Feathers From My Nest

Twelve years ago today, God gave this earth Griffin Yarbrough.

Griffin was the epitome of energy, happiness and bravery.  At two years old, Griffin was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma--cancer of the central nervous system.

He fought hard.  His parents fought hard.  And he still was the epitome of energy, happiness and bravery.

I met Griffin face to face on July 1, 2004.  I'd be corresponding with his mother Monique via email for a few months.  We met through our kids' Caring Bridge pages.  I read that her family was moving to Texas from California. I reached out to her as one scared cancer mom to another and a friendship was born that still remains today.  Griffin began treatment at Children's Medical Center where my daughter was treated and the day I walked into the triage room in July and saw Griffin for the first time, I knew I'd love him forever. 

On January 3, 2005 I laid in his hospital bed with him all day as he was preparing to go to Heaven.  We talked about Jesus, we talked about angels, and we talked about being healed from cancer.  Early the next morning, he closed his eyes to needles, blood draws, radiation and blindness, and opened them to a promise, High and Lifted Up.

Here is an excerpt of a blog post I wrote after his passing...and Happy Birthday little man.  I miss you and I love you.  Don't forgot to save me smile and an angel's feather...

I’ve been reading a wonderful book called “Feathers From My Nest”. It’s by a remarkable woman of God named Beth Moore. I’m a huge fan of her Bible studies so I picked this book up about a month ago and began reading. The book is a reflection of Beth’s life from the perspective of a mother whose children have left the nest.

Today, I began reflecting on the feathers from my nest…and bear with me as you read this. For many, this may not make much sense. Courtney and Griffin were not bore from my body, but they were my children. God released love in me for these two sweet souls that I could never have imagined. And long before I was ready, they left my nest. But they left behind such precious feathers that I walk through my house and pick up and marvel over. Let’s start with Griffin’s feathers:

We put wood floors in when Peyton was in treatment. We were desperate to rid our house of carpet because it harbors bacteria and germs are a nightmare in a child with no immune system. As a blessing, the house looks really nice, but that’s not what impressed Grif. Griffin’s first feather in my nest was that he walked in to our home the first time and told me that wood floors are the best floors to hip-hop dance on. And hip-hop skills did this cutie possess!! He took lessons while he still lived in LA. If that weren’t enough, he taught me some too. I had a long and distinguished (HA!) dance career when I was young. My parents put me in pink ballet shoes for the first time when I was two years old. I grew into tap shoes, jazz shoes, and drill team boots over the next 16 years. I hung up my dancing shoes at 19 when I traded up to wedding shoes. It had been a long time since anyone taught me a new kind of dance. Some days when I’m zipping around the house in my socks getting stuff cleaned or cooked, I’ll slide a bit on my wood floors and think of my precious little hip-hopper. I now have some pretty smooth moves for a 30-ish stay at home mom!

Another feather Griffin left in my nest were his sweet little boy clothes. We have girls in this house. Poor Dane is painfully aware of the overflow of estrogen in his kingdom on any day. But, for a while, we had a boy. A loud, jumping, burping boy. And it was great! The day Griffy left us, he wore a bright yellow t-shirt. Later that day, he got sick, so he took a bath and put on his camouflage jammies. He got sick again, so he changed again. I put his clothes in the washer there on the 10th floor for the Oncology families to use. Hours later, Grif went to meet Jesus. In all that, we forgot about his clothes in the washer. One of Grif’s nurses found them, dried them and gave them to me. As you know, Courtney loved Griffin. She was devastated when he died. I took the bright yellow t-shirt, and made a pillow out of it. On the back, I wrote a Bible scripture. She carried it to every clinic visit, every hospital stay, and slept with it every night. We called it her “Griffin pillow”. She loved to hug it since it felt like she was hugging him. I still have the camo-jammies. They are tucked away in my cedar chest where the most precious of my feathers are. I get them out sometimes when I’m having a hard time. I lay them out on the floor and see how small they are and how cute he looked in them. I know Griffin is more than okay. He has his Jesus, and now he has his Courtney, but holding his jammies lets me go back for a moment or two and remember his voice, his hugs, and that smile that melted me each time I saw it.

My favorite feather from Griffin came as a gift to us from him. As Griffin’s cancer progressed the last few days he was here, Monique and Barry insisted on letting Griffin spend one-on-one time with Dane and I so we could say all the things we wanted to say to each other before he left. I promised him Heaven would be the best thing he could imagine and that we would be there soon to see him. I promised him I would never, ever, forget him and would look after his mommy, daddy and Blakey. I also told him that he made me so happy and that I loved him so much. He told me that he loved me and would miss me so much when he went to Heaven and we played a few moments of “remember when’s”. I got lots of hugs on that last day. He played with my hair for a minute and the rest of the time, we talked about Heaven, Jesus, and the farm he knew was waiting on him. That was my gift from him. What I did not expect was that gift to become more than just a precious memory tucked into my heart. Griffin actually made a video telling Dane, the girls and I goodbye. Indeed, that is one of my most treasured feathers from this little man God gave to me for a season. His presence changed me and my heart forever.

And I miss my little bird from our nest every single day. Yesterday, I found a precious scripture in Matthew 16:19. It says “…whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.” I bound Griffin to my heart here on earth, and God assures me Griffin will be bound to me in Heaven. Until then, I have his feathers to get me through until I see him again.

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Kristi Fornshell pagan43 on the twitter said...

Such a beautiful story . Thank you for this feather.
Your love and your touch surely made Griffin's transition a smoother journey.

Marni said...

Kristi, I hope I made his transition smoother too, but I can tell you this, he certainly changed how I view death...and for the better.

jasonS said...

Beautiful story, Marni. What a powerful impact we have when we choose to care and what an impact it has on us. Thanks.

Lowder Living said...

Amazing story.