Twenty-eight years ago, a miracle happened when a child was born.
When you think about everything that must occur prior to any birth, the precise nature of so many scientific details, every delivery is miraculous.
When I began writing this post, I realized that twenty-eight years ago, at the exact same hour, I was timing and logging contractions that signaled an approaching end to an otherwise picture-perfect pregnancy.
I had worked and waddled my way through the day before, exhausted by my thirty-eight-weeks gestation belly but energized by the idea of motherhood that was soon to come.
At 2:54 in the afternoon I phoned my doctor and was instructed by the phone nurse to head over to the hospital and to be prepared for delivery!
Our bags were packed and we were ready to go, but unlike those John Denver lyrics, there would be no chance to say goodbye.
You see, Neighbor, our precious boy, Gavin Michael, aspirated on his meconium (the baby’s first stool) and was, for reasons unknown, unable to survive this commonly non-fatal occurrence.
I remember receiving two Mother’s Day cards and I wept. What kind of mother has no child?
I remember thinking from my morphine-induced stupor that I didn’t want to spend a lifetime mourning my son. I didn’t know what that meant, what it looked like on the other side, or how the heck I was ever going to get there, but I knew what I didn’t want.
I grieved. I swore. I shut down. I smiled. I wailed and railed at God, at myself, and at the universe.
I went on to suffer two miscarriages and three more complicated, but successful pregnancies.
I grieved. I ignored my grief. I sought answers to my many questions.
In those earliest of years, every single Mother’s Day felt like torture. Even after I had living children, I struggled for years with guilt and a nagging fear about whether or not I should be celebrating.
Those early times when my son’s Birth-Death Day coincided with Mother’s Day, my heart ached so I thought it might implode, collapsing me into myself until there was nothing left but the now breathable air, air that in my presence had been heavy and toxic.
I longed for healing. I feared so many things. I acted brave.
I repeated those chaotic steps so many times.
Tragedy often leaves us feeling like we are in a perpetual rinse and repeat cycle of grief and hope.
But today, twenty-eight years later, I can honestly tell you that I no longer mourn my son.
I guess I hadn’t really understood what I DID want, until I put it into words while writing Digging for the Light: One Woman’s Journey from Heartache to Hope.
What I wanted was to one day celebrate my son’s life.
And today, I do just that.
Today I imagine a heaven filled with desserts in every color, flavor, and texture.
The newest and youngest souls have chocolate spread from ear to ear and cake crumbs strewn to eternity.
In place of any pain, suffering, guilt, or shame lies laughter, freedom, light, and a love so strong and bright that we Humans can only imagine.
In Heaven, there is a unity created by eternal bonds that know no boundaries and no limits.
Healing happens in Heaven. And on Earth.
A few days ago I wanted to make an appointment with someone who came highly recommended in helping me with some difficult life situations I’ve been facing.
“I’m booking into the end of June,” she said.
We discussed the couple of times a day I would be able to schedule an appointment and as she began thumbing through her calendar I could hear hesitation in her voice.
“I don’t know how this happened, but it seems I have a five o’clock opening this Friday, May 11th.”
I knew in my heart that my boy had been a part of that.
As I told Warren about it, I heard Gavin say, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.”
Thank you, Son, and a very Happy Birthday to you!
I love you as big as the whole wide world!
And to you, Neighbor, thank you for sharing this day with me.
If you are struggling, please have hope and know that you, too, can move beyond this pain that has you grasping for air and into a place of peace that feels right for you…in your own time and in your own way…
Until next time, yours in hope, healing, and happiness,