Mama is missing Tommy

September 12th, 2014


I wouldn’t wish my boy back down here from heaven, back into his broken, twisted, stiff, uncooperative little body.

But I am wishing I could see him one more time.

Wishing I could be allowed one more time to grab his hands and pull him to his feet, give him a good rocking-back-and-forth squeeze, rub and pat his back, and kiss his soft cheek.  He loved getting hugs, and would croon and giggle and had begun to pat my back in return.  So many little lovey moments recorded only in my memory.  I wish I hadn’t been so shy about asking others to snap a picture of me with Tommy.

I miss hearing him say, “Mama.”  I wish so much that we had recorded it.  I thought I’d get to it later, after one of the kids showed me how to use the video on the new camera.  Do you know, the last few weeks of his life, when I saw he’d dropped his toy, I’d prompt him, “Tom-Tom, say ‘Mama!  Uh-oh!  Mama!  Uh-oh!'”  And he’d respond, “Mama!”

I miss all his funny chattering.  He was such a funny little guy.  His bone specialist got it exactly right when he said, “There’s only one of him.”

I miss his happy pterodactyl shriek.  You don’t believe me.   You think I’m being sentimental.  I can feel the doubtfulness from here.  We all got so used to the shrieking.  I even fell asleep on the couch with Tommy shrieking a few feet away.  Of course that was after a full day at DuPont on two hours’ sleep.

Ever so often I think I hear him shrieking outside with the children.  It stops me in my tracks.

If only there could be one more time to put on some energetic Piano Guys or Celtic dance music, grab his hands and dance and laugh with him.  Just one more time.  He never got tired of teasing and silliness, and he loved it when I was in a zany mood.  I felt permission to be goofy with him as I rarely am with anyone else.  Life had been hard enough for long enough that I’d watched my lofty goals and ideals fade away one by one.  I’d let myself off the therapy hook.  Let someone else worry about therapy.  Those last couple of months, all I wanted for Tommy was for him to feel happy and loved.  Period.

He knew whether people really liked him or not.  Mama Bear only let a nurse go with him to school if it was obvious the nurse liked him.  He needed to know we wouldn’t send him off with someone who didn’t really want to be with him.

He also looked at faces to see whether they were smiling.  He didn’t respond to people who frowned, even if they were otherwise nice people.  He looked for smiles.

Look how his smile changed in eight months.  During his first few months home, his eyes remained watchful behind his smile, asking, “Who are you?  Can I trust you?  Do you love me?”  Over the winter, he slowly relaxed.  By the time springtime came…see how there was nothing hiding behind his eyes?  Just joy sparkling right out with no doubts to slow it down.  For weeks, I desperately needed the reassurance of these two photos.  Now I just miss his smile so much it hurts.


The only time I couldn’t get him to smile was when I told him it was time to go to bed.  His eyes would get big and solemn and sad.  He never smiled about going to bed, no matter how sleepy he was.  I guess he’d had enough of bed to last him for many lifetimes.  I’d console him by reminding him in a sing-song voice that his brothers would be up there with him.  “Tom-Tom!  There’s John Michael and Peter and James and Stephen and baby Ben!”  Only then would a smile come back to his face.

We haven’t touched his bed.  We don’t need it for anyone else, and I just don’t have the heart to strip it down yet.  His pillow is still waiting for him to pull it onto his lap and fall asleep sitting up.  He loved having a pillow.  What a simple gift, after endless years spent lying in an empty bed.  He loved it when I held his pillow up above him as he lay in bed, teasing, “Here it comes…!  Here it comes…!  Here it comes…!” Then dropping it onto him, “WHOOOSH on Tommy!”

Very late at night, after nursing Ben one more time and laying him down to sleep again, I walk back through the boys’ room and pause beside Tommy’s bed.  I can so easily imagine him there sleeping sitting hunched over his pillow as he so often did.  Funny goofy guy.  Sweet Tom-Tom.  I reach out my hand and rub his crooked little back.  As I so often did.

I miss my little Tom-Tom.

Thank You, God, for picking me to be Tommy’s mama.

I loved being his mama.







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44 Responses to “Mama is missing Tommy”

  1. Missy says:

    I am so happy that I met Tommy in the hospital. He was happy and it was fun to watch him flirt with the nurses and use his voice to express himself. That visit was a blessing. I’m so happy that you are sharing your thoughts about him with us.

  2. Rebekah D. says:

    I read your precious thoughts about Tommy and your statement that the Lord is showing Himself victorious in your heart and home. And I began to blink back tears.

    I know you must be grieving so much… but how thankful I am to hear that God’s mercies are so real to you and that He is overcoming the darkness on your behalf.

    In Tommy’s death, as in his life, I see God glorified by your response to Him. To catch a glimpse of your relationship with the Savior stirs my own heart.

    Thank you, my dear friend I’ve never met. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Gina in Spain says:

    Thank you for sharing with us the joy of Tommy….XXOO

  4. Maureen says:

    (((hugs))) dear friend & many prayers.

  5. Stori says:

    Oh sweet Susanna, how my heart aches for you! I am praying for your grief and your mama’s heart!

  6. Louisa says:

    Your story of Tommy’s life captured our hearts from the beginning and it is still living and moving hearts today ….your hearts were willing to step up for this little man when he sat abandoned for soooooo long. your treasure is waiting in heaven. Thank you for sharing his story,your story, your heart….you are such an encouragement to this mama’s heart. We are praying for you and your beautiful family.

  7. Becky K. says:

    My Friend,
    This was a beautiful post. I miss that amazing grin and those eyes that smiled too….and I didn’t see him daily. Tommy really lit up a room!! I’ll always remember him in the play room at church reaching in every possible direction exploring to see what he could grab to explore. What a bundle of energy now free to move and grab whatever he might be curious about.
    You are so often in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs.

  8. Kim says:

    Praise God for those precious, priceless memories. He is so good.

  9. Angie says:

    Beautiful! He will always, always be with you in your heart until you meet again face to face.

  10. MJM says:


    Thank you for writing. Thank you for being an example of trusting Jesus. Hope does not put us to shame.

    Oh that my words were written!
    Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
    Oh that with an iron pen and lead
    they were engraved in the rock forever!
    For I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
    And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I shall see God,
    whom I shall see for myself,
    and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
    My heart faints within me! – Job 19:23-27

    We continue to pray for you and your family.

  11. Lorena says:

    He couldn’t have had a better one, Susanna. No one would have loved him more – or better – than you did. So glad you got to have him, and he you.

  12. Barb says:

    It’s good to hear from you. Your post is beautiful. Continued blessings to you and your family.

  13. Joy Horton says:

    Oh, Susanna! I can feel the longing and aching you have for ‘one more time’ with Tommy. Oh, how I wish I could give that to you sooner than it will come! But I can see (and it is SO powerful) that the Lord is being victorious through all of this in your life and what a tremendous example for your ever-watching children. I thank you for being so vulnerable and transparent with us in your writing and for letting us in on your pain. I pray that in some way we are able to lessen the grief you feel in your sharing it and our comments. I feel so far away and unable to help you, but I know that the Father hears our prayers of comfort for you and your family.

    You can’t know how I treasure your posts and hearing from you. Thank you so much for posting, dear Susanna. I love you!

  14. StacyA says:

    I’ll pray for your and the “just one more time” wishes. I understand. <3 Stacy

  15. Sharon says:

    What an incredible blessing that after all those years on earth being so profoundly neglected, God brought Tommy to just the right family so that he could experience what true love and happy family life feels like for the short time God had left for him before he was to join Him in heaven.

  16. I had the “strongest” feeling that you posted today. Thank you for sharing… I thought a week or so ago that the place of you missing him, really missing him must be here by now. : ( Thank you again for sharing… what a beautiful smile after just 6 months. What a beautiful, sweet boy.

  17. Jodi says:

    Susanna… In the earliest days after the news of Tommy’s death my mind was swirling with thoughts of “Oh, the worst part of this must be how she’ll blame herself even though she shouldn’t..” or “The worst part of this will be all those horrible internet trolls…” or a dozen other horrible things about this that were entirely unhelpful to focus on. Then sitting there at his service watching the slide show of his precious smile, the obvious dawned on me: “The worst part about this is that Tommy is gone and you will have to go on without him,” and my heart broke for you all over again. I can’t imagine how your arms must ache to hold him again. We are all lifting your family up in prayer, knowing it will be a very long time before any sort of new normal emerges, but praising God for the way you are honoring Him in walking through all of this.

  18. Holly Mathewson says:

    Dearest Susanna,
    Thank you for your willingness to share your grieving, loving heart with us. I know the grief you carry is often so hard to bear. I have felt this grief. May I share with you that years ago, someone told me the pain would soften. As she told me this, I remember thinking, never will this pain soften. While it is still within me, it has softened. It took many years for me. It is different for everyone. No one has a right to tell you how long to grieve, how to grieve, or how to feel. Jesus will help you of course. There were times that all I could say was Jesus’s name over and over.

    I was just thinking how little Tom Tom was chosen by God to come live with his Momma and family so that he could get a feel for the love of Jesus and to prepare him for his true home going. Tommy was blessed to have you as his Momma. Your love for him was very readable in your sharing of your daily life with your precious family. Susanna, you were the vessel to carry Tommy closer to home. He is well, whole and happy. My prayer is that God will restore your broken, grieving heart, sweet Susanna and that you and your family will heal and survive your terrible loss. It is how Jesus wants you to heal. It’s what precious Tommy wants for you and your family.

    Love to you all, hollyMathewson

  19. Colleen Krizak says:

    Thank you for meeting Tommy where he was and for helping him find that greater inner security. His eyes said so much without him saying a word.

  20. TamiAnn says:

    He did not like glasses! The first thing he did when I went over to talk to him was pull my glasses off! I think that he wanted to see whether my eyes matched the smile on my face as I was introducing myself to him. I believe that Susanna you were upstairs at the time. We had a nice little chat and I was able to see first hand what a neat little guy he truly is.

  21. Lauren S. says:

    The difference between those two pictures is astonishing. The healthiness of his face is clear, but that smile! It was sparkling when he came home, but the radiance of it in the later picture is wonderful. What a precious gift you gave to him. Lifting you up in prayer every day.

  22. Lucy says:

    You were exactly the right mama for Tommy.

  23. Cassandra says:


    Just as with mothers who miscarried their child, aborted their child, lost their child due to illness or accident – you ARE STILL Tommy’s Mama.

    I’m sure I speak for everybody when I say that when I think of your name, Tommy’s Mama will always be how I think of you.

    But I get it when you say, “I miss being Tommy’s mama.” You’re his Mama but now you can’t parent him. And there is just no upside to that on this side of Heaven.

  24. I think you know we have 3 girls in Heaven, we only got to say good bye to one. And it was truly a blessing. I still hear and see the girls in my mind frequently. I call the stage you are in moving forward. And I fought moving forward tooth and nail. (I was just discussing this with a mom who lost her only child at 16 yrs old this Spring) I wanted time to stand still. I wish I could tell you it gets easier. It just gets more familiar, if that makes sense. It teaches you that only God can fill that void, nothing here. Tommy was/is a very special boy. You were very blessed. Sending ALL our LOVE with ((((HUGS)))) and prayers

  25. Anna T says:

    Tommy LOVED you as his momma!! I would LOVE for my children to spend time with you, you are a terrific mommy…I have learned from you and your children during the brief times that we have been together! ((Hugs)), prayers and love!!

  26. Amy Lucas says:

    I am so heartbroken for you. Your Tommy reminds me so much of my Liam. I’m praying for you and your family.

  27. Melissa says:

    I hold my own son a little closer in memory of your missing your precious Tommy. The thought of losing him makes my breath catch, but then I’m sure that’s true of all mothers. You are on the other side of that pain, but you’re still breathing (though I am sure there are times when you wonder how that’s possible) and Tommy is victorious. God’s plans are always to give us a hope and a future, and though the world tries to intervene, God still wins. Where, O death, is thy sting?

    I’m very sure that you know exactly where death’s sting is–in the here and now, when those we love are absent from our eyes. Praying that your happy memories of Tommy sustain you through the times when that sting is particularly painful.

  28. Diana says:

    I have been following your family’s story from before the time you brought Katie home. Her story touched me deeply and your family touched me. It was so hard for me to read about the children that were left in the orphanage because I don’t like to feel deeply about something and not have an action that can change their situation. I loved watching as Katie bloomed into such a beautiful flower with the love and care you gave her. When you started talking about Tommy and brought him home even though you had a newborn as well, I was so amazed by you. Seriously, you seemed like the Ultimate Mother to me. Every blog post you wrote was filled with love and had zero religion. Through a time of transition in our lives I stopped reading almost every blog on my list for months. Today I thought of your family again for some reason and I am so heartbroken to read about Tommy but not for his sake. He is so free and so happy and so whole for all of eternity. I am crying for you, beautiful mama, because I know you must be going through something more awful then you ever imagined and I am so sorry. I pray that Jesus will slowly heal your heart and your mind just as you helped to heal Katie and Tommy’s bodies and minds and hearts. It was simply a tragic accident that could have happened to me with one of my children. You and your family gave more joy to Tommy in the short time that you had him then all the previous years of his life and you are an example of Jesus to me. I pray for you today that the peace that passes understanding would be with you. Much love and prayers from one mother to another.

  29. Tammy says:

    Still praying for you and your family.

  30. Gina in Spain says:

    Thinking of you….

  31. sonja c. says:

    I lost my Sam 18 months ago. Like Elizabeth said, it doesn’t get easier, we just get used to that emptiness. I see my grief as this huge gaping hole that I navigate around every day as I go along living my life. Most of the time I’m pretty good at seeing it, recognizing that hole, and scooting around the edges. Every now and then I trip, and fall back into the overwhelming grief. Then I crawl my way back out, and start all over again, making those edges a little bit stonger every time. It’s so hard. It’s life and it’s love. If we don’t love with eveything we have, we can’t grieve with our whole beings. That time we had with them, no matter how brief, is so worth it. I’ll live with that pain every day to have had the moments together. I’m grieving with you, sweet Susanna, May your memories envelope you and give you comfort.

  32. mary kathryn says:

    Beautiful, beautiful post, Suzanne. Allow yourself to use present tense verbs when speaking of him, and speaking of your relationship to him. Instead of “I loved being his mama,” say “I love being his mama.” Because you are still and always will be his mama. And you STILL love being his mama. Death does not strip us of these things. It has no power to do it — Jesus made you Tommy’s mama, and His life and His heaven ensure that you always are Tommy’s mama. Hold on to these things that cannot be taken away. And verbalizing them correctly helps us remember how real they are.

  33. Marilyn says:

    Hugging you from afar, my dear sister. My heart aches with your but I am oh, so confident that He is healing your heart day by day. He is being glorified in you, sweet friend. I love you.

  34. Nancy says:

    Susanna – Thank you for sharing so much here with us. I continue to pray for you & your family as you find your way through this dark valley of grief. Those photos of Tommy are striking – I’m glad he could relax and allow himself to be loved – what a precious gift you were able to give to him. God Bless you & may he hold you close and give you healing peace and comfort. {{{{{hugs}}}}}

  35. Sally Shaw says:

    Last Monday at morning prayer, just my friend and I, in our little village church in rural England, praying for you and your family Suzanna, as we have done so often, we wished you could have been there and we could have hugged you and comforted you. That the love which we prayed would touch you, has, I’m certain, and God will continue to bless you with his healing touch. Know that you are loved and prayed for far and wide and in our thoughts and in our hearts. God Bless You and your wonderful family. Sally x

  36. Gina in Spain says:

    Thinking of you…

  37. ElizabethG says:

    Praying for you tonight my dear friend

  38. Maria says:

    Will be continuing to pray for you, your husband, and your family. Thank you for sharing Tommy with us.

  39. Tricia says:

    Wonderful, healing memories. I keep thinking about how utterly surprised you will be when you see him face to face in heaven. He will surely be one of the most handsome young men there. Maybe a post on how your other dear children are doing would help to lift your spirits. So many blessings. :)

  40. Jenny says:

    We still think of you, check in on you, and pray for you daily.
    Love from Watsonia,
    Jenny and family

  41. ElizabethG says:

    Praying for you again tonight. You are so dear to my heart and infinitely dearer to our Creator’s.

  42. Rosa says:

    Querida Susana: Vuelve pronto, te esperamos de corazón

  43. Mel says:

    Thinking of you. Praying for you. Grief is a long long road. Do not feel alone. I will pray for you always and I hope your son Tommy and My daughter Elsa are rejoicing in heaven together!!!!

  44. Gina in Spain says:

    Still in my thoughts…I am praying for you…

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