To comfort one who shares your grief gives your heart permission to grieve, and allows you to feel known and understood in the middle of your deepest pain.
They pronounced his time of death, August 21, 2014, 9:30PM. They called us into the room and as I cried out in pain, my son’s lungs dispelled the last bit of oxygen that was trapped within. I heard myself almost as a spectator to my own pain, “My son, My son, Oh my son!” John and I wept. I lay my head on Mattie’s chest. John’s arm firmly around me. He leaned over and whispered in my ear, “You’re not going to lose me.”
Moments later, we would have to break the news to our children. We walked into the room where our four oldest sat waiting for us, they stood, and we dropped to our knees. I can’t remember what we said. Maybe we said, “He’s gone.” Maybe our faces said the words we couldn’t utter. They wrapped themselves around us.
It’s hard to remember who was holding who was holding who, but we were all one, love wrapped around love wrapped around love. And though words would fail us, we promised our children that they would not grieve alone. I remember being so emphatic as I said, “No one in this family will grief alone. No one will hide their pain. We are in this together.”
The following day, I was sitting in the living room, and Amy came to get me. She said, “John’s in Mattie’s room, and I think he needs you.” I found my husband weeping on the couch where we spent countless hours loving on our boy together. Our children followed me and again we wrapped our love around each other, and we mourned.
Perhaps it is significant that my beautiful husband was the first to weep in our home, telling us all in his frailty, “No one in this family will grief alone. No one will hide their pain. We are in this together.”
He would speak clearly to each of us the day of the funeral, and commit his love to us. You can read his words HERE.
He would protect us in the days to come and shelter us in his love.
He led the way for grief to have a place in our home.
And now, here we are almost 8 months later, still grieving together.
So today we were all just trying to get through the day, trying to make the best of a day that felt very empty. Tears and sadness flowed from one to the other. Aiden cried as he got out of the shower. I dressed him and took him to Mattie’s drawer to pick out one of Buddy’s bow ties. Emma was crying at the drop of a hat, not even knowing why, until she suddenly burst out, “I miss Mattie”. All three of the Littles, clean and dressed sat in the living room, looking at photos of their sweet brother. Taylor and Isabelle gave hugs that said they knew. Hugs that said, we feel it too. Meanwhile Amy and Nick were making dinner to take the pressure off of me, preparing a place for us to be together as a family today.
I kept moving forward trying to make the day happen. John and I snapped at each other a few times. It doesn’t happen often with us, but sometimes grief gets snippy. Aiden asked for John and I told him, “Daddy’s upstairs, go hug him, I bet he could really use a hug.”
I watched Aiden start up the stairs just as John was headed down. Both my boys in their blue shirts and ties looking handsome and oh so terribly sad.
Aiden glanced into the eyes of his daddy and said, “What’s wrong, Daddy?”
John replied, “I’m sad. I miss Buddy.”
John stooped down. Aiden reached around and held his daddy, stroking his back, his head, with no words because none were needed. Love wrapped around love, wrapped around love- to be known and understood. And I watched as my husband sobbed in Aiden’s arms, grieving his own loss and carrying the weight of AIden’s grief as well.
Because in this family, no one grieves alone.