The following is an excerpt from something I wrote in 2006 as a senior in college. As I process my own son’s death, I remember the start of our family’s tragic journey of mourning our sons, nephews and grandsons…
A little boy lies in a secluded section of the cemetery called “Babyland.” Part of my heart is buried there.
I’m not sure how long this feeling will continue to plague me, both on this day and the rest of the time. But the very fact that it does plague, means that I have not completely shut out emotions. In a way, this serves to comfort me. In a way it serves to frustrate. Frustrate because I never know when it’s going to hit me. I know the triggers… the conversations, Bible verses, and songs that will cause me to meltdown, but I can’t predict or control what others say, what verses people choose to read out loud, and what gets played on the radio. I still scan the bulletin to make sure the verses and songs are safe. It’s become an obsession I guess. An obsession with maintaining my composure. Hoping that there is, after all, something that I can control. Control. Now that’s something I struggle with. For too long, my emotions controlled me. Then the anti-depressants controlled my emotions that controlled me. Now it’s my turn to control me.
But the truth is, none of us can control our emotions entirely. One chapter. One verse. That’s all that it takes for me to come unglued. Todd read it last month at Christian Student Movement. So if you wondered why I sat in my chair and sobbed or why I wasn’t composed enough to make announcements, that’s why. I wasn’t crying because I struggle with my own self-image or hated my own body as a teenager. I cried for a little boy.
Six years ago my sister had a son. He was beautiful, with ten fingers and ten toes, but no newborn’s cry. No heartbeat. Just stillness. At his funeral, the pastor read Psalm 139. It rips my heart apart to hear it now, just as it did then. Some wonder why I take it so hard. It wasn’t my child that died. “Some” don’t truly understand the bonds of sisterhood, the love and the pain that it entails.
I handle it better six years later. The tears aren’t so plentiful, but they’re still here. I’m not so angry. Not so bitter. I don’t need pills to help me make it through another day. I no longer lie in bed and wonder if dying would be better than facing another day. I can talk about it with my family now. I can let my God comfort me.
We’ve got MaryGrace now and she is the perfect little fireball of energy. I hope she grows up knowing about her big brother. The pain that we all went through. The joy that her birth brought. The amazing miracle that she’s alive. And now, with another little one on the way I’m terrified. Terrified that my sister’s body will again reject her unborn child. Afraid of the re-living the nightmare. I think that maybe that’s why I don’t call so much to see how she’s doing and ask about the baby. To become attached, to love is risky.
So today I remember. The hospital waiting room that I slept in. My sister’s silent tears. My angry ones. The nurse that held me when I broke down. The boyfriend that provided the hand to hold when it hurt to breathe. The ex-brother-in-law who now bears his pain alone. The changes that time has brought. The family bonds and faith in God that somehow managed to bring us all through it.
Today I wear blue. Baby blue.