‘Hey Dad, I want to raise your son. I want him as my own,’ I insanely told my dying father. ‘I didn’t want to put that burden on you,’ he said. He died just 18 hours later.’

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“My husband Tim and I had two young daughters when we decided we wanted to try for a third child. I read up on the latest ‘methods’ there are out there to ensure our odds of having a boy would be higher. We perfected all of the different bullet points and when I got that positive pregnancy test on my 24th birthday, I had very good inkling that number three would be a boy.

Well, God certainly laughed at our requests. The joke was totally on us because instead of having a boy, we had identical twin girls!

When our twins were only 3 months old, I learned my dad was given a death sentence diagnosis of stage four pancreatic cancer. My heart was shattered knowing my four very young daughters would never get to grow up knowing him personally as their grandpa. The idea of never seeing my dad grow old was something I couldn’t fathom. Dads don’t die at 50. My dad certainly wasn’t supposed to die until he was wrinkly and grey.

My world did a 360 when just four months later, his wife died. This wouldn’t be Earth shattering news to most, but my dad and his wife had a 2-year-old son named Easton. My dad was closing in on the end of his battle with his own monster, yet now he had a whole other beast to face: what would happen to Easton? Who would raise him? Where would he go? Who would he live with? How do you figure this out in just a few days’ time?

Molly Schultz/Tried & True Mama

At this point Tim and I had four girls aged 3 and younger. Our lives revolved around very little sleep and very long days. But something inside of me told me to step up. I tried for an entire day to quiet this voice, but it kept on pushing. ‘Adopt Easton. You’re supposed to be his mom. Your daughters are meant to be his sisters. Your husband is meant to raise a son. It’s supposed to be you. You’re the one. Tell your dad. Tell him now.’

It felt like the most insane thing to tell my dying father. ‘Hey dad, yeah…so…I want to raise Easton. I want him as my own.’ I mean who was I to even suggest that? Four young kids taking on another? Who does that? Why me? But the will to make it official overrode every single logical thing. Of course this wasn’t logical. But maybe it was meant to be all along.

My dad’s response was perfect. ‘I want you to raise him too, but I was never going to ask you. I didn’t want to put that burden on you.’

It was like we both knew in our souls what was supposed to happen, but we couldn’t make sense of it to even mention it to one another. What if the other would be offended? What if the other wasn’t ready for such a lifechanging decision? We had such a close bond that neither of us wanted to wound it in his final days. But I think our guardian angels whispered loud enough to give us the confidence to make it a reality.

A few days later everything was finalized through the courts. I told my dad the good news, that Easton was legally safe as my own, and his last words were, ‘Oh Molz, that makes me so happy. I love you so much.’ He would die just 18 hours later. I know he held on to see it through.

Life with five aged 3 and under was a whirlwind. Easton walked right into a world with four sisters without skipping a beat. It was like he was always their brother and they were always his sisters. Most people ask us how we did it and honestly? You just do. Somehow, in some way, you just do. You figure it out and you push through. It wasn’t always pretty, but nevertheless we survived.

Time went on, Tim was offered a position with my father’s old company, we moved to a new state, and we were really secure as both a couple and as a family. We had zero plans to ever have more children. Our ‘now’ felt so ideal. Sure our lives were totally chaotic, but things felt easy and right as we went about our day to day.

Then one day last spring, I had an inkling that we were missing one. It came out of nowhere and for a few months I just ignored it. But then I would randomly make an extra plate of food or grab an extra cup when my kids asked for a drink of water. I would walk through the grocery store and the urge to take a pregnancy test would be really strong. But they were always negative…obviously, because we were never trying.

I would bring it up to Tim and we would discuss the possibility, but it would always just fall short. Why would we even consider it when we felt so secure with where we were in life right now? But with a little extra ‘liquid courage’ during a wine tasting trip to Napa, we decided to give it a shot that night. I think we both expected our effort to never actually work. But three weeks later, I had a dream. In this dream my twins were sitting on the floor playing with a brown-haired, brown-eyed little boy.

I woke up and took a pregnancy test. Positive.

We decided from the very beginning to not find out the gender of this little babe. We had waited with our second daughter and the surprise in the end was so worth it that we wanted one last chance to experience it again. The night after my anatomy ultrasound, when we could have found out what was growing inside of me, I had another dream.

This time my dad visited me. I was standing in a white room and he walked towards me holding a little baby. This baby was wrapped up in a light blue blanket and he handed him over to me. He smiled and kissed the baby’s head. Then I woke up. I pondered the dream, replaying it over and over in my head just trying to relive my dad’s presence and smile. I replayed him handing me the baby again and again to remember what he looked like as he cradled my child. I knew after waking up that the baby was a boy, even though I didn’t have a definitive answer yet.

Up until the birth of this little one, I always asked the kids whether they thought they were getting another brother or sister. The girls all wanted another sister. But Easton? He begged me for a brother. Sure he loved being surrounded by girls, but I think he really wanted another one of his own kind. Someone to play trains with. Someone he could teach the difference between Chevy, Ford, GMC, and all of the other car signs of the world. Someone he could share a room with because all of his sisters had someone to share a room with. Someone who would play catch with him. Someone he could confide in when mom and dad were being too strict. Someone he could relate to…really relate to.

On May 2nd, we welcomed our sixth child into this world. It took us almost an entire minute to realize what the sex was. We both assumed girl in the moment. We’ve heard, ‘it’s a girl!’ four times before this, so I think we were just going through the motions and expected the same thing.

But this time, it was a boy. A beautiful, 8-pound baby boy.

Shock and excitement came over me. My dad sent us a boy. A second son. He sent Easton a brother. The beauty of that realization was overwhelming. I was going to be happy with either a boy or a girl. But Easton? His parents in Heaven knew he needed a little brother. They can’t be present in his life anymore, so they gave him the next best thing. They hand-picked the little soul that would make the best fit for him.

Molly Schultz/Tried & True Mama

Easton had a brother. It was something none of us ever thought would actually happen. But there he was, the little boy Easton dreamed of having in his life. A playmate. A best friend. A potential best man in his wedding. The one missing piece in his world.The one missing piece in all of our worlds.

Sons. Plural.”

Molly Schultz/Tried & True Mama

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Molly Schultz of Tried and True MamaSubmit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

Read more from Molly here:

‘Your dad isn’t ready to give up the cuddles he’s getting in Heaven yet. He knows this baby will never know him. He wants to get to know baby as long as possible first.’

‘My daughter said, ‘There’s a light coming into the picture.’ It wasn’t just any light. This was a beam straight from HEAVEN itself.’

‘I didn’t realize how much I would miss my dad’s handwriting. I didn’t know handwriting could be part of the grieving process. Mourning handwriting? But I did. I still do.’

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