July 5, 2014 - Six months since Jack died. It was a hard day. Mark and the kids were all out of town and I was home alone. It was a day of gut-wrenching, bring me to my knees cries of grief like I hadn’t experienced to that point and haven’t experienced since.
July 5, 2018 – Four years, six months since Jack died. Today, I feel at peace.
When your child dies, time is forever measured. In the beginning, time is measured in terms of how long he’s been gone. One week, one month, six months, one year since I last held him. Over the last four years, my perspective has shifted. I now measure time in terms of how much closer I am to seeing him again. It’s no longer four years, six months since I last held him; it’s four years, six months closer to seeing him again. This perspective is life-saving. It’s how I continue to breathe, and survive, and thrive in his absence. I’d give anything to have never had to let him go, but I live with the confidence that each day is one day closer to being with him again.
Recently, I received a message from a friend that said,
“You post a lot of profound statements, makes me think I don’t know you near as well.”
She asked me how I have changed since Jack died.
How have I changed since Jack died?
Jack changed me profoundly when he was living. But after he died, well, my heart cracked wide open. I feel life more deeply, more spiritually, more compassionately, more everything. Life is just MORE now. I can’t explain it other than to say that I feel Jack’s spirit in me. All that was good about Jack – and Jack was ALL good – fills my heart and my head in ways that I tangibly feel. It’s a feeling that overwhelms me at times. I’m an emotional mess most of the time. I’m in tears often. I hurt when other people hurt. And I know so many people who are hurting. The trajectory of my life completely changed because Jack lived and, even in death, he continues to lead me to people and in ways I never imagined. Jack was as pure a soul as they come and his spirit challenges me every single day to live a life reflective of his goodness.
My relationship with God has changed profoundly. I am more spiritual. I have little tolerance for religion. I feel a much deeper connection with God than ever before. I have absolutely no fear of death. I recently penned out a short piece I titled “Because He Has My Son” about my changed relationship with God and religion since Jack died. I’m not yet prepared to share it (don’t know that I ever will be), but if I’m meant to share it, I’ll know when.
I think that's the biggest change for me since Jack died - the overwhelming feeling of being led. In simple ways and in bigger ways. I feel led to act, to write, to share. It doesn’t come from me, it comes from God or Jack or some other force. All I do is say “Yes”. I'm learning to listen, trust, and allow. Because what do I have to lose? I've already lost what is most precious to me - my child. Great suffering leads to great freedom. Freedom to follow your heart. Freedom to take risks. With freedom comes peace.
So today, four years and six months closer to being with Jack again, I still miss him, I still ache for him, and I still cry for him. But with my heart cracked wide open, I feel more deeply, I care more deeply, I love more deeply, and I live more freely. I listen, I trust, I allow. And I say "Yes" to any opportunity that allows me to reflect the grace, goodness, and great love that was my sweet Jack.
Onward it is.