The hours and days immediately following Mattie’s death contained a swirl of people coming to the rescue.
Friends brought our children to the hospital and were at our side as we told our children the unspeakable. Who wants to be that person? The person who gets a call from the hospital chaplain, telling him that your friends have lost their son. Who wants to drive to the home and gather children who do not know, but know something is bad. Who wants to take them to the hospital, knowing they will hear words that will forever change the course of their lives?
We told our oldest children privately while the little ones played in a play room next door. We wrapped arms upon arms around each other, trying to hold together the pieces of what remained. It felt holy and broken and utterly crushing. Watching my grown children weep like that, with that kind of pain in their eyes, will be forever etched in my mind. We needed them to have space to mourn out loud without feeling like they needed to protect the hearts of the Littles. Yet now I wonder, did the Littles hear the wailing from the room next door? What were they thinking? Or were the caught up in the moment exploring a room full of toys unaware that their lives were about to be changed forever?
Who wants to be the friends who bring three precious Littles into the room to watch them hear those words?
John and I knelt in front of them and tried to have our arms touch them all. They looked frightened. We were all frightened. Words poured out of my mouth, coming from some deep place in my soul. Surely the Holy Spirit was speaking for me, because I felt like a spectator in my own drama. Who wants to explain that to their children? Who really can? I looked up at the social worker at one point, she nodded firmly and her eyes told me that I was doing ok. I glanced up to see friends praying and bearing the weight that might have crushed us to the ground, but God.
We walked down the hall to take our children to see their brother’s beautiful, yet way to still body. Friends sat the at the door for hours and prayed. They held our children when we could not.
For hours, we were with him. Because who wants to walk away? How could we go home without him? Aiden shook him and tried to wake him up. Emma asked questions and needed blunt answers, “He’s dead. The medicines didn’t work.” She would repeat, “Mattie’s dead? The medicines didn’t work?” Elia would hold his hand and weep deeply. My children all in one room, gathered around a brother they loved more than words could ever express. Holding each other, big ones and little ones, feeling their hearts ripped to the core. And all the while my head is spinning because this cannot be so. Please, God, don’t let it be so.
“I think we need to take them home,” I said at 2AM. They were tired. Friends helped us gather our things, Mattie’s things, our children. Oh, that they could have helped us sweep our boy off that bed and take him home too! I could barely walk out of that building without him. My legs hardly held the weight of my body. They helped us to the van, and got us all home. They hugged us in the dark shadows of our front yard, and as I looked up to see the light from his room shining out across us, they said, “We’re here.”
And then darkness of early morning gave way to the sunrise. We woke from what little sleep we were able to get to the jolting reality that life as we knew it had changed.
When shock sets in, it is impossible to remember one moment from the next, one day from another. But in the days to come, friends came. Friends texted for a list of things we needed at Costco and delivered food. Precious women showed up with iPads and notepads to help us make a plan for the days to come. How do you memorialize a life like this one? Why on earth am I even planning a funeral for Matthias Samuel Loux? I don’t know how to do this!
So I sat with beautiful women in my living room, all of us with tears in our eyes, but each of them strong enough to step into my pain and serve me. They made lists, they delegated, they helped me find the words to tell them what I needed. These women came and washed my feet with their tears, as the served me and carried me. They made phone calls, ran errands, and helped me put my own love into words and actions that would allow me to celebrate the life of my son. Who does that? Who’s brave enough to do that? Women who love well, that’s who.
I did things no mother wants to do. I bought clothes to bury my son, and I wept at the checkout. I cancelled appointments. I made sure we all had something to wear that day. I choose a dress. I wanted to like it enough to wear that day, but not like it enough that I would ever want to wear it again.
My husband and I chose a casket and a piece of earth where our son’s earthly body would rest. We signed papers and were told his death certificate would come in 2 weeks. And in the midst of pain, I hear my children up late singing in Isabelle’s room, writing a song that would tell the tale of a brother so beautiful that songs must be sung. I would wander down the stairs to see my artist son, Taylor, rendering a drawing for the cover of the program. And day after day I would answer the question, “Buddy come home? 5 days?” Oh my sweet son, Aiden.
And you, many I have never met from near and far, plastered my Facebook wall with words of shock, of pain, of love. Those who know me well texted me. You prayed. I know you did. I felt it. Precious friends, texting daily, and ending with “don’t answer, I just want you to know I love you.” Text after text. The phone rang, I wasn’t able to answer. I couldn’t. You loved me anyway. With words as my love language you have all carried me with your words. Every comment on my wall like balm to my soul. Even when you didn’t have words, you gave what little you could muster. “I love you!” or “I’m praying” or even just that silly little heart symbol that I still don’t know how to make.
We walked through Mattie’s Celebration with grace and strength that only comes from God. I could hardly put on my clothes that morning. I didn’t look at my phone. Couldn’t even open texts. I had to talk myself into every step. But we did it, we celebrated our son. Every minute of the service, exactly how we had wanted it to be. Except we didn’t want it. We didn’t want it at all.
And you came. Many of you came to surround us with your love. You spoke words of love and held us. We saw you. We’ve read your words in the guest book. We needed you to be there, and you came from near and far. One dear friend came to hug me during the viewing and said, “I’ll be in the back with your children. I wanted to be the one to take care of them for you.” Friends sat behind me during the service and prayed. I asked them to be my armor bearers and they did. Friends managed all the little things that I couldn’t keep in my head. Flowers came. Food came. Water. Tissue boxes appeared where they needed to be. Mints arrived.
We placed our sons body in box in the ground. And you love us through it all. We stood there numb and in shock, and you let us be. In the days and weeks to follow, we walked in numbness. And eventually the shock wore off and reality, oh the reality of it all, set in. And here we are, feeling it so deeply. We live in a house where he was “Buddy” and “Son of our Love”. We live in a house where his light remains on. We can’t turn it off, nor should we. We live in a house where his toys are still on the shelf, his diapers still in a basket, his medicines still on his dresser. We live in a house where he changed us all. And we have to figure out how to live.
And you’ve honored us and loved us well. You’ve stayed away when we needed space, and oh how we needed that space. You come when we’ve needed you to come. You’ve brought muffins and granola. You brought meals to our home. You gave financially to help offset the insane cost of burying a child. You’ve made plans with me, and been ok when I had to cancel. You’ve sent gifts and cards. You paid for childcare so we had a nanny to help us when we needed it the most. You’ve brought meals and sent gift cards for take out. And bravely, some of you have said, “I don’t know how to do this with you. What do you need?” And even if I don’t even know how to answer, you asked, and that matters.
What kind of people are you?
The kind of people who love.