Some of these thoughts are coming randomly, and some have come together suddenly, in complete paragraphs, spilling out almost faster than I can type them. So I apologize if it's not the most clear and concise thing I've written. This blogging is for my healing, for my grief, as minimal as it seems when compared with Amanda's and the rest of her family's grief. As always, with her permission, I continue.
It is often still more than I can bear to consider that William is no longer among us, even two months later. I cannot fathom the depth of the pain and loss Amanda and Bill must feel every day; when every point in their day undoubtedly holds some reminder that their child, their only son, who they conceived in love, carried in hope, treated in sickness, and rejoiced in healing for, is gone. How can they endure it? How do they get up in the morning, make breakfast and plan the day, without falling to their knees and wailing in pain at this most unnatural of losses, this deepest cut of all? Part of the answer is their brown-haired beauty, Miss Caroline, who is a beam of sunshine in her own right, and who is surely their joy and peace in this time of grief. For her, they go on, as all of us with kids would go on if we lost one of them. The part of a parent who wants to lay down and die with one child will always be saved by the need to stay, to care for, to revel in and be blessed by another child. Perhaps it is God's way of helping us go on.
And so they go on, and so do we. That his life - a life so full of hope and promise after his early and inspiring battle with cancer - was taken from him so soon has seemed tragically unfair to me, and I know to many others.
Just a little more than one year - that's the sum total of the time they shared with William before he went home.
One year for his parents to cuddle and love and protect him was not enough.
One year for his sister to dote over him and show him off was not enough.
One year for grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to be enraptured by him, and to spoil him just for being William, was not enough.
One year for his beautiful face, his gentle smile, and his sweet heart to touch and move the spirits of everyone who met him, including me, was not enough.
It just wasn't.
The thought occurs to me that NO amount of time would have been "enough". No parent ever says "yes, now I am ready to bury my child". Of course not. So I guess to say it was not enough goes without saying.
But one year. Just one.
If you had told me that the birthday we celebrated with him in August was the only one he would ever have here with us, I'd have said there was no possibility that fate could be so cruel. And yet that party was his only party. I am so grateful that we made that trip to Lincoln - to watch William eat cake, open his presents, to sing "Happy Birthday" to him, and watch him play with my kids and others' kids. That birthday party will stay with me always, and I cling to that memory when I feel sad about his absence from our present life. But I think part of my heart will always be sad for that memory, too.
Maybe it's more striking and difficult for me to accept, to cope and move on, because I have a son William's age. Only 8 days separate them, our boys. We started on the same path in August of 2006 - and now the paths have split.
So every step down the path they have taken since his death is one I can envision myself taking, with my son's face in place of their own, having NO clue how I would cope as well as they have. The thought is morbid, and terrifying, and overwhelming, I know, but it's there all the same.
And every step down our path with Jackson is one I know they will now never have. There are times when the guilt of that understanding suffocates me, as much as I know it's unwarranted guilt. When we sit at the supper table together, the four of us, I look at Jackson...and wonder how they sit at their table and look at the spot that used to be Will's. I can only imagine the emptiness that must try to consume them. Even now as I sit here typing, Jackson is here with me; and I cannot, for the life of me, shake the thought that I would be so horribly devastated and lost without him. Jackson is a part of our family puzzle. I don't know how we would ever feel complete without him after having him all this time now. The sadness that comes at considering the feelings they battle each day is stifling.
But their faith gives them peace, and I am so grateful that they have that to comfort them. And strangely enough, THEIR faith has comforted ME when my own fails me. Knowing that they feel safe to fall into the arms of Jesus, even if at some moments it's only because they know William rests there as well, gives me a moment's peace when I cannot imagine their pain and am tired of my own.
Really, I guess that's what it comes down to - knowing and believing that he rests in the arms of Jesus; and that, as cliche as it sounds, someday they will be together again. Their family will be reunited and will love, laugh and celebrate as though they were never apart, as though no time had passed - and that, at least, is something wonderful to look forward to.
My aforementioned faith has gone through some immense changes as a result of this experience. I will share them as soon as I can find the words to express it. It's an important process that I've gone through, and sharing it will be good for me. Soon....