(Scroll below to download the card template in memory of someone you love)
Walking Through Hell
There is no other way to describe losing a child. It is truly hell on Earth. As my doctor told me shortly after losing Caleb “I don't know how people get through this, but I know somehow people do.”
There are no manuals or one-size-fits-all solutions for staying afloat when all you want to do is sink. No magic words exist that will ever make the ache disappear, and no drink or pill in the universe is strong enough to untie the knot in the pit of your stomach. Losing a child means there will always be a gaping hole left in your soul by the only person who could fill it beyond capacity. This is a wound forever in need of intensive care. My only hope is that maybe someone will read these words and choose to grab on to this life raft instead of being swallowed by the violent waves of grief.
Get inside and float with me until we learn how to hold onto each other and swim through the storm.
This site is dedicated to spreading the everlasting love of Caleb Lennon Wile. It is a work in progress rooted out of the imperfect struggle of our obliterated hearts. If you are here because you also share this agonizing reality, I am so very sorry. I hate it with every particle of my body and soul that any of us have to get up every day and face this world without our beautiful children. I understand being doubled over sobbing and feeling like someone has punched me repeatedly in the gut for hours. I know what it's like to be up night after night terrified that your husband will be next and checking him to make sure he's still breathing. For those who have not walked in these shoes, thank you for being here and supporting us. Believe me when I tell you we literally would not be here without you. When you see us at work or in the grocery store, and you notice our hair is a mess and our clothes don't match, just realize this may be all we can manage today. We are doing our best just to get through each second of the days and nights, so please be patient with us. If you are seeing us outside our house and off the couch, keep gently encouraging us to consciously choose to fight through every monotonous task we previously took for granted. We are "showing up," as my dear friend likes to say, even if our minds are not always following.
As a marathon runner (and a slow one at that), I've also learned that in a 26.2 mile run there are going to be times when I'm hot or cold, discouraged, sore, or just plain worn out. The race is going to take me many training sessions and numerous hours to complete, so I try to be patient with myself. I also take advice from a forgetful blue fish named Dory, and I "just keep swimming" (or running). Now I repeat this over and over, except now I say "just keep living." Repeat it as many times as you need to in order to make it to tomorrow. I'm not a particularly religious person but I also keep this one in the constant mental loop: "Lean not on your own understanding." Caleb will always be our pride and joy and as much as we desperately want to be with him, we know we have to live our lives FOR him now, even if we don't understand why. Help us live a life that will make him proud, too. We HAVE to have something positive come from this tragedy, or we can't take another breath through this constricting, narrow straw.
Sometimes in our darkest hours Caleb likes to give us signs that he is still with us in spirit. A little "Hi, Mommy and DaDa," seems to come when we least expect it and need it the most. We hope Caleb will show up to you too and help guide all those that may be walking (and sometimes curled up in the fetal position) through the pit of despair.
I know it is not going to be easy. As I type this message, Caleb's birthday is officially here. I hate this and wish to God I could stop time so Caleb's birthday wouldn't be here without him. We can't bring him cupcakes or pick out his favorite toys, but we CAN still spread the joy he so freely gave to the world. We hope this will also provide a place for those who are battling their toughest opponent. This website is our gift to Caleb, and to you.
Happy birthday, Little Bear Cub!
I have one more surprise.
Almost immediately after losing Caleb, I knew random strangers were going to ask us if we had kids. It is a seemingly innocent question, yet one that twists the knife for people like us. "Do I tell them about Caleb? Do I not? Will it be awkward? I don't have time to explain." All of these thoughts went through my head, so I decided we needed a better solution. I knew I would feel awful if I denied Caleb, but I didn't want to explain it to anyone either. I'm normally extremely extroverted but I absolutely dreaded and even avoided meeting new people. Caleb was here and he will always be my favorite person in the world, but I couldn't tell anyone that without having an extremely personal, drawn out conversation where we both left feeling awkward. I knew I had to change this so I came up with a new solution. Now we tell anyone who asks, "Yes, a forever 2-year-old son in heaven, Caleb. Please don't be sorry you asked because he is an incredible little boy who made this world a better place, and is STILL making this imperfect Earthly life kinder. People tell us that they are more patient with their kids because of him and that he made them realize how they shouldn't take life for granted. We call this "The Caleb Effect." Then we hand them this business card-sized message and all of the awkwardness disappears:
I know this can help so many people out there, so if you want to make a card for your child, or anyone who isn't here by your side physically anymore, it would honor Caleb greatly and would make me feel an inkling of purpose, too.
Once you have your card the way you want it, you can send it to any print shop to create the cards. I would love to hear how you are using your cards and if they are making daily interactions easier. I heard someone say they have two kids on Earth and one with wings, so I named these "One With Wings."