it's been awhile since i posted about our son, matthew and today i feel like writing about him.
the fact is, he is always in our hearts and often i think about him. the tears come much less often and the inability to function because i am overcome by grief does not happen anymore.
but i still think about him; talk about him, and dream about the day i will meet him in heaven. that will never change for the rest of my life.
as you know we recently moved to san diego which translates to a whole new start. new church, new friends, new town. while i used to find this exciting, it seems a bit overwhelming to me now. i am excited about living here...don't get me wrong. but sometimes finding people like you with whom you really click with, are hard to find. the other day i did a search on meetup.com trying to find texas transplants in san diego. no i'm not kidding, and no, i didn't find such a group. (if you're from texas living in SD, call me. seriously. i'm not weird. promise.)
in this newness of meeting people, i've found myself doing something occasionally that not-so-long-ago, i wasn't ok with. in most situations i still answer the question, "how many kids do you have?" with "2 girls ages 1, and 2 and a son in heaven."
but there have been times lately where i answer, "2 girls here, ages 1 and 2."
i just decided i didn't want to overwhelm the person i am first meeting with the death of a child.
because, let's face it, the death of a child is unnatural, overwhelming and a conversation silencer. i've been on the receiving end of too many people who don't know what to say and gently (and quickly) back away like they're MJ doing their best moonwalk.
there was a woman at a meetup i recently met who caught the "here", and asked if i had other children living elsewhere. i guess she probably thought since i'm soon-to-be-37, i might have 1 in college or boarding school or something. let's face it. i'm old enough.
"i have a son in heaven."
i don't like giving that answer anymore than someone likes hearing it. but it's the reality of my life. i'm not angry that my story has sad parts to it. because i believe it's a story of hope, too.
i've been told time and time again, about how my little guy's life changed someone else's. over 4 years later his life still matters. every night my oldest daughter mentions him in her prayers "thank you Jesus for my angel brother Matthew."
i was perusing facebook after my husband got home from work the other day as I often do. it's my give-mommy-a-15 min-break time :) i saw a picture of our friend's son who was born the exact same day as matthew climbing a rock wall for his first time. i showed ken and said, "wonder if Matthew would have been tall enough to do that now?" (their son is super-tall; his parents are 6foot+!) i didn't say it to be sad about it; i just asked the question out of curiosity. i often wonder what matthew would be like. now, 4 years without him, i wonder and dream and imagine.
there is no magic number of how long it takes to get to a place of acceptance. a wise lady and very good friend who lost her son tragically told me that word, "acceptance." when i wondered how long it would take me to get "over it" i found that acceptance was the only thing i would ever get to. i would never get over it.
recently i became the proud aunt of a nephew, griffin thomas. my sister had her first baby. a precious little boy. born into a family of grandbaby girls, someone posted on my mom's facebook, "Juju's first grandson."
it's funny. God had been preparing me for this moment for a few weeks. Even though they didn't know the baby's sex, i just knew he was a boy and i was SO excited for her because they wanted a boy. God had been preparing me so that i knew what to say when he was referred to as the first grandson of the family. when the comment was posted, i didn't want to just keep quiet about it because that really felt like our son had been forgotten.
i know this person didn't mean to be hurtful in her comment; she knew about matthew but naturally he's not here now, so it's pretty easy to say griffin is the first grandson on our side of the family.
when the moment came and i read it, it still felt like a knife had cut deep down into my gut and pulled out all my insides. i cried for a little while and then i just let it go. it was a missing moment. i have them from time to time and i just let myself go there. after i grieved for a few minutes, i posted a comment that felt right to me.
"although he's an angel, Matthew Phillip was her first grandson."
and that was that.
if you ask parents who have lost children, i think most will say, what they want secondary to having their child back, is for he/she to not be forgotten. i have this precious friend, laura, who lets me know several times a year how much matthew meant to her and how he changed her life. i treasure hearing those words.
you just want the life you carried, birthed, loved and so badly wanted to be remembered fondly...
... to not be forgotten.