On September 4, 2013, our son died. I held his lifeless body in my hands and said, “good-bye” for the last time. I wept. I sobbed. I screamed. I then became empty. I felt like I was in a dream… no a nightmare. Life went on. People moved on. Everyone kept living, moving, just being. For some time I did not know how. I did not know how to go back to life before Owen. I did not know who I was before Owen. I did not know who to be, period. The truth is there will never be life before Owen. Owen changed me. He changed me in a huge way and each day I am discovering more and more how he changed me. I am discovering who I am in this new different every day. Some days I like who I am. The mom, the wife, the employee, the daughter, the friend, and the positive woman that believes that last “good-bye” was really a see you later. Other times I hate who I am. The impatient, frustrated, sad, angry, hopeless, broken woman who believes he is gone forever.
5 weeks after Owen passed away I went back to work. Two months later I found out we would be expecting our second son. I was going to be a Mom to our second child. He would need me. Work needed me. My husband needed me. Business was good at work. I had a healthy baby boy growing inside me. I had a few friends that I spoke to regularly and a family that provided endless support. Life went on. My life went on. I was learning how to fit in with the new different.
But in so many ways life hasn’t moved on. The motions have continued. The rhythm of the day has gone on. Wake up, drink coffee, go to work, come home, make dinner, go to bed, repeat… Yes, there are days that provide some excitement and the weekends provide some variation, but for the most part, day in and day out I do the same thing and that has provided comfort. I have avoided so much that is out of that comfort zone because of… well, fear. I have stopped working out. We have not vacationed. We rarely go out and not just because it can be a lot of work with a 7-month-old, but mostly because routine is safe. Life is safe. There are few tears in the mundane. I know what to expect. It is safe.
Today, this all changed. Today, I realized all of the above and today grief and God gave me a serious smackdown. I’ve spoken many times lately about how the second year of grief is hard. It’s hard because life goes on. The first year everyone else’s life had gone on; in the second year I realized my life had gone on too and I don’t think I was ready for it. I have been standing in its way. I have an incredible second son who is turning 32 weeks. He has lived TWICE Owen’s lifetime and will live so many more. This scares the crap out of me! I have an amazing husband who stands by my side and would stop at nothing to give me the world if I asked for it. My life is blessed. But, I get in its way. My pain and the stages of grief stop me from so many things.
Today I decided to go head to head with grief without even knowing it. Today I decided to focus on me. To fall in love with the new different woman I have become and get to know her. Today I went for a run. It’s been a long time since I have put on my tennis shoes, walked out the front door, and just started moving. Today, I battled all of the excuses and I just went…. Phew! Now I remember why I have been avoiding it. It’s a scary place to be alone in my head. I begged God to show up. To let me know he was there… God created my playlist for my run and picked my foot up for every step. He filled my lungs with the breaths that Owen never got to take and he told me it was time to feel. In that moment the tears started. They poured out of me. Sobs came out without any control and I allowed myself to grieve. The stages of anger, denial, depression and bargaining poured out of me. God said, “It’s time for me to help you live with acceptance.” The 5th stage, I am not ready for…
Grief is a funny thing. It’s heavy; very heavy. Today I felt the true weight of grief that I have been carrying and it was much much more than the 20 lbs of baby weight I was hoping to run off. Grief does not make an appointment. It does not warn you when it’s coming over. You cannot bury it no matter how hard you try. You cannot ask it to go away. Shoot you can’t even screamed expletives at it and force it to go. It’s an unwanted house guests that makes a huge mess and refuses to leave and right in the moment you think that it’s gone it stomps through your house again with filthy, muddy shoes and sits back watching you as you clean up after it. Lovely right!?!?! You cannot run from it. So, today I decided to run with it.
Today through the sobs I realized how scared I can be of life. A song came on while I was running and the lyrics said, “death leaves you black and blue”. When you have had death in your hands you realize how definite it is here on earth. It is so scary to live. I had 4 months of life with Owen. I have four months of memories. Four months of smells. Four months of the hardest and most beautiful days of my life. Four months stored in my heart and my mind. Four months that I will never get back. Four months that I am so incredibly afraid to lose. Some days I fear that there is only so much room in my heart and my mind for the joyous memories. They are both quickly getting filled with moments with Brody and how lucky we are to have him. But, there is only so much space. I need grace. I need grace for the birthdays I don’t remember, the weddings I can’t attend; the anniversary’s that I forget. I need grace for the funerals I can’t go to. I need grace for the days that sometimes are just hard. The days that I am the person that sometimes I hate; the days that I am not ready for new memories because they are memories without Owen. I need grace as God helps me work through this.
Please hang on with me through this second year of grief. It’s not pretty. It’s full of sloppy, snotty, loud sobbing tears but I know that they are all leading me to a place of healing. I know there are many that are following our journey that have just lost someone, or are in the same place as us, or are years into their grief and have turned to other things to get them by. Please do one thing for yourself today. Fall in love with you. Your loved one wants you to. It will hurt like hell but you deserve it.
This May 17th we will be celebrating Owen’s 2nd birthday at the 2nd Annual LionHeart Owen Gift of Life Blood drive. What better way for us to face life than through gifting it to those who need it. Please save the date and stand with us as we give life for a life taken far too soon!
I will also be challenging myself to run a 10k in honor of our boy. I am trying to find the perfect one. Stay tuned. When we announce the date and location we would love to have you run with us! I challenge each one of you to face your excuses and your fears and get out there. Today was so hard in so many ways. But with each step I felt the weight of grief being left on the pavement and the light joys of Owen filling their space.