The Loss of my Son

Jonah was bright.

Bright like a star.

His eyes shown.

He walked early.

I could say he "ran" early.

He had a tiny little raspberry birthmark on the left shoulder blade of his back.

Today, he would be eighteen years old.

What would his blond hair and blue eyes look like as a man- no more the child I remember?
Would he have shaggy, curly locks like his 16 year old brother?

What would he think of having a baby brother or sister coming at such an old age?
Would my first marriage have survived if he had?

Who would I be- had he lived? The pain of loss is like the clay that I am shaped from.
Would I have been a better mother or worse?

Would I be richer or poorer?
Would I be able to love more freely? Or less?

I never had professional photos taken of him, I thought it was too expensive. We were a young couple with two children and another on the way. We had limited income. I thought there was time.

I waitressed at night, his dad worked construction during the day. We tried to be there for our kids without daycare. The strain on our relationship was real- never seeing each other- parenting alone; even though we were married.

But our stories were full of our children- and when we had time together- we talked about them; catching up on what they had done and what the other one of us had missed.

Jonah climbed the counters, using the drawers like a ladder he walked across the counter- tightrope walking the small section where the sink was and made it all the way to the top of the refrigerator where we kept the sugar cereal he wasn't supposed to have.

When his dad or I showered- it was common to turn around in the running water and find him standing with you- fully dressed. He loved the water.

I can't remember his favorite food.
Little snippets of his life are disappearing from my memory.

Most of the people that are closest to me- my own husband and children; didn't know Jonah.
I have my friends categorized subconsciously: I knew them before Jonah passed. I knew them after.
I'm such a different person. I don't recognize that woman I was anymore.

I don't know if I can truly share here about the day he passed. I'm not sure why I'm writing this.

I failed Jonah.
I believed the doctors over my own intuition.

I kept saying I felt like something was wrong.
They kept sending me home.

The last time- they believed me. The last time, I went home with empty arms.

Grief is a lifetime process. Grief is a personal journey. When we lose someone- it's our own experience. A thousand people can lose ONE person and it will be different for each of them. It's individual and deep.

Grief doesn't mean you'll be sad every day forever. Grief is an opening in one's life that expands the depth of you like you never could have conceived before.

We will all experience grief. Loss is part of life.
To love is to lose.
A life without loss is a life without love.

I thought I had time.
I thought I had time to say and do important things eventually.
I thought I had time to watch tv and ignore him while he played off to the side.
I thought I had time to get those pics- for his 2 year old birthday was the plan.

Loss has taught me that it's vital we say true things. Vital that we speak to the people we love while we have them. That it's okay to take a half day from work and just BE together.

Loss has taught me that recovering is a choice.

I can't express the extent of pain I feel.
It's never gone.
There are times I focus on it and there are times that I don't.

But pain isn't what I allow to define me. Yes, it has shaped me- but it doesn't define who I am. People who know me-don't identify me as an abyss of sadness.

It is a fire always smoldering inside of me. It is fuel or it torments me.
I have to choose to let it ignite the passion for healing. Healing for myself and for others.

It's complicated to convey to people who don't know loss- that I have deep peace with Jonah's passing while simultaneously I feel heartache.
I know his life being short was part of a greater plan.
It was part of his path, and he chose it before he came here.

Sometimes I share about my story and sometimes I don't.

I live every day like anyone else.
The pain is there.
But I have love too. I have laughter and peace and joy and sunrises and sunsets.
I have my other children.
I have my husband and our baby on the way.
I have my heart to love, my hands to create my art and vision.
I have my voice to speak and share and heal.
I have a story that assists others in healing their own hearts.

Losing Jonah has taught me more than anything to seize the moment with the people you love. To have authentic conversations. To have clear boundaries. It has given me courage in a way I wouldn't have expected.

I have survived something that I never thought I could have.
I have survived sometimes gracefully and sometimes not- but I am here all the same; and because of that, I am unafraid of most things.

I have never had a day as tragic as the day my son passed. I have never felt the world fall apart like the day he died. The following months and years were like drips of poison and pain and continuous torture to live- to "go on" without him.

Because of this... because of this journey of grief- every challenge since that day; every heartache, divorce from their dad, being a single mom with no food in the house, an abusive boyfriend... EVERY challenge has been LESS than the challenge of surviving the loss of Jonah.

There have been hard things.
There have been excruciating things.
But nothing has been as hard as that loss.

And when they come- the words I hear myself speak are "You've been through worse."

The gift of loss is as great as the loss.
I promise.

The strength. The love. The compassion. The courage. The tenacity. The understanding for others pain. The faith. The power to serve. The gift.

We have ONLY today.

The house cleaning can wait. There IS time for that.


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