This Is How We Go On…October 17, 2015

Learning how to get through the first 's without your chlld.


It took some time for the reality, the emotion and the images of the weekend to sink in. It kind of hit us mid-week and into the next weekend so I couldn’t really think about writing about it until recently.

The week following Aiden’s birthday was heavy and sad. It carried the sorrow that probably would’ve surfaced over the weekend had it not been for the people that were, gratefully, with us continually.

But I did show up, like I vowed I would.

It was everything it could’ve been-thanks entireley to the people who made sure it was.


One of the hardest things to contend with was that I needed so badly to do something for my son, but couldn’t. I ached to do, to plan, to create and to give him the most amazing birthday I could.

Except that I couldn’t.

He’s not here.

I grieve that loss too. Of what I can’t do anymore.

I couldn’t cross the enormous chasm between the learned response of my emotional “Mother’s mind”, and the reality of what my rational mind was now telling me was so. I found myself pacing and wandering and weeping Wednesday and Thursday because I needed to do what I was supposed to be doing- but I couldn’t. The distress was extremely unsettling and very unique to this particular occasion. I had not experienced that as of yet. It felt like a particularly awful form of helplessness, really.

Helpless to do, helpless to change the situation, helpless to stop the pain.

Is there is still some ‘acceptance’ that needs to happen in my heart?

Can acceptance be more than just a conscious rational decision?  A layering of sorts that is peeled off gradually over time as the mind catches up with reality? That is what it feels like. What I came to accept months ago is not what I have to accept today.


Surviving grief often means just showing up. Not to be perfect, not to accomplish anything other than to just show up.THE ARRIVALS

Family started coming on in Thursday starting with my sweet Dad. All the way from Florida. He had a huge tray of chicken parm and 2 bottles of wine. Now that’s how you start a weekend like this!

Friday night began with the arrival of SHJ & SFJ. (They are going to crack up at their blog ID’s.) In support of my “milestones” post earlier in the month, SFJ came with an oversized stone with the most loving and truest words she could write on it,

   “You Are Never Alone #anchorfriends.”

The backbone of surviving loss are the loved ones who surround you

The "firsts" after the loss of a child need to be experienced gently and with the ones you love.

I know that I am not.

And that is how I go on.

Then my brother from Atlanta arrived, and shortly after that, N. He was driving the long ride home from college which he has never done before. Talk about anxiety on top of anxiety. I was never so happy to see someone walk through the door. I was so grateful to hug him and have him with me this weekend. He was just as happy to be here with us- what a blessing that was. My boy.

He and his brother are how we go on.

Through the next day flowers and edible arrangements arrived and food was expected from my bible study girls- my “Soul Sisters.” I felt terrible that I was just not able to pull it together enough to cook for everyone, so the food was a double blessing and man, can those girls cook. I ate banana pudding for 3 meals a day. These ladies had been praying for my family long before I met most of them and they hold a special place in my heart and my life now.

They are how I go on.

We spent the evening eating and laughing and drinking wine. It was perfect.

SFJ bought us a pile of floating lanterns to use for the occasion. We did a test run with them and I knew instantly, they were the perfect way to honor Aiden. They were amazingly beautiful and absolutely perfect for the occasion. That night I felt like we had something special and meaningful to do for Aiden. I felt such a burden off my heart with that. That angst I spoke of had a remedy.


I went to bed comforted in the knowledge that we were surrounded by family and friends. I fell asleep surprisingly well. When I would awaken the next day, it would be Aiden’s 13th birthday.


I have been spared the nightmares that some others have suffered, but that night I had my turn. My first since. The sound of my own cries woke me that morning and every cell in my body felt the pain and agony as if the events of the dream had actually happened- a second time. My heart was pounding, my extremities were tingling, I was sweating and my gut was filled with “that” feeling. That pain that is so indescribable and incomparable to any other. It was the same as the day he left us. That was 7 am, October 17. Dave had one earlier in the night as well so we started Aiden’s day, in bed mourning afresh for him. Sobbing into our bedsheets. In some strange way, it did not feel unsuitable to the occasion. It was just tough to shake.


The day was full of gifts and food and sunshine.

A necklace with Aiden’s name, birthstone charm and angel wings. A beautiful bracelet with crystals representing the fruits of the spirit and a gorgeous glass bowl to hold my milestones. I received another bracelet from my Soul Sisters engraved with Aiden’s name and the scripture verse from his Celebration Of Life Service.

meaningful gifts for the hardest of daysIt is so overwhelming to witness the outpouring and thoughtfully creative way these people continue to care for us and hold us up.

 It is not in our own strength we go on. It is by the Grace of God and by the anchoring love we receive everyday from the people who have their physical and spiritual arms around us still.                                    One cannot imagine the force of that power until you are clinging so precariously to earth and sanity, you doubt you can take another day. But they come with tears and embraces, food, prayers and promises that they are with you through it.

milestones bowlAnd they are.

And it is how we go on.

I’m not going to say the day was free of the cloak and the hood of grief, it was not. It was extraordinarily heavy and I know the 3 of us were fighting it hard.

I can say, though, that we were carried through and held up by the people who were there for us.                                                            To cook, to plan the evening, to Tokens of friendship and remembrancemake us laugh, to remember our boy and to just be by our side.

They were present, and that is how we go on.

There was one gift I received that is so exceedingly special. It needs its own post, its own place on this blog, so it is not included here.

It is an album of memories, letters and thoughts of Aiden written by his friends, teammates and some of their Mom’s. I have not finished reading them, as I have to do it in tolerable doses. It is magnificent and has given me the gift of more of Aiden. I have no words to describe what that means to me.

More images I can create in my mind and hold onto from the memories of these children and their Moms.

Thoughts of Aiden through the eyes of his friends. Something few Moms have the privilege of having. Thank you CLB for your friendship and insight into exactly what I needed. I cherish it.

It is how I go on.


Brother honoring the birthday of his lost too soon younger brother

At 8 PM we all went down to the boat launch for the lantern lighting. We tried to get 13 lanterns to lift off all at once, but the wind had picked up and apparently had different plans than we did. We all laughed when they dove into the water prematurely or floated into the nearby trees.

Lanterns for AIden

Eventually the sky began to light up with the warm, golden glow of the lanterns and we watched in memory, love and yes-disbelief. How can we all be here for this?

There was an element of surreal, like there still so often is.

I heard people “talking” to Aiden and wondering what he’d be thinking now if he were watching.

“He’d be laughing.” I heard.

Another saying “Take it, Aiden!” as the lantern struggled to lift off his hands. We all felt his presence there, whether literally or figuratively.

Each glowing globe a wish, a prayer, and a thought to honor him.


A father lights a lantern in memory of his son

I did wonder. Is he “here” ? Can he see us? Does he miss us?

I wanted to reach my arms up to the sky so he could see me trying to embrace him, calling him back to me.

…to embrace his little boy body again.

After a lifetime of Christianity, I don’t know how that works, honestly. It all changes when it’s your child.

The Word says “For we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses”. Those who have gone before us, I’ve been told. Please, God, let that be how I am to understand it. That he was there. It would mean he saw the lights, the smiles, the tears,

the missing him.

I beg that he saw what he means. Who he is. Who he will forever be to us.


The 3 of us

The night was everything I hoped it to be.

Everything I needed it to be.






Aiden's Birthday 10-17-15

Birthday tribute to my son




At around 8:40 PM the last lantern was sent into the sky.

Just about the time, 13 years ago, our precious boy entered the world and I held him so tight to my heart

and looked at his beautiful olive skin through my tear-soaked eyes.

You will never be forgotten my beautiful Aiden, never.

How do bereaved parents honor their children birthday?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles . And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.                           -Hebrews 12:1 

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About Jennifer

I am a mother first and foremost. I am also a mother who lost a child, suddenly and tragically. Like other bereaved Mothers, I am trying to find my way back, and writing and creativity is a huge part of that. I hope by documenting my climb out of this, that my walk, my struggles, my failings, my faith, my honesty, and my choice to live-in every sense of the word, will help someone else do the same.

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