I became a mother a month shy of turning 25, just three days before I celebrated my second wedding anniversary. I was so young and held on to the belief that life was about happy endings and fairy tales. I just knew that God wouldn’t give me more than I could handle and I certainly couldn’t handle the death of my son so even with a 50% chance of survival I just knew we would bring him home. I believed that life would never be cruel enough to give me twin boys only to take one away. I became certain that since my father had beaten Stage 4 throat cancer that naming our baby boy after him would ensure that he would live.
I was wrong. On everything.
My son died, my fairy tale was shattered and life was cruel enough to give me twins and take away one. My son put up one hell of a fight and made his grandpa incredibly proud, but he did not survive.
My grief has changed so much over the almost six years since I held my son in my arms as he died. I was so broken for so long. Healing slowly has taken place, but I know that nothing will fully heal me this side of Heaven.
I feel, for the first time since his death, that I am alive again. I want to be better at life; better at everything. For so long I felt as though I was on cruise control, just barely making it. And now I am awake again. I want to be a better mother, wife, friend and person. I remember a dear friend telling me that it would take seven years to get through the really bad side of grief. I was so overwhelmed at that thought for so long. At the time I couldn’t even imagine the first year without my son. But I am here I am, working through grief every day and becoming the wife, mother and friend that I have always wanted to be.
Every year and every day I am slowly getting better. I know that the pain that I went through has lead me to the happiness I have today. I can finally remember my son with a smile on my face, instead of tears in my eyes. Those tears do come, though mostly in private these days. That’s the part of living without my son that will never go away, and I wouldn’t want it to.
What I do want is so much more than I had been able to manage when he died. I joke that I am finally losing the baby weight I put on with both of my pregnancies that resulted in two healthy baby girls after his death. Deep down I know that the weight is really grief weight caused by his death. I turned to chocolate and ice cream when I was so sad. For a long time I didn’t even want to lose it because it was another piece of him that I was holding on to. Now I know that nothing can take him away from me, and becoming a healthier person- emotionally and physically simply makes for a better me.
Before his death I wanted to explore and travel and dreamed about taking my children on adventures they would remember forever. For the first time since he died I want that again. I’m no longer in survival mode.
This other side of grieving is pretty amazing. When out on adventures with my kids I know that MJ is always with me. I can’t see him or hold him, but he is always there. That feeling no longer makes me sad all the time. It makes me happy that the bond I have with him transcends even death. I am always wrapped in his presence and the love I have for him will always radiate from my heart.
I never really thought I would be here. I always thought I would be so sad all the time. In the beginning the next day seemed so far away. But here I am, finally managing grief with a grace I so envied from others who were ahead of me in their journeys. There is nothing that helped me get here more than time. I know others who have reached this point earlier in their journeys, and others who have taken much longer.
If you are newly bereaved, I can promise you it does get better. The pain will never go away, and that hole in your heart won’t either. But time is your friend. Be patient, and take each moment as it comes to you.