I am having a hard week. Each morning. Waking up. Getting ready for the day. It is my season of grief, which is heaviest because these are the days, when Toby was here with us, four years ago.
I continue to think about what it would be like to have him here, with all of us. Three little sets of feet running around. A need for three swimsuits, instead of two. He loved the pool, even only being 7 weeks old. Three basketballs, instead of just two.
Luke was chatting with me the other night as I was squeezing a workout in. I was on the floor doing a plank (stick with me, there’s a point to the details of this), and he said “When Zeke is old enough to be in a big boy bed, can we share a room?” That question hit me like a truck. My body hit the floor. Like my arms couldn’t hold me because my heart was crushed and there was no air for me.
I said “Of course. We can have two beds in your room and rearrange things so you can share a room.” “Really?” (I wish you could have heard the excitement and hesitation in his voice) “We can be in the same room and sleep in the same room every night?” he said. Dan was walking down the steps and he ran over to him “Mommy said when Zeke is big enough for a big boy bed we can get two beds and put them in my room and put the beds on the other wall and we can share a room and be in the same room for bedtime every night!” All in one breath.
All I could think is ‘you should already be sharing a room and have Toby with you every night, buddy.’ It wasn’t just the “what if” that broke me. It was Luke’s excitement for that bond that he wanted so badly. It was the truth that he had been robbed of having that bond with Toby, forever.
This week has been one of the hardest for me for three years. I turned 33 the year Toby was born. My birthday is on Friday and the memories from that day four years ago are ones that I can only look at and think about on days where I know I am ready to be immersed in grief.
The kind of grief where you cannot stand and your pain is so deep that the tears do not stop and you have no air to take a breath. It is pain that you never even knew you could experience and expect to live through it. It is pain that haunts your dreams at night and you awake suddenly, thinking you can run down the hall and will see that it is only the worst nightmare a parent could have. But that’s the thing, it’s a nightmare that doesn’t end when I open my eyes and get up for the day. Every day. Toby is not there.
It’s a nightmare that resurrects itself during a car ride; on a day when the sun shines just right; when a song comes on the radio; when I open a drawer and find his binky; when I walk into the last store I was in with Toby – just him and me – and I had the minutes with him that I now beg God to give me back. Well knowing, that it is a prayer that can never be answered.
I drove to work yesterday and as I passed the cemetery I felt compelled to stop. I got to the top of the hill and the sun was rising and I just stood there. I couldn’t take a step because I knew if I walked down the hill to sit with Toby, I probably wouldn’t get to anything else for the day. To some, that may sound neglectful, but when you have to carry grief each day, some days you have the strength to make hard decisions to not let the wave drown you. Sometimes the angels throw you a rope to hold onto. It doesn’t happen often, but I have found, four years into my grief, that those are moments that I have to remind myself “you did it.” Because on this journey as a bereaved parent, there are many times that I’ve said “I can’t do it.”
I got in the car this morning to drive to work and as the radio came on, these words came through the speakers:
“So, with all of my heart this is my prayer
Singing oh Lord, keep me in the moment
Help me live with my eyes wide open
‘Cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me”
I am giving this week to God. He knows what is in my heart. He knows the instability of this season for me and where I need him to hold my hand.
He knows the pain that the day I was born holds in MY heart.
He knows the prayers that I desperately have asked him to answer in four years, but he has not because it is not HIS WILL.
I pray that he will keep me in the moments of this week. Of the place that our family has climbed to, out of the darkness. Out of the place where I was three years ago, on the brink of 34 and asking him to bring me home so I could hold my son.
Instead, I am embracing year entering year 37, knowing where I have come in four years and believing that He will show me what my pain and heartbreak have sown. It may not be in year 37, but I have faith that the future holds joy and happiness.
I want to leave you with one last verse from another song that helps me realize HIS strength and HIS hope for me, even though I am broken. I know there is a lot of doubt, uneasiness, sadness, and fear in this world right now. I hope these words can give you some hope or some direction if you are experiencing any of this.
“We’ve all search for the light of day in the dead of night
We’ve all found ourselves worn out from the same old fight
If you’ve got pain
He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost
He’s a way maker
If you’ve got chains
He’s a chain breaker”
Both songs and artists are listed and linked below.