I began grieving for my son the day we found out that there was a problem with his kidneys. I remember Michelle telling me that there was very little fluid around him and I just knew...I knew but could not make myself face it in that moment. When I was pregnant with Lucie Rose, I thought I had some fluid leakage before she was born. So I went in and had an ultrasound to learn that there were 11 centimeters of fluid surrounding her which was completely in the normal range. When Eli's fluid was measured, he had three centimeters. Two day later he had none. When we first discovered he had little fluid my mind began racing. What could this mean? I was sure there had been no leakage. Could he live with no fluid? So many questions...so many thoughts. I knew this was serious, but my children were in there and I did not want to scare them. I just looked at Jamie and said, "this is bad, this is not good, it is bad." There were some tears at this point, but I held off until I went to the nurse's office and I saw her face. Then, I knew for sure. I knew in my heart of hearts that this baby was not meant for me to keep. I've said it before, I'll say it again. I do not have any idea how I made it home the 50 plus miles I had to drive. I have little if any recollection, other than sobbing, of that drive home. Somehow about an hour later, I pulled into my garage. I walked into my empty house with my little girl surrounded by a hazy fog. Jamie had taken the boys to Upward for their first practices. This day began my "new life".
Eli's diagnosis was not confirmed until two days later...but I knew. I can not explain it to you how I knew. I just did. Even though I knew in my heart that his time would be brief, I prayed desperately and deeply for a miracle. I prayed for God to let my little boy be the one to bring others to Him through his healing. It is almost like God was answering my prayers verbally by whispering to my soul, "not this one, he has a different purpose." Still, I prayed when I could. There were honestly times, and still are by the way, when I had no words to pray. I just had to let my heart cry out to God, because my mind would not. I have a theory about this and it may be completely off base, it is just what I think. I think that during those times when we can not pray for ourselves, God uses others to pray for us. He knows our innermost thoughts and knows that we need prayer, so he calls on others to lift us up to him. I went to work one morning and while signing in Mrs. Ellis, the secretary said, "Mrs. Hill, God had me up this morning at 2:30 praying for you and Eli." She said she woke up with the overwhelming need to pray for us. So, she did.
Somehow it was just wrong to grieve for a child that was so alive in my belly. I couldn't help it though. I was grieving for what was to come, all the while trying my best to make the most of what time we had. Dr. K even mentioned during a visit the our grief was not new so maybe it would not be as difficult then "D" day came. He did not say it that way, but that was the point he was making. I thought he might just be right until the most difficult day of my life was upon us.
I think until Eli was born and gone, I had just been scratching the surface of grief. You know, when we were still spending time with Eli there was a certain amount of peace. Our grief, although present, was somewhat contained. There were tears and heartache, sure, but we also had him, or the shell of his soul, to cling to. Once he was gone, the pain was unbearable...the cries guttural...the grief, more intense that one could ever imagine. There is only one way it could have been worse and that is if we did not have the hope of an eternity to spend with him and God's arms of comfort surrounding us.
This journey of grief that we are on now is different everyday...every moment sometimes. Not only is it different from day to day, it is also different for me than it is for Jamie...different not less. I have learned that grief is different for everyone. We all approach it differently. It does not mean that we are not hurting one as bad as the other, just that we deal with it diversely.
Grief has taken me down some roads that I wished did not exist. I have never been really prone to anxiety before, but now it seems constant. I detest the way anxiety makes me feel. I hate how my arms ache from emptiness. I hate how the smallest thing will change my mood. I can not stand being scatterbrained and forgetful. It literally drives me crazy that some days I do not have the will to get up and do things that need to be done. I get short tempered with my children more often that I used to and that makes me more sad. I want to talk about Eli, but other's expect me to be moving on so I stop myself before sharing. I second guess myself more than I used to. I feel so alone sometimes. I have a gigantic fear of forgetting even the slightest detail of Eli's life. I could go one but I won't.
On the other hand, grief has given me many gifts. I find myself wanting to draw nearer to God. My relationship with Jamie has strengthened. I understand the fragility of life a little better. I have made new friends. I have been able to share Eli on this blog. I love that I have been able to meet other's on this road (although I hate they are on it). I have experienced the compassion of others. I know what it is like to feel surrounded in prayer and let me tell you, it is beyond belief. I understand the grief of others more clearly. I could go on here also, but I will not.
These experiences with grief are unique to me. That does not mean that other's do not feel some of them. I just think that we all walk this path in different places. I have yet to feel anger, but that does not mean I will not. It just means it has not arrived to this point. Honestly, I hope it does not. If it does, I will deal with it. The great part is, I do not have to deal with it alone.
It truly surprises me how physical grief is. I expected it to me emotional. I expected tears and heartache. I did not expect fatigue, nausea, my heart to race, a literal unexplained ache from time to time. Those things, I was not prepared for. Then again, how does one prepare for the loss of a child. You just can't because your mind will not go there until it is forced to.
Grief is hard work. It is something that requires rest, prayer, love, patience, kindness, compassion, and ________ (insert your word(s) here). So often society expects people to put aside grief for its comfort. People do not like to see others hurting. I get that. What I do not get is how anyone could expect a person just to put all of their emotions aside and go on with business as usual. You know another thing that grief has shown me? It has shown me that you never know what someone else is dealing with. If someone cuts you off in traffic, maybe they just found out that their baby would die, so their mind is not where it should be. If someone seems to blow you off when you speak, maybe they were having a moment right then and could not talk. If someone is rude, maybe they are angry because they had to bury their baby. You just never know.
Grief is a full time job sometimes. At least that has been my experience so far.
While I know my grief has been consuming at times, it still is not as bad as it could be. I cannot and would not even want to imagine being here without God. I do not know where I would be today if it were not for his arms of protections.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18Wherefore comfort one another with these words.