The day is looming and no amount of stalling will halt it…Next week will mark 6 months since we said goodbye to a precious little boy and let a piece of our hearts go with him. I speak from a different place than his mommy and daddy but we still share the sorrow and grief of missing him deeply, feeling his absence in the most remarkable way and never knowing when his memory will surface.
It’s funny how each of us in our family experience the moments of disappointment and grief at very different times. I have been driving in the car and listening to perfectly upbeat music only to be hit by a tsunami of emotion, completely unprepared and overwhelmed by the depth of the hurt still there. James shared a moment with me the other day that caught him off-guard. He was sitting in a creative meeting and the topic was bravery. Each person was given the opportunity to share a story of bravery and he wanted to share a small piece of the story about Ryker but he knew that he couldn’t share that without tears. It wasn’t really a safe place for him to share the tears so he opted to share something less raw but spent the entire walk back to his office in a state of sadness missing his nephew. The kids have similar stories, although the depth of their grief is very different and because they’re children it seems less impactful on their daily lives. Just the other day I held a little baby, 4 months old, so sweet and snuggly. Sam came over and took his turn and then returned several more times with an ease of an oldest brother to hold her, snuggle her, baby talk to her, laugh and giggle with her. The next morning he said he wished we had a newborn in our house. I laughed at the thought and told him I was glad we didn’t. We snuggled together and just like that I felt the absence of Ryker again. I told Sam, we should have had those times with Ryker, to babysit, to cuddle and love and that it wasn’t fair that we couldn’t have that. He agreed and then we moved on. But the truth is that it continues to affect my family in new ways. As an extended family we’ve grown closer and further apart…an odd conundrum, if you will, and only those who have experienced a loss like this would understand but it’s there nonetheless.
Obviously we can’t compare our sadness to the emptiness that still sits in the hearts of Joel and Meghan but I know that in an odd way our depth of sadness is comforting to them. It helps them know that he hasn’t gone unnoticed, he isn’t forgotten, his place in our family still remains and it won’t change. We use his name, talk about him as if we had known him and include him in our traditions however we can find that fits his absence.
We’ve made it through a few tough milestones, a few family birthdays and Thanksgiving but Christmas will be hard. As I think of the three little people on my side of the family that I’m able to think of and choose special Christmas treasures for I am thankful for them but also so sad that one little man won’t be on that list this year, or any year to follow.
I pray for peace for Joel and Meghan this year and for the rest of us. The true meaning of peace as Christmas was intended. The anticipation of Jesus’ arrival to bring hope and life. While we know there won’t be fulfillment of that until we are reunited with Ryker one day ,I pray that we feel God’s faithfulness in a new way despite the difficulty this season will bring for us.