They say that grief is the price we pay for love. For the past five years, I have been living this in a way that most people will never comprehend. Like the beating pulse behind a bruise, the pain of our impending loss lives behind everything we do.
The grief that comes with a terminal diagnosis never goes away. It never lessens and it never gets easier. it becomes a part of who you are, and if you don’t accept that and find a place for it in your life, it will swallow up every part of you and destroy you. It’s a constant battle. A delicate balance of allowing yourself to grieve and continuing to live and find happiness in spite of it.
It has taken me a long time to understand this. To really believe that my grief has actually strengthened me as a mother and as a person. Because of the pain, I have learned to live now. Instead of wishing for the past, or fearing the future, I try to enjoy living today and the moments of happiness that exist now. To love with everything I have to give, and to show that love freely and openly. To try and forgive easily and quickly.
And on my good days, these things are much easier. I hold onto this tightly, because as hard as you try to remember the good and lock away the pain in a box, when you’re living with grief, the bad days come. The days where all of the above are forgotten, and all you feel is the deep, visceral pain of the undeniable reality.
The bad days are…dark. And hopeless. And when the bad days come, they feel endless. And the hardest thing about the days where grief takes over, is that it only takes the tiniest, and sometimes the most insignificant thing to set the tone. To flip the switch. It could be the scent of Blake’s hair, a friend’s post about a school play, the first three notes of song on my “never, ever” list. And just like that, you end up in place that’s hard to get out of. I don’t think I can put into words how the pain feels when you imagine what your child’s funeral will be like. When you try imagine how empty the first holiday after they are gone will be. Thinking about a world in which my sons don’t exist is unbearable. These thoughts cause me physical pain. And on the bad days, those thoughts consume my entire being. Getting out of bed is a victory on those days.
And sometimes, no matter how much you like to believe you look on the bright side, and find happiness in spite of it all, the grief will take over. I spent a better part of this past winter letting the pain win. I didn’t write. I couldn’t. I am ashamed to say I let the sadness win more days than I felt the happiness. It was a rough winter. Our community lost so many precious kiddos. Landon spent the majority of the first six months of the year sick, and I allowed the fear of watching him slip away take precedence over anything good that was happening. I let that fear rob me of the fact that Blake has been in overall good health and remained steady since his diagnosis. I let it cloud the fact that Gabriel is growing, and happy, and has a bright, beautiful future ahead of him. I let the pain win and in doing so, I cheated myself, and the boys out happiness we deserved.
The good news is, the sun has come out again. This summer has been wonderful. Landon has been healthy and illness and seizure free for 3 months. Blake is going to start school. I got to take the boys on an amazing road trip this summer to experience new things and spend time with some of my favorite people in the world. We had a wonderful birthday weekend for Landon that was full of smiles and laughter. Gabe is learning new things all the time, he now has signs, and I think words are just around the corner.
And even though some nights, I still lie awake and cry, and I still feel the grief in quiet moments, I haven’t allowed it to have control in quite sometime. And I’ll take that. Because the happy moments with my boys; the cuddles, the movies, the silly dances, the excited jumping and screaming, the trips to the park, and to grandma’s, the giggles, and loving slaps, the memories, everything: The magic of this life with them….well that is worth any price.