8 years old

It is hard to believe that it has been 8 years. To me, Noah has always been a little baby. That round-faced, brown-haired little angel. Today, I began to really think of him as a kid. Of course, I have no idea what form he is in Heaven today, but that is the great thing. I have the liberty of thinking of Noah in whatever way brings my heart joy. And today, he is 8. I like the idea. We are waiting for Dad to get home from work so we can celebrate with cupcakes and let our balloons go. The kids honestly love this day as much as Christmas, I think. Audrey has the same love and understanding of her brother as Alyssa and that is beautiful to me. So does Megan’s entire Kinder class too, since she shared the story of Noah with them all this week.

This day has changed quite a bit over the years. Some were harder than others, but I embrace the fact that again, I can make it what I want. And we are still thriving with the cake and balloon release. I think a lot of times, people think that they have to grieve or remember is specific ways, but there is freedom when you understand that you can do it your way.

Recently, I have realized that my story of Noah has really traveled with me. When we moved from Houston to TN, I was worried that no one would know about Noah. No one would know that I was “supposed” to have a son. But as time allowed, his story came out. And as I shared my experiences with others, I shared my God, and my faith. Then as cancer came, those same friends watched me face it again. When I moved back to TX, I was able after time, to share my story of Noah and cancer with new friends. And each one in Austin was as touched as the first ones who were there in person in Houston or TN. I am thankful that our moves have given our stories room to grow and touch more people.

Thank you to those who continue to remember with us.

Hear it Now: “Choosing Trust”

That is about the only thing that got me through this past weekend. I was asked to speak at Sugar Grove Church of Christ’s women’s retreat. There were 3 women who gave their testimonies this weekend and I was honored to be among them.

While preparing, I learned that my story, my circumstances have been my way to glorify God. I learned that it was not just my story, but ultimately a story of God’s providence for His children. Thank you to those who have spoken out and who let me know that our actions have really made a difference, back then and today. I had full confidence going into the day that God was preparing me to speak for him, that He would give me the words and calm my spirit; and He did.

So… you want to hear it?
Listen to the mp3: Julie Whaley, Choosing Trust (16mb)

My lost art

Blogging. As I sit in my room tonight, it is cold, quiet and my thoughts go to blogging. I am so behind, I have missed several important things, do I even try to catch up? Do I just start from here? It is a love/hate relationship, because once I miss something it feels like doing a chore. I realized that I started this blog to write. To put my feelings down, out there for you to read. Assuming you are still there. Give me a shout if you are still reading. It turned from an art form to a chore of documenting my life, my kids, my vacations, holidays. Well tonight, I am going old school. Back to my heart.

I received an email from my S-I-L today: “I am replacing pictures on the fridge with updated ones from Christmas cards, and Noah’s picture remains.” She has kept a photo of Noah on her fridge since the year he died. How cool is she? So I read her email and smiled and thought how sweet that is. He is still a part of their daily life. It wasn’t until tonight, as I am quiet, randomly scrolling through my 19,918 photos (no joke) in iPhoto that my heart goes to Noah. I look through the handful of photos that I have of him and pause here.

This is my sweet boy. I stare at this photo for awhile. Remembering the environment, remembering the sounds, the nurses, the families in the same situation. I have to make myself believe that this child is/was mine. I look at his face. Who does he look like? Why do I not know that face. What was he dreaming or thinking or feeling in these moments? I know without a doubt that God brought us through that hard time. That so much of the pain has been just washed away. I am so thankful for that.

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing: you have put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;” Psalm 30:11

As I look to the new year, may I be girded with gladness. Finding the joy in my life right now. Giving thanks for the blessings. And daily finding ways to pass that joy on to others.

If I hear from anyone, maybe I will post things like… San Diego trip, Sea World, Megan’s birthday, Audrey’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas musical and Christmas photos. Sounds like too much work! Maybe I will just keep rambling.

Noah’s Story

Noah’s 7th Birthday was today. There was no need to prepare the girls, because Alyssa has always taken care of that. She knows the day is coming and I hear her telling Audrey, “Noah is your brother. He is 7 today.” And they feed off of her excitement and really had fun decorating the house and celebrating this day.

For me, the day comes with sweet memories. God has done an amazing job of removing the pain from this situation and replacing it with joy and hope. I can truly say that. I know for many people, so close to us, this day is hard. They remember the sound of me yelling Noah’s name instead of his first cry. They remember watching the team of nurses rush in instead of them rushing in to see him. And there are others who met us after Noah and simply sympathize with us on this day. Friends who love us so much, that they love Noah as well. Oh, I am so blessed.

The day began as usual getting everyone dressed and off to school. As I am rushing the little girls out the door, I stepped back to the kitchen for something and noticed the time on the oven. 9:01. The time of his birth. The air quickly left my lungs as I was suddenly, unexpectedly overcome with tears. A few moments pass and of course I was out the door. It was a moment in time that I am deeply connected to. We ended our day with balloons and cupcakes, singing to heaven as though he was on the edge of a cloud listening. The awesome part of this is this story is real. It is not like Santa, where one day they will realize none of that can happen. There is no fabrication of the truth here. Noah is in heaven with our Savior. He is safe, happy and looking down on us. He knows when we love and celebrate him. And honestly, I believe he gets our balloons in one way or another.

I am going to walk through his story again each day.

the last few days…

Where to begin, where to begin…

(View this video last. It hosed my machine every time I clicked on it.)
Let’s start with Noah. This week was his 6th birthday. Well, that just sounds weird. It would have been his 6th birthday, or I can say it was 6 years since his birth. But since the girls really think of Noah as 6, I guess it is his 6th birthday. Me? I am not exactly sure how I think of him. Is he 6? Is he the infant I knew? Is he just a perfect holy being? Whew – I try not to get caught up in all that because I just don’t think my human mind was meant to comprehend heaven. But for the girls, he is 6 and we celebrated. We did our traditional balloons. I like that now they like to write and draw pictures on the balloons. (We figured out one year that a balloon cannot take a piece of paper all the way to heaven.) We then decorated cupcakes and enjoyed the evening watching his video and scrolling through pictures of him in the hospital. I began to retell the story of where we were and why he looked that way more than I have in the past. It makes my heart so happy that my girls know who he is and help me keep his memory alive.

We have such an awesome small group at church. We meet each week at our home and try to have some meaningful uplifting time while the 12-14 children play “quietly” upstairs. I have been blessed by many of the families in this group. This week on a moments notice we collected items to be taken to victims of the recent tornadoes in Alabama. I loved to see my car packed with shoes, food, toys, baby items etc. I am thankful for the generous friends that surround me.

Which brings me to this. Come on, I had to make sure you read the whole post. This is not one of those that you can just scan upon will. This is our home for the last 3.5 years. This is the sign that made it a reality that we are moving back to Texas. Ethan has been unemployed since December and was offered a job in Austin. Someone responded to your resume? “Yea.” Someone wants to hire you? “Yes.” We have to move to Texas? “We can do that.” We will be right in the middle of all our family instead of the east coast people, 14 hours away from birthday, holiday get-togethers. We are excited to be closer to family, but my heart will miss so much in Tennessee. I LOVE this place. LOVE. I have awesome friends who have been through the tough stuff with me. I have amazing neighbors who will do anything I ask. I can let my 7yr old walk down the street alone, I mean, that itself is hard to let go. The weather, the beauty and friendliness of this place is priceless. My prayer is that the Lord will graciously bless us in Austin with even half of what we have been blessed with here.


Watched your video this morning, sweet boy. I am missing what it would have been like to know you. To hold you. To comfort, play and experience life with you. You have left a hole in my heart.

Hello Brother

There is something about the sky in the Houston area. I don’t know what it is, but it immediately connects me to Noah. Maybe the clouds form a certain way here that they don’t in Nashville. Maybe its that I can see the horizon. Maybe it is just that my mind connects Noah to this town. Whatever it is I like it. I like the memories. We shared some balloons with brother today.

I will never get used to seeing my son’s name on this stone.

In the Quiet

It is quiet in the house today. We took a last minute visit to Houston this weekend and left the girls there. My parents will meet us in Dallas on Thursday for my grandfather’s 90th birthday. I usually find myself on the computer during quiet moments. This morning was no different. I began by doing some work I needed to finish for a client, moved on to blogs, and found myself watching Noah’s video. Have you seen it lately? I love to see his precious body. The video scans up and down him as he lay in his first NICU bed. We didn’t have any idea that something was really wrong on that day. But I love to see him breathe. I love to look at his little toes and his precious body. I guess that video is as close as I can get to him now. Lately, I have found myself more emotional than usual, pregnancy I guess. Like last night, I was crying – multiple times – at the movie, Definitely, Maybe. Then couldn’t control myself after a silly, ridiculous comment Ethan made that just seemed to hurt my feelings. So this morning, in the quietness, I find myself hurting again. Just a sadness for my loss maybe. Seeing the excitement in Alyssa at 23 months old to meet her brother and knowing now how she misses him too. Without really understanding what she is missing, she just knows there is pain with Noah. Honestly, finding out that this baby was a girl really dug deep in me. Apparently, my motherly intuitions aren’t that good and I thought she was a boy. I had hoped she was a boy. I had prayed for her to be a boy. No one wants to really admit these type of things, but whatever. Of course, Ethan and I would have loved the opportunity to just parent a son. To have a brother for our girls. But it goes beyond that. I think for me, I wanted Noah. That is some way, if this baby was a boy, I would feel closer to Noah. I would have the opportunity to use his bedding, to use his clothes. To let his memory live through his brother. Watching his video this morning, just reminds me thats it. There is no more to his story. I have felt very peaceful about our loss for the last few years. I can talk about Noah and read about him or letters from people without getting too stirred up. But it is still there. You move on, you continue to live, you continue to enjoy life and other blessings. But I am continually reminded that the pain is not gone. As a matter of fact, it feels as it is still right under the surface. I am thankful this morning for my quiet time. I am thankful for opportunities like this to spend with my memories. I am thankful that God knows more than me and find comfort in the following:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I hold tight to this. That God has a plan for us. I don’t know why his plan was different than mine, but it says “not to harm you”. And the fact that I have hope and a future with God is enough for me right now.

Thinking of Heaven

The Heavenly Daily News
from Aunt April

It was an exciting day here in heaven last week. The
sun was shining, as always. The birds were singing,
always do. And the excitement in the air was building.

It was the birthday of one of heaven’s precious
children. Noah Whaley was turning 3. It was the
birthday of many others, that’s true, but an
excitement builds in heaven for the children when Noah
Whaley has a birthday.

Every May 3rd, children run to the edges of heaven to
see and hopefully get a balloon, and Noah is no
different. His dark hair pushed from his angelic face
as he ran at full speed to heaven’s edge. “Wait for
it” he told the other children.

Within seconds balloons started arriving in heaven.
Children eagerly reached and grabbed the string, each
carrying a message for Noah. “I love you” one said, “I
miss you” said another. Each message was in a
different voice, each message conveying the love the
sender had for Noah.

By the end of the day, each child had received a
balloon and shared it’s message with Noah, who by this
point was covered in cake. Angel food cake of course.

Noah finished this exciting day in the arms of Jesus.
He ran to Jesus with all the messages that had been
sent that day. Jesus examined them one-by-one. He
fashioned all the messages into a blanket and covered
Noah with it. And so Noah slept, surrounded in his
family’s love.