I have been feeling very sorry for myself lately. Matthew would have blown out four birthday candles last week, and on a day this country designated to give thanks, while I without question was filled with gratitude, I was also missing my little boy terribly. There’s never a birthday that’s not going to sting, but there’s something about it falling on the day we are to be most thankful that really, really, stung.
The next day stung; it was the day he died. Gut-wrenching remembrance.
Yesterday, though. Yesterday was tough. Four years ago, yesterday, I buried my son.
There’s something about time. It has a way of erasing things.
Sometimes, that’s a good thing. You don’t want to remember. It hurts your soul too much.
But other times? You are desperate to remember. Yesterday, I was desperate to remember. When Matthew died, I was grateful for the chemical reaction of shock in my body. Like many who suffer the loss of a child, I found myself near catatonic. I remember watching things, but not being part of them. I sat in my brown chair or on the sofa, barely moving and listlessly staring. I don’t think I spoke much and I’m pretty sure I worried people around me as I held Matthew’s blanket, often on my shoulder, patting it, as I would have patted him had he been in my arms.
I don’t remember much else. The days and weeks after his death were a blur; two days later, I had to go back to my doctor because I had pre-eclampsia. As she held my hand while I cried, “But I delivered him! That’s the cure!” (it’s not, always, by the way…1-2% pregnant women will develop pre-eclampsia post-partum), she told me why he’d died. Vasa Previa. A fluke. She told me that I’d always wanted a c-section and maybe, deep down, I knew something that no one else did.
That…that I remember.
But not much else. I don’t remember much of the visitation from friends and family. I don’t remember much about planning the funeral and I don’t even remember much about the funeral except people were desperately trying to find something for me to wear. My body was grossly different from ANYthing hanging in my closet that was even closely appropriate for a funeral. My child’s funeral, no less.
I wish I’d been in a better state of mind and had paid more attention. I wish I’d picked out pallbearers (thankfully, men at our church stepped in when needed); I wish I asked someone to take pictures. I wish I’d video recorded it. At the time, those ideas seemed morbid, but now, four years later, I find myself desperate to know any detail about his funeral. I can’t, and my heart aches in a way that I don’t feel it has in a very long time.
I say all of this because I feel it is important to ask people for some grace, especially during the holidays.
You may be thinking of what holiday gifts you need to buy for the mailperson or your kids’ teachers, or how awesome a snow day would be but somewhere, some mother is thinking about how she’ll never be able to step in a classroom again and that the two feet of snow everyone thinks is so beautiful will forever remind a mother of the worst days of her life. At this time of year, people are hustling and bustling and enjoying the festivities of the season, while others are flashing back to tubes and wires on their newborn. Funerals. Caskets. The ugliest shoes with the mis-matchiest tights because nothing fit her post-delivery, but empty-armed body.
Some who don’t understand why that mother ‘just can’t be grateful for what she has now’ may not realize that the mother will NEVER be able to act like she’s never stood in front of the coffin her brand new baby was nearly too long to fit in, but that DOESN’T mean she’s not grateful for her blessings in life.
Trust me, gratitude always wins.
But grace…Grace is so healing to a soul. Believe this: Somewhere, someone has said something, unintentionally, that’s made a mother or father cringe and writhe inside in emotional pain—but that mother or father gracefully told her or himself it wasn’t meant…that they couldn’t possible know what it felt like to have their biggest dream in life stolen ruthlessly. They couldn’t possibly understand how he or she has been left a scarred, different person forever. They couldn’t possibly know or even come close to imagining it, or understand how their lack of understanding or insensitivity hurt. Still, a grief-stricken mother or father gave them grace.
Grace. We, as those who have lost children and in an effort to maintain relationships our fragile hearts cling to, give grace to those people. We give it in spades, and we give it far more often than it is given back.
Give it back!
You just don’t know how hard it is to keep the smile on.
Especially during the most wonderful time of the year.
I’m small, but scrappy! I have a fierce passion for my family, friends and life in general…I’m a military spouse who has battled infertility for over 13 years, as well as the loss of two babies gone too soon. I love to laugh, and am grateful for every second I celebrate with the ones I love. You can find me at my blog Lori Does Maryland or on Facebook Lori Mullins Ennis or on The Twitter here Lori M. Ennis