A Grandmother’s Grief
Guest Post by Kalyn Bailey, grandmother to Addison Grace.
As the request from Hope came in, to share about losing our Addison Grace to SIDS, I couldn’t help but think that the timing was perfect. She will be gone 2 years on the 25th of March, and it would give me time to sit and reflect, honor, and share her with others. Maybe even help someone in the process of trying to heal a little more myself. I really can’t even put my head around the time and how it’s gone amazingly fast yet feels like it’s stood still. My heart still breaks at even the thought that she’s gone. Yet at the same time I see so many blessings that have come into my life since she left.
Does it make me feel guilty for thinking that good has come from her leaving? Yes. What grandmother in her right mind would say there was good that came from her own child losing a child?
But the blessings are there right along with the sorrow.
Addison left us on a beautiful March morning in 2010. It seemed like such a normal day when it started, so horribly abnormal before the sun set that evening. I’ll never forget the time or what I was doing when I got that frantic call from my son to come to the hospital.
“Get here as quick as you can,” he said.
So many things I remember precisely about that morning but the three that were the worst was when the airvac was waved off leaving us with no hope, the nurse coming to get my children so they could say theirs goodbye, and watching my children walk away from that ER empty handed. I think those things have haunted me the worst from that day. I do remember being so very calm at the hospital and I know that only God could of provided that for me. When my world fell apart that day, I know that my Father was holding me firmly in his arms, giving me the strength I needed to get my children through.
You see, Addison was special, she offered hope to me for my son. He had been involved in drugs and drinking for a very long time and had been so very far away from the child I knew and loved. He started changing when he met Addison’s mommy but the real change and healing from those addictions had came when they found out they were pregnant. I got my son back. The funny, loving, devoted son I remembered him to be.
For the first time in many years he was actually telling me he loved me, hugging me when he seen me. I saw Addison as that pivotal little person who had shown her Daddy how much love he really had inside to give.
How much better his life could be without those other things. And I thanked God for her and her love for her daddy everyday. I honestly couldn’t believe she was gone, andthat He would take her – right when everything that I had been praying for was beginning to happen.
Why would God do such a thing?
And how was my son going to stay on the right track? Thankfully he has! God was working still, in the midst of all of this pain to help my son realize he would now have to stay strong for his precious wife, and going back to that old way just wasn’t going to work.
Photo Courtesy of Kalyn Bailey
I have to admit I was so very angry with God. I had been praying for my son for so many years. Praying for God to bring him back to, not only me, but to who he needed to be in the Lord. I still fail to understand how this is going to work but have since came to the place that I simply trust that God is great and He has the ultimate plan. A plan I may never see come to fruition before I leave to join her, but I plan on believing in and having faith in the promises my Father has given me.
It took me awhile to get rid of some of that anger, and yes some of it still lingers if I let it. I continue to pray for peace and comfort in that anger from the Lord. One morning while I was all alone in the house, washing dishes, crying once again, I finally just screamed at God. He knew I was angry with Him anyway and He is big enough to handle it.
“How in the world do you think this is going to help my son! How could you even imagine this would help heal him or bring him closer to you? How can you justify hurting my son, who I love so very much, like this?”
And believe me, this wasn’t a pretty little talk with God….there was alot of yelling and sobbing. But when I was still and calmed back down I could hear this voice reminding me that my son was His son first and that He not only loved him enough to let His very own son die for him, but that He also loved me and Addison just that much also. That the plan he had implemented when He took our sweet Addison home was the best plan, the perfect plan.
Is it still hard to accept? Yes.
Does it still hurt? Everyday.
Do I still love God? More than I did.
My faith took a beating during that time. A faith I had barely found a few years before. But God has shown me His faithfullness during that time and in many circumstances since.
Two years into this journey I can look back and see God’s hand from the moment we learned about Addison. All the way from His planning her arrival around Christmas, just like our other granddaughters. What a joy to have all of our granddaughters celebrating their birthdays in the most joyous season, the season that was my favorite! The season where He had given His most precious child, as the most precious gift.
And Her father losing his job two weeks before her birth. Not something we thought of as a blessing at the time but something I thank God for now! He got to spend nearly every glorious minute of her life with her. What father gets that these days? Her Mommy getting so sick at her birth and him having to take care of her nearly 24 hours a day for weeks, forming a bond so special and so strong. Strong enough for Him to want to follow her one day? Only God knows the answer to that but I tend to think it might be something along those lines. Do I think that it’s a coincidence that her middle name is Grace? No. They had struggled for months with her middle name. Arguing to the point I had started praying for God to send them a name… Grace. I think it’s amazing that by His grace we get to heaven and maybe because of ours so many will decide to follow.
Do I still struggle? Some days are worst than others and the guilt of not being able to help your child, not being able to protect them from this horrible tragedy is unbearable at times. The feeling of letting him down even though there was nothing I could possibly do for her or him that day.
When you’re the grandparent it’s so very hard. Your world has been ripped apart but at the same time your child’s has been ripped apart even more. You mourn not only the loss of your precious grandchild but also the loss of who your child was before this unspeakable thing happened. I buried part of my son and daughter-in-law the day they buried Addison. And just like her, it will never be back.
You are in such unbearable pain watching your child enduring the worst pain. You then feel guilty for saying you’re hurting when you cannot even imagine how very much they are. Sometimes you feel like you must grieve silently so as not to take away from their grieving. You feel like you must put your grief on hold so you can help your child through theirs, which only makes you feel behind in the process.
I’ve learned that this is a marathon, not a sprint. That it is ok to grieve at your own pace. And that who you are and who you’ve been in the past, every circumstance in your life touches how you grieve and that it is ok too. My grief doesn’t look like anyone else’s or feel like anyone else’s and it truly is ok.
Addison’s leaving has taught me to be more patient with people, more open and compassionate to their pain. More tolerant of our differences, and non judgemental of their lack of understanding. People simply don’t understand or realize how painful this process is or how much their words or actions, or lack thereof, hurt so very much. Loving Addison and losing her taught me to let go of the small things and realize who’s important in my life and that even though I may not agree with them on everything, it’s not really worth fighting about, because I love them anyway.
I look at Addison’s picture and I ask her what God sent her here to teach me. What was I needing to learn from loving and losing her? I strive daily to find that thing, to be a better person for being her Nana. Also to make her as proud to be my granddaughter as I am to have the honor of her being my granddaughter.
I know now that God had bigger plans for our little Addison Grace than we could ever imagine. I know God will continue to use her to bring many more people into His glorious kingdom. Just because she has gone on ahead it does not mean her life isn’t still touching people on this earth.