Sunrise: Septemper 12, 2003
Sunset: January 4, 2004
It's been eight years ago today since my baby boy died. Whenever this day comes, I feel like I should say something...to commemorate him...preserve his memory...continue his legacy. But the reality is, I don't know what to say. No words are worthy-enough. So some years I don't say anything. Honestly, I don't know what good it will do or why it even has to 'do' any 'good'. I don't want to be melodramatic, I don't want pity, I shrivel at that kind of attention. Fact is, I celebrate Kaden every year on his Birthday. (He is 8yrs, 3mo and 3wks old now, btw.) That is always a happy day for me.
There is nothing to celebrate today. After all, this day is not really not about Kaden. It's a glaring stamp in time that more represents me, my family, and what we're missing. A child we'll never get to love on, make memories with, or watch grow into a man. I struggle with this day because it shouldn't be about me. This is his anniversary, it's Kaden's 'Angel Day'. In my mind, this day is monumental. So, if I'm going to 'go there' and mention my son, I expect the world to stand down and take notice of him. If I say anything, I only want my words to give more purpose to his short little life...but then again, it's not my job to define it. Kaden already has purpose, it doesn't matter whether you or I will ever understand what that is, exactly.
So, despite my conflicted head, I've decided he still deserves some words, what few or hundred I can put together today. I just don't want to mess them up or get it wrong or over-share. I don't want to spiritualize his passing either. It is what it is. Death is part of life. My head understands that. My spirit 'gets' that he's in a better place, that I will see him again, that Jesus/God himself is raising my son. I also understand other people don't want to read blogs about babies dying of SIDS, I mean, there's no way to get around how depressing that is. So I realize most of my tens of followers will avoid reading this post and it wont get all the comments I think it deserves. But my heart wants what it wants and in the end, I'll probably still get my feelings hurt when the world doesn't stop for him, again. My in-laws don't even mention his name. I feel like they've forgotten him, or maybe they think we should be over it? I can't say, I don't bother to ask them why. Sometimes I think I am 'over it'. Sometimes I wonder if I've forgotten him, too.
The truth is, I believe part of me just tries to forget what happened eight years ago. I usually overlook the "4th" of January and go on like its a normal day. Honestly, I don't ever watch Kaden's video and rarely give his photo album a glance. Out of sight, out of mind. It's totally selfish and a defense mechanism, I know. Realistically, there just never seems to be a good time for a cry-fest, so I delay and I put-off and I ignore. And I just cringe at ceremonially imposed 'days' Im supposed to 'feel' stuff or express my emotions. It's more convenient to keep my feelings and my tears private. But the sneaker waves come, like they did last night, and I do give-in, sometimes. Rest-assurance to those who worry 'I'm holding it all in', feelings and tears are there, and God sees and he counts each one. That's what matters.
I suspect those who don't know me very well probably think I look 'strong'. As if God 'allowed' this to happen to me because he knew 'I could handle it'. Well, I didn't handle it very good. I'm no 'stronger' than anyone else. I handled it just as I'd ever imagined I would, I lost my ever-freaking mind. My heart busted in a million pieces and it took ten-bajillion more tears just to glue it back together. It is still tender, even eight years later-- regardless of how much avoidance therapy I give it. It'll never be the same as it was and neither will I. For better or worse, I don't know. I was hoping by now, I would have a glowing testimony prepared to share at church conferences and God encounters. But talking about Kaden still makes my voice shake. Thinking about him too long still makes me cry like it did eight years ago and no one is inviting me to speak at woman's conferences. In fact, I dont think I've even heard myself tell his story in all its detail other than very edited, emotionally diluted versions reserved for friends-only. Somewhere among my journals I've written it down, shared it in a letter with a few precious moms who've also lost their babies. Sometimes I wonder if I'd actually be able to get through it out-loud. My only other version is a stripped down to-the-facts sterile monologue, prepared just for those awkward moments I get cornered into admitting how many children I really have-sometimes to strangers, most often clients, who (by the looks on their faces) wished they hadn't brought it up by the time I'm done. Fortunately, I can tell that version with a straight face and move right on to telling them what house they should buy or what I'm making for dinner.
Details aside, the bones of my 'story' is simply this: God designed us humans to be way more resilient then we think we are. You, too, could survive your child's death. Life does return to normal, albeit a new-normal after the death of a child (or any loved-one, for that matter). This, I know. There is nothing special about me that makes this fact uniquely true. So please don't bother to write and tell me otherwise. There is only one way for you to know and I pray you never find out. I agree that this human, fleshy, weak body is not strong enough to live through something of deaths catastrophic aftermath. Our shoulders were not designed to bear the weight of it. But our soul is, even more so when we allow God to meet us there and be present in-it. After all, he already is present... whether we choose to acknowledge Him or not. Not everyone will, or does. But I did, and he continues to sustain me. And every day I see Him doing it for those who don't even ask. For whatever good these words are worth, this is what I've learned, the only 'profound' piece of truth that has risen from the ashes of my son.