Thursday, March 3, 2016

My Name is Joi

My Name is Joi.

One of my favorite poets, Kahlil Gibran, once said, 
It has taken me years to see beauty in grief and loss. This past January I had the opportunity to look again at Kahlil Gibran’s wisdom and see if I could find delight in what I was going through. That might sound crazy to think loss can be a delight. One of the hardest lessons I have ever learned about adversity, is you can beat it or it can beat you down -- you choose.

This story really began a little over 26 years ago. It goes back to the day that a little boy came into my life and changed me forever. Everything about my son, Colton, was serendipity. I never would have thought that such a gut-wrenching experience would come into this boy’s life the way it did this past January. Before January, our lives ebbed and flowed like any other. About five years ago, Colton married and then one by one added two lovely little children, Spencer and Harper, to our family. (Don’t tell my son, but these little gems that call me “Nana” have rocked my world even more than my own children have.)

Early last July, Colton and his wife brought me the exciting news that grandbaby number three would be joining our family some time in new year. The news of a new baby is the best ever. There’s so much to dream about and hope for. When my Grands found out about the new baby, the battle of getting a brother or a sister began in earnest. Neither would budge.

And so it goes for the next 6-7 months. We would stop to look at every little baby outfit that caught our eye. Wondering, hoping and waiting for the day we get to meet the newest member of our family.

What will his nose look like? Will his eyes be green or brown? Will he still have that familiar round little face that is so prominent in our family line?

It is so hard to wait.

Summer came and went. Fall turned to winter and along about Christmas time, something changed. I’m not sure I can even put my finger on it – even today.

Maybe I just don’t want to say those words out loud.

I know God prepares me for hard things. I don’t know why he does – maybe my heart is just that fragile. This has been the way it is between God and I for every one of the losses I have ever gone through in my life.

Loss and I are great friends now.

But this loss, this past January has all but crushed my world. It has taken my heart and shattered it into millions of tiny pieces. I am still trying to figure out how to put it back together. In time, I believe I will be shown how to make that happen.

Early in January, we learned that our little one was breech. Mama was worried about having to deliver cesarean. A procedure for turning the baby was performed several times. According to, the turning procedure has a fairly good effective rate:

       “This procedure is known as an external cephalic version (ECV). It's done by applying pressure to your abdomen and manually manipulating the baby into a head-down position. (If your caregiver is not experienced in this procedure, she may refer you to someone who is.  ECV has about a 58 percent success rate in turning breech babies (and a 90 percent success rate if the baby is in a transverse lie.) But sometimes a baby refuses to budge or rotates back into a breech position after a successful version. ECV is more likely to work if this isn't your first baby.” (

Thursday, January 14, 2016 is the day that forever changed me. Mom and dad were at the birth center. Several procedures were being utilized to get the baby into position so that mama could proceed with a natural delivery. This was so important to her. She’d had planned, studied, and calculated exactly what to do so that everything would be perfect as she brought her new baby into the world. 

I had the little Grands down for the night. I called my son for an update. I could hear something in his voice that didn’t sound right. “The midwives were working with her. They’ve ruptured her membranes.”  He was heading out to pick up a few things to help the process along.  

I felt so unsettled. I couldn’t shake the foreboding that was creeping into my heart. 

A few minutes later my phone rings, startling me from the silence of the room and the two sleeping children waiting for the news that the baby had arrived. They’d been waiting 6 months for this event. It was surprising to me that they were even sleeping. 

“Jen’s been taken to the hospital. The cord is prolapsed.” He’s heading there now and will call when he knows more.

This is the third birth I have been through with this son. The other two events, both, planned and long. Mama does a great job, but the process is always slow for her. She always schedules her births, is put on the Pitocin, and we wait.

Usually, my son’s voice is full of excitement and anticipation. Tonight there was only dread.

“I’m on my way over.” I told him. I was told to wait until he knew more.

It was the worse 30-minute wait of my life. 

I started getting ready and pulling things together. I was heading over anyway. The hospital is just across the highway from me. I’d wait in the background, if necessary, but my son was going to need someone and I wanted to be closer when he did.

And then the text came through, breaking through that dark, foreboding feeling in my heart.

“Get over here now! It’s a boy. He’s not breathing!”

I didn’t even have time to think that I had another grandson. I just bolted. 

And prayed.

I prayed the whole 5-minute trip. I needed to hurry. I needed more time. I needed to pray, to plead with the only one I knew who could really help now.

I entered the hospital through the emergency room. One of the midwives came in with me. I didn’t know that at the time, but I recognized God guiding me, even in this little gift. As I started to ask at the desk for directions to labor and delivery, my request wasn’t out of my mouth completely before the midwife said, “I’ll take her. I know the family.”

As we rounded the corner to the L/D OR, another of the midwives on the team was crumpled in a heap on the floor. The two hugged each other and then like any good mom, I broke their exchange; “Tell me what is going on and do not cut out any of the medical references. I grew up in a family full of corpsman and nurses.”

As the midwife described what happened; the turning, the waters breaking, the baby breech, the heartbeats, the prolapsing cord, the baby’s foot, moving Jen on hands and knees with the midwife holding the cord, I physically felt all the breath I had been holding release and with it the intense pain that comes with losing someone you love. I had not even seen this little child’s face and yet I knew my heart was bound tightly to the grip this infant had on me.

I paced the floor for what felt eternal, but was only 10-15 mintues. Medical personnel came in and out constantly. 

Finally, the door opened, my son walked out carrying his tiny baby boy, tears streaming down his face. All he could manage was a small shake of his head to let me know we had lost him. 

They took us to a room for privacy. There, I looked into the face of my son, then down to the closed eyes of my little grandson in his arms. The grief over-took me. This was not my first experience losing a child. I have lost my several of my own. But this was the first time my son lost a child. The compounding of that reality was weighty on my soul.

The moments that followed seemed to drag on. They were heavy moments. People were called. Medical personal came in and out. The room was full of grief. 

Grief is one of those emotions that when shared together with others, even those not of your own blood family, it bonds those sharing the grief tighter than anything in this world could. 

In the hours that followed, family members of two sides pulled together in the pain. We held Hunter and cried together. We held Jen and Colton and cried. We hugged the nurses and the midwives and we tried to make sense of something that in this life is senseless and lends no helpful words. 

Far too soon the night turned to day. Two little children were looking for Nana. Grief washed over me again as I realized I was going to have to be the one to see them first. What would I say? How could I hold it inside me and wait for their parents to tell them? I knew they would see right through me no matter what I did. 

As I walked from the hospital, the weather seemed to parrot my mood. The rain poured down. I felt some comfort knowing the heavens cried with me. 

During the course of the next 11 days I would come to call the pain of grief a familiar and hated guest. It tore through me as my son took his two little children on his knee to explain to them what happened to their baby brother. The confusion and the pain in their eyes tore through this Nana’s heart and ripped whatever was left from it.  

It came to visit me in its furry as the back door of the funeral home opened to send my grandchildren out to me after saying goodbye to their brother. Spencer all but collapsed into me as he said, “I understand you now Nana.”

It was a month since this tragedy on Valentine’s Day. I decorated the room with pink balloons and streamers. We had our favorite chocolate and snuggled new stuffed animals because even though it felt like it had been forever, it had only been 30 days. 

In the past 30+ days I have watched my son have to do things I never thought he would ever be forced to do. I have watched a young mom suffer and struggle to even want to be with her living children. I have seen two little souls, much too young for this kind of grown up pain, hold hurt in their hearts so enormous that their little bodies couldn’t contain it. 

During the past 30+ days, as I have picked up broken and wounded children and adults, trying to hold us all together, I have felt the wisdom of Kahlil Gibran’s words, 

My name is Joi. Suffering, loss and grief have made me stronger and provided me with a greater capacity to feel joy. 

I guess with a name like mine – it’s the best option.  

I have no doubt one day that joy will increase when we are with Hunter again. 

In that I do delight.

*Please remember the purpose of the "My Name is" series is to open our hearts, to interact, to uplift, to support and to grow.  This was very raw and fresh and undoubtedly very difficult to write… Joi will be reading your comments, so please give her your love.

**Joi, words cannot express the ache in my heart for you, and those of your family. Hunter lives on, that I know to be true. Thank you for your unyielding strength and for being such a bright person in my life. Even during your darkest hours, your light shines brilliantly. I love you.

Read more stories of inspiring women in the "My Name is" series, HERE.

Follow My Name is Jacy on FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM to stay up to date and for future posts :) 


  1. Joi, thank you for sharing this and the beautiful picture of Hunter. I wish things could be different, but I know God has prepared you to help your family. Like you, your son's family can get stronger. I love the quote about Kahlil; I will need to remember that one for myself.

    Lots of love,


  2. Joi I love you dearly! You are a hero, a warrior a strength and a light. Again, my tears and my heart are with you & your family. The heavens did indeed weep with you that day. I am sure of that. <3

  3. Joi, you were brave to share here, especially so soon after losing Hunter. I admire you for so many things, especially your courage to write and your way with words. Love you!

  4. My heart still aches with and for you, Joi. Thank you for taking the time to pen this. I'm sure it will prove valuable to so many as time goes on. Love you all.

  5. Oh Joi I adore you and your heart. I am so grateful that your son and your grandchildren have you during this time of grief and loss. You are a warrior and you are loved fiercely. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.


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