Three years

seems like life keeps speeding by doesn't it?

we had a baby. a beautiful little boy. his name is McKay, and he was born on August 29th. i want to do a post about his birth, this is not that post.  i need to get pictures off of kendall's phone first.

(i have felt the need to write down some thoughts about Christian.  as much as this is a "journal" it is a place for me to write happy and sad things. comment if you want, but like in You've Got Mail "I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void."  really it's more like there IS no hard and fast answer for the way i feel...)

as i write this it is October 10.  October 11th was the day that drastically changed our lives.  the day our son Christian passed away.  3 years ago. i can scarcely believe that it was 3 years ago.  and in the same breath, it feels SO much longer.  i can't adequately explain the way time has behaved since he passed.  i think one reason that it feels so much longer ago is that i feel like i was a different person then, that i am a different person now, since he is gone.

(Christian at the hospital when he was born)
i do not in any way mean to be overly dramatic, but when a sudden tragic, life altering event occurs, such as a child passing away, that changes a person. in a large way.  our entire family landscape is changed and we, as individuals, are profoundly altered.  i am sure that each of us is changed in different ways.  i know what has happened to me. i know i am more aware of how short a time we may have on this earth.  i know that i get super anxious when kendall and all the kids go somewhere without me...i worry. a lot.  really i am terribly afraid that someone else will pass away in our family. i also have a hard time saying "he died" in reference to Christian. it just sounds harsh, even though i know he is gone.  we live quite close to the cemetery where Christian is buried, when we first moved i found i passed by it many times. and i could not bear to pass it without some kind of acknowledgement of my son...so i blow him a kiss. every time we go by there. those are small things that have happened to me, i can see some of what has changed with the kids and kendall, but i am not them, so i can't tell you for sure.

the level of grief that i felt in the immediate aftermath of finding out that he had passed away was super intense, and stayed at a very intense level for quite a while.  but that level of grief is not sustainable over time. you simply can't live that way.  eventually i have found the level at which i can live.  am i still grieving? you betcha.  i feel very acutely the absence of a very energetic 3 year old boy.  sometimes i feel like i can catch a glimpse of him in the midst of our chaos, as he runs by me.  i think about him everyday.   

he is still the bath i am not giving, the lunch i am not making.  i do not know what he prefers for dinner or if he likes orange juice or apple juice better.

with each child that we have added to our family after Christian (Camryn and Mckay) i have felt anew the sadness that these siblings won't play together here on earth.  that i won't get to watch the beautiful relationships they would have. i have no doubt, whatsoever, that we all knew each other before this life, and that we will be together again, after this life is over.  but here and now, with my finite, human mind, i am sad that all my children aren't together.

i almost feel like i am lying to people when they ask me how many kids we have, or when i was pregnant, what baby this was for us.  it is six, 6!!! six children.  4 boys and 2 girls. he was really here, i will continue to count him, always.  sometimes i explain to people the discrepancy, and sometimes i just don't. and sometimes i just let them count who they can see, and so they assume the number is 5. and then i feel disingenuous towards Christian, like maybe i am not remembering him the way i should, or like he wasn't really here, so he shouldn't be counted.  Blake (and Avery) will draw pictures of our family.  sometimes Blake especially won't put Christian in the picture, and sometimes i point it out. he makes sure to tell me that he is just drawing people who are in the house, not those in heaven. i gently remind him that he can always include Christian, and he tells me he knows he can. and sometimes he does. just not all the time.  

looking at these pictures i am bawling...i just want him back.  i just wish with all my soul that this awful, terrible experience had never happened. not that HE hadn't happened, just that his surgery went well and he came  home with us, instead of what really happened.  it isn't fair. but life isn't fair. it was never meant to be.  i know this.  i relearn it everyday.  even though this is still so difficult to process and deal with, i would never, ever not have him.  the time he spent with our family is precious to me, he is precious to me.  what a sweet soul he is, and was, while he was here.  i am so very grateful for him, for his place in our family.  and so, in a way, i guess i am grateful for the grief; it is so hard and painful because we loved him so much.   

(When he had to go back to the hospital around 3 weeks old)

we try to visit Christian's grave every month.  we will hopefully do so on the 11th, because we are thinking of him and remembering him all that much extra.  that this is our reality is still very unsettling sometimes to me.  that this is our normal.  i know so many others have had children pass away, so many others have endured so much heartache.  this is my heartache though, my baby.  i know that our family can be together forever, and we try to live everyday worthy of that amazing opportunity.  

we miss our little man so very very much.  i hope he knows how much we love him and how much we wish he was here. the plan for Christian's life was different than we had ever wanted, we are learning to accept it and live with it.  

i was reminded of the poem "Death, be not proud" by John Donne recently and so i looked it up.  

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


Cari Florence said...

Jen, he is so incredibly handsome! It's heartbreaking to look at those pictures and see the immense amount of joy you all felt when he joined your family, knowing the unbelievable amount of pain you must have felt when he left.

I love your thoughts on the passing of time and why it feels so recent, yet also so long ago. A loss that great changes you to your core and makes you grow far beyond what you ever thought was possible. May you have a beautiful day celebrating your angel tomorrow!

Melody said...

Thank you for sharing this. The beautiful, painful, vulnerable story of your life after loss. <3

Lacey said...

Love you Jen. I was so touched when you talked about not knowing what foods and drinks he would like. life is so precious and all those tedious things we do day in and day out should be celebrated more often. Thank you for your words! I hope tomorrow is a day of peace and togetherness! Love you!

Mariley Johnson said...

My heart is aching for you. Thanks for sharing. And congrats on the addition of Mckay.

Natalie said...

Thanks for sharing this. I really appreciate when people can be real about how they are feeling and what they are going through. I still think of you guys often and Christian's passing. I'm really sorry you all have such a hard trial to bear.

Elizabeth O. said...

Hello my sweet friend Jen. I want you to know I think of your sweet Christian all the time!!He is the most precious little man. He was adorable! I'm so glad I got to be at church to hear his baby blessing and play the organ at his emotional and beautiful funeral. He seriously will never be forgotten. Not by you. Not by me. Love you!!