Grief and Loss

The Mark

It isn’t supposed to be like this, you know…

You, his mother, sitting alone in a cemetery filled with dead leaves blowing all around, wondering how you got here…

You, his mother, making the drive to a cemetery filled with age-old stones on a regular basis…

You, his mother,holding it together at the sight of every single little baby…

You, his mother, having to leave the room when a certain song comes on the radio because it was from your child’s funeral

You, his mother barely breathing through anxiety you never knew could exist so fiercely…

It isn’t supposed to be like this. 

It’s supposed to be beautiful. A beautiful kind of ordinary.

Ordinary…complete with the bottle warming and diaper changing “joy” that I, along with so many other ‘seasoned’ moms, miss now, but never ‘missed’ before.

I never realized how much I’d miss the mundane. The ordinary.

The getting up more hours at night than I slept, the pattern of rocking babies to sleep in my arms, the ‘seemingly’ endless pumping and nursing, the untangling what seems like thousands of little tiny arm sleeves and pant legs all tangled in the laundry basket. I never realized I’d miss lugging around a 30 pound car seat for a single digit pound baby. I never realized how unsettling and traumatizing it is to have this empty extra seat in my car… And no one to fill it.  It hurts to miss those slobbery mouthed kisses and gummy smiles. The amazement and awe (and even fear!) we can see in their eyes at their “firsts”.  The beauty in the ordinary- that’s what I miss.

Yes… All that ‘ordinary’ stuff… That’s what I miss.

It isn’t supposed to be like this. It isn’t supposed to be like this at all, let alone before I hit my third decade of life!

When you’re the momma to a baby you can’t hold, touch, smell, feel in your arms…it’s an impossible feeling. It’s a feeling a thousand words couldn’t begin to describe. It’s backwards and forwards and upside down all at once.

It’s supposed to be beautiful, this being a momma. Beautiful in your spit-up laden shirt and messy ponytail. Beautiful with your coffee in hand, bags under your eyes and a weak, but exhausted smile on your face. Beautiful you, carrying enough bags and car seats and strollers on your shoulders and in your arms that they could outweigh you on the scale. Beautiful, ordinary, messy you.

But thats not me. And its not you.

We have the messy ponytail and wrinkled shirts…but they come from simply carelessness about anything except for our little one now gone. We have the bags under our eyes, but not from being up at night with our little one, holding them, snuuggling them. Our bags come from nightmares of the “what if’s”. We carry loads that could break the scale…if only they were carried in our arms instead of our hearts. We  plaster on a smile in order to hide the tears that fall below the surface of our faces, or in the dark corners of our room.

The reality is that in our brokenness, our messy selves don’t look all that beautiful- at least to the one standing at the mirror.

It’s like your this leaf, this beautiful leaf, created by God uniquely and for His glory…and then this happens and you look in the mirror and it’s like you’ve got this big black, ugly mark smeared all over you. A mark that clothes or makeup or jewelry fail to touch. A mark that overtakes you. It embodies you,and you, it.

You look in the mirror, and what you see feels unfamiliar. Strange. You don’t know who it is you’re looking at, because that reflection looks so very different from what you know you to be. It feels odd, uncomfortable, incredibly scary. It feels cold and incomprehensible. It feels lonely, and painful. So, so painful.

It isn’t supposed to be like this. 

But it is.

Why? How? For what? … Questions do not change that your life is no longer the “ordinary” you dreamed it would be. Really, until now, you never realized that you ever would wish for that “ordinary” back.

My old “ordinary” died with my son.

Maybe that’s harsh. Maybe it’s ‘too real’. That’s OK. Even to me, It feels cruel and insensitive even to write the words, let alone say it aloud that way.

But I think there is value in learning to deal with difficult words like those. Those sentences that include the words “my son” and “died” in the same sentence.

Honestly, I want to run away from those words. They are ugly. Harsh. Painful.  I don’t want them. I son’t like them. Nope, not at all!

Maybe I don’t like having to mother a child I can no longer hold in my arms, or smell his hair after bath time, or watch his eyelids flutter as he dreams at night, or wipe his messy face off. Maybe I don’t like it.

But I must learn to live with this loss. I must learn to live in this mess…and find beauty in it.

I’m still learning. I don’t have all the answers. But I’m seeking. I’m trying to figure out how to let go of the ordinary I know and learn how to find a new ordinary. I’m trying to appreciate the ‘ordinary’ I have now… Because if this experience has taught me one thing it is that you just never know when it will all change, and how much. I’m trying to trust and have faith. I fail some days. I fail many moments. I’m trying to be brave and to grow. I’m trying to do “the hard”.

And it all hurts so very much.

It isn’t supposed to be like this.

I know, dear mama. You’re right. It isn’t. This wasn’t your plan… or mine.

But this is the cross we bear… this is our struggle. The mother of a child who does not sleep in a bassinet in our home. A Mother who feels marked and broken. A Mother who questions the “what’s “and “whys” many more times than we ought to. Mother who never realized how great that old “ordinary” really was.

I never realized how much I’d miss it all. And it breaks me to know that it will never return… At least on this earth.

It isn’t how it should be, I know…

So dearest momma… just try. Try one thing or a thousand things. Try your best, and even when your “best” looks like a failure to bystanders beside you, I want you to know that your best is enough. Keep going.

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