Updated: Feb 15
Dear favorite children...
Jessica Lynn, Eliotte Nicole, James Henry III, Victoria Anne, and Robert Christopher.
You make my life meaningful. From the first time I dreamed of our home being filled with an abundance of children, you have been in my heart. They say that parents live through their children, but I know you have each lived your own lives to the fullest in your own way and in your own timing. Your dad and I have watched in amazement.
We started working in our church’s children’s service when we were first married in college because we loved children and serving in ministry together from Day One. In fact, our entire courtship and early days of marriage centered around these two factors. I like to think it was our way of preparing us for our own children one day. No letter that I could write to you could adequately express my love for you … but I will try.
Jessica Lynn, when you moved from competitive ice skating to competitive track teams, to playing the bassoon in your school’s orchestra, I knew our firstborn daughter would welcome challenges and seek adventure! You were sensitive and intentional in understanding your friends, other cultures, and people groups, which led you to studying archeology. However, Daddy always said you were going to be an attorney! You listen so well to truly hear people’s hearts and intentions. You never miss an opportunity to surround your friends and family with loving arms! I knew that your love for music and helping others would lead you into a field, legal or otherwise, where you could be creative and impactful. Your heart for others continues to shine as you advocate for others in this country and around the world. Thank you for making my dream of being a mom come true.
Eliotte Nicole, when you began your explosive journey, you always wanted to perform — swim on the most competitive teams, ride the biggest horses, and play the violin or dance in the front row. And boy, did you sparkle! I stood back most of the time and watched as you took on the world. I just hoped that you would relax a little and get more sleep after graduating from college. Though heading to medical school next may have been your teachers’ and parents’ plan for your life, you showed me you had other ambitious goals in mind. In the end, what you bring to the world through your marriage to Ryan and the birth of your son, James Alexander, inspires us all to believe in our gifts and callings. As you know we all say in our family: If anyone can do this incredible work, it will be Eliotte! Thank you for showing me that I can also do hard things.
James Henry III, each time you return back to Texas for work or vacation I am reminded of the beautiful human being you are. As a child you always found the camera and lit up the screen with that warm smile of yours! You carried the burden that many oldest sons carry, but you found a way to use your voice to share your truths. After you graduated from college, and with support and love from many who believed in you, you made your talents known! Watching you succeed in the field of creatives has reminded me of the many writing assignments which revealed to me your passions and gifts at a very early age. The basketball court will always be your true home but using your voice to change the status quo through music and creative writing will always be the medium by which we hear you most clearly. Thank you for being “Prince James” in our family.
Victoria Anne, when you joined your brother in my belly and we received the news, I really didn’t believe it was possible because I never expected twins. Though shocked, I was extremely grateful. I believed I was finally going to complete our family with my “Victoria Anne.” Like your older siblings, you showed very early signs of brilliance and creativity — like announcing to the world very early that you were going to be an astrophysicist! Your path through competitive gymnastics, which required a homeschool curriculum, taught you early about teamwork and independence. However, being separated from your twin brother was not something you liked. You quickly demonstrated that you loved learning, I really thought I would lose touch with you early due to my inability to keep up with your inquisitive mind. After college, and right in the middle of the pandemic, I concluded that your life would always be intertwined with ours in Texas where your twin brother is buried and where you have chosen to serve individuals with disabilities through medical research. Thank you for helping families like ours find hope.
Robert Christopher, when you left this world in 2015 — shedding your CHD2 myoclonic encephalopathy disorder and mitochondrial disease forever — you left a hole so big in my heart that it will take a lifetime of advocacy to make me feel like I have done enough for others in your name. I know you were a gift given to us to love and cherish for a short time to teach us so many things, but especially to care deeply for individuals like you. I have no doubt that I was born to be your mother — ready, adequately prepared, or not. You were mine.
The Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD) describes your rare medical condition in this way:
“CHD2-related neurodevelopmental disorders are characterized by early-onset epileptic encephalopathy (i.e., refractory seizures and cognitive slowing or regression associated with frequent ongoing epileptiform activity). Seizure onset is typically between ages six months and four years. Seizure types typically include drop attacks, myoclonus, and a rapid onset of multiple seizure types associated with generalized spike-wave on EEG, atonic-myoclonic-absence seizures, and clinical photosensitivity. Intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorders are common.
To date only 32 individuals with a CHD2-related neurodevelopmental disorder have been reported …”
But Robert, we knew you to be so much more than your medical diagnosis. You were one of the most affectionately focused young men I knew. You knitted us together as a family and gave us reasons to lay down our selfish lives and pick up the responsibility of caring for you. And what a life-changing caregiving path we traveled with you. You are missed every day, my precious Robert. Thank you for the honor of sharing eighteen years of my life with you.
All of you babies are my favorites. Nothing you have ever done or will ever do in the future will change my deep love for you. I am a blessed woman because I still call you my most cherished gifts.
Thank you for allowing me to love you from birth until today. You are my valentines!
Listening Library: “Forever Now” (Michael Bublé)
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
(Psalm 139: 13-14 NIV)
I just met you It seems like yesterday You opened up your eyes And I recognized your face You know that you're the one that we've been waiting for We're gonna keep you safe First I held you in my arms I knew I'd love you all the way
I tuck you in at night, another day has passed Every week goes by a little faster than the last It wasn't so long ago We walked together, and you held my hand And now you're getting too big to want to
But I hope you'll always understand
That I'm always gonna lift you up And I'm never gonna let you down No matter what you do I'm forever proud of you I love you forever now
Through your ears I hear it, through your eyes I see A world full of magic, full of possibilities You know as well as anybody how tough this life can be But you've got so much strength inside you A strength I pray you'll never need
And I'm always gonna lift you up And I'm never gonna let you down Time flies by I hope you realize that I Love you forever now
I'm always gonna be right here Always gonna cheer you up I'm always gonna have your back
You're never gonna be alone
And I'm always gonna lift you up No I'm never gonna let you down No matter what you do I'm forever proud of you I love you forever now
I love you forever now
Songwriters: Alan Chang, Tom Jackson, Michael Steven Bublé, Ryan Daniel Lerman
Forever Now lyrics © I'm The Last Man Standing Music Inc., Cosmic Giggle Music, Alan Chang Music,
Dukes Point Music (BMI), Dukes Point Music