He died today.
Okay maybe not today, but nine years ago today. It’s such a strange feeling to remember the day someone died before you remember the day of their birth. That is definitely not the way it’s supposed to happen. How do you survive something like this? How do you move forward without someone who was supposed to be with you for the rest of your life? How do you get over the fact that even though you were carrying him, he didn’t make it? How do you not feel like that’s your fault?
No one should ever know what it’s like to lose a child.
But there are people who lose children every single day. Although every experience is different, there are some similarities that these people who have lost all share. Whether you were able to have your child in your life for many years, only a few, or you really only got to have the dream of that child for a little while – you know and understand the devastating loss and its effect on your life. It doesn’t get easier. You don’t necessarily get stronger. But somehow you move forward.
Grief comes in waves.
Sometimes they’re a hundred feet tall, sometimes there just short little bursts. I have gone months without having strong feelings of grief or anxiety from it, and then I’ve gone moments, hours and been just inundated over and over with thoughts and feelings relating to loss. You don’t get to choose this cycle. You just have to learn to cope. It’s ridiculous. It’s stupid. It’s dumb. Yes it’s all those things, but it is the hand we’ve been dealt in this life.
I believe nobody knows and understands loss better than God. He gave his son for us. He gave his son’s life so that we could all live. As I was moving through my grief, seeing counselors, studying to try to understand or find some semblance of understanding, and generally just trying to move forward, I found myself focusing on this fact. I found myself studying Jesus, not so much his life – although his life is remarkable and worthy of years and years of study. But I studied his death. Specifically I studied Gethsemane. Because Gethsemane shows that Jesus also understood loss – not because he lost a child, but because he was about to lose his life. He was about to willingly give it up.
I also studied Mary, his mother.
I paid attention to her role at the end of Jesus life and I also tried to really imagine what it must have been like to be her. To watch your son, whom you love so much, the son that God gave you immaculately, the one that everyone loved, the one that everyone followed, the Savior, the one you believe was the promised one from God – to watch him be falsely accused and beaten and nailed to a cross and hung there to die. That is loss in its most raw form.
I also try imagine that she didn’t know the magnitude of the sacrifice that was being made. She didn’t know that he was saving the entire world. He had said that, but I don’t believe that anyone in that time understood what that really and truly meant. But she knew that her son, the baby that she took care of, the little boy that she nurtured, the man that she followed – she knew that her son was dead. That’s really painful. The kind of pain that can’t be described with words. A gut wrenching pain that inhabits your entire body and pierces all of your emotions. It is utterly indescribable.
I remember when I was going through all of the emotions not long after Charlie passed, that the biggest fear I had was that we would go on with our lives and forget about him. Most days that’s realized -at least by everybody else. And really it’s kind of how it should be. We should move on and live happy lives. I just know that I am forever changed.