When The Grief Hits…
It’s 7:20 AM and I am about to drop my kids off at daycare. My daughter says “Mama, we can go to the chiropractor after school. I can go with you?” Then it hits me. A wave of emotion and grief. A wave of realization that my 3 year old just said the word chiropractor in a sentence – and a complete sentence at that. A wave of realization that Sawyer would be having even more in depth conversations on the way to drop him off at daycare because he would be 18 months older. The questions – would he be a mama’s boy? Would he like school as much as Rhory? What would be his favorite toy to play with? Somewhat like a never ending spiral of questions…
The thoughts flood in – I should have already had my van for three children. This should be our fourth living child. I should be setting up four car seats in preparation for our newest arrival. I should have stopped by to meet his PreK teacher on Curriculum Night at the kids daycare just like I did for the other two. I should, I should, I should…. but I don’t.
You see, it’s not the anniversary of death or birth, or the dates of specific doctors appointments that really get me – it’s the random moments where it hits me all at once of the things I am missing out on. When I realize how fast time is going and how much Rhory is learning and doing and saying. As my next oldest, she is the one I have to base it all on because I don’t really know anything older than her. These random waves of grief will continue on forever, hitting harder at some times and not so bad at others – but always leaving a sting.
I collected myself before going in to work, but as the day progressed I was made more aware of my sensitivity during the day. My growing belly is not something I can shy away from or hide, nor do I want to in any way. I am, though, a teacher who had a day packed of teacher conferences where I discussed my maternity leave with parents. Babies are exciting, as they should be, so of course they asked “Is this your first? How many other children do you have? Etc…” I am not one to ever say “two”. My answer is always , “This is baby number four. I have two living children and one that passed at 18 days old” (or some variation). Today, however, as the words left my lips I felt the sting more present than other days. Maybe because of what happened earlier in the morning, maybe just because it sucks to have to say it.
I have shared before but this story is one that sticks out in my brain as I am approaching Sawyer’s 5th birthday. Shortly after his death I joined a local support group. I was drowning in my grief and reaching at things to help me cope – some good, some bad. I needed the support of others who had experienced my pain, my loss, and come out on the other side where they smiled more than cried. I needed to see it to believe that it would eventually happen for me. Several months in to the group, we celebrated what should have our leaders son’s 5th birthday. As we talked about his life, and death, and the grief process, I saw her let go of her emotions. I remember leaving that night with a reality that, yes …. I will smile again. I will turn this loss in to something to help others and remember Sawyer in a positive way… but, that I will also be sad and missing him forever. No, not every day would I keep waking up drenched in tears, but there would be days.
If you are in the throws of grief, I want to offer you the hope that my support group leader, and other members, offered me. This grief process – it sucks, it doesn’t end, and sometimes it harder than others. Yet at almost four and half years out – I do smile more than I cry. When I was in that first year I, like you, felt guilty doing fun things and smiling and laughing. I was sure I would never be happy again, but I am. A large part of my heart and life is missing and it always will be, but I know that Sawyer wants to look down and see me happy, smiling, and creating memories with those around me. I truly do enjoy my life, but I also cannot wait until the day I am reunited with the precious boy I said goodbye to much too soon.