Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Normal Life

I have to confess something to you. I'm a little more uncomfortable with this blog now because all we have to write about is how we are doing, not about how Joseph is doing. It was originally set up to update family and friends on Joseph's condition, but it became a place to write to friends and receive encouragement and support. This blog became our best friend, in a very odd way. But now that Joseph is gone I don't have the comfort of writing about how he is doing, what we are doing together, upcoming appointments, etc. Life seems very bland now, like anything that is going on is not worthy of writing on the blog about. Life is back to "normal," but a very strange normal. It became normal to have to administer medicine several times a day, to be constantly on the alert, to have doctors' appointments schedule more often than we enjoyed. And we felt we were living on borrowed time so every day was a great celebration that we had another day with Joe. Now our normal is still not normal, because we now have only one child in our house, we are all of a sudden in a new city (which somehow I didn't process until now), and we had sorta gotten used to the other crazy normal.
Every day I sort of expect things to be different--like maybe today I won't be as sad, maybe this was all a bad dream and he will come back and things can go back to normal, maybe it won't feel so empty and wrong everywhere I go. Joseph was so much a part of me--he formed me as a mother, and he was always a part of my conversation with others, a part of what made our family "our family." Now it just feels like we are waiting. Hoping that something sudden and happy and exciting will happen, something to make this sadness and awful grief go away. I know it will be with me for a long time, but I feel like I should be acting like a normal person and I should be able to go to the grocery store without tearing up when I see his favorite juice boxes or the toy aisle where we desperately searched for "choo choos." I have this crazy urge to tell random people that I have a son and he died and I'm not just a normal person having a normal day.
I've never experienced missing someone this much, either. Allen and I took a week-long vacation right before he started residency and the grandparents graciously watched Holly and Joseph. It seemed like a great idea, but by the end of the week I missed them so much it hurt. It just didn't seem right to be away from them and I couldn't truly enjoy the trip b/c I wished we had brought them or had made the trip a little shorter or something. It was a wonderful time with hubbie but I think that trip made me realize how much a part of me the children were. It wasn't as easy to "check out" and just leave them behind as I had thought. Anyway, this feeling feels like that times a thousand. All of the knowing that he is in heaven and in a better place doesn't make this feeling go away. It's definitely a comfort and I am thankful he is in the best and happiest place he could be, but like I said earlier I just want to be with him and be his mommy again.
I read this verse today and it reminded me that God can do the impossible:
"and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor."
I am praying that God would make this a reality in our lives and that we wouldn't let the sadness and grief overwhelm us completely. Thanks so much for your faithfulness in caring for our family and for praying for us throughout this whole journey.
Also, THANK YOU to everyone who has emailed me to offer baked goods for the bake sale. I am totally overwhelmed with all the people who have responded with such enthusiasm. I even have two kind women who are shipping goodies from across the country! And our friends over at Veggie Tales are contributing some DVDs of "The Ballad of Little Joe" (which was made a few years ago and is about facing hardship). Still working on a location but will post that once we have it...


Templin Family said...

This is my first post. I have followed your blog for almost a year.. found you through Ethan Powell. You have been such an encouragement.. your faith and spirit. Please know that I pray for you daily.

Kelli said...

Know how much we have been blessed by you. Daily.

I may not be too vocal right now, but I pray for you incessantly. All of you.

Hugs from the other coast.

Anonymous said...

Please continue to post on the blog. We all care to know how you are doing too and how we can continue to love and pray for your family while you are in the process of figuring out and adjusting to the new "normal" in your lives. I don't think there is anything weird about wanting to tell strangers about your situation - I think I would have the same urge too.
As far as baked goods, I'm glad other people are contributing because anything I made wouldn't be purchased ;) - Laura R.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing.....we continue to be encouraged & challenged by your vulnerability & "real-ness" in your life & relationship w/ God. I've grown as a part of this blog....thanks for continuing to share.
-Jeremy/DeAnna Brubaker

Anonymous said...

Don't keep up this blog - or at least change the URL - if you want to recede into anonymity for awhile. I will never forget you or Joe and will continue to draw encouragement from your lives.

Nana said...

Mommy Bear as Joe P. affectionally called you please keep writing on the blog even your Mommy bear loves to read what her baby bear writes.I find it a great comfort and a joy to read yor posts.It is healing for you and for me.It is ok to tell strangers about Joe.P.You will always be his Mommy and he will always be yor son.You have two children not one.We have 6 gramdchildren not 5 one just happens to live with Jesus and one day there will be a great family reunion.I feel your pain and just wish I could make it all go away.I love you so much...O.M.B.(old Mommy Bear)aka Nana

jody (atlanta) said...

Love you Gillian...always thinking. So sad not there this weekend....miss you SOO MUCH! Sending many hugs. Love, Jody

redeemedintohope said...

thanks for the honesty you always portray here. it makes sense- all that you are saying. it doesnt sound in the least bit crazy or anything. i hope that this blog not only proves to be therapeutic for you but that you get encouragement that by doing it- you are calling to the masses to get on our knees and stand in the gap. i will do that today. i have joseph's celebration program in the back of my journal and i was having coffee with someone last night and he asked about it when he saw it sticking out. i was able to share your sweet story. it brought so much encouragement and strength to him in the midst of where he is right now. just be where you are. its okay. dont feel like you need to be at another "phase". we love you.

susan o'c said...

Gillian: Your mum is right, keep writing if you feel you want to, it is so great. It also is so therapeutic for you and for the people who read and add to the blog. When you exprsess yourself I believe that someone reading your blog has or has felt the same at a time of loss in their lives. Maybe you might end up as a counsellor to other people with losses, you'd be awesome at it.

Lauren said...

Hugs to you Gil.

Lauren said...

I always found keeping a journal helped in processing my thoughts; I'm sure, just as this blog as helped you. Maybe you would consider keeping a journal where you write things you are grateful for - whether they relate to Joseph or not (even small things like getting a good parking spot). That way you could focus on as many positive things in the world as possible. I also recommend the book 14,000 Things to Be Happy About. It came out when we were in junior high I think but it always brings smiles to my face these many years later.

Anonymous said...

I never tire of reading your updates. Everyday I pray and wonder how you are getting along. I can't drink coffee anymore without missing you guys terribly. In fact, I just got that Raspberry Mocha creamer again and nearly bawled right there in the grocery aisle.
As hard as keeping up with all of us is, please know it is a constant encouragement just to know you are out there raising Holly to love God and teaching others by your daily struggles and examples.
All my love,

Tiffany said...

Still praying, Gillian & Allen.
I wish we could do more to ease the pain of your grief.

Melody said...

Please know that you dont have to write your blog for people to think about your sweet family, remember Joseph, or pray for you. If it is hard for awhile and you can't bring yourself to do it, then dont. Just know that your son's life has touched many of us, and your family's love has strengthened many of our own families.

I'm continuing to pray for your heart during this time of "normalcy."

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you have kept up the blog. Everyone who prayed for Joseph during his illness also prayed for you, Allen, and Holly as you walked through those very painful and difficul months. But now more than ever, you still need those prayer warriors. Today, and the many days and months to follow will be the darkest times for you as the "new normal" becomes a reality. I am so thankful that you continue to write, it helps all of us know how better to pray for you. Don't stop. It's good for you to write. I read this today, "God never intended us to suffer alone. He created us to care for and support others in their time of need and to allow others to care for and support us in ours. This is being 'interdependent', which is God's original plan, rather than 'independent', which can be a very lonely way to grieve."
Loving you and praying for mercy,
Kathy (Mimi)

Brooke said...


I'm so thankful that you have continued to write. Not only is your writing beautiful and a joy to read, but it has helped me in many ways. I feel like I can be closer to you as we here in Atlanta miss you and your family very much and feel like we're powerless to do much to help you. Knowing what is going on in your lives helps me to pray for you in specific ways as well as grieve and go deeper with God as I search for answers. I'd hate for you to feel pressure to write your entries, but know, as long as you do feel like writing them, we will laugh with you, cry with you, pray with and for you, and enjoy a few moments of feeling like we're in your beautiful company.

With love,

Jennifer said...

Tears... with and for you.... that urge to tell strangers about Joe makes SO MUCH SENSE to me. LOVE YOU.

Jaime said...

I continue to be so grieved for you. Thank you for being so real and raw. It helps me pray specifically for you. It also helps me heal.
I continue to just cry and cry at the precious words of an amazing mommy. I feel very similarly about my two boys, and it just breaks my heart over and over to think about your loss. Much love to you, Gillian.

Matthew, Stephanie, Neb, Jake, Rigby & Isaac said...

Thank you for continuing to post to your blog. I check it frequently during our son's (Joe P.'s third cousin's) naptime. You express your thoughts and feelings so eloquently. You have taught me so much about the purpose of each of God's actions, how even in the greatest grief there is strength that is beautiful. I know many others have said it better but the anger I feel over your family's suffering juxtaposed with the faith and acceptance you continue to express has taught me more than you will ever know. My faith has grown tremendously by watching your example and I will always be grateful to you and Joe P. for that.

We continue to pray for you.

Stephanie Stone Hemm

Brea said...

Dear Gillian-

Thank you for continuing to share your journey. As long as writing is helpful for you, know that it is so appreciated by those of us who love you and want to pray for you. My heart continues to ache over Joseph's absence. We pray for you daily and are looking forward with you to the day when Jesus will make all this sadness 'come untrue.'

Craig and Gwen said...

After Joe had his first surgery I went to Ashford Park with the girls and told a number of complete strangers about Joe P. and cried like a baby - I think they thought I had lost my mind completely. What are ya gonna do - hurt like that is so deep can you do anything but wear it on your sleeve? We miss you a lot and think of you a lot - and stalk your blog a lot :)

Missing you soo much - Gwen

Anonymous said...

I don't know what I would do if this blog just stopped. Your family has become such a part of me; I just gotta know how all of you are doing. You are an inspiration to me and many others. I keep hoping that all the Peabodys will have a family reunion one day because I just can't wait to meet you in person. I would be the nutty one just giving you a big hug!
I continue to pray for your family daily!

Karin Peabody

Randi said...

Blessed by this post, Gillian. Nonoe of us will ever forget Joe. I had never even met Joseph, but I tell people about him all the time. And I will always do that.

courtney said...

Oh, Gillian, I cannot imagine how each day follows the next for you all right now. We think about you constantly and pray, as you ask, that your grief would not overtake you. We love you guys, from afar, maybe, but we do have such a special place in our hearts for you all.

Anonymous said...

Please know that you are still in my thoughts. I wouldn't find it weird if I met you in the grocery store and you just told me -- hey, I lost my son and this was his favorite juice. I would cry with you and praise you.
You will find your new normal life that God will make comfortable for all of you. Joseph is looking out for you guys now. Find comfort in his juice and his choo-choo's.

Anonymous said...

You took my breath away when you talked about seeing his favorite juice boxes at the store. I had never thought about how hard just getting groceries would be. Your faith is amazing, and I'm so blessed to read your updates. The way you are able to write down your feelings gives me more insight into how someone might be feeling after a horrible loss. It makes my heart ache for your family and others who have suffered a tremendous loss. I pray that God will bless you with such peace that it can only be from Him.

KellyR said...

You are in my prayers each day. Your honesty and ability to articulate the struggle is such a gift. Please know that as you work out your new 'normal' so many of us benefit from reading your words and praying for you.

Carrigan Family said...

Short on words ..... long on tears ..... I will pray that scripture in agreement with you. I am so, so sorry.

Anonymous said...

Still praying for you all and think of you all often.

Catherine Morris

Dee Dee said...

As long as this blog helps you deal with your loss, you should feel free and right about keeping it. That dear little boy would want you to get through this, and if a forum where you can talk about Joe when the mood strikes helps you do that, so be it.
Your pain is still so new. And it will always hurt, but God is faithful to bring you through it to a place where you can better cope with the loss and with your sweet son's absence. Your love for him took a few years to reach its tremendous depth, and living without him won't be quickly mastered. But many of us are praying for you "out here" -- and we know He will show you His faithfulness even in this painful path.

Anonymous said...

Not that it gives you much comfort but your words, honesty, pain, struggles and even joy at times has helped us in relating to others that have walked in your shoes. You two have caused us to want to be better listeners and prayer warriors. We have no idea of the pain you face daily but we will continue to pray to the One who does. We love you dearly.

The Morris Family said...

Well, all I can say is all you said is so true as we are a little in front of you in grieving our 3yr Joel 1/23/07 Its a long road, it takes grace that only comes from him to move forward. For me it has been one scripture at a time, I step on it and then wait for the next and so on and thats how I am here today, because of the truth of scripture! May you find strength in His living words as you trod this journey too....

Jill said...

I found your blog a few months ago (through a blog friend of a blog friend). I read all about Joseph and wept through the entire thing. I am a mother of a 2 girls, ages 2&6. I know that each day God has given me with my children is a blessing not a right. Hearing Joseph's story and seeing your faith reminds me of that.
I will keep you guys in my prayers. I do not know what it is like to loose a child, but I admire your faith and perserverance. You will never know how many lives your story will touch.
Thanks for being a light in a dark world.

Christy said...

Your normal life, whatever that looks like today, is what we're all interested in. And I can see how it would be totally wierd to be pumping gas next to someone and imagine them assuming you were out without a care in the world. Must have felt like that a lot, too, when Joseph was sick. Like, "Hey, Mr. Starbucks Guy, I know you think you're making that coffee for someone on their way to work or the park, but I'm on my way back to the hospital where my world is collapsing." You should have told them that. Could have scored you a scone at least.

And how the heck are people shipping baked goods from across the country? Now I'm feeling like a huge weenie for thinking that I couldn't participate because I'm hours away. I mean, wouldn't a cake get a smushed or turn into a brick or something? Clearly I am uninformed.

Sarah-Jane said...

all i can say is that Christy is the funniest human being alive

Sarah-Jane said...

praying for you this morning. I love you Gillo

jody (atlanta) said...

I 2nd that Christy's posting are fabulous!!! Made me smile for sure this morning. I personally love this blog and hearing about your day to day since miss you all terribly and selfishly it helps me feel more connected to you. We are there to pray and support you however you, Holly, Allen and your family need.

I felt the same regarding the bake sale...big loser for not offering to send remote goodies from Atlanta. I must be 'uninformed' as well when comes to the 'transportability' of fresh baked goods. I will be making some brownies in Joseph's memory.

Sending you tons of love and hugs! Jody

Cari said...

I have also been following your blog since the beginning. I'm friends with Boothe. She referenced your blog on her own about Copeland. I have prayed for you and cried many tears for your family. Your blogs about your journey always make me appreciate my kids more. It is so easy to forget the gift they are to us from Jesus, when we get worn out in the day to day roller coaster of being a mom. So thank you for reminding me of the gift we have been given.
Blessings Cari,

Cari said...

I have also been following your blog since the beginning. I'm friends with Boothe. She referenced your blog on her own about Copeland. I have prayed for you and cried many tears for your family. Your blogs about your journey always make me appreciate my kids more. It is so easy to forget the gift they are to us from Jesus, when we get worn out in the day to day roller coaster of being a mom. So thank you for reminding me of the gift we have been given.
Blessings Cari,

Becky Forrester said...

I seriously doubt that you know me... I've only met you once at All Saints in Memphis and I brought you guys dinner one time... an extremely SMALL contribution to your family. However, I HAVE been following your blog for almost a year and I was particularly struck by a old post that mentioned daily trips to Target. The thought of you returning to Target without Joseph and doing other normal activities has actually been on my heart almost daily. I thought then, "how will she ever be able to go to Target again?" I thought about how my daughter asks every morning in a funny way, "mommy, can I have summer yer aggs (eggs)?" and wondered if she died would I ever be able to eat eggs again without crying. I am praying for you as you try to get through the normal things in life that have become so unnatural.

Sarah-Jane said...

I read this post almost every night just because. I don't know why. It just reminds me of what you have to go through daily. I think it has become one of my best friends too.
I love you.

Tracey said...

Ahh, Gillian...I never tire of this blog. Praying for you guys.

Courtney said...

I'm still praying for you all. I appreciate your words: "I have this crazy urge to tell random people that I have a son and he died and I'm not just a normal person having a normal day."

I can't imagine what you must feel like, but this statement is so honest and helpful in my understanding of your deep hurt.

—Courtney S. in Memphis

Anonymous said...

This blog is such an encouragement for so many people! No one tires of hearing about your precious family. My family continues to pray for you all every night! My 3 year old prays the Joseph gets to eat as many cookies as he wants :)!!

Carey Heid and family

abbiegrace said...

I think about what you said recently about creation really ministering to you lately. With that in mind, the verses you shared in this post are so powerful. "a planting of the Lord"--I love that part.
Praying that He will continue to reveal His presence, love, and faithfulness to you each and every day.
Thank you so much for your post!

Siobhan said...


Whilst you must obviously use this blog or any in a way that brings you comfort. I, like so many others who read this, get so much from your writing so if you do chose to continue lots of us will be happy!

What you said about normal life really resonated with me. When my dad died 11 years ago I used to go to the church every Saturday night for quite a few weeks and light a candle about the time he died. Any poor unfortunate who happened to be in the Church at the time, who may have even glanced in my direction, was subject to the story of why I was lighting the candle. It was so desperately important that I tell people so they didn't think I was just there in a "normal" capacity. Now I look back and have a smile as I think of these poor people who must have thought I was more than a little bit barking mad ... and they probably regretted looking my way.

I also used to play the "wishing game" as I drove home from work (I had moved back in with my mum at the time so she wasn't on her own)I would wish really hard that he would be there when I got there. I would grip the steering wheel so tight my hands were white, and in some way I really believed if I wished hard enough he would be there. Now I wish in a calmer, more peaceful way. I wish he was going to be at my wedding in December but it's ok that he's not.

When I met my soon to be husband I told him on our second date that he needed to know something about me and that was that my dad had died. It was terribly important to me that he knew.

I'm in no way comparing my loss with yours, as a mother I simply cannot imagine, nor do I try to what you are going through. But I can empathise with having to create a new normal, and wanting everyone to know.

Thinking of you all always


Lisa Allen said...


My heart aches for you as I read your words as a grieving mother. Thanks for sharing all those thoughts. It helps us know how to pray for you. And it makes us appreciate our children so much more. Thanks for being a wonderful mother to Joseph. While he was on this earth, he had the best life--great family, wonderful friends, Christian home, great health care, sweet sister. Oh, words can't express how devastated we are for you and your family. I know you feel funny about keeping the blog, but I think others really appreciate reading it. Much love, Lisa Allen

Anonymous said...

Last nast, I was at a concert, Rascall Flatts. They said a wonderful song, Skin. I thought of Joseph. Just know, he is dancing in heaven! He is an amazing little boy and I wished I had met him.

ambie said...

You are such a blessing. Sharing your heart with us is a gift and I count it a great privilege to know you through this. Thank you for your continual vulnerability. I rarely make it through without tears from identifying with your precious love for your children.
The Lord is using you in a tremendous way.

Tina said...

I know it has been some time since your post, but I just wanted to offer {{{hugs}}} and prayers!

Hope said...

I just wrote on my blog that losing a child has got to be the hardest thing anyone can endure. We lost our four year old daughter this past July. Our stories are different in that she was only sick for one day. Completely unexpected. I can relate so well with your pain. It's almost unbearable at times, isn't it! I'm so thankful for Jesus...How else could we walk this road? I'm praying for you, from one struggling mom to another.


Anonymous said...

I don't know you, but only know of you through my son and daughter-in-law. I have been checking this blog since you started it. I find that it speaks to me in many ways. It is amazing to me that your postings have served as encouragement to others. I have a niece who lost a son last year. She has come to me frequently for support and encouragement and many times just to cry and share her anger and pain. I find that after reading your posts, I am filled with wisdom and strength and somehow better able to sympathize with and encourage my niece. One thing she has shared is that she sometimes has not had the energy or even the desire to be strong for others in her family. I will continue to pray for your strength, your comfort, your energy, your peace, your hope, and for guidance. And I will continue to visit this blog for the same. Liz R.