A couple of weeks ago, I participated in the heart walk for God's Special Little Hearts. I have to admit, in the weeks leading up to attending, I was sick to my stomach. The thought of touching those emotions of loss tormented me, but I got up and we went. I had no idea I would be changed that day.
It didn't hurt to walk in like I thought it would. We ate, Brandon played with the kids. My mother in law and I looked at the booths and bet on some silent auctions. It was just another day. Until it wasn't.
I met a brand new angel mom. It's been 3+ years since I was in her shoes and I remembered that numb, surreal feeling of my feet going one in front of the other, not knowing what I was really doing. The pavement not even feeling like it was there and my heart and lungs physically hurting from merely breathing. I felt like walking in his memory didn't make a difference, like nobody knew what was in my heart and thoughts that day. I wanted to scream at them as they pushed their strollers and walked with their kids that my arms were empty and my broken heart was stabbing me from the inside. I wanted them to feel my hurt so badly, but I could barely speak.
Seeing her finish her walk in honor of her daughter was like an out of body experience for me. All of a sudden, I wasn't the new angel mom. She was. All of a sudden, my hurt stopped and it all became hers. Like some sort of morbid torch being passed. After her family consoled her, I approached her and we talked for a bit. I wanted to let her know she wasn't alone in her feelings of loss. I also remembered not to be too forward. I do remember in those first few months the looks of pity and the repeated phrase of "I'm so sorry" followed by an awkward hug. I didn't want to be that person for her. I wanted to pass through her life with a message of understanding. I didn't even give her my information. I told her the director of the heart walk had my information if she ever wanted to talk. No pressure on her to start a friendship based on our loss, but a way to get in touch with me if she ever needs perspective from someone that's been there. She was the one to let the balloon go with our children's names this time. It's been me for the past 3 years. I hugged her as the red balloon flew into the atmosphere and she walked away, the newest member of a club nobody ever asks to join.
In my new place in my healing process, I sat down to listen to the speaker finish with the names on the list of all the kids being honored (living and angels). Afterwards, two little girls took the stage. More like they overtook the stage. Tiny hands stole the microphone from it's place and they began to sing. They laughed into the microphone and giggled, trying their best to promote heart defect awareness. Nobody chased them off the stage or made them put down the expensive equipment. For a moment, I was shocked that parents weren't making them mind, and then it dawned on me. It's the little things that matter. It's the sound of a child's giggle in a microphone that warms our hearts. These weren't any girls, they were heart survivors. Laughing, playing, running, singing, being mischievous. I began to smile. They were not just playing, they were LIVING!
I've gone from that numb new angel mom to someone who has learned to live. Someone that appreciates living, just like these little girls were doing. I'm not saying that I'm over missing Tommy. I'm not saying I don't hurt. I always will.
I have given myself a gift. It was a long time coming, but I'm glad I waited until I felt this peace. It's part of living in the moment, never letting myself be dragged down. A constant reminder that my son is never far from me and never wants me to drown in my sorrow. Just Keep Swimming.