A year and a half.
18 months since the words, "I don't see a heartbeat either" changed my life forever.
18 months since I held this precious boy for the first time.
It's hard for me to believe that 18 months have passed. Time is a weird thing. On one hand, it seems like only yesterday...on the other, it seems like an eternity.
What does grief look like for me 18 months later?
Let me assure you it is still ever-present in my life.
It has gotten better. Time has definitely healed my heart to a certain degree. But there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about and miss Grady. There will always be a hole in my heart...the piece of my heart that belongs only to him. That longs for my baby boy who isn't here with me and will never be this side of heaven.
I have found lately that grief strikes when I least expect it, even 18 months later. I might be in church, the grocery store, at work...it doesn't matter. Something can be said or I can see something that takes me right back to that deep, dark lonely place of grief that I experienced for so long.
But it is better. And for that I'm thankful.
I don't cry for Grady everyday like I used to. I wish he was here everyday. And I will get teary-eyed at times. But the tears haven't flowed uncontrollably in a while.
My heart still feels heavy at times, but it isn't the crushing, suffocating feeling that used to be there on a continuous, daily basis.
There are days when I can hardly think of anything but him. Days where I relive the events of November 12, 2008 vividly in my mind. Those are bad days for me. I feel scattered and overwhelmed. Those are the days where I wish I could just sleep the day away, knowing Jessica and Emma Grace are cared for and safe. These days are not as frequent as they were in the beginning. And that's a blessing for sure!
I still have a hard time seeing newborn baby boys. And I still have a hard time hearing a newborn cry. That might be putting it mildly if you read this post.
And I still have a very hard time seeing little boys who are the age that Grady would be. Seeing them and how they are developing, hearing them talk, etc. automatically takes me to thoughts of Grady...wondering if he would be about the same or different.
I don't journal as often as I did in my Grady journal. I feel a bit guilty about that, but I think it shows progress and healing. I think it's a positive thing for sure.
I still have his beautiful blue blanket on my bed with me every night (the one he is swaddled in in the picture above). However, I don't clutch it tightly to my chest all the time. It mostly stays on my pillow above my head when I'm sleeping, and it lives under the pillows when the bed is made. But the past couple of weeks, I've found myself needing to hold it tight again. It still helps me feel close to him since that is what he was swaddled in and the blanket I used when I kangaroo-ed him in the hospital.
His room is still just as it was. I never had the heart to take it down and put his things away. His clothes are still neatly folded in his drawers and hung in his closet. The diaper bag is hanging on the closet door.
I still find myself dealing with insensitive people who think I should be "over it". I expect this to be an on-going battle. It is still a challenge 18 months later to be polite and explain that when your child dies, you don't just "get over it". It's frustrating, but unfortunately, I've come to expect it.
I still struggle with regrets, but don't dwell on them. I would still give anything to have pictures of me and our family with Grady and not just pictures of him alone. I wish I had given my girls the opportunity and choice to see their baby brother in person, not just in pictures. I wish I had a mold of his hand and foot. I think about these things and more. My heart pangs and hurts. But I have to move on. What else can I do? I have to remember I was in shock and did the best I could under the circumstances with the direction I was given. The past can't be changed. But I can help change the future for someone else going through the same thing...I haven't given up on that mission to be at the bedside of grieving mothers. I believe with every ounce of my being that it is my calling in life. I just have to be patient and wait on God's timing and His opening of the right doors.
We still talk about Grady on a regular basis in our home. At least once a day, either myself or the girls will bring him up. Occasionally Gib does, too. I love it because it keeps his spirit alive outwardly, just as it is alive in our hearts. It makes me sad at times, but mostly it warms my heart.
I love you sweet boy! Sending you love, hugs and kisses to heaven! You will forever be alive in my heart! Until we meet one day... Mommy