Learning to Live
Life is hard. Grief is harder. It gets worse before it gets better. This makes everyday challenges & situations sharper and hard to not take directly to heart. I look around the world some days and then I look at Luke and think “Am I doing this right?” Honestly, some days I’m not sure.
My heart has been very heavy lately. Some days I feel like I’ve been pulled back into the first few weeks without Toby. It’s scary. It’s sad. It’s heartbreaking. There have been a few days that I’ve felt so consumed with grief that I questioned how I have made it for 18 months. I don’t know. I don’t know that I ever will.
I sat on the floor the other evening after folding a load of laundry, with Toby’s picture book in my lap, crying. Crying because I didn’t have laundry for him. Crying because in 18 months I haven’t opened the drawers in his room, except for once. And the one time that I did, the sight of clothes he never got to wear and the smell,his smell, made me so ill I shut it and haven’t dared open it since.
I cried for at least a half hour. I could physically feel pain inside my chest and the tears on my face. It hurt, but felt like my body was unloading emotion that I couldn’t hold anymore. I’ve had so many of those moments since this year started.
When this year started I promised myself I was going to try a few [different] things to try to manage my grief. I started to read the Bible. No specific book or part, just random, open up and start reading. Yes, of course, I am searching for something in what I’m reading; some sign of Toby; some direction for our family’s path; some sign that God has a plan for us. Something.
To be honest, I don’t always find that. But, on the mornings that have followed, there have been devotions in my prayers for things that are not among my daily thoughts or things weighing on my heart. I don’t have a sure sign of where they come from, but I am starting to think that maybe it’s God’s way of using my pain.
There is a spot in the events of the day that Toby died that causes me so much pain. This spot is a place, outside our home, that I have to see and face daily. And everyday I sit there, with the heartache, the pain, the death of my son, staring back at me. I’ve succumb to its presence in my daily routine. Some days I cry. Some days I stare. Some days I have to close my eyes and remind myself to breathe because PTSD kicks in and the sounds all come rushing back my head. Some days I stare, as I sit in my car by myself and say “Why?”
About a week ago I was near this spot and the one thing, the one physical thing that always brings the emotion back, had been blocked, by a pile of dirt. I looked at it and was genuinely surprised that the pain that I expected to feel, that I felt daily, wasn’t there. “Huh.” I heard myself say. “A break?” I was asking God.
We all have those moments. Those moments when we plead with God for a break. Or a sign. Or an answer. When we’re in the midst of frustration or disparity. When we haven’t had a day go right.
These moments are more devastating for a grieving parent. These moments are faced with unending questioning of how strong we are; how much we can handle; how misunderstood can we be; how rude and uncompassionate people can be; how quick to judge society is; how much more can our heart break; before enough is enough. It is a continual test, to which the answer and the Judge is not in this world.
I have a lot to learn in life. Some things, through the years. Some things, through experience. Some things, through prayer.
A lot of the weight I am physically carrying is because of fear.
Fear of no control.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of my heart not having any more ways to break.
Fear of not being able to save those most important to me.
Fear that I may forget. Forget anything.
Fear of disappointing my parents, or worse, my children, because I’ve been so handicapped by grief that I can’t give it my all.
These are all worth fearing, but do you know the ultimate fear of a grieving parent?
Fear of what will never be.
Fear of having to carry that pain – every.single.day. – for the rest of my life.
There is no “getting over” the loss of our son. It pains me that anyone would even think that would be possible for a parent or family dealing with any kind of infant or child loss. There is no timetable for grief.
What I’m struggling with is learning to live with grief and without Toby.