Today, 5 years ago, on May 15th, 2011, Gideon slipped away from us and went to be with Jesus.
On that day we were told "I am so sorry". On that day, our world felt like nothing was ever going to be okay again. My breath left me that day, and it took many months for me to get it back. My laughter left. My hope. I was filled with emptiness. I was left with only dreams of what could have been. We went from being hopeful for the future because we were expecting our first son, to not knowing what the future would hold. Would we ever be normal again? We didn't know how to navigate the rest of our lives. How do you pick up the pieces? How do you learn to even breathe again?
I always say that I could use a million words, and there would not be words accurate enough to describe how it felt when we lost Gideon.
Two days after we found out he had died, I delivered him silently into this world. May 17, 2011 is a day that will be seared into our hearts and minds forever.
Five years later, we are here, standing. Standing strong. Standing with faith. Standing with grace. Standing because of grace. Standing together. We are full of love in a way we weren't before Gideon existed. He brought that love into our lives. We are more hopeful, more joyful, more thankful, more faithful. More everything.
Just MORE because of him.
Most days I live, I live in light of my loss. I choose to live with more joy and grace and I choose to focus on the Lord more. I want to honor Him and Gideon with my life by helping others and walking with them through grief. I honor Gideon by loving deeply. We choose to live a life of joy.
But there are some days...Some days are just hard.
I promised myself and Gideon that I would honor him by doing this grief the best way I could. It does not honor him to ignore any feelings I may have. It only hurts myself and others. I know that through this pain, God is working. When we feel grief and hurt, I know that God is there.
So we have today. The anniversary of the day he died. This year the days line up. So in 2011, May 15th was a Sunday. Just like today is a Sunday. In 2011, May 17th was a tuesday, just like this year. Every day is lining up this year. And it makes it hard to breathe. I am reliving these days. I remember what I was doing at this time that Sunday 5 years ago, I remember that Todd had gotten home from work and I told him Gideon wasn't moving. I can put myself right back into that place. I can recall the tightness in my heart where I simultaneously knew something was wrong, yet not willing to admit it to myself. I can feel Todd's hands on my stomach and hear his voice saying "come on buddy, move for mommy and daddy." As time goes on today, I don't even need to look at the clock, my body knows what time it is and I recall all of the events and emotions from 5 years ago.
I struggle to breathe and I try not to burst into violent, wracking sobs, as to not concern my sweet living sons.
This year I play the "what if" game. Generally I do not do that. I could "what if" myself into a depression. I think most people could. We could play that game and make ourselves sad over what could have been in all areas of our lives, not just grief.Today, I have to. I take the time to "what if". I will "what if" today and will not do it again for a long time. I know I have to today. I have to let myself go into that place. I have to let myself feel everything.....
What if I had known something was wrong? What if I had gone to the doctor earlier? What if I had cancelled my baby shower and just gone to the hospital that day? What if I had trusted the feeling so deep inside of me and gone in and had him checked? What if I had been able to get a 3rd ultrasound and he could have been diagnosed with growth restriction? What if the ultrasound tech hadn't missed his membranous cord insertion? (I totally don't blame her, things happen.) What if I did something wrong? What if it really was my fault? What if I had gone in sooner? What if??? What if? What if?
What if he were here? What would it be like? What would he be like?
I see the little 5 year old boy with strawberry blonde hair that is curly and matches mine when I was a child. I can see that we would have cut his hair last month before our vacation, so it would be short, but coming back in with some curl again. He would look very grown up with his short hair. And I would want it to grow back in long so I could have my little boy be a baby for just a little longer. I see his green, timid eyes. I see him laughing with his brothers. I know he would have been shy, calm, and quiet, like I was when I was a child. I wonder what it would sound like. I hear his soft spoken voice call for me in the night when he needs me. I hear his laughter when he is playing outside. I hear his voice tell me of the things he is interested in and I wonder what that would be. I wonder if he would have loved the thrilling rides at Universal Studios and Disney World last month when we went on vacation, like his little brother. Or would he have been scared by them? If he is anything like me and his daddy, he would have loved them too. I can almost feel his hand in mine. I can almost feel what it would feel like to hold him into my lap. My little 5 year old, maybe he wouldn't want to admit it, but still loves to cuddle mommy. Or maybe, he would be a cuddle bug and still love to snuggle and wrap himself up closely to me any chance he could get. That is what I think he would have been like. He would have been a snuggler. I can hear the sounds in my house. I can imagine the one more plate I would make every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I can almost smell him. I can almost really feel him. I can almost feel his little kiss on my cheek. I can almost.
But not quite.
And 5 years have gone by. Five years of grace. Five years of learning. Five years of leaning on God. Five is a big year. For living children and for those who are dead. Five years. And here I am. Still here. Standing. Thriving. And honestly, we are truly happy.
But a part of me will always wonder....what if?
"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
(Please forgive any typos. I don't do well with editing on days like today)