Dear Mac; Silent moments, big tears

Dear Mac,

It is amazing how I go along without anything triggering my grief and then out of nowhere…. BAM!

It comes at the least expected time and in the most random way.

Thursday, I took your brother and sister to the town library. Hagen was being tutored for reading and (I’m certain you saw the entire thing) he was less than thrilled about it. He went so far as to remind me (as he was walking away… with the tutor) he was giving it 10 minutes and then I was to come get him. To say I was a little nervous about leaving the library was an understatement. I figured it would be the perfect chance for Suzie and I to get some quality time in while exploring the children’s section of the library.

We were having a blast! Suzie learned she could earn library cash for reading or completing worksheets and turn them in for prizes. Oh Mac, once she spotted the toy snake she was all GAME ON from there. She walked right up to the librarian and asked for a worksheet all by herself. It was great! Once she was finished she turned it in and demanded the snake. Your sister was on a mission.

The librarian did such a great job explaining to her she needed to turn in more work or read five more books. Suzie listened carefully. You could see her wheels a turning. She finally understood how to get that snake.

Know what she did next?

You got it. She demanded another worksheet. I’d love to say she asked but, you know your sister…

At least she said thank you, right?

Okay, no news is good news as far as your brother goes.  He must be cooperating despite the, “I’m ONLY staying ten minutes. I mean it” threat. Whew, thank goodness!

Suzie ended up finishing the worksheet and reading five more books but, by then…wait for it…. there was a line. Yes, another challenge for your sister. She, like most kids, completely skipped over the patience is a virtue lesson. But, you will be surprised to know she was patient. I was very proud of her. I thought for sure she would throw a slight tantrum. She didn’t. I was wrong. She waited and watched as other children (4 different families to be exact!) were turning in their library money for prizes. She didn’t lose sight of that blue plastic snake she wanted, keeping watch to make sure there were enough left for when it was her turn to cash in.

Finally, one more family and then we were next.

I listened as the women in front of us helped her two boys cash in their money. I loved and appreciated how the librarian directed the questions towards the kids no matter their age. I also loved listening to the kids answer the questions on their own. Their eyes would light up and a look of accomplishment would come over them. Pretty cool.

Suzie was starting to get a little impatient as the last little boy stepped up to the librarian in front of us. Just as I was reminding her to practice her patience- I heard it…

“How old are you?” asked the librarian. The little boy said, “Um, 21” and his mom quickly praised him with a “Great job!”, responding, “His birthday is July 21, 2012. That is where he got the 21.”

As they laughed at the pure cuteness of his answer I could feel it happening….

Everything suddenly seemed so far away, voices were muffled and although I was aware of everything around me, I felt like I was a thousand miles away in my own world.

Mac, I could feel the tears fill my eyes. There was a knot in my stomach. I looked down at the little boy and fought back tears with everything I had. He was YOUR age. Three weeks, Mac, just three weeks difference. Then it all came flooding in… I was caught by surprise and slammed into grief. Is this what you would be doing right now? I watched him and tried so hard to picture what you would look like. How tall would you be? I imagined where you would come up to me. Would you still have dark hair? Would you have known your birthday? Would you have been with Suzie and I at the library waiting on your big brother, Hagen, to finish his tutoring? Would you be shy or outgoing and talkative like your brother and sister? What books would you liked to look at? Would you have tried to read them to me like your sister does?

This was so hard, Mac. I have so many questions about you and I don’t have these answers. That hurts so much. It makes me angry. I don’t get to hold your hand and encourage you as you grow and learn. I wanted that, Mac. I wanted to have you here. I wanted you to stay.

I knew I needed to stop myself before Suzie looked up at me.

I gently wiped my eyes and moved towards the desk, watching this little reminder walk away. I missed you so much in that moment. I could have spent hours wondering all the “what ifs” that come to me when a moment like this hits.

Then like most other what I call “silent moments”, something brings me back to reality. This time it was your sister throwing her money at the librarian in excitement and saying in a very silly Gremlin like voice, “Gimme that snake, lady!” She quickly looked up at me, knowing that in her excitement she may not have made the best decision in that moment. Suzie quickly added, “Um, please and thank you” flashing her big smile in an attempt to save herself. God, I love her! I tried not to giggle too much but, I needed that crazy little moment to snap me back to the present. I’m sure you have heard me ask God many time why he made me the mom of such a strong willed little girl. Sometimes, I wonder if I can handle my little Suzie and all that passion, fire and spunk God placed inside her. Then again, in moments like these, I can’t help but thank Him for that little girl, all her qualities and for allowing me to be her mom.

Your brother and sister really do help me through so many of these silent moments. Most of the time they have no idea they are helping me but, they are.

I love you, Mac Bryson. I love you to the moon and back. I always will.

Love,

Mommy

Insights & Advice From A Grieving Mom

Sometimes, as grieving parents, we have moments we keep to ourselves. Moments that stop us in our tracks, make us lose focus or even quickly change our mood. Chances are this has nothing to do with you. It is not something you said or something we blame anyone for. It is just a silent moment. A trigger where we remember our loss or (as I did at the library) briefly get a glimpse of what could have been.

Have patience with us, we are fighting a rollercoaster of emotions. It isn’t always something we talk about. You might be surprised to learn although I speak very openly about my grief, I still have many moments that are mine alone. Moments where it is just me and God that know how close I came to bursting into tears at the grocery store, public library or my children’s classroom. This is something I have learned that just comes with the territory. It isn’t always something terrible. I have learned to appreciate what it has brought to my life as well. I credit it for giving me strength and the knowledge I am capable of standing on my own two feet if need be. It has brought confidence and courage. It has also brought great appreciation for those that allow me to lean on when needed.

My advice, the next time someone seems to react or respond in a manner that is less than desirable, do not take it personally. Think of me in the library. Anyone watching me would never have known I was thinking of my stillborn son. The possible judgements of me are endless for that moment. Who knows, maybe I looked like some crazy lady just shy of a mental break down. Or (and this is a good one) maybe I looked like someone who was not capable of handling the stress their willful 5 year old daughter brings. My point is nobody knew me. Nobody knew I was suddenly slammed into a wall, facing my grief once again and daydreaming of what life would look like if my stillborn son was here. I could have easily been judged, snubbed and ridiculed.

Again, because this is worth repeating….

My advice, the next time someone seems to react or respond in a manner that is less than desirable, do not take it personally. If they suddenly become quiet or sad at a family function, don’t take it personally. Don’t get upset or angry at them. They are fighting a battle you might not be aware of. Silent moments sneak up on us anywhere and it isn’t anything we can prepare for. Love us through it. We need you. We need you even if we don’t say it. We do.