“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss
I’ve often been asked…”How long does it take to get over the loss of a child?”
Good question. The answer is simple: never. As I’ve said somewhere before in this blog, grief doesn’t just “go away” or evaporate, and there is no exact formula that a person can expect to follow, but instead, grief changes. And grief is different in different situations. While we expect to someday lose our parents, our siblings, our spouses, or other figures from “our past,” I would assume that it’s a rare circumstance for a parent to expect to lose her child. Because our children are part of our futures. They are an extension of us, our creations. Sometimes, before they are even conceived, we’ve already fantasized about what schools they’ll go to, who their friends will be, how many grandchildren they’ll give us, what their smiles will look like…
That is our future. And when the future is gone, there is grief. The problem with this type of grief–the loss of a future–is that it comes with a heavy loneliness. When my children died, because I carried each one of them inside of me for their entire lives, it felt like no one else but me really knew them. Yes, my husband and son experienced the losses also, but did they KNOW the children inside of me. Did they experience a heartbeat…did they sense a vibration…did their energies wax and wane as mine did when my babies grew exponentially, then quieted down with rest. Maybe, I guess I can’t speak for them. But as time went on, as people “forgot” my children, and therefore couldn’t be expected to understand my ongoing ache, I felt, and let myself become, alone. Alone felt more comfortable for awhile. Because when you are alone, you have no expectations to live up to, except your own.
Last year held a special challenge for me. Last year, my son, Gabriel, would have turned five in January if he’d have been born on his due date of January 17, 2012. Which means that he would have been enrolled in the preschool where my first son, Julian, now goes to school. Which meant, that as I walked the hallways last year, as I passed by the rooms that he would have been in, as I listened to the teachers he would have been working with, saw the children he’d have been friends with, heard the laughter, as well as the sighs…well, even today, it brings tears to my eyes.
So, one year ago in January, when I was asked to head a volunteer program at my son’s school, I said, “Yes.” The program was called “The Great Kindness Challenge” and my job was to create as well as coordinate various kindness stations at school during lunch and recess. I am a kind person, so it was fairly easy to come up with stations for the children to work at, however, I didn’t say yes to the job because I am kind. I said yes to the job because, last year, I didn’t want to be alone. Not that year, not that week…not that day. Instead of sitting home all alone, sad and depressed on Gabriel’s due date–as I’d done all the years before–I wanted that fifth anniversary to be special. I wanted to be happy and joyful that, even if it was for a short time, that my son, Gabriel, was here.
That week of volunteering went well. Instead of crying, I laughed. Instead of dwelling, I was challenged and had to focus on the job I was doing. Instead of isolating myself…I was surrounded by beautiful beings. If only they all knew, the big and the small of them, how they each helped me survive that one week in time.
Perhaps the best gift of kindness I received that week, however, was this:
“Thank you, Lady,” said the kindergartener I’d just helped in making a gratitude rock. Although she was one year older than Gabriel would have been if he was here, I imagined what it would have been like if they’d have been classmates, if I’d have known her, if I’d have known her parents. When she smiled up at me, chubby cheeks and sparkling eyes, I couldn’t help but think of Gabriel in that moment, and of how beautiful he would be, just like her, if he was alive. In her hands, which were sticky from eating lunch, she held out her rock to me. On the rock, in awkward writing was the word “Love” with a heart beneath it. “It’s for you,” she said, placing it on the table in front of me, “to make you happy.” Then she quickly ran off to go play before she heard me whisper…”Thank you…”
…not that I saw her run off. There were too many tears clouding my eyes.
“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
Thank you for “sharing” and “liking” any blog that moves you. Have a special day…♥
Photos on VisualHunt