“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity...” (Melody Beattie)
Well, my sweet love, it only took 7 months and 13 Days, but I finally completed all of your thank you cards. I could act like time was the only issue in play, but writing these cards was a major emotional ordeal.
I tried in the summer, and that was a terrible idea. With so much anger flowing through me, writing one or two cards was exhausting and draining. It would immediately plummet me into the depths of my despair, and I would have to stop. I was so thankful for everything everyone did, but I would have much preferred not having to write them at all, because that would mean you were in my arms.
As time has gone on, the task has loomed over my head. Guilt began to settle in to me, as I realized I really needed to write them. However, I could never get myself into the appropriate mental state...that was until last Friday.
It had to have been you. I woke up with an intense need to accomplish the task. Not much else seemed to matter that day, and I spent hours sitting on the sofa with the fireplace lit, while instrumental Christmas music played in the background, and I wrote note after note after note. And you know what? It felt so good.
I didn’t feel angry, or bitter, or even sad while I wrote them. I felt so thankful as I recalled all that had been done for our family in your honor after we lost you. And it didn’t feel lonely or isolating. It actually felt like the two of us had spent the whole day together, and that was incredibly beautiful to me. It was an unexpected gift. A surprise. And I was so grateful and proud to have carried you and birthed you so other people could have the chance to outwardly express their love for you, too.
The event spilled over sporadically through the weekend and was finally completed yesterday. I placed 107 thank you cards in the mail today. I was amazed to see how many lives you have touched (and continue to impact). And that wasn’t even the half of them. So many people donated funds for your funeral and burial, and we were able to thank them immediately. Your Daddy and I were so unbelievably humbled by the meals, gifts, cards, visits, financial assistance, and vacation funds we received. We could never repay all of the people who loved us in our darkest hour and allowed us to see the Body or Christ at work and so actively in our lives.
While I was in labor for you, I was told that your vocation is LOVE. My beloved, I also believe that your vocation is to stir others to love more deeply, more simply, more greatly, and without cost. To love without reserve or condition. To reach out to the broken-hearted and hurting. To love people where they are and just sit with them in their mess. Their brokenness. Their hurt. Your love is moving mountains. Your love is moving me. Your love is changing me. Your love is teaching me to receive love. To allow myself to be loved.
I’m not afraid to jump. I’m not afraid to fall. I’m not afraid to fail. I’m not afraid of change. Losing you has taught me that I’m not in control anyway. Losing you has taught me that there is no greater risk, than the risk of not choosing to love, because of fear. My love for you is allowing me to love your little brother fiercely. I cannot stop thinking about him. How is that possible?
In fact, as I write this, he is begging me to just stop and be with him. To enjoy his kicks and movements like I did on our last night together. He’s reminding me that he’s here, too. He’s here because your Daddy and I love you so much that we needed that love to continue this side of heaven.
LOVE. My beloved, it is intense.
This afternoon your littlest big sister, who simply adores you (I’m certain you have picked up on that), took out your Memory Box while a friend was over visiting. She was such a proud sister. She went through all of your items...the cap you wore in the hospital, your handprints and footprints, the blanket you were wrapped in, the lock of your hair we were allowed to keep (which will never be enough)...and she just beamed with an exuberance. She loves you so deeply. Your brothers and sisters talk about you every single day. You have taught them a deep lesson, as well...they hold one another a little tighter. They don’t like to be separated. You are a part of “the guys” as your littlest big brother says. Not a moment goes by that you are not missed. I see it when I look at them.
Tonight, I came across some of your pictures from the hospital. The ones where it was just you and me alone at the 3 AM hour, and I was trying to capture every angle of you. As I looked at those pictures, and I thought of your sister and the Memory Box today, I realized how REAL this is. Suddenly, I was slammed by heavy and intense, crippling grief. I sobbed deep tears as I remembered that intimate moment in the hospital. I kept wishing you were only sleeping. You looked SO ALIVE. And tonight, my heart just sank at the reality of your absence. I cried harder and harder and harder. And as I was crying, your brother began to kick me. It was such a strange feeling. I have expressed to my therapist that I am fearful that my grief will cause stress on my pregnant body and stress on your brother. When I told him this, he asked me, “Where does grief come from?” And I responded, “Love. Grief comes from love.” And he said, “Then rest assured that your baby feels love. A deep and intense, maternal love.” I brought that image into my grief as the tears continued to fall, as though your little brother was saying, “I’m here too, Mom. I love you, too.”
As I cried out for you, you moved me into a place of prayer like you often do while I am in the heaviness of my sorrow. I was longing to hold you. My body was physically aching. I could feel my arms cradle the air, as I rocked back and forth. Remembering. Longing. Loving.
Then, I began to feel the weight of your tiny body in my arms. And it hurt so badly. I physically felt back in that moment of 7 months and 13 days ago. Then, as I rocked, the weight became heavier and heavier and heavier. As though the weight of your body was increasing in years right there in my arms, and I couldn’t contain it anymore. It was too heavy. Too strong. Too painful. The love too raw. Too vulnerable. Pressing in to every space of my shattered heart. And I begged for it to stop, although I didn’t want it to end, and then it finally did.
Is that part of the healing, my love? To revisit those spaces and places and relive them until all that is left is love instead of fear and pain?
Keep teaching me, my beloved. Keep teaching me the small way. The grateful way. The simple way. The way of suffering if it means I choose you.
My girl. My beloved. I will love you FOREVER.
”Love can accomplish all things. Things that are most impossible become easy when Love is at work.” (St. Therese of Lisieux)