10 Things That (Still) Make Me Smile

1.  Caleb’s Snapchat

When I was able to get access to Caleb’s iCloud, I saw that he saved many of his Snapchat photos and videos. There are times when I smile, cry or laugh and sometimes, I do all 3.  Here are few that make me smile:




2.  When I See Him In His Sisters 

Both of my girls have qualities, looks and mannerisms that remind me of Caleb, so much so, that sometimes it seems it’s him I’m looking at.  In the moment it always makes me smile but after-the-fact, it always makes me cry.  I’m so grateful that they can show me glimpses of their older brother, but it reminds me of how long it’s been since I’ve seen him. 

3.  Pickles and Raisins

If you asked Caleb what types of food he didn’t like or wouldn’t eat, the list was short…pickles and raisins.  It always made me smile to hear him say it, and still does when I think about it.  

4.  Caleb Stories

There are so many funny and silly stories about Caleb that make me smile.  I have many of my own but when other people share their stories with me, it makes my smile even bigger. 

5.  Our Great Relationship 

I know how important I was to him and he knew how important he was to me.  We had a great, loving and fun relationship and we both knew it, because we told and showed each other often.  I know that he cherished me as his mom and it makes me smile.  How does this fit into what Caleb did and how he died that tragic evening? Simply put, it doesn’t.  The two will never fit together.  It took a lot of counseling, processing and heart-searching as a mother to know that what Caleb did that night, had absolutely nothing to do me as his mom or how I parented him.  What happened that dreadful day is a devastating anomaly.  



6.  Voicemails

I was able to find 6 voicemails that he had left me between 2017 and 2019 and the first time I heard them was very hard, but still, they made me smile because they’re sweet and funny.  One of them is him saying goodnight, that he loved me and would talk to me in the morning.  I was on a cross-country road trip with my sister and missed his call and because I did, I have his everlasting voice telling me goodnight and he loves me.  

7.  Socks, Hoodies & T-Shirts

I feel close to him when I wear his clothes and imagine he’s giving me a hug each time that I do.  


I wear them how he matched them!


8. Homemade Cards

Is there anything sweeter or more special than receiving a handmade card from your kids on a special occasion?! Knowing that they took time and put thought and effort into it just for me, is so heart-warming.  I cherish the memories they create and seeing, in my child’s own handwriting, what I mean to them and how much they love me means so very much to this mama.  Now that Caleb is gone, they are extra special to me.



9.  How He Made People Feel

When someone shares with me how Caleb made them feel, it puts an ear to ear smile on my face.  Throughout his wake, funeral and since, people have shared with me how Caleb made them feel welcome, cared about and that they mattered.  One classmate shared with me that he always opened the door for her and would ask how she was doing.  A simple act of kindness that left a lasting impression of a very kind classmate of hers, who just happens to be my son.  

10. His Name

We put a lot of thought and research into what we would name our first child and son.  When we happened upon the name Caleb and what it meant, we knew it was the name we wanted for him.  Caleb means, “he who follows God whole-heartedly.”  It also means, “faithful, brave and bold.” Why does it still make me smile? Because he lived up to our hope for him, which was that he would follow God whole-heartedly.  I don’t just believe this as his mom, I know it’s true by what others have said of him since his death.  He really was the fully-devoted, brave and faithful young man I knew him to be, which will always and forever make me smile. 

Honestly, these 10 things make me smile and they make me sad.  How could they not? 

A fellow bereaved mother, friend and Podcaster I know recently read two of her blog posts from 2011 on her Podcast https://whilewerewaiting.org/podcast/ .  One titled “Ten Things That (Still) Make Me Sad” and the other, “Ten Things That (Still) Make Me Smile.” She wrote them about 3 years after her daughter Hannah’s passing.  I related to so much of what she shared that I asked her if I could use her titles her, and she said “Oh, Absolutely!”  That dear friend is ,Jill Sullivan, one of the founders of the While We’re Waiting Ministry.  If you’re a bereaved parent or know someone who is, I strongly encourage you to visit their website: https://whilewerewaiting.org/ they have been an incredible blessing in my grief journey.