Sunday, October 14, 2012

September 29

The year anniversary of Jonah's death was September 29th, and here we are two weeks later, without a single commemorative word written about his passing or his life.  The thing is that I have felt pretty good for the past month.  I felt somewhat normal, even happy.  As his death date approached I felt an external pressure to dive back into grief.  I felt compelled by some sort of unspoken rule to relive his funeral, to release balloons, to be some sort of death party planner.  Honestly, I just didn't have it in me, which made me feel like a bad mother.

For me that "bad mother" feeling is a little funny.  When I was a full-time busy mother I rarely felt like a bad mother.  I know that is unusual.  Mothers are supposed to be riddled with mommy-guilt.  But I wasn't.  I knew I was doing my best.  Even the day Jonah died, the day I gave him a fruit snack that killed him, I didn't feel like a bad mother.  I tried so hard to save him and loved him so deeply, I could not feel the guilt of motherhood.

But on his death day, as friends and family remembered Jonah and came to comfort me, and I went about my normal business without tears I wondered what kind of mother I am.  Maybe a mother in denial.  Maybe a mother who has cried all her tears.  Or a mother who is trying to be brave and move forward.  Perhaps a mother with a heart that is hardening to keep pain at a safe distance.  It is hard to say.

As I turned my heart over for a deep analysis I recognized that the date, September 29, meant very little to me.  That sounds strange I know.  How could the day my only child died not hold significance.  I'm not really sure.  To me it felt just like a number on a calendar.  What significance is there in 365 days passing...why not a nice round number like 350 or 400.  The countdown seemed somewhat arbitrary because I have mourned Jonah's death each day since he left us.  So today, 380 days since his passing, I'm writing to tell you that I miss him deeply, daily, like a good mother should.

I missed him as I sat in a cheap motel room in Sheridan, Wyoming reading the journal I kept of his short but beautiful life.  I discreetly wept in the "happiest place on earth" as I soared through the air with my niece Lilah on Disney's Dumbo ride.  All I could think about as we dipped and flew was how much Jonah would have loved that ride.  I mourned when I saw my grandma's black office chair, where he once spun in dizzy circles with his dad.  And as I watched my two sweet nieces play in a tiny stream I ached to see him splashing and playing at their sides. 

My days are filled with memories and moments and missing.  I mourn his loss each day, and don't expect that to change.  When I feel his absence the most I often turn to Jordan and say "Jonah would have loved this."  I have learned in loss that grief does not come on scheduled days.  It does not understand anniversaries or special occasions.  It's fullness comes in the quietest moments: when my head finds the softness of my pillow, when I catch a glimpse of a drifting blue balloon, or when I hear the sweet giggle of a child.

My daily prayer, as I miss Jonah's smile, is that joy will come in the same way. 

I testify that because of Him, even our Savior, Jesus Christ, those feelings of sorrow, loneliness, and despair will one day be swallowed up in a fullness of joy. Shane Bowen, Because I live, Ye Shall Live Also