This blog post was not planned. I typically start writing a post months or weeks in advance and edit it 100 times before publishing it, but the urge was strong for me to get my thoughts and feelings about this one posted today. There’s something to be said about sharing my raw, real brokenness in real time.
700 Days: Life After Child Loss
Today is Monday. Caleb died on a Monday.
Today is July 12th. Caleb died on the 12th.
Today is July 12, 2021. Caleb died 23 months ago.
Today is day 700 and it’s still unreal.
It’s unreal that he’s dead. It’s unreal that he committed suicide. I’m still learning to accept and live in the unraveled expectations of my tomorrows. Life was normal, life was good, Caleb was happy and healthy with goals before him and in an instant, all of that was gone. What followed was a life that was anything but normal or good and my happy healthy son was no longer here. With no warning at all darkness set in, the color was gone from he world, I was numb, broken, lost, confused and the pieces of the life I had worked so hard at making “picture perfect,” were tossed up and scattered all over the place. I didn’t know which way was right, so my family and friends, quite literally, held my hand to show me.
So where am I 700 days later? With a grateful and relieved heart I can honestly say I am not in the same place I was even 500 days ago. Each day that followed day 1 has put a piece of my puzzle back together. Some days it’s only a teeny tiny piece-of-a-piece and others it’s more, but each step I’ve taken and every choice I’ve made to live have brought me to a place where I can see the the puzzle I’m re-building (with lots and lots of help!!!!!) since the tragic, traumatic, horrifying Monday night when my beloved son left our home for his eternal home with his Savior.
I’m in the final days of finishing year 2 as a bereaved mother. Those words honestly make me want to vomit because, how is it possible to live 2 years without my child?! In my own strength, knowledge and will, it’s not. When I laid my head on a pillow on Monday, August 12, 2019, while it felt very far away and not at all colorful like it was when I woke up that morning, I believed God was still good. Every moment since I have trusted that God is good at being God.
I miss the me I was before my son died but piece by piece and day by day, I can feel and see myself coming back to life. I’ll never be who I was and I may someday even be a better version of myself.
Why do I count the days? Because they help me see where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. I need that visual picture to remind me that I have, I can and I will continue to heal in the aftermath of my son’s death. 700 days may seem like a lot but if you look at them in comparison to the 17 years, 1 month and 13 days he was with me, they are but a glimpse. I am still deeply grieved and devastated, but managing grief much better with counseling and therapies such as EMDR and Brainspotting.
Nicholas Wolterstorff explains it will in his book “Lament for a Son.”
“Rather often I am asked whether the grief remains as intense as when I wrote. The answer is, No. The wound is no longer raw. But it has not disappeared. That is as it should be. If he was worth loving, he is worth grieving over.
Grief is existential testimony to the worth of the one loved. That worth abides. So I own my grief. I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, to forget it… Every lament is a love-song.”
And this quote from the book “ Sacred Tears” by Lindsey Wheeler sums it up:
“What gets me out of bed and keeps me putting one foot in front of another is the gritted-teeth, hanging-by-a-thread belief that God loves us even when the healing doesn’t come. It’s the understanding that ‘God is good’ doesn’t mean ‘I got what I wanted.’ God’s promise was never to remove my suffering but rather to show up relentlessly to get me through it. Remembering every big and small way he’s shown up throughout my life is the proof I need that he cares about every cell in our bodies, that he loves us, that he will sustain us no matter how dark our days become.”
Today hurts and my heart is still broken. I hate this journey and I miss my son more than words can explain. My heart longs and aches for him to be here with me again. I’m going to keep stepping, keep moving forward and keep living, one day at a time brings me one day closer to being reunited with my Caleb again. Hope is healing and Grace is sustaining. By sharing this today I’m reminding myself, and anyone reading, that each new day brings new opportunities to heal, grow and make beauty from ashes.