Watching a friend experience the loss of their baby and the grief that remains can feel so helpless. Unfortunately, there isn’t a “one-size fits all” approach to support a grieving friend through loss, but there are many ways to be supportive. When my daughter died at 33-days-old, it was the first loss of this type…
The pain is there, of course, just a little more hidden these days, but the hope and promise that has come from having our rainbow, Madeline is something that I cannot deny.
I’m not sure when it happened, but it did. One day I woke up and the darkness didn’t seem so dark. The light had broken through and joy had finally become the chief emotion running the switchboard in my mind once again. Hearing the giggles of our child as she runs and plays, listening to her sing her silly made-up songs as she dances around and around in circles until she dizzily falls to the floor laughing.
Joy. Our house and my heart is bursting with joy.
I have become so grateful for this life. I have nearly forgotten the days that I used to wake up and I pray that it was just all a nightmare. The days where I would pray that I could just escape it all and close my eyes forever and just wake up where our son was, free from all of the hurting, the pain, and anger. While I would still give anything to have him back here with us, I wouldn’t want to miss a single moment of this life here…with her.
They say a rainbow baby brings light and color, and healing and for us that is exactly what our rainbow Madeline has done. Little by little her light crept in and filled up the broken spaces inside my heart and all that pain, all that hurt, and all that emptiness was filled up with such brilliant color and such an amazing joy and there was no denying the healing that was happening in my soul.
Every hug, every kiss, every “I love you, momma” is one more Band-Aid across the fractured and splintered pieces of my heart that were left when her big brother said goodbye.
Every cuddle is its own amazing form of therapy.
Now, this is not to say that I don’t still have days that I want to crawl into a ball and go back to bed, because I do. That’s still my normal reaction to anniversaries and birthdays. Holidays still feel a bitter sweetness that is hard to explain to anyone that hasn’t walked in these shoes, and that’s okay. The sweet is slowly becoming bigger than the bitter even on those tough days.
I think watching Madeline grow-up will always make me wonder who her big brother, Joshua might have been, but I’m learning that I can catch glimpses of him through her.
I see her love for all things princesses, but also superheroes and ninja turtles too. She loves to dance, but can throw a baseball like nobody’s business. I like to think these are signs that she has a little bit of her big brother’s spirit somewhere inside her. I hold tight to that idea and it makes the hard days a bit easier.
Honestly, I think if you would have told me four years ago that I would ever wake up and actually feel any kind of happiness, I would have just laughed in your face. The pain, hurt, and anger cut so deep back then that it was hard to ever imagine seeing past them.
I think I actually fought it for a while – being happy. I was afraid that if I admitted that when I looked at our lives I saw blessings instead of brokenness that I was somehow betraying our son.
As if I believed that the only way to honor him was to remain hurt and broken. I realize now what a crazy notion that really is. Not only do I believe that Joshua would want us to be happy, but I believe that the best way we can honor his short life is to live our lives to the fullest. We can’t do that if we are spending our time dwelling in the pain.
To honor Joshua, we have to remember him by living our lives to the fullest. We have to not take the little moments for granted. Every day is magical and special and each moment we get to spend with his little sister is a moment that we need to cherish and treasure.
So we take extra photos, we take that walk to the park, we give an extra cuddle before bed, we have impromptu dance parties in our living room, we play dress-up, we bake cookies together on a Sunday afternoon, we make memories.
Lots of them. We try to focus on the happy, the joy, the healing light, that has been brought back into our lives. It’s not always the easiest, but I know that it’s the most important thing I can do for both of my children.