I’m starting this post with my original post to Facebook the day we moved one year ago, and I will end it with a current update and some photos.
Moving After Child Loss
March 31, 2020 – Facebook
This post is emotional, raw and heartbreaking. I’m writing it in hopes that it could someday save a mother from having to have the same experience as me. I hope that moms and dads will not wait another second before they talk to their kids about what to do with suicidal thoughts, lies from the enemy, feelings as if their circumstances and shame will never change. I hope that you never have to walk into your child’s room in the morning and see their bed empty because of one unfathomable moment that changed everything. We didn’t make this topic a discussion priority in our home and I believe he would still be here if we had. Why didn’t we make it a priority? Because Caleb was always smiling, happy, positive, outgoing, silly, he did not isolate hisself from others, he participated in class and with friends, talked to us regularly about his struggles, was affectionate, was not depressed, happily served his community, was very active in youth group and church activities, encouraged his friends in their struggles, was a great employee at his job and loved Jesus, his family and friends with his whole heart. The investigators went through his phone and found no leads to anything suspicious or alarming. His toxicology report was squeaky clean. The answers to his death lie with him, but our sweet Caleb did not die in vain! We know that his death and our story can save lives and bring hope to those who are walking in the valley of the shadow of death. Why us? We do not know and wish it wasn’t so. We love the Lord and others…so we will say his name, share his face, his life, his legacy, his story and our hope any chance we get.
In 2009 we bought a house here in Clarksville, TN. Of the 11 years we owned the home we only lived in it for 6, but many happy memories were made there. Saturday, March 28, 2020, we moved out of our family home we shared with Caleb and into a home my 17 year old son will never sleep in. There was no easy answer in this situation and it was an extremely difficult decision for Joe and I to make. Staying in the house was hard and leaving the house was hard. I went in Caleb’s room nearly everyday just to lay in his bed, smell his smell, cry and be near his things. I want to hold onto anything physical of him and never let it go. Cleaning up his room, packing up his dirty laundry and changing the bed from the way it was the day he died, was very hard. I didn’t see or feel how I could possibly get it done. When we were getting the house ready to put up for sale, I waited as long as I could to get his room ready for showings. The night before photos were going to be taken of the house, I laid in his bed crying and shaking over the thought of changing his room from the way he left it. I imagined I heard the sound of his voice saying to me, “Momma this stuff is not me, I’m in your heart,” and that gave me the strength I needed to push through and get it done.
As moving day got closer, I had a lot of anxiety and sadness about leaving his room behind and knowing he would not have one in our new house. I knew that it would be really hard to do, but Joe was okay with me packing up his closet by myself. Several friends and family members had been praying for us for quite awhile before the move happened. The moving truck was loaded with everything in the house except the stuff in his closet and our memorial to him that surrounded the fireplace. In the house alone I went into his room, shut the door and sat down where he used to sleep. With tears pouring down my face, I wrote in my journal about the emotional and heart breaking experience of changing and packing up my only son’s room. I kept thinking how I shouldn’t have to be doing it! This shouldn’t have happened! He should still be here! Memories of him in that room and house flooded my mind as I put everything in totes and carried them out to my car. After that, I gathered his picture and things from the fireplace, put them in a crate, walked away and shut the door behind me. I drove away from the house and down the street with his belongings in my car…heartbreaking.
Don’t get me wrong, there were both good and bad memories alike made in the home over the years…we are no perfect family! It was also only 1 of 8 homes we shared with Caleb throughout his life but sadly, it came to be the house where he took his last breath and we just couldn’t stay. From the day we made the decision that we needed to move until the night I fell asleep in a different bedroom, I tried to focus on Exodus 14:14, ”The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
It was weird and awkward to move without him and it will definitely take time to adjust. I will never understand how we got here, but we’re doing our best to walk this new path we’ve been forced onto. Our family has faced many struggles over the years, and with our faith and each other we have hope for better days to come. Caleb will not have his own room in our new house, but he will be remembered and sprinkled throughout it in different ways. He is here with us, in our hearts, forever.
One year later…
Settling in without Caleb was emotional and difficult, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that we made the right choice by moving. It was very painful to not set up a room for him and i cried many tears as little by little, our 4th bedroom became an office. I quickly named the new house my “healing house.” He is included in every room of our home and we have planted gardens in his memory. I see now that God used our amazing realtors to lead us right where He knew we needed to be. Our neighborhood is calm, peaceful and beautiful, the perfect mixture for a family in need of healing.
Here are a few pictures of how we have included and how we see Caleb in our home.
The Memorial Garden I planted for Caleb
We display his medals, trophies and pennants proudly in our bonus room and hung his curtains too. Caleb, we love you miss you more than words can explain. You should be here! Your life didn’t have to end tragically! I wish we could go back and prevent it from happening.