Tuesday, August 26, 2008


So basically my life revolves around a person whose greatest accomplishment in life is graduating to big-boy pants, and whose favorite TV show is The Wiggles. But he loves the Cubbies and "playing band", so I guess it could be worse.

Life is beautiful, indeed.

I'm becoming acutely aware of how the changes in our life are affecting TJ. His behavior, his moods, his quirks. His remarkable resilience, now that I've grown "used to it", had been overshadowing some of the more subtle evidences of how his little heart misses his mommy.

He needs his paci more. He is SO lovey-- kissing and hugging and me and pressing his nose into my neck at every opportunity. (Not that I mind.) Bed-time is more of a challenge than ever. He's such an intense little guy that settling him down has always been quite the task, but lately, even more so. He needs a night light, now, after I turn out the lights. And he needs the door to be "cracked" (where we used to shut it all the way). I need to "tuck him in" about 3-4 times each night, on the average, before he finally falls asleep. He cries (if he's awake) when I leave for work or "meetings" (church, friends, whatever). That never happened before. He ALWAYS needs to know where I'm at-- where I'm going... and "why?". Even when I'm just leaving the room, he asks, "...but you're not leaving me??" It seems to help and calm him when I remind him-- several times a day-- "Daddy will ALWAYS come back home to you, TJ." But still, it's quite a messy job, leaving him with Miss Liz or even Dana.

I surprised Leslie and bought her dream "Soccer Mom"-mobile for her 30th birthday-- a silver Toyota 4Runner. Complete with the sunroof and CD changer... and room for another car seat, if/when the need would arise. We paid it off earlier this year. And lately, it's just been taking up space in the garage. It'd been 4 months since it'd been driven. Needed to be jump-started, it'd been sitting there for so long. We'd made arrangements that my parents would stop through on the way back to Ohio from the 1st memorial service "downstate" to pick up the car and drive it back to Ohio, where the family friend who sold it to us could find a new home for it. TJ freaked out when he realized what was going on.

"Where are they TAKING Mommy's car?!"

"Mimi and Papa are going to take it back to Ohio where we bought it, so somebody else can drive it. Mommy doesn't need it anymore, now that she's in Heaven," I answered.

"Yes she DOES!!! She'll need it when she comes back to SEE us!!!" My eyes welled up with tears as I heard this response.

I had to make a split-second judgment. How do I handle this? In a stunning blur of clarity, I answered...

"TJ... Maybe God is giving Mommy a BRAND NEW car in Heaven! And it is BIGGER and SHINIER and FASTER than this one! We can give this one to somebody else who needs it HERE!"

He listened intently, then thought about it... then asked, "Does her car in heaven have a very loud and very big HORN???"

"YES!!!" I asnwered, thrilled that this seemed to be working. "And when we go to heaven with Mommy someday, she will let you BEEP the big horn on her big, shiney car!!"

TJ smiled and wiped dry his tears.

You see, what we know of Heaven-- even the most religiously astute and biblically trained among us-- is only seen through a broken and foggy mirror. God reveals to us what we need to know about such things, (Heaven, the "end times", whatever...), in order for us to keep our faith in confidence, comfort, and humility. That's how it should be for us as parents, as well, revealing such things to our children. What TJ needs to know about Heaven-- in his 3-year-old mind-- is that Mommy is "all better". And all the joys and pleasures she had on Earth (playing band with him, driving her 4Runner around town with him in the back seat, etc...) are NOTHING compared to the joy she is experiencing now, united with her Creator and Savior. So it is perfectly honest and healthy to tell the boy-- struggling with the fact that we're getting rid of Mommy's car-- that this car is NOTHING compared to the car that God gave Mommy when she arrived in Heaven. And that she is getting his GREAT BIG DRUMSET ready, complete with MANY GIANT CYMBOLS, so that he can worship God with her when he joins her in Heaven someday. And so-on.

Today, I got my hair cut. The simple task of getting a haircut will forever be an emotional experience for me. My hair was Leslie's domain, since she was a hair stylist by trade, and... well... she was my wife. I almost feel like I'm cheating on her, somehow, letting another woman's fingers, comb, and shears run through my hair. (half-joking) It didn't take long for "my story" to be revealed. (Apparently, first time clients are often asked about their history of providers of cosmotological services. My history is short: My wife was the only hair stylist my adult head has known... and then the story unfolds-- like a ton of bricks-- onto the poor girl who asked the question.) Anyway, this particular stylist at LifeTime Fitness (my salon of choice on this particular day, due primarily to the convenience factor-- she did a good job... be back in 6 weeks...) was very sincere in her compassion and sensitivity, but her curiosity was killing her...

"So... if you don't mind me asking... How's the little guy been through all of this?" A perfectly reasonable question for a mother of 2 herself. And something about her demeanor and presentation of the question made it easy to open up to her and share a little.

"Kids that young are remarkably resilient," I said. "They have no life experience with which to compare their situation. They don't know it 'should be' any different than it is."

"I guess you're right," she said thoughtfully, as she took a few extra minutes to rinse the shampoo from my hair. "That's got to be draining on YOU, though...?"

"Actually," I thought about it a few seconds, "he keeps me going. He energizes me. Doesn't give me a chance to feel sorry for myself. Keeps me putting one foot in front of the other."

Tonight we had peanuts while we watched the Cubbies game. I made him chocolate milk (a newly discovered special treat) to wash down the peanuts before playing a few innings-- complete with tackling and tickling-- before bed-time. (Little man can HIT the BALL, by the way!) I tucked him in 3 1/2 times, after our initial prayer and story time. He's asleep now. Tomorrow we wake up and do it again.

Life is beautiful, indeed.


Carrie S said...

Psalm 34:5
"Those who look to him are radiant"

You and TJ are radiant and amazing. You have touched so many, and you willingness to continue and share this with the world is awesome. You hear God and you listen, and you are leaning on him in this new chapter. Truly blessed to know your family. God continue to hold you up and sustain you and bring you joy always.

Anne said...

I agree with Carrie 100%. God shines through you Tyson. It is beautiful and humbling and life-changing to read your blog - whether you are having a "good" day or a "not so good" day. God bless you and continue to be your strength in every way through every day.

Organized Chaos said...

Kids are the best at making you take the focus off of anything other then meeting their needs...it can be draining but also the best remedy somtimes when a distraction is helpful.

You seem to be a great Dady, Tyson and you're doing such a good job with TJ during a tough time.

Amy said...

Still praying for you in Nashville...

Marci said...

Still praying for you in Milford, IN.

Wee said...


Though I never knew Leslie, I was aquainted with her sister, Dana. Dana's husband and my husband were originally from the same small town. I have followed your blog for several months now, praying for your family. Many times, what your family, and even Leslie's family, was experiencing (the good days, the bad days, the emotional roller coaster, the questions, the last days, hours, moments, and time of death, etc.) hit close to home. I lost my sister to cancer 9.5 years ago. She died at the age of 31, leaving behind her husband and two boys, ages 4 and 2.

I so appreciate your open and honest approach in sharing your journey with us all. It has ministered to me in so many ways, more than words can even do justice.

You are a faithful testimony of God's Spirit at work in a believer's life. You were a wonderful husband and a great father to TJ.

My family continues to pray for you and little TJ as you are adjusting to life without Leslie. It is such an honor to do so. May you continue to see the beauty in life as it continues to move on.

Auntie Gayle said...

Bravo,Ty! Keep on keeping on... God is giving you the words you need with TJ. I'm sure every innocent, agonizing question from your little boy stings your broken heart. We will keep praying for our Father's strong arms to envelop you both and give each of you the security you need at all times. Love to you, Auntie Gayle

kim p said...
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kim p said...

Tyson, God's strength is being seen so clearly in you right now! What a blessed little boy TJ is! My heart broke when I read TJ's questions about Mommy's car, but praise God for giving you clarity of mind and wisdom in the moment! I'm sure there will be many more times you will need this wisdom, so I pray that God will give it to you as you need it. My God hold you close and pour His love and grace on you today. Keep pressing on in Jesus' name!

Kristi said...

Thinking of you as you answer these tough questions from a little inquisitive mind. How blessed TJ is to have a great Dad like you!

Love the sweet pictures of the two of you.

Jilli said...

Your sincerity and split second answers to TJ are PERFECT. You are an awesome Daddy! And such a witness! I'm sure your stylist saw God's light through you - and I doubt she will ever forget you.