Dear Ethan IV

Dear Ethan,

 

I wasn’t supposed to start missing you again until next week. I have hope in our new baby, growing well in me, and your due date isn’t until Monday. My emotions like to plan ahead, it seems, and just thinking about how tough next week is going to be broke me down today.

 

The intellectual side of me says that July 30 is a day that was never meant to be for our family. I accepted very quickly that you were where God needed you to be, and His grace gave me something to get through the most tremendous grief I have ever experienced. I almost wish I didn’t know when you were due, so that I could have continued more joyfully on this road of healing. But something in me would have calculated it, and perhaps it’s better to have one day to focus on. Even if I’m doing it almost a week early.

 

The tricky thing is that it’s not just going to be one day. I arranged for two Masses to be said for you—one as close to your due date as I could get (the actual date was already booked) and one in October, for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. That means that next week I have two unbearable Masses to look forward to: the first on Monday, your true due date; the second on Wednesday, when your Mass is said.

 

I’m not sure how many of the people at church know our last name, will know that the name said aloud is that of our child. I fear they will assume that the bump I’ve developed is the reason for the remembrance. I wonder who will ask. I wonder if I will be able to explain. If it had been today, I would not have been able to say a word without crying. For the second time this month, I only barely held it together until I got home. Once our door was shut, the tears came. Jacob didn’t know what to do with me. As crazy as he’s been lately—he started this morning with a log-rolling, fist-thumping temper tantrum on the living room floor—he was quiet and gave me a hug when I asked. I hope he doesn’t think it’s him that’s making my heart hurt.

 

Ethan, I know that you are fine—better than fine—and that we are doing okay. But I don’t know what to do to remember you next week. Do I go through the day as if it were a normal day? Do we celebrate? Do we grieve? I almost want to just be somewhere else, but I know that I need to be there for the Mass, that Jacob and I need to bring up the gifts. As difficult as that will be, I hope it will remind me that you were God’s in the first place, and that, like or not, at some point, I had to give you back.

 

Pray for us, Ethan, as we persevere through the days ahead. Ask God to give us peace, joy, and healing, as we continue to accept His will above our own.

 

With all my heart,
Mom

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One Response to Dear Ethan IV

  1. Cindy says:

    Grief is a tremendous and difficult thing. And the anticipation is often harder than the actual day, in some ways, because you’re already sad but you feel like you can only get sadder. The truth is, you can only experience the days and remembrances as they come.

    In your grief, try to remember there is hope. There is salvation. You experienced tragedy, yes, but you have also and will continue to experience joy.

    Have you seen the movie Rabbit Hole? There’s a great scene where they describe grief — specifically the loss of a child, though I happen to think it’s a metaphor for all grief — as being rocks you carry in your pocket. At first, they are very heavy. You don’t think you can move. And there are moments where they become that heavy again. But at some point, your body readjusts to make room for the rocks, and while they are still heavy, while you can always stick your hand in your pocket and feel them, you’ve also grown accustomed to them and it becomes somewhat comforting to carry the weight of the person you loved with you, now that you’ve figured out how to balance it.

    I hope — and know — that you will get to a moment where you aren’t weighed down by the grief rocks. But if for now you are, let it sit, let yourself experience it, and you will naturally readjust to make room for the grief and the joy.

    Much love.

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