It has been a year since the horrible day we learned that our growing baby, whose perfect heartbeat we had heard only a month before, had died in my womb.
One year passes so quickly and so slowly, bringing with it changes and sorrows and joys. I am not the same person I was a year ago. Grieving changes you. It teaches you things.
Grief has taught me to be thankful for every little moment with my children, including the new little person growing within me right now.
Grief has taught me to trust more in the God who can see the pattern and the plan even when all I can see is my life crashing around me.
I have learned that there are millions of women out there who have experienced this loss– and losses far greater than my own. I have become friends with women who have held their child in their arms for a few moments, and watched them die. I have met mothers who have lost baby after baby, and who still have the hope to keep trying, in spite of their grief. I have looked at these women and marveled at their strength.
I have struggled with the temptation of jealousy and anger against women who brought their children unharmed into the world last summer. I like to think I have won that battle, that the sight of a six-month-old little boy doesn’t fill me with those hurtful feelings anymore. Now it is a twinge of sadness that I feel, a bit of loss, a reminder of the “should-have-beens.”
I have learned that life goes on, even as we carry our grief inside. My home, overflowing as it is with toys and drawings and laundry and evidence of two little boys, is full of life, life that for all its flaws and failings must continue. And somehow, through a Savior who loves me, through a husband who supports me, through children who accept me and adore me in spite of myself, I find myself able to live a good life, in spite of my grief. I find myself able to remember without dwelling on the hurt and injustice and pain.
I did not choose to become a part of this sisterhood– this group of women who know the grief of losing a child. If the choice were given to me now, I would take my son, make no mistake. But I am thankful for the friendships I have made because of my loss. I am thankful for the lessons I have learned with grief as my teacher.
Each of us must walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Some walk through it with their parents, their spouses, their friends, their siblings. Some walk it early in life; some walk it later. But we all find our way to that Valley eventually. I walked it last winter, and I learned the truth of God’s promise.
Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death,
I will fear no evil, for You are with me.
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
No evil can befall me, with my Shepherd walking beside me. And although I don’t understand, I believe that His plans and purposes, even in the death of my son, are for my good. I believe because I have seen how He has taught me and used this tragedy in my life.
My lost boy is always in my heart. It would be easy to sit down and remember and never go forward again. Grief can do that to you. But it can also teach you, teach you to love more deeply, to be more thankful, to cherish what you have been given each and every day.
My son is not behind me, a part of my past. He is before me– a part of my future, waiting in heaven for the day when I arrive there.
And so we press on.