I’ve been having a hard time finding my ‘new normal’ this week after slogging through Father’s Day weekend. Lots of things worked out great last weekend and a few things didn’t, and I had a hard time moving past that. Leading up to it, I knew I’d be emotional. We were more than a month away when I started talking about it out loud with Cassy and I choked up every time. I fought with what I wanted to do and couldn’t really land on anything. I thought about not doing anything – just sit at home and watch movies or something – but I felt like that would be avoiding my fatherhood rather than honoring my son. I just couldn’t get there. I took Monday off to spend some time by myself in the morning and then we took the dogs up to Opal Creek for a long hike which was really the only thing I felt like doing, but I feel like I just can’t connect right now.
Life in the middle. I’m learning that spending my time here – between deep loss and profound gratitude – is harder and longer than I had expected. Losing other family members had been a gradual return to life as I knew it previously, save for the hole that person had left in my life. Some had a deeper impact than others but every one left a legacy that I try to recognize as things come up that remind me of them. This though… it’s unlike anything else I’ve experienced. Sometimes I’m angry that we won’t get to experience the things with Jonah that other new parents get to, and other times I’m thankful for all of the little things we were present for – mentally as well as physically. Every time, though, it hurts.
Times like these are where you realize how much focus it takes to look past the pain, and to fight for things that come from a place of gratefulness. In the last two days I’ve read posts from other Trisomy families who got to spend time with their little one. One had a full hour with their child – full of life – before she was called Home, and the second is still getting to experience life with their baby as we speak. I’m grateful that these parents get to see some of the personality of their child. I’m excited that they got to hear their little one taking breaths, filling its lungs with life, and that they get to look into the eyes of their most precious creation. I’m more thankful that they don’t have to spend today wondering about those things like I do.
And this is the moment I’ve been looking for – where my tears of wishing for a different Jonah Experience creates a well of hope for other families. Where in this moment I’m able to realize that none of this would be real had we not had Jonah in the first place. While I’m working my way out of a cave so deep that it gets hard to step out of the shadows, I still have hope for the futures of my family and others as they walk their journey. There is beauty in this pain. My brokenness is balanced by hope and the pieces of my shattered heart serve not only as a symbol of loss but also as a beacon of love. My Jonah has given life a depth I never realized was possible.
These are moments where I realize more than ever that the thankful people are the happy ones. Give life to your hardships, because they honor a life lived rather than one taken.What are you thankful for?