It seems impossible that it’s been three years since Aaron’s death. I’ve talked before about how each year brings with it new challenges. But, this third year has been the hardest to understand…not the hardest year, but the hardest to understand in terms of exactly where I am on this journey. I’ve struggled with labeling my feelings and emotions at this point. I’m 9 months into the third year, and it’s hard to put a finger on my emotions or lack there of. In the beginning, it was hard to really explain the depth of my pain. I’ve used lots of strong, emotional words that can only portray a small portion of the pain I felt. There are no words in the English language, however, that are strong enough to describe that kind of pain. It’s by far the hardest thing I’ve lived through at this point in my life.
The pain in this third year is still excruciating, but I do experience more good days than bad. I never thought that I would say that. I actually used to get angry when I read anything that suggested that I would some day feel joy again. So, if you’re reading this and your grief is fresh and raw, know that it is completely normal to be angry when you read my words. Taylor and I were talking the other day about how the grief has shifted…a turning point you might say. She too is experiencing joy again…something she said that she would never feel again. To hear her say that made this momma’s heart smile. It’s hard enough to lose a child, but to see their sibling suffer is just as hard. When you have living children left in the onslaught of grief, you worry….you almost become hyper protective….because you are afraid. I can’t even bring myself to verbalized that fear.
While we continue making our way through the grief, joy has found us in the most mysterious of ways. I’ve not been timid about sharing my struggle and anger with God throughout this journey, but I know that the latest news we received is a gift directly from Him. A few weeks ago, Taylor asked for me and Tom to come visit her…said she just wanted to see us. I felt that something was up, because she’s never quite asked that before. After arriving at her house, we sat and talked for 10-15 minutes until she and Nate gave me a gift bag. I was somewhat confused because it wasn’t my birthday…and it wasn’t Christmas. As I reached into the bag, I saw what I thought was a tie dye headband. But once I pulled it out of the bag, my mouth immediately hit the floor. It wasn’t a headband…it was a onesie! My baby was going to have a baby. As much pain as I’ve felt in the past 3 years, I finally felt a joy in my heart that I haven’t felt in a long time.
I have no doubt that this baby is a gift from heaven….as much for Taylor and Nate as it is for me. I feel a new sense of wanting to protect Taylor, but instead of growing out of fear, that sense comes from a place in my heart that hasn’t been alive for some time.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve felt a longing in my soul to find my way back to Jesus. Throughout this experience, I’ve felt so alone. I’ve longed for God to take this pain from me…and I’ve been angry that Aaron had to leave us. Months before Aaron died, I prayed that God do whatever it took to save his soul. In my mind, I thought that God would deliver him from his addiction on this earth. Isn’t it funny that when we pray for something, we have our own expectations about how that prayer would be answered. I was in no way prepared for Aaron to be delivered through his death. I just knew that God would take his addiction away from him and Aaron would overcome his struggle…he would break his chains. Aaron’s chains were broken…completely broken, because his restoration came when he left this world.
For a while, I felt guilty for praying that prayer….and then…I felt nothing but rage. I was so angry at God…that He would answer my prayer this way. I had put my trust in Him and this is what I got? I distanced myself from Him…growing more and more angry. I couldn’t pray….I couldn’t even think about darkening the doors of a church. Sure, I did for a little while after Aaron died, but the “whys” just wouldn’t go away. My heart grew cold and barren. I felt like I was walking through a desolate land shrouded in darkness and the only thing I could feel was numbness, anger and pain. I didn’t even want to talk about Jesus.
I’ve lived that way for almost four years now…with a heavy yet empty heart. But for the last few months, I’ve felt His tug on my heart. The shift in my thinking has been slow to change, but I’m beginning to see that for the past 4 years, despite my unworthiness, Jesus has never left my side. While I turned my back on Him for answering my prayer in His way, He stood by me…waiting for me….speaking to me even though I chose to close my ears to His words. A true prodigal I have been….but He has been true to his promise. He said that he would never leave us…and He hasn’t.
Despite turning my back, He has blessed our family with a new life. This new life has brought life back to our family.
If you’re reading this and you are struggling with anger towards God for whatever reason….remember that you are not forgotten. You are not abnormal, as many would have you to believe. A wise man once told me, “Be angry…God can handle our anger.” Thank you Larry Moore. At the time those words didn’t comfort me much….but they do now. If you are feeling angry at God…find a trusted friend or person to confide in…someone that can help you through your feelings and won’t judge you. Know also that while others say they would never be angry at God be assured that those people don’t know how they would react to losing a child.
It’s been a long time coming, but my family is beginning to feel joy once again. And rest assured, you will someday feel joy again too.