It’s 9:45 am and I am having a lazy morning laying in bed next to my husband and son.
And I am reflecting on another morning, long ago, that was very much the same.
10-years ago, at exactly the same time, I was also lazing about in bed with my husband and had one of our boys in bed with us. Only that son was not a huge 14-year-old who takes up most of the room and hogs my blanket.
The son laying next to me in 2003 was my 3-month-old baby, Matthew.
And that it would be the last morning of ‘normal’ I would ever know as a mother.
Everything changed forever that day.
I am not one to compare pain, but for ME, it was particularly horrible to lose an infant.
My babies have always been pretty darn hard to actually GET here.
But once they are born, I am never better as a person than when I am mothering a baby.
Jonathan and I are never a better team than when we have a baby.
Jonathan loved him so much.
We ALL loved him so much.
Only an enormous love of that kind could cause such enormous pain after its loss.
The pain of losing a child is never adequately explained in words.
Some images come close to giving a clue to the sorrow, but even they cannot touch the reality of what you go through.
While you can physically bury the body of your child and go sit around as a family in a church gymnasium and eat funeral potatoes and Jello salad, you cannot bury your pain and walk away from it.
That pain and loss follows you.
No one could know or comprehend the chain of events this one event set in motion. It created damage a fallout and situations the ripples of which may likely never stop and the exact magnitude of their reach will probably never actually be known.
There were many times I thought the intense pain and grief would never (and indeed, should never) end or even gentle. Like many others suffering loss of a loved one, I felt like if I didn’t hurt and let go of pain, it would mean I didn’t love Matthew. That it *should* hurt every day because he wasn’t with us every day.
I didn’t know for certain where he was, IF he was, or why this happened.
I spent many years in a chaotic cyclone of loss, confusion, acting and lashing out and making hideous life choices just to feel better moment to moment.
I had no solid belief system to anchor to.
I, and likely others, didn’t know if the fallout would ever end or even get better.
It hurt us all.
Bit by bit, step by step, it has gotten better over the years.
Having my sweet little Butterlump 4-years ago helped me enormously and brought a particular kind joy and peace I thought had vanished forever from my life.
That little pat of butter brought joy to us all.
And I started to heal.
I started moving away from the dark and started moving towards the light.
Besides having Butterlump, there were so many other integral parts to this process.
My family never left me.
Jonathan never stopped loving and supporting me. (He is an utter saint. Enough said.)
Though it fluxed and changed in number, faces and amounts over the years, I have always had a support network of loving people.
I had friends that went through an enormous amount of hell with me. Some of those friendships simply couldn’t survive the process. I wish I had been able to be the friend to them they deserved but I will ALWAYS be so grateful for all they did for me.
I was able to write about my feelings (repeatedly) on this blog and put all that energy into something productive.
I met others who had walked through similar fires and loss.
I very slowly and very gradually stopped hating on God and starting learning about Him.
While I will always feel that the very best place a child can possibly be is with his or her loving family, I believe my son still exists. I believe he is with a heavenly father that loves him even more than I can understand and that while all of us here suffered great sorrow at his loss, he is in a place of love, joy and unending purpose.
And in truth, there have been huge blessings and life lessons that have come from this experience. I found much comfort and peace in the knowledge that many blessings can come…even with something as horrible as the loss of a child.
While we do not talk as often about Matthew as other families who have lost children, we have been teaching and explaining to Aaron about his ‘big baby brother’ and we keep him with us. We have his special ornament hanging on our tree every year. We mark his birthday by doing something fun as a family.
And by what would have been his 10th birthday this year, I realized I had finally come to utter terms with the loss of my son.
I will always wish he were here, but I accept it.
Each year I wonder how this day will feel.
I wondered if anything would be different this year.
The big build up of dread and intensity of hurt is not here, but…I think this will always be a bittersweet day.
However, while I will likely always shed some tears on days and moments that are tied to my son, the grief at his loss seems to keep diminishing while my love and gratitude for getting to have him at all grows.
I have mourned many times over the years at how brief Matthew’s time here was.
However, I truly believe that all life matters.
All life can have an impact, even the briefest ones.
And Matthew’s life and impact on others has been huge.
The love our family has for him is eternal.
And through that love, much good has come.
Love can heal all things.
And I love my sweet baby boy.
I love all my boys.
They will be great men.
I believe Matthew already is.