Today would have been my second son’s 18th birthday.
Sadly, he didn’t even make it to his first one.
Nor to the anniversary of his first month,
Some would say I should be “over it” by now.
But that’s just a load of bunkum!
Cody Luke was, and is, my son.
I just haven’t had the privilege of being a face to face mum with him.
Or the privilege of creating a lifetime of memories that include him.
I haven’t had the privilege of parenting him.
I haven’t had the privilege of helping him learn to
ride a bike,
tie his shoes,
or read a book.
I haven’t had the privilege of
playing with him,
hanging out with him,
bandaging his wounds,
enjoying life with him
or even wiping his nose.
I haven’t had the privilege of watching him grow up,
or watching him spread his wings and fly.
He spread his wings and flew away a long, long time ago.
I wasn’t even with him.
And my heart is still broken.
It beats, but it is different now.
And it always will be.
Did you know that hearts go on beating when they are broken?
I have learned to live with this brick in my pocket.
And that’s okay.
This is who I am.
This is my journey.
It isn’t raw like it was in the early days.
I can now look at another baby without being blinded by tears.
I can now – almost – watch a helicopter without feeling sick.
I can live an awesome life without feeling burdened by a weight of grief.
The brick doesn’t feel so heavy anymore.
It feels familiar and simply part of me.
“Do babies grow up in heaven?” my daughter wants to know.
She thinks they probably do,
but I think maybe that’s not fair
because I want so desperately to hold my baby in my arms again.
I don’t know how things are in eternity, but I know this:
I miss my little-baby-come-big-grown-up-teenage-boy.
Whether I get to hold my baby in my arms again one day,
or whether I get to have a great big bear hug with an adult,
I know this one thing:
My faith in a life that goes beyond our final breath is my sanity in all of this.
It is the hope that has kept me …. hopeful.
It is the root of peace in my soul.
That – and the fact that I saw into his eyes.
So many do not get that beautiful privilege.
Cody, you were so wanted.
You are so grieved.
I still miss you!
I wonder how different life would have been if you hadn’t left so soon.
I would change so many things if I could,
hoping it might have led to a different outcome
but I would never change the decision to bring you into the world.
I like to think my experience of birth, loss and grief has made me
A better mum to your siblings,
A more compassionate person,
A voice of hope to those who suffer.
You have two other brothers and a sister now.
Only one of them met you, but they all know of you, and speak of you.
And this is such a comfort to me.
I am thankful for society’s newfound awareness of the need to
our little babies who died too soon.
Today we had birthday cake in your memory.
I just wish you were here to blow out the candles.
I wonder how you would have celebrated your 18th birthday?
An 18th Birthday – Without the Birthday Boy
I’ll finish off with how our night finished off: having a bit of fun with our new toy! That which was once a source of pain and despair, has today become a source of fun and laughter.
Well, a milestone has come …. and gone.
Which is pretty much how grief is, I guess.
The hard days come, but the hard days also go.
And even in the midst of sadness and grief,
there can be laughter and good times.
It is not a black and white, linear process.
It is a black, white, grey, and sometimes multi-coloured
swirling sea with patches of calm, great depths,
and sometimes wild, crashing waves.
In a way, Cody’s birth and death feel like yesterday,
and in another way it is as though it happened to someone else,
or in a different lifetime.
The end result is, the loss never goes away,
the hole is always there.
But you get used to living with it.
Like a hole in a favourite pair of jeans
The hole moves with the fabric and adds character.
You move on with life, living differently than how you did before.
Your perspective on what matters is different, for the better!
You don’t stay the same as how you were;
hopefully you become more gracious, empathic and understanding.
Pain can be a pathway to peace;
the kind of peace that is not dependent on good times,
or happy circumstances;
the kind of peace that is a constant uncurrent beneath the storms of life.
To those who grieve,
You will be okay.
I will be okay.
I AM okay.