Ask any parent and they’ll tell you that they will never forget hearing those words, “I’m so sorry.” Those three words can change a parent’s life and turn their world upside down in a split second. When I heard those words being said to me on the phone about my son I truly believe that in that instant part of me died, too.
My son Mike lived a thousand miles away with his wife and three children so I only got to see him a few times a year. I cherished every visit, every phone call, every picture he sent……..any moment that linked me to him was special. The call I got the night that he died was one no parent ever wants to get. “I’m so sorry. They tried. They tried for over an hour. But, nothing could bring back Mike.”
In that instant, I know for certain that my own heart stopped. Those words sliced through me, and I literally fell to the floor screaming in agonizing pain. I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t want to breathe. My world was suddenly spinning out of control and nothing made sense. My ears were hollow and echoed as I continued to scream. I threw the phone across the room as I crumbled into a heap on the floor.
“My God. Why? Why did this happen? Why did Mike have to die? No. It’s not true. It’s not true! It can’t be true!”
It was true, though. My son crumbled over of a massive heart attack and he was unable to be revived. Just like that his life ended without warning.
I will always be a broken mother. It has been three years now since Mike died, and life has continued on as is the case for all of us left behind. But, I’m not the same. I’ll never return to be the person I was before my son died. Oh, I’m able to smile now. And, I enjoy the sunshine. I’m cooking again, so that tells me I’m returning to life. But, so much is different now. Every moment of every day I’m acutely aware of the fact that my son died. There is a piece of my heart that is missing and I can feel the emptiness in my heart constantly.
I’m sad. Not the kind of sad that cries all of the time. I did that for the first year after Mike died. But, I’m internally sad. It’s the kind of sad that sits with your heart and whispers to you constantly, “Your son is gone. Your son died and he’s never coming back.” I hate the constant whispering in my ear! It’s always there reminding me of what I sometimes try to forget for a few brief moments of the day.
I’m fearful of this happening again. I have other children and I have grandchildren. When they are sick, I’m so afraid. Will one of them die, too? I’m never totally at peace because there’s always that fear lurking in my mind. “If it happened once, it can happen again.” And, I know that’s true and it scares me so much. It scares me so very, very much!
I don’t trust in life. I used to be so carefree trusting that each day would be absolutely beautiful. I trusted in the belief that I could get through anything that life threw my way. Now………..I don’t know. I can’t trust in a life that has taken part of my heart away. I don’t know if I could live through this again, and so I fill my heart with doubt.
I have questions. So many questions are circling through my head. Did Mike know he was dying? Was Mike in pain? Was Mike aware of the paramedics working on him? Was Mike feeling ill before he died? Were there signs of his heart problems that were overlooked? When will I see Mike again? Where is he right now? Is he able to see us right now? Can he hear me when I talk to him? There are so many questions, and so few answers.
I’ve changed since my son died. There is an emptiness in part of me that feels dark and lonely and afraid and so cold. That’s the part of my heart that died, and like Mike, it’s never coming back again. Never will I be that carefree, trusting woman who believed that all of life was good. I now have tasted the sadness of the death of a child and I’ve tasted the death of part of me, too.
It’s all so very sad.
This is a journey that I wish on no one. I pray constantly for those traveling this path with me. May we some how learn to live with part of us gone forever. The part of me that died went with my son.
After all, I am his mother.
With special love to everyone who is grieving the loss of a precious child.
Child Loss – the Heartbreak and the Hope — a book on finding hope amid the ashes of child loss
Hope 365 – Meditations for the Grieving Heart – one hope-filled meditation for every day of the year
Silent Grief – Finding Your Way Through the Darkness – a book especially written for early child loss