He would be 6 today. 6 years old. Saying Happy Birthday to a son who is not here year after year is harder to do than facing the day he died, year after year. I imagine, as does his big sister and his dad, what he would be doing…would he be too sick to play or would he be one of those heart kids who has all the energy and could play sports, even? Would he climb everything? Would he drive his sister(s) crazy? Would he have severe needs or would he be vibrant and healthy? Sometimes we just imagine. Imagining the what ifs doesn’t ever really make the why go away, ya know? Whether you’ve lost a child or not, we all ask God why, at some point.
Why him or her? Why now? Why not? Why me?
I asked many why questions from May of 2012 to February 2013. I still ask why questions occasionally. I have found that asking why tends to frustrate and make me hurt more than I want. So, I quit asking. Part of me went to this place of trust and leaning into the Father. Part of me went to “just don’t think about it/him at all” “move on” “get past it” “what’s done is done”. I’m not sure that was the healthiest approach. It “worked” though. I moved on with life, pretty quickly. I would have moments/days of pretty intense emotion and grief, but for the most part I just kept on with life.
I suppose my why currently, is, why did I think I had to push myself so hard after his death? Why did I think I had to be super Christian woman and get right back into life, ministry, and all the things? Why did I think becoming so busy I couldn’t think would actually be the answer?
No one told me otherwise. Either, they were too scared to or they knew I probably wasn’t going to listen, or they were just too nervous to talk to me about my loss because it’s so taboo. No one in my church told me to take some time and heal. No one in my direct network of people encouraged me to see a counselor. No one mentioned that it would take some time to walk through my anger, confusion, or hurt. It is quite possible, that I was in such a fog that I didn’t hear or didn’t listen to those who were. I had one lady send me a book that did help me walk through my “offense” at the Lord. What a gift. It was deeply rooted in scripture and extremely helpful in sorting out so many of my feelings and emotions. No one told me I would not feel welcome or at home in our house at the time. We ended up selling that home in 2014. It was a big step in my healing.
I am not calling out any one person or church or ministry that “failed” me. There were so many loving people who came alongside me and prayed for me. Many sent cards and sweet thoughts our way. I think though, that I put on such a “faith” face and hid behind the worship team, my family and what I was thankful for that I just neglected my soul and honestly, my brain in so many ways. I still suffer from some things that I know have come directly from not taking care of myself in the immediate throws of grief.
In my season of why, I really needed someone to help me get into a counselor, take some time to rest, and to be reminded to not feel guilty or like I was not a good enough Christian because I was taking time away. I wish I had been wiser, myself, in how I addressed my early months of grief. I feel as though each year, I do come through another layer that I buried myself under.
I don’t say this to get pity or for people to feel sorry for me in ANY way. I am also truly in a place of rest and healing when it comes to my son and his death. I don’t ask the why so much anymore, but not as a means to push away pain, but as a result of deep trust and faith in the Lord. It wasn’t that I was false/fake/lying as I updated/blogged my feelings and my thoughts on grief after his death. I wasn’t saying “churchy” things and not really working through what I was writing, but I was (and still am) SO HARD ON MYSELF.
My soft place to land has always been my Nicholas. He still is my place to fall when the heaviness of losing our boy gets me undone. I’m thankful for that. I also know that some people don’t have a place to land and so it tanks them. The heaviness of grief causes terrible habits, dark seasons and utter despair, even.
This last week has been rough. I mentioned in a different post regarding my Whole30 stuff this last week, that the whole week has been a struggle and that I didn’t succumb to my old habits of drive through sodas and easy dinners out. I pushed through and took care of myself, food wise. But,
I started pushing it down again.
See, Monday brought with it some stuff with my big girl. She is old enough now that I won’t share things on here so she has a place to grow and privately walk through school, friends, learning, growing etc without the world knowing. She can give me permission at some point, but for now, she just had a hard day. Second grade is a whole new experience educationally speaking, she is in a new school and there are a lot of life changes that have been new to us all. Monday I felt like a failure as a mom. We were beyond rushed to get to ballet, she had to wear her old leotard, her hair was a mess (usually, but really a mess this time), we had to change her into her stuff in the car, I was frustrated, she was rushed. I went back out to my car and just let it all out. That day was just hard. I realized that I was struggling so hard with her growing up. The growing pains of life are things that she needs to experience to grow, in many ways, especially her faith. So I pray and pray, encourage and support and do what I can do help guide her. I can’t keep her from growing.
Something I prided myself in, after Noah died, was that I had an appreciation for my kids that other people didn’t because theirs were alive and one of mine was not. Those parents had never struggled through the death of a child. So, I had an appreciation and a view that was unique. I could walk my girl into kindergarten without being a blubbering mother. I could be excited for all of her new milestones without being sad. Pride. It always comes before a fall.
and I fell Monday. I fell into a sadness about my Ava growing up that I had pushed down for years. I was embarrassed and called my best friend. We live 12 hours away and so sometimes we just send voice messages or video texts… I just messaged her so I could say words and I know they would land on a soft place, but also a place of truth. She messaged back exactly what I needed. Love, support, confirmation that I can feel certain emotions without being ungrateful or unaware of the grief of loss. I was reminded to take care of my soul and give my life space during the times that I need to.
Move along to Tuesday after school and I just had no patience, I was frustrated and sad and mad and every thing in between. I was very disrespectful to my people and ended up going to bed quietly and frustrated. See, my person, he is patient and doesn’t push me or stir up things. He just waits until I break, then he helps me pick up the carnage. I broke on Thursday morning. It finally all came up. I texted him… “I’m sad. I need to be sad. I want to be sad. I am struggling.” He simply replied back, “you can be sad.” The permission and acceptance given to me in that one sentence was peace giving. I didn’t immediately perk up. I had a rough day with lots of tears, but the peace was from the Lord and it was like a blanket. I can be sad and have faith. I was reminded of that not long after Noah was born, by my sister. It’s ok for things to not be ok right now. It is ok to have sadness, to lament, to not be ok. We let those things draw us nearer to the Father though, not push us away.
What is the why that is holding you captive?
If I may, I’m steering away from my own story, my own grief, my own struggles to just simply reach out a hand and ask…
are you ok?
Maybe you lost your mother or father? Maybe your husband died? Perhaps it has been decades since your loss, but you are realizing there are parts of you that have not truly healed or come to a peace and it haunts you. You struggle, you are uneasy and unsettled. There are things in your life that are not working and you can pinpoint it going back to years of grief, unattended.
Maybe we could quit asking why long enough to just let God comfort us. Maybe if we quit asking him so earnestly why, we would realize that letting the why go unanswered is the first step in letting our faith triumph over our fear.
Perhaps we could start to give ourselves space and grace to let our emotions be what they are, but not own who we are. Let’s get the help we need, be vulnerable enough to share the load with those around us, and really let ourselves heal.
So today I stop. I’m celebrating his life and being what I need to be; whether that is sad, thankful, grateful, lonely or frustrated. Here is the thing though…
If I let Him, God will meet me in my emotions, show me his love and grace and then walk me through them. We can’t stay there. We can linger in all of our feelings or we will get stuck.
Today, Nick and I took time to just be. We got the kids to school and to Grandma’s and then had the day to just do what we wanted to. I had planned to take off anyway and then Nick blessed me with taking off work as well. After the girls got to their places, we had a great (compliant) breakfast, went to our teacher conference with Ava’s teacher, then went to give blood. So, we got there and my iron was too low. Honestly, I was sad. I felt like I failed at the one thing I wanted to do on Noah’s birthday. I wanted to share what I could, that he got so much of, but I wasn’t able. Nick could though, so I waited on him and when we got to the car, he could tell I was upset about it. He said, “but I was able to and I was here” I knew what he meant. If I had been alone and couldn’t give, I would have been more sad. It’s true. He said, “we’ve always been a team”. Truth. So it was fine, he ended up making some joke and I laughed and as usual, he brings my heart back to the light. 🙂 We went to Roasters, then to Hobby Lobby and looked around for a long while. (he loves Hobby Lobby by the way, so I didn’t drag him) haha. We went to get Ava, then ran some errands and off to our normal Monday evening activities.
Today has been nice, slow and soul caring. I am thankful for many texts, messages and sweet thoughts. Thank you. Our community is strong, loving and so kind.
Happy 6th Birthday, Noah James. You are still so loved.