When we found out we were having another baby...our daughter, Charlotte Grace Miquélle, had just turned 9 months old...We knew earlier than usual because of a very bad three car accident, in which we were in the middle of two cars going over 55-65 mph at the time of the crash, while on our way up Highway 50, taking Charlotte on her very first trip to the snow on January 1, 1986. On top of the other injuries, I was cramping & bleeding after the accident which required further exams & tests to find out what was wrong. And... Yes! We were very shocked, yet extremely happy none-the-less...but with the happiness was also great fear of miscarriage because of the accident...I'd lost my first baby at just 12 weeks...2 days before what would have been my first Mother's Day in May of 1984, so with these early problems, we were so afraid we would lose this baby too. The doctor put me on complete bed rest for 8 weeks, which was near to impossible with a baby learning how to walk. I could not keep her in bed with me, so I tried laying on the couch as much as I could while my husband was at work.
|Our last Christmas together as a family, South Lake Tahoe, CA ~ December 18, 2004|
Anyway...for all of my babies...the moment I found out we were going to have a child I would begin the search for the perfect names...the combining of which with our last name would have a true significance and refinement about it...we wanted our children's name to have a distinct and memorable meaning to each one. We labored over the names the thousands of names and combinations of names (and remember, there wasn't high speed internet to easliy speed through search engines and resources - we did it the 'old fashioned' way with books and libraries!) researching the meanings of every name. We believed that the naming of our child was significant and important because it would express who our child was...what they would become in life. A name can sometimes make or break a child's personality, spirit and destiny.
I recently read this passage from Ann Voskamp's, "One Thousand Gifts" a New York Times Bestseller. It pretty much sums up why the naming of our children was so important to us, taking months of research before we came up with the perfect combination...Ann Voskamp wrote this:
"Naming is Edenic.
I name gifts and go back to the Garden and God in the beginning who first speaks a name and lets what is come into existence. This naming is how the first emptiness of space fills: the naming of light and land and sky. The first man's first task is to name. Adam completes creation with his Maker through the act of naming creatures, releasing the land from chaos, from the teeming, indefinable mass. I am seeing it too, in the journal, in the face of the Farmer: naming offers the gift of recognition. When I name moments - string out laundry and name - pray, thank You, Lord, for bedsheets in billowing winds, for fluff of sparrow landing on line, sun winter warm, and one last leaf still hanging in the orchard - I am Adam and I discover my meaning and God's, and to name is to learn the language of Paradise. This naming work never ends for all the children of Adam. Naming to find an identity, our identity, God's.
It's late, and in the lamplight when the bones finally rest, I read and turn a page and run unexpected into these words,
"Now in the Bible a name...reveals the very essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God's gift...To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God. To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it." [Alexander Schmemann, "For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy"]
I read the words again. The heart palpitates hard. I don't hear the clock or the slosh hum of the dishwasher. All I can see, think, is that my whim writing of one thousand gratitudes, the naming of moments - this is truly a holy work.
This naming really does call now a gift, a gift of God. I read again: "To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it." [Alexander Schmemann, "For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy"]
I look at a day, a thing, an event in front of me, and it may look manna-strange: "What is it?" But when I name it, the naming of it manifests its meaning: to know it comes from God. This is gift! Naming is to know a thing's function in the cosmos - to name is to solve mystery.
In naming that which is right before me, that which I'd otherwise miss, the invisible becomes visible.
The space that spans my inner emptiness fills in the naming.
I name. And I know the face I face.
God's! God is in the details; God is in the moment. God is in all that blurs by in a life - even hurts in a life.
How can I not name? Naming these moments may change the ugly names I call myself.
I put a pen to journal, a name to solve, and I shake it when it runs dry, trace circles, and I coax out the ink........This training might prove to be the hardest of my life. It just might save my life." Excerpt is from a wonderful book called "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. She is on a journey through grief and loss and pain to "Dare to LIVE FULLY Right Where You Are: One Thousand Gifts." (Ann Voskamp)
When I read this yesterday, I remembered how important choosing the names for our children had been to me, to us...if naming animals and each piece and element of creation down to the smallest atoms, neutrons, protons and electrons were so important to God...how much more important then, is the naming of a newborn human Child, a Living Soul who will return to their Creator someday!
In the Bible it even states the importance of a choosing a good name: "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold." Proverbs 22:1 KJV", and "A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth." Ecclesiastes 7:1 KJV
As I said previously, in choosing our children's names, we wanted each name's meaning to portray who and what our children would become as they grew older...and thus we chose these names for our little ones: (Read below for meaninds and reasons why we chose these names.)
Charlotte Grace Miquélle Reynolds
Charlotte: Little & womanly, Free, Strong
Grace: Grace of God, Elegance, Beauty
Miquélle: (version of Michelle) Who is like the Lord
We wanted our daughter to grow up to be "Free" and "Strong" while at the same time being truly "Feminine, Womanly"...(I liked the part that said it also meant "Little" because I always felt like I stood out like a sore thumb in school because I was usually the tallest girl in my class throughout grade-school and junior-high!) We wanted her life and heart to be filled with and covered by the "Grace of God" which would give her a "Beautiful Elegance" so that when people thought of her they would think of "One Who is Like the Lord".
William Vincent Alexander Reynolds
William: Strong-willed Warrior, Protector
Alexander: Defender of the People
We wanted our son to grow up to have a "Will that was Strong" and not inclined to be a follower, but a leader of all that is true and right before God. One willing to "Fight for what was good and honest", to be a "Strong Protector" to all of his loved ones, the underprivileged, his country..to be a "Defender of the People", unwilling to allow injustice or cruelty to man or beast.
Our Surname being Reynolds means to counsel or govern.
Many hours were spent choosing these names for our children...and as I look back at their personalities, their temperaments, their reputations...who they grew up to be...they pretty much fit the meanings behind their names.
Our daughter, Charlotte, is small and feminine, but she is also has a tremendous inner strength about her that I wish I had...She never ceases to amaze me with her energy and usual good cheer! She has a free-spirited creativity about her that makes one sit up and take notice for sure...
I brought home from the hospital this little, tiny, adorable baby girl with a head full of dark hair that I couldn't wait to comb and give a little curl on top!...This little darling filled my heart with such a fierce maternal love like I'd never known before the moment I knew I was having a child- that love growing steadily as the weeks and months passed by, but when she was placed in my arms for the first time...the love was so strong and protective that I was instantly ready to fight to the death to keep her safe from harm of any kind. I would give my very life to protect and cherish this precious gift that God blessed us with...and God help anyone who ever tried to hurt her! I was officially a Mamma Tiger!
Charlotte Grace Miquélle was born into this world with her huge, brown eyes wide open @ 1:21 a.m. A full two weeks ahead of her due date, because she just couldn't wait any longer to finally be free of the dark womb that had cradled her for 8 & 1/2 months...she was more than ready to explore the shiny, bright new-world that now surrounded her in a most dramatic fashion! A "flair for the dramatic" we called it when she was as she was growing up! She was a night owl from the moment she was born, up all hours of the night and a lot throughout the day too...I couldn't believe how very short her sleeps were! How could this baby grow if she wouldn't sleep! She had too much living to do to waste time sleeping, I guess...
I remember vividly how curious she was as she'd poke around at her new brother when he was born, trying to discover what this little tanned brown baby with all the black hair was doing in our house when this was her castle...she was Daddy's Princess, and now she had to share her daddy! Yet she'd still try to cradle him in her arms like she had watched me do...so curious to explore all the nooks and crannies of the little mewling stranger who would become her best friend in the world.
I look at her now as she's expecting her very first little one and I see this grown up child of mine...remembering every stage of her growth over the years all the dresses and outfits I made her with matching socks and hair accessories...clothing that started out so tiny and ended with the unique matching bolero jacket I made for her to wear to over her beautiful strapless wedding gown...making three trips to the gigantic fabric store, Brytex, in San Francisco, just to match the lace and fabric and beading etc. of her wedding gown so her special day would be absolutely perfect! Yet...how did the years go by so fast? When I look at my "baby girl" I see a gorgeous, delightful, classy young lady that has come into her own in a grand way...Her heart is filled with the grace of God that shows in her elegant beauty...so much so that she takes my breath away and makes me wonder how I had anything to do with such an exquisitely beautiful being...I am filled with awe and wonder every time I see my precious daughter!
Our son was born with a strong will! He was born on his due date...determined not to come a minute sooner (like Charlotte who was exactly two weeks early...she wanted to be FREE!!!) or a minute later - though I tried all the old wives tales to get him to come sooner because I was in so much pain from the accident. Dr. Polansky, who delivered our daughter too, though it would be another tiny girl, like Charlotte, because of the faster heartbeat like she had, and the fact that I'd only gained nine and a half pounds with this pregnancy as opposed to Charlotte where I gained 36 pounds. So I made two of the cutest dresses to bring "her" home in because I couldn't decide which one I liked best...then after the first time I was sent home two days before he was born, I began to have this feeling deep inside that it would be a boy...the feeling wouldn't go away, so I stayed up that night and made a little Knickers set with the scraps of the burgundy fabric I had left over from the outfit I made myself for my first date with my husband Matt & (it pay to keep your scraps, especially if you are sewing for babies!) I found some matching pin-striped cotton and made a little dress shirt and matching burgundy bow tie..."just in case"!
The doctor also kept saying that he thought this one would be born a couple of weeks after the due date because of the small amount of weight gained telling me the baby need to gain more weight to be healthier...then when I did go into labor 3 times I was sent home because the contractions would stop between 2-4 hours...the second and third time they sent me home I begged for Pitocin to induce and continue labor instead of the stop/start, stop/start, stop/start, that was going on...(see this child was already pushing the envelope & he wasn't even born yet!) On the way home each time, I cried profusely, wondering when this little one would decide to be born already! This went on for two and a half days. Finally the day before his due date arrived, 9/27/86...the labor pains started again, but this time, I was determined I would NOT go to the hospital again unless they lasted longer than well past 4 or even 5 hours...but this time (probably because I was determined NOT to go like I'd done the last three times for fear of being sent home!) this baby was DETERMINED I would go so he began early that morning kicking around while I hung on through the contractions all that day while Matt was at work. I just knew they were going to stop again- they didn't stop after 6 hours...or even 8 hours and I was miserable as we got ready to go to bed that early that evening...and then at last my water finally broke at 7:15 on the evening of the 27th...this baby was going to make me go! But at least this time, I knew they couldn't send me home...the whole day and all through the night past midnight and through the early morning hours, but NOW it was his due date, September 28th, 1986, and he was ready to be born and it was almost 5:00 a.m.! During the delivery, the cord was wrapped tightly around his neck twice and the baby wasn't crying, but I didn't know if it was a boy or girl yet because the doctor was working frantically to get the cord off and get the it to breathe. I'll never forget not only the first of look of panic when the baby's cord was wrapped around its neck, but also the look of incredible, wide-eyed surprise on Dr. Polansky's face after the baby finally started crying. He was seriously stunned! He looked up and said, "Well this baby's definitely NOT little and it's definitely NOT a girl!!! I'd gained 9 lbs. 8 oz during the full 9 months and this baby was no six pounder like my first one...He was 9 lbs. 3 oz.!!! I couldn't believe how big he was. It was like having Charlotte at three months old!
Though determined to come into this world with a "Will" of Iron on no other date than his due date, he slept through the night, every night, from the first night home from the hospital...but when he started crawling and walking and learning what "no" meant...he'd 'push every button we had' so to speak, just as far as he could, as he started wobbling on unsteady feet while walking around the furniture reaching for everything in sight...then, when I'd tell him not to touch something he would keep on reaching for it even though, I would lightly swat his little hand and say 'no' over and over...it got to the point that he would reach up with one finger and get as close to the forbidden object as possible with that one long, pudgy brown finger as he'd look up at me with those huge, brown eyes...it was like a game because it was hilarious to watch, but I had to keep trying not to laugh and be stern but it was that adorably, mischievous sparkle in his eyes as he watched to see what I would do all the while, that one little index finger reaching out from his chubby fist to try to touch things he knew he shouldn't....and I knew we had our Strong-Willed Warrior!
He was a happy-go-lucky/nothing seemed to bother him kind of child...he'd play so hard that often times in the evening after his bath, sometimes even before his bath, we'd find him curled up somewhere sound asleep. Just play hard...and sleep hard...and eat hard!
|Tuckered out after our first day at Disney Land|
From the time he was old enough to play with G.I. Joe's...he loved his army toys the best of all, next were the Hot Wheels, then Tonka Trucks, then Legos...but his G.I. Joes and army vehicles, jets, etc. were always his favorite. He kept switching back and forth between what specialty force he wanted to be in the military when he grew up-with military posters always adorning his walls many of which are still there today! Around his 6th birthday, he was sure he wanted to be a Special Tactics fighter pilot flying a F-117 Stealth Bomber....so trying to be a good Mommy, I made a full sheet cake and cut it in the shape of his favorite toy at the time...yep the F-117 Stealth Bomber complete with fiery orange icing coming out the tail in flames!
Will would make crazy camouflage-wear for himself to play capture the flag & other 'stealth' games during the warm summer and fall nights with his cousins and friends at the old, abandoned 1800's dairy farm that used to be across the street from us on many acres, before they tore it down to put in crowded, modern, new homes-sigh...the teens 'war-games paradise' was gone, but...His creations were so awesome that he'd look like a hugea black & green swamp monster...or some other freakishly scary creature we couldn't see until he scared the wits out of us! Even our Flat-Coat Retriever, Dolly, who LOVED William, was barking and growling at him when he came out like that!!! It was hilarious but creepy too!
When Delta Force become involved in the offensive in Afghanistan in 2001 after 9/11, he was on the internet every day looking up news stories about the war...it continued on through Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and April of 2004 during Operation Phantom Fury...he'd follow the news reports counting down the time until he could join...And, Just two weeks before our son's tragic accident that took his life, he had taken the test to become an Army Ranger with his ultimate goal of becoming a member of the Delta Force - the élite army unit involved in counterterrorist operations abroad - He loved anything and everything stealth and would have made an excellent Delta Force operator for covert or reconnaissance missions...talk about both of our children living up to their names!
The only thing I didn't understand was the part of the scripture verse that says how "the day of death is better than the day of one's birth" or the verse that says: "Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of his saints." Psalms 116:15...until recently because of this scripture: "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." ll Corinthians 5:8 KJV.
Yes, it is extremely hard to lose a child to death in such a tragic way, when we love them with all of our heart and soul...yes, it's difficult to keep on living...trying to find a new normal when all of our hopes and dreams for our children are shattered in a just a moment of time...but instead of looking at William's death only through the eyes of this life...after five and a half years of my eyes being washed over many, many times with the tears of grief...I am beginning to have days when my eyes are clear enough through the many washings of tears, that it has opened a new view of our son's passing by seeing this loss through the eyes of eternity...our William is no longer with us but he IS in the presence of his Maker, his Heavenly Father...
He knows no suffering or heartache, he will never ever feel hurt or pain again. No cancer...no disease or sickness of any kind can touch ever him in heaven...there is no overwhelming stress from this daily thing we call life...He now dwells in the secret place of the Most High...He is walking streets of gold in the Divine presence of the One who designed and created him to share with us for 19 years. If I close my eyes, I can see our son dancing his way down streets of gold, worshipping his Maker, basking in such glorious joy and rejoicing in the light of the purest love of all with Jesus who gave His life so that our son could be saved...these are experiences that we can only dream of! He doesn't want to come back to earth...he wants us to come to heaven. So, though losing our son is so very hard to bear for we who are left here on earth grieving his death...we must remember always, that the day of his death took him out of this world of sin and into the presence of the Only, True and Wise, Almighty God...the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. One can only try to imagine what that must feel like...I think God is really lucky to have my son up there with him...I just can't wait for that great day when we can all be there together....Oh I can only imagine!
There is one last thing I remember about how he was so determined he would never get old...just a few weeks before his accident, when I was taking him to the DMV to report his motorcycle wreck (it wasn't bad, thank God, but it really shook him up & made him wake up and pay attention not only to his driving but to life as a whole and rededicating his life to God)...well, we were stopped at a red light and a very old man, who was bent almost in half with arthritis...was hobbling slowly, slowly, slowly across the street. It was so sad to watch him struggle to try to walk while in so much pain with family around to give him a ride...William watched him the whole way and then put his hand on my arm and said to me, "Mom, I don't ever want to get old, not ever. I don't want to be like that or be sick with a stroke like Gramma Pierce or get hit by a car while walking because I'm too old to drive like Grampa Pierce was at 93...Mom I just won't ever get old...not ever, nope, not ever...I promise you that!" I stopped him at once and begged him to, "Please never say that again...Never say you'll never get old...Please Will, Please, because that would mean you'd have to die young and I could never bear to lose you! It would break my heart!"
I remember so well the loving yet mischievous look in his eyes as he just patted my arm and said, "Don't worry Mom, I won't get old because we'll all go up to heaven in the rapture first...I didn't mean I would die young...don't worry Mom okay I'll be fine, Just be a G.I. Joe okay? I don't want you to worry. I'll be fine!" He reached over and hugged me once more...Oh, had I been able to see into the future, just a few weeks from that day, I would have kept him with us 24/7 and never let him out of our sight...but children become young people...they go to school or work, and we cannot hold their hands forever...though I would have if I could have...I miss his "boy-hugs so very much! We love you forever and miss you till heaven our Sweet William! xoxo
p.s. If anyone read all the way to the end of this post, I would love for you to leave a comment!