Greif

18 months

This little person, my son, has had such a huge impact on my life and has a hold of my heart.  Every month I take time to remember him and grieve him.  This past 8th was no different.  It was odd to me how in many ways this month felt really surreal, like my brain couldn’t comprehend all that had happened.  That I really did have a son.  He really did die.   I found myself sleeping with and holding his hat for several days leading up to the 8th.  I wanted his hat in particular because it had blood on it.  It made it all real, it allowed me to feel like I was closer to HIM.   I needed something real.  I needed something tangible.

The 8th always is tricky as it feels so obvious to me that he is missing and yet the rest of the world goes on.  I don’t mind that they do, I’m not hurt by it.  Although there’s always that twinge of wondering if one day he will be forgotten.  And then there’s my sweet friend Julie.  Every single month on the 8th she goes to his grave, takes a picture and sends it to me and tells me she loves me.  She hasn’t forgotten.  He has not been forgotten.  And it makes my heart full every. single. time.

 

Joy and sorrow on repeat

Grief is an interesting world. While in this world I find myself constantly in this state of joy and sorrow, continuing over and over again. Last weekend was no different.

On Saturday I hosted a birthday party for a sweet six year old who has asked for a bonfire party at my house for the last four years. I love it. I love him. I love that this year I bought him a bike, since his mom is my bike partner I felt like he should learn to love it as much as us. I know there will be a day he doesn’t want a bonfire at my house, but I will keep holding onto them for as long as he allows me. At the same time as I watched all my friends and all their kids pile around this bonfire, the thought is not lost on me that it isn’t my son. I will never buy Enoch a bike, teach him to love the sport, host a party for him, etc. It is the joy and the sorrow. I love every minute I get with Xavier. I am thrilled he still wants a party at my house, but I equally am sad that I will not be doing the same for my son.IMG_2417.JPG

The next day I helped Brea host a funeral. Brea has functioned as our daughter for 9 years. I’ve talked about her several times. I have talked about the joy of being able to parent her. With that joy comes the sorrow that her mom did not have custody of her. And all of it came crashing to a head when her mom died quickly and unexpectedly the Thursday before Mother’s Day. It is tricky, for Brea and her sisters. It is tricky for someone like me who has had the opportunity to love and care for Brea because her mom was unable to. So I continued my mom role in helping host many parts of the funeral. Again I’m so grateful for the opportunity to love and care for Brea but never wanting to like this.

And so the weekend was a repeat cycle of joy and sorrow as I hosted a birthday party and a funeral all in less than 24 hours.

 

My Second Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is tricky.  It’s tricky for me, as the loss of Enoch continues to be at the forefront of my mind.  All week I have been wearing my “E” necklace with his birth stone my friends gave to me when he was born.  I have been wearing it as a reminder that I am Enoch’s mom.  That meeting him, holding & cuddling his little body really was such a gift!  I still deeply long to continue to do so, but for now am so very grateful for those 11 hours with him (and the 40 weeks leading up).

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This is how I spent the brunt of that night… holding his little body close to mine.

On this day I am equally so very grateful for the opportunities God has given me to mom others in my life!  God has allowed me to mother in little ways where I get to love, care and nurture those around me.  It’s those moments when making “family dinner” for those who live with us and function as our family, when Andrew comes over and asks if I’ll make him Lasagna, or when I take Alicia all the supplies she needs when she’s sick and needs cared for.  Over the years I’ve had the opportunity in greater ways such as when Joe and Brea each lived with us.  Tim & I  functioned as “mom and dad” while they were in our home and they have been a huge parts of our lives ever since.  And fairly regularly I get to mom the teenagers who walk through the doors of First Glance.  Some call me mom and others don’t, but I get to give them all a hug and drill them about the boy they have been dating.

I often think about a conversation with my own mom years ago when she said, “Everyone just wants their mom.”  I know that to be true.  I know that as I have had the opportunity to love and mom others, I understand I cannot replace their mom and don’t pretend I can.  And they don’t want me to.  I simply am so very grateful for a God who redeems and allows for some of these relationships in my life.  It really is such a gift!!!  As I reflect on this day, it continues to challenge me to use my desire to nurture and mom those who do desire a little momming.

Mother’s day is tricky… for those who have lost a child and others who have lost or have a broken relationship with their mom.  There’s not many “happily ever afters” when it comes to this day, not many that I know of anyhow.  But today I’m choosing to embrace the joy of the day: grateful for my own mom, grateful for the people God has allowed me to mom over the years, and so very thankful for those moments with my little baby boy.

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I forgot

I forgot.  I didn’t mean to forget.  I just forgot.

Last year, especially while grief was amazingly strong and present and overwhelming, I recognized I needed to be completely dependent on God, to allow Him to fulfill.  I learned long ago that nothing else really fulfills.  I’ve tried food, friends, alcohol, exercise, crying, yelling, working, etc.  I’ve tried everything to help any and every feeling I’ve felt.  The truth is that all of those things I tried have ended up causing me to feel empty.

I’ve also learned that when we allow God to fulfill instead of friends or spouses, it frees up those friendships to be exactly what they need to be.  There are less demands on the relationship that can create frustration and disappointment when needs aren’t met.

I knew this.  I knew all of it.  I was mostly rocking it last year, I even wrote this.  Then somewhere by the end of last year I forgot.  I got distracted.  I more quickly and willingly went to all the other things that I hoped would fulfill.  I desperately wanted a person to care for me.  I ate enough feelings to gain more weight than I’d like to admit.  I tried it all… it didn’t fulfill.

So this year, 2017, God has gently shown me how I got a little off track.  So here is to a year of being completely dependent on Him, and Him alone.  No eating my feelings.  My new motto is “food is fuel.”  No alcohol in any form.  I never abused it, but the only time I was drinking was because of my feelings.  And no going to friends for comfort, even for prayer (unless I’ve been praying for a week and feel no resolve).  I  recognized that sometimes, when reaching out for prayer, I was wanting rescued by those individuals.

The truth is that God really does fulfill!!  In some ways it seems too easy or too much of a “Sunday school answer.”  But over and over again I realize how God really does fulfill, and so I continue to go to Him!

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

– Psalm 36:7

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I created this and put it on the wall of my prayer room

14 Months

2016 was the year of grief.  I am still amazed at the amount of mental and emotional energy that was consumed with it.  For 2017 I recognize that the grief is less consuming, and quite honestly I’m glad for the mental break.  I feel like it used to be 80% of my mental and emotional energy, and now is only about 20%.

Although only 20%, I’m trying to give myself the space for it.  I have given myself permission to lay in bed and hide from the world every month on the 8th for the entire year.  “Feel what you feel.”  One of my closest friends over the years has said this to me 1,000 times because I often get frustrated that I’m feeling a particular way.  Yesterday I had to remind myself of this phrase because, as I lay in bed trying to get through the day, it’s hard not to question it.  I question why it feels so consuming still?  Question if “I should be over it by now?” Question if people wonder why I’m still mourning so much?  The rest of the world is functioning like normal, and I lay in bed feeling far from normal.

But I choose to feel how I feel.  The truth is I mourn his very being.  I mourn the idea of being a mom to an infant.  I mourn little things like dressing him or seeing all of his “firsts.”  So I feel how I feel on the 8th and hide from the world.  Yesterday was no different.

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“you’ll have another”

Recently I was having a conversation with one of my friends and she asked, “have you had a lot of people saying stupid things to you about getting pregnant again?”  It’s a valid question.

Before I enter into this conversation I would like to say, I’ve honestly not been offended by anybody’s interaction with me in this grief season.  I know that’s always a fear, saying the wrong thing.  Many of you have asked,  “Should I ask about Enoch?”  “Should I not?”  “Did I offend you?”  “Was that insensitive?”  The answer to all of those is, it’s ok to talk about it.  I’m not offended, and I ALWAYS know your heart.  That’s the beauty of it all.  I understand that most people who are trying to engage in any conversation about my son have a desire to love and care for me.  That in and of itself, I am so very grateful for.  If you happen to say something that you later kick yourself about, I promise you that I didn’t even notice.  I sincerely have not been offended in any fashion by any of you.

So back to the comments that I get about having kids.  Sometimes I think we don’t want to sit with the pain and suffering that is happening around us.  I get it.  Nobody wants to.  Myself included.  So as people have heard about our loss we do often get statements about how they are sure I’ll have another, I’m not too old to get pregnant again, that there’s always adoption and so forth.  There is some innate desire for us to be hopeful, to not sit in the reality of the situation.  I’m not saying being hopeful is bad.  I consider myself a fairly hopeful and optimistic person.  But as I’ve walked this season of grief and have encountered these conversations, I can’t help but think about this video clip.

Obviously I’m not referring to dating but rather the idea that we want to make our friends feel better.  Therefore, often not wanting to acknowledge the reality of the situation.

For me the reality is…

  • I have been married for 16 years and have never gotten pregnant, until Enoch.
  • We were told by doctors our ability to have children was very minimal… 3% to be exact.
  • The adoption door has closed a couple times.
  • We have no other children.
  • We finally got pregnant, and Enoch died.
  • I am 38 years old, again not too old to have a baby, but not any too young either.

All of the above are part of the reality of the situation.  For us, losing Enoch was unbearably hard and on top of it, in many ways, we lost the dream of having a family.  Again, I’m not completely hopeless that it won’t happen.  God is amazing and miraculous and can do anything!!  I’m confident of that, but that needs to come from Him.

So if I’m honest, when I talk to people about our loss of Enoch and they immediately respond that it’s not too late and I could have another, my  mind goes to this clip.  I appreciate the sentiment and the desire for me to feel better, but they don’t know that I can or will have another.  The reality is it’s a hard situation on a lot of levels and the promise of another child doesn’t take all that pain away.

A new friend

There was this woman Shelly some of my friends were friends with.  I would see her occasionally at social events, we were friends on Facebook, but honestly didn’t know her.  Not well.  Not at all really.

When Enoch died she reached out.  She came to the funeral, I think in part because several of her friends were impacted by it.  I didn’t get a chance to say hello, but she sent me the sweetest text between the funeral and the funeral dinner.  I distinctly remember reading it in the car as we drove that short distance.

The texts and messages didn’t stop that day.

A few months later she lost her brother suddenly and unexpectedly.  It was a funeral I had to got to.  I remember her walking up to me as soon as she saw me with tears streaming down her face asking in great disbelief “why would you come?” I told her I needed to, I needed to hug her and see her and support her the same way she had supported me up until that point.  Plus I understood some of the shock and unbearable pain she was experiencing.

Since then we have continued to walk this grief journey together.  Each journey looking a little different, but grateful for someone else  who “gets it.”

Often, when it feels like nobody else will get the feeling of that day.  I send her a text.  This is one I sent just last week…”Today I went to the church for the first time since Enoch’s funeral. It was for a breakfast and the triggers were unexpected and a little intense. Now all I want to do is drink and eat and throw things.  I figured you would get that.”

She never has some magical answer or insight, but often her response is one of understanding and for that I’m grateful!

Last week I received this text from Shelly, “Hi friend. It just occurred to me that one of the most beautiful things that has come out of the tragedy of my brothers death is your sweet friendship. I love you!”

This was not how we anticipated becoming friends… but I am thankful!

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Just weeks before Enoch was born this picture was taken, Shelly (on right) and I together in one of these random social settings.