The sun was high and radiant, the lake gleaming and alive. Flickering prisms of light danced across the surface of the afternoon water. This is our ‘good’ time of year-summer. The humming motor is such a comforting sound as are everyone’s voices. Friends and family. I have Noah near me today so my soul is happy. We’re all smiling and laughing- I’m content even. He is surfing on the wake behind the boat and I’m thinking of how beautiful he is and how grateful I am for him. I’m so happy in that moment as words trickle through my mind…’How I love him, So full of life, I’m so glad he’s here, Grateful, I love this. Then, ‘Aiden was such an athlete, He would’ve loved this, He would’ve loved this day… he is supposed to be here…’ Then, as gracefully as the joy had come in, it’s companion, sorrow, followed.
The lovely thoughts were twisting in my mind. ‘He’s not here, God I miss him so much! Oh GOD, we’ll never have a day like this with him, He’s gone, no Aiden. The uncertain seams holding the pieces of my heart together were beginning to strain. I could see that spectacular smile grinning as he balanced over the water. His skin beautiful and bronzed from weekends on the lake. And that smile of his. Oh, that smile.
And that’s just how it happens, in less than a breath. The remodeling of thought and emotion that comes with the continual experience of child loss and what I have learned since the loss of my child pt. 2.
LOSS OF A CHILD IS A CONTINUAL EXPERIENCE
It just is. Everyday experiences that should include him, that he should be loving, that we should be loving with him. Any welcomed experience of happiness is matched only by the ache of his absence. Joy and sorrow walk hand in hand through the lives of bereaved parents like incongruous accompanists. Sorrow can come alone for sure, but joy is so often followed closely behind by sorrow.
It reminds me of a night we were driving in my car with the top down and the sun was quickly setting. The sky was a masterpiece of long sweeping color. It was incredible. We raced around the streets trying to find a break in the trees that faced the sunset so we could really see it. We never did find the sunset view we wanted before it set. I remember saying, “Oh well, there will be lots more beautiful skies we can watch.” and I think of how many dozens of more times we could’ve tried chasing that sunset if…
The sky is still beautiful to me, but it’s an aching, lonely kind of beautiful and I want him to be there watching it with me. Now. I feel that moment we would’ve shared but won’t again. I don’t just see the sky anymore.
I look for him in it.
Certainly some days are free of this while others bring more difficult new losses than others. In a couple weeks he should be going to high school. High School. I’ll be listening to the bus go by from my kitchen table, holding my bitter cup of coffee rather than my camera with his first-day-of-high-school photos on them.
It’s already time to get off social media for awhile, that was painfully evident this morning. This time of year it will be nothing more than salt in these wounds. Another season I don’t think I could move through on my own, but will hope to be carried.
Another week I will survive, along with countless other Moms, not of my own accord, but because, regardless of my brackish relationship with God, I do know there is mercy and there is refuge new, every morning.
I have learned that no matter how dark the night, the sun always rises. Ready or not.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. – Lamentations 3:22
JOYOUS MOMENTS ARE HELD, TREASURED & SOMETIMES CREATED
I’ve learned that moments of peace or joy can be fleeting so when they come we pull them in closer and tightly for however long we can hold onto them. Guarded hearts and saddened souls often overlook things like wonder, beauty and joy. We must learn to seize each one of those moments- they help to keep us going to the next.
“Situational joy” I call it. I don’t feel joy or contentment flowing through my veins anymore. It’s no longer woven into my fabric, but I feel joy in certain situations, for a period of time- like that day on the boat, like when I hear my boys deep, raucous laughter. Those moments are intensely impactful now. I’ve learned to listen more closely, watch more intently and fully absorb the sound and the sight of what brings happiness, if even for a moment. It’s like taking a bland photo and hitting the “boost” button. Everything intensifies. That’s how we see and feel our snip-its of happiness.
I’ve learned to create spaces and events to immerse into a softer, safer space when I can. I do this with my porch, my garden and my upstairs creative space. We do this when we hike and when we join friends on the lake. Many Moms like me just want the safety and comfort of home, not tolerating being away from it for long. Similarly we avoid places, spaces and people that may tear at that delicate fabric of our soft zone. We can’t risk eroding it so we pick our people and places with great care.
Intentional immersion, intentional avoidance for survival.
I am so wholly grateful for these seemingly “little” things- my flowers and the birds, the shimmer of the lake on a summer afternoon, for loving friends who speak his name, the physical and emotional spaces where I get to breathe, even within this home where I lost him. When I still can’t feel or forgive, my Heavenly Father, the ONE whom I entrusted my children to, I do see Him and thank Him in these other things and hope that is enough for Him right now.
Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. -Psalm 3:2-5