Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Not Connecting


It's already October.

The time period that Joshua spent alive is coming to a close…again.

October 6 is when my world changed forever.

It's a day that represents the loss of my ignorance. It's a day that thrust me into an unknown world of grief, disbelief, anger, mistrust, and questioning.

It's a day that I saw the ugly side of humanity.

It's been 4 years since I lost it all.

4 years….

A lot has changed since then. New home, another child, new jobs, new vehicles, relationships dissolving, relationships strengthening, a new church home, another loss. My life looks nothing like it did 4 years ago, and for that I am thankful.

But it's difficult to connect that old life to the new life.

My mind has forgotten the pain. It has forgotten the trauma. It has forgotten the details. It tricks me into believing that none of this happened. It allows me to step outside of my pain and think rationally again.

My mind has freed me from the grips of slavery that grief held over me.

But my heart has not.

I have such a difficult time connecting my head and my heart. How can a heart continue to hurt so badly, even after the details of the mind have become fuzzy? How can a heart hurt so deeply while the mind has freed itself from the pain?

How does my heart continue to feel so broken and empty while my mind tells me how full my life really is?

I just cannot connect the two any more. It's impossible to reconcile the two "lives" that my head and heart live.

This is a weird place for me. It's a place of deep healing, but also of deep pain. It's a place that leaves me clinging to God to find my strength just as much as when both my head and heart were in sync. It's a place that is allowing me to move forward, but at a snails pace. It's a place that allows me to both remember and forget. It's a place that leaves me feeling vulnerable, exhausted, free, and thankful.

Maybe someday, it will connect.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Birthday, Grief, Love, and His Presence

Yesterday was Joshua's birthday.

It's a day that we are supposed to look forward to and enjoy. It's a day that is supposed to be filled with family, cake, laughter and joy.

It's a day, that so many tell me, that I need to celebrate his life instead of mourn his death.

But how can I celebrate a life that isn't here? To sit around a birthday cake made for a son that is dead is one of the most depressing things on the face of the earth.

August 16th is a day that I dread every year. It's a day that all the memories come flooding back to me. It's a day that I remember how much hope I had for my son's life. It's a day that began the last 51 days of my son's life. It's a day of sadness, not because I didn't appreciate or value his life, but because it's a day that signifies his absence in our lives and in our family.

Over the past 3 weeks, I've done a great job of keeping busy. Two weeks of vacation, summer camp, and the beginning of school have kept my mind preoccupied. But I knew it it was coming. My heart knew that there was really no true way to avoid it.

Yesterday came. The day my son should have turned 4.

There were tears. Lots of tears. Tears from me. Tears from Shane. Tears from Caleb.

Oh, the tears from Caleb. Those are the most heart breaking tears of all. Have you ever watched your 8 year old son process what it means to be "celebrating" his dead brother's birthday? It's awful and heart wrenching. It leaves you crying out for Jesus to give you the strength to make it through; to give you the wisdom and grace to put aside your grief to comfort your grieving child. It's like a sick and horrible punch to the gut that leaves you breathless.

But amid the grief and the tears, there was a Still Small Voice whispering peace. God's goodness was shown again through the kind gestures and words of others. His provision poured forth through cards in the mail, a bouquet of flowers, a cake delivered to our door, kind words on my Facebook timeline, supportive texts to both me and Shane, friends who visited just to see how we were, a family member who came and provided company when loneliness threatened to consume, a card sent to our children reminding them that their brother is loved and remembered. God knew what our needs were and provided for every tiny little detail throughout the day.

My heart is still shattered from losing Joshua. It doesn't consume me daily like it used to. In fact, if I'm not blogging here, that is usually an indicator of having a good day. My bad grief days are few and far between. But when they come, they COME. It will likely always be that way, and it's ok. It's ok because it shows how much I love my son. My tears are my way of letting my love and fierce devotion to Joshua show. It's my way of letting my heart cry out to God, begging him for peace and assurance. It's through those tears that Jesus draws me closer to him and breathes healing into my broken heart.

Happy Birthday, Joshua. Your Mommy, Daddy, brothers and sister love you so much. We miss you, sweet boy.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Don't Forget The Daddies

It's no secret that, between Shane and I, I am the one that is more active on social media. Shane has never loved the internet. It wasn't until we got iPhones a year ago that he finally got his own email address.

He has never minded me using social media, or my blog, he just prefers not to use them himself.

Since he doesn't use social media, he doesn't have the contacts that I do. He's not as verbal (both written and spoken) about his life and his struggle with losing Joshua. I always have been.

It seems that every anniversary and birthday that comes, our friends have been very good about telling ME that they remember Joshua. They do a good job of passing on their sentiments and love, and for that I am grateful.

However, Shane is often times left in the dark.

I think that is probably true of most fathers who have lost a child. The daddies don't show as much emotion or aren't as verbal, and when they struggle, they struggle internally or to a few trusted friends. They don't blog about it (typically) or post on Facebook that they are feeling sad. They just don't.

But, they grieve. Oh, how those daddies grieve.

I have seen it for myself. In very quiet and personal moments, I've seen Shane wipe away a tear. I have witnessed him looking at the picture of him holding Joshua that hangs on our fridge, his eyes lingering a little longer than normal, often accompanied by a big sigh. Or, sometimes he gives one of our living children a hug that lasts just a little longer than usual, simply because he needs an outlet for his loss. Sometimes, out of the blue, he sits down next to me on the couch and puts his head on my lap and lets out a deep sigh. It's a sigh that, I have come to learn, is a sigh expressing his loss and his grief.

As each year comes and goes, my grief is usually more "public." People know when I am having a hard time and, graciously, those closest to me usually offer support, prayers, and encouragement. What they don't realize is that Shane is, often times, feeling the same and even though he doesn't express it, he needs the emotional support as well.

As we come closer to Joshua's birthday, or if you know a daddy that has lost a precious child, please don't forget them. Tell these men that you remember their child. Tell them that you are praying for them. Offer encouragement and support or just simply a listening ear.

These daddies struggle just as much as the mamas do. They just do it differently.
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