Tuesday, May 20, 2014

War Wounds

It's been four and a half years since my Gabriel died.  Four and a half years...four and a half years since I've seen my son, touched him, kissed his cute little cheeks, whispered "I love you" in his ear.  Gabe would have started preschool this last September.  He would be a Twinkler at the little red school house where his big sister went to preschool.  He would turn five this year.  Five...that's a big birthday.  I wonder what his personality would be like? What he would look like? I wonder how much more chaotic our lives would be with three kids running around the house?  The wonderful wonderful chaos children bring to your life.  I cherish this chaos.  I wish I knew the answers to all of these questions.  I wish my Gabriel was still here with us.  I wish his Christmas stocking didn't hang empty on the mantel while Kayla and Parker gleefully dig through their stockings.  I wish Kayla didn't have to know the heartbreak of losing her little brother.  I wish Parker could have known his big brother.  My list of wishes could go on forever...

My "war wounds," as I call them, run soul-deep.  You do not come out of a battle for your child's life unscathed. You do not hold one of the loves of your life in your arms and watch him die, and wake up the next morning, or ever again, the same person you were before the battle began.  There is a Gabe-sized hole in my heart that will never be filled.  All the money in the world cannot fill this hole.  A dream-wardrobe and Pottery Barn-style house cannot fill this hole.  Having another child did not fill this hole.  It is a Gabe-sized hole and only Gabe fits in it.  I am always conscious of this hole.  It will never go away.  Some days it hurts more than others.  Some days it takes all of my strength to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.  Yes! Even after four and a half years my heart still aches for my son, and it always will.  I am learning to live with the hole.  I can laugh and smile.  I can run around and play with Kayla and Parker.  I can get out of bed and take care of my family.  I can still live! I'm not the same Shannon though... 

For as far back as I can remember, I have had the ability to "smile while drowning," as I call it.  The world can be imploding, and there I'll be, trying to some how salvage some good from it, always walking through life with my glass half full, and a smile on my face.  As I get older I'm beginning to wonder if this "ability" is a blessing or a curse.  It has gotten me through some tough times in life, but on the flip side, it makes it appear as if I'm always "ok," and I'm not...I AM HURTING! Every day I look at my beautiful Kayla and Parker and think how blessed I am to be a mother to these two amazing little people, and then I stop and think wait...I am mother to three beautiful and amazing children, but Gabe is not here...Gabe is dead...and the Gabe-size hole begins to ache.  A moment later the Eggos pop out of the toaster, Kayla starts yelling that Parker is attempting to scale the brick around the fire place again, and life keeps going.  This happens every day, usually multiple times a day.  And the fears...those mommy-fears we all get as soon as we are blessed with the title of "mommy." The fear that something horrible will happen to one of your littles, whom you love and cherish more than anything in this world...the fears are worse now, they are real now.  If Gabe could die, than anything and everything horrible is possible.  If Parker naps longer than two hours, or sleeps through the night, the only possibility is he's dead.  If Kayla hangs upside down on the monkey bars, the only possibility is she will slip, land on her head, and die.  These are the type of things that now run through my head on a daily basis.  It would be easy to let them take over, to wrap my kids in bubble wrap and never let them leave the house, to warn them of every bump and crack in the side walk that might lead to tripping, or worse...but I fight.  I fight back the fears.  I cannot loose another child.  I cannot bare the thought of sitting in another funeral home making arrangements for another one of my children's bodies, but I will not let the fears win.

My journey with Gabe, and now after, has lead me through Hell and back. The aching hole in my heart, the fears for my other children's lives...the world is not the same place for me as it was before Gabe.  I am not the same Shannon that I was before Gabe.  I view the world differently, my patience and tolerance for the stupid things I hear people complaining about is not what it was before, and I must remind myself "it's all relative, perhaps the worst thing that has ever happened to them is a broken finger nail." All of these factors are heavy weights to carry.  I feel mentally exhausted, and alone.  It's hard for me to admit these things because I've always been so good at hiding the hurt, and smiling while drowning.  The truth is I feel very very broken.  I feel love, and laughter and joy and appreciation for every day I am on this earth too, but also pain.  It is part of who I am now.  The war wounds have left deep deep scars.  I will keep fighting forward though.  My Gabriel was a fighter and so am I...

2 comments:

Sarah Gainey said...

You have lived through the unimaginable... Life is so strange in this way. How one can continue to wake up each day... How the sun still comes up, and the world doesn't even slow down. It is not right that everything continues on seemingly the same - even though your heart and your world are crumbling around you. But know that you are honoring your precious Gabe by the life that you are living. He is so proud of his Mama. You are the kind of mother and wife that those around you aspire to be (you even make it look easy :). Your beautiful, kind & generous heart, your easy smile, your fabulous sense of humor, your strength and determination to be Kayla's, Gabe's & Parker's biggest cheerleader and source of love... These are just a very few of the things that make you the only person on earth worthy of being their Mama. It is a gift that you honor every day. I love you very much, my dear friend.

Sarah Gainey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.