Monday, July 16, 2018

What I Wish You Knew

Four years later…

I wish you knew that it does not help to say “It will get easier.”  You may think that's true but regardless of whether or not it gets easier this kind of statement negates the overwhelming and absolutely exhausting feelings someone may be having that is grieving.  It puts unrealistic and unnecessary stipulations on the timeframe that surrounds someone’s grief.  I can only speak from my own experience but the pain and the heartache does not get easier in my opinion.  It is only your ability to cope with the pain and your ability to process the trauma that changes or possibly “gets easier.”    

I wish you knew that it was not God’s plan.  I do in fact believe that God makes all things work for good as it tells us in Romans 8:28 but I do not believe when God first created our universe and our world that this was His plan.  I refuse to believe that God planned for people to suffer and struggle only to then finally die.  He wanted perfection and He created perfection.  The moment sin entered the world, perfect was no longer possible (until Jesus came and died on the cross) and that is why we see pain and suffering in our world and we will until we go to Heaven.  It is not because God wants it that way.  

I wish you knew that grief attacks a griever in the least likely of places and during the most random times.  There are still moments in my normal daily life that cause me to lose my footing.  It doesn’t have to be Charlie’s birthday for me to feel sad.  I slip back into feelings that make it hard to keep a smile on my face many times that may make no sense to anyone else.  I can put on a mask just like a lot of other people can but it’s the close friends that can see through my mask to my hurt and my broken heart.  Help your person take off the mask even if it’s just in front of you to allow them to continue to heal.  Talking and “unloading” the heavy burdens on our hearts help us all heal. Don’t let your people walk through those grief attacks alone.    

Whether we are four years past the trauma or just days or weeks into this journey I wish you knew it never helps to hear that “you know how it feels.”  I am a strong advocate for empathy and sitting with someone in their mourning booth but to be there for someone does not mean that you need to share an experience that you feel is the same.  The relationships and intricacies of each of our relationships with the ones we lose are all very different.  There may be similarities and I do not think it is a bad idea to share when it is appropriate but making it about you makes a grieving person feel lonely.  We know no one can fully understand and when no one listens to our hurt it makes it that much more apparent that we are alone in our feelings.  Be a good listener.       

I wish you knew that I still love hearing his name and I always will. It’s similar to you in that you enjoy talking about your child or family members whom you are close to.  I will never tire of hearing his name or having someone ask me about him.  Even four years later, I wish you still asked about him.  Your questions may change.  You know his story now, but bringing him up and bringing up the grief I now have, as I mourn things that will never be, is powerful for someone in my shoes.  A griever often worries about your feelings and how a conversation about our dead loved ones may make you uncomfortable. However, when you bring them up we get to feel joy that someone remembers them, wants to talk about them, and also has kept him or her close to their heart as well.  The burden is no longer on us.  

I have good people in my life that have learned with me and walked by my side as I navigated four years without Charlie.  None of us knew what to do or how to go about the rest of our lives without him.  I do not take my people and our relationships for granted.  This post isnt about them, it is for those of you that may be learning how to walk through the cloud of grief with your own friend.  It is to help you know what helps and what hurts.  I have met and been introduced to many new people that are in a more vulnerable place in their grief journey than I currently am and I think sharing the things I have learned along the way may just help them (and you) experience a small sliver of peace in a difficult space.  Let Charlie, his story, our story, and what I have learned through this journey be life giving for you and the people you love that are facing a deep and dark valley in their own life.   


Monday, July 9, 2018

Borrowed Time

The days following Charlie's birthday each year remind me of the borrowed time we spent with him from the day he was born until the day he died.  It was only 17 days and for about 7 of those days you never would have known anything was wrong.  Once those magical 7 days ended the vision of our family of five was forever changed.  What I would do to get those days back.  

Friday, June 29, 2018

Happy 4th Birthday Eve

On Charlie's birthday I always think about his age.  I always recognize the fact that he would be a year older but I can't seem to picture him as anything but a baby.  "Forever 17 days old," they say.  He never really grew up in my mind as we continued to live through his birthday each year, but this year for some reason the weight of his impending fourth birthday is making me flash forward to what could have been; to what should have been.  He would have grown up.  He would have been four tomorrow.

I have daydreamed all the things he would have loved and I think I am spot on, if I do say so myself.

He would be begging to go to the pool and he would want to keep up with his brother and sister from the moment they threw their towels on the chairs.  His skin would be a light brown color just like Johnny and his blonde hair would stick out like a sore thumb.  He would be wearing all of his brother's hand me down swim trunks and loving the idea that he could be just like him.  His sister would try and be a little mom to him.  She would be bossy, but loving and always want to help him with his sunscreen.

Baseball for him would actually be T-Ball.  He would have his white baseball pants, a blue jersey, and a baseball glove because his brother says he needs one.  He would get his pants dirty when he falls into home plate and when he grabs the ball with his uncovered left hand.  He would smile at me so proud of his stains and I would of course smile back happy to make them white again once we got home.  His brother and sister would cheer so loudly.  They would make him signs and share in his love of the game.

His room would be just down the hall.  I think he may have had more grey and green rather than our typical navy blue boy room.  I'm sure however, he would love the all boy toys like trains, cars, legos, and sports of all kinds.  But I also think he would enjoy spending time with his sister.  She would help him with crafts, read him books, and teach him how to take care of her babies.  His compassion would be evident as he grew up with two very different but loving siblings.

He would be a good sleeper.  However, every once in awhile he would wake up and want to snuggle with his momma.  He would sneak down the hall and crawl into bed with me.  I would smell him and rub his eyes and arms as he fell back asleep next to me.  His body would be like a heavy weight next to me but I would be able to feel him breathing.  His chest would rise and fall and he would stay in this spot for the rest of the night into the early morning.

I think of all the things I long to see it is just that.  I long to see his chest rise and fall.  I want him to crawl into bed with me on his fourth birthday eve and snuggle.

My prayer tonight is that I have a dream.  A dream with just one of these sweet moments with my Charlie, a moment I can sit in soak up.  I want to see him and watch his four year old self smile.

Happy birthday eve Charlie boy.  You are loved and missed and never forgotten.          
Images by Freepik