By: Amanda Crews
Grief is catching. After five and a half years of showing up unexpectedly, it continues to do just that.
I bent down to pick up the dirty laundry in the corner of our bathroom that somehow landed next to the hamper and not in it. With three children in our home, four and under, dirty laundry sprawled across the house is recurring. As I picked up the last pair of pants and dropped them into the white hamper, it caught me. In the form of brown shoes that I had taken off my one-year-old, grief overtook me.
Brown shoes that I had received at our baby shower for Carson, our first born. He would have been five in March, or maybe it sounds better if I say he should have been five in March. However, instead of celebrating a fifth birthday with a big balloon and gifts, we celebrated his life and what would have been with the traditions we have in place. My kids and I made a rainbow-colored birthday cake, decorated by them. We ate some, and then when we finished, we smashed it all over each other’s faces, and my husband and I laughed to fight back the tears. Our children don’t understand the sadness, because it is masked with fun and celebration, because that’s how we want our Carson to be remembered by them. He’s the big brother that was never able to be.
He never got to wear the shoes I had imagined him stomping through green grass, mud puddles, and away from me to find mischief. As I looked at the shoes, I remembered the woodland themed animal wrapping paper they came in. I remember holding him close to my chest in the hospital, putting my head to his. I remember not knowing when the right time to say goodbye was, because there would never be a right time. I remember singing You Are My Sunshine and trying to take in every piece of him: his tiny hands, his button nose, and his tiny little toes, perfectly created and shaped. I remember coming home to an empty house. I remember the expectations, hopes, and dreams that died in me that day. It all came rushing back. Five years of grief, five years of distance, so far, yet so close. I still don’t understand how two worlds exist for me: my heart filled with love and happiness from my three toddlers I have the privilege of raising in one, yet the other brimming with sorrow for the what could have been but never was.
Wherever you are in your journey, be gentle on yourself and allow yourself to meet grief, the familiar, uninvited friend who visits unannounced. In the midst of life and chaos, she reminds me that Carson was mine, that he was real, and that he is still loved.
About Amanda Crews
Amanda is a follower of Jesus, wife to Chris, and mama to Carson (5) and Lucy in Heaven, and Mia (4), Arie (2), and Mateo (9 months) here on Earth. She offers Christian encouragement on her website http://www.sanctifiedbylove.com and enjoys reading, writing, cooking/baking, traveling, and investing in relationships. Amanda can also be found on Instagram at Amanda’s (@as.crews) profile on Instagram