By Angela Ledet
There are so many former versions of myself that I barely recognize now. The teenager, the girl learning to become a woman, the one who had yet to experience the love for a child; they are versions of myself that I vividly remember but feel so far removed from now. But the version I never expected to meet and couldn’t have dreamed of looking back on with a new perspective, was the woman I was, wrecked with grief and in complete despair… the one standing by the coffin of her son, tightly hugging his blanket, wondering how this could possibly be real. The woman who had innocence ripped from her life through the death of her 3-month-old baby boy. This is a woman that didn’t believe life could ever be okay again, one that didn’t want it to be. I didn’t think there would ever be a version of myself that could laugh again. A version that could smile when thinking of his perfect face instead of falling apart. A version that could desperately love him and miss him with every beat of her heart but continue to see the beauty in this life.
The day my son died, I died, too. When they put his body in the ground, I wished they had put mine with it. It took a long time for me to be able see clearly, for me to be able to wipe the dirt out of my eyes, to look forward and to not hate the path that I was on. It took months of profound sadness and bitterness, of regret, of questions that I will never know the answers to. Ultimately, it took hitting the lowest of lows to be brought back into the light. It took deep faith and trust and the absolute belief in something and someone bigger than myself, bigger than this pain. It took truly knowing that he is not gone forever. Granted, in this life, he is.
His little body took its last breath in my lap. I was the one that screamed that he was not breathing. I watched strangers try to bring him back to life for over an hour. I’m not crazy. I know he’s gone, and he’s not coming back. So in the typical sense of the word, and in the earthly manner, yes, he’s dead. But there’s so much more than this life.
He is so alive; alive and waiting for me in eternity. And so once the hope of heaven starts to infuse your body and soul with rejuvenation, you’re able to start to look around. The blindingly bright sunshine doesn’t hurt your eyes anymore. A beautiful day doesn’t feel like an insult. It feels like a warm kiss on your cheek. And when the cool wind blows, it doesn’t feel like a slap in the face. It feels like an embrace. And when the trees shake in the wind and the leaves flap, it doesn’t feel like everyone’s moved on with their life and forgotten about you… about him. It feels like the ones who’ve gone before you, stopping by to let you know they are still there, and they always will be.
The beautiful thing about death is that life doesn’t end there. At least not for me, not for those of us who believe in the One who came to save. It doesn’t stop there. Death is not the end. It’s the beginning, the beautiful gateway to a new, wonderful life. Without death there could be no resurrection, and I don’t believe that resurrection occurs only after the physical death of a body but after the soul of the one left behind dies along with it. Because when your child dies, everything that you knew to be true in this life disappears before your eyes. When this kind of hurt comes upon you, it rips you wide open, and you are left there to bleed. You are left with gaping wounds that nothing can repair, and you have a choice to make. You can sit in it. You can let it pool around you, suffocate you, and eat you alive, or one teeny, tiny step at a time, you can choose something different. You can choose to not let it be the end for you. You can choose to believe that there is purpose, and there is more. You can choose to let their impact live on through you. You can choose joy. It’s not easy, but it is possible.
Once you make that choice, and you start to look around you, you’ll begin to see that his beauty is everywhere. That your child is still near, and if you just search, you’ll find them. You find them in the clouds, in the butterflies, in the prettiest flower in the garden. You find them in the stars. You’ll find them in the song that you used to sing to them, in a book that you read together. You find them in the kindness of a stranger and in the people who love them, too. You find them in your memories, and if you’re lucky, you find them in your dreams. It’s never a replacement for having that baby physically in your arms, but it is a reminder that they are still yours, and they always will be.
The cold, hard days of lying on the bathroom floor begging for God to give him back, they just slowly start to change. You don’t miss your baby any less. The ache doesn’t go away, but you start to see the little flecks of new life, just little sparkles of hope here and there reminding you that all is not lost. As long as there is breath in your lungs, they will be with you. And when there isn’t, they will be in your arms again. Some days, that’s all I have, but it’s always enough to bring my heart back to life again. He will always be enough.
Angela lives with her husband of 8 years, 3-year-old daughter, 3 dogs, and 3 cats in a town outside of New Orleans, Louisiana. Her beautiful baby boy, Noah, was diagnosed in utero with multiple, congenital heart defects. He underwent one successful open heart surgery and was blessed to spend the majority of his life with his family in the comfort of his own home. Noah was 3 months and 17 days old when he unexpectedly and unexplainably died. Angela and her family have spent the last year picking up the pieces and choosing to find joy after the loss of Noah. Angela is currently pregnant with her 3rd child, her rainbow baby boy. She is a veterinarian and enjoys spending time with those she loves, beautiful days, butterflies sent straight from heaven, and all things chocolate. With the grace and strength of Jesus, she is healing and coming back to life. Find her on her blog or on Facebook.