The year where I lived through my greatest joy and pain. The joy I pray you experience one day, but the pain I hope none of you ever have to endure. This is the pain that will put you on your knees and make you beg. I remember this moment so vividly. How was I going to survive this? This is the moment I realized I was holding my baby – my son – the one I carried for the past 9 months. How could God do this to us? It was easy to place blame on Him. It was even easier to place blame on myself. How did I not know? Could I have done something different?
I am vulnerable. I am allowing you to see the moment I was handed the body of my lifeless son. My first born baby. The child I can now only see in my dreams. This is raw – this is real.
How is this fair?
I could let these questions consume me. And I’ll admit, sometimes I do. But, is it so wrong to be so human?
God chose us to be parents to River. He did this on purpose. God knew we could handle this. At the beginning, I didn’t think I could make it. I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for my husband, family, friends and even complete strangers.
I remember talking to my dad about the stages of grief.
I can recall experiencing every single one of those stages. When River was born, I was desperate to find answers. I wanted to heal. I knew I was never going to “move on”, I needed to figure out how to “move forward”. I was seeking out every possible way to grieve in a healthy way. Facebook groups, support groups, friends/family. Nobody seemed to understand my thought process or feelings. How do I go to a support group and be the one ending up leading it?
Although skeptical, I tried out different support groups in hopes I could find someone like me. I attended a group one night and we started off by sharing the names of the person we lost. Right then I knew this wasn’t for me. I’ve never said I “lost” River. If anything, he’s more entangled in my being than before. I never have to drop him off at daycare or leave him with a babysitter.
He is present and I know exactly where he is. He is never “lost”.
Somewhat defensive at the question, I answered it just like that – “I never lost my son, but his name is River James”.
As we continued to introduce ourselves, I noticed one parent in particular. He was angry. And rightfully so, that’s a stage in grief, right? He had every right to be angry. I listened to his story and learned about his son. While I was listening to him, I couldn’t help but be grateful. This is where River changed my life. He gave me the strength I didn’t know I had. September 19th I was granted a new life – a new understanding.
Thank you, River.
I needed to talk to this parent. At the end of the meeting we were asked if we had anything to say. I broke the extended silence and allowed myself to give this dad a message I felt compelled to say.
It’s okay to be angry. Yes, I said it. Anger is normal. But, just for a short amount of time. Guess where our sons are right now – sitting right next to God. The longer you’re angry, the longer you’re making your son explain to God why you’re mad at Him. I get it, your son was 16 and mine was “only a newborn”. And you’re right. My biggest sin right now is jealousy. Because unlike you, I didn’t get those 16 years. I wish I could hear my son’s laugh, change his diapers, and know his favorite ice cream flavor. You got all of that time with him. So, I’m jealous of you because I wanted that. I understand it seems unfair, because it is. But, God gives his hardest battles to his strongest people. It’s all about perception. Perception is reality. I want you to know your son is in the safest place he can be. Heavenly paradise, where nobody can hurt him. So for now, I want you to be angry. But, tonight before you go to bed, I want you to be comforted in the thought that you know exactly where he’s at. I want you to find that peace in knowing that the one thing God can’t take away from you is being his parent.
I finally stopped my soap opera and heard the echo of a teary grown man. My intention wasn’t to make him cry, I wanted him to know how lucky he is. He is a father.
To be reminded that we are given the title of “mom” and “dad” is a gift.
Let me bring you back to this moment. Through all of the emotion that flooded my body, I knew at this very second that I was finally a mommy. Within seconds I snapped into reality of reminding myself that we ARE parents. We have our baby boy.
I didn’t want to let him go. And, I never have to.
So, cheers to 2020.
Thank you, River, for making me a mommy and making sure I never forget that.
You’re my whole heart.
I love you, Riv.