In my last post I wrote about the need to “jump in puddles” and find happiness in this journey. The point I did not address was the guilt that sometimes accompanies that happiness. As a mother to children who exist on Earth, and in heaven, it is quite tricky in more ways than one. This is especially true when it comes to my own happiness. It is easy for me to foster as much happiness as I can for my living children. They deserve it. When it comes to me, however, there is always something pulling me back. How can I experience joy when I am not able to be with all of my children?
All of my joyful experiences are tethered to the shadow of sadness that will never disappear. I can remember saying to my therapist after Christian passed away, “The possibility of having the best day of my life is done”. The craziest things go through your mind when you experience trauma. (I also begged God to resurrect Christian! Needless to say, it did not happen.) My therapist’s answer to my “best day realization” was, you will have another best day of this part of your life. You have a new normal now.
I’m sure some of you have heard the saying, “joy exists alongside the pain”. It does. There is no other way to experience joy as a grieving mother. The guilt is what I am left to contend with. It is impossible for me to ever go a day without thinking about my son. It is also impossible for me to never experience joy again. I promised myself that if I was going to continue this life after losing him, then I would live it. Life for me includes joy and sadness together. Knowing this in my brain does not prevent the guilt from surfacing in my heart. When I do feel that guilt bubble up however, I picture my son. He had the biggest, brightest, most loving smile. He hated to see others sad. That is why, in my heart, I know that I deserve to experience happiness. In honor of him I will make sure I experience happiness. That shadow of sadness will always be there. There will always be a piece of my heart missing. For the happiness he no longer experiences on Earth, I will be grateful for the chances I continue to have. Love to heaven…
Here I sit, in my favorite room of my house, cultivating my piece of peace. I am staring at my beautiful pitcher full of tulips, the soft shade of pink fading to blush. The vibrant green stems, reminding me of Spring. Outside, all around me, snow is falling madly from the sky. It feels like the Universe is saying, “We are not in the clear yet.” March is when we begin to think of Spring. We all relax a little. Conversations are peppered with the question, “Do you really think we will have more snow? Even if we do, it should melt quickly.”
No one can control the weather. We learn that so early on in our lives. I can remember one Fourth of July we were set to throw a large party. We always have a get together on the Fourth because it is my mother in law’s birthday. We were expecting a larger crowd than usual that year. Our house was a charming three bedroom home, but it could not accommodate this crowd. As rain poured down all around us, we had a great time, despite the weather. We made our own fun.
Our boys, now five and seven, still love when it rains. They find the joy in something that could ruin their playtime. Instead of being upset that it is not optimal weather to ride bikes in, they put on their rain boots and jump in puddles. This is very much a metaphor for my own life. My family and I have suffered a tragic event that could keep us from ever finding joy again. It would be so easy to take that path and dwell on the negative. My husband and I made a pact, however, that we would not do that. We promised that we would do everything in our power to find those puddles and allow out boys to jump in them. We even promised that we would jump with them.
It’s so easy to allow sadness and anxiety to run your life, in any case. I always say, “We all have something”. Everyone has experienced tough times. Some are more extenuating than others. We have suffered a nightmare. It is not always easy to be present and make new memories. If we don’t though, all we are left with is sadness. It wouldn’t be fair to our two beautiful boys who have already had more sadness in their few years than some people have in their whole lives. And so each day, we jump in the puddles. Sometimes we make a bigger splash than others, and sometimes those puddles include sadness. As long as we continue to fulfill our pact, our living boys will be able to experience happiness alongside sadness. As always, love to heaven…
Each time I hear about a family who experiences child loss, my central nervous system is sent into a bit of a panic. It takes time, and the tools I have learned, to right myself again. It is like reliving those initial days of shock and pain all over again. Parents who outlive their child are given a torture sentence, in a sense. The torture softens over time, but never goes away.
I can remember the first time it snowed after we lost Christian. Panic immediately set in. It wasn’t logical, but neither is child loss. I panicked because he was going to be cold. Who would take care of him? Who would remind him to put a hat on? As a mother that was my job! I also panicked the first time I realized I would never care for him again when he had a fever. He needed me to soothe him and put cool wash clothes on his head! This sounds strange, I know, but coming to these realizations made losing him so real. It was more than I could handle.
Finding a way to take care of my angel, Christian, has become part of my healing journey. It is clear that I will never take care of him in the ways I once did. It will never be in the ways I imagined I would. He will never talk to me about sports, his friends or girls. I will never plan his graduation party, welcome his wife into the family or meet his child. Just as our future has been changed forever, so have the ways in which I take care of him. My care for him is now shaped by who he was here, on Earth. Christian had a message to deliver and a job to do while he was here. He delivered the most beautiful message; one of kindness. He was kind to all and truly did have the biggest heart. His light shone as soon as he entered a room.
My heart breaks for the things I will never do with my son again. Yet, through the cracks of my broken heart, I can feel his light shine. It guides me to what I can do for him. It is my job now, as his mom, to make sure his light still shines and never goes dim. His message will still be delivered by me, his mother. His kindness will live on in me, and my family. It will spread to those around us. My pain will never be gone. My heart will never be mended completely, but it will still beat on. It will still beat on with his light and love tucked inside forever. Love to heaven…
Sometimes it is so evident that Christian’s energy is here, that it is palpable. I woke up this morning to my two boys playing with their science kit. When I say science kit, this includes water, goggles and food coloring. They assured me that Daddy said it was okay. (Daddy denied this!)
Mixing food coloring, potions and concoction making, as we used to call it, were some of Christian’s favorite activities. Just for your knowledge; potions are liquid and concoctions include spices and possibly food! This is not the first time my younger boys have played with the science kit, and I am sure it’s not the last. It is the first time that they fully set it up themselves, surely with the help of Christian’s energy. Watching them play this morning reminds me that he will never leave us. He lives on in all of us, always. Love to heaven…
Books, places, kids shows, movies, songs and even school projects all hold so many memories for me. All three of my boys attend/attended the same preschool and elementary school. Preschool routines are especially familiar to me. Since 2010 I have had a child in preschool. That’s eight years of sharing lunches at home, library visits, board games after school and TV time together. Of course things have changed over the years. Christian’s routine always included an after school nap. Anthony’s did for a while, and Nicky’s never really did. It’s the nature of three children! Nevertheless, the time spent with my preschoolers was, and is, so precious.
Just yesterday I needed to make an appointment for six months in the future. This brought us to September. Naturally, I made the appointment in the morning. That has been my routine as a mom of a preschooler. We always need to make the most of those free morning hours! When the receptionist asked me if 11:15 would work, I began to ask for an earlier appointment. With a child in preschool, my free time usually ended around 11:30. It was in that moment that reality came crashing down around me. I was no longer “tied down” to that schedule. Audibly, I gasped and accepted a strange look from the receptionist. I filled her in on the fact that 11:15 would be perfect because I had no little person depending on me to pick him up anymore. My heart sank. It has been more than 24 hours and I still cannot shake the feeling. It comes as no surprise that my youngest will be in Kindergarten next near. It also does not come as a surprise that it will be a huge adjustment for me.
Most moms have similar feelings when their youngest spreads their wings and flies off to Kindergarten. For me, my feelings are slightly more complicated, or at least I think they are. This is all I know. My youngest child going off to Kindergarten means I will no longer be a mother to a child who is actively living the same routine as my angel lived most of his life. Christian spent half of his life in preschool, maybe a little more. His preschool routine determined what I did the rest of the day. He was the oldest and so his routine truly dictated the rest of our routines. There will be no more midday visits to the park, unexpected pizza lunches just because, or midday Disney shows playing in the background.
With my youngest son finishing his last year in preschool, it is easy to make active comparisons between my angel’s life and my living children because he experienced many of the same things. I am painfully aware that once my youngest son completes Kindergarten, these similarities will no longer exist. The sadness, fear and anxiety that this leaves me feeling is daunting. I know it will be okay. My two younger sons will make their own experiences and memories, This is part of moving forward. It is why I fight so hard every day. My children deserve the same love and involvement from me that my angel had. It’s painful to recognize that my youngest son is getting close to surpassing my angel in age. Will memories still be as easy to recall? Will they be as relevant since my living children are not experiencing them anymore? Will he leave others’ minds and memories? It’s scary. Unfortunately, only time will tell. I know that I will never forget him or our beautiful memories. I also know what I need to do to move forward, with my family’s well being in mind. As I have learned these past three years, this is all I can control. Love to heaven always…