This morning on my drive to work I was reflecting on my son’s birthday, he turned 17 on Saturday and got his driver’s license on Monday. What a milestone. My birthday is coming soon. However between those two milestones in our family is my other son’s birthday.
I share with you my difficult story, my story of a son longed for, loved, yet never held . . .
His name is Jacob. I am so thankful I have that. I am so thankful we named him. Since I have no milestones’ with Jacob I wanted to remember him this year, 10 years later.
My Dear Jacob,
I remember you often. My questions remain unanswered; they change with time. The emotion is not as intense as it once was. I have peace now. Although I have peace, I still miss you. I have questions. However I will refrain from asking. I know there are no answers.
Instead I will consider and reflect on how you have impacted me. I have come face-to-face with the grief of losing a child, you. Unfortunately I re-walked that same journey a short year after your birth with Grace as well. A mother should never have to say goodbye to her child in this or any other final way, let alone do it more than once. So I am now very familiar with grief, pain, and loss. I am a better, deeper, more compassionate person for it, Jacob. I can acknowledge that now, ten years later. But it certainly took time. I am able to walk into someone’s pain and loss, sit with them, not give answers where there are none, and share the journey in a unique way I never could have without having loved and lost both you and Grace.
I have always valued life, but I have a whole new capacity for that value now. I was not prepared for the depth of grief that hit me like a giant wave. It knocked me over, however I came out the other side, a survivor. That is the best way to describe my experience with losing my last two children. I survived. I survived emotionally and physically. I have scars, stories to tell, and gifts to share with others. Is that not what surviving leaves us with? However Jacob, I need to say, those are outcomes. They are not the reason for my loss. It added to my pain when others assigned the reason for my suffering: ‘to help others someday’. This assignment diminished my pain by making it a sacrifice in order to aid someone else. Perhaps this assignment of reason helped the one speaking yet for me – it added a new dimension of pain. So today I can say, yes, I see the impact. My depth, my growth, my compassion; they are mine. I choose to share with others. Identifying the difference has been essential for me; a balm for my soul to counteract the ‘well meaning’ yet meaningless words imposed upon me.
Spiritual survival is my next reflection. My spiritual journey was definitely impacted with losing you; however I would say it was positive with you. I could justify loss with statistical logic and say: “I guess it was my turn”, having given birth to three healthy kids already. However when I set foot on this very familiar, yet different, unwanted journey a year later when we said hello and goodbye to Grace, I was not so gracious in my spiritual response. Although I was broken, my spiritual journey with your loss was growth; I leaned into God, accepted His comfort, and saw His hand in our story. However that was not the case one short year later. Statistically now I had taken someone else’s turn. I didn’t want to. I didn’t understand it. I felt picked on, teased, and like a pawn in a bigger game. I hated being in that place again. After all, I felt I had already learned the lessons ‘one should’ learn through grief: sanctity of life, love, loss, and much more. Evidently there was more to learn.
The second time! The second time. . . I was shattered.
I had no control. I was angry. I was disillusioned. Unfortunately that continued for a long time. Far too long, frankly. . ,
I could not see God’s hand in my situation. My perspective had shifted to seeing it as if His hand were removed.
Only silence greeted my pleas. The static noise of anger and grief had deafened my ears.
I felt He was not there to lean on. In my brokenness I rejected comfort, believing there was none.
I faced a very dark and long journey of spiritual desert.
Well Jacob, I am starting to learn how the journey of suffering has its rewards as well. However those rewards are so paradoxical, complex, and appear so different they are hard to recognize as rewards. One such reward is that my soul has much greater capacity. Gerald Sittser in his book A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss, showed me some interesting perspectives on suffering. My soul’s capacity grew immensely with loss and grief. Experiencing so much emotion, pain, and hurt really impacted me. However my capacity to appreciate and value that which I had previously taken for granted also grew.
Jacob, my reflections are getting lengthy, I could continue for some time. I know you have purpose in Heaven and I cannot wait to greet you and Grace with my mother’s heart and arms in Heaven one day. For now, however I have life to continue to live with your sisters, brother, and dad.
I wanted to take time to say:
I remember – I will always remember you.
You still matter – You always will.
With Love Always,
As a family we went to the cemetery that has a tree for the Unknown Baby (see stone above). We went on his birthday. It was very meaningful for the five of us to remember our son/brother. I read my letter and we released it tied to these two balloons a 1 and a 0. We cried and remembered together, it was a special time for us. It gives us something to remember of this son with no memories. Here is a picture of our balloons in the tree where we go to remember our babies.
Here is more of my story: My Son Who Is in Heaven
How Can I Have Faith After Losing My Son?
For those Supporting a Loved One: