  It was nice to be far from emotional this time around.

That being said I feel good about having all of the paperwork and decisions made now just in case we do need it.  All we have to do is make a phone call and they can take care of the rest.

Here’s hoping we don’t need to make the call!

coming together

Our meeting with the nurse went very well today. She brought up everything that was on our minds. We’re going to have an extra nurse in the OR whose job will be to take pictures and video. I’ll get to have Gabe placed on my chest (with Brian helping to hold him there) as soon as they get him cleaned up. I’ll most likely recover on the unit instead of in the recovery room. I may also get to have the same nurses take care of me who were there when Felix was born. She also gave us some great suggestions for the kids.

I feel better about the planning process after today but it was still pretty emotional. (I know, big surprise!) It’s hard to believe we have less than 3 weeks to go now. I have 2 more things to schedule and get done… 1. call the NILMDTS photographer to schedule a maternity session and 2. meet with the funeral home to make arrangements. That last one I’m not looking forward to AT ALL. Especially after the last conversation we had. (you know, the one where I bought the plot for Gabe and the lady congratulated me on my pregnancy. yeah, really.)

So, as the time grows closer our earthly, human plans are coming together. My hope is that God will forgive us and still decide to trump all of this planning with miraculous healing.