Almost three and a half years ago I was thrown into the world of the grieving parent. At the time, I was in a highly alert state, taking words that were said to me and dissecting them one by one. Sometimes people said things that I found confusing, and maybe even hurtful. I started reading…
I never knew a love like this was possible. A love that hurt so bad, knocked the wind out of my lungs and filled me with more joy than I could even express. How could love feel so raw, so deep, so painful and yet so beautiful and eternal? How could a little boy weighing less than 3 pounds unleash a love that would not let me go and propel me into a life that I could never have dreamed of?
Honestly, I still am not sure how this is my life. Some days I stop and look around and wonder how everything happened so fast, how nothing is at all like I expected it to be, how it still hurts so bad and I yearn so deeply for him, and yet how incredibly proud I am of my little guy and of the ways that his life is touching and offering hope to others.
I would do anything to change the course of his story. To have it rewritten without the chapters of death, grief, pain and the reality that life sometimes takes turns that not only do you not expect but that you could not have imagined even if you had tried. But, I would also go through it all again to be able to hold him, touch him, look at every little part of him, and feel his fingers wrap around mine even for just one more minute. I know deep down that even if I would have had more time, it still would not have been enough. I would have wanted more. I always would have wanted more.
In the dark days after his death I was unsure how to go on, and even thought intently about how I did not want to. I listened to other parents complain about sleepless nights and screaming children. I would have sold an organ on the black market to have experienced that with my little guy. I saw images of abuse and atrocities committed to children by their parents on the news and I wondered why they had the chance to parent their child and I instead could only stand over a grave and wonder about what could have been. I became anxious about everything, carried a weight of unfounded guilt, was unable to focus, could not make even the simplest of decisions. But, that love. That love just grew and grew and grew.
I finally realized that even though I was madder than Hell that I was living and he wasn’t, I had to find my way. And so, I made him a promise. A promise that even though I didn’t know how, even though I did not want to, I would live for both of us. And so, here I am.
It was hard in the beginning to keep that promise. The darkness was thick and bleak. I tried and I struggled and I attempted to be ‘me,’ whatever that meant. When you cannot look yourself in the mirror or feel anything resembling yourself it is hard to be who you have always been. I could not and did not want to return to ‘that me’ because everything was different now. What I learned is that that is okay.
Sometimes others did not like it. Some still don’t. But, I followed that love that was still growing within me. I made some mistakes along the way because I was just stumbling through the days and weeks and months. I was trying my best, but sometimes for others that best was not good enough. Through the struggles and pain and mistakes and changes, the one constant that remained and became stronger every single second of every single day was the love that I continued to share with my son.
To say that my life changed would be an understatement. Relationships changed, work changed, family dynamics shifted, and it all seemed topsy-turvy for quite some time. But what emerged from the dark clouds was a brilliant light that led me into a tomorrow that I could not have ever experienced without being the mother of a little boy named Max.
I see the world in a different light today than I did four years ago. The perspective and lens in which I view everything has shifted. Yes, there is a lot of pain and suffering in this world, but there is a beauty that only a deep abiding love can reveal that mends the shattered pieces back together and constructs a creation that is beyond words. For me, none of this would be if it were not for Max. Yes, I wish things were different and that he were here holding my hand and doing all the things a 4-year-old boy would do, but I would not trade for anything this life that I continue to share with him because somehow and someway, his love carries me and will never let me go.
I know it hurts. I know this isn’t the life story you wanted or signed up for or ever dreamed could happen to you. But we hurt and grieve because we love so deeply. Let that love grow. Let that love guide you. Let the love that you continue to share with your child brighten this world. Love is infinite, eternal. Love always carries on. Your child’s story is not over. My Max’s story is not over. Our story continues. This is a love story that will never end.