Last night Butterlump starting singing a new song that Jonathan taught him during the ride home. Butterlump adores singing (wonder where he got that from) and he couldn’t wait to give me a little concert. His face broke into a huge smile and his little voice took off.
“If you like to talk to tomatoes, if a squash can make you smile…”
And my heart smiled.
For those of you not in the know, this is the theme song from Veggie Tales.
And if you know me or knew me while my son, Matthew was alive, you would know that besides the color orange and lady bugs, there is no other thing in the world that I associate more with him than Veggie Tales. During the short time that Matthew was with us, our family was church going. I have stated that I have never been really ‘religious’ or even spiritual, but we did go to church and we did pray over meals. (That’s about it.) However, for some reason when Matthew was alive, I got very attached to the children’s series Veggie Tales. Basically, it stars Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber and a supporting cast of vegetables and they have a really great way of explaining moral situations and biblical stories to kids but are also hilarious to (some) adults. If you aren’t familiar with them you may go, “Uhh….?”
In fact, one of my very good friends was working at a retail store while Matthew was alive and I was on my Veggie Tales kick I got a phone call one day.
“They stuck me working in the children’s section today and a display fell down and I had to pick up a bunch of soft toys. You’re a mom that has kids…can you tell me why the heck there is a tomato telling me that God loves me???!”
Even though Matthew was only in the very first months of his life, we almost constantly had Veggie Tales playing on the TV as we went about our day. After he died it all became extremely painful to me. Orange and lady bugs remained OK, Veggie Tales absolutely did not.
So, my little 4-year-old pat of butter suddenly singing the main theme to the series I have painfully avoided like the plague for 10-years made me pause and realize something.
Even a year ago, this moment would have been quite difficult and bittersweet for me. With every baby of mine I tend to have one or two things that belong just to them. One of these things is that each of them have had their own lullaby. And this is not a lullaby I would sing occasionally but almost continually to my sweet babies. Matthew’s song was (of course) from Veggie Tales and given how his story turned out, it is startling in its meaning. I actually sang it at his funeral. (I know that it seems odd that a mother would do this. I hadn’t intended to, and trust me…it was not any kind of musical moment but I knew I wanted it sung and it absolutely had to be sung by me as his mother.)
Think of me everyday
Hold tight to what I say
And I’ll be close to you
Even from far away
Know that where ever you are
It is never too far
If you think of me,
I’ll be with you
The saying “There is nothing worse a parent can go through than losing a child” is true.
Cliches exist for a reason.
Now, I could argue definitely against this in many ways. For example, I have loved and held the hand of mothers who have children who are molesters, addicts, thieves, abusers and have seen the fallout of a child whose parent is a murderer.
All of those things I would not wish on anyone.
And in some ways I know for certain that many mothers would honestly rather see their child dead than see the mistakes they have made that have devastated so many people. The compassion and empathy that I have for all of these things is palpable and I am not about to compare apples to oranges with that kind of pain vs. any other kind of pain.
I think that why this saying rings true is that there is simply nothing more precious to (most) parents than their kids.
And the death of a child is so final.
I did not deal well with the death of my baby.
When I say this, most people jump in and say, ‘Well who would deal with it well?!”
And I am here to say that I have probably heard and known more bereaved parents than most people and yup… I did not deal with it well.
Bitterness, rage, hatred, checking into a psych ward to try to deal with it, a suicide attempt and more fallout then I even want to go into further. So many people were hurt. Myself, the most of all. I tried my best to not take it out on anyone here but aim most of my wrath and bitterness towards God, who I held responsible for taking him in the first place. Like I was fond of writing here, “God and I are in a really big fight right now.”
That fight lasted for a long time.
Then about the last year or so, I started to turn a corner.
We celebrated what would have been Matthew’s 10th birthday on June 7th.
And I realized that I was at peace with his death.
I had thought that his loss and every anniversary would be gut wrenching forever. For the longest time I also felt that it should be gut wrenching and painful forever. Because if it didn’t, somehow I loved him or valued him less. His loss should be mourned painfully forever because his absence should be, and was, painful.
But I have learned the lesson that hanging onto pain is nothing but painful. Letting go of the pain and allowing the loving feeling and memory to comfort you is a much better option.
It was a difficult and long lesson to learn.
Our entire lives are created to be individual lessons. Each of us learn at a different pace, differently and each of us need to learn something differently than the person standing to your left or right.
I have learned a whole lot in my life.
For example, I have learned just how much I am loved and cared about just in the last month. Even *most* who know of me who are completely turned off by much of what I say, how I act or think somehow at least respect all I have been through.
I have learned that I should take the caps key off my computer, put it on my grill, douse it with gasoline and light it on fire.
I have learned that I scare people unintentionally.
I have learned that I write because it helps me understand things. Recently, I have had a lot of things that I have desperately been trying to understand and so I have written a whole lot at you all and some of it has caused true concern, and for that I am sorry. I don’t blame you at all for the concern and worry. A great example is this one. I have often looked at Lindsay Lohan or Amanda Bynes and how their lives are publicly and painfully unraveling. Yet, they keep insisting they are OK and fine. And I think to myself, ‘Honey…how in the world can you think you are fine right now?”. So, I totally understand the concern. However, in the cases of the Brittney Spears of life, everyone in their life (aside from enabling leeches) have been totally concerned, have tried to intervene and have stated their worry and pain.
Every single person in my life that is here watching me, talking to me, asking me questions, seeing my actions, the sheer change about me and how I am baring up under all the things being thrown at me, probably for the first time ever, think I am now going to be OK and more than fine. (And yes, there are many non-religious people and doctors and mental health professionals and even gas station managers in my life that can back this up.)
Is there a lot to be worried and concerned about? Yes. I need to think through some things much better than I have.
Also…my history has not exactly been a bastion of consistency, ya know? ;)
(Sorry, I may (try very hard to) burn my caps key but the emoticons live on. That is a lesson I’m just not willing to take on right now. :D)
And I have also learned that there is absolutely nothing besides time that will prove to you, my loved ones, and most importantly to myself that this inner peace, strength, and just…being OK will continue and develop into the spiritual and emotional maturity I so hope it will.
I believe many people have powerful experiences (they may not talk about them like I have, but I know they are happening) and many people who have those experiences buckle under the weight of them. There is worry not just about if I am someone who can ‘stay the course’, so to speak but there is also concern that I am being hit with a lot of responsibility and frankly…a lot of loss right now.
I have been blogging for a long time. I’ve worked hard at it and I made many friends and had at least a level of respect with several people I admired. When you have worked as long as I have and have had the life long craving I have for acceptance and camaraderie and also knowing that you very well may have lost all that by putting out a powerful, yet dramalama and honest-yet-theatrical experience is heartbreaking.
Many tears have been shed by me about this.
Despite all the tears, pain, humiliation, embarrassment, I don’t regret any of it.
How can I?
There were so many things that came out of that transforming and powerful experience that even during my greatest moments of bewilderment, self-doubt and pain, I could not doubt what had occurred. (I won’t bore you with the very long list of things that have occurred that have nothing to do with anything remotely religious or spiritual right now.)
But I will share with you the greatest one.
I have spoken or communicated with an (unfortunately) vast number of bereaved parents over the years. And to my recollection, I can’t recall anyone, even those that are not religious, that hasn’t at some point said that they felt their child was with them or that they were comforted by the presence of their child, etc.
Not once in 10-years.
I don’t know if I can express how horrible and inadequate this made me feel.
I tried so hard to be comforted about where he was, if he still existed or just to have a tiny moment where I knew he was around somewhere.
It never happened.
I felt so inadequate at times during conversations with other bereaved mothers who were talking about ‘knowing their child was with them’ that I considered lying that I had felt him at some point. (I never did that. Not even once.)
And I was so bitter. Like I said, the fallout from the last several years has been painful and vast.
But, at his last anniversary, I realized that the pain had gentled.
And by this June, when I was telling someone that his 10th-birthday was the previous day and they asked me how I was doing, I could look them in the eye and honestly say that I was OK. I had turned a corner about it. I would always be sad, always wish he could have stayed but that I accepted it.
However, it was much like my relationship with my twin sister. I got to the point where I was OK with her, I wished her well and no harm but that was it. Now? My understanding, compassion, empathy and just how I see her is night and day different. I fiercely love her to pieces. There is a difference.
And that is where I was with the death of my son and my lack of personal knowledge or comfort.
I was at peace but then I was given much more during my week-long experience.
And by far the greatest single moment was knowing my son was with me.
It was not an auditory or visual hallucination.
I just had the words, “Mom…I’m here.” impressed on my mind stronger than most things have.
But it wasn’t just that…It was like I could feel all the love and care I had for him when he was alive and in my arms, filling up the space around me.
I don’t have words for how I felt or how many tears of gratitude and relief I felt after so long and so much pain.
As I sat there, there was another strong feeling that surprised me very much.
Pride that he was our son and that Jonathan and I were his parents.
Which shocked me.
I wondered how on earth he could be proud of me. During everything I had been through, one of my greatest shames was that if he did exist still somehow, he might be witnessing all that was happening and feel shame that he came to me as a mother.
And I had a very gentle, sweet, peaceful moment. When Matthew was alive he had a red birthmark in the center of his forehead by the bridge of his nose. My father commented once that if it didn’t go away, we should consider removing it.
I loved my baby exactly as he was. He was perfect. And so, I took to habitually giving him multiple kisses, right on the bridge of his nose, right on that birthmark because I loved every square inch of him exactly as he was.
And when I sat there, wondering how on earth my brave, wonderful little son could be proud of someone like me as his mother, that image of me kissing his nose, came strongly to my mind and it was the strongest feeling of love, pride, acceptance and honor that he got to spend even the smallest amount of time with my family on this earth.
When I bend, buckle, sob and crumble with embarrassment or shame or the pain of knowing how many people have read what I have written and how many caps and theatrics were thrown in because I didn’t know how else to express what was going on or that some of the bloggity people or other peers of mine that I have wanted respect from the very most in my life may now very well pity or ignore me, I remember that moment.
My little son is OK.
And that is worth everything to me.
I don’t blog for money (or traffic) any longer. Nothing wrong with blogging professionally at all it’s just that doing this professionally is not working for my life for the time being. (My ads are disabled but I adore BlogHer so, I will continue to have the space there in support of the ad network for as long as I see fit) That said…I will always try to spread any kind of word my humble little space can reach regarding kids who need help. And I hope that you can do just that.
Parker Hodson is an eight year old medically fragile little boy with Down syndrome living in the Utah County area. Despite a trach, the need for oxygen 24/7, a g-tube and an extra chromosome, Parker has been blessed with GREAT potential and a family that adores him. On July 27th there will be a yard sale held to help Parker achieve his potential and cover the costs of therapies not paid by insurance. We are looking for the donation of items from your Spring/Summer cleaning that while no longer of use to you, might be just the treasure someone else has been searching for. You can read more about Parker and his yard sale at:http://www.prayingforparker.com/yard-sale-fundraiser/