what would you do for your child?

I fell into a hole last week and got stuck there.   It wasn’t the result of being caught off guard with a “how many children do you have?” question,  another “first” or even a bittersweet reminder.  I simply had a string of bad days where I was feeling empty and missing my son – his smile, his laugh, his pranks and his hugs.  And, his little girl started back to school so I was especially sad that she didn’t have him there for her first day.
The loss is so visceral and, at times, all-consuming that even my body hurts.    I’ve discovered that my body knows the date before I ever look at a calendar.  My “monthly cycle is centered around the 7th – the day my son died.  It starts late in the day on the 5th when I find myself feeling weepy, and the waves of emotion continue for the next 2 days…..  it’s as if the body that bore him aches because he is gone.
My husband would give anything to be able to help when these waves hit, but he has come to accept that there isn’t anything he (or anyone else) can do.  The only comfort I have is that which God provides.  Well, last week, my husband asked me, “Isn’t it true that a mother would do absolutely anything to protect her child?”
I started to remember my pregnancy dreams: my son in the road and the oncoming car bearing down on him; me racing at lightning speed … reaching him just in time to push him to safety.  I had so many of these type of dreams all throughout his childhood; different variations but the same ending: I took on the impact so that he would be saved.
My husband’s point? That is exactly what I am doing now.  Had I stepped in front of a car for my son, he would have been safe (and I would have suffered as I recovered from the impact).  Well,  he is now safe and happy.  And yes, I am suffering as I try to rebuild my life.
I have to remind myself that my son was given to me for a time, and now he is home.  My work is done.
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small mercies

I had a long, painful conversation with my sister who understands what it feels like to lose a child; she has been my rock.  I know how much it hurts her to see me in pain.  When she asked me if I had prayed for God to take away some of my pain, I had to wonder why I was holding on so tightly to my grief.  

I realized that because people were getting back to the business of living, I was afraid that my son would be forgotten. That would be like losing him all over again. 

The next day, I awoke knowing that my son was sent here for restoration and reconciliation.  In the 6 months he lived with us before he died, he learned to love himself, and accept that he was loved. 

I’m so grateful that God sent him here to me before taking him home.

progress

My son died in early December……. just writing that is so strange.  But, as I begin to step back into my life, I have to be able to write it and to say it without falling apart. 

It feels like I’m beginning a new phase, with an entirely new set of challenges. There are fewer “I have to get out of here now” moments (like being startled by a comment or deeply moved by an unexpected kindness); but I’m still mastering how to manage those times when I do lose it.  My confidence increases each time I am able to hold back the storm until I am alone (which is one way I know I’m making progress).

Going back to work full-time requires that I “act normal” for longer and longer periods of time.  No more waiting until I have enough energy to do something; I’m now bound by my schedule.  And, knowing that people are counting on me adds an enormous amount of stress. All of this requires energy that I don’t always have (some days, I have only enough energy to get dressed).  I honestly don’t know if I could have made it back without the support, patience and flexibility from my work team.

I am already a different person – at work and at home.  I’m very comfortable with silence, and spend more time in my head than I do with other people.  When I do interact with people, the conversations happen very differently.  For me, the spaces between the words no longer need to be filled.  When a topic is over, there is no rush to begin another.  I’ve noticed that not everyone is entirely comfortable with extended silence.   

This is one of my favorite quotes: 

We fight for the right to grieve in a society that would rather we “get over it” in three days.  Grieving God’s Way by Margaret Brownley

I used to get so angry when I felt people rushing me (advising me how to move on, or pushing me to cheer up and be grateful I had another son).  Over time, my perspective has changed; people who care about you may not know what to say or how to say it, but they just want you to be OK.  All of the wonderful people in my life – family and friends who have carried me with their love and support; I can almost feel their relief when I am having a good day.  I know in my heart that their deepest wish is for me to feel better.

 

 

glorious sadness

memories

Right after my son’s accident, I could only recall memories of his last 6 months while living with us.    

It is only recently that the early memories have returned: my son as a baby, toddler, adolescent, and teen – such heartbreaking images. 

Allowing myself to remember what he was – to me and to others, takes me to a dark, lonely place.  In this space, I have no wish to speak; to listen; or to invite anyone in.  Time passes, much like you see in a movie when everything freezes; white noise and nothing-ness blocks the world from getting in.  It is a seductive, solitary place…….and I find it very healing.

“Grief can’t be shared. Everyone carries it alone. His own burden in his own way.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh