I saw your post this morning in my newsfeed on Facebook. My heart sunk, so deeply. Your child breathed his last breath, and you are left today wondering how you will ever take your next breath. It feels like the earth beneath your feet has turned into a dangerous sink hole that might swallow you alive if you even dare to move.
I remember waking up the day after, and willing my body to move out of the bed. Forcing my way down the stairs to the green chair where I would sit for hours. I kept wondering why the world would not stop moving. In honor of you today, in honor of your son and mine, I’m posting an excerpt from the book I am writing because I know your pain, and my arms wrap around you from afar to say, “I see you. Me too.”
An excerpt from “WHEN THE PEN DROPS” by Tracie Loux
And then darkness of early morning gave way to the sunrise. We woke from what little sleep we were able to get to the jolting reality that life as we knew it had changed. As my eyes opened, my chest immediately sunk deep into the grey sheets. It was as if I had no body- just a soul, an aching, throbbing soul. Barely aware of my own frame, I put my feet on the floor and carried myself to the green chair in our living room. There is very little I remember about those first hours of the day that I woke up as a mother who had held a dead child in her arms the night before. I’m sure I held my children as they too made their way through the dark haze into the space of morning. I think people came, with food and flowers and sad faces. There is a numbness that falls on the freshly grieving soul, that allows the body to put one foot in front of the other in some unimaginable way and do the things that need to be done.
Looking back, I realize I must have done some rather heroic things. Making phone calls, responding to texts, planning a service, buying funeral clothes. A fully present soul would have refused. A fully present soul would have pressed her face into the carpet of his bedroom floor and refused to breathe. But in the slow motion trail of grief, I rose and I did the things that needed to be done, surrounded by people who would extend their hands to help and enveloped in the love of my husband and my children who shuffled through the thickness with me.
As I write and say “I”, let it be know that there was always a “we” in every breath and every step. My husband, John and my children are the “we” in my “I” with every word I write. They are “me”. And together we would grieve because together we loved.
When shock sets in, it is impossible to remember one moment from the next, one day from another. But in the days to come, friends came. They texted for a list of things we needed at Costco and delivered food. Precious women showed up with iPads and notepads to help us make a plan for the days to come. How do you memorialize a life like this one? Why on earth am I even planning a funeral for Matthias Samuel Loux? I don’t know how to do this!
So I sat with beautiful women in my living room, all of us with tears in our eyes, but each of them strong enough to step into my pain and serve me. They made lists, they delegated, they helped me find the words to tell them what I needed. These women came and washed my feet with their tears, as the served me and carried me. They made phone calls, ran errands, and helped me put my own love into words and actions that would allow me to celebrate the life of my son. Who does that? Who’s brave enough to do that? Women who love well, that’s who.
I did things no mother wants to do. I walked into “Jack and Jill” with my husband and my oldest four children and bought clothes to bury my son, their brother; and I wept at the checkout. I cancelled appointments. I made sure we all had something to wear that day. I choose a dress for me. I wanted to like it enough to wear that day, but not like it enough that I would ever want to wear it again.
John and I chose a casket and a piece of earth where our son’s earthly body would rest. We signed papers and were told his death certificate would come in 2 weeks. In the midst of pain, I heard my children up late singing in Isabelle’s room, writing a song that would tell the tale of a brother so beautiful that songs must be sung. I would wander down the stairs to see my artist son, Taylor, rendering a drawing for the cover of the program. And day after day I would answer the question, “Buddy come home? 5 days?” Oh my sweet son, Aiden.
We walked through Mattie’s Celebration with grace and strength that only comes from a Source deep within. I could hardly put on my clothes that morning. I didn’t look at my phone. Couldn’t even open texts. I had to talk myself into every step. But we did it, we celebrated our son, our brother. Every minute of the service, exactly how we had wanted it to be. Except we didn’t want it. We didn’t want it at all.
We placed our sons body in a box in the ground. We stood there numb and in shock, In the days and weeks to follow, we walked in numbness. And eventually the shock wore off and reality, oh the reality of it all, set in. And here there we were, feeling it so deeply. We lived in a house where he was “Buddy” and “Son of our Love”. We lived in a house where his light would remain on. We couldn’t turn it off, nor should we. We lived in a house where his toys were still on the shelf, his diapers still in a basket, his medicines still on his dresser. We live in a house where he changed us all. And we would need to figure out how to live.
And so my dear friend, to your precious family. I offer my love and I will remind you many times that I am here.
Sitting with you in it.
In the wrongness of it all.
And I will remind you often “Don’t Forget To Breathe.”
Photo via Visualhunt.com