I had things to say tonight. But I can’t find the words and I cannot find sleep.
I wanted to have a really special post ready to go in the morning, but all I could think of was this…
Hello, darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence
…and why is the sound of silence so loud?
Something in me is unsettled. I’m sleepless and anxiety is high for ‘no reason’. Even if my mind is not registering it with 90 degree days and weekends on the lake,
the season is changing and my body knows it.
My soul knows it.
My calendar now rotates around the date that yanked the universe out from under my feet, shattering my heart, my faith and my perfect little family. I don’t follow Jan. 1-Dec. 31 any longer.
I follow what should be. The should-be calendar. Should-be birthdays, should-be family vacations together,
and the should-be starting his senior year.
I wanted to have something profound and really helpful to say. Like, that I have this all figured out and I’m going to write a manual for Mothers who have lost children. Finally a step-by-step guide on how to do this!
I have no guide for you. I’m sorry to say, there are no steps to follow that will fix this. The only way around it is directly through it and it will continue to challenge, haunt and break you over and over again. Every season that should have your child in it.
Right now he should be a senior, searching colleges and practicing for his last season of high school soccer. Instead, I’m planning a memorial golf tournament for the non-profit we have created in his memory. I feel sometimes like I’ve been given some sick cosmic booby prize. “So sorry Jennifer. You can’t have your son, but you CAN have this instead! Come and claim your prize!” As I sit here in my quiet house emailing folks for donations.
There is this though, as I read his name over and over with the words Memorial Fund after it,
since the sting of that fact doesn’t fade with time, I can speak to you of the fortitude of the human spirit, of the strength that is not within me but somehow manifests.
I can speak to you of the warrior heart that must develop and grow in a chest hollow with grief. I can tell you of the Holy Spirit that can dwell side-by-side in my heart with a pain so great and so constant I could never have imagined it.
I can tell you I continue to move and breathe while the beating pain of separation from him continues one day after the next, but that I have been given a new strength. A different strength that is not my own, but His.
I see through eyes that will never see things the way they used to. I’ve a new perspective and skills for surviving in this world of intact families, that noone but parents like me could acquire.
Invisible silent skills to protect what is already broken.
I now know we have likely endured and continue to survive one of the most horrific losses any human can fathom. There is power in that. I have already done the hardest thing possible.
I have buried my child. I kissed him goodbye one day
and the next he was gone.
There is not much that can be thrown at me that would have me say, This is the worst thing ever. I feel like I could prevail through nearly anything now. Nearly. It’s all the small stuff and that’s a unique mindset to have. A good one, I think.
There is a compassion and empathy for something that most cannot even allow their minds to touch on for more than a moment. The uncomfortable horror of imagining one of your children gone is not something most can ponder for too long.
Which child? How? What parent can follow that line of thought out. None.
But I face it with every sunrise. It is done.
Because I look in it’s ugly face every day, my heart now breaks with others who lose a child.
Like them, I tip-toe around a larger-than-life crater of loss that sits in the center of my world. A fractured heart can be a beautiful heart if it chooses.
It’s difficult to explain the heightened awareness to the fragility of life I now understand. Looking around and knowing in an intimate way, what has lasting importance and what is material, worldly thirst. It’s a loss of innocence I would rather have back, but, like a lot of things I wish I had back, that is not an option. So I hold this knowledge unwittingly and with care.
There is freedom in wanting less in the world. I guess you would call it an eternally minded perspective- where you understand that nothing here is really all that important, because it just isn’t. Pretenses, status and stuff seems so awfully vile when you would give any thing- all things, just to have another hour with your child.
Freedom in not fearing death anymore.
Things don’t hold the significance they used to except people. People we love and the experiences we still want to have with them.
This simplicity makes our outward life so much more manageable when the inward life is so mangled.
It’s a Balance we learn to create. We have to.
Sure, I dream of things for this life- marraiges and grandkids some day, really amazing travel destinations with our boys. Our thoughts are on a different forever future now as well – the one we’ll have with all of our children and each other.
The waiting and the absence of him is so hard, but we have comfort in what is to come, and I suppose that helps us keep going.
So I reorganize life around what truly matters and what doesn’t and I think about how different that feels. How freeing it is to be loosed from some of the entanglements of the world.
How, when feeling hopelessly weak and dismembered, strength comes in so many forms.
How our lives are aching and unfamiliar but still willing to walk towards the cry of another hurting heart. Still open to the beauty of what life can bring.
Even when there are bright green soccer cleats, unused
and soccer balls, stiff and motionless,
in a room where my boy used to sleep.
SCRIPTURE REFERENCES for “I Can Speak To This”
- John 11:25-26
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
- 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
- 2 Corinthians 5:8
We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
- Phillipians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
- Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
- Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
For an in-person time of understanding and healing, please join our RETREAT FOR BEREAVED PARENTS coming in November to a beautiful location in Boone, NC. For more information visit our website, www.AidensLight.com.
Thank you for reading. Here are some other posts on grief and seasons of time.