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Our Superhero

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PART 1 of 2

Hi Baby. I love you. Do you know what today is? Yes, it is the 9th! Yaaaaaaaaaaaay!! I wish we could see the animated way you would clap your hands and jump up and down, or how you would pinch your cheeks and clinch your teeth trying to contain all your excitement. I hope you had that same kind of overwhelming glee hearing your name being spoken by new friends and knowing all the love and joy you wrapped perfectly inside The Caleb Effect is being opened and shared, again and again. It is the one present that is always okay to be re-gifted, reused, and returned.

Mommy and Daddy spent the day trying to return some of the happiness you shared with us in your much too brief life. We know we will never be able to give you as much pure love as you poured into us, but we will spend the rest of our lives trying. We miss you, Baby Boy. Every second of every day you are missed and loved.

A snippet of that love was shared with Project Linus  (), after a thoughtful invitation from Gabrielle Luebk. You never saw the Peanuts show, but there is a little boy named “Linus” who carries around his blanket and sucks his thumb. Linus said, “Listen Charlie Brown, that old blanket soaks up all my fears and frustrations.” It is pretty amazing that something as simple as a blanket can do that. Kids who are in the hospital, living in shelters, or going through some very scary situations are tucked into their warmth. 

Even though we don’t really know how to sew, the ladies in the group were very patient in showing us how to cut and loop the pieces of fleece and clip the edges of the quilting squares just right. They even let Mommy use one of the vintage machines and didn’t complain when they had to get the string unstuck. 

Mommy and Daddy brought some “soup” (AKA Superman) fleece and a donation, and remembered the adorable way you pronounced this character. Sometimes you would say his whole name, but the “r” was non-existent, and there was always a pause at each syllable. 

You never slept with a blanket, but your “vroom vrooms” were your equivalent. You carried them around everywhere. They kept you company when you were bored or stuck in the car, and probably helped you work out some of your frustrations from teething, not being able to do something by yourself, or not getting your way. We hope with your help, these kids will feel the same comfort. Please wrap your arms around them and remind them that someone cares about every worry and struggle. The good guys are still winning, Baby Boy.

You may not have owned a red cape, but you will always be our little “Soup-uh-man,” Cal. L.

I love you. I always will.

Love, Mommy
XXXOOOXXX

#calebeffect
#projectlinus
Project Linus - Greater OKC Are

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Fostering Love

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PART 2 of 2

Hi Baby. I love you. We were going to “be nice” to a foster care agency last month, but we pushed it to this 9th when another sweet friend, Robin Feuerborn told us of an event that McCaleb Homes was hosting. It was a Christmas party for Aunt RoRo and “Unka Thomas’s” neighborhood, and it just so “happened” to be benefitting kids in foster care. It also just so “happened” to be scheduled for Dec. 9th, so she wanted to include you. 

It was an extremely thoughtful invitation, but I will be truthful and tell you that at first I didn’t want to do it. A shiny, red fire truck, Santa, Christmas infused games, and perfectly-placed decorations would be there, but you, our happiest little boy would not. No, that was too much for my heart to have to power through. We would sell everything we own if it meant we could take you to see Santa and watch the wonder and innocence in your face. We would treasure even a few more minutes to watch you climb up in a fire truck like you did at “Touch-a-Truck,” or in Vancouver, when a tanker parked along the Seawall waited for you to explore. We would’ve asked to hold you and peek out the window a little longer so Daddy could get more pictures. We would’ve tried to freeze the image of you staring at the uniformed fire fighter who squatted down and gave you “fives” and the gold “junior fire fighter” sticker badge you wore so proudly on your shirt. If we would’ve known your second birthday would be your last, we would’ve driven to more than one station on your special day, and made sure to find one that was open. No, this was not fair. 

Selfishly, we wish we were still taking you to all kinds of fun events all around town. We miss you, Booger Bear. It is still too hard for Mommy and Daddy’s heart to celebrate holidays without you. We normally avoid themes that make us wish even more that we were still watching a magical world through your eyes. Still, festivities are everywhere and we can’t hide from the fact that Christmas without you hurts. 

“No. Thank you for thinking of us, but no.” That’s what I wanted to say to Robin, but that is not how the story was written. We knew this was not just another series of “coincidences,” but rather your way of showing up to guide us and to do something big for you. 

Aunt Annie had already surprised us by sending 10 backpacks for our project, and our dentist, Dr. Willingham had already agreed to provide toothbrushes. This event was happening and we were going to do our part in trying to give kids more than a trash bag to carry their belongings from house-to-house. 

We never talked about kids in foster care, so maybe you are wondering what that means. Google’s definition of “foster” is “to encourage or promote the development of (something, typically something regarded as good)” or “bring up (a child that is not one's own by birth).” This is another concept I didn’t think we needed to explain until you were older, but one we thought you would want to share your love and kindness. When I read it, it also reminded me of Joseph in the Christmas story.

Baby Boy, you lived with your mommy and daddy your whole life, but some kids (in fact 11,000 just in our state) don’t get that option. There are lots of reasons why kids don’t always live with their parents, but each of them has their unique challenges. Sometimes mommies and daddies get so sick that they have to have other people help take care of their kids. Other times the parents know their kids would have a better life living with someone else. However, one of the hardest for Mommy to understand is when parents’ destructive behavior and temptations cloud everything else. Some kids have had to live with a parent they thought they could trust, but who end up hurting them. They are left confused and many even feel like it is their fault.

Sometimes kids go live with another family just for a little while, and other times, they are there for years. I know you were an exceptionally friendly little boy, but I imagine if something happened to Mommy and Daddy, you would've still been really scared to have to go live with someone you just met. 

Many times, when a child has to move in with a new family, they grab whatever they can quickly stuff into a trash bag. It is the most practical way to hurriedly leave a bad situation, but waiting for a safe place to live while sitting next to a garbage bag can make a kid feel like they are left out with the trash, too.

So, on to the happy part of the story! 

It took a whole community, but together we were able to buy 50 backpacks, which means 50 kids who will immediately have something other than a flimsy piece of plastic to call their own! 

Every backpack had a pair of socks, a book, some kind of activity pad or coloring book with crayons, a pencil, shampoo, conditioner, a comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, Kleenex, a stuffed animal, and a handwritten note of encouragement. The younger kids also got a vroom vroom and the big kids got a stick of deodorant. We know it won’t fix a broken family, but we hope each bag brings a few of the basics and a little bit of comfort to a less than ideal situation. 

Mommy is also very happy to report that the Christmas party was a tremendous success! The Edmond Fire Department and Edmond Kiwanis brought Santa to the neighborhood in the fire truck and lots of little girls and boys got to have their picture taken while they told him how nice they have been all year. Those boys and girls also brought a mountain of presents that went with the backpacks to Angels Foster Care. There was a huge turnout! You could barely even see the floor or the bed because there were so many gifts! 

Your cousin, Hailee got to participate this month, so we put her to work manning the “pin the nose on Rudolph” station. Mommy was next to her as kids your age tried to toss their rings onto the blown-up antler contraption I was wearing on my head. There was a little boy that reminded me of you who was so excited when he got one of his rings caught onto my antler that he jumped up and gave me a hug. I knew if you were here, you guys would have played together and made a chocolate chip mess all over your faces.

It was still difficult to see the other toddlers climbing into the fire truck and to tell Santa why we were there, but we held it together for the most part. I wanted to go outside and tell the fire fighters “thank you,” but I knew that would make Mommy too emotional. Maybe they will read it here and realize even more what events like yesterday can mean to a family. 

Please let everyone who made this event possible and who helped us spread The Caleb Effect know how grateful we are to have been included. Numerous new friends got to learn about you and many more will be hugging their kids and grandkids tighter. As we have said many times, tomorrow is not guaranteed and we never know when an evening surrounded by the ones we love will be the last.

What we DO know is that we will continue to make the decision to let your light and beautiful life shine above our own desolation. We will smile through the tears and embrace the extra hug when doubts creep in. We will keep facing every day trying to be more like you, and we will share your doses of kindness even if it feels like it’s not enough. You were always enough for us, Little Man. 

How lucky were we that we got to encourage and promote the development of someone everyone regards as good.

Your first Christmas outfit was right. “Best gift ever.” Caleb, you will always be the best gift we’ve ever received. We hope all the angels are being the best foster parents for us until we have you, our perfect gift, back in our arms.

I love you. I always will.

One day.

Love, Mommy
OOOXXXOOO

A very special thanks to the following for making this event possible:

McCaleb Homes-volunteers and funding for backpacks
Robin Feuerborn-funding for backpacks
Annie Lindo-donation of backpacks
Bittersweet Design Boutique-event flyer
Stephanie Timmermeyer-50 “Savannah Finds a Lovey” books and super soft “loveys”
Fairfield Inn & Suites Oklahoma City Yukon-Shampoo, conditioner, combs
Compass Coffeehouse-coffee and hot cocoa
Jason's Deli-cookies
Angels Foster Family Network OKC-hope to brave kids
Edmond Kiwanis-Santa on a Fire Truck
Edmond Fire Department, Government-Santa on a Fire Truck
Willingham and Reiter, D.D.S.-toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss

#calebeffect
#benice
#fostercare
#Christmas
#HotWheels
#ItTakesAVillage
https://www.thecalebeffect.com

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"You will never have a completely bad day if you show kindness at least once." -Greg Henry Quinn

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I had to go to the vet this morning to drop off a “specimen.” As I was waiting for the lab results, I noticed the electronic candles at the check-in desk became lit. I looked closer and read that when the lights are on, it means someone is saying goodbye to their beloved pet. It was a reminder to be respectful and to keep voices low in a very tough moment. We had been in this predicament at this same vet just 2.5 years ago when we had to put my German Shepherd/Lab, Sofie down after a sudden and catastrophic illness. I immediately felt helpless knowing someone was going through the agonizing pain of watching their furry companion take their last breath. 

The lab results were taking longer than they realized so I was sent home, but not before I realized I still had some kindness rocks in my car with little notes of encouragement attached. I left one with a ladybug for whoever was having a very difficult day in the room just beyond the wall from where I stood. 

As I drove home, it made me think about how once again I don’t believe it was a “coincidence” that I “happened” to be there at that very moment and how I hoped the small gesture made a tiny shred of warmth appear amidst their heavy sorrow.

The 9th is coming up and I thought I would share this experience in hopes that you will be thinking of ways to bring someone a bit of compassion as well. We have something really exciting planned, but if you have little ones who love to draw endless pictures, maybe they could create sympathy cards for people who will bring their four-legged family members in to the vet but walk out with an empty leash or collar. Print out the “Rainbow Bridge” poem and one of the kindness message templates to include with each card. As your kids are busy writing their wish lists and circling everything they want for Christmas from toy catalogs, have them spend an extra few minutes spreading the true Christmas spirit to people in need of cheer. Crayons and paper are cheap, and kindness is free.

#calebeffect
#benice

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Save the Arts, Thank a Teacher

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Dropped off a trumpet that was graciously donated by someone from the Piedmont Facebook marketplace. Mr. Annesley also got a few goodies to help him weather the band's outdoor performances and a gift card to help purchase sheet music.  Webster also gets bonus points as I got to hug Sarah Odusi, their sweet school counselor! — with Jon Annesley and Sarah Odusi at Webster Middle School.

Dropped off a trumpet that was graciously donated by someone from the Piedmont Facebook marketplace. Mr. Annesley also got a few goodies to help him weather the band's outdoor performances and a gift card to help purchase sheet music. 

Webster also gets bonus points as I got to hug Sarah Odusi, their sweet school counselor! — with Jon Annesley and Sarah Odusi at Webster Middle School.

Some of the schools The Caleb Effect visited this month serve a large percentage of children with challenges that extend far beyond their math tests. We thought it would be nice to give the elementary art teachers simple supplies to create fun activities in addition to their gift cards. We hope kids enjoy popsicle sticks, glue and paint as much as we did when we were younger. We also gave the teachers a couple of "high five" kits to catch kids being nice or to encourage a child who needs an extra boost. These had all the materials needed to create a plaster copy of the children's hands and enough paint to decorate them. They also had a handwritten note attached. #BeNice #BeeYourself #calebeffect — at Martin Luther King Elementary School.

Some of the schools The Caleb Effect visited this month serve a large percentage of children with challenges that extend far beyond their math tests. We thought it would be nice to give the elementary art teachers simple supplies to create fun activities in addition to their gift cards. We hope kids enjoy popsicle sticks, glue and paint as much as we did when we were younger.

We also gave the teachers a couple of "high five" kits to catch kids being nice or to encourage a child who needs an extra boost. These had all the materials needed to create a plaster copy of the children's hands and enough paint to decorate them. They also had a handwritten note attached.
#BeNice
#BeeYourself
#calebeffect — at Martin Luther King Elementary School.

The Caleb Effect left a surprise for the theatre/dance teacher and one for Anderson Music Studios. Thank you, teachers! — with David Anderson at John Marshall Mid/High School-OKC PTSA.

The Caleb Effect left a surprise for the theatre/dance teacher and one for Anderson Music Studios. Thank you, teachers! — with David Anderson at John Marshall Mid/High School-OKC PTSA.

I had just come back from delivering 4 out of the 6 surprises but was still really down. Eight years ago on Nov. 9th, my friend, Jake Meier lost his life to a seizure. I was still having trouble making the joy rise above the tears, and apparently, so was Mama Meier Sandy Meier). Jake was the little brother I never had. Now he is the one looking out for me. I don't know what I did to earn such spec...See More  — with Debbie Harmon Yeargin Rueda.

I had just come back from delivering 4 out of the 6 surprises but was still really down. Eight years ago on Nov. 9th, my friend, Jake Meier lost his life to a seizure. I was still having trouble making the joy rise above the tears, and apparently, so was Mama Meier Sandy Meier). Jake was the little brother I never had. Now he is the one looking out for me. I don't know what I did to earn such spec...See More

 — with Debbie Harmon Yeargin Rueda.

We didn't forget about vroom vrooms. Dollar General is having a BOGO sale so we stocked up.  What do you get when you buy 276 Hot Wheels (We've hit a few more stores since this original post, Final tally to be counted soon)? You get THE DISPLAY TO TAKE WITH YOU!!! The rainbow as you are leaving is just Caleb's way of showing approval :) W/ Bernie Lindo Wile & #TheCalebEffect

We didn't forget about vroom vrooms. Dollar General is having a BOGO sale so we stocked up. 

What do you get when you buy 276 Hot Wheels (We've hit a few more stores since this original post, Final tally to be counted soon)?

You get THE DISPLAY TO TAKE WITH YOU!!!

The rainbow as you are leaving is just Caleb's way of showing approval :)

W/ Bernie Lindo Wile & #TheCalebEffect

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(I'm a little late in posting, but the sentiment is just as heartfelt.) 

Hi Baby Boy. I love you. Happy 9th! Today is also a day that is mixed with sadness, as it has been 8 years since Mommy's buddy, Jake Meier left us unexpectedly. I didn't know if we would be able to still make it a happy day, but thank you both for the special rainbow in the sky despite not having any rain.

We remembered you today by celebrating teachers who share their love of the arts with kids. We wish we could’ve visited every school and left surprises for all the teachers in the world, but maybe you can talk to Santa and help us make that happen soon. 

My little bear cub, we treasure all the sweet footprint art, finger paintings, and coloring pages you made while you were still here. We loved seeing you overcome by music’s power as you stomped your Velcro shoes and clapped along to the cadence felt straight into your heart. We were ecstatic about all the future preschool productions to come, and we could almost guarantee you would be that little boy making faces at us and waving in the middle of a song. Mommy and Daddy were very private about posting too many pictures of you online, but I have a feeling you would’ve become a viral sensation just to prove to us that you always had your own plans. 

Baby Boy, Mommy didn’t grow up in a school that offered things like musical theatre, drama, or dance, but she DID get to participate in choir and band (She might have also signed up for band despite Grandma’s explicit instructions forbidding it, but that is a story for another day.). I had the same music teacher from 6th-12th grade and I will never forget her as long as I live. 

Mrs. Yeargin came into my life as I made the transition from elementary school to the illustrious middle school. I remember being excited that I would get to change classes throughout the day and finally have a locker to decorate and secure my private thoughts. Sixth grade was also an incredibly awkward time when teachers talked about things that we had yet to explain to you and that made me want to go hide under my desk until they were finished. The boys in my class also never missed an opportunity to point out how these discussions of puberty and hormones were obviously not yet part of my reality as a late bloomer. Still, I had started shaving my legs the year before to keep up with what little trends made me fit in.

If fitting in was something to try to attain, normally people don’t think of joining band. However, in our small town, every kind of social group was represented there. It didn’t matter if you played basketball or quiz bowl or whether you were gay or straight. At half-time of every game where we marched, you were sure to see the quarterback of the team with black chalk under his eyes and a trombone in his hands. Standing next to him was the class clown with his trumpet and then the shy kid and his saxophone. Still, a few rows beyond them you would find the captain of the cheer squad and her snare drum ricocheting “Go Big Blue,” and every other group in between. For one hour of every day, the lines in the cliques were drawn with pencil that Mrs. Yeargin kept pushing to help us erase. 

Yes, I learned much more in her class than how to play the flute and piccolo, or simply the words to “Beautiful Dreamer.” From the minute I met my new band and choir teacher, I knew she would make at least two periods of my day fun. Mrs. Yeargin was a lady with a quick-witted sense of humor who laughed easily. She also knew when to let us talk and when it was time to silence the chatter. She was someone who had to ask for help putting away instruments in the top, wooden cubby, but when she wanted her class to listen, you can bet 100 wide eyes stopped whatever they were doing and paid attention to the conductor behind the music stand. 

She called us her “kids” and treated us like her own, constantly picking up piles of stiff, high-waisted pants and wayward shoes, and always managing to find the owners of each before the uniforms were needed again. She had us laughing so hard we were crying as she presented us with “awards” we had earned for various antics throughout the year and welcomed us into her house even after her eyelids couldn’t stay as open as her door.

I met Mrs. Y at a time when our regular family chaos was mixed with confusion and false hope after two-years of my daddy’s fight with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He had already lost his voice and the use of his legs, and his arms were quickly catching up. She did not ignore the things she knew were already weighing on my mind and her office became a safe place for questions, tears, and prayers. She pushed us outside our comfort zones and taught us to dream bigger than the city limits of our small, farming town. She went above and beyond to provide opportunities that we never would have had on our own. 

She took us to Stillwater every year, where I ate at Eskimo Joe’s for the first time and where we learned to play colorful, plastic cups on the sidewalk outside. We got to participate in OSU Band Day, where despite being a Sooner fan, I couldn’t deny the thrill I felt while being on the field in front of the crowd at my first college football game. She accompanied us and sent in hundreds of audition tapes so we could go to Tri-State Music Festival, a three-day event where we got to stay in a hotel and eat pizza multiple times a day. She showed us the wonder of walking out on the ice and being announced under the lights to sing the Star-Spangled Banner for a Blazers hockey match. She taught us to be grateful for what is most important in life after losing our friend and 4 out of 5 of his family members to a drunk driver. A few months later, she encouraged those same humble voices and spirits to sing “Angel’s Among Us” for a ceremony for first responders of the Oklahoma City bombing. 

She got up before the sun and drove a bus and her patience all over the state. She listened to us when we needed her most, and sacrificed time with her family to talk to us long after the last bell rang. She gave us courage to stand up for what is right and to dig your heels in when you know any other way would compromise your principles. Despite all the unique ways her students marched to the beat of their own drums, she knew that together we make more beautiful harmonies. 

She was there for me when I was called home from school when my dad had finished his mission here on Earth, and she continues to be here for me as we do our best to cope with the massive hole in our hearts from losing you. Yes, there will always be a special place in my soul for cummerbunds; pastel, floral wrap-skirts; and Mrs. Yeargin. Thank you for staying with us until the last conversation, parent, or daylight disappeared. I love you.

Caleb Baby, I wish you could’ve had a chance to meet her. Please inspire others to thank all of their teachers, but especially those in the arts. Classes like the ones I described are disappearing and not all of us find our way so flawlessly and instinctively the way you did. People like Mommy still need this instruction and creative outlets. We would give anything in the world to sing the “bus song,” “star,” or any other song you wanted us to sing to you. In fact, because of music teachers in my life, Mommy wrote you your own version of “star.” I pray you heard me, Sweet Boy.

Keep letting all of our voices be heard in all the artistic ways we have been given on this Earth.

I love you.

Love, Mommy
OXOXOXOXO

#calebeffect
#savethearts
#benice
#kindness

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18 Months Without You

(I originally wrote this on the 2nd and into the wee hours of the 3rd, but felt it was too sad to post after I read it. I went back today and tried to add some brighter moments, but there is still not enough sugar or optimism to coat on this kind of pain. How could this beautiful boy that is staring right at me not still be here? His coat is hanging on the hook and his monster water bottle is ready for another walk through our neighborhood.)

Never noticed the butterfly-shaped grass on the sidewalk next to Caleb until now.

Never noticed the butterfly-shaped grass on the sidewalk next to Caleb until now.

Hi Baby Boy. I love you. Mommy’s heart is so sad. This morning brought back all of the feelings of May 2nd, waking up to the horror of not having you here anymore. You were already heavy on my mind as I sat staring into nothingness from the couch. However, as soon as Daddy came out of our room to start the day, I felt the familiar panic. It’s like the same thick air, shock, pressure, and tight knots in my stomach all launched their coordinated assault in precise unison and snatched all the oxygen from my chest.

It is also All Souls Day which I suppose is fitting, although we remember you far more than just today. This day brought the kind of stillness and quiet that has been eerily present since your joyful voice and laughter were silenced. I still shake my head and fight off this reality. This can’t really be true. No, this is not how we imagined our family unit. You always had at least one of us with you every day of your life. Mommy and Daddy WANTED to spend time with you. We LOVED being together! It is such a massive shock to go from laughing and having the grandest time living in the moment with you, to never getting to see you for the rest of our lives. I don’t know how to wrap the logical side of my brain around this enormous hole or be okay offering my obliterated heart, zero resolution.

My little boy, I know we are the type of people who were born with more energy than most, but Mommy is exhausted in so many ways. I still desperately need your help even if you don’t need me for anything. The tears fall and I hear myself audibly tell you, “I would do anything to play with you right now.”

I remember something I told one of the police officers as I was being escorted into the living room to begin my interrogation. In a cracking voice that sounded as though I was hearing it from outside my own devastated body while being forced to abandon yours, the words became louder. “I’m glad our house is a mess, because we played with that little boy!” I blink and look around again, but the large pictures from your memorial service are still there and so is this awful truth.

It still takes more force and effort to breathe, Baby Bear. All our hopes and curious anticipation for your future didn’t just vanish into the night the way your soul did. We will always wonder who you would’ve grown up and become. How tall would you be? What new friends would you have? What kinds of things would you know now? What toys would be your favorites? So many swirling questions. Why aren’t you still here? How did this happen? How does a healthy toddler go from a simple ear infection and fever you had experienced literally dozens of times to this? How could a doctor who saw you the day before and many other professionals who saw you after, not find ANYTHING that could explain this sudden and drastic shift?

Surprisingly, and inexplicably, I’m not angry like I was when my dada died, but my mind is still rifling through the facts to discern some sort of scientific cause that probably doesn’t exist for you. You were 2, not 82. There is nothing “natural” about losing you, and it is overwhelming to still not be able to answer the stabbing yet understandably human probe pointed at us. Even well-meaning people raised their eyebrows and couldn’t refrain from asking us this before offering a hug or inquiring about how we were holding up. It is not a greeting or first question I can recommend, but that doesn’t prevent it from still looping in my memory- “What happened?”

Even brilliant physicians and scientists are baffled, but I am not satisfied despite their thorough and determined efforts. There is constant culpability for what we should or shouldn’t have done or what we could’ve missed. The “mom guilt” asks if you would still be here if I would’ve stayed home with you and let your immune system build, or if you would’ve had that second set of ear tubes that we were about to schedule after gaining clearance from your asthma doctor. What if we would’ve slept in your room with you? Would that have changed the outcome? Would we have heard something to alert us that the baby monitor didn’t? Was there something evil in our house? Are we being punished by God for all our shortcomings? Did you suffer? God, I hope you didn’t suffer. There are a million and one unanswered questions and “what ifs,” but I’m told that none of them serve me well. Still, I can’t help but think about what could’ve possibly stolen my heart and soul away from me. You never had any catastrophic illnesses, but any time the typical daycare viruses came through, you were guaranteed to catch them.

Will we ever solve this lingering and disturbing mystery? Maybe this is some kind of extended nightmare. I wrack my brain but none of it makes any sense. Could I be in a prolonged coma and someone is going to shake me until I wake up from this realm? Yet, every time I ask myself that question, I see the wretched proof and physical reminders in far too many morbid forms. They grip my core and squeeze with all their might, but I can’t escape. I have to stay here and rely on distractions and stubborn grit to take a breath and then another.

Still, there is nothing from which anyone can tell us that you needed protection, and I hate that more than I can possibly convey. I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you, Baby Boy. I’m more regretful than I can ever tell you. I will always be sorry your Mommy couldn’t protect you from whatever took you from us. That was my job and I’m sorry I failed you. Without any warning, call for help, or explanation, you were gone. I desperately tried to bring you back, but it was too late. Stress and swift punches to the gut have taken their shots this week for a variety of reasons, but today, the strings were cinched especially tight. There are so many things that are too nauseating to talk about, and even more that I will never tell you and that require an immediate shift in focus to fight off the disturbing images.

None of these things probably even matter to you now, but you should know that I miss you, Caleb. I miss you fiercely, day and night. There is never a time that you aren’t on my heart and mind.

I thought I was worn out enough to sleep after the sun came up today, but I still need your help in this area. Daddy put it best several months ago when our counselor asked how we were coping. Thankfully, you had not yet learned one of the words he used to describe what it’s like to live in our new “normal,” but it rhymes with “ducked.” He’s right. We are “messed up.” Apparently, there are also more G-rated terms like not being “regulated,” having “traumatic” and “complicated grief,” and “PTSD,” but what do we do with these labels? I hear from others who have counted more days away from their kids than us, and many are still just as paranoid. Some never had the same kinds of struggles, and some rely on a concoction of pills, alcohol or denial to fill the void. I know anyone going through this kind of hell has a unique story and are probably just doing their best to survive. However, if I have to still be here without you, I want to have a clear enough mind to tell the world what an incredible little boy I was given for 2 years, 2 months and somewhere into his 23rd day.

Baby Boy, I miss you. I hate this. I hate being separated from you.

I know nothing can separate my love for you, but tonight, we also parted with the food Mommy and Daddy bought specifically for you when you were still here. You left behind a box of Cheerios; Star Wars Honey Maid; animal crackers; two kinds of applesauce; frozen peas; a mango mix that would’ve had to be replaced long before now; Blueberry pancakes; waffles; PB&J bars that I’m pretty sure you tried and didn’t like; Pedialyte freezer pops (that once again you couldn’t be coerced to eat); and your bright yellow Peeps from Easter that you never got to try. I know you can’t consume these things anymore but there is still so much guilt and tears for erasing one more tangible thing of yours that should still be a part of our daily lives. New knots in my core are violently secured, and Mommy’s body literally tried to expel them. I think about all the things no one else but those who have lost the most special members of their household will ever realize. I know grief will never be “over” in this lifetime. I will never eat a Veggie Straw or mango without thinking of you, Sweet Boy. I will never see a container of hummus and not wish I could spread it on a Hawaiian roll the way you liked. In fact, I have not eaten a Hawaiian roll since, and every time I see them at the store it gets me. I also know that control is an illusion, but I thought it would be better to remove these perishable pieces from their places on our terms before time or pests destroyed them on theirs. Still, I never thought I could miss frozen peas. How did those ever taste good to you anyway, Angel Baby?

I miss you more with every passing day. If you had to go, why couldn’t we come with you? Or better yet, why couldn’t we take your place? Daddy and I would trade you places in less than a nanosecond if we could, Baby Boy. Do you know that? We love you so much we would gladly die for you without hesitation. You are worth that and so much more. You never got to have your own babies, but somehow, I think you already knew how to love the way you made us so easily and utterly enamored by you. It’s true that little babies and children can’t take care of their basic needs, but isn’t it interesting that they instinctively know how to love with all their hearts? Thank you for perfectly loving your imperfect parents, Caleb.

I genuinely don’t want to be miserable for the rest of my life. I want to keep working at pushing myself to have moments of socialization, kindness, smiles, and love, but it takes a Herculean effort. My sole new purpose in life is to let your love shine brighter than my own sadness. It is the one thing that I finally discovered takes away the temptation of being with you now. I came to the realization that if I join you on my own accord and take myself out of my misery, it would overshadow your life, and I can’t let that happen. It is more important for me to let your light and legacy live, and to make sacrifices for you than it is to stop my pain. Right or wrong, we are still trying to cope with this intense brokenness as naturally as possible and without any temporary numbing agents. Please keep our focus honed so that we can continue to spread your love and kindness through The Caleb Effect to those who need it most. I know I’ve said this before, but we really aren’t officially counting months since the worst day or our lives anymore, but today was still significant to me as another six months trudged slowly on. We also know it means we are six more months closer to hugging you and never having to let go ever again. 

Today marks 18 months since we last kissed your beautiful, perfect face. You really did have the most gorgeous face. Like the purest porcelain that was softened by all that is good and nurturing, and cheeks even chapped with winter air and eczema, formed subtle, pink roses beneath the surface. When you were a tiny baby, I used to put our cheeks together and hold you like that for hours. I loved feeling your smooth face against mine and the way you fit peacefully nestled under my chin. One of the three amigos’ mamas pointed out that you liked to put your hand on Mommy’s face often, too. She noticed multiple pictures of you with your hand cradling my face and made me remember your eager affection. I also remember us having a discussion about how she would never be able to sleep the way she saw a picture of us together with your forehead against mine and the ball of your fist safely leaning on Mommy’s cheek. Oh, how I wish you could come rest your tiny fingers on my cheeks again. I would go back and forth across the strands of your mousy baby hair like I used to, and rest my lips on your crown.

I loved kissing your sweet toddler head, scented with your Aveeno shampoo and heaven. I could stare at your innocent, concentrating blue eyes or sweep your wispy, but thickening, silken baby hair for the rest of my life. I could give you butterfly and Eskimo kisses and hear your laughter when it tickled the mirrored, 2-year-old version of my own nose. I could watch you try to stay awake and finally close your eyes when you thought Mommy was falling asleep, too. You inherited Mommy’s same “bowtie, Lindo” mouth, but somehow you managed to have a lot more beauty and color infused in your contagious, radiant grin. There is nothing I loved more than holding you and feeling all your love when you squeezed me back and gave me the best toddler lip kisses. I could kiss every square inch of your beaming face that hadn’t lost your last sweet layer of “baby blubber.” From the edges of your chin, to your faint but expressive eyebrows, past your little boy forehead, and over to the slightly elfish ears you got from your Daddy, I miss every part of you. I was certainly not productive in the traditional sense that mothers are pressured and measured by in our culture during your time here on Earth, but I wouldn’t trade my time spent holding you cuddled against me for anything.

Eighteen months, a year-and-a-half, 547.5 days. Any way we look at it, it feels like a lifetime. Every day is one too many days without you, and every day you are gone we are kicked closer and closer toward the day you will have spent an equal amount of time in heaven as on this Earth. I thought we would have at least 18 years before you would earn your emancipation, but you always were advanced.

Our house is still a mess and so are our hearts. God help us.

I miss you.

I love you.

I always will.

One day.

Love, Mommy
OOOXXXOOO

#childloss
#grief
#IWillAlwaysLoveYou

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Halloween 2017

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Hi Baby. I love you. Today is Halloween, a day that used to be Mommy’s favorite, but one that is still far too painful to power through without you. I absolutely hate that we don’t get to dress up as a family, going house to house and watching you squeal with excitement at all the candy and new friendships you would be collecting. Every night leading up to today, there have been pumpkin patches, tractor rides, trunk-or-treats, and all kinds of carnivals and festivities that you would’ve enjoyed. We loved doing these things with you, and hope you know that Daddy and I wish so badly that we still could. 

Halloween always felt to Mommy how she imagines Christmas feels to those who love seeing the first signs of lit trees and giant snowflakes in the stores. Yes, it was my own Christmas in October, but all the excitement and fun left with you. I really hope you took everything I loved about today and are up there preparing the most incredible party for us for when we finally get to see each other and hold you in our arms again.

Halloween was a day to be silly, outlandish, and make people laugh. It was a day when I got to bring mini-cupcakes with orange and purple icing to your classroom and watch you and your friends make a sticky, royal mess together. It was a day that made going to work fun, seeing everyone with a lighter heart and bowls of candy waiting at their desks. It brought Mommy’s opera makeup tackle box down from the back of the closet and open to life with enchantment springing out of every shallow, rectangular compartment. It was hair dye and glitter, bobby pins and bright pink blush. It was dramatic blue hues of eyeshadow and multiple trips to thrift stores to find just the right pieces. It called for toxic clouds of hair spray and pantyhose turned into makeshift wig caps. (Sometimes the ironing board even made a guest appearance.) It took shape with “Bubba teeth” and pipe cleaner, and required “seamstress-challenged” power tools. I would have taught you the value of duct tape and coat hangers, and as time ran low, important decision making skills like whether to settle for staples and a healthy supply of safety pins, or to go with the trusty Velcro. 

It was the one day a year when the playing field was decisively tipped in my favor, as even the poor kids with a little creativity and a cardboard box could still win costume contests. A day full of wonderment, observed especially by children, and big kids like Mommy, who have child-like spirits. It was a time for plastic spider rings that were too big for you, but slid onto Mommy’s ring finger easily, as if to signify her first love that has had her heart from the beginning. It was a special day we spent sharing with friends, and a night that always reminded me that those false eyelashes were still nestled in their slot because Mommy never learned how to put them on herself without gluing her eye shut. 

It was also a day I got to pick you up early and spend the extra time hearing the elation and sugar in your tiny voice. Your talking and jibber jabber was rapid and complete with expressive eyebrows, jumping, random tight hugs, and clenched teeth to show Mommy how much you love her. I already knew the joy for this day was forming inside you and I couldn’t wait to see you grow up and experience it in your own way. You loved Halloween for different reasons than Mommy, but I can’t even tell you how extraordinary it was to get to share two of these holidays with you. You had the bug, my little monkey and that makes today hurt that much more. 

I wonder what you would’ve wanted to be this year. Would you have been coerced to dress up in something Mommy picked for you again, or would you have your own ideas for morphing into one of your favorite characters? 

Mommy liked it best when she became so disguised that even people who saw her every day didn’t recognize her. Remember Ms. Chantel’s face when Mommy came into your class looking like an old man with a baggy suit and “Bernie” campaign stickers? That’s how I feel now. I walk through these days, but I don’t recognize any of them anymore. They do not mean what they used to and I am not the same person I once was when you were here. It’s like my emotions are broken. I can see the world around me, but it is still like they are through that foggy glass I told you about when Mommy and Daddy took that first flight. 

When you came along my excitement was palpable. Having you made me fall in love with Halloween even more. It suited me. YOU suited me. I do a pretty good job of choosing to have moments that honor you, but tonight is a night that it feels like all the joy was stolen with you. Like the song Mommy learned in music class all those years ago, “Fingernails, lunch pails, apple cores, too. Stir them in my witches’ brew, I got magic, alaka-zama-ka-zoo.” We had the most perfect, magical moments with you, Sweet Boy. Still, there is a cauldron of memories bubbling and so many more that I wish we would’ve had a chance to mix together and create. 

You should be running through the neighborhoods with your cousins and your plastic bucket, and Mommy should have Kleenex stuffed in her pockets, ready to wipe your cute little pink nose from this 40-degree night. Maybe we would’ve done a really big group costume this year with our friends and you would be the star of the show as you always preferred. We probably wouldn’t have been able to give you all the time you wanted with all of your instant and adoring fans, and I’m certain you would still have plenty of high fives and unsaid greetings. I also imagine you probably would’ve been mad at Mommy and Daddy for making you come inside and you may have arched your back and thrown a proper toddler tantrum. 

Maybe someday we will feel like taking out the earbuds that are drowning out the sounds of neighbors but today is not that day. Today, all the fun is sucked out and I miss you like a person who has gone mad. There are many days that I can at least put in a half-hearted effort, but this is not one of them. I was never into the scary, bloody parts of this holiday, but now, I notice all of the death-related decorations stirred in the pot and they are even more disturbing. I don’t need any more reminders of death. I can’t even process the most horrific loss that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I don’t know that I will ever be able to do this.

There is not a way to humanly describe how much I miss you, Caleb. My mind is not really here on Earth. I think of you incessantly and remember both the pure bliss as well as all the wretched things that I’m struggling to overcome during these “vampire hours.” I just know what I’m missing, and my heart aches that very few in our neighborhood realize there is the most beautiful, little boy not out there with them tonight. To know you is to love you and there is no one I knew and will always love more than you. You had all kinds of incredible tricks to show us, but Baby Boy, you will always be my biggest treat. 

One day. 

Save a bucket for me.

Love, Mommy
OOOXXXOOO

#IMissYou
#Halloween

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Friendship Knows No Bounds

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There were three of us on the same floor at work who were pregnant at the same time. Naturally, the three babies and their moms grew to be best of friends, and the babies were known as "the three amigos." They shared many play dates, slobber, and love during their time together. The mommies sent numerous group texts with their joys, challenges and the most adorable pictures of the moments spent away from each other. When we lost Caleb, I asked that the mommies please continue to include me in these messages. Last night, I got one such message that hit me straight in the chest:

"A sweet conversation we had tonight: 
Me: I love this book. (picks up ‘Good Night Good Night Construction Site book) 
Jack: Me too. Maybe we can give it to Caleb so that he remembers me too. Like we pass out cars to remember Caleb.

After Jack went to sleep I went for a walk with my mom and saw a shooting star as soon as we stepped outside. ❤️"

I love the pure hearts and honesty of children. They are truly the one, perfect part of Earth. Despite being only 2-years-old when Jack lost his BFF, he still remembers Caleb, and doesn't shy away from speaking his name. As I've said many times, I don't believe in coincidences, but I do believe that Caleb still remembers Jack, and all those who will always love him. He is still nudging us gently (and sometimes not so subtly) to be the best version of ourselves despite our heartache, and to spread The Caleb Effect every chance we get. 

I thank God for the gift of friendships made because of you. Keep staying close to us, Baby Boy. Someday we won't need the signs because you will be back in our arms. In the meantime, we're listening and fumbling through. We miss you, Little Bear Cub.

One day.

Love, 
Mommy
XOXOXOXOX

#calebeffect
#benice
#friendsforever
#outofthemouthsofbabes

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Caleb Rocks

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Hi Baby Boy. I love you. Happy 9th Baby Bear. I know it is technically now the 10th, but we had a full day and I wanted to give you the time that you deserve. Mommy just finished putting the final touches on our arts and crafts project today. I hope you like it.

We miss you like crazy. I guess your kitty missed you even more than usual, too, because this morning he managed to pull out your drawer with your shoes in it and dump them on the floor. Either he missed you or he wanted to try to wear your shoes the way you always liked to do with Mommy and Daddy’s because Daddy found one of your flip flops full of bite marks that Smudge carried all the way across the living room. You may have many holes all over your rubber shoes now, but they are measly compared to the massive depression in our hearts. One of your great mysteries is how someone so small could occupy so much of my soul. You have all of it, my little bear cub, but somehow, I wish I could still give you more.

We do random acts of kindness whenever the opportunity presents itself during the rest of the month, but we try to make the 9th extra special because that is the day you were born. You will always be special, Caleb. February 9th is the day you brought more love into our world than we ever knew existed. We continue celebrating your life and trying our best to “be nice,” the way you commanded us to do. However, not having you here physically to wag your finger at us and squint your eyebrows in disapproval when we fail is still extremely overwhelming. You were nice even when people didn’t deserve it. I’m still working on that one, Baby Boy, but you would be happy to know that Daddy picked up my slack today. He went to lunch with a friend and left extra money for the waitress despite the less than attentive service. 

We also decided to paint rocks today since the weather cooperated. This is something I know you would’ve liked and also something that despite you needing help, you would’ve refused any and ended up with paint all over yourself. I could almost hear “self, self” and feel the jerk of your shoulder pushing aside any inkling of my assistance. 

Some of your friends came to help us paint and I realized how much bigger they were since the last time we got together. I couldn’t help but wonder how tall you would be and what kinds of things you would be saying by now. I truly believe you will stay 2-years-old forever, but I will probably always wonder how you would look and act as your friends grow and change.

So, what does painting rocks have to do with being nice? Well, Baby, we are going to hide them all around town and let these happy symbols and messages surprise their new owners to add a bit of fun to their day. We are also going to take some to people who might be lonely or need a little encouragement. If decorative rocks could create world peace, one of your favorite buddies would be first in line to make that happen. I talked to her on the phone tonight and she asked me if we could send rocks to North Korea, and to Texas where they had the hurricane come through. I might be able to swing some deliveries to Texas, but if you want us to send rocks to N. Korea, I’m going to need a lot more direction. Still, I love your friend’s heart and I know she misses you. (Check out the sign she made for you.)

After we painted rocks, Daddy and I took a dealership of vroom vrooms and left them at the entrance to the baseball fields close to where you played on the playground. There were people swarming everywhere so I imagine your favorite toy disappeared quickly. It also makes me wonder how many wagons you visited tonight and how many younger siblings you entertained during the games. It made Mommy sad that you never got to play baseball or even watch a game from a dirt pile close to the bleachers. You would’ve been the boy with a muddy bottom and ketchup dribbled down your shirt. You would’ve tried to write your name in the ground with a stick and imitated all the big kids as they warmed up to pitch. 

There wasn’t much room in the parking lot and we had worked up an appetite painting, so we decided to eat a quick drive-through dinner. We knew fast food employees aren’t paid well so we thought it would be nice to tip whoever took our order. Daddy asked the young girl if she had a tip jar, to which she replied “I wish.” Her reaction when Daddy gave her the extra money was really cute. It was only five extra dollars, but she gasped and said “oh my gosh!” 

Our last stop of the night brought us to a laundromat that was new to your kindness. You made an appearance at “Grandma Pat’s” ladies’ group this week, and in exchange for telling your story, several unsuspecting visitors to this laundromat got free detergent or a small love offering to go toward their clean clothes, courtesy of the ladies of St. Eugene’s. It is one of the basic necessities of life and something those of us with washers and dryers in our houses usually take for granted. Please watch over all of those who received the quarters and help bring even greater change to those who need it most.

Still, I know that no matter how much money, gifts, or vroom vrooms we distribute, the pit in the center of my core is still heavy. I miss you. I love you. I’m still in shock that this is our life. Maybe I’m expecting too much from these projects or selfishly wanting to feel that sense of altruism that usually gives people the warm fuzzies. Right now, I can’t feel any of that. Some days are counted down by the hours and sometimes by the minute. Nights turn into days and the blurred lines turn into broken senses. I’m not the same person that was here when you were, but maybe that is normal. The hole you left is so raw, deep and consuming that I truly believe a part of me left with you. Maybe that is how it works there. Maybe I am already with you not because time works differently there, but because a huge piece of me really IS already there with you. If you know this to be true, I wish you would whisper in my ear how many more hours, days or years we will have to wait. I don’t know how all of this works, Baby Boy, but I know this is the most challenging test of patience I’ve ever faced.

However, even if I have to live to be 100, I promise you that until my last breath, I will not stop telling the world what an amazing little boy you are. That will never be something that is in the past tense. You are and always will be an incredible, bright star, and I will always be grateful I got to be your Mommy here on Earth. Keep helping us share you with the world. I love the grip you have on anyone who embraces The Caleb Effect. Do you even know how powerful you are? I do.

One day.

Love, Mommy
XOXOXOXOX

#calebeffect
#benice
#vroomvrooms

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Do Something

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Hi Baby Boy. I love you. Today is a day that makes Mommy and Daddy sad because once again it is the 2nd of the month. No matter how much we try not to think of this date, it will always be burned into our minds. Today is also a horrifically grim day for our country. Last night there were lots of people dancing and having a carefree night at a concert in a city called Las Vegas. I don’t even know how to describe to you how many people were there because I heard it was 22,000 people. That is more people than were at your school, dancing with you at the Greek Festival, and enough to fill more buses full of friends than you could imagine. They were all having a fun night watching someone put on a show that was far superior to Mommy’s living room performances with my guitar, when their lives changed forever. I don’t know why things like this happen or why someone would want to destroy lives just because they can, but that is exactly what happened. More than 50 people (that’s about one school bus load) died, and more than 400 (the number of people who came to your service) were hurt. Countless others won’t have their mommy or daddy or some of their best friends here on Earth with them anymore. Mommy’s heart hurts for all of these people. If you really are the Wal-Mart greeter of heaven, maybe you saw a line last night and got to give them a high-five. I really hope so. I hold on to these imaginary moments and somehow expect that they really are reality. 

In times like this I also feel really helpless. Baby Boy, what can I do? What can any of us left in this world do? If you were still here, I’m sure you would have even more questions than usual, so I would’ve shared this quote with you. Ever since I’ve heard it, it comes to mind in situations like this. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”― Fred Rogers

I know there were many thousands of helpers and for that I am grateful. I am praying for everyone who is in the middle of surgery right now, the families and friends of those left behind (including the man who caused this and his family), for our country, and for humanity in general. I still wonder, what else can I do? What would you do? I immediately think of you giving hugs, so I will give Daddy a hug when I see him. When I went to get coffee earlier, he had already filled the tank with water for me even though he wasn’t drinking any coffee. Mommy already sent a message to tell him thank you for loving me and that I love him, too. I will continue to spread the love you modeled perfectly for us, and I will learn about at least three victims of this senseless tragedy. Many times, we remember the person who spreads evil, but not their blameless targets. I know that even in situations like ours where there is not an explanation or someone to curse, people are still hesitant or downright avoidant in speaking your name. It is taboo and people don’t want to make us sad, but what they don’t realize is that we will always have that sadness the size and perfect shape of you, square in the middle of our hearts. The truth is that we are constantly thinking of you, and can sympathize with the pain that is being felt right now in the hearts of parents who were instantly ripped of the people who will always mean the most to them. I want to hear these people’s names and know more about at least three of these victims that were out for a simple night of music because I want to keep at least three times the amount of innocence in the forefront of my mind. I’m not the best with names, but I want to learn more about these men and women, and try my best to honor their memory. I want to continue talking about those that have gone before us, as that is how we keep their spirits alive.

Mommy is a creative soul, which means I’m someone with a lot of ideas. I believe life circumstances have shown me that I’m supposed to use this creativity for good. I’ve been stuck, nervous, and at times unmotivated to continue pursuing this new career path, but I know just as in life, I am supposed to keep going even when we have zero answers. Please help Mommy think like you and encourage people to do SOMETHING. Prayers are always needed, but it is not the only thing we can do. It is the first step, not the last and only one. 

Help us to focus on what is most important. Hug someone we love; write a letter or send a card the old-fashioned way; have your littlest friends make artwork to send to families that are hurting; sit by the person who doesn’t know anyone; visit the lonely; make a donation or volunteer to help a mental health organization; give blood; don’t be embarrassed to report something that doesn’t seem right; fight for changes for the things that aren’t working in your corner of the world; show up with a listening ear and a closed mouth; try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, especially when they are shoes that are extremely uncomfortable to wear; be vulnerable enough to cry with someone who is hurting; call, send a text, or knock on a door before there isn’t anyone left to answer; tell me about someone who perished last night and let me keep their bright smiles shining; use one of the templates in this link to “be nice.”

Help us become less gawkers and gossipers. Nudge us to start with bowed heads but to use our brains, compassion, hands, and feet to find ways to become creative helpers. 

I love you and I miss you every second of every day. I always will.

I love you.
One day.

Love, Mommy
OXOXOXOXO

#calebeffect
#benice
#dosomething

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Food For the Soul

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Hi Baby Boy. I love you. We had our biggest group yet to celebrate you and to “be nice” on the 9th! We went to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma where they help people who don’t get enough to eat. 

Eating is something you loved to do! You ate more food than Mommy AND Daddy! Remember when you would kick your feet and cry when Mommy and Daddy couldn’t get your turkey and hummus or “orange ice” (AKA frozen mangoes) onto your Lightning McQueen plate fast enough? Well, Baby, there are a lot of people in our state who NEVER get a full plate! No matter how hard they try, or how many jobs they work, some of our neighbors don’t have enough money to buy groceries to keep their bellies full. Some of our friends have to decide whether they are going to buy ham and crackers or pay for medicine like you took to keep your throat from burning. You inherited something called “acid reflux” from both your mommy and your daddy, but we never had to decide whether to buy enough food to eat lunch or pay for our prescriptions. The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma lets people get healthy foods like the frozen cauliflower that we bagged today so no one has to sit at their tables and cry. 

You would be happy to know that the 25 people there today to celebrate your joyful personality found out about you from a variety of sources. Some were your close family who knew you well, but others never got to meet you. The Caleb Effect was represented by friends Mommy and Daddy have known for years, some for only a few months, and more who we just met for the first time today. We were also paired with a gorgeous group of ladies from the Delta Sigma Theta sorority from Mommy’s former school, OU. Since Mommy’s team is playing right now, I have to add, “Boomer!” You would have been proficient in making the “O” and “U” motions, and you should know that even YaYa pretended to be a Sooner today.

Together, we bagged, weighed, sealed, boxed, and stacked the palette with 3,120 pounds of cauliflower! The food bank told us that 1.2 pounds represents a meal, so that means the amount of food our group processed symbolizes 2,600 meals! We hope as our neighbors and friends enjoy this nourishment, they will remember that the world still has many people like you teaching us to “be nice.” 

Being nice didn’t cost any of the volunteers a nickel today but I bet everyone left feeling a little richer. Mommy and Daddy also made sure we had a box of your favorite “vroom vrooms” for the team to share with unsuspecting children and a couple of Starbucks gift cards to distribute an extra perk that you give the world to help us keep going.

I love you, Baby Boy. I always will. Keep feeding our souls and save us a spot at the big table, okay?

I love you now and forever.

Love, Mommy
XOXOXOXOX

(For more pictures, visit The Caleb Effect on Facebook.)

#CalebEffect
#BeNice
Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
Starbucks
Hotwheels
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. - Oklahoma Sooner City Alumnae Chapter

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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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