This Season of Grief

I’ve had to pray a lot more (than usual) this past month. I know I’ve talked before, but this is my season of grief. These are the days when the pain hits hard. Like take me to my knees, not able to catch my breath, pain.

I spent two weeks writing the names of over 100 babies for us to honor during Wave of Light vigil and I found myself wondering about all of them. Did they know Toby? What was their favorite game to play? Did they help hang the stars at night?

I sat with them, in the dark, on October 15, each one of their candles lit, and I cried.

The emotion and frustration I felt in my heart was just too much to suppress.

“Why were they taken?”

“Why do we have to live without them?”

“Why do we have to wonder about their favorite things?”

“Why did you take MY SON?!”

In the midst of my emotional break, the anger hit and it made me cry harder.

We love him so much. We are loving parents who knew we were blessed to be Toby’s mom and dad. We did our best to to provide for everything he could have needed, as we do for Luke and Zeke, but none of that love saved him. And for what? Why?

Do you know how often in the weeks following Toby’s death I sat at his grave begging God to let me trade places with my son? Let it all be a bad dream. Let him wake up and me be the one that had to go.

This is the time of year when all those memories flood back in an instant, without warning. I sat at the stop light tonight, coming home from Luke’s soccer practice, and it was already dark. Straight across the intersection I was staring at the hospital where Toby died. I stared at the sign glowing on the top of the hospital and I could hear the sounds of that night in the back of my mind. I shook my head to try and get out of that moment. I can’t go there. There wasn’t enough time, in that moment at the light, for the tears and emotion I have been holding in for the memories of that night.

When the weather starts to change, I know emotions will be in overdrive, trying to compensate for the lack of control I have over them. The transition from November to December is difficult. I struggled with so many ups and downs the year that Toby died.

I didn’t want anything to be done, but in the same breath, I didn’t have the strength to hold it off. Thanksgiving, Christmas, the end of the year, the transition from fall to winter. I hated getting out of the car and the ground being hard at Toby’s grave. It made me feel like the separation between him and us was getting greater.

You think of the strangest things when you grieve. Make the oddest comparisons, but in reality they make total sense for how you are feeling.

I was talking to someone this past weekend and they asked when Toby died.

It was five years ago in August,” I said.

Oh, so it’s been awhile,” she responded.

I just looked at her. I couldn’t get my words together to respond. All I was thinking in my head was “Maybe for you. But for me, it still feels like yesterday.”

I just smiled as she walked away.

It has been five years of grieving. Five years since we laid Toby’s body in the ground. Five years since we sat at his grave daily to tell him we loved and missed him beyond words. Five years as we waited for seasons to change. Not much has changed.

I am convinced this time of year will always be “that” season for me. When the pain is most intense; my arms feel so empty; and I can feel the pieces of my broken heart inside my chest.

I’m still awaiting the change of seasons. I am convinced I will have to wait for the rest of my life, before I am really able to step into a season of healing. Until then, I have to keep reminding myself that during winter things are quiet, they rest, and prepare for the growth coming in the next season. I trust that during the thickest seasons of grief, I am continuing to grow. God knows my weaknesses and what memories can break me. He will provide protection for my broken heart. And Toby will send me signs so I know he is near.

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