Twenty-four years ago I experienced a pit of grief like I never want to experience ever again. My son died.
The moment Samuel’s soul left this earth, he took part of me with him — a part of my heart and a part of my soul and I knew that those parts of “us” would never return again.
I was lost. And scared. And felt so alone. For the first time in my life I didn’t know if I could go on living. Those first months following Samuel’s death were the bleakest moments of my life. Nothing made sense anymore. All I remember doing is crying. And crying more. And, never wanting to stop my tears from falling because that’s the only way I knew how to express my brokenness.
There was no guidebook to explain how to do this thing called “grief from child loss” and I was so scared that I wasn’t doing it right. If I’m being honest, I didn’t care. I just had one thing on my mind. I wanted to hold Samuel. I wanted him to wrap his tiny fingers around mine and look up at me and give me a silly little grin. I wanted to rub my fingers through his silky blonde hair and smell his fresh baby smell. I wanted to hold him close and kiss him a thousand times and then kiss him a thousand times more.
But, he was gone. Samuel was now a memory and I was left to somehow find my way through this dark, deep tunnel of pain. But, I didn’t want to. I wanted to close my eyes and be with Samuel where all would be warm and soft and kind and full of love. I wanted to be where he was.
Following the loss of a child, most of us go through these same feelings of despair. We truly don’t know how to take our next breath, let alone know how to function in our homes and in society once again. And, so we remain in a broken, frozen state of nothingness for a long, long time.
I remember crying out to God in the middle of the lonely nights asking for help. I had other children to take care of and this wasn’t fair to them. They needed their mama, but I didn’t know how to find my way back into their lives once again.
After about three months, I began to feel strong enough to move off of the couch and would take a few steps outside to simply sit in the quietness of nature. I would stare at the big blue sky for hours as the tears fell like rain. As I cried, I would often watch the clouds moving and imagine that I’d see Samuel playing in the sky. I knew he was happy, but that sure wasn’t true for me. Oh, how I missed him so!
The months dragged on and little-by-little I got more energy — enough that I could take small walks to the edge of the woods where I would often sit on a rock until the cool chill of the evening air would nip at my neck. During these moments of aloneness I would watch the setting of the sun.
And, there was something healing in that for me.
As I watched the sun slowly fall behind the horizon, I imagined Samuel watching me from above. I could almost feel his very presence wrapping his little arms around my neck as he whispered, “Mom, it’s going to be okay. I’m never going to leave you. I promise. I’ll always be in your heart.”
For weeks I followed the same ritual trekking my way to the rock and watching the sun gently sliding behind the horizon speaking to me with each closing of the day.
And, then there was a moment. The moment is as real to me now as it was then. In the sky, the willowy clouds formed the shape of an angel. That angel in the clouds met face-to-face with a small figure — the figure of a child. As I stared in amazement at the clouds, the arms of that angel wrapped around the child, and drifted off into the beautiful sunset.
I will always call this “my Samuel moment” — the moment God allowed me to see Samuel in the arms of an angel.
I wish I could say my grief went away at that miraculous moment in time and that I jumped for joy and was never sad again. That’s not at all what happened. I did receive some peace that evening, and I’ve never felt totally and completely alone since then.
On those days when I miss Samuel so much I think I can’t stand it, I take that same walk to the edge of the woods. And, I look. I wait. I watch. I hope. I hope to see some kind of sign of Samuel. I pray that I will feel his presence. And, most times I do.
Losing a child is devastating. It literally breaks your heart in two. But, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — that can separate a parent’s love from their child. Not even death. And, there is comfort and hope in knowing that!
I hope and I pray that every parent will have your special moment — that moment when you absolutely know that your child is still with you in spirit. And, if you’ve had “that moment” I’d love it if you’d share with me. As we share, we are encouraged and this journey called child loss feels just a little less scary for all of us!
My love to each one! May we feel the presence of our child this very day!