My Driving Force
By Tracy Flitcraft
Simple acts. Simple acts, like putting on mascara in the morning, to start my day, can be excruciating. Listening to the birds chirp away, without a worry outside, while all I can do to keep that mascara from melting down my face is stop….breathe….and look behind me. Behind me, sits one of the many beautiful pictures of my son. A large, full facial picture is hung above my bed, and a gorgeous shot of him nestled in a blanket is hung on the adjacent wall. On the days when it is hard to accomplish the simple task of mascara, I look to these walls, and I stop. I breathe, and I cry for a moment. And then, I listen to those birds, the sounds of my dogs, the quiet in the house. I remain thankful and grateful for my son. For John.
September 24, 2015. 12pm. My son died. I had a beautifully healthy pregnancy (after 2 early miscarriages), and just one day John wasn’t moving as much. I didn’t think much of it, as he was 8 months in my womb. That big boy had less room to wiggle around. The next day, however, I went to the doctor as I figured I’d better err on the safe side. Everything was fine, his heart was beating, he just wasn’t super active. Upon consideration, it made sense to have me spend the night in L&D to monitor his movements overnight. The moment that monitor was strapped around my belly, I laid there laughing (and slightly irritated) that I was even there. “Nothing is wrong, but, I shall do the right thing,” I thought. Five minutes later, his heartbeat dropped. Fifteen minutes later, I was undergoing an emergency C-section to save my son.
Around 2:15, I woke up to my husband leaning over me. “John did not make it.” In a haze, I looked around at the sadness. The tears all around me. Nurses, doctors, a chaplain. I was handed my dead son, a moment etched in my brain. A moment of despair unlike anything I could have ever imagined. That was the moment that I moved through the motions and began the journey of feeling the emotions.
It has been over six months since my son died. There are days where it is challenging to rise from the comfort of my bed. There are days where I feel him pushing me to tackle the things in this life that I have always wanted but never have done. I always felt like I just kind of slid through this life. At 40 years old, I’ve had good jobs. I have an incredible husband and child, but personally, I have never truly been fulfilled on a level that we all need at some point. The death of my son has forced me to seek what I desire. As a woman, as a mother, as a wife, as a human being. He is my inspiration every single day. My inspiration to wake up and start what I have always wanted. He is my inspiration to eliminate things from my life that are not healthy for me, my inspiration to see compassion and good in people, that perhaps I had not seen prior, my inspiration to say that it is okay, to cry. To grieve. To be angry. To be sad. To wish and to hope.
The sounds of the birds bring a smile to my face most days. The quiet breeze that seems to brush against my arm in a motionless room causes me to close my eyes and be grateful. My son, in the short eight months that he was with me, gave me peace. He is guiding me to do what is in my heart, and to move from the anger and fears. Every day as I move closer to my dream, he stands besides me, whispering in my ear, “It’s okay. Do it.” When the rain comes, he knows that I need a day to mourn him. The day he died, and for days after, it rained. For the rest of my life, a rainy day is my sign from him that I need to mourn. We all do. It is healing, it is healthy, and it is needed beyond words can explain. I sit in his room on these rainy days sometimes and think about all I have lost when he died. I didn’t just lose my son; I lost a lifetime with my son. But then I realize the truth: I still have him. He is a part of me forever, and his passing has started my own journey of coming alive myself.
We are so much more than the outward appearance that we portray to the world. Whether it be as a professional, a parent, a sibling, a guardian. We are spiritual beings that need and must take care of ourselves before we can truly make a difference in this world. The world can be difficult, beautiful, hateful, hard and fascinating. I am not here just to merely live a typical life of working, paying bills, doing what I need to do. I am here to make a difference for my son, John Ryder Flitcraft. He is my driving force, always giving me that slight whisper that I need, when I am in doubt.
Grieving and healing are beautiful, you know, amongst the intense pain that they bring. I promise that every day you will change. You will grow. You will heal.
You will never forget though, and you will never stop longing. Never.
For myself, the greatest gift is to hear my son’s name and to talk about him. Genuinely. My son may be missing from me, but he is with me every single day of my life, guiding me. Closing my eyes, I feel the tingling of the hairs on my arms.
Time to put on my mascara, and start this beautiful sunny day. All in honor, of my son. My John. Every day, is a new day.
Tracy Flitcraft is the mother to Selena, a wonderful, intelligent, amazing 15-year-old, wife to the most incredible partner on earth, Mark, mother to 4 furry children (3 dogs, Lexi, Bo and Jim…one cat, Maggie) and mother to an angel, John. She has just started a plant-based food business, Yummvees, that is in the early stages of formation. She is a Vegan Mentor for those looking to transition to Veganism, and will be developing part of her small business to focus on charitable work geared towards parents who have lost children to miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, etc. You can find her food page, Yummvees, on Facebook.
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Tracy, thank you for sharing such a personal journey! You have written so beautifully for the world to know such intimate thoughts. John will never be forgotten. He is so proud of his mommy and has given you a new found strength. As I have said before, I admire the woman you were, but even more so, the woman you are becoming. I’m honored to call you my friend. I love you and I am so proud of you! Xoxo
Tracy is my dear friend and I am so intensely in awe of the strength she has – just getting up in the morning can be monumental when faced with grief and writing this exemplifies the great woman she is. I love you Stacy (not a typo but a personal joke!). I am so proud of you and can’t wait to celebrate your accomplishments. Selena and John are blessed with an amazing mommy! Xoxo
This article is truly one of the most inspiring things I’ve read about this kind of loss. My wife and I shared a similar experience, except unlike Tracy, we had twins. Aidan, like her John, did make it, but our Ian is alive and well. I thank Tracy so much for her writing, and I thank this website for providing such a forum.
It’s very hard to write , but here I am , getting STRENGTH from YOU Tracy !!!!! YOU are truly ,deeply an inspiration . I know so well the feelings of wanting to STAY in BED… give up , fall weak to the floor and say “WHY” . Know it too well ……YOU have become another source for me Tracy .. a POWER . A TOWER OF STRENGTH TO TAKE ON ANOTHER DAY . YES ! HE”S WITH YOU !!!!! Every breath you take , coming BETWEEN YOU AND TROUBLE that may head your way > I know them . THEY”RE SO WONDERFUL !!!!!! and he will always bring you peace. Thank you for writing this. For sharing it . I LOVE YOU !!!!!