Loose Boards

Early on, in my grief journey, someone told me about “Loose Boards.” When you are in the store, and a song comes on that you weren’t expecting, that’s a loose board. When you are at a place that you had gone with your loved one and the memory comes flying back, that is a loose board. When you are cleaning and you find something that you hadn’t seen in a long time, that is a loose board.

Loose Boards can smack you down so fast.

This morning, I was cleaning the laundry room, of all places. When I moved the detergent, I found Jackson’s wallet that his friend Mya made for him. Inside, it had his first library card.

It’s these moments that can bring you to your knees multiple times in one day.

It’s when you are faced with the reality that your child will never use his wallet again.

He will never go to the library again.

In those moments, all of the memories come flooding back. I think back to all of the times that we went to the library together. We would visit the library weekly so there are a lot of memories attached to something so simple.

Then I think about his friend Mya, who made the wallet for him. She also had cancer but she beat it. We met her at Little Gym, while she was fighting cancer and I told her mom about St. Baldrick’s because she didn’t know about the organization. I shaved in honor of Mya the year after we met her. And her family started to do fundraisers for St. Baldrick’s. And Jackson shaved his head at their event raising $1200 in one night. This was 4 months before cancer took him from us.

It’s crazy how something so small can de-rail you.

As a bereaved parent, it takes so much to get through one day without your beloved child. It’s almost unbelievable how your mind can think about them every single second of the day. It’s like I have a movie playing in my head all day. It is nothing short of a miracle that I can accomplish anything with as busy as my mind can be. And add parenting a busy, demanding 4 year old all the while, it reminds me why I don’t have much to give when the day is done.

Some may see this as a sign and maybe it is. These signs are a mixed bag for me. I love to think about Jackson saying hello to me but I want him here and I can’t have that. I’m hopeful that when the grief is not so raw that I will be able to see these loose boards as signs but for now, it causes me so much pain.

Miracles

Miracles are a difficult thing for me to talk about these days. I believe in miracles. I watched miracles happen when my kids were born and when I gave birth to someone else’s baby. I see people talking about praying for a miracle. I see people saying that their prayers are working so keep praying for whatever it is they are asking for. I don’t mean to diminish anyone’s need for a miracle. We all need miracles. There was a Christmas song that I kept hearing with the words, “there can be miracles if you believe.”

Well, we prayed for a miracle for our son. We had people praying all over the country that there would be a miraculous recovery for our 7 year old. He was not given a miracle. We were not given a miracle. Personally, I’m not mad at God, I don’t blame God and I don’t feel that this was God’s will because the God I serve is a God of love. But I have a constant, nagging question that I may never get the answer to. If there can be miracles, if you believe, why wasn’t our boy given a miracle? Did I not pray hard enough? Did I not believe enough? We wanted a miracle more than anything in this world but we didn’t get what we prayed for.

I will always wonder why our miracle was not granted. I try not to drive myself crazy about it but he deserved a miracle just like anyone else. This is a serious struggle for me. When you lose a child, you question everything about everything. You try to make sense out of something that makes no sense at all. You feel everything at such an intensity so feeling like my boy was not given a miracle, it’s a powerful intense feeling. Our grief therapist tells us to “screw the why’s” because you won’t get the answers to your questions this side of heaven. And I try to not obsess over it. It will be something I will find out when I am reunited with my precious boy. Until then, I will always wonder.

Intensity and anticipation

Recently, I have been very reflective about my grief journey. Thus far, it sometimes surprises me just how intensely I feel everything. If I get angry about something, I get very angry. When I find joy, it is intense joy. When there is am injustice, I want to right it, if at all possible. I’ve read that people almost actually miss the intensity of early grief. Most of the time, I don’t know how to feel and I can’t really anticipate much in the future because I try really hard to stay in today. When I go too far one way or the other, it’s too much for me.

With Christmas just passing, I realized so much of my anxiety came from the anticipation of it. How would I feel? How would I handle it? How could I be happy for my little guy while missing my big guy? At this point, it feels like the anticipation of an event seems a lot worse than the actual event. I’m not saying the actual event is always amazing or easy.

When I’ve been in an unfamiliar situation, I find myself anticipating someone asking me how many kids I have. Well I have 2 kids, but one of them died. When I’m around people who know our story, I don’t have to worry about this, but I get nervous to have to bring the conversation to that level. So far, I haven’t had anyone run away in horror. I’ve actually had people tear up instantly. It always shocks me to be the one delivering this horrific story. There are times that the weight of my grief feels so heavy that I don’t want to get into it. Other times, I am waiting for the question to be asked so I can tell them how amazing my sweet boy was. I really don’t know until the event occurs.

Ive already learned so much about myself, other people and grief. I have so much to learn but the most prevalent thing I’ve learned is that everyone has their battles. While I don’t feel the need to categorize whose loss or battle is the worst, because I know our loss is a huge one, losing our boy has made me empathize with others even more than I have before.