The pain of losing my son is so hard to describe. The best way I can describe it is “tangible”. I know it doesn’t make sense, because a memory is intangible, but the loss of Leo, the night he died, and the days following his death are all things that I can actually feel. If I stop trying not to, I can remember the panic, the shock, the unnatural disorder of watching my son die. I can hear myself whispering his name “Leo, Leo, Leo…oh my God, Leo”. I can feel my hands faithfully compressing his chest, 1, 2, 3…29, 30. I can taste his blood on my lips and hear the bubbling of the fluid in his chest. I hold tightly to the sound of him sighing twice and turning purple just as EMT’s stomped into my bedroom. I knew right then that his spirit left his little body, but my heart couldn’t accept it yet. I remember how cold the room was…55 degrees, the thermostat said. I was wearing pajama shorts and a thin t-shirt. I can still recall the feeling of my head and my heart separating into two independent entities when my heart broke. I remember watching and listening with hopeful eyes and ears as Leo was whisked out of my house into the ambulance…and I remember feeling like a prisoner in my own home.
When I let my guard down, those memories flood my senses the way the ocean floods the shores; unrelenting. There are moments, thankfully, blessedly, short moments, when I cannot breathe because I can feel the loss of my son, all of these tangible memories, all at once. I immediately tell them to stop, because if they don’t…I don’t know how I can live. It’s like i’m slogging through mud every day. Living takes a lot of effort. I pray that I don’t have those moments in front of people, because invariably, I hear about how they know the feeling of depression. I’m not depressed though. A part of me, a very real, tangible, physical part of me died and I’m learning to live without it. Imagine trying to live without skin…you’d be moody, sensitive, and make lots of mistakes. That’s how bereaved parents feel. Sadly, some are also plagued by depression, which complicates things even more. But the truth is, we aren’t trying to learn how to walk with one leg, we are trying to live without a piece of our heart, a piece of us that captivated, motivated, and enveloped every single cell in our bodies today and for our entire forseeable futures. We are struggling to let go of old dreams, we are making space in our lives for our little patches of grass in cemeteries, or our little urns filled with what is left of our children, we are building new dreams out of the shattered pieces of what is left of our lives. We are broken, but not beyond repair. We need our friends and families to forgive us for being unfair, sensitive, unable to deal with criticism or awkwardness, for lashing out, for pushing them away or for asking for too much, because every day that we wake up, we are doing our very best to just breathe, to smile, to deal with this incredibly heavy loss that colors our every move and thought. Even after 9 months, we are still at the beginning of our grief work. We’ll get better at it, we promise. But the very memory of our child, which is the most beautiful gift ever given to us, even if only for 26 days, is also the most tangible pain we could ever allow ourselves to feel.
I firmly believe that Jesus heals. I know this because we have experienced it already in these incredibly meaningful ways. I’ll post on that soon…but i’m not ready just yet. What I can say is that I no longer wake up 5-7 times per night thinking that our daughters have died in their sleep. It still happens, but it’s only been about once every few days now.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, trying to not feel this pain is exhausting, and in my weak moments, when I cannot hold it together any longer, please just forgive me. I have to forgive myself for those moments too and I have to find the energy to forgive others for those moments.