I Wish I Could

The title of this post might be a bit misleading, because obviously I wish I could change what happened, but to be honest, I just couldn’t think of a headline that worked.

There are days, hours, moments since Simon died that I feel like an abject failure.

A father, a husband, is supposed to protect his family, and I can’t shake the feeling that somehow, someway I failed, and I continue to do so.

First and foremost, I failed to protect my son. I couldn’t keep him safe. Logically I know that there’s nothing I (or anyone else) could have done to protect him, but logic doesn’t exist in my world right now. I couldn’t protect him, and now he doesn’t get to grow up with a mom and dad that love him and a big brother that would have been the absolute best big brother imaginable.

I failed/am failing to protect my wife from the heartbreak, the shattering pain and grief that losing our son caused/is causing. I can’t protect her from the thoughts that creep in. The doubts. The nightmares. The worries. The anxiety. I can’t protect her from a world that says things like “everything happens for a reason”. I can’t.


I wish I could go back and be the protector that Simon needed. That Simon deserved. But I know I can’t. I hope I can protect my wife from the unending pain of a loss that no one should be forced to endure. I hope I don’t fail Nolan and he is still able to grow up to be the happy, kind person he deserves to be.

I hope I can do all of this, BE all of this, because Simon, Nolan and Tera deserve that from me.


A month ago today we heard Simon’s heartbeat for the last time.

A month ago we had the nursery setup.

A month ago we were ready to bring our little one home.

We were ready for how he would impact our lives. The lack of sleep, the pacing and rocking to get him to fall asleep, the midnight (and 2am, and 4am, and…) diaper changes.

We didn’t get that impact. We got a completely different kind of impact. The kind you get when you are blindsided by news you never thought was possible. The kind of impact you feel when you hear the words that your child’s heart stopped beating.

Simon was stillborn, but he was still born.

Simon still made Nolan a big brother, and he’ll forever change how his big brother sees the world. He still made Tera the mom of two boys as she always dreamed she’d be. He’s still my little boy, and I’m still so proud to be his dad.

Simon can’t show us all what he could have been, and it may not be obvious to anyone other than his mom and me just how immense his impact will continue to be. But he has already left his mark, and he’s given me another job. It’s now up to me to make sure that the world feels his impact. That although his time here was WAY too short, he won’t be forgotten.

I will remember. Simon’s mom will remember. His big brother will remember. And we’ll talk about him often, so everyone will remember what an amazing, strong, perfect baby boy Simon was. We’ve been told that going through this unimaginable loss will make us more compassionate people, and that Nolan will grow up that way, too.

I sincerely believe that compassion and caring can change the world, and because of Simon, FOR Simon, we will do that.

That will be his impact.

Forever Young

I grew up a music fan. I’m a drummer. I have always secretly (or not so secretly) wanted my kids to grow up to play an instrument so I can go to their band concerts or sit in the freezing cold and embarrass them by screaming my head off at their marching band competitions.

It’s important to me.

From the day Nolan was born, I’ve sang one song to him every time I put him to bed at night. God Only Knows by the Beach Boys. The lyrics will always be special to me, and it will always be our song.

I may not always love you,
(I whisper to him at this point “don’t worry, I will”)
But long as there are stars above you,
You never need to doubt it
I’ll make you so sure about it.
Cause god only knows what I’d be without you.

Throughout Tera’s pregnancy with Simon, coming up with what “his” song… “our” song was going to be was a near constant struggle in my head. It may seem trivial, but this was really, really important to me.

I had a new idea seemingly every week. I couldn’t settle on the perfect one.

Then one day, about 6 weeks before we were supposed to bring Simon home with us, I did. It was perfect. Equal parts sweet and sentimental. Folksy and a little rock.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
And may you stay
Forever young
There are times that I hear this song in my dreams, or my nightmares. Or just ringing endlessly in my ears. I just wish I could shut it off. Why did I pick a song called “Forever Young”? I would give everything for Simon to grow up with us. To play in the band. To drive us crazy learning to play the trumpet.


To NOT be forever young.

I miss my little guy every day. Always and always.

Simon the Sasquatch

I’ve had one picture as my home screen on my phone for several months. It’s one of the best ultrasound pictures we got while Tera was pregnant with Simon.


It’s Simon’s foot. Simon’s adorable, perfect little foot.

After Simon came into the world, the chaplain, Brendan, nicknamed our little boy “Simon the Sasquatch.” His feet were huge. Long feet, long toes…he was going to be tall.

Also right after he was born, our nurse made something for us that we will never forget. It’s a mold of Simon’s perfect feet. She told us what she did with the footprints she was given…she painted them with her older daughter and they are now a keepsake they share. We took this idea and had Nolan paint Simon’s feet. It was one of the most heartbreaking things we’ve done with our oldest son, and also one of the most important.


Now, all we have to remember from our little guy is his footprints. I look at them everyday. I can’t stop wondering if Simon would have grown to be a basketball player, or a soccer star, or…who knows.

Nolan asks every once in a while if he can see “baby Simon’s toes.” Every time I show him, I tell him about his baby brother. And I’ll continue to tell him all about Simon, because he didn’t just leave footprints in the clay, he left his huge footprints on our hearts and every aspect of our lives, always and always.

Oh, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never change that home screen picture.

A Perfect Name

On the infinitely long list of things that are painful right now, one that we never saw coming is Simon’s name. When a baby is born, people always talk about the name. Where it came from, what it means, is it a family name…and they always say they love it (even if they don’t).

There isn’t a baby in our arms crying or making those ridiculously cute newborn noises, so we aren’t getting those questions, but we want nothing more than to talk about Simon, and for the world to know his story.

We named Simon long before we met him. Before Tera was even pregnant with him, in fact. We were visiting friends in Sweden and met little Simon (different pronunciation) and absolutely fell in love with his name. We knew then and there that if we were lucky enough to have a second son, Simon would be his name.

(Here are Nolan and Swedish Simon watching their dads clean up the yard.)IMG_0747.JPG

Throughout the pregnancy, we debated girls’ names. We couldn’t land on one we truly loved. We kept saying “Simon is perfect…this one isn’t quite right.” As it turns out, we never needed to search for the girls’ name. He was Simon all along.

His middle names are family names. It was originally going to be Ebbert, my grandmother’s maiden name, but after we heard those heartbreaking words and knew our baby wasn’t coming home with us, we added Joseph, a tribute to Tera’s grandpa Joe.

When he came into the world, we named him Simon Ebbert Joseph Heinzerling. And his name is perfect.

Standing in the Ocean

Knee deep in the ocean. Watching the waves come at us. Some of them we see coming, some completely blindside us. Either way, there’s no getting out of the way. No preparing. No dodging the inevitable.


The list of what’s brought on these waves seems completely random.

Our moms meeting our beautiful little boy in the hospital and getting the chance to say goodbye. Wave. Calling my brother and sister to tell them that their little nephew isn’t coming home with us. Wave. Kissing Simon’s perfect little nose and saying goodbye. Wave. Walking into the mortuary and picking out an urn for our son we never got the chance to meet. Wave. These I saw coming, but that didn’t stop them from pummeling us.

Then there are the other waves. I threw a ball to Nolan and he was so proud when he caught it. Wave. (Nolan and Simon will never play catch in the front yard like my brother and I did.) Jimmy Fallon’s damn “Dada” book (no I can’t read that one anymore.) Wave. I didn’t see either of those waves coming, nor the thousands of others that have come at us.

The ocean stretches on forever. And ever. Always and always. And there is no end in sight. The only hope is that the waves are someday further and further apart, and maybe not quite so devastating. But they won’t end.


Always and Always

From the time Nolan, our first son, was born, Tera put him to bed saying “I love you to the moon and back, all day, every day.” As he grew into talkative toddler-dom, he has adapted that into “everyday everyday” and threw in “so much” just to melt our hearts.


When we saw and held Simon after he died, we knew we needed a similar phrase that we could keep with us forever. We said “I’ll love you and remember you always and always.” It’s Simon’s line, and the saying we will always carry with us to remember our little guy who was taken from us before we had a chance to say hello.