I have been dreading this day of thanks. This day of thanks when I have so much, and at the same time, so little, to be thankful for. This day of thanks surrounded by reminders and triggers of our life without you. This day of thanks I was certain would be full of awkward pauses and avoided moments trying to circle around the mention of your name.
But, in the midst of the beautiful chaos that is Thanksgiving Day something unexpected happened. Something that I should’ve anticipated as the love of our family surrounded me. Something that I will eternally be grateful for; your name was spoken, you were loved, you were remembered. So, today, on this day of thanks, that is what I am most thankful for baby boy; for family and friends who love, miss, and remember you as much as we do.
Our sweet angel was due to join our growing family of four on December 18, 2015. So, as you can imagine, as the 2015 Holiday season approaches and with it, Everett’s due date, I’ve been finding it harder and harder to make it through the day without tears streaming down my face. This years Holiday season holds a special kind of torment for our family as Everett was suppose to be our Christmas miracle. In so many ways he still is, but that doesn’t stop the heartache and sorrow that accompanies every family gathering that he is no longer a part of.
Today, a great friend and fellow Angel Mommy helped me realize, it’s okay to not be okay. On Thanksgiving, on Christmas, on his due date, on his Birthday, and on any other day of the year that hits me harder than the rest. It’s okay. No matter where you are in your grief journey, it’s okay. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. So this Holiday season give yourself and your loved ones some grace and remember…
There will be days where you feel like you can’t go on.
There will be days when it feels like the thunderstorm has lifted and you can finally see the rays of sunlight shinning through the storm clouds.
And then, there will be days when your loss feels as fresh and painful as the day you learned your precious child had gone to join our maker in Heaven.
The reality of a bereaved parent’s existence is a very difficult path; one you have no choice but to follow.
It is often times ugly and leaves you raging at the sky screaming for answers that may never come.
But let me let you in on a little secret…
Our Lord and Savior can take it; He too knows our sorrow and feels our pain and heartache. Whatever you are experiencing in your day to day battles, bring it to HIM. Be honest with yourself, true to where you are in your journey of grief, and live in whatever reality your day brings you.
We were not meant to walk this battle alone. When the days of sorrow seem never ending, bring it to Him; give him the chance to treat your broken heart and mend your tattered soul because we may walk this Earth with a piece of our hearts missing, but He SACRIFICED his only Son to give us the opportunity to join ours again one day.
In my experience this is the hardest thing for my loved ones to grasp because their love for my family and I makes it hard for them to see us in so much pain. Please know that losing a child is a pain that can not be fixed. It is a pain we must carry for the rest of our lives. Grieving is normal and will not go away with time. Our grief and sorrow will ebb and flow as a part of us for the rest of our lives. Don’t try to “fix it” or “make it better”; unless you have the power to bring back my child, you can not take our pain away.
You can be there for us in our time of need; push past your discomfort, your lack of words, and ask us about him. Say his name. Share his story. Acknowledge his life, and his death.
Everett is just as much a part of our family as Jack and Lucas are. He is our 3rd son; another ornery addition to the King crew that anxiously awaits us in Heaven.
Please know that although we may heal and eventually add more children to our crazy King crew, our angel will never be forgotten. His memory will never fade. He will always be counted in our numbers.
As we stood in line with your brothers at Build a Bear my heart silently ached in my chest. There we stood, as a family, but not truly whole; a piece of us forever missing from this world. Will it always be this way? Will I always feel like no matter where we are, no matter what we are doing, we will never be whole? Will your absence from our lives always knock my breath out of my chest and bring me to my knees. Will I ever truly enjoy another moment of quality time with your brothers without it being overshadowed by my grief from losing you? Will I always see every moment with them as a moment without you?
The most innocent moments blindside me with grief and sadness on days otherwise filled with love, laughter, and the makings of happy memories: Your brothers playing in a bin of hearts while we wait to stuff big brother Jack’s new Build a Bear, Stormfly. Those perfectly shaped, tiny, red hearts; plastic hearts with heartbeats awaiting to get stuffed into their new owners precious keepsake, stare mockingly at me. I scream silently to myself as tears fill my eyes and anger boils through my veins.
I wish I could yell. I wish I could scream. I wish I could thrash and kick. I wish I could throw an adult sized toddler temper tantrum and show the world the anger that often consumes me. But most of all I wish you were still growing in my belly and kicking inside of me safe and sound. I wish we were anxiously awaiting your December arrival and prepping your nursery instead of mourning the loss of you.
It’s not fair that you were taken from us before you even took your first breath. It’s not fair that we will never get to see your sweet smile, hear your sweet laugh, or hold you softly through the night. It’s not fair that I will never get to see my three son’s at play together or break up your fights. It’s not fair that we must move on without you.
It’s just NOT FAIR.
As we leave Build a Bear I mindlessly go to count your brothers (if your a Mom, you know what I mean) and the grief grips my heart yet again. In my mind I know you’re gone; in my mind I know I’ll never see your little head bobbing through the mall sweetly reaching for your big brother’s hands, but in my heart, in my soul, I know you should be here with us. I long to see our family whole and together again. I long to have a third head to count on our way out the door. I long for a life filled with the chaos raising three King boys would inevitably bring.
I long for you Everett and I always will. No one and nothing will fill the hole you’ve left in my heart and in our lives. You will always be loved. Always be missed. And always be counted in our numbers.
There is a song that has become a part of our bath time rituals since the day our oldest son, Jack, took his first nerve ridden dip. After he had successfully completely one of his first milestones, Daddy and Mommy softly wrapped him up in his hooded puppy dog towel from Grandma; a towel that is still one of our boys’ favorites, and squeezed into our tiny two bedroom apartment’s bath room.
As his sweet baby scent filled the air we snuggled him close and sang,
Mommy loves her baby boy.
Daddy loves his baby boy.
We all love our baby boy.
This moment and the countless nights to come spent singing verses of “Baby boy” that spiraled into our entire line of family lineage to our sons in front of our bathroom mirror are some of my most treasured memories. These moments are filled with love, laughter, and an unexplainable joy that could burst your heart. They are moments that make your eyes fill up with tears and erase every colored on wall, ruined shopping trip, cut short dinner, and temper tantrum ever thrown. Moments that make you wish you could stop time and live in them forever.
Tonight, as I gently rocked Lucas back to sleep in his nursery and softly sang”Baby Boy” until his body became heavy on mine I found my eyes filling up with unshed tears at the thought of yet another moment, another memory I will never get with his brother. In that moment I felt him. I felt our baby boy Everett surrounding us in his brother’s nursery, watching over us as I sang,
Just fifteen short weeks after our son Everett was born still into our world I find myself beginning to repair the heart I once believe to be broken for all eternity; the pieces may be clumsily glued back together with the love of my friends and family, forever tattered at the edges, but here I sit, just fifteen short weeks after Everett’s birth beginning to heal. I am dreadingly “moving on with my life” because, as a mother, I must face the facts: I am still here. I am still living, still breathing, still standing. Everett may be gone, but my life lives on and what kind of legacy would I be creating for him if his life & his death were my destruction. What kind of life would I be giving his brothers and father if I lived out the rest of my days wallowing in my grief and letting it consume me?
It’s simply the truth of life after child loss; your world crashes around you and comes to a halting stop. Your heart shatters into what seems like a million irreparable pieces. Everything changes and you feel like you can’t go on. But reality is, the world keeps spinning around you: a fact that often seems unfair and cruel in the midst of your grief. But I promise you, one day you will get out of bed, take a shower, and continue living in a world without your child. You will move on.
I know, I know, for many of you the mere thought of “moving on” without your child is unimaginable. We’ve been trained to believe that “moving on” means forgetting, but, let me assure you, it does not. Whether it is days, weeks, months, or years from now there will come a day when you can read this and see it for the truth that it is: Moving on does not mean forgetting. It does not make you a bad mother or lessen the love you hold for your child. A mother’s love surpasses time and space; a mother’s love continues from now until eternity from this life into the next. Nothing and no one can change that.
So, all you fellow bereaved Mommy’s out there (and I’m speaking to all you women out there who have experienced child loss, at any stage; whether through early pregnancy loss, miscarriage, still birth, or the loss of a child after birth) whose hearts are still beating in spit of being battered and broken do me a favor and repeat after me:
When I was a little girl growing up I had quite the reputation, not a bad one mind you, but in our little community everyone knew my name. I was what my parent’s liked to call a social butterfly; between my inability to see anyone as a stranger; a trait I’ve wearily passed onto our sons, and athletic prowess my parents soon became know to anyone who’d meet me as “Danielle’s Dad and Mom”. Not Micheal and Diane. Not Mr. and Mrs. Hinton. Danielle’s Dad and Mom; no first name required. This is a right of parenthood that even in my adult life my parents still tease me about.
Ever since becoming a mother I have anxiously awaited this right of parenthood, but today as I messaged one of Jack’s classmates Mom’s and proudly signed the email with “Danielle King, Jack’s Mom” for the first time I realized yet another parental right that had been taken away from me along with our baby boy, the opportunity to be referred to as “Everett’s Mom”. It was then and there that I decided I would not let this right be taken away from me along with every other memory and milestone we were robbed of. I decided that with every post and picture I share with you in memory of our baby boy I will claim the right I earned through 12 hours of labor birthing his still body into this world; I will claim the title “Everett’s Mom”.
I’ve been trying so hard lately to put my emotions into words. To live in my grief and not be ashamed of it. To stop pushing my emotion deep down inside and be honest and truthful with myself and others about where I am at and who I have become since losing Everett, but as you can tell by my lack of posts lately; some truths just aren’t ready to be told.
So as I put pen to paper (or rather fingers to keyboard) for the first time this month, I share with you not my own words, but those of a fellow bereaved Mommy whose story struck a cord deep inside my wounded soul: written by Angie Smith in her book “I Will Carry You”, a book I would whole heartedly suggest to anyone traveling down this journey of grief, about the lose of her daughter and her journey through grief.
I felt like the wind had whipped through and knocked me down, deep down into a place I didn’t want to be.
A place where the answers are fewer than the questions.
A place where God seems hidden by the shadows of this broken life. It is an easy place to get comfortable because all your hurts are justified and the tears give way to doubt.
But even then, He never backs down. I am grateful for that love. It is the love of a Father who himself is well acquainted with sorrow. It is the love of a father who has lost His Son. He understands the ranting and the door slamming. The emptiness that wraps around you.
And he has only one request.
Bring it to me.
Everytime the anger roars in your heart.
Bring it to me.
Everytime you feel like nobody hears you.
Bring it to me.
When you think it isn’t fair. When you think it isn’t true. When you can’t think at all.
Bring it to me.
Bring it to my feet and I will make an alter for your suffering.
As I read these words last night after a day that carried only turmoil and sorrow a lightbulb went off somewhere deep inside of my brain; He can handle this. My faith can handle this; He will never leave me. He will carry me.