Child Loss · Grief · On Coming Alive

You Were My Tomorrow (guest post by Shannon Shpak)

Shortly after Mattie was born, I met Shannon and her sweet boy Ethan. Our boys walked a very similar road. It was uncanny.  Miles apart and never having met in “real life”, we Mommas fought for our boys. We celebrated milestones. We prayed when disaster struck. Shortly after Mattie died, I went to message her, but I couldn’t find her on Facebook. I eventually found her email address because I wanted to find her to let her know my boy was gone.  I never dreamed I’d get the response that followed.  She replied telling me that her sweet Ethan had also died just three weeks before Mattie. She said, “My dear Tracie…we walked this journey so closely over the years. Who knew that we would walk this even in death?” I was undone. How was this even possible? Too much loss, too much pain, another Momma suffering. Another family without their son and brother.  We were instantly knit together again in a way neither of us ever imagined. 

Today she surprised me with a gift, the gift of her words poured out. She sent me a link to her contribution to the On Coming Alive Project that is dear to my heart. She wrote, “Because of you, I found my voice.” 

———————-

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I dreamed of you last night.
The sunlight streamed down on your face, your arms held wide and your head thrown back in abandon.
I could hear your laugh again and I felt the touch of your hands patting my face as they always did.
It felt like coming home.
It has been 21 months in the deepest, darkest throes of grief.
And I miss you more than ver.

There are days my body physically hurts from the pain of despair.
My arms literally ache from the empty place you should be.

I have continued to walk forward.
You taught me that.
The way you faced every day with tireless courage and unsurpassed joy.
And because of that…
because of you…
I am brave.
I am strong.

And still
I have been scarred.
Love has broken me to the innermost core.
My life and everything that defined me is gone.
You were my hope.
You were my tomorrow.

What people fail to tell you about grief
is that in it…
you lose yourself.
I was “Ethan’s mom”.
Your caregiver, your fighter, your cheerleader, your voice.
And in the end
it was none of those things that mattered.
Because in one breath…
they were gone.

I want to turn back time.
Because this journey went wayward.
This was not how it was supposed to end.
But the book closed…
the curtain went down.
And time simply
ran out.

And now forever.
One foot forward.
Every move is intentional.
Each step is with purpose.
I will not falter.
I will not fail.

Moment to moment…
That is how I live.
I can no longer see the bigger picture.
There is no other side.
A great divide separates
my yesterday from my tomorrow.
Because now
there is only the past
and the present.

I capture these feelings.
And I am vaguely aware as I go through the motions.
But I am numb.
Grieving people are often hardened people
because they have walked through the shadows of death
and they have survived.

In my world the unthinkable happens.
My child died.
I love with trepidation now.
And in the same sense
I love with reckless abandon.
I long to hold on tighter.
To keep my children closer.
To seal us in a safe bubble where
no harm can enter.
But I know better.
I have now stared evil in the eye.
And I know there is no safety zone.
Death is no holds barred.
No one is untouchable.

I want to start over.
Because I cannot go back…

Then and now..
Before and after.
With you and without you.
The new pattern of my life
and how time is measured.

I stopped writing the moment you were gone.
Because it went hand in hand.
It was your story I was telling after all.
And then…
I dreamed of you last night.
and I was reminded that you are here, too.
In this grief.
And in this
love.

Death has been defeated.
Love has won.
Love has overcome.

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Original post can be found at On Coming Alive
Shannon Shpak is a writer and social engagement manager who is working to rebuild life after loss with her 6 children. She believes in hope, perseverance and being strong…all legacies her son left behind. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram.
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3 thoughts on “You Were My Tomorrow (guest post by Shannon Shpak)

  1. Sadly perfect. Your words ring true for any mother who has lost a child for whatever reason. I am so sorry for your loss.

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