I’ve had one picture as my home screen on my phone for several months. It’s one of the best ultrasound pictures we got while Tera was pregnant with Simon.
It’s Simon’s foot. Simon’s adorable, perfect little foot.
After Simon came into the world, the chaplain, Brendan, nicknamed our little boy “Simon the Sasquatch.” His feet were huge. Long feet, long toes…he was going to be tall.
Also right after he was born, our nurse made something for us that we will never forget. It’s a mold of Simon’s perfect feet. She told us what she did with the footprints she was given…she painted them with her older daughter and they are now a keepsake they share. We took this idea and had Nolan paint Simon’s feet. It was one of the most heartbreaking things we’ve done with our oldest son, and also one of the most important.
Now, all we have to remember from our little guy is his footprints. I look at them everyday. I can’t stop wondering if Simon would have grown to be a basketball player, or a soccer star, or…who knows.
Nolan asks every once in a while if he can see “baby Simon’s toes.” Every time I show him, I tell him about his baby brother. And I’ll continue to tell him all about Simon, because he didn’t just leave footprints in the clay, he left his huge footprints on our hearts and every aspect of our lives, always and always.
Oh, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never change that home screen picture.
On the infinitely long list of things that are painful right now, one that we never saw coming is Simon’s name. When a baby is born, people always talk about the name. Where it came from, what it means, is it a family name…and they always say they love it (even if they don’t).
There isn’t a baby in our arms crying or making those ridiculously cute newborn noises, so we aren’t getting those questions, but we want nothing more than to talk about Simon, and for the world to know his story.
We named Simon long before we met him. Before Tera was even pregnant with him, in fact. We were visiting friends in Sweden and met little Simon (different pronunciation) and absolutely fell in love with his name. We knew then and there that if we were lucky enough to have a second son, Simon would be his name.
(Here are Nolan and Swedish Simon watching their dads clean up the yard.)
Throughout the pregnancy, we debated girls’ names. We couldn’t land on one we truly loved. We kept saying “Simon is perfect…this one isn’t quite right.” As it turns out, we never needed to search for the girls’ name. He was Simon all along.
His middle names are family names. It was originally going to be Ebbert, my grandmother’s maiden name, but after we heard those heartbreaking words and knew our baby wasn’t coming home with us, we added Joseph, a tribute to Tera’s grandpa Joe.
When he came into the world, we named him Simon Ebbert Joseph Heinzerling. And his name is perfect.
Knee deep in the ocean. Watching the waves come at us. Some of them we see coming, some completely blindside us. Either way, there’s no getting out of the way. No preparing. No dodging the inevitable.
The list of what’s brought on these waves seems completely random.
Our moms meeting our beautiful little boy in the hospital and getting the chance to say goodbye. Wave. Calling my brother and sister to tell them that their little nephew isn’t coming home with us. Wave. Kissing Simon’s perfect little nose and saying goodbye. Wave. Walking into the mortuary and picking out an urn for our son we never got the chance to meet. Wave. These I saw coming, but that didn’t stop them from pummeling us.
Then there are the other waves. I threw a ball to Nolan and he was so proud when he caught it. Wave. (Nolan and Simon will never play catch in the front yard like my brother and I did.) Jimmy Fallon’s damn “Dada” book (no I can’t read that one anymore.) Wave. I didn’t see either of those waves coming, nor the thousands of others that have come at us.
The ocean stretches on forever. And ever. Always and always. And there is no end in sight. The only hope is that the waves are someday further and further apart, and maybe not quite so devastating. But they won’t end.
From the time Nolan, our first son, was born, Tera put him to bed saying “I love you to the moon and back, all day, every day.” As he grew into talkative toddler-dom, he has adapted that into “everyday everyday” and threw in “so much” just to melt our hearts.
When we saw and held Simon after he died, we knew we needed a similar phrase that we could keep with us forever. We said “I’ll love you and remember you always and always.” It’s Simon’s line, and the saying we will always carry with us to remember our little guy who was taken from us before we had a chance to say hello.