May 1, 2015 8 minute read
It’s May. How is it May? We’ve left Reid’s birth month behind and are entering this next phase of anniversaries we don’t want, milestones that should have been, and firsts we didn’t anticipate. May 3rd will be the first anniversary of his passing, May 4th should be his one month birthday, and May 10th will be my first Mother’s Day – my first Mother’s Day without my child to hold. 27 days have both crawled and flown by and I feel I have nothing to show for them. That’s because I’m caught in the midst of a terrible plan B with no plan. All I want is to figure out how to make this new plan look just a little bit like my original one. But no matter which way I look at it I can’t turn that B into an A, I have to accept it for what it is. Deep breath. Here we go.
This past week I’ve been busy feeling all of the feelings that come with this ever-evolving thing called grief. I’ve only managed to get jots of what I’m thinking down on paper as I try to keep up with my jumbled mind. This is the first time I’ve been able to process my thoughts since my last post. I’ve been all over the map emotionally – accepting our reality one minute and crying over the injustice of it the next. I keep waiting for the first day that passes without tears, but I’m beginning to think that day is still a long way off. Physically, I’m starting to feel a bit like myself again. That’s both comforting and terrifying because as my postpartum body begins to look and feel more like my pre-pregnancy body I sense that I’m leaving parts of Reid behind. Emotionally, I feel like a stranger to myself. The clarity I felt in the days after Reid’s memorial has since dissipated. I’m lost. Because as people have started to get back to their routines I realize I’m left without one.
I withdrew from my program at UBC shortly after I found out I was pregnant because there was no guarantee I would be 100% protected from the chemical exposure in my Biology and Chemistry labs. They said the risk of the chemicals affecting my unborn child was small, but all I heard was that there was still a risk – I couldn’t sign off on that chance. That’s when I dove into my role as a mom – my baby came first and everything else came second. I wanted to give my son the most relaxing and healthy environment possible to allow him to thrive and I didn’t care that my plans had to change to make that possible. I didn’t need my fancy degree. He was the only plan that mattered. My days were filled with so much happiness during my pregnancy with Reid. I napped, ate healthily, and played with Reid’s lively feet. I exercised, met with friends and family, and talked to my wiggly baby. I modeled, I worked on my blog, and I rubbed Reid’s back as his whole body shook from hiccups. I contributed to other blogs, I went on adventures with Aaron, and I marveled at the life forming inside me. I never thought being a mom could sustain me, but the love I experienced in those 40 weeks taught me that being a mom was the one thing that could.
That life supporting happiness that grew with my son vanished when I saw his still heart. I saw everything I wanted for him fly out of reach. No first words. No tantrums. No ice cream. No soccer practice. No late night cuddles with mom. No camping trips with dad. No fishing with grandpa. No painting with aunty. No graduation. No world travels. No dream job. No wedding. No children. Everything I was supposed to guide him through is never going to happen. So what on earth do I do now? What is my routine now that I don’t have a child on this earth to care for? As everyone got back to his or her jobs I became very aware of the fact that my job had been stolen from me and that I have no plan B.
It would be so easy to be angry with God for all that’s been lost since April 3rd – my precious son’s life and all the dreams that were intertwined with it. It makes sense that I should be, but I’m not. I’m confused. I know that He could have intervened and I can’t understand why He didn’t. I have been reading I Will Carry You by Angie Smith and something she wrote resonates with my soul. Her words pick up where mine escape me:
“It is human nature to wonder why God cures some and lets others die. All kinds of smart people can probably give you textbook answers, but for those of you who are reading this, I want to offer a perspective that might make more sense to you.
I have no idea.
As Christians, we often want to tie it up neatly with a bow and be standing ready with our church smiles when someone asks us how we are dealing with loss. I don’t believe that ‘God needed another angel,’ and I honestly grew weary of hearing people try to explain it all away because they couldn’t stand to say [these] three words. I don’t know.
I know there are people reading who are where I was, and I don’t want you to think that you need to have answers. Your God is perfectly capable of revealing Himself. You don’t have to feel like you need to fill the gaps. He has put the gaps there so that you will press into Him despite them. That will be your answer to those who murmur around you.”
So I don’t know. I don’t know why my son had to die and I don’t know how to move forward without him. What I do know is that Reid is in a beautiful place with our wonderful God, and it’s because of this hope that I am able to see that God is at work in me. Shortly after reaching that part of the book Aaron and I went to church for the first time since our lives were flipped upside-down. Our pastor had just started preaching on the book of James – specifically on the trials in our lives. I don’t believe for one second that this was a coincidence, because what he said is influencing how I’m able to survive the not knowing:
“Through all of life’s trials, every moment that your faith in Jesus is tested, God is at work making you into the image of His son. The testing, the stretching, the training of your faith is a tool in God’s hands that He’s using to transform you into His own likeness. I have a hard time believing this. Because I don’t understand why God would choose to use trials to accomplish His purposes in my life. If God is the God of the bible then isn’t He able to find a better way to get this work done? Couldn’t he transform me through a less painful process? That’s what I want, that’s what I fight for. I’m constantly trying to get out of my trials. I’m not sitting there looking for a deeper purpose in them. I want them gone and I want to move on.
James presupposes that we’re not going to have this all figured out when we read his letter, so he wants to give us a hand. He wants to help us, which is why in James 1:5 he writes ‘if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.’ He’s addressing any of us who lack wisdom specifically in the midst of trial, and who struggle to believe that in every trial God’s at work perfecting us. We need only ask for this wisdom that makes it possible to count it all joy when we experience trials of any kind. We need this wisdom. Without this truth we can have no permanent joy in life and our sense of wellbeing will forever be contingent on what happens to us or around us or because of us or in spite of us. We are going to be tossed around, an emotional mess, without this truth grounding us. Without this understanding that God is actively at work in our lives we have no foundation to stand on.”
I don’t know, I lack wisdom, and I’m asking God. I’m taking the first step and praying for wisdom in the midst of this trial and for trust in the knowledge that good will come of this. Even if these things are bestowed upon me, my mother’s heart will never stop loving or missing or longing for my child. If I ever learn how to walk this new path set out before me it won’t be because I’ve forgotten my son or moved on – it will be because of Reid that I find the strength to put one foot in front of the other. The only thing that gets me through each day is knowing that even though my baby isn’t coming back to me in this life, I will go to him in the next. This is possible for one reason: Jesus. Because of Him I will see my son again. It’s this truth that allows me to understand how I can live in the middle of chaos and praise God at the heart of my sorrow. It’s this truth I cling to as the memories of the touch of my baby’s soft cheeks and wrinkled palms slip away. I don’t know what plan B looks like yet, but I know what comes after it. Reid.
PS I’d be so grateful to hear how any of you managed to live a new normal when your old normal was centered around the child that’s no longer with you. I don’t even know where to begin.