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I'm not having a good day.

My son died thirteen years ago today. It's strange; sometimes the anniversaries bother me, and at other times I don't think about it very much. But last night I had such dreams, and I find I can't concentrate this morning.

I tweeted that, and @HisFireFly tweeted this back:

Maybe God desires your concentration to be on your memories, there is much to remember...
Perhaps she's right. I've been having a running conversation with Christopher in my head all day, and so maybe I'll just write it out. I keep trying to turn it off, but perhaps that's not the right thing to do. Maybe I need to walk through this today. It's been a long time since I've done so systematically. So here goes.

Hi Christopher,

I can't stop my mind today from going back thirteen years ago. Imagine! You would have been a teenager now. But back then, on September 3, you were in the PICU, recovering from massive heart surgery four days ago. I was sitting with you when I noticed that your blood pressure was down to 54 over something very small. No one else caught it. The nurse was preoccupied with someone else, so I tracked down a doctor, who yelled at me for bypassing the chain of command. But when he came over he was quite alarmed and immediately gave you two units of fluid. And he had you re-intubated. That broke my heart, because we had been so excited when the tube had come out that morning and you were breathing on your own. It just seemed so barbaric to stick it back in.

I used to be able to remember your cry. I heard you cry for the last time right before they stuck that horrible tube back in, but I can't remember now. That bothers me.

Daddy and I visited you together that night, which was unusual. Usually we came in alone since one of us had to be with your sister, but that night Nana had her and we both went in and sat with you. We left at 9:45, and on my way out of the ICU my last words to you were "Mommy loves you, sweetheart."

At that point you were doing well. Your blood pressure had come back up and you seemed all right. I actually went to sleep peacefully.

The phone rang at 1:45 that morning. I knew something was wrong as soon as it rang, and I was right. I woke Daddy up, and called Judy who lived in an upstairs apartment to come and sit with Rebecca while we rushed down. We didn't have a car, but it was a 15 minute walk. We made it there in 7 I'm sure.

When we got the hospital the doctors put us in a little waiting room, and came in to tell us that your heart had stopped and they were trying everything. I told them not to hurt you, and if it seemed like it wasn't going to work to stop. Your little body had been so tortured already.

They brought your body out a half hour later. They had wrapped it in a blanket, and your little tongue was sticking partway out, the way it often did. Your blonde hair was wisping over your forehead.

But you weren't there. It was the worst feeling of my life. I so wished I had never held your body like that, because it wasn't you. I knew you were gone already, and the whole experience felt so empty. Daddy needed it, but I didn't. I wish my last glimpse of you was when I said, "Mommy loves you, sweetheart."

Instead I found myself saying, over and over again, "I'm so sorry." I don't even know what I was sorry for. I wasn't sorry for you that you had died; I knew that you were with Jesus, and it was so hard to see you in pain with all those tubes and so blue, and I knew that now you would be able to run and play and do all the things little boys are supposed to do. But I was still sorry. Sorry that I couldn't have been there to comfort you. Sorry that I couldn't hold you after your surgery. Sorry that I couldn't have spared you all of that. Sorry that you had to be so tortured. Sorry that I wouldn't see you grow up.

I didn't feel like I had said good-bye then. I had said it earlier. The day before your surgery, when the doctor came in to talk to us, he said you only had a 25% chance of making it through the next day. We had thought it was closer to 60%, but you were so small, you see. You had lost so much weight since your birth and you were down to four pounds. Our friend Tommy came in to take photos, in case it was your last day. Here's us together right after I heard the news:

That night I couldn't sleep, and I walked to the hospital at 5:30 a.m. to sit with you for two hours before surgery. That was when I really said good-bye. I sang with you and prayed over you and held you in my arms, even with all the tubes. I told you that it was okay to go. I told you that Daddy and Rebecca and I would be okay, and if it was just too hard you could go to be with Jesus. I told you that I so wanted to watch you grow up, and to hold you and to love you and to be your Mommy, but I knew life was so hard for you, and you were having trouble breathing, and I told you that it was okay. I loved you, and I would always love you, and I would be with you again.

They let me walk with you down to the pre-op room, and I was the one who handed you over to the anesthetist as they took you in to surgery. Passing you over was the hardest thing I ever did in my life. I really didn't think you'd come back to me. I felt like I was handing you over to your death. Daddy and I had prayed over you in that room, and Daddy gently lifted me up and helped me hand you to her. She was a nice woman. She wore a little surgical cap with teddy bears on it, just like Auntie Allee wears. She smiled and told us that they were going to do everything and that they would take care of you.

It was a gift when you made it through surgery, and then made it through that night. And the next night. And the next. I guess I thought we'd really have you now. I started letting myself dream about you growing up, and what Rebecca would be like playing with you, and how you would laugh.

But it was not to be.

I don't know how to feel now. It's been so long, and I share your story with others everytime I speak. I know you made such a profound change in my life, and in Daddy's. Rebecca was at summer camp this year and she always spends a lot of time with the Down Syndrome kids. They love her. You would have, too, and one day you will have time to get to know her.

When Katie was born she looked so much like you (though she was twice your size!). She had the same wispy blonde hair, the same blue eyes. She gets sad that she never shared this earth with you the way Rebecca did, I heard her telling a friend a few years ago that when she gets to heaven you will be the first one to greet her, to show her around. You will have such fun with her.

I find it harder to remember you today. It's just fading so fast. I keep replaying certain moments in my head. I remember when you got feisty when they came to do yet another blood test, and even though you weren't feeling well you kicked that nurse hard for someone who was only 4 1/2 pounds! And I love the look on your face when they gave you that gross medicine. Auntie Allee caught it in a photo:

But lately I've been thinking less about those moments and so much more about heaven, and I know that when I get there I'll get to know you so well. It's not that I'm moving away from you, even after thirteen years. It's more that I'm moving towards you, and I'm closer to seeing you again now than I was then.

I'm so blessed that I got to be your mommy. I did sing over you, and cuddle you, and pray over you, and kiss you. I wish I could have done more, but that time will come.

It's just that sometimes I feel so sad, and today it seems worse than usual. I'm remembering that day. It's 10 in the morning now. Back then I was making phone calls, trying to find a funeral home we could afford. We had already called Grandma and Grandpa early this morning and told them that we wanted to bury you in Belleville, and Grandpa was out already looking for a good place. He found a perfect one; the most peaceful cemetery just outside the town.

That doctor called around 10:30 to apologize for how he yelled at me the day before. I found out later that he had lectured his residents to not rely on nurses but to listen to parents' concerns, since it was me who had caught your deterioration. He actually had a lot of grace to make that call. It must have been hard, and I respect him for it.

The minister was due at our apartment at 11 to talk about the funeral. Your sister was playing with her friend Alison, Judy's daughter. They were three weeks apart. I don't think Judy had had any sleep after we called her in the middle of the night, but she was there first thing in the morning to watch Rebecca. She found me recently on Facebook, and it was good to reconnect.

Oh, Christopher, I miss you. A few weeks after you died Auntie Allee had her pictures developed, and there was one that made me burst into tears. I was holding you, and your eyes were open (you were so rarely awake), and you were looking right at me. I am so blessed to still have that picture.

And I am blessed to be your mommy. I know that if you had lived you would have always had health problems, and been short of breath. Today I imagine you playing baseball, and running, and singing, and laughing. I know you are with Jesus, and He loves you so much. I will join you someday, too, and then we will finally be able to laugh together.

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At 10:45 AM , Blogger Liz said…

My thoughts are with you today...


At 10:49 AM , Blogger Susie Buetow said…

Amen and HUGS! Thank you so much for sharing. I know this helped you a lot. You and your family are in my prayers.

Here is my prayer for you right now. Heavenly Father, into whose keeping we entrust our loved ones, especially baby Christopher, help us look to you in our time of sorrow, remembering the cloud of faithful witnesses with which we are surrounded. Grant that one day The Gregoire family may share in the joys of Christopher who now rest in Your presence- Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen
hugs @susieqpie Susan Buetow


At 10:52 AM , Blogger Kate said…

Dear Sheila,
Thinking about you and your family today. My heart still aches for our beautiful son and it has been over 30 years since his passing! There will always be that place, reserved for our Jesse, that is my "memory room"...treasures that I visit or that visit me, sometimes quite unexpectedly ! The Lord is such a great comfort and I pray you will be comforted.


At 10:53 AM , Blogger Alexis said…

This is so day you will meet him again and the reunion will be SWEET. You are in my prayers and thoughts today.


At 11:02 AM , Anonymous Annette said…

Such a beautiful post Sheila. Praying for you today.


At 11:26 AM , Blogger Michael and Annalea said…

Sweet Sister,

Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I read your post. My heart aches for your loss and yet I rejoice with you in knowing that you'll see Christopher again. What a day that will be!

Praying for you and you today Sheila.


At 11:36 AM , Blogger Unknown said…

Sheila...reading this flooded my eyes with tears as I saw your pain, but see your heavenly gift waiting.

The pain of NICU is unlike any other pain.

Thank you for reminding us all of the gift of life, grace and mercy.

Love you friend!


At 11:49 AM , Blogger Kate said…

Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I read this, my sweet Sister.

I am deeply sorry for your loss.

As if Heaven wasn't enough to look forward to - you have the added blessing of being reunited with this little one who you have loved so well.



At 12:48 PM , Blogger Tami @ This Mom's Delight said…

It's hard to understand why God has taken babies away from us. (Mine was a miscarriage in May.) Yet, we must continue to love and put our trust in God. It is okay to cry! It is okay to have times spent in memory! Thinking of you today!

Love in Christ,


At 1:09 PM , Anonymous Jen @ After The Alter said…

Thank you for sharing that post. It was a beautiful letter to your son. My heart aches for you and I will keep you in my prayers today.


At 1:09 PM , Anonymous Jen @ After The Alter said…

Thank you for sharing that post. It was a beautiful letter to your son. My heart aches for you and I will keep you in my prayers today.


At 1:10 PM , Anonymous Bonnie said…

I am reminded of the praise song "Trading my sorrows." We are truly able to trade our sorrows and pain to the Lord and in return he sends us his Joy. I know that the thought of your meeting with dear Christopher in heaven is truly the Joy that you can have every day. My thoughts are with you today as you are down. Thanks for sharing with us.


At 1:38 PM , Blogger Heather @ Marine Corps Nomads said…

I'm very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing that touching letter to your son. Praying for you.


At 1:47 PM , Blogger Elspeth said…

(((HUGS))), Sheila. big hugs.


At 3:06 PM , Blogger Christine said…

Thank you for sharing this. I lost 2 pregnancies, and I still get melancholy when those times come. One was 22 years ago. The other 11. I never held those babies, so I cannot begin to imagine that grief. God be with you.


At 3:33 PM , Blogger elaine @ peace for the journey said…

"It's not that I'm moving away from you, even after thirteen years. It's more that I'm moving towards you,..."

Exactly. You walk in good company with the ancients of old and with the "settled confidence" that there is an "out there" and that God holds the key. He's holding Christopher this day.

Thank you for painting your heart with such truth and depth and calling forth the love in my heart for the children I've been given. I've been guilty of not always seeing them that way.

blessings and peace~elaine


At 4:17 PM , Blogger Mandy said…

Hi! I am so glad I came upon your blog. I have read one of your books and really enjoyed it. I will read more now that I see them here on your blog. This post touched my heart and there are tears on my cheeks. Thanks for being open and sharing. I only wish I could see you when you are reunited with Christopher. What a beautiful day that will be.


At 5:06 PM , Blogger Melissa G said…

I'm so sorry you have to go through this pain! The pain of losing a child must be the worst in the world! I almost didn't leave a comment because I really don't know what to say. And i know nothing i say could make it better, although i wish i could. But I didn't want to leave with out letting you know that your son touched my life today. As I read this. Thank you for sharing him with us this way. I hope you know there are many people out here praying for you today. Lifting you up and asking for HIS GRACE to be yours in full measure today.


At 5:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Praying for you.



At 7:00 PM , Blogger Miss. C said…

I will be praying for you and your family. Just picture your child curled up in those great big hands of God, safe, sleeping and waiting until you come!


At 7:55 PM , Blogger Jamie said…

Thank you for your transparency. I've never felt the grief of losing a child, but I am so thankful that I belong to my heavenly Father, who has. I will give each of my precious children extra love today. Thank you for the reminder.


At 8:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…



At 8:46 PM , Blogger Joanna Mallory said…

Praying, Sheila. (And feeling a tad guilty about celebrating my son's 13th birthday this week.)

God is so good to carry us through our pain and to help us help others. May you and your family sense Him holding you even in today's melancholy.

I know you wouldn't have traded those moments with Christopher for all the world, and I'm so glad you have the certain hope of reunion in Heaven.



At 9:53 AM , Blogger Llama Momma said…

Just reading this today, and weeping for you. There is so much hope in this post, though. Thank you, Jesus, that this is not all there is.

Our youngest niece died after 52 days and many heart surgeries, and this brings back so many of those memories.

Not easy, but I'm so grateful for her life. Truly.

Praying for you this morning.


At 5:09 PM , Blogger Tracey said…

Prayers are with's to playing baseball and running with God.


At 10:17 AM , Anonymous Fee said…

Such a touching post. Tears are running down my cheeks as I write this. You are in my thoughts and prayers today.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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