As soon as those long summer days start to drift away, turning themselves in for brisk autumn mornings, I always think of you, my sweet boy.
It’s that change of seasons that, for so many others, brings a sense of awe and wonder – the thrill of entering the holiday season. But for me, those days remind me of nothing but you.
And now that a few years have passed, I can’t help but think of the women that are just at the beginning of their loss journey in this season.
The women who have to muster somehow up enough courage to attend the never-ending parade of family gatherings.
The women who have to sit quietly and physically hold themselves upright while they watch other people’s children open gifts, then burst into tears as soon as they turn to leave the room.
The women who are tired of explaining why they “just can’t make it” to dinner.
So it is to you, my fellow grieving mothers that I write this:
Time passes, and healing comes, but the two are not connected.
There is life after loss, but don’t worry, you never have to give up your memories. They are yours to hold and keep, to treasure forever-more.
Let the bad memories go when you can, but hold on to the ones so dear. Remember their smell, remember those oddly placed freckles, the feeling of holding their hand, or the feeling of their life inside of you.
And as you struggle asking yourself, “Will it ever change? Will it ever get better?” – know that it will.
Remember also, that “better” will come to have its own definition for you, so different from everyone else’s.
For me, “better” meant at first that I could finish one load of laundry by myself in a week.
Then time went by, and “better” meant that I could begin to tell my friends how very much I was hurting.
More time went, and “better” meant that I hadn’t cried in a week.
Then a month, then a couple. Later “better” became the fact that I could cry again, a healthy and joyous cry as I recounted my memories of my son with my husband.
“Better” again morphed and changed, and it meant that I finally worked up the courage to go to a baby shower after declining so many.
Then it meant I could look at my friends’ children born at the same time as my son with true love in my heart instead of the seething envy and pain it had brought me before.
And now, today, three Christmas seasons later, “better” means I proudly hang his stocking in my house. I proudly boast the few pictures I have throughout our home.
It now means that when people ask me if my precious daughter, my rainbow baby, is my first – I can finally answer with honesty and without bitterness.
I’ve finally come to the place of accepting that this is my lot in life, and in that acceptance, has come such peace to my soul.
For I know that this is not the end, but the beginning of a journey, leading me upward and onward, until one day I see him again.
But mama, I can’t lie to you. “Better” will never mean forgetting.
“Better” will never suggest any more wondering what that sweet babe of yours would be like today.
“Better” cannot be a catch-all to say we’ve packed up and moved on.
“Better” will not mean you have a holiday that you don’t think of your child.
But I think I can safely say I speak for many moms that I wouldn’t want it to be that way.
Know this, you, your sweet child, your loss, your struggle, your despair in this season are not seen only privately by you or your household, but are thought of by me – a mom friend you’ve yet to meet, but oh, so wishes I could be there to hold your hand during it all.