Friday, November 18, 2011

(not) bridging the gap: life after loss

It was a quandary to me as I searched books and articles and blogs and stories of others who lost children why the grief road seemed to stop if they had another child. 

Another book would would be written.  Mourning into Dancing. {or some other beautiful thought}

The focus would change.  My baby is safe in heaven, I'm moving on.

The whole blog would move. Thanks for reading our story; we're so thankful for your support and love.  Visit us over *here* as our life goes on.

I wondered:  did another child fill that immense gap so completely that the need to spill the grief out just. . . ended?

did they just want to set the pain aside for awhile and focus on the joy?

how did they go on?

did they still go lie on the ground in a frozen cemetery and weep?

were birthdays still

did they hesitate on sharing the number of children when asked?  did they sometimes say three and sometimes say four?

did they fight the urge to sign every name in a little row at the end of letters?  Or did they, like me, just give up and start signing cards "The Smith's", avoiding the glaring omission of one name from the happy roster?

Why did the story always seem to stop when another child was born?

I won't do it, I vowed.  If we had another child, I had a strong desire to keep writing, to keep spilling out whatever the emotions were, for the sole purpose of letting someone following me on the grief road know what could be ahead.

If it suddenly turned all roses, well then so be it, jump on the baby wagon, my grieving sister, and have another child!

If it was terror and worse than before, well, honesty is helpful and at least I would be honest.

I will keep writing.  I will keep telling the story.  I will keep spilling it out.  And I won't move to another blog!

So now it is my turn.  I have a beautiful son after a horrible tragedy.  I think I understand why some others choose to stop telling the story. . .

. . .I want to cherish every single moment in a way I wouldn't have ever understood before burying one of my children.  And that means that moments are so precious;  sitting at a computer staring at the ceiling composing my life story just doesn't seem like the best use of the time God has given.

. . .of course I'm just busy and sleep deprived (notice how I've worked that into every post lately) and that plays into the lack of public sharing, be it online or in the church or community.

. . .then there is the utter lack of words to describe the juxtaposition of emotion going on in my heart.

But I still have that same burning desire and need, to keep telling the story.  It's not as smooth and not well written and not agonized over like some of the other things I've written.  Just doing some heart dumping here.

So tonight. . . this is for the mammas reading who ache for the little person they lost. 

I lost my little man, too.  My arms are full, but they still ache.

I weep holding Eli.  I weep for how short my time with him may be.  I weep because there are no guarantees. 

I smile to the happy world who rejoices that God has brought joy into our aching family, and I smile into my son's blue eyes, and I try to squash the nagging fear that our time with him is not promised.

I have moments of absolutely irrational fear.  Eli's first little cold last week turned me into a post-partum basket case.  I thought breastfeeding kept newborns from getting sick!  I ranted to the kids' nurse.  She laughed at me and pointed out that he could be much sicker, and I knew she was right, but that night I could feel panic set in as I go the kids ready for bed.

Another mom whose son died from SIDS said it well:  when your child dies while peacefully sleeping, your confidence as a parent is shattered.  So true.  If you can't protect your child from death while everything is fine, then how on earth are you going to protect him if something is wrong?

At eight-thirty I heard a knock on the door and I went to answer it, somehow not surprised to see Deeann standing there, coming to chill out with me and chase my fear away with girl talk and distraction.  Wow, did God know what He was doing when He sent her into my life.  She looked at my sniffling Eli, who, in my mind had a combination of RSV, bronchitis, pneumonia and whooping cough, and pointed out that he was breathing pretty well.  It's true, he was, but fear makes you irrational and irrational I was. 

The kids talk about Gabe now more than ever.  It seems to me that Eli brings memories of Gabe back to their minds more clearly.  They have even more questions (I thought we'd answered them all. . . but no!) and their own fears and worries.

JD: Mom, I just wanna know why I don't cry much about Gabe.  (I explain that emotions manifest themselves in more ways than tears.)

Cambria: Mommy, I was just wondering. . . are we gonna get Gabe presents for his birthday since he isn't here to open them?  Could we get them anyway and we open them?  I choke away the tears and tell her that we'll totally get Gabe presents for his birthday. . . images of a two year old and chocolate cake and little fire trucks flood my mind and I leave the room so that my sorrow won't make my little girl think something was wrong with her idea.

JD, carefully tucking a bear that he's loved for years into his bed:  Hey, Mom, I named this bear Gabe.  And I kinda act like it's Gabe. *lovingly pats bear*  Once again, I'm caught off guard and turn away to hide the tears.  I've learned that the children will shut their feelings away from me if they think that I'll be sad, and I walk a careful line trying to allow them to see my true heart and being a safe place for their own emotion.

Then there is this super ultra protectiveness over Eli.  It freaks us all out a little, I think, to see him sleeping.  Jacob has asked more than once. . . mom. . . is he dead?  It's his reality.  I hate that death is so real to him, but I can't change it and so I choose the privilege of showing my children the reality of this fragile gift of life that we hold so briefly in our hands. 

They've seen death, bitter and cruel and far too soon. 

Now they get to see life, fresh, and new and so full of promise.

That's what it's like, dear mamma of a baby you can't hold anymore.

There's not a careful bridge between the horror and loss and the beauty and joy.  They just kinda intertwine and pop  in and out of each other at odd random times and sometimes the sorrow for the baby you lost is just gut wrenching and sometimes the fear that you'll lose the ones you have is debilitating.  But then you're surprised by the exploding joy you feel rubbing your nose against that fuzzy bit of hair and you're overwhelmed by the assurance that God is still so very good.

And you're super sleep deprived, so you end the post and go to bed.  ZzzZZzzzzZZZzzzzzzzz


  1. So well said. Wow. Expressed just perfectly. I'm so glad you are continuing to write...

  2. Loved this post.

    As an RN that has looked after many moms that have lost a little one, my thoughts often go to them long after my contact with them... your fears and thoughts are very similar to many I have talked to...

    You and your little ones are so amazing. Keep writing - I know that God is speaking through your words to others out there... so profound.

  3. other words...your words and your time spent on this blog is not wasted.....

    Peace to you.

  4. Yes, please keep writing. I have never swallowed the idea that another beautiful life makes it all okay and rosy again. I have been thinking about this a lot too because a dear friend of mine is having her 2nd miracle baby within a month...after 6 losses (7 babies in heaven in all). And I know there are still fears just as real as before, even when you hold the most precious gift in your arms.

  5. I sit here in tears after reading your post. I look forward to reading every one of your posts, and I wanted to thank you for taking time to blog. I'll continue to pray for you and for your family as you go through what must be such a happy and hard time in your lives.
    God bless.

  6. Thank you Hayley for continuing to share your heart and your story. Your beautiful words always touch me, even though I have not walked the same path as you. You are an encouragement.

    I think of you and pray for you often. <3

  7. It's hard to express your emotions when you're grieving for a son that you lost but you'll never forget and then a beautiful son is laying in your arms...
    I went through a time last year where everyone I knew was losing someone and then one person was gaining a beautiful baby here on this earth. I was grieving for them and somehow trying to express joy for that one person at the same time.
    Very difficult and no real words to express that mixed emotion.
    And this year, it was me who was losing while a lot of my friends and family were rejoicing in new life.


    Please keep writing!

  8. Please keep writing and sharing. It is healthy and healing for you and also blesses and encourages those who read. What you share about not being able to protect a child applies to all-no one is able to protect loved ones or even their own self. No one is guaranteed the next moment, the next breath. I think we all learn this truth through different circumstances. The safest place to be is in God's will. His plan is perfect no matter how things may appear to us here and now. It is reassuring to know God has ALL under control. However, as comforting as this is, it is difficult to let go of trying to run things myself-and let Him do things according to His purpose.
    I still pray for you and your family. God has a plan for your family and He is working it out in His way and His time.

  9. Your word are always so beautiful. Although I have not been through what you have, I do pray for you and squeeze my little one often.

  10. thank you thank you thank you for sharing... you don't know all the people you are impacting. you've impacted my life and i thank you! your words are beautiful.
    praying for you.

  11. Keep writing have a story to tell to share with other hurting mom's. You are doing a GREAT job of sharing God's story. Keep it up. My heart goes out to you.