i miss you baby clay…

Today is the 9th year that has passed without my sweet one!  Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I will remember his life…and smile.

I thought of you with love today

But that is nothing new.

I thought about you yesterday,

And days before that too.

I think of you in silence,

I often speak your name.

All I have are memories

And pictures in a frame.

Your memory is my keepsake,

With which I’ll never part,

God has you in His keeping.

I have you in my heart.

~ Unknown

my may 12, 2011…

Not a lengthy post today.  Just a quick tribute to my sweetheart …… Thankful we had him for 15 1/2 years…


12-17-1987  –  5-12-2003

Bret (age 5) and Clay (age 3) when we first moved to Tucson…


and my favorite…..in Tucson (3 years old)…

Who knew that this sweet little boy was blind, had cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder and fed via G-tube (24 hours)…AND took 32 meds a day….would be so very happy!  


my mixed bag of emotions on mothers day…

Mothers Day isn’t all warm and fuzzy for me.  Oh, sure, I WANT it to be!  But life is funny…..with my baby gone,  it has lost a little of it’s sparkle.

YES, I still celebrate the fact that my oldest son, Bret, survived the USMC.  He survived serving in Iraq and is now living here in Phoenix and working for my husband.  He is my joy!  He is not only handsome, but has a wonderful sense of humor (where did that come from, I suppose?) and can always make me laugh.  I love him with all my heart!

But, on Mothers Day, May 12, 2003….I got up early to go check on Clay who was in the ICU at Phoenix Childrens Hospital.  He was in for pneumonia and was 15 1/2 years old…..and still my BABY.  They had taken him off the respirator because he seemed to be doing better!  When I went into his room  (when he was in ICU I didn’t spend the nights) he was facing the doorway.  He was blind, but it looked as though he was looking straight at me.

I walked in, smiling because he was off the ventilator and only had on an oxygen mask.  I walked to his bedside and pulled the mask away for just a moment so I could give him a kiss on those delicious little lips.  When I pulled it away, he said, “mama.”

Clay only had a vocabulary of two words.  One was, “mama” and the other was “bubba”.  I don’t know why he could only say these words and no other….but God knows.  He knew that those two words would give Bret and I strength for those 15 years.  God is good.

I leaned down, wondering how he knew it was me that pulled the mask off, and gave him a kiss.  He looked so beautiful and had the most beautiful blue eyes and long lashes.  I was so very happy to see and hear him on this Mothers Day.  He seemed to be turning the corner with his pneumonia.

I did not know that it would be my last few hours with my baby.  Clay died the following morning.

God is still good.  He took Clay because it was time.  No more seizures.  No more pneumonia.  No more pain.  But for me….no more baby.  I won’t lie….it  was   is hard …  but God is good.

So Mothers Day is a mixed bag of emotions for me.  On the one hand, God gave me a beautiful child for 15 years and an incredible older son that loved his brother more than you can imagine.  And on the other hand…my arms are empty and a piece of my heart went away.  But God is good.

My sweet mother-in-law, Mary Alice Nieto, also passed away 2 years ago, leaving behind a 40 year old Down Syndrome daughter, who lives with her dad….who is 75.  Can you imagine the work left for him?  She is unable to live on her own and yet, is such a delight to the entire family.  I miss Mary Alice, not only because she was precious to me, but also because she welcomed me and my boys with open arms, 20 years ago.  The first time she saw Clay, she told me that he was an angel.  I said, “I know.”

MY MOTHER, on the other hand, is still alive!  My mother has been such an incredible inspiration to me and has lived out faith, hope and love for me.  She has grace and she has class.  She loved my little Clay so very much and was not only with me when he was born, but was also with me on the day that he died.  God did that.  God knew that I would need my mama.  God is good.

She always made sure that we went to church.  She always made sure that we wore the most current styles, had the best  manners and always made sure we wore “church” clothes when we went to the doctor.  I still laugh about that today when I go to the doctors office.  No, I don’t wear “church” clothes, but I still dress up!!

I have learned to mimic  her grace and dignity whenever major obstacles come our way.  I hope that this day gives her the respect and dignity that she deserves because she was my role model!  She taught me all I know!  (and all I don’t know….like math).  And I celebrate HER.  MY MAMA…

So, Mothers Day is different for me.  I think of the things I have and I think of the things I have lost.

And, by the grace of God, I can still smile.

now I see what you’re talking about…

I don’t remember if I told the story of the day that we found out that Clay was blind.  I already knew this as his mother, but we had to make it ‘official’ by taking him to an opthamologist in Houston.  And even though I knew that he couldn’t see, the news was still devastating to me when she spoke.  Her words seemed to make it so very final.

Once I got home, I called my Sunday School teacher and told her about Clay.  She said that earlier that morning she was teaching a bible study class on John 9.  This is the story about the disciples seeing a man blind from birth, and asking Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”.  Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

Wow.  Can you imagine the comfort that I felt at that moment?  No, it didn’t change the fact that my child would never see my face, nor did it change the fact that this was just one more problem that he had in his life.  But it did give me a peace that only Christ can give through His Word.  I knew that we were going to be just fine.

When I was looking at the passage again today, I found a scripture that seemed to leap off the page at me!  But let me back up a bit.

Jesus spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva and put it on the man’s eyes.  “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam”, is what he told this man and he came back seeing. The people were amazed!  They asked him how his eyes were opened and he told them, “The man they call Jesus put mud on my eyes, told me to wash and I did, and now I see!”  The people then brought him to the Pharisees, who were angry because Jesus had performed a miracle on the Sabbath. So here he has the leaders of the church grilling him so they bring in his parents.  His parents feared that they would be excommunicated from the church so they told the Pharisees that their son was old enough to speak for himself. (yeah, thanks for your support, mom and dad)

The once blind man told the Pharisees, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know.  One thing I do know.  I was blind but now I see!”  What is troubling here is that no one is rejoicing over the miracle!  But here is where I like the formerly blind guys story…

After they kept hurling insults and abusing him, they began to exclaim that he was Jesus’s disciple and that they were disciples of Moses.  So (here is where he gives a little sarcasm! You go, blind dude!)  ..the man answers..”YOU men are the rulers in Israel…YOU are the teachers of the Jewish people…and there is a man in your midst that opened a blind mans eyes and YOU don’t know who he is?”  OH….this got their tunics in a wad…..and with that, they threw him out of the church.

This whole situation started when the disciples wanted to know about this mans condition.  Sadly, they did not look upon the man as an object of mercy, but more of a riddle to be solved.  And when Jesus responds, he doesn’t explain the cause of the mans blindness, but the purpose. He sees in the blind man an opportunity to display the works of God.

BUT HERE IS SOMETHING I LIKE…. in the next verse (which is verse 35) I will highlight what struck me as …. comforting.

“Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when He found him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”………Just those four little words…..when He found him. To me, that means that Jesus was looking for him!  How awesome is that? This blind man had a miracle in his life and was thrown out of a church because of it and in the meantime, where is Jesus?  He’s looking for him….and He found him.

Put yourself in his place!  First of all, his hearing was fine!   How do you think he felt with people standing around him (while he was still blind) and discussing his spiritual condition with no concern at all for his own thoughts?  But don’t worry.  That blind man put them in their place with his obedience and did exactly as Jesus told him.  He went and washed in the Pool and his sight was restored.

And with his sight restored and his faith restored, Jesus asks him if he believed in the Son of Man.  The man said “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him.  He had received his physical sight and now had his spiritual vision restored.  WHAT A GREAT DAY FOR THIS MAN!

Clay’s vision was never restored, but my faith in God certainly was!  I had people come to me that told me that they had never in their life prayed before, but they were praying for us.  Imagine that?  My little blind baby was being a light!

When you see suffering, do you see it as a problem or a possibility?  If someone close to you suffers from some sort of impairment, what do you see in them?  I see an opportunity to display the works of God.  Are you living in darkness today?  We can learn from this formerly blind man that was washed and received his sight.

when you don’t know what to say…

I know I talk about prayer a lot, but it has brought me through some really tough times.  When my son, Clay, was three days old and contracted Group B Strep, I found myself praying frantically and not really even knowing what to say except, “HELP!”

Then for the next 15 years of his life I would lean on God more and more, because I realized that He held my little angel in His hands.  There were times I didn’t even know how to pray.  And then there were the moments in my life that I could hardly pray at all.

I remember taking Clay in for his second G-tube placement.  His first was placed in at 5 months and now that he was 13 years old, it was no longer in the correct position since he insisted on growing!  With this surgery, we had to remove his old G-tube to prepare him for the new one.  Because Clay took so many medications, they were all in liquid form which made them easy to give….especially at three in the morning.  I could sneak in his room in the middle of the night and give him meds without him ever knowing.  It was honestly a blessing in disguise.

However, for this operation, they had to give his medications to him through his IV.  This was fine, except he could not take every medicine because some weren’t available for the intravenous lines.  So, Clay didn’t get all of his seizure medications…..and this caused him to have non-stop seizures for an entire day until I called off the surgery and demanded that they figure out a way to give him enough medication to put a halt to this non-stop seizure.

As he lay, in a puddle of sweat, his head was continuously jerking, and his right arm was suspended in the air as if being held by invisible wires.  His legs were moving spastically one direction, as his arms were moving in another.  This was the most horrific thing for a mother to watch.  I tried to crawl up in bed with him to hold his little body, but as long as he was aware of my presence, he would let out the most sorrowful moan. Clay could not communicate, but he could say, mama.  Thankfully  he could not say it now, but he could still moan and it was the most pitiful cry I had ever heard.  So the only thing for me to do was to sit by his bedside and watch, pray and cry buckets of tears.  My eyes hurt, my head hurt and there was nothing I could do.

I would close my eyes and try to pray but no words would come out.  This had not happened before.  I usually had no trouble putting my words together, but all that would come from my lips was, ‘please’.  I just remember saying please over and over again.  I know that fatigue and concern and fear had taken over my body and I just could not find words to describe my anguish. I was in a nightmare and my baby was suffering.

When the nurses finally came in and gave him an additional seizure medicine, his little body began to relax and he fell into a deep sleep, drenched in sweat.   Although I had not been able to form words of my own, I realized that God had indeed answered my prayers.

Romans 8:26-27 assures us that the Holy Spirit prays for us when we can’t even pray for ourselves.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

When we can’t find the words, the Holy Spirit prays for us according to the Will of God.  This is a wonderful promise because as we go through life we will be faced in many situations where we can’t, or don’t, know how to pray.  It is these moments that we can be certain that the Holy Spirit is praying for us.

How many times have you tried to pray and don’t know what to ask for?  This happens most often when we are in a crisis and obviously cannot see the future or how things will turn out.  Our vision is so limited.  We can only see what is going on in our own little universe, but God sees all.  Our own vision is limited also because we are a little tainted by selfishness.  How can I be sure that I am praying for what God wants?? I want what He wants because I know that His plan is far greater than mine, but I’m selfish enough to have my own desires, too.

I love verse 27 because it says God is always searching our hearts.  There is no contradiction between the Spirit in our hearts and our Father in heaven.  When the Spirit intercedes for us, He is praying according to God’s Will. So as I pray what is in my heart, I imagine the Spirit is saying, “Father, what she really means is…..”

God knows what our deepest desires are, and He knows what we need before we even ask him.  And this, my friends offers great encouragement.

So go ahead and pray.  When you are weak and when you feel desperate about the things that truly matter to you, and all you can do is cry out, “please” or whatever word is rolling off your tongue, know that our God in Heaven hears your cry because in your weakness He is strong.  When you cannot speak, He can speak for you.

happy birthday, clay!

Today is my big boys birthday!  Clay would have been twenty three years old!!  Wowsers!  But he is having cake with Jesus today and that is really all I’m going to say about that because I am not in the mood to cry….


“However, as it is written, no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1Cor. 2:9

my boys…..

This is one of my MOST favorite pictures of Bret and Clay!  Clay had just gotten out of the hospital and Bret was so very happy to see him that he jumped up on the bed and lifted Clay into a sitting position and since he couldn’t hold up his own body weight, he started to fall forward!  They both started laughing because Bret is holding him up by his head!!!

I miss that baby so very much but at the same time I PRAISE GOD THAT HE IS IN HEAVEN!!  This child is running, laughing, playing and singing!  And I love to think that when I meet someone here that has a loved one that has passed on…..Clay and that person are rejoicing together!

I dream about Clay almost every single night.  It’s been seven years and it still seems like yesterday.  While I long to hold him, and kiss his neck (to make him laugh) and lay in bed with him……he is in the best care EVER!  He is in my Jesus’ arms!  Can you imagine?  HE IS HUGGING MY SAVIOUR!!

We are naming the ranch after Clay, and although he has never been here,  I know that he would have loved it so very much.  But think about the ranch that HE is on!!  Wow!  Psalm 50:10, “for every animal in the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills” !  WOO HOO!!  Clay is with the CREATOR of the cattle!

Thank you, Jesus for letting me have fifteen years, four months and twenty nine days, eight hours and 37 minutes.  Thank you for choosing ME out of every mama out there to hold your child.  Thank you for taking him home at exactly the right time.  Thank you that I get to see my angel again.  Until then…..tell him that his mama loves him…..tell him that his mama misses him and sometimes can still smell him…..and tell him we will be together FOREVER!  Thank you that I met/married a man that called him his own….Thank you that Jimmy INSISTED that he be buried in a beautiful cherry wood casket, because it reminded him of Clay sleeping in our bed……..thank you, thank you, thank you….

the seizure…

When Clay was three months old we were, once again, setting up camp in the hospital.  He had his third bout with pneumonia and was placed in the Intermediate Care Unit of the hospital.  I am ashamed to say that I was relieved when he was sent to this unit because it gave me a chance to go home and rest and take care of Bret, who was 2 1/2 at the time.  (That last statement seems odd because how do you rest and take care of a 2 1/2 year old?)  Regardless, it was a time for me to relax for a while knowing that there were nurses stationed in his room at all times.

I dropped off Bret at my mothers house and my father and I drove to the hospital.  I had an odd feeling about him that morning and would find out in the years to come,  the strange feeling in the pit of my stomach was not to be ignored.

We got to the 3rd floor and I my heart was beating so hard I thought it would pop out of my chest.  I wanted to cry;  not the random tear down the cheek, but the kind of cry that brings uncontrollable breathing and sobbing.  I could see that there was no one attending his crib and ran to the side and saw that he was having a grand mal seizure.

His little eight pound body was contorted in such a way that at first I didn’t know how to pick him up.  His legs and feet were bent backwards, as was his head and he was in a full out backward bend!  I was screaming for someone…anyone…to help me!  The nurse came and said she would page the doctor and I know that if I hadn’t had Clay in my arms I would have knocked her off her feet.  Oh, God!  Please help us!

FIFTY THREE minutes went by before Clay was administered an anti-seizure drug.  I had handed my father the baby and raced out to the lobby to call our neurologist.  This was in 1988, so I didn’t have the convenience of a cell phone.  The neurologist was able to locate the doctor on call and the medication was ordered.  I am not sure if the delay was on the part of the doctor or the in house pharmacy or the nurse whom I officially despised.  But he received his medicine and his body lay limp in his little crib.

I don’t know how long I stayed by his side that day.  His body was covered in perspiration, as was mine, and he had a very blank stare.  From that day on, until his last breath was taken, he never took another bottle. The darkness of that seizure had not only removed his ability to swallow but had also devoured his sight.