First Snow

We are learning that no matter what the first is, without Everett it stings deeply.  Today Tennessee was blanketed with it’s first snow of the year.  The kids we’re out of school even though it didn’t start to actually snow until the afternoon.  Excitement was high and the disappointment was high too when they woke up to only rain.  All day the snow was anticipated and we just weren’t sure it would ever arrive.

The sadness of life without Everett has not lifted even the slightest bit yet, in fact, Josh Kelley pointed out the other day how it seems to be getting worse and he’s right, it is.  We know it won’t last forever, but for now nothing seems to lift the grief.  Nothing seems to ease the pain or take away the sadness.  Our littlest was asleep in her bed and Amon was working on not napping so I told Josh I was going to go up and lay down with him.  I climbed into Amon’s top bunk and cuddled in close next to him.  I held him tight and we both dozed off.  Next thing I knew, about 2 hours later, I woke up to Josh touching my shoulder and saying, “It’s snowing.”

I never take naps, but today I needed this rest.  Our bodies have definitely taken the toll grief brings and we are absolutely exhausted.  Amon stirred and I told him it was snowing.  He responded by shrugging his shoulders and saying, “It still hasn’t shown up.”  I told him what Josh had just reported and his eyes brightened and he hopped down the bunkbed latter as quick as he could.

Sure enough, snow was falling and sticking and making everything pretty and white.  I thought about the last time we’d seen snow…in Beijing…in February right before meeting Shuai for the first time.  I watched how excited the kids we’re and the sadness sunk in quick.  Shuai would have loved this.  He would have been adorable all bundled up and going as hard as his little body and broken heart would have let him.  He would have loved the slowness of the day.  The crafts and pizza and fun snacks and shows and snuggles.  I cannot even begin to explain how much I long to snuggle his sweet little body.  I wish I could have napped with my baby today…breathed him deeply…stroked his dark hair…held him close like I did Amon.

The day carried on and the kids played their hearts out.  I slept through starting the crock pot for dinner and forgetting to tell Josh to do so as well so he walked down to Walgreens to snag 3 frozen pizzas for dinner.  3 out of 8 of the Kelleys ended up eating dinner sitting on our countertops.  Of course I thought of Everett.  How could I not?!?!  We we’re doing his thing.  We we’re sitting in his favorite comfort spots right on top of our counters while eating one of his favorite American foods.

I scrolled social media and saw everyone’s snow pictures and honestly, some just made me straight up angry. I know it’s not right or justified, but it’s the ugly truth of grief.  So much has changed since Shuai died.  So many many things have changed…we’re not the same people, relationships have diminished and new ones have emerged.  Sadness and pain and hope all swirl around mixing together and it’s just hard to navigate most days…especially days that should feel extra special, but feel extra painful instead.

We ended our first snow day with treats and a movie.  I started crying when the kids started rolling off to their rooms to brush their teeth and get ready for bed.  Solomon grabbed my neck and hugged me tight.  If I’m down, he is the first one that recognizes it and steps in to love on his mama.  After the kids all went to bed I finally went outside by myself to see the snow.  I stood there watching the snow fall in the light of the security light in between our house and our neighbors.  I hoped Everett knew how deeply we miss him.  How we think about him all day, every day.  How we long to be with him.  I thought about how I hoped some how he saw our first snow without him and knew we missed him and wished we could have experienced it with him.  I hoped he snuggled up close to Jesus today and napped the way Amon and I had.

No matter how anticipated or longed for the first is, it still proves hard and sad.  My mind is set on Shuai tonight, like it is every night, and how I really hope it feels like a blink of the eye until we’re together again…until I can scoop him up and hold him close.  Another first and our first snow day of this new year means we’re yet another day closer to our boy.


  1. Shannon ruotolo says:

    Laura- I am a friend of the Oldhams and have been following your story and words for a long time. I have prayed and cried for you and your family. Your words tonight gave me goosebumps- as I have a 5 1/2 month little boy- our first baby- and can’t help but to breathe him in a little deeper tonight. Your sweet Everett has touched the lives of so many and I know he’s sending love to his mama tonight. Thinking of you all. God Bless.

  2. No words. But many prayers.

  3. Andrew Marsh says:

    I cry with you all, Laura.
    Much love

  4. ingrid lapp says:

    Sending you so much love and my deepest sympathy.

  5. So so touching, Laura. Sending you love and hugs (and maybe some baked goods).

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