When my oldest was 18 months old, I clearly remember breaking down in tears for fear I would lose him. The fear was so real and the pain of it felt unbearable. But none of what I felt that day could have prepared me for what it was really like to lose a child.
We lost our 5th child, Emily, when she was 7 months old. It was unexpected and devastating. The hardest thing I have ever had to do was hand my child’s lifeless body to a woman I did not know and walk away. The second hardest thing I have ever had to do was heal.
When a woman loses a child, she loses a piece of her future. I see Emmy everywhere. I see her in the children who are the age she would be now, I see her in children who are the age she was when she died. I see her every time I tell people I have 7 children. I am sure I will continue to “see” her until the day I die, when I really will get to see her again. Therein lies the hope that gets me through.
Through my blog, I have met many other women living this same nightmare and many more women afraid of someday having to live this nightmare. I ache for the first group of women because this is a sort of “club” no one wants to join, but once you do, you are forever linked together by tragedy and pain. However, to the second group, I find myself wanting to reach out and tell them something valuable, something that has to be said…
Don’t live in fear.
Don’t squander time with your precious children wondering if death is right around the corner. Don’t make choices based on fear and anxiety. Live life to the fullest!
I tell my story not to scare, but to inspire. You see, I didn’t know Emily was going to die. Our family continued to live and breathe like a normal family until that Sunday morning we lost her. I did not hover and hold my breath at every corner. I simply rocked her, nursed her, and loved her with all my might. For that, I am so very thankful.
If you have lost a child, I am sorry. I know your pain and I ache for you as you walk this path. You will never be the same, but in many ways you will find you are a better person.
If you have not lost a child, hug your little ones a little tighter, but avoid carrying around a pain that is not yours to carry. Don’t spend your days living a nightmare that doesn’t belong to you.
I didn’t sign up for this. I would never have chosen this for our family, yet this is what I have been handed. This is my story. What matters now is what I do with my story. It is the same for every other mother out there. She will have her own nightmares; she will have her own triumphs. Mothering has very little to do with what “might” happen. It is much more about taking your own experiences, telling your own stories, living your own life in a way that inspires others. Don’t spend your days living a nightmare.
Spend your days living!