I read something lovely a few weeks ago. I am unable to credit it but it was on the subject of child loss. The writer used an analogy. It’s as if the family is on a path in the forest and one of the children has run ahead to find a clearing for a family picnic. The rest of the family will catch up, but in the meantime the child has a beautiful spot picked out and has spread the blanket.
I don’t know why, but this image really resonated with me. It’s probably because when the kids were little it was just normal for one or two to run ahead. I can remember the laughter and the joy of those family outings. When I am having a bit of a low moment it actually does help me to imagine this.
It is hard to imagine in earthly terms an upside to the loss of my son. Obviously, the ideal scenario would be for all of my kids to be happy and healthy. However, there have been hidden blessings and affirmations from this experience. You know the saying: turning lemons into lemonade.
I am so thankful for what I do have in my life. My husband, my children, my family, and loving friends. It helps me to remember that I still have so much to be thankful for. All of these people have been beside me. I have received great joy in watching great things happen in their lives. I have never felt so much gratitude. It is not until you have lost something that you can truly appreciate everything you have to lose.
I have heard of angels on earth disguised as humans. When things are going pretty good it is so easy to think, I’ve got this. I never realized how independently I have lived my life. It’s not that I didn’t need anyone. I just never wanted to bother anyone because I know everyone else is busy, too. But when things got tough, the most lovely people have lined my path, cheered me on, and walked beside me. Some of these people are longtime friends. Others are new people in my life who have been given an extra helping of love and empathy and they are gifting me with it.
But I have to be honest with you on the subject of heaven. Before October, heaven was a place that I have read about in the Bible. It seemed like a place that I wanted to go someday in the distant future. But it didn’t seem real. As crazy as it may sound, now I know for sure that heaven is real and it is a place that I can feel right now. The analogy of the picnic is so perfect to describe how I feel. He is waiting for us, lying back on a blanket, in no hurry for us to get there, but waiting and holding the perfect spot for us to meet up together. Some of us will arrive before the others, but everyone can take their time. We can all amuse ourselves, wherever we are on the path, and enjoy the journey.
I was trying to explain to someone how I feel about my current relationship with my son. I kept referring to the feeling as being in a parallel existence. Then this image came to me. In my imagination, I am in a car on the interstate heading towards a destination. My son is in another car in the lane beside me heading to the same destination. We are driving companionably beside each other. My world is inside my car and his world is inside his car. But we are both heading in the same direction, side by side. I know he’s there and he knows I am here. All is as it should be.
Not only do I have the hope that heaven is real, I also have the beautiful gift of knowing that not only is my son in heaven, he is still a part of my life. The synchronicity of a song on the radio, a photo I might find in a drawer unexpectedly, an innocent remark that someone says that comes at exactly the right moment, and of course, the cardinal making his daily visit at just the perfect time. I don’t think this is just wishful or magical thinking on my part. This new relationship with my son feels just as real as the ones that I have with my friends and family. I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone but me, but I am okay with that! The good news is I am offering you hope for your life and the losses that you may experience.
It’s easy to feel these positive images when I am looking up instead of down. Don’t get me wrong, I forget and look down plenty of times, but I am happiest when I am looking up. When I am in communion with God, I can feel it. When I am listening for the Holy Spirit, I can feel it. When I am with people who love me, I can feel it. It is only when I focus on what I have lost that I get down.
Hope, not hopelessness. Faith, not faithlessness. Looking at heaven like it is here instead of in the future gives me the strength to push on.
I didn’t ask you to run ahead of the pack, but as long as you have, thanks for saving our spot. We’ll see you there!
Peace and Love!
She writes about life, death, grief, and recovery.
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