Child Loss, Family, Parenting, self Care

Dear Joey

Dear Joey,

As I sit here in front of the Christmas tree,  I can’t help but wonder what your Christmas was like. Every year I wonder what life would be like if we had you here with us. What would you ask Santa for? Would you and Jack like the same things, or would you have different tastes? We have a stocking here for you, to always keep you close to our hearts always. It holds a pair of angel wings that Santa delivered for you a couple of years ago. You should have seen Jack’s face when he read the note that came with them. He was so proud of you for earning them!

It seems hard to believe that 5 years have already passed since I last held you in my arms. I remember the first Christmas after we lost you like it was yesterday. It was by far the hardest, but also the most beautiful, which is very hard to explain. I sat in the rocking chair in the living room holding Jack after one of his feedings in the middle of the night. The house was silent and peaceful, and the only light that illuminated the room was the white lights of the tree. Jack snoozed away in my arms, as I contemplated my life. So many things ran through my mind that night.

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Love

If love could have saved you, you would be here with us today. I hope you know how much you are loved. From the moment I knew you were a part of me, I have loved you so deeply that it hurts. Each time that we learned of a new challenge that you would face while you were still in my womb, it broke my heart. But I still held out hope. I loved you so much, and somehow thought that if I kept you safe and loved you, I could keep you alive. Sadly, God had other plans for you my sweet boy, but I did my best to keep you safe as long as I could. On that first Christmas night after you were born, I came to terms with the fact I truly had done everything I could for you while you were alive. One thing I didn’t do though, was serve your legacy after you left this earth. That is one thing I am working on, and I hope you can see what I am working toward for you buddy. Mommy has big dreams for you still, and one day you are going to change the world. Your love has given my life purpose, and we are going to do so much good together. They say that grief is just love that has no where to go. This year, I found a way to use my love for you to share your story in a way to help others, and it helped to heal my heart in a way that I didn’t know was possible. I will still always grieve for you, and will never get over losing you, but somehow fighting to keep your memory alive and sharing your story with others has given my life a new found purpose. Sharing my love for you with others has been rewarding in so many ways. I know you have helped me along the way, and for that I will always be thankful.

 

Life

For so many years, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was an average student, studied business and economics in college, met your Daddy and got married, got a job that paid the bills, started to have babies, and had good friends. On the outsdie, everything looked perfect. But on the inside, I felt empty. I had no passion. There was no hobby, or any desire to be something or do something, that had any impact on the world. And don’t we all want to leave some kind of impact? If not on the world, then maybe on our community? On our family? What will we be remembered for?

I could feel a deep desire to help others, and to be a part of something bigger, but I had no idea what. On that first Christmas Eve, as I sat watching Jack sleep, I thought about how empty I felt. I was missing you, missing the baby I thought I could save. I felt worthless and alone, and my internal dialogue was telling myself that the emptiness was here to stay. I was not made for anything bigger. I do not have a greater purpose. I was made to be a wife and momma, and I needed to accept that. Now as I look back, I feel bad for that version of me from 5 years ago. This year, I still have a lot of work to do, but I know that my life has a much greater purpose. I have found my way out of that dark tunnel, and am walking through the light. I now know that my life was meant to be so much more, and even if every day isn’t perfect, it’s not meant to be. Progress is more important than perfection, and I am making progress to the woman I know that I am meant to be. Thank you for helping to lead me there, and for watching over me and pointing me in the right direction.

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Guilt

One of the most difficult parts of losing you has always been the guilt I feel. Because I had you and Jack, I was torn between pain and joy consistently. I had one healthy and happy baby that eventually came home, and one that we had to say goodbye to way too soon. The number of times my emotions are torn between tears and smiles, screams and laughter, and pain and joy are hard to handle. I imagine it is also hard for others to handle as well. I found myself feeling guilty for the happiness I felt at having Jack home for his first Christmas. And then if I was allowing myself to grieve you, then I felt guilty that I was not giving Jack enough attention. No matter what I did it was wrong, and there was nothing I could do to be right. It took me years to navigate this, and some days I am still not sure I will ever get it right, but it feels like I am getting a little closer every day. I think this will be one that will follow me forever though.

Pride

Since I don’t get to tell you this as often as I do your siblings- I am so proud of you. With everything you had stacked up against you, I would have understood if you had given up sooner. But you held on as long as you could for your brother. You tried your best to stick around for us, to meet mommy and daddy and Jack. You knew we needed you to stay, and so you hung around, for a good 5 weeks after your water broke, signaling a beginning of the end for your stay with us. I knew your time was coming, and althought I prayed you would find a way to stay with us longer, I knew that it was only a matter of time before God needed you more. But you made him wait. You knew Jack needed more time. You knew he needed to get bigger, and have a bit longer to grow before he would be safe. Even when your heart didn’t want to keep going, and you had nothing left to give, you stayed. I am so darn proud of you, and your determination to stay.

You saved us all.

I miss you so much little man. I just hope you know how much you have helped me to grow this year. You have given my life so much purpose, and shown me who I am meant to be.

I love you,

Mommy

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