One Year

A lot can change in a year - we now know that more than ever. Today we celebrate the first birthday of our son Charles James. Such a bittersweet day, but one we look forward to repeating each November.

Charlie is such an amazing kid. So different than his older brother, John, but a perfect fit for our family. Seeing his toothy smile always helps wash away whatever stresses the day may have brought.

Charles, Charlie, CJ, C, whatever we may call him has challenged us day in, day out. Tested our fortitude as we spent 63 days by his side in the NICU. Pulled every nerve as we maintained oxygen tanks and monitoring for three months after he was out. Forced us to doubt our parenting skills as he faced developmental stages differently. And required us to drop our guard and treat him as any infant once he made it past known health issues. The challenge was worth every second of doubt and every night of wide-eyed restlessness.

It is an odd feeling to look through a history of pain to realize such joy for your child. Some of the innocence was lost raising Charlie, but we continue to do our best to ensure we maximize this gracious life given to Allison and I.

John and Charlie were fast friends and seeing the love they already have for each other is the biggest reward for which we could ask. They love to put their faces as close as physically possible to each other, we can only imagine what is going through their minds. Sure will be interesting when they are able to express their feelings in true boy fashion.

We are so proud of Charlie and celebrate every minute we get to spend with him. We get to raise one where there should have been two, but in our minds to know Charlie is to know Sam.

Happy birthday Charlie, we hope you already feel that you are special - one day you will know why.

Happy birthday Sam, we are special to have known you even if only for 26 days. Not a day goes by that we don't think about you. We continue to wonder what you would have been like, but know you would have been great. You will always be our sweet Sam and we will always be your Mom and Dad.

Happy birthday boys. We love you both.


It has been three weeks since we lost Sam, it feels like it was just yesterday. We hopefully have only 3-4 weeks left of Charlie being in the NICU, it feels like forever. Time is fickle like that. I constantly find myself looking at a calendar and trying to comprehend how slowly and quickly days and hours have come and gone since October. I am ready for the light at the end of the tunnel to quit getting smaller – I’m ready for us as a family to be out in the open again.

We cremated Sam on January 4 – I made sure to be there to say goodbye to him and see him off. I needed the closure of it all. We wanted to always feel his presence at our home and for him to be with us forever. We chose to have three small collections of his ashes separated. One will go in the front yard of what would have been his home, under a new, strong tree to be planted this spring. The remaining two will be given to his brothers, John and Charlie, once they turn 18 – hopefully they can take Sam places they would have loved to show him and celebrate him as they choose fit. The main vessel will remain with Allison and I forever, always close by to remind us of his impact and our love toward our little boy.

I went back to work last week for the first time in over two weeks. It was extremely difficult to remain focused throughout the day and I was massively behind on items. It was also a challenge to navigate conversations with my coworkers. Who knew about Sam? Who didn’t know but wanted to check on the twins’ status? Who just wanted to ask me if I had a good holiday break and if I did anything fun? I have never been so short to people who were honestly just seeing how things were either out of genuine interest or habitual politeness. By day three word had spread enough that I was getting empathetic looks from across the way as I walked through the building. Those three days weren’t over fast enough.

We started formally making our guest room into John’s big boy room this past weekend. It is both exciting and devastating at the same time. There were supposed to be two cribs in this room – not just a twin bed. But, we have already filled the space with toys and books and plenty of room for John and Charlie to reenact their favorite Mickey Mouse Clubhouse scenes or have a wrestling match. It will be a happy room, fit for a toddler and his little brother to get into as much trouble as they can muster. We hope to have both rooms ready within the next few weeks to ensure Charlie has a safe and loving place to come home to.

Allison is a stay-at-home mother now and adjusting. She has been steadfast in her dedication to Charlie and is pouring her heart and soul into breastfeeding and caring for him at the hospital. The fifteen minute drives to and from our house can take a toll, but she pushes forward to ensure he has the best available care and love from his mother. I continue to be impressed with Allison’s tenacity and I love her more every day. She celebrated her birthday last week, it was hopefully the hardest one she ever has to go through.

All-in-all, time is something we have a newfound respect for after the past few months. It can go by in the blink of an eye when things are right in your world, and it can come to a screeching halt when not. All we can ask for is as much time as possible with our family and friends and as few minutes as necessary for the times without. I know I will keep looking at the calendar, I’m just ready to have a smile on my face when I do.