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