I was sitting in the quiet of my house this morning while Kate slept soundly in my bed, remembering what my mornings used to be. Jackson liked to wake up early. He would call out “Mama, Mama” sometimes around 6:00, sometimes around 4 and often in between. It was difficult to get out of my warm bed, but once I did, I didn’t look back. I would open his door, see his smile and forget all about dreamland. I relished mornings with my buddy, even at the craziest of early mornings. He would usually be sitting in his bed, with all five binkies in hand, waiting for me. We would reach for each other and snuggle for a moment. I would make him return four of the five binkies back to the bed so we wouldn’t lose them. (Yes, I realized he was probably getting a little too old for them. But he loved his binkies and they weren’t causing any harm, so they remained a staple in our house.)

Jackson and I would tiptoe quietly downstairs as not to wake everyone. With Jackson propped on one hip, I would single handedly prepare my morning coffee and pour him a bottle of milk. It became an art. Balancing him with his blanket and any stuffed animals and binkies, as well as measuring and pouring all different concoctions. It was our routine, and I loved it. Ever so carefully, we would balance everything on our walk to the living room floor. We would prop ourselves up against a chair near the tv and form a comfy little sitting area to enjoy for the next hour or so until my Lovebug and his best friend woke up. We would turn the television on, usually to Caillou, and he would snuggle into my lap, drinking his bottle and watching his show. I soaked in the warmth of his love. 

Then, ever so slowly, we would hear a door open. Kate would pop her head around the stairs. The biggest smile would run across Jackson’s face. I can remember this like it was yesterday, his sweet voice and how he would annunciate the words, “Kate Kate”. I would meet Kate on the steps and walk down with her, and Jackson would wrap his sweet arms around her body and give her the biggest hug. We would all take a seat on our homemade nest and then…they would argue over who got to sit in my lap. So what does any good mom do?  Kate would droop her tired body over one of my legs and Jackson sat on the other.

Oh, how my heart aches to have those mornings back. Aches to hear his sweet soft voice. Aches to snuggle cheek to cheek and chest to chest with his warm body. To run my hands through his light blonde hair. To snuggle and hold him. To see that smile first thing in the morning. It’s been six months since he moved to Heaven. Now my mornings consist of waking and hugging a lifeless teddy bear that Jackson loved, and I sleep with at night. My morning coffee isn’t enjoyed anymore as I think about him in the quiet of the house and dream about what could have been. It’s a never-ending heartache…
For the first time in 36 years, I am actually dreading Halloween and the other upcoming holidays. I can’t even stand to open up the countless catalogues that have already started invading our home. The next two and half months are quite frankly going to be torture. Watching all these little kids enjoy holidays that they should be enjoying, but knowing my little boy isn’t here with us. Don’t get me wrong, I will walk through these months with a smile on my face. Kate deserves to have the best Halloween and to enjoy Thanksgiving and all the joys that Christmas brings a six-year-old. I will be the best mom that I can be to her because she deserves that. We will go to the pumpkin patch, have Thanksgiving dinner and sit on Santa’s lap. I will have a smile on my face for her but my heart will be crying the entire time. 

Featuring Charlie Brown and a Fairy Princess
The last six months have been hell for our family. I hate to use such a strong word, but that’s what this is. It’s hell. There is no nice way to say that. When you are given the heaviest cross a parent is asked to carry, it’s extremely difficult to find any ounce of joy because the weight is just too heavy. But we’re trying. I’ve been getting through this, one step at a time, the only way I know how, and that’s leaning on my faith. I know I’ve said it before but my faith promises me that I will see Jackson again. And I’m counting the days. 
Even though I’m leaning on my faith, it’s not easy. It’s really, really hard. I try and go to church most weekends because I have a supportive group of friends there, and I’m hoping I will take one little nugget of wisdom that will help me through the next week. But it’s not easy. I cry a lot during church and I usually have a hard time singing songs that talk about how great God is. And the songs about Jesus…well they really get me because I know my little boy is actually in the presence of Jesus. It’s sometimes too much to bear. I have a lot of questions for God, and sometimes I doubt everything I’ve learned. I think it’s human nature to do that, and I think God expects it, especially in these circumstances. 
“Our faith gives us the sure hope of seeing him again, but the hope does not take away the pain.” – Gregory Floyd
I find myself diving more into the Bible and christian books to see what it says Heaven is like or what God’s promises are for us. I have found one author that resonates with me. I highly recommend her book for any family, especially a mother who is dealing with the loss of a child, or for friends who just want to know how to help. It’s I Will Carry You by Angie Smith. It’s beautifully written from a mother who lost her child two hours after she was born. She knows my pain. She’s lived this and is many years past where I am in the grieving process. I heard her speak at a Women of Faith conference about a month ago, and my one nugget of wisdom from her was that even though we may doubt, it doesn’t mean we don’t believe. I thought, “That’s me.” I have lots of doubts, but I have not and will never stop believing because I have HOPE for what God has given us beyond this world. And I know Jackson is going to be the first one greeting me at the gates when God decides to call me home.
That word HOPE is pretty powerful. I’m finding hope in what I’m reading and learning these days, but my friends and family have equally provided so much hope for our family. Eric and I found out a couple of weeks ago that we surpassed the necessary $25,000 to start the Jackson Reese Endowment Fund. We are speechless. Seriously, when we first met with the staff at Children’s Hospital Foundation and learned that we needed $10,000 to get the ball rolling for an endowment fund and had five years to grow it to $25,000, we thought we could probably get $3,000 each year and make it happen in five years. But no. That didn’t happen. You didn’t let it happen. We got to $25,000 in five months, not five years. We did it! And when I say “We Did It”, I am including every single one of you in that “we”. Our family could not have gotten to this point without every single one of you supporting us, whether it was with prayers, monetary donations or your physical support through every day life. And now, we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Jackson truly will never be forgotten. With this endowment fund, his memory will live on and he will continue affecting lives forever
I am so proud of my baby boy. He is smiling down on all of us. 

I love you, Jackson. Mama miss you every single second of every single day, but I know you are happy and safe in the arms of Jesus.