dear mason,

i should be planning your birthday party about now. i should be hiding presents from your eager eyes, negotiating how many things we can cram into one day and how many friends can participate. i should be explaining why you can’t get grenades for birthday gifts and agreeing that you shouldn’t have to do schoolwork on your special day.


i should be making yet another target run for balloons or streamers or the candy you want hidden in your cake. and while i often get overwhelmed trying to balance answering all of your demands with more realistic plans, i do truly enjoy making you feel special.

so obviously, there is a lot of emotion with this week. i can’t help but think about 7 years ago, waking up to contractions in the middle of the night, it becoming pretty obvious it was time to have a baby, calling a friend to come over and stay with our sleeping kids… and driving to the hospital (not nearly fast enough for me) and anticipating how much our world was about to change.

and then, watching the heartbeat monitors not recovering from contractions and listening to the nurses and doctor come rushing into my room time after time. that emergency c-section was scary. everyone moved so fast, so urgently.

you, of course, were fine. screaming your lungs out, but that was probably because surgery is a frigidly cold place. but you were fine.

i mean, you never slept, but you were fine. you were tiny and precious and completely perfect. i held you in that hospital room, thankful for you and thankful that in spite of a scary delivery, everything worked out ok. and i rode in the elevator, holding you on my lap and carried you out of the hospital and my world changed forever with your spunk and spirit and laughter.

we took you home to your older siblings who loved you fiercely and embraced you and delighted in you and just couldn’t get enough of you.Mason

and i thought, or i guess hoped, that you’d always be fine. that you might cry and you might not sleep, but ultimately, you’d always just be safe and fine.

and then 6 years later, you woke up with a bad stomachache. and i still thought you’d be just fine. i mean, with 4 kids, we’ve had plenty of stomach flu in our house, and we all get through it and everyone ends up… fine.

and then i carried you into a hospital, still thinking everything was fine, but you know, just wanting to check and make sure. and they wheeled you down the hall for an ultrasound and discovered appendicitis. and then you had an emergency surgery and everything looked like it would be fine…

but then, it wasn’t.

and we transferred to another hospital… and you weren’t fine. and for a brief eternity, i had to wait in the hall while they did all kinds of things like central lines and intubation, and i listened to people run back and forth down the hall, rushing into your room. that PICU was scary. everyone moving so fast, so urgently. but still, i thought you’d be fine.

and then it seemed pretty obvious that daddy needed to get there quick and so we called a friend to come over and stay with our sleeping kids and daddy sped to the hospital as fast as he could, reading my texts begging him to “hurry.” and we couldn’t possibly anticipate how much our world was about to change.

one more hospital transfer, one last look in your eyes before the medical team took over and did everything they possibly could. everything.

but you weren’t fine.

you were gone.

and i laid in the hospital bed with you and hugged you for what could never be long enough, and i talked with amazing doctors who couldn’t figure out how this all happened. and your daddy and i looked at each other over and over again wondering, absorbing, crying… suffocating in disbelief.

and we walked out of that hospital without you. and i stood in an elevator, clutching your quilt (which you called a “kilt”) (those q’s… so hard to pronounce), the only item you asked to bring with you to the hospital. i hugged it tight to my chest. and i watched a woman get on the elevator and push a button and i couldn’t help but think, she has no idea how much my life has changed forever.

and i thought back to my first elevator ride with you. how did this happen? you were once so tiny, so little and helpless.

and daddy and i walked through the parking garage, trying to find a car that was parked in a hurry, and paid a parking attendant who had no idea we just watched our child take his last breath, and drove home in a daze. i’m getting text reminders about soccer pictures and people are driving past me living completely normal lives. and i have to go home and tell your siblings that the brother they loved fiercely, the brother with whom they spent every day of their childhood… laughing, arguing, joking… the brother they expected to come walking through the door with us, had died. and their life will change forever.


but before all of this… long before my first contraction, before my first ultrasound, before i ever even knew about you… before your first stomach pain that saturday morning, before your ultrasound discovering appendicitis, before i ever knew about septic shock, God wrote your story out in a book.

you saw me before i was born.
every day of my life was recorded in your book.
every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.” psalm 139:16

God knew you would call yourself “motorhome” and “moose.” he knew you would spend the first year of your life crying and not sleeping. he knew you’d have a mohawk, and love cars and legos and explosions, and he put a special sparkle in your eyes that will live on in my memory every day on this earth.
Mason's Pre-service slide show - 045
he knew your entry into this world would feel traumatic and that your exit would feel premature and horrific. he knew how it would feel for me, but more importantly, he knew the truth. he knew the details of every day and the purpose in all of it. he knew that while i long to hold you longer and that while my first year without you is filled with more crying than sleeping, he would be calling you to heaven.

ultimately, i want what is best for you. no matter what, when the emotion and motherly desires are stripped away, the deepest part of me wants the very best for my kids.

and really, there is no better place for you. you are being held in the beautiful arms of Jesus, grasping the depth and beauty of an almighty God in ways i never could now, no matter how many days i spend on this fallen earth.

i see the parallels between your entry into this world and your exit from it. i see the juxtaposition of the joy and the heartache.

i long to see you again. i’m grateful for every sleepless moment i held you. and more importantly, i’m grateful for the arms that hold you now. the arms of a perfect Author who wrote a beautiful story.

so many things in this life are a mystery. and while i wish we were planning a birthday party and celebrating you, i’m thankful for the Author of your story, who gifted me with you for a time that wasn’t long enough, but was perfect nonetheless.

mason, you know what it is about your story that makes me the most grateful? that when the Author wrote out your 6 years and 18 days on this earth, he chose me to be your mommy.

He chose me.

IMG_2018 (1)

i wouldn’t trade in the crippling grief of the last year if it meant missing out on the laughter, the joy, the naughtiness, the sparkle… the memories, of the previous 6. you are a gift, mason. a beautiful gift. and while i never expected that your years in eternity would begin before mine, i just want you to know, someday i will be there with you. and we will celebrate together. and no matter how many years have passed before i join you, and no matter how many millions of years we spend together with Jesus, you will always be my little boy.

happy birthday, mason.

31 thoughts on “dear mason,

  1. Valerie Myers Auberry

    Thank you for letting us share the joy and the grief you are all feeling everyday. He made such an impact in so short of time. Know there are many who love and hold you and your family so dear. God bless you on this day and for the following years.


  2. Karen Uidenich Madore

    Thank you for your pure honesty and love……these words are so powerful….thank you again…….I would give anything to take this burden from you! I am so sorry for you and you families pain….I’m so sorry!


  3. Andrea

    Thank you for sharing your story reminding us not to take any time with our babies for granted. That was beautiful and will make me think a little sweeter and maybe act a bit softer. {{Hugs}}


  4. Kim Puleo

    Thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts, heartaches and love for Mason with us. You and Mason are changing peoples lives. Just as your are honored to be Mason’s mom, I am honored that you have let us in. Shared ways we can pray and lift you up. You will never know how you and your family have poured into others by sharing your hearts. Hugs and prayers for you.


  5. Nancy Naimo

    Oh Stephanie….i ache for you and yet rejoice that God is being glorified and more are turning to Him for Eternity b/c of Ewe!!! i love you beyond words.


  6. Chantil

    I love reading your stories and hearing your memories about mason, thank you for sharing! I wish we had the chance to meet him. I hope today that mason can say hi to my little brother in heaven for me . Maybe mason will remind him of his little boy who will also be 7 this month 🙂


  7. Joyce Wilson

    I am so sorry for your loss. It doesn’t seem right for children to leave before their parents, but in the long run, I believe God takes them to make heaven perfect


  8. Chris and Ginny Elley

    We never know how God is going to grow us in His Grace, and we rarely understand His ways fully. It is clear however that He has given your family the wonderful gift of Grace even as we all grieve. Mason is being used in mighty ways in His Glorious Kingdom. Thank you for sharing your faith with us in this anniversary time. God Bless you Mason


  9. Jay Bergers III

    Have no words but felt the pain and grief mixed with God’s Unfailing Love in the midst of a horrible situation. Wow! Thanks for demonstrating your faith. “God with Skin on”


  10. Paula Jo Mahon

    Oh Stephanie! How beautifully and eloquently you shared your memories and grief and joy with us! Praying for you and your whole family! May Gods perfect comfort cover you all these next few days and until you meet again!
    Paula Jo Mahon


  11. Pingback: dear mason, | And 2 Makes Crazy

  12. Gary Smith

    In the depth of your pain you share the heart given by our Father and encouraged by your mother and father. I can’t help but believe that Jesus will take this and build a strength in your children that will have a deep effect for the Kingdom of God.


  13. Dottie Caputo

    Thank you for you story. I too have lost my child ( a daughter ) a mother.s love is forever and God.s plan and love is for eternity.
    Continuing prayers for you and your family from Holy Spirit Shawl Ministry and Dottie (the shawl lady)


  14. Stephanie, Linda and I do not know you or your son Mason, but after reading the beautiful story you wrote about your son, we now know you and Mason. Your faith in God and reading your story has given me a boost in my faith. You are truly an inspiration to all who read this story. Our prayers are with you. John Schatz


  15. This was such a deeply sad and beautiful post. I was 15 when my adored and greatly beloved 5 year old brother was struck by a car and killed instantly one day at the beginning of summer vacation. I know that grief. He was the love of my life during a difficult time, and we shared stories, happy times, hugs, and fun. I had mothered him since birth. Time heals the worst of the pain but I still cry at times over the loss. And that happened 53 years ago. It will ease but the love you shared remains the same and will bless you and help you through those moments of pain that will come and go the rest of your life. Your little Mason had such a lively face and such bright eyes. My heart aches for you. So sorry.


  16. Patricia Drury

    Thank you for sharing your precious son Mason’s birthday and your memories of him with so many of your Christian brothers and sister’s. It gives us so much faith and hope that we too will see our loved ones someday and rejoice with them and our Savior Jesus. God bless you and your lovely family As our Heavenly Father holds you in the palm of His hand. I love you my sister, even though we have never met, you are still my sister…<3


  17. That deep, hollow ache. I know it all too well. In 2001 my life took a tragic turn as well.

    Reaching out, helping others in their grief has helped me heal.
    We evolve with the loss. We are forever changed. It will NOT disable us, but it will leave scars.

    I believe that everything happens for a reason. I’d never trade a day of the almost 19 years I had with Micheal, and like you’ve written about Mason, I’m thankful to have been chosen to be his mom.

    Never stop saying his name. Never stop reaching out to others.


  18. My parents lost two children within 3 months about 3 years before I was born. My sister died at age 8 from the flu and my brother was born 3 months later with spina bifida. I never knew them but your writing explains the way my mother felt about the two children that had gone to be with Him before I was born. She never regreted a day of her pain because she loved both my brother and sister that came before me. She, too, rejoiced that she had been their mother. God bless you.


  19. My parents lost two children within 3 months about 3 years before I was born. My sister died at age 8 from the flu and my brother was born 3 months later with spina bifida. I never knew them but your writing explains the way my mother felt about the two children that had gone to be with Him before I was born. She never regreted a day of her pain because she loved both my brother and sister that came before me. She, too, rejoiced that she had been their mother. God bless you.


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