My son would have turned four months old the day we took our "vacation" to Ohio this month. It should have been a joyous trip to show off our new son to my grandparents. The reality is that the day Francis was born was also the day my grandfather died. The last trip that we made was a quick one two weeks before we lost our son... we went to bury Thomas... although genetics may say otherwise he was my little brother. So this trip was not easy.
The first thing I did when we pulled up was walk next door to see Thomas' sister. I couldnt even look at her without crying. The last thing i remember when we left was Tom standing in the driveway... " Don't ever stop hugging them" He told us with the stricken look of grief on his face... I tried.
Thomas died at 23. How i remember him is a little boy with blond curls and a dirty face. As a baby he wouldnt stop crying until i held him. He was my little buddy. Nearly 7 years older than him...we were pretty close. I knew him nearly his entire life. Our neighbors weren't just people who lived next door.
We were together all the time. We ate together, laughed, screamed at each other like only siblings do. There were four of us. We looked so much alike that people that didnt know us thought we were really siblings. Thomas would go with us to my mother's cabin frequently and I dont remember a time when he or his sister were not a daily part of our lives.
When i heard about Thomas' death I immediately went into panic mode. I was very pregnant... but my midwife gave me clearance to go. I was only worried that i would go into labor there without my midwife... but i had to be there. I couldnt not go to bury him. I couldnt not be with my family.
It turns out that it was one of my last days with my son. And i'm glad i went. For one i could never not be there for people i care about in a time like that. Another... i had some time with my baby.. i sat at the viewing for hours with my hand on my stomach. I drove to Columbus late at night to pick up my brother with my son and sister in tow laughing about the man next to us picking his nose. Yelling at Thomas for making us do this. Joking i'd go into labor. I wish i would have.
I have gone over those days with a fine toothed comb. I prayed so much for Thomas that i offered all i could give. I spent a lot of time worrying that i offered something i didnt intend to. But it also gives me some comfort.
As a Catholic i fully believe in purgatory. I know that Thomas has Francis in heaven.. a little angel to pray for him. Because the last few days of Francis' life were filled with my grief... I'm sure he knew who to pray for when he reached those gates. Who to reach for.
I spent time with Thomas' mother. We grieved together losses that seem so intertwined. I feel closer to her now than i ever did. We have different types of losses.. but the same. We want to hold our sons but cant.
The weekend brought a trip to my father's house and going through photos of my grandfather for a memorial book. With all the rest my Pop has really not gotten many tears from me. I think he'd understand. He didnt want a memorial service or a funeral.. just a party. So that we shall and i'll save the tears for August.
My visit to Thomas was not an easy one. It was peaceful there. And we had a nice chat through tears. It is amazing how you can grieve someone but want to punch them at the same time. I gave his spot a blessing and slowly walked away. I have yet to visit my son's grave. I can't. Because to think of what is there is more than i can bare. But this is our life.
Some days the loss is so fresh and heavy i can hardly function. Others i feel at peace and okay. It is a roller coaster... one i can never get off. So i'm praying for more of the latter. I know this wont ever get better.. just easier to cope with, easier to hide. And it has been a lot to lose.
It has been four months... I'm still standing... I wish i had more strength. I wish that i could write of how i'm holding my own and about goodness that has come from this. But to be honest... I'm not sure. I'm more patient with my kids, more in tune to what is important... I've seriously questioned my faith and rebounded from the doubt. But still standing is honestly the best description ive got.