13 October 2010

Present Tense

Last night, I cried and screamed until my throat was raw. I screamed and kicked and cried until I reached a point of physical exhaustion at which I wasn't able to kick or scream or cry anymore.  My son is gone, and I'm angry. Furious. Experiencing sadness to a depth I didn't know was possible until he arrived.

All around us, people are having perfectly healthy babies. People are getting to hold their children after they are born and then they take them home. They never have to see their children's chests cut open or watch him scream as yet another tube is being inserted in his skin somewhere. I'm not angry that other people get the experience of "normal and healthy" -- I am angry that we didn't -- angry that we or anyone has to know what it's like to bury a child.


We hear a lot about how we will feel better someday -- that one day, losing Ewan won't hurt so much as it does now, that the ache we feel now will subside. I know this to be true.

But if we learned anything from being in the hospital with Ewan -- if there is one skill that we acquired that I hope we never lose -- it is the ability and the need to live only in the present moment. We cannot dwell on a past as recent as half an hour ago, or project into an imagined point in the future that none of us can know, no matter how short the reach into that imagined future is.

Those of you who rode this roller coaster along with us understand the up and down -- how short-lived a victory can be, how one moment you find yourself one step closer to taking your baby home, and how the next, you are making burial plans. Living in light of a congenital heart defect teaches you to expect the unexpected, to celebrate the victories and deal with the setbacks as they come, and to know that getting attached to either does no one any good at all.

While there is laughter in our days even now, the pain I feel at Ewan's loss is unimaginable. I'm not going to sugar coat it. I said goodbye not only to him, but to all the expectations and hopes of being a family and all that means. He was our first, and that means I'm a mother with no child. I've got all a mother's desires and instincts with no child to care for, no baby to hold. I've got an empty nursery, a closet full of laundered baby clothes, a pile of folded baby towels, and a stroller all ready to go. They were all for him, and letting go of all these things doesn't happen easily and will certainly take more than a week. It isn't without hope, but it is excruciating.

And that is where I am at -- all the imagined "somedays" where things are easier, where the burden of grief is lighter -- all the references to a future where it doesn't ache quite as much -- for all that those things may be true, that is not now. And like Ewan taught me, where our time on earth is concerned, now is all we can really count on. So as much as it hurts, as difficult as it is to hold such a painful thing so close, I know it is what I must do: be present without running away to the past or the future, grieve without wallowing, and cry and scream and kick when that is the most honest thing I can do.

Feeling anger and grief do not constitute a lack of faith or belief -- I can still affirm that God is good, that it was in the will of God for Ewan to go, and that much good has come and will come from all that has transpired in the course of Ewan's short life on earth. But there is a tension -- my faith tempers my grief, but it does not eliminate it. I find that I must accept both: the belief that this is not the end, that good can, has, and will come from this, and the truth that (regardless of religion) we all know to be true: this is not how it's supposed to be.

When that day comes where the laughter exceeds the sorrow, and where the burden of grief truly is lighter, I will embrace it gladly without guilt because Ewan taught me laughter too. But there is only one way to get there from here: as the saying goes, the only way out is through.

32 comments:

KLaw said...

Tears and hugs. You are never far from my thoughts.

ANewKindOfPerfect said...

Many prayers ... I'm so sorry. It's NOT fair :(

di said...

so true, every word. so unfair and not as it should be. come quickly, Jesus. Now, and until then, the whole creation groans. I love you, Kirsten. Tears in heaven and here on earth.

In this wonderful life... said...

:( I couldn't have said it better. Thinking of you. Wishing I could hug you! ...or provide glass for you to shatter..I considered it a month or two ago. I'm praying for your roller coaster to slow down.

Papillon Sky Photography said...

Oh, Kirsten... The grief rollercoaster is so hard. I am just so sorry you have to experience this. Thinking of you as you go through this. Thank for still writing, so we know how you are doing and we can continue to give you our love...

p.s. I found the writings of Elisabeth Kubler Ross to be especially insightful about death and grieving (and read all of them while I was grieving). Death and Dying, Grief and Grieving and The Tunnel and the Light are all books that will guide you on this journey...

Nadine said...

It breaks my heart knowing you are going through this...I had so much hope that you wouldn't have. You're always in my thoughts and in my heart. I'm praying for you.

hopeannfaith said...

Praying peace and comfort to your spirit love. Kick and scream and cry...and do it all again! You are right...the only way out is through.
Praying still. <3
Andrea

Kristy said...

I am so sorry. I think about you all of the time. And I hold my kids closer and tighter now. The thought occurred to me last night that you are now a mom with no child. It just shouldn't be that way. I am so sorry. I am praying for you.

Anonymous said...

Kirsten I wish that I could take just a small amount of your pain. While I do not know what it is like to bury a child, I know what it is like to have to bury your dreams of "normalcy" and adapt to a new normal. A new road to travel down, even if you did not want to be on that road. Continued prayers are being sent your way.

Shannon Egan

Tiffany said...

I wish I knew how to say all I feel when I read your entries. My heart aches for you and the tears easily form.

My prayers go out for you.

With love & compassion,
Tiffany
Mom to Cole (Truncus Arteriosus with Right Aortic Arch and mild pulmonary branch stenosis)and Mason (Healthy Heart)

Tara said...

Thinking of you always - Praying for you.

Papillon Sky Photography said...

Kirsten,
thought I'd share this with you. This was written on a day I was feeling particularly angry about my loss as well...
http://lightacandleforrosie.blogspot.com/2010/03/what-not-to-say-when-someone-loses-baby.html

Kristi McInerney said...

so sorry for your loss, perhaps you have helped us all be better moms...

Karmen said...

Sending you long distance hugs.

Parsing Nonsense said...

You grieve and scream as much as you want to, because you're absolutely right: It's not supposed to be this way. This fallen world is all wrong.

KAM said...

My heart breaks for you and your family. I can remember my grandmother telling me, "There's nothing like the pain of losing a child." She is so right.

Hugs and prayers to you and yours from KY.

Anonymous said...

Sending you a giant hug from minnesota. Life is so unfair.

Elaine said...

I don't have words, but I want you to know I care and my heart hurts for you.

Anna said...

Kirsten, my heart aches and grieves for you, James and your families. It is my prayer that people continue learning from you guys...and Ewan. To live in the herenow and take each day, each momment...one day at a time, one moment at a time. God bless you my friend.

christianne said...

God has given you such a gift of honesty, and I'm thankful for its value in your life right now. I'm thankful for the moments when you can kick and scream and cry and weep until you lie on the floor in a heap ... because it's the most true place you are living in that moment. And I'm thankful for the moments you laugh because something is funny ... because that is what is true in that moment.

If there's any place our hearts truly meet God, it's in the true places.

Love you, friend.

HennHouse said...

And in this moment, I will pray for your moments.

And love you like a sister.

lilsophie said...

My heart aches to hear about such loss. I can't even fathom. Although I do spend time imagining how I would deal with it with our CHD baby. It's so heartbreaking.

I think about your honest description. How pure and true. I have to wonder if Ecclesiastes 3 were written in modern day if there would be a few more verses added to the mix:

A time to kick and scream,
A time to smash some glasses and plates,
A time to throw our computers on the floor...

The point is, as you've previously written God is there. I think its healthy grieving to get all of this out. You can't surprise God with how you grieve. He already knows, and is grieving with you.

I'm so, so, sorry for your pain. I pray that God shows Himself and little Ewan each and everyday in a special way that will reassure you that it's straight from Heaven to you. May God lift you up in comfort today and all the days ahead.

Sarah said...

I can't tell you how thankful I am that you can embody this grief fully, that you can scream and cry, and that you can laugh, that you can feel the pain now but aren't closed to joy in the future. I pray every day, many many times, that you will feel the freedom to grieve fully.

Also, thank you for your honesty . . . you know how to grieve and that is no small feat.

Love you today.

Jamie said...

My heart goes out to you and your husband. When I found out Madi had spina bifida, I prayed and told God I would take anything He could throw at us, anything, as long as I got to have her and hold her in my arms and watch her grow and thrive. There are days when I read posts like this and I feel so selfish for those days that we were in the hospital, and things stunk, and I complained, because at the end of the day, I got to bring my baby home. I wish I could take your pain away, but I can't, and honestly, I think it's ok to have that pain. You will be in my prayers.

terri said...

this world is so clearly out of joint. grieving with you today. and loving you as always.

A Simple Country Girl said...

prayers...

Stefenie said...

{{{HUGS}}} Lots and lots and lots of {{{HUGS}}}.

Prayers too!!

Mary Matsuno said...

I check you on daily. My heart hears your pain. The song: You Hold Me Now by Hillsong has been going through my mind the past two days. I hope it gives you some peace. He is the youtube address.
http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/you-hold-me-now-hillsong-worship-2009-faith-plus-hope-plus-love/d7a23ef4407daf507805d7a23ef4407daf507805-246177596067?q=youtube%20hillsong%20you%20hold%20me%20now&FROM=LKVR5&GT1=LKVR5&FORM=LKVR

Baby Hung said...

Hugs and many prayers :(

Kelly Langner Sauer said...

Kirsten, you are the most courageous person I have ever known. My little girl asks about your baby when I look at his picture and cry telling her about heaven and how he is whole, because I feel your mother's heart and your empty arms and oh how I wish for you that they could be filled again!

The Saturday before he went home, I sobbed for an hour over the horrible tension, over whether I should pray for God to send him home with you, or pray for Him to take Ewan home to Him.

I couldn't decide; No matter how I tried, I couldn't figure what mattered more, how I would write this story if I were God. He promised He would be enough.

I take photos of pregnant mamas and their new babies and I think of you, and I weep for the scar on your baby's chest, for his stillness, for your empty arms and empty world and I pray you full again and try not to wish away the happy others have when you have a broken heart.

There are things in my life I have never grieved so honest as you grieve your son; you tear me apart - God tears me apart.

I wish I could see you, could look into your eyes and tell you with mine how I grieve with you, how every time you share I weep with you, how there is a hole in my heart for a little boy named Ewan who I welcomed when you announced his coming, who brought such joy to you.

The disappointment - this is beyond disappointment - it is earth-shattering awful, and I feel so sick and I pray hope for you and glimmers of sunshine, through a wordless ache that is a prayer from the deepest part of my soul where I know the Holy Spirit carries my heart for you to the Father.

I am breaking with you, and I think He wants me to, and even as you break, I watch you live, and you take my breath away; it gets all caught up in the tears and the wonder of it, and I want to love like you love, which must be a bit like He loved, in the Garden weeping over what His heart would bear for us the next day.

The earth shook when He died. This is not how it's supposed to be...

Andrew & Melissa said...

I read once that when someone loses a child, it's almost harder when the grief fades, because it feels like you've lost your baby all over again. It feels like a betrayal to your baby's memory. I hope that people continue to give you permission to grieve, and I hope that you are surrounded by people that understand what CS Lewis meant when he wrote that losing someone you love is like losing a limb. You can "heal", and you can go on with life, but you will always go through life as one who has lost a limb.
Your healing process does not negate your loss - it just makes it a bit easier to bear. Grieving with you...
~Melissa~

Kari said...

That's right. the only way out is through. We are all praying for you. Love you sister.