Shifting shadows. Time moving. By gotten past fluttering through. The nightmare and the reality blending into one. Shifting shadows blending in. Grief holding onto future, but future now holds the upper hand. Now future stronger than grief. Grief still there. Grief will always be present but different from a bygone past. From a time when it seemed like I was just living one anguished nightmare that would never end, and just carried on into the ominous distance. A time of reflection. A time of remembering. Nearly two years to the day since my world changed forever. The marathon before his second birthday. The marathon of memories flooding my brain. Reminding me of what was and is no more. A time of deep reflection. A time of celebration. A time of remembrance.
But one thing remains clear: Sebastian is my son, and I am a mommy. Regardless whether he lives or is living in heaven amongst all the other angels at the feet of God. I am a mommy. And no-one can deny me that right. No-one can tell me ‘Hannah you wouldn’t understand.’ But I do. I worried about my child he was born. And I had to bury my child. A parent’s worst nightmare. Something no-one should ever have to endure.
Still birth, a silent birth, born sleeping, born quiet, born into heaven’s home – the fact remains I still gave birth to my child. I still went through the rollercoaster ride of labour. And dare I add – I had no pain relief for four days. Anyways not that it really mattered. The emotional pain kind of numbed the physical pain of losing my son. The emotional pain was a rather intimidating presence in my life. I thought that the emotional pain would be by my side forever, that it would always be so strong, and that it would always cling onto me like super glue. But eventually it loosened. Although I am not the woman I was two years ago when I was eagerly anticipating the birth of my son. His death changed me in some ways for the better, in other ways I was better off before his death. But I have grown. I have learnt to rebuild my life. I have taken small baby steps back into light. Shifting shadows blending light and dark together. Laughter slowly started creeping into my life again. A small smile would creep up out of nowhere. At first I was racked with a terrible guilt for smiling, for laughing, but eventually I realized that smiling was OK. That living in an emotional jail would kill me.
I unburdened myself at the foot of the cross. Maybe not daily. I found writing cathartic. I found it helpful to cling onto the word of God, and to sit in his presence and just be still. To hear that quiet still voice in the dark: reminding me that I am loved and that I am too a daughter of a king. And that despite all this pain, this heartbreak, this threatening flood of tears the boat that was underneath my weakened legs carried me across the waves of grief, as I learnt to battle them one by one, and accept them as my new norm. Does that mean that grief should be allowed to dictate my life? No. And no I will not think myself as a victim. I am not a victim.
I now believe that out of tragedy God can create something beautiful – like my book nearing publication point. A song that was written in memory of my son. I guess my story can help others, and give them some light, perhaps even some hope. That this dark journey inside a very lonesome tunnel will too eventually end which is a reassuring thing to know that there is light that you can allow light into your life. That you don’t have to live in complete darkness. Once upon a time I lived in complete darkness. I had no hope. I was angry. I was frustrated. I felt like I was a terrible mommy for allowing my son to die. But it wasn’t my fault, somehow. It was just one of those things. My number was called and unfortunately I was picked to walk this terrible ominous journey of an eruption of heaving grief.
Grief in its looming presence, all bearing presence. Suffocating presence. The pain. The dark days. I look back and I think to myself how did I climb this steep mountain? Well for the most part I know I didn’t climb the mountain myself. God carried me as I clung onto God and cried heartbroken tears of regret, anger, anguish, missing, and love. God carried me. God wept with me. God loved me. God loves me. Eventually with time my broken heart slowly started to heal again, and I was able to walk by myself whilst I was still clinging onto God for support for if I let go I would be falling, falling, falling into this dark pit of despair, and occasionally I did stumble into that dark place of deep unrest, of memories coursing through my veins as I heaved gulps of tears, and walked in the stillness as I reflected.
There was a time I remembered when I was trapped in the rising flood waters of grief, and I just wanted it all to end. I just wanted to be in a different time, in a different space. I wanted to take a short-cut. But I couldn’t take a short-cut because if I did the grief would curl around my body and take hold of me and I’d be stuck inside its tightly clenched fist and I would be begging ‘my God, my God please do not forsake me’. If I didn’t grief would become all consuming. Tiresome. Wearisome. Painful to say the least. I learnt with time that grief has to be lived. That only you can walk through the pain alone. If you don’t walk it, it will come to haunt you many years later. And do I really want that? I guess not. I do not want to be trapped in grief. That is my worst nightmare.
Because one thing I know grief sure as hell hurts. It is not something I want to go through again. The pain of losing a child. Wondering what my son would be like. What the sound of his voice would be like. To hear his laugh would be pure bliss. To hear his little feet crawl up the stairs. To his eager chatter. To hear the word ‘mommy, mommy, mommy’. What does it feel like to be called mommy? My grief will always sit in my hands. But I will not let it control my life.
I have hope now. I can see the light. I can feel the edge of the wilderness. Maybe I am not at the edge? But I sure do hope I am. I hope that somehow, somewhere, someday, my words can help someone else. That my story can impact someone. Even if it is just one person I can be happy. I have hope because my hope is in God. My anchor is in God. God is my stronghold. God is my rock. God is my refuge. In him I seek my shelter. In him I seek my dwelling place. Someone once said to me I am so glad I didn’t have to lose a child. And I think to myself: ‘wouldn’t we all be happy if none of us had to go through the pain of a stillbirth. The silent killer. No known cause.’ My only regret is I didn’t get to hold my child here, but I know that some-day in heaven I will get to hold him. Each day I am a step further away from his death but a step closer to when I can be reunited with Sebby in heaven.
If you know someone who is going through spiritual trenches the greatest gift you can give them is your time, your attention, your love and concern. That is my challenge. I want to reach out to others and help them face the uncertainties of the unknown. The heaving rush of grief. Just knowing that someone is there by your side, encouraging you along the cheering line will help them come to a place of acceptance and peace much quicker. The Lord has blessed me. Though I have lost my child, I am blessed, because through this tragedy I have learned one fundamental lesson: God is Grace. God is love.