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A Little Bag of Comfort

Caleb's Day of Kindness-Police

Happy 9th, Baby Boy!! Daddy and I met some of your favorite people in the world today when we visited the Del City and Oklahoma City police stations! We left some bags with vroom vrooms and other toys to help the kids they meet who are going through especially scary situations. 

We missed your standard siren imitations and the way we know you would've had all those tough officers wrapped around your toddler fingers. Not even a bullet-proof vest could have stopped you from entering a place in their hearts. I wonder how many guys you would have convinced to show you their real vroom vrooms and maybe even flip the lights and sirens on for you, too?

We miss you like crazy down here, but we are going to let your little light shine so much brighter than the salty reflection from our tears. People are paying attention and you are practically famous in Oklahoma now. Did you see all the publicity you've received lately? 

You are still showing us how to live. Thank you, Baby Bear.

Watch over these children and first responders and bring them comfort, compassion, and safety. Let each of them know they are valuable and worthy of kindness and care. 

I love you my little angel baby. I always will.

One day.

Love, Mommy
XOXOXOXOX

#calebeffect
#benice
Lance West First Fidelity Bank #PayIt4Ward KFOR-TV #BankerBoggs 

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Supporting Someone Who Has Lost a Child

https://www.today.com/parents/child-loss-what-you-should-should-not-say-parents-t30596

This is a good article that most parents going through this hell will be able to relate. 

I know I am one of the fortunate ones that has the best friends I could ever deserve, but I have also had my fair share of people who have gone out of their way to avoid me. I am not contagious. I'm sorry I'm not the same person I was before losing Caleb, but you will never catch the depth of agony you may see in my eyes just by walking past me and waving.

Thankfully, some of you have been there for the ugly cries when snot and tears run together and Kleenex is out of reach. There are still more who have literally picked me up off the ground (or trampoline, couch, bed, floor, church pew) and held me until I had enough strength to stand on my own. A sacred few of you even knew that if my door was closed at work, that didn't mean I was on a call, but rather that I was struggling to keep it all together and perform all the demanding duties far outside my title. There are those special people who know there is nothing they can say to fix this for Ken Toey and me, so instead you let your hugs say everything that feeble words cannot.

I try to keep in mind that most people have positive intentions when they say some of the phrases mentioned in the article or the one I hear most, "at least you're young and can have more kids." I don't say much in response, but I've been tempted many times. "Oh, you are right. Except that you're not! Also, FYI, I'm probably older than you think, am really messed up from trauma/grief, and don't sleep, but I'm sure having another child will fix everything. Your kids are interchangeable, right?" 

Alas, a forever 2-year-old's voice in my head is ever present, overwhelmingly powerful, and reminds me to "be nice."

Even though I know many people have told me to let them know what they can do to help, I am not the type to ask, especially when I need it the most. If you know someone facing their worst nightmare, do something in their child's honor, talk about your favorite memories with them, and don't forget to show up with unlimited hugs.

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What A Week!

PayIt4Ward, Surprise, Shannon Nagy, Lance West, James Boggs,

Hi, Baby Boy. Wow, what a wild, unpredictable, and completely overwhelming week we’ve had. We celebrated the day of the month that you were born, and you had your largest audience ever to help us “be nice on the 9th” for you. Mommy also added a couple new platforms to spread your message, but none compare to the amount of attention you have received since the Pay It 4Ward crew came and gave me the biggest surprise of my life.

It was just supposed to be a simple lunch with Aunt RoRo and Erica, so I was beyond confused when Lance West and friends showed up to RoRo’s house looking for me. If you ever wondered what Mommy’s “surprised” or downright “shocked” face looks like, that was it!

I had absolutely no idea any of this was about to happen, or that so many people all over the world were about to fall in love with you. You think that journalists have seen everything and have been hardened by reporting on various tragedies over the years, but that wasn’t the case this day. It was obvious Mr. West was already feeling The Caleb Effect before he ever walked in the door, but how could he not be? Aunt RoRo and Mommy’s friend, Shannon, had already sent him your videos before today’s setup, and that was all it took to infiltrate his heart. You see, Lance is a daddy who hasn’t forgotten the special moments like he saw while viewing the footage of your first steps, or your contagious toothless smile during “take-off.” I could see it all over his face. The extra blinks and swallows, the grimace to push through a smile, and the subtle quiver before the next prepared question. It was over, Baby. You turned another perfect stranger into your friend without ever meeting him. You never got to give him your trademark high-five, but somewhere I know you were beaming and telling him, “all right!”

I can picture you smiling so big the corners of your mouth seem to meet the squint of laughter and magic in your eyes. Would your next unsuspecting target, James Boggs, with the crisp, black suit and a red, silk tie, prove capable of resisting your super powers? He was a professional to a T. A clean-cut banker whose company funds each of the four $100 bills he had just placed in my hand. A man that I imagined had a computer full of Excel spreadsheets and complicated formulas. A serious, experienced sponsor that goes to meetings concocted in my mind with words like “blue-chip company, Equity Capital Markets,” and “GAAP” tossed around the conference table. James put on a brave face, but after the camera stopped filming, I could see the water forming in the corner of his eyes. He excused himself but promised to be right back. True to his word, he reappeared within minutes and professed that he had just gone to give his daughter a hug and tell her that he loved her. His older daughter wasn’t home, but he wanted us to know that he had also called her to tell her the same. Wow. You are so powerful, Baby Bear. This is exactly what we want to happen.

That unexpected visit aired three times and has been shared literally thousands of times online. We may only hear your voice on a video through tears, but we’ve seen what a silent but commanding force you are. Use your special powers to nudge someone to hug tighter, say “I love you” and mean it, and leave enough room in their hearts to be vulnerable to The Caleb Effect.

We see the signs you leave for us here on Earth, but selfishly, I want more than that. I want you to hear your voice in person anytime I want. I want to watch you run to me from wherever it seems you are hiding. I want to know you are proud of me and hear you tell your friends that I’m your mama. One day we will find you again and we will never be apart. One day I will have you in my arms, kissing you and nuzzling your toddler cheek next to mine. One day I will smile with my whole face just the way you did. I know you know Mommy and Daddy love you, but we will never ever stop. I don’t know what will happen next, but your message is getting through.

One day.

I love you, Caleb Lennon.

Love, Mommy
XOXOXOXOX

#calebeffect

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"Be Nice" on the 9th

We got the surprise of our lives last week, so it was our turn to Pay It 4ward. Today we honored Caleb and shared his love with causes close to the hearts of James Boggs, Lance West, and Shannon Nagy! What did Caleb inspire you to do today to "be nice?"


Type 1 Diabetes, Harold Hamm Diabetes Center, Camp Blue Hawk, Our Superhero

Cody is a true superhero! He fights his Type 1 Diabetes with the help of his courageous family, and will be attending Camp Blue Hawk, a camp specifically for other Type 1 Diabetes warriors. This will be the first time Cody has spent the night away from his parents or grandparents, so we brought him (and his family) a few things to get him ready for camp!

This surprise was for @BankerBoggs because he serves on the board of director's for the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center. They are responsible for making amazing experiences like Camp Blue Hawk possible. — with Shannon NagyKen ToeyBernie Lindo WileLance West and Mandy Price.


Literacy, Books, Splash pad, Hot Wheels

Lance West loves promoting literacy, so we gave out books (and vroom vrooms) to every child at the splash pad!


Shannon Nagy loves her fur babies and the Central Oklahoma Humane Society. We bought a few things from their wish list to honor Caleb and her favorite dog, Weezer, who is playing just beyond the rainbow bridge and is probably cuddled up in Caleb's lap.  If you would like to buy them something from their list, you can "be nice," too: https://www.okhumane.org/donate/wish-list/ — with Shannon Nagy and Ken Toey at Central Oklahoma Humane Society.

Shannon Nagy loves her fur babies and the Central Oklahoma Humane Society. We bought a few things from their wish list to honor Caleb and her favorite dog, Weezer, who is playing just beyond the rainbow bridge and is probably cuddled up in Caleb's lap. 

If you would like to buy them something from their list, you can "be nice," too:

https://www.okhumane.org/donate/wish-list/ — with Shannon Nagy and Ken Toey at Central Oklahoma Humane Society.

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Pay It 4Ward-AKA "Biggest Surprise of My Life"

EDMOND, Okla. - Caleb Wile made his debut into the world on February 9, 2014. He was a child who smiled with his entire face and loved unconditionally.

But, for parents Adam and Bernie Wile, those special moments are now only memories.

"He had an ear infection," Bernie said. "We took him to the doctor and, the next day, we woke up without him. That's your worst nightmare."

Their only child was taken without explanation. Their anguish was incomprehensible.

"It's been one month. It's been two months. And, then, at a year, I decided I wanted his life to be stronger than his death," Bernie said.

The Wiles launched a crusade to keep Caleb's spirit alive.

Friends and family distributed Hot Wheels cars to children at the Memorial Marathon. They've left behind change at car washes and laundry mats.

There is a different good deed on the 9th of every month.

Longtime friend Shannon Nagy nominated them for 'Pay it 4Ward.'

"The Caleb Effect: be kind to others, do good things, anything to make somebody's day better - which is awesome," Nagy said.

James Boggs with First Fidelity Bank helped us pay it forward.

"Bernie and Adam do so many great things in Edmond, and The Caleb Effect is so special for so many people in our community," Boggs said. "I am so excited and honored to help you pay it forward."

We surprised Bernie this week with a $400 reward for the couple's strength and courage.

"What you're doing is changing the world," Nagy said.

"I think that's why you guys are here," Bernie told us. "I think you're probably feeling The Caleb Effect."

Change and a child's love is being used to change the world.

'Pay it 4Ward' is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank. 

 

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Spread Love

Hi Baby Boy. I love you. I still constantly wonder what you are doing and if you really do see some of the things happening here on Earth. 

Daddy is mowing again right now. Every time he mows I think about how we should be looking out the kitchen window at him and waving, or waiting for him to walk by so we could knock on the glass and you would laugh. I miss these days. Your kitty, Smudge, must have known I noticed this discrepancy, so he jumped up to watch Daddy for you.

Today was the last day of VBS, at the “Fun Maker Factory.” Some of your classmates from “2s” have been there all week, and I know you would have loved every second draped in a red, oversized T-shirt that went to your knees as well. 

Ms. Savannah White and Mommy have been busy writing skits to go with the lessons for each day, and coming up with ridiculous costumes for my character, Edward Gregory Gordon III. He was a serious inventor, who insisted on being called by his full name and wore his shirts buttoned all the way to the collar. He didn’t know how to be silly or have any fun, but every day he was at the Fun Maker Factory, he made a few new friends and learned how to loosen up a little bit more. 

I loved rifling through the attic and garage to find new tools or pieces to craft Edward’s inventions! I realized that for the first time since you left this world I was excited about something. It gave me something productive to do with my nights that are usually paralyzing, and somehow the kids provided me enough energy to keep both of us entertained. When I was packing my vroom vroom today, there were so many random things like Mommy’s hard hat for visiting the field, a ladder ball game that was modified to make a “wonderfully complex” creation, Daddy’s brightest Hawaiian shirt, my guitar, a pool noodle, metal kitchen tongs, a level, Play Dough and pipe cleaner, and even the silicone pig and frog oven mitts (which I might have used to tease Mr. Jeff when he had to kiss a pig, ha). Each of the items made their appearance on stage, and hopefully made at least one little soul smile.

Ms. Savannah and I also went into the kitchen and saw someone who was the most popular with all of your friends - Mr. Scott! I had seen him earlier in the week but didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to get upset. Ms. Savannah asked him if he remembered me, but with so many kids and parents, he didn’t. I told him how you loved it when he came to bring breakfast to your class, but I didn’t tell him you were gone. Despite the hundreds of kids he has seen over the years, I have a feeling he would remember you. I wonder what the last meal was that he brought to you, and if you gave him “five” on your last day with your friends.

There were so many things that made me think of you all week. One of the days there was a little boy who would have been in your class, and he was wearing a yellow submarine, Beatles shirt. Yesterday, another 3-year-old on the front row showed me Lightning McQueen on his outfit and was jumping up and down to the song we were singing.

Every day there was a new lesson to learn. Today’s theme was that God loves us no matter what we do. My character, wearing his bright orange Crocs that matched his hair perfectly, and finally known as “Eddy,” accidentally broke his sister’s guitar and was worried she wouldn’t forgive him. Later in the day, his sister (also me) comes out to play guitar and tells the audience that she does forgive her brother because God forgives us. I had drawn a big crack in the guitar with a dry erase marker and used several different colors of painters’ tape and one of your sock monkey bandages to “repair” it. After the skit, a little girl told me she didn’t really like the color of my guitar before, but now it’s “even more prettier.” Hmmmm, another lesson inside the lesson, delivered as usual, from the innocence of a beautiful child. Sounds like my heart. It is absolutely demolished, but when I am able to choose to bring happiness to little children, (and adults, too), it is more meaningful now. Joy rises above the jagged shrapnel fragments, and pieces together the things that I know would make you happy. My life’s mission is to make you proud of me, and it is one of the only reasons that has kept me alive every second since you’ve been gone.

This week I’ve felt like I was doing what I was meant to be doing. Singing, playing guitar, and learning from those beaming, young faces. I loved seeing them smile and look up at me in awe (or maybe it was a look of slight fear at my strange not so androgynous character). Every day, Edward Gregory Gordon III says he isn’t going to stick around, and every day Ms. Savannah and the kids have to convince me to stay. The second day, it came time for such persuasion and the kids screamed and cheered until it erupted into a roaring cadence of chanting “Eddy, Eddy, Eddy.” I finally announced into the microphone that I would join them for another day. Shouts of joy and applause ensued, and even though I was just playing a character, I knew then that they wanted me to keep coming back, too. They couldn’t have known what they were doing for my spirits, but it was absolutely my reward for the day. Even the older ones who figured out Eddy and Bernie were the same person (As one little girl said, “you have a girl face.”) still wanted to say “hi” to me no matter which character was in front of them. It made Mommy so happy to know that the kids were having fun with their new awkward friend. They didn’t care that I had enormous tri-focal glasses that only stayed on Mommy’s face when they were tucked into her wig. They just knew that this clumsy, peculiar inventor needed them.

As Mommy’s office closes, I will keep looking for ways to do more things like this that align with my passions. Mommy is still writing preschool songs but it is taking a while. Sometimes it is hard to have any motivation, and other times work or other commitments get in the way. Some days the sadness does get the best of me, but I know the reason I’m so heartsick is because I love you more than I could ever describe. The last 2 months Mommy has been having a very difficult time waiting to be with you again. It is one of the cruelest parts of all of this. I want to be with you right now, and I don’t want to have to wait another 50 years or more. This role, being EGG III, couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Ms. Savannah’s (and Mommy’s) very talented friend, Haley, normally co-hosts VBS songs and skits but she wasn’t available this week, so Ms. Savannah took a leap of faith and asked if I would join her. Ms. Savannah is as nice as she is gorgeous (not to mention a soulful, gifted musician). You were pretty lucky to have her with you at “2s.”

While I was digging through some of my tools and toys that collected in her office, I couldn’t help but notice a set of pictures she has displayed. They are all candid pictures taken in New York City, and one of them shows an elderly lady with a quote. It says, “When my husband was dying, I said, ‘Moe, how am I supposed to live without you?” He told me: “Take the love you have for me and spread it around.” Wow. That’s what Daddy and I are doing for you. That is the essence of the Caleb Effect. While I have always been a high-energy, silly soul, now it doesn’t come as freely. I don’t always feel up to playing the part. However, children have special powers over me where I can’t help but feel their contagious, pure spirit and unbridled excitement. Even days after we lost you, holding your baby cousins and chasing the bigger ones around our yard brought playfulness through tears. As I told, Ms. Hannah’s Mommy, Wendy Lambert, who had never seen this side of me, “these are my people.”

I’m happy I had a few hours to spread joy and share what I’m discovering are my gifts from God, but I wish they could last longer. Each day I would get in my car to drive back to work and I would immediately think about how much fun you would have had and how you may have even been jealous like you were in your classroom. Would you proclaim to all the other kids, “my mama” as an attempt to let them know my heart belongs to you, and you will be the first to get my attention? You were willing to reluctantly share me for a few minutes, but anything beyond that would not be tolerated. This week you had to share me with 243 kids. The kids didn’t know it, but I shared you with them, too. “My Caleb!” I learned the purest meaning of joy from you, and I hope they take that with them long after they leave the “Fun Maker Factory.” 

I’m still working on that part, Caleb. Before I even left the parking lot, my tears were dripping down my face and onto my seatbelt. You would have had so much fun singing and dancing, giving high fives (I will always think of you saying, “all right” as your little hand landed inside someone else’s.), meeting new friends, making marshmallow and pretzel forts with your snack, and playing on the playground. There are still so many things I wanted to do together. I wasn’t finished being your mama. 

Mommy doesn’t feel well. My throat hurts and I’m guessing I may have picked up something from all those high fives I’ve been getting all week. Even if I’m sick, it was worth it. I’ve already seen proof that my littlest friends are going home singing the songs they learned, and one even pretended to be me, dancing and singing and playing his air guitar, right, Natalie Burns? Mommy is grateful Ms. Savannah, who had never seen Mommy’s silly side, took a risk on inviting me to help her. What a week.

I promise to keep spreading love in your memory now and always. I love you and I always will.

Tomorrow is going to be so boring.

Love,
Mommy
XOXOXOXOX

#calebeffect

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Change The World

Change Your World

Hi, Baby Boy. I love you. We are celebrating the 9th of every month now because that is the day you made your debut into this crazy world.

Yesterday, we spread your love by leaving quarters at places where people wash their clothes and also where they clean their vroom vrooms. We also handed out a few of your favorite toy vroom vrooms at the park from Aunt Annie Lindo.

One of the first places Daddy and I went, we saw a man with one leg and crutches washing his car. He had someone with him, but he was doing all the work himself. I hadn’t thought much about it then, but I’m sure it was difficult for him to learn how to take care of things like washing his vroom vroom, but he did it! He is independent just like you, and I could tell he takes pride in working hard in everything he does. I will never hose down my rubber floor mats again without thinking of him. I can picture you wanting to clean the car mats now and yelling “self, self,” if I tried to guide the water spray even the slightest bit. You know, you have a baby cousin that reminds me of you, too. Her newest trick is to grunt and throw her head back when she is forced to do anything that wasn’t her idea. I’m not sure where you guys got that “I’ll do it myself” gene. Wink, wink.

I miss you like crazy, Caleb. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with all of these overwhelming emotions. I know the reason I miss you so deeply is because I love you so intensely, too. I try to keep in mind that every day that ends means I’m one day closer to getting to see you and hold you in my arms again. Maybe you know how long Daddy and I are going to be here and you cross off the days on a calendar until we get to kiss your perfect, soft face. I REALLY don’t like being patient, so I hope time does actually feel like it speeds up as we get older like I hear elderly people proclaim. I wonder if there is a magic age that time starts flying by or if it has more to do with how busy or contented people are when they say things like “in a blink of an eye, 20 years had passed.” I hope that is the way it works for all of us, too.

Thank you for letting us notice the “ABC Child Development” business during our adventure. Neither one of us had ever seen it before even though we must have driven past it many times. Daddy and I aren’t ever going to be the same without our entertaining “Little C,” but we really love when you make yourself undeniably present. The yellow Hummer was a nice touch as well.

Like the template from your website, you really are changing the world. People are being more patient with their kids, forgiving people that may not deserve it, and being nice, all because of you. Do you really know what a magnificent little boy you are?

I also met some very special kids trying to raise money to buy uniforms. Two junior high boys stopped me as I was swapping my dollar bills for coins, and they asked if they could wash Mommy’s car for me. I told them I was only there to get quarters, but gave them some money in your honor because they were working hard and I wanted to reward them for that. One of the young men asked me what happened to you, and when I told them they couldn’t find a reason, he said he was sorry for my loss. It was a brief reply, but the way he said it and looked me straight in the eye was a more heartfelt response than some adults.

There were probably at least 10 kids about the same age trying to raise money, so I went over to their adult chaperone and told them what a good job they were doing and how I appreciated what she was teaching the kids. She said many of their parents don’t show up to anything so she is trying to be a good influence to show them a brighter future. I told her I wasn’t rich and that in fact, I will be losing my job next month, but I would keep them in my prayers. Right then and there she hugged me tight and said a prayer for both of us! I hope you will watch over these kids and let their team “OKC Storm Cheer” get the uniforms and support they need. Once again, I don’t think it was an accident that this group happened to be there when all I wanted to do is get quarters (and leave a few there).

We hope some of those quarters made a small difference to a few people in our community. We’ve always had the luxury of having a washing machine and dryer at home, but did you know that many people aren’t as lucky? Something we take for granted (and something Mommy really doesn’t enjoy), is an all-day event for some families. Some don’t have a vroom vroom so they have to load up everything and take a bus to the laundromat. Next time I will also remember to leave some toy vroom vrooms for the kids to play with while their parents are crossing this necessity off their to-do lists. Mommy didn’t want to draw attention by spending more time taping quarters to the templates, and the price per load wasn’t posted on the windows, so I didn’t always guess the right amount of change required to do a load, but I hope it lifted spirits anyway.

As the Aesop quote says, “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”

Speaking of the template, did you notice the “change” template has a butterfly instead of a vroom vroom in your logo? That’s because before butterflies become beautiful, graceful aviators, they have to slowly inch their way through Earth as caterpillars. Those of us still living in this realm are like the simple caterpillar trudging through life, trying to stay fed, and have enough energy to outwit our predators. We are still learning all the things that you seemed to instinctively know from the beginning.

Caterpillars are supposed to go through several stages before they convert into this gentle creation, but maybe you already had everything figured out and that’s why it only took you two years in this parallel universe. We were always proud of the way you loved to learn new things, but this is one area in which we wish you weren’t so advanced. Someday we won’t need Earthly food and we will get to shed our old skins, too. We will be like the Swallowtail Caterpillar spinning our silken girdles in the shape of a “c!” That’s right, a “c,” just like your name.

Help us continue to find motivation and energy to feed ourselves so that we can create beautiful moments in your honor. We will do our best to weave silk as soft as your golden-brown hair and metamorphose to new life as peaceful, light souls too. You have already made the radical transformation, but we are looking forward to the day when we will soar and dance on air together as a family again. Happy 9th to you, Sweet Boy.

I love you.
Love, Mommy
XOXOXOXOX

#calebeffect
#changetheworld
#benice

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Mother's Day 2017

Hi Baby Boy. I love you. It’s officially Mother’s Day, a day reserved just for mommies where they celebrate, and make cute things with your handprints. We lost you 6 days before last Mother's Day, but your teachers had already been helping you make gifts so I got a few last Caleb originals. Thank you! I thank God for the women who cared for you while Mommy and Daddy were at work and helped you make special things that I will keep forever. I know they will always love you, too. 

I loved getting artwork with hand and footprints, and we did a few similar projects at home as well (footprints were always easier by far). Do you remember making these crafts? 

You aren’t here physically anymore, so even though you will always be my baby boy, today is another emotional day of being in this no man’s land where no one should ever be, and where I don’t quite fit the standard definition. I used to be a member of this sacred mommies’ club, and I even have pictures of us smiling together to prove it. But, every day no matter how much I wish this were still an awful dream, the most unwelcome and horrifically forced update is still there where I used to have my gorgeous favorite light in my life. There’s not an option to go back to an old setting or a flip phone of sorts like Grandma still uses, so I have to relearn everything. However, the biggest piece and one part that mattered most will always be missing. I normally get bored with the same old things but what we had didn’t need any enhancements. You were changing constantly and I LOVED it! I don’t want to learn this new technology; the other one was working so harmoniously and we had everything we needed (and even some of the things we wanted, too). I gave up all the extras and accessories when I committed to these terms, but someone broke the conditions of our contract; yet we are the ones stuck here paying the hefty early termination fee. 

We are really trying our best to make the most of the gaping hole left in our hearts, but there are still many days I’d rather just throw away the whole device. I only use it for texting anymore anyway, but I try to keep in mind that that is not what you want. The category I once so easily and proudly jumped head first into is now a day that no matter how fast I turn off the radio, TV, or my phone, I can’t avoid hearing about all the ways we can’t celebrate together anymore. I want to hang your new handprints on the refrigerator and give you a bath to scrub off all the brightly colored paints stuck under your fingernails, but I know I can’t. 

You never liked it when I scrubbed your nails, so sometimes you just played in the bath until your skin was wrinkled. Oh, how you loved your baths! The concept was that the water would loosen a tiny bit of the dirt and fun you stuffed in there, but it never worked very well. I never understood how all that excited kicking and splashing couldn’t manage to get even a morsel of the crumbs you packed from your lunch and art projects out of the crevices of your nails. Even foamy layers of bubbles rising well past your stomach couldn’t touch the grime. If you painted with your feet, I had to be strategic and not put you in your footy pajamas. When you fell asleep, that’s when I would sneak in and carefully clip your nails and dig out the gunk using my fingernails. Mommy is pretty sneaky so you didn’t even know I came in there most times, did you? Daddy was too nervous for this job, so this remains one of the things that no one else on Earth can claim they did for you but me. 

I would give you a couple of minutes after you fell asleep to start my undercover hygiene operation, but no more and no less. A minute of impatience or an extra 30 seconds to stare at your beautiful face, and the mission would have to be abandoned. I had it down to a science. In fact, it was only at the end of your time here that I started trimming your nails when you were awake. You were still not a fan, but I could usually trim either both hands or feet in one sitting (but not both unless I wanted a battle). You were not quite capable of reasoning skills yet, but it didn’t stop me from trying to bargain with you anyway. I would let you watch a video on my phone to try and distract you, and you were okay for the first couple of nails, but then it was always a struggle to have you sit still for the others. You were always on the move, even as a tiny baby. This is why I decided to give you your mani/pedis at a time that I knew you would be forced to be still. I remember when the adventure was still in the experimental phase. I used the flashlight from my phone to have enough light to see to cut your tiny nails. I had to be really careful because I didn’t want the light to be too bright to wake you up but I also needed to see clearly so I didn’t hurt you. I discovered pretty quickly that the cell phone/flashlight method was not ideal and it was time to change another variable. It worked best if you fell asleep on Mommy (something I will cherish for the rest of my life) and then I could snip the delicate slivers using the light of the lamp. It still took a long time, and was definitely an art, but there is nothing in the world I wouldn’t trade to hold you in my arms again and concentrate on each of your soft, perfect little fingers and toes. Another routine that might have seemed insignificant or maybe even slightly stressful at the time, that now I desperately yearn. I never could have known how much I would miss all the responsibilities that the daily life of being your Earthly mommy brought, but I miss you so much it literally hurts. 

I want to ask you funny questions about me and see what you'd say, but most of all, I just want to pick you up and hold you. I don’t want fancy bracelets like I see advertised on every channel. No, the perfect gift will be the longest hug and endless kisses. That’s what I want today and every day, but I know I can’t have that. 

Does anyone clip your nails in heaven, or do they just stay the perfect length? Maybe the ultimate mother, Mary, takes care of things for the toddlers of heaven until their parents can be with them, too. Some people say I’m still a mom, but it is hard to feel like one when you don’t need me for anything anymore. I’m obviously not the only one who thinks this way because I often hear things like, “You guys WERE the best parents.” Like I said, we are in this strange purgatory of parenthood, but we are forever changed since you came into our world. I know you were never really “ours” to keep, but not having you “on loan” anymore to physically play, hold, and just sit on the couch and make each other laugh is unbearable. I’m only just now starting to tell you a fraction of how it feels to have to choose to live everyday in this world without you, but as I have told you before, I think you are somehow protected from Earthly distress. As you got older, it would have been my duty to teach you that this is not a perfect world, so I suppose it makes sense to teach you now since 2 is the oldest you will ever be. Well, Baby Boy, down here it is not heaven, so I know I can’t expect it to be. Life seems to be made up of a series of suffering, and sometimes we have to light our own candles to find our way in the dark. Sometimes the cell phone light is too bright and jarring, and we have to try a new method to do the things required to take care of each other. 

I have a theory about goodness in the world, but there is no way to prove its validity. 

There are 24 hours that make up the cycle of a day and night. They say humans are supposed to sleep for 8 of these hours, and we refer to this as “night.” History, literature, and real life experience seem to concur that bad things happen under this cover of darkness. Evil lurks around every corner during this time frame, and mortals can’t see clearly. Darkness is synonymous for wicked, sinful, immoral, bad, iniquitous, ungodly, and unholy, and Webster’s says that night is “a period of dreary inactivity or affliction or absence of moral values.” In fact, Elie Wiesel’s book accounting his survival of the torturous Holocaust is even titled “Night.” 

Since we don’t have answers for what happened to you on your last night here, I sometimes wonder if something sinister is responsible for your earthly demise as well. We’ve tried to change the feng shui of the house, hung evil eyes from Greece, prayed, lit a candle, and done everything but have a cleansing ceremony complete with incense and essential oils (but that might be next). Who knows if any of these things work, but at this point, I don’t think they can hurt. 

Night is still Mommy’s hardest part of surviving each 24-hour period, but lack of sleep has also given me more time for deep contemplation and perspective. I may be alone, exhausted, terrified, inconsolable, and without rest during those 8 hours, but that still leaves 16 hours of light (unless we decide to move someplace like Alaska, where it is all messed up)! There are still ups and downs during the daytime, and we still have to make a very conscious decision to get out of bed and participate in things that have the potential to bring happiness. However, the fact remains that two-thirds of time is still referred to as “daylight.” 

Light - it is equated to goodness and deeply revered in many religious teachings. “Jesus, the Light of the World” in Christianity; the “Festival of Lights,” or Diwali, in Hinduism, celebrating the victory of light over darkness; numerous “Buddhas of Light” and spiritual enlightenment in Buddhist scripture; another Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, to celebrate the miracle allowing the Jews to regain control of Jerusalem and rededicate the Temple (in the religion of your great-grandpa and numerous relatives in Panama); the sun gods of ancient mythology; the list goes on and on.

Even the dictionary defines light as “the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible; the understanding of a problem or mystery; enlightenment; to make something start burning; ignite.” Without light, the darkness stops us in our tracks. We rush around all day, distracting ourselves, but darkness always falls, and we are forced to stop what we are doing and make our bodies recoup for another day. 

So, why are there only 8 hours of night? Shouldn’t there be just as much light as darkness? My hypothesis is that maybe the world is 2/3 good and only 1/3 evil. Sometimes, especially on days like today, it seems that the scale is drastically unbalanced toward the side where everything that is wrong in this world. The hard times and tears come so much more often than the joyful moments we are trying to produce, but perhaps in reality, your 2 years, 2 months, and beginning of your 23rd day will bring us the 2/3 of bliss required to sustain our lives. Maybe we are even supposed to try to turn the 1/3 evil into light. Other people use the darkness to rest and recharge so they can bring their own glow into each day. I’ve used some of that time to work on your message of kindness. I know Mommy is not getting the restoration needed during this dark time, so I promise to keep working on it no matter how frightening the nights may be. I will use my obliterated heart and do something marvelous in your honor. The world deserves to know about you, my little bear cub, and I will always be your number one fan no matter how hard it is to live each day without your physical presence. I hope you’ll always be my favorite, radiant advocate, too.

I miss you so very much. If heaven is an even higher level of elatement than when we were together the first time, it will wipe out the 1/3 cruelty and injustice of my Earthly life. Someday I will hold you and be made whole. 

One day.

Not so patiently waiting, but doing my best.

Love, 
Mommy
OOOOXOOOO

#CalebEffect

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"Be Nice"-Take 1 (continued)

I'm a little late in posting this, but the first day of celebrating The Caleb Effect was a success. 

May 9th was an especially significant day to begin celebrating The Caleb Effect. Exactly 6 years ago, Caleb's daddy had a horrific bike accident and spent some quality time in the OU Trauma ICU. We went back tonight, and were able to thank a couple of people who helped save his life. 

From there, we took a short walk over to Children's Hospital, where Caleb's mommy volunteered for many years. We dropped off nine "vroom vroom" packs for the toy cart, and a few ladybug and butterfly themed gifts for a special friend.

It was a more emotional day than we planned, but we hope the message that life is fragile, but love is forever was still delivered. 

#CalebEffect
#BeNice

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"Be Nice"-Take 1

As I mentioned a week ago, Adam and I will no longer be counting the months since the worst day of our lives. Beginning today, we will be celebrating every 9th of the month with random acts of kindness in honor of the 9th of February, 2014 when we received life’s most perfect blessing. We would love it if you would celebrate with us and share it on The Caleb Effect Facebook page, too.
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I remember being a child and picking "flowers" for our elderly neighbor, Beulah. My sisters and I carefully selected clusters of purple henbit and dandelions from our five-acre backyard, and assembled handfuls of the most colorful bouquets we could find. We rang the doorbell and proudly waited for the outspoken grandmother with a sharp tongue to let us in. I'm sure it didn't take long for our gifts we had proudly presented to be deposited in the trash, but I realize now that the beauty was not in the flowers. The weeds that littered our yard could be found any day we hunted them, but the smile on Beulah's face when we came to visit could not.

Who will you make smile today? Being kind doesn't cost a dime, and children of all ages can bring magic to our world.  

Print a template here https://www.thecalebeffect.com/kindness/ in loving memory of our sweet Caleb and “be nice” in his honor today.

Check Caleb's Facebook page tonight to see the ways Caleb is still bringing simple joy to his neighbors, too. 

#calebeffect
#benice

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1 year

Hi Baby Boy, I love you. The longest year of our lives has gone by and we still miss you fiercely! How could we not? Do you even realize what a spectacular little boy you were and will always be? The Caleb Effect is spreading and you are teaching people all over the world how to love a little deeper, cherish every minute with the ones they love and “be nice,” even when people don’t deserve it. I don’t know how we ever got so lucky to be your parents here on Earth, but Daddy and I will forever be grateful.

Every day is still a struggle, but today brings up memories that are usually immediately ushered to the back of our brains. A year ago, Daddy and I woke up in our room, and you opened your joyful blue eyes for the first time in heaven. It was the absolute worst day of our lives, but for you, there’s not a day (or most likely night) that compares. I guess Mommy is more like the Doubting Thomas because I still wish I could have that Polaroid of you in heaven. I want to see with my own eyes that you are okay.

I still don’t want this to be real. Every time I think this can’t really be our reality, I look down at the angel wings on my necklace and the enlarged pictures from your memorial service, and know this painful fact really is true. A whole year has passed, and you still aren’t here, but my heart and my head still can’t comprehend this.

Some people accused us of being “helicopter parents,” and “Purple Glitter Headband Nurse” even all but rolled her eyes at us when your pediatrician sent us to Children’s ER when you were five months old, because we couldn’t get your fever down for days. It was obvious she didn’t have any children or empathy that would be useful in her profession, and it was later discovered that you actually had “Hand Foot and Mouth,” one of the many contagious childhood gifts you collected from your friends (The one downside from you being such a social little boy who loved to give “fives” and “knuckles.”). It also turns out that you were in the 2-4% of kids who didn’t tolerate a fever very well, so our instincts were right in being cautious. They could have called us any name they wanted and it wouldn’t have mattered to us. We just wanted to take care of you and make you feel better (and ease our anxiety when you were too little to let us know what was wrong). All we ever wanted was to love and protect you, Baby Boy.

Obviously, our hovering wasn’t close enough. The second we discovered no matter how much Mommy, Daddy or the paramedics wished we could’ve saved you, we couldn’t bring you back. I’m sorry we couldn’t protect you. We will always wonder what it was that we should have been shielding you from.

Little Baby Bear, I know you weren’t big enough to have bear cubs of your own, but when a cub is snatched out of a mama bear’s hands, she will run after her cub and fight the person who stole her baby to the death to get her precious cub back. That’s how much mama bears love their babies. You know how much you loved your “vroom vrooms?” Imagine someone made every single one so that you couldn’t play with them while you weren’t looking. All the wheels would be locked and when you found them, and you couldn’t get on the floor and play with them anymore. You go get them to play and you can’t believe what you are seeing. Your heart races and you have Daddy call for help to fix them. You talk to the people while you are trying to get the wheels to turn with your bare hands, but nothing is working. Finally, the men with better machines crouch to where you are desperately trying to fix them, but as soon as they see their condition, they tell you it is too late. They put wires on your vroom vrooms to show you that they can’t help you, but you try to think of alternatives. You tell them you know it’s not the same, but they decrease the temperatures for Hot Wheels that fall in a river. Could it work for your perfect vroom vrooms, too?

Men with badges and some wearing suits come in and tell you to leave your vroom vrooms, but you don’t want to go. You cry and ask if someone will stay and watch them, and they assure you that they will. You are all alone with one of the suited men, and he judges your every sentence as he records the interrogation. You were too exhausted to even change into pajamas that night, so you are still wearing jeans and a hoodie. You know the stern look on his face and furrow in his brow is just there because he needs to know that you weren’t the one who did that to your vroom vrooms, but you still feel like a criminal in your own house. More men in black uniforms and guns come in, and one is playing games on his phone. You’ve already asked him if he has any cars in his garage and he tells you, “no.” He goes back to playing his game because he doesn’t understand what it is like to have the one thing that made you so happy instantly gone. You tell them that you are glad your house is a mess because you played with your little vroom vrooms every extra second you had.

A man with a backwards hat and a camera comes inside and gets to go be with your vroom vrooms, but you aren’t finished answering questions about what kind of fuel you put in your cars last night and what time the mechanic appointment was the day before. You can barely remember your name and you keep shaking your head thinking this must be some kind of vivid nightmare. This can’t really be happening. You think that if you were ever put in this situation you would scream or vomit, or be hysterical, but somehow all the shock and adrenaline is keeping you from literally going crazy.

You finally get to see Daddy again and you are crying so hard the snot and tears run together. This CANNOT really be happening. More and more impossible questions keep coming about what to do with your vroom vrooms and where they should go. You don’t know the answers to any of these and don’t even know what options exist. There wasn’t time to check the reviews for the best “vendors” to handle this situation, but they are rushing you and your brain is in a fog. They add in “You’re going to need to make a decision pretty quickly,” but you don’t know what the right decision could be. However, you know cars this new usually get taken to a diagnostic shop to figure out why they stopped working. The men in the black uniforms have never even heard of a private diagnostic business, but between Daddy’s Google search, advice from your mechanical network of friends, and the tag agency of sorts, you find another stop along your vroom vrooms’ route.

One really nice man wearing one of the black uniforms asks if you have a church family he can call. You don’t have that yet, so he keeps encouraging you to call someone to come be with you. You know Grandma has been around these types of situations and wouldn’t pass out, so Daddy makes up a lie to get her to come over. She knows something is wrong but never could have predicted this.

The man with the camera comes out of the room and tells you he has done this for a long time and seen some terrible wrecks. He tells you that he could tell you loved your vroom vrooms very much, and you tell him you always will. He also says that there was nothing you or anyone else could have done to prevent this, but immediately you question his credentials. How could he possibly know that? Is he a certified mechanic? What does he know that you don’t?

The men scribble things on notepads and go outside and to other rooms to make phone calls. Finally, they tell you that yours and Daddy’s stories match up and so did the one they got from your mechanic. Their job was done, so they start filing out of the house. One man with a badge stays behind.

Two more men from another official car agency come and after the longest wait of your life, you get to go be with your vroom vrooms again. It is so hard to see your beautiful, perfect vroom vrooms that way, and every minute that has passed has changed their condition. You want to see them, but you also know the longer time goes by, the more this will haunt you for the rest of your life. Daddy can’t even watch, it hurts too much. He stares out the window crying while you hold your vroom vrooms one last time. You kiss them, and sing them a song through your tears before the short, apologetic man wraps them in a white sheet and takes them away forever. You tell him to drive carefully even though you know your vroom vrooms can’t be hurt any more.

Some people tell Mommy that she should put on a happy face for you and that you wouldn’t want to see me sad. I promise you, Baby Boy, we are doing our best to function every day at work and on our own time. We are spreading The Caleb Effect every chance we get, but I hope you also have some sort of protected understanding that losing you is not only a full-time overwhelming shock, but it also came with a super-sized helping of trauma. I told you the EXTREMELY abridged, PG-rated version, but since I still feel like you are not able to experience any sadness where you are, I think you can handle it now.

Since today marks one year without you, this will be the last video and blog post in this series on the 2nd of each month. After today, we will not be posting on the day that marks the worst day of our lives, but instead we will be celebrating the best day – the day you were born. Every 9th of the month, we will be sharing The Caleb Effect to celebrate your much too brief, but exceptionally full life. We hope others will join us and tell us about it on your website or Facebook page.

This was the last video we ever got to take of you, so it is appropriate that this is the last video in the series. So much has happened in the year that we haven’t seen your beautiful, angelic little face, heard your excited sound effects playing with your vroom vrooms or passing an emergency vehicle on the highway. Everywhere we go there are reminders of you. I took a taxi a couple weeks ago and it made me think of you. You only rode in a couple taxis in your life, but I remember so clearly you pointing one out in front of your “school,” and yelling “taxi!!” Remember the wooden Jesus and all the children on the way to see Nemo? Well, we are officially part of that church where you went to “twos.” Your name appeared on the screen during the Memorial Day service, and we sobbed while we lit a candle for you, and decided the time was right. All kinds of signs have appeared and we’ve used them to direct our next moves. We bought a plot of land where all three of us will be someday, and one of these days it might even get finished (Help us either decide to go with some brightly colored painted granite, or find another alternative that better suits your personality.). Your cousins are all getting bigger, but I think your less than two-week older cousin would still be a head taller. Baby Griffin just turned a year old, and we get to see her more often since they moved closer. I give her kisses for you all the time and let her know that you love her. Daddy has your handprint over his heart and words inspired by you on his arm, and we started a website dedicated to spreading your contagious love. Mommy’s office is closing, and normally I would be really upset. However, it is going to force me to share my creative side with our community, and maybe as I keep stepping outside my comfort zone, an even larger audience. Mommy never belonged inside an office, but I’ve met a lot of nice people there over the years. Help me put new plans in motion so I can choose to work outside with my laptop some days, or use my music to boost spirits. There is still a lot to do to make life worth living every day, so please help us focus on what you would want us to do, and help us live a second, minute, hour, or day at a time until we get to see you again.

There are so many things I still want to say to you and tell you about, but Mommy always did have a lot of words. You never made it to real school, but I’m going to bet you might have had “talks too much” on every report card like Mommy, too.

I still miss holding and kissing you, and playing and laughing together. I’m never going to stop learning from you, Baby Bear. I wish we could all look at ourselves and beam like you did in this video.

You LOVED babies (right Mandi Moon?)! In fact, the whole reason I got my phone out in the first place was because you kept asking to watch the little video Aunt RoRo sent with your new baby cousin. I wanted to show Aunt RoRo how excited you were that she had arrived, so I flipped the camera around so you could see yourself and started recording. I asked who you wanted to see, but you were too distracted by your beautiful face to pronounce your words. I will always be distracted by that gorgeous face, but it is still very difficult to watch you and know I don’t get to pick you up and kiss you just for being so adorable. You went from telling me as clear as a bell, “Mama, Baby Griffin, Mama Baby Griffin,” to smiling and playing in the “mirror” as soon as I got my phone out. You were so proud of yourself, and so were we. We will always be proud of you, Baby Boy. No amount of prodding or asking who you wanted to see again would provide the clear responses like the ones you requested right before I got my phone out to record this moment. You didn’t care what I was saying. There were more faces in the camera to amuse yourself. These are the simple moments that Mommy misses so badly.

I’m sorry you never got to meet Baby Evan or Baby Griffin in person. I know you would have had such a good time playing and being the big cousin, so I hope you still show up in their rooms and play when Unka Steve, Aunt Rachelle, Unka Thomas, and Aunt RoRo aren’t looking. Be with them when they excitedly clap and celebrate every little silly face or new day to enjoy life. I would clap all day long if I got to hold you and see that sweet face smiling at himself in my phone again.

Patience was not a virtue you had mastered, and neither have I. I won’t understand in this lifetime how Mommy can record a video of a little boy with a simple ear infection and less than 24 hours, go through the agony of finding you the way I did. Please help me sit still to watch the video of life unfold before I get to squirm out of this temporary home, too. Waiting is so very difficult.

I don’t know how you got such wisdom and perspective at only 2-years-old, but it will not end a year after you left this world. We will treasure the gift of Caleb Lennon Wile for the rest of our lives.

I love you, Baby Boy. I always will.

One day.

Love, Mommy

XXXOOOXXX

11 months

Hi Baby Boy. I love you.

I have not stopped missing you like a mad woman, and maybe I never will. You let Daddy and me experience perfect love and excitement every single day of your life and we will forever be grateful for every distinct second spent with you. You made us laugh at all the resourceful ways you figured out how to solve your own problems, and it still absolutely does not seem like this could really be our reality.

It is almost Easter and we wish so badly that we could fill plastic eggs with all kinds of vroom vrooms for you again. A one dollar Hot Wheel car, monster truck or “hah-doe” (helicopter) made you light up and let us hear that tiny, high-pitched toddler voice full of joy and excitement! Maybe this year we would have had you dye real eggs or used the Star Wars decorating kit that we neglected to open last year. I still have a little package of yellow Peeps from your basket that you never got to try, but it didn’t seem right to throw them away. I hope you get to taste all the colors of Peeps in heaven, Baby Bear.

Eleven months since we last saw your sweet, inquisitive face. That makes the pit in my stomach clench with the millions of knots tightly cinched together. It feels like an angry mob keeps kicking me over and over, and sometimes they stomp so hard I can’t breathe. People ask how we are doing and I don’t know how to answer. What should I say? Some people have this idea in their heads that our answers should fit neatly in the boxes of the “stages of grief” they read about in their high school psychology class. They think because it is getting closer to a year without you that we should be heading into that last “acceptance” box and then voila, we should be back to the people they once knew! We will never be the same without you.

Also, don’t worry, I can see straight through acquaintances’ prying questions about Daddy and I to see if we are getting along or if they can make a judgment about whether we are going to wind up turning against each other like a lot of mommies and daddies do after losing a child. You probably already know that Mommy and Daddy are soul mates and would fight any bad guys like Francesco or Darth Vader for each other. That will always be true. Mommy can handle herself, but if they try to mess with your Daddy, I will go crazy on them and smash their ill intentions or expose their selfish motives like the angriest, crazy Hulk. Yes, I will always love your daddy.

You may also hear people tell us that “at least you can have more kids” as some kind of solution to “fix” our sadness. I really hope you can’t hear these kinds of things where you are now, or you have been given wisdom to know that people just say them because they don’t know what else to say. I promise you, there will never be another person in the universe or beyond who could take your place. I also know that if we asked parents with at least two children, 100% would tell you that if they lost one child, the other could never glue their shattered hearts back together (nor should they feel the pressure to have to). I don’t fault the general public or even curious friends, I just realize most people have never experienced this kind of horrific real-life nightmare (and I pray to God they never do), and can’t possibly understand what it is like to go through the motions of each day without the biggest piece of their heart and soul.

We are also fortunate to have a handful of friends who are still “safe” to talk to and see both our fierce, personal struggles just to survive, as well as our new developments outside our comfort zones to make something constructive come from so much devastation and tragedy. Just as you were so independent and always did things your way, the way we are coping with the shock and trauma has to be managed the way that feels right to us. We throw down the egg that holds the convoluted grief manual, and try to make something meaningful crack open and pick up traction onto the Earth.

There are also Yoda baskets in our lives carried by people we need. It is not easy to let them carry those eggs, especially for independent people like us, but we know we can’t keep running around the yard with our hands full. The cruelty and agony of my grief is different than Daddy’s, but each parallels the depth of love Mommy and Daddy will always have for you. I know this just means I love you with a love that will never stop missing you and waiting for the day I get to hold you in my arms again, but you are worth every tear, grey hair, and lost nights of sleep. I know my heart will always ache with a hurt and hole only you can fill, and that is ok because that is the price of love. I will always love you, my baby, Caleb.

Keep reminding everyone that being stubborn and doing things your way can be a beautiful, powerful thing. You always knew what you wanted and you never let anyone stop you from collecting the pieces of life that meant the most to you, and leaving the others behind. When I grow up, I want to be just like you, Baby Boy. Help Mommy to be brave and also set boundaries to tell people “no.” Teach me to learn to ask for help like you did with your green egg and to remember to say “nu nu” (thank you). Thank you for continuing to inspire us to be better people and to keep fighting harder than any dinosaur or Avenger, even when we wish our hearts would have stopped with yours. How lucky we were to have been your parents here on Earth. I hope “The Caleb Effect” is collected and balanced in both hands until it falls out and leaves more than enough for everyone to play in the dirt again and again.

I love you.

Love,
Mommy

#CalebEffect

To give a child a Hot Wheels car in Caleb’s honor, click on the "Be Nice" tab.

Ten months

Hi Baby. I love you.

No one will ever make me laugh quite like you did. You smiled with your whole face, but laughed with your ENTIRE body. You couldn’t release all your joy with just the exhale of your giggle or another contagious breath of hilarity. No, your happiness sprung straight out of your innocent toddler heart and had an exceptional way of landing deep into my soul. You didn’t have to say a word. One look and I knew exactly what game you wanted to play. We would pretend to laugh but it never took long before our “fake laughs” turned into the real deal. We were cut from the same cloth, Baby Boy, and understood each other perfectly. You were our hysterical comedian with so much raw bliss packed into your pint-sized frame. When you wanted to perform, you made sure we were watching and kicked your charm into full throttle. The whole world disappeared when we were together and you blew us away with a wit far beyond your two short years.

We were such a happy family together and I hate that we have had to live for ten months without our most joyful little boy. Every single day since we have not held you in our arms just cracking up together on the couch, makes us ache for you that much more. People told us that more days and months will make missing you easier, but I’m having a very hard believing this could really be true. Maybe people just get better at putting on a brave face in public and telling the stories without a quivering lip.

Without you, I know the best days of life are behind us, and we will never be made whole on this planet. However, I promise you until the day I take my last breath, I will NEVER give up spreading The Caleb Effect to every corner of the world. If I never laugh like this again, you will still have given me enough love and joy to last the rest of my earthly days.

“I’d rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”

You will always be special, Caleb, and I thank God we had more than 30 minutes with you. Thank you for showing us how to live a carefree, cheerful life. Some people go a hundred years without experiencing the kind of happiness you shared with us every day, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

To all your friends, family and those who never had the pleasure of holding you with your footie pajamas: go make someone laugh today.

I love you and I always will.

One day.

Love, Mommy
XXXXXXXXXXXOOOOOOOOOXXXXXXXXXXXXXXOOOOOOOXXXXXXXOOXXXXXXXXX

#calebeffect

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy

Three years ago you made Daddy and me the proudest and happiest people in the world. Daddy told me you were perfect and as soon as he saw you he said, "Oh my gosh, it's me!" 

The first words I ever said to you were "I love you," as they laid you on my chest. I sang happy birthday" to you and kissed you over and over. You were bigger than I thought you would be and I remember how surreal it felt to truly comprehend the miracle of new life. How could it be that just a few short minutes earlier you were living inside of me and now you were breathing air and telling us how mad you were that you didn't get to camp out for the 42nd week, too? 

I loved being your Mommy here on earth and I wish I could still hold you in my arms and tell you how much I will always love you, my little boy. I would sing you any song as many times as you wanted and never get tired of staring at your beautiful, peaceful face. 

I didn't want this day to get here but the days don't take their direction from me. 

What would you have wanted to do today? Would you still love "ownj ice" (frozen mangoes) and dancing to your own songs in a circle? Would you know all the words to "happy birthday" now? 

We took little gift bags to your friends today because Daddy wanted to make sure they knew how much you loved playing with them and how you remembered to say "night, night" to each of them every single night. I'm sorry I couldn't hold it together and some of your friends saw me so upset. I wanted to do this together, but at least now I know my limits.

We couldn't buy you a bright yellow Tonka truck, or any of your favorite toys this year, so you will have to imagine them wrapped up in a website dedicated just to you. I couldn't have done this without Aunt RoRo (Rose Lindo-Lundy), so send her extra love and angel kisses. 

Happy birthday, my forever 2-year-old! Mommy will forever be grateful you were born.

With all my love now and always.

Love, Mommy

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Nine months

Nine
The number of months it took to create the sweetest blue-eyed boy that grew inside of me. I’ve wanted to vomit many times, my heart hurts, and I can’t sleep just like when I was pregnant with you, but that is not what I will remember from carrying you for nine months. As the quote says, "No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you. After all, you're the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside." I hope you still know how strong my love is for you even though you aren’t on either side of my body here on earth. It is not true when people say that I “loved” you. No, I will ALWAYS love you even after my heart stops beating too. Daddy will always love you beyond measure as well and I hope you feel every tender word he says to you in your room each night. 

We took our time traveling, going to concerts, and having late nights with our friends before we decided we were ready for you, so you should know how much you were SO joyfully anticipated. We absolutely couldn’t wait for all the love you would bring to our new lives as parents, and the bliss resonated beyond every corner of our heart in places we never even knew existed. Now MY Daddy and too many other friends and family have had 9 months to know you, play together and love you too. I know as I’ve been reminded countless times, that you “are in a better place,” but forgive me, Baby Bear. Mommy is still jealous. 

I’ve always known that biologically you were ours, but you were a child meant to unite the whole world, too. You loved people just for existing in the same space with you so please hear me when I ask you to continue to help us remember to share that love often in a world full of broken people. We need your unconditional harmony and bright light more than ever right now. Maybe this world was too cruel for you to live in it anymore, but I couldn’t help having dreams for your future. I just knew you were going to grow up and tell us you were moving to some far flung, remote village in Norway or maybe building and racing cars at the Grand Prix. I was already preparing myself for when you fell in love and had your own obligations and family, but letting you go like this was never in our plans. You never did anything the way we envisioned so we learned to adjust. However, losing you without an explanation at 2, and not seeing you again until we get to heaven is something Daddy and I are still struggling every second to grasp and something to which we will never quite adjust. We know we will not find answers on this side of heaven, but it still does not seem like this is really reality. It’s like we are in a long nightmare and you are going to lift up our eyes and your Thomas the Train tent and start laughing after hiding there for nine months. Maybe we are still in some sort of shock because facing reality all at once would take us out of this world, too. 

Nine.
The day in February that you were born and the day that in one week will be here without you whether we like it or not. I wish it could be like the miracle that each baby is to this world, and the 40-week (or 41 in your case) gestation period would be over and I could rest you in my arms again and stare at my beautiful angel. I’m ready for our euphoric reunion to kiss your perfect and innocent, ivory face. It is agonizing knowing we don’t get a countdown with the number of days and weeks we have left until that day finally comes. We are still fervently waiting, but as today starts to spin into another day and that turns into another week, and another month, we realize it is most likely going to be a very long time before that day arrives. Mommy and Daddy miss you more than you will ever know and life will never be the same without your cheerful physical presence. We are still doing our best, but we still need a lot of help. 

Nine.
One of the 30 numbers you knew at only 2 years old. Such a simple memory I tried to capture to show how cute you were just making up words to your book and “reading” to your kitty. Instead I managed a few seconds of what we called your “poop face” and a very proud little boy telling his mommy what number he saw on TV. I hope you don’t mind me showing your fan club this rather personal moment. I will be sure to tell them that sometimes you were interested in the potty, too, and that you had even made this same face twice while sitting on your Spiderman insert with success. Mommy and Daddy were clapping and cheering for you so you joined in the potty party slapping your hands together and yelling “Yaaaaaaaaaaay!” We were so proud of everything you did, Sweet Boy. When you learned your first letter “O” off Mommy’s OU sweatshirt, I excitedly told your teachers when you went to “1s” the next morning. You were still new to the class so they didn’t know you very well yet and I could tell they were thinking “uh, huh, sure lady.” However, when I came back to pick you up that afternoon they said, “Caleb knows his Os! We even quizzed him and he pointed out the letters on the wall and on the rug!” I just smiled. It wasn’t long before you had learned all the letters and they told me you answered all the questions at circle time and that you might be bored when you got to real school. You were such a smart little baby who loved to learn! You would get so excited when the “Letter Show” (AKA “Wheel of Fortune”) came on and you loved imitating the contestants calling out their guesses. You were so pleased with yourself and why wouldn’t you be? When we grow up and become big people, sometimes we forget that we don’t have to be as perfect as we were when we came into this world in order to still love ourselves. Mommy is trying to put this into practice and step outside of her comfort zone to do what she loves, but I’m a work in progress. We learned far more from you, Little Bear Cub, than we could have ever taught you, but it takes us a lot longer than the way it came so easily to you. Even if you didn’t know any letters, numbers, silly songs, or anything, we would have loved you exactly the same.

Nine. 
The number of months we have survived, but nowhere near the number that we will keep your memory alive. We will never stop telling the world about you and we hope the world never stops asking us to hear your story. God only knows how much I miss you and how obliterated my heart will always be. I do believe you are shielded from suffering and from all those that suffer. I also believe you only feel my grief as my love pouring out of my eyes for you. 

The difference you have made in these 9 months is something, although outside my womb, I am going to continue to nurture for the rest of my life.

I love you and there is nothing anyone could ever do that will ever take my love away from you. Someday I will cuddle with you again and kiss your sweet baby face. You will shout, “Mommy” and I will cry happy tears and reach out with my arms open wide. I will hold you and you will pat me on the back and we will kiss each other over and over and over. Someday I will be happy again and I will never let you go. Each day, whether it is full of monotony and unfulfilling duties or not, is still one day closer to you. I try to keep that in mind when these milestones come up.

Nine. The label on the video that I will never get tired of watching.

One day.

Night, night, Angel Baby. Until we meet again. 

Love, Mommy

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Eight months

2016 was by far the worst year of our lives but in some ways I didn't want it to end. I will be honest and acknowledge how impossible these last 8 months have seemed. There are some days we weren't sure we could go another second more without you here physically with us, and the holidays forced an even wider magnifying glass on the celebrations we should be spending together. Although we avoided the stores, parties, and even our house, we weren't blind to the fact that special days were still on the faces of the rest of the world. Everyone was rushing off to their festivities but we couldn't hear the commotion through all the surreal haze.

We are FOREVER grateful for the 2 years, 2 months and 23 days you spent with us, and for all the thoughtful people who are still praying and showing us they care, but it was hard not to feel guilty on November 24th for realizing all we had lost. Strangers assume we are a "young couple" without kids, or maybe honeymooners naive in their new love, but we know we aren't the same people we were before we had you. We used to be parents who thought we had forever happily traded playing on our phones mindlessly after work and popping frozen dinners in the oven at 10pm for make believe conversations on your play phone, and cleaning up the spilled peas and carrots that fell off your "Lightning McQueen" plate. It's like we have been dropped in some foreign territory where nothing makes sense and we don't understand what's going on around us. 

So, no, it has not been "the most wonderful time of the year." 

I hated that the holidays would even have the audacity to arrive without you. Didn't the world know that brightest light in our house is shining wildly in spirit but the twinkling branches of our miniature tree are still stuffed in the attic? Do the shelves at Target know that some of those "choo choos," books, and Star Wars toys should've been in our basket again this year waiting for your excited face? Do the pharmacists wonder why they haven't seen the little boy who probably would have had bronchitis again this Christmas, but who never let that stop him from smiling and saying "hi" to them anyway? 

We are doing our best to make you proud of us, Caleb, but sometimes I think the world could use a reminder that you never know when you will go from sitting in the living room together enjoying another peaceful morning with your family to waking up to your worst nightmare. The holidays can bring chaos wrapped in glitter, but I hope when the decorations and elves get neatly tucked away, everyone is left with the treasures that really matter.

Eight months without the center of our universe, but we will always love you and miss you no matter how many pages in the calendar are turned. Although we will not get to make any new memories with you in 2017, we will not leave you behind in 2016. We will continue to talk about you and to encourage others to do the same. We will be watching patiently (or not so patiently sometimes) for your undeniable signs to let us know you are still with us in spirit. When it seems cruel of the sun to rise on a new day, we will do our best to remember all the miraculous ways people have been touched by the love of one small boy, and how once upon a time one small boy brought miracles and rose again on a new day, too.

I love you so much, Angel Baby. I always will. 

Someday we will get to spend these days together again and we will never be apart. 

One day.

Love, Mommy

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Seven months

"Hi." 
I write to you every day and this is the first thing I say, followed by "I love you." 

Daddy and Mommy's hearts still ache missing you and not being able to kiss your smooth, toddler cheeks multiple times a day. We still wish we could pick you up and nestle you in our arms, or read you one more story. You never spent a single night without at least one of us to kiss you goodnight or help you change out of your adorable "footy pajamas" the next morning. You only had a babysitter four times in your whole life because we loved spending every second we had with you. 

We will never understand in this life why we didn't get to hold you longer than 2 years, 2 months and 23 days. Seven months without our friendliest, happy boy and we miss you more with every passing day. "Aunt RoRo" Rose Lindo-Lundy said you must be conducting something really important in Heaven and I will always wonder what that could be.

As I look back at the videos we took of your much too brief life, I think Ana Hernandez-Covey is right. She told me you are probably the "Wal-Mart greeter of Heaven," and I can picture it so clearly in my mind. Maybe you are standing at the Pearly Gates saying "hi," just as you are here, and perhaps a few lucky souls also get "high fives" and maybe even a few "knuckles" to go with their newly acquired wings.

You loved meeting new people and brightening their day. You wanted to spread love to every single person you ever met, and I know you are still using those you love to spread "The Caleb Effect" to people who never had the privilege of meeting you in this life.

I've said this before but it is worth repeating now. The only difference between a stranger and a friend is the word, "hello." Maybe I will change that from "hello" to "hi." 

So, keep reminding us, sweet boy, to say "hi" to someone we don't know even when we are sad or when the world has not shown us an equal kindness. You will always be the most special little boy to Mommy and Daddy and we will never stop loving you or saying "hi" every day.

"Hi, baby." I love you. 
One day.

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Six months

Six months seems like an eternity. 

We miss you beyond measure, Baby Bear. The house is quiet, but the sound of not having these everyday moments with you is deafening. 

You loved trading "fives" and "knuckles" for candy, and spreading your contagious, extroverted joy last Halloween. Daddy may have been relieved not to be a Disney princess again this year, but we were both crushed we didn't get to watch you trick-or-treat with all your friends.

Even though you didn't always give your "meow meow" soft touches, he hasn't stopped looking for you.That's the power you had and still have on every living creature you met (and even some you didn't). You taught us all how to love deeper and wrap our arms tighter around the people and critters we love the most.

There's not a nanosecond that goes by that Mommy and Daddy aren't thinking about you and waiting for the day we can finally pick you up and wrap our arms tightly around you again. I hope my daddy and all your new friends in heaven are enjoying you because when I get there, I'm never going to put you down or stop kissing your perfect, angel cheeks. 

One day. 

Love, Mommy
with Ken Toey

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Five months

(Written by Caleb's Daddy)
We put too much stock into material things - temporary objects that distract us and amuse us yet return no affection nor companionship. I am just as guilty as anyone of this crime, but I am trying to change that. Don't let hobbies and gadgets take time away from what is truly important in life: friends, family, and faith.

I cherish every video and picture we have of Caleb. It has been 5 months without him and he continues to be a shining example of what is good in this world. We never know darkness unless we know light, and sometimes it seems like we will never know light again. 

But we will. One day. Until then, Bernie and I are trying to figure out how to live without our light. One day at a time.

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Four months

Caleb inherited both of our stubbornness and liked to skip specific numbers when he knew you wanted him to count on command. Treasure the everyday moments. Four months without them is suffocating. 

One day.

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