There was a time, in the weeks following my dad’s death, as well as the weeks following Ethan’s, that I couldn’t think beyond “today”. I had to focus every ounce of energy I had on making it through the present day, and make it to bedtime, because I didn’t know how I would get through tomorrow. Only then could I close my eyes and escape from it all, if only for a few hours. And then the next day would come, and I would start the process over again. The ever-present weight of sadness and grief bore down on me with a ferocity that I can’t describe. There are still moments in my days when I’m reminded of those torturous weeks last summer, and even more so of the ones less than 8 weeks ago.
Most of my days now are spent in my “new normal” routine of school rounds, grocery shopping, maybe a Target run :), more school runs, homework, dinner, and bedtime. I say “new normal” because everything is different now than it was before. Ethan is always there, in every thought, he’s somewhere. And my dad has been creeping in more and more. Lately it’s been harder, the pain has intensified. A great friend of mine recently pointed out to me that my struggle with missing them both so much more fiercely could likely be because of the weather. We are watching the temperatures warm, the trees and flowers bloom, a new season approach… and two such important people are missing. We can’t share all of this with them… and it sucks. Not strangely at all, John mentioned the same thing to me not two days later.
Our grief is never-ending, but we know that that’s normal. It’s also exhausting sometimes. I don’t think I ever REALLY knew what loss felt like until June. We’ve had family pass… grandparents, a most beloved cousin… and it had been tremendously saddening… but this summer put it all into a different perspective. I’ve never known pain like I’ve experienced over the course of the past 9 months. There isn’t a time that this lingering heartache isn’t like a cloud over our heads. But one thing that I’ve learned, and that my sweet brother reminded me of the other day… time heals. I am stronger now than I was on June 11th… when life was “normal”. I was pregnant with a perfectly healthy baby, my dad was alive, life was so sweet. The pain is less agonizing and I am stronger than on June 12th, when my world came crashing down. June 19th, when we buried one of the three greatest men I’ve ever known. June 20th, when the doctor’s told me that something was likely “wrong” with our precious baby. June 26th, when they officially diagnosed our baby with anencephaly. January 3rd, when our son was born but also the day that we had to hand his sweet spirit over to the Lord. And January 6th, when we had to bury our precious Ethan. This pain, although at times debilitating, has strengthened my faith, my heart, my soul, my body… my marriage, my family, my friendships. I am stronger than before. And it’s all because GOD WORKS. In everything, He is working for our good. In less than one year we have experienced the 6 worst days of our entire lives. But God has held us up, carried us through, every single day. And thanks to His grace, and His mercy… we are growing into better people, the ones God created and called us to be. It’s a process, we aren’t finished until the day He calls us Home.
“And when I think of God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art”
There is still a vast majority of time that I spend feeling like it was all a dream. That someday I’m going to wake up and everything will be as it “should”. These two great losses had never happened. But I think that’s my soul’s way of ensuring this imperfect Earthly body that it is all going to be ok. Someday, we will be together again… reunited in absolute perfection. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the idea that I carried a baby for 38 weeks, he grew and I grew, there was an unbreakable bond formed there. And now he’s gone. I have only recently (like within the past couple of days) allowed myself to think about what he might look like in heaven. It’s been difficult because I don’t even know where to start. Knowing that his earthly imperfections are not present in his heavenly body… it’s hard to not know what my child looks like. One thing I’m sure of is that he’s breathtaking. I have a picture on my desk of my dad holding me when I came home from the hospital. Sometimes it gives me the slightest bit of comfort to picture this as my dad and Ethan. It stings and swells my heart all at the same time. None of it feels real. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad one. I feel like the reality is enough to break even the strongest of people.
Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the Lord, will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Psalm 100:5 “For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”