Death Does Not Win

I know I should have the most to say but words are escaping me. Jake’s ripple effect literally blows my mind. This past month loved ones have shared how Jake’s life has effected them and that is just a small percentage of those his little life has touched. I will be honest, I was afraid to write this month. How could/can I find words for this past year? I wanted his life to be honored and I chose to allow others the opportunity to help me do so. I think some of that was selfish. I needed to know, I needed to hear that he mattered, over and over again. And I did-only I gained so much more than that from it all.

You see, reading these stories opened my eyes to the huge impact my son has made. It is natural for people to want to protect Bret and I-so I don’t often hear these stories to the depths I have heard this month. I am simply taken back. I knew he was amazing, I know he has changed lives-but wow, simply wow.

How do I put into words both the deep sorrow and deep gratitude I have for having a son in heaven? I don’t have, there aren’t any words for this, but I will try. You see, a year ago and for several months to follow-I wanted to join my son in heaven. I really, truly did. I wanted to be with my son and I couldn’t see any other way of getting to him. I secretly prayed to get into a car accident that would send me straight to him. I clearly remember one time actually screaming at God because I almost did get in a wreck and he managed to save me. It wasn’t purposeful. I almost got t-boned and I was literally angry when I realized that it could have been my “chance”-my chance to see my baby. My reaction to God was one I am not proud of but I screamed-“Really God? Can I just get a break for once???” In my eyes, this break meant escaping this life. For those who know me, this is pretty out of character for me. But losing him caused me to no longer desire this world-for a period of time.

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I am grateful that period only lasted for a short duration, even though it felt like years. However, I am grateful for witnessing the depths of such sorrow. It has made me a more empathetic person. I don’t know how I began to awake from that state of despair but I did and in my wakening I had nothing but gratitude for God’s grace on me. I miss my son. I yearn to be with him like nothing else but I no longer want my life to be over. In fact, this year has brought me to a place of realizing that the good stuff, the really good and hearty stuff of my life has just begun. I have gained this deep understanding that no matter how many days I have here on earth, no matter how much pain I have to endure, no matter how many tears these eyes can shed-it will all be washed away in an instant when the Lord calls me home. I have no fear of death anymore. It’s hard to explain…and so liberating. There are days when I envision my moment as I enter heaven… I will meet Jesus and he will hold me as I cry sobs of relief and joy. I picture him holding my hand and literally guiding me to room where my children are playing.  I am just taking a moment to observe their innocence that I’ve imagined for so long. I see Jake. I see him looking up, a huge smile forming with big bright eyes gleaming at his mama-running to me with arms wide open. And in an instant it’s all over-all the pain just washed. Nothing but joy forevermore. Oh death, where is your sting? Oh death-you hold nothing over me.

My son is not physically here but death has not separated us. I have experienced his presence in ways some would call crazy. I have felt the presence of his soul in the room with me at times. I have no doubt that he is with me constantly-just as excited for me to join him as I am. I know he is in perfect peace, but I also know he longs for his family to be with him in that perfect peace as well. No pain. It gives me chills to picture this embrace and to then call it eternal.

As this year evolved, God has used me as an instrument in helping others by walking alongside them in their grief. I started to write because I was so lonely in my own grief, a kind of grief that nobody wants to talk about. I knew there had to be so many mamas like me out there-so very lonely. Little did/do I know what he had/has planned. He gave me this gift of hope unlike anything I have ever experienced. I know without a shadow of a doubt that good things are coming. I feel it in the thick of my bones. Sometimes I can burst with excitement at this. Then there are times that the grief comes wailing back and I am knocked down in my sadness for Jake not being here to rock to sleep.

I have a new kind of joy in my life. A kind of joy that can’t be stolen from me. Ever. It’s the joy of knowing what is waiting for me when I reach my real home. Therefore, every single day, every single moment-I have something to look forward to. It’s what keeps me going.

God is good. He is so, so good. Because even in my anger, my resentment and lack of trust in his plan for me…he chased after me and loved me through it all. He helped me love him deeper despite my confusion, despite my raging fists and refusal to say his name at times. He loved me anyway. He loves me the way I love Jake, without condition. He loves my son…even more than I do. And that is an unfathomable amount.

Six months ago I attended a memorial service to honor all of the babies who have reached heaven far too soon. The day before the service I learned that Hope, Jake’s sibling that I was carrying had also passed. I was scheduled for surgery the morning after the service-at the same hospital. I was determined to be there, to honor all of my children. We lit candles, said our babies names and prayed. A musician sang “The Rose” by Bette Midler. I sobbed, big messy and loud cries during this song-weeping for my Jake and holding my belly which held another baby who whose heart was no longer beating inside of me. I couldn’t even breathe in how much pain I was feeling. We were all given a single stem white rose. I placed this rose in a simple wine bottle vase with some water. It lasted about two weeks before it wilted away-as I expected. I couldn’t throw it away. I funnamed (13)ound significance in the single dried out lifeless stem. It sat with all of my other plants in the window. I assumed it would always be a reminder of death.

This week, this dead dry single stem bloomed a new rose flower. I couldn’t believe my eyes. For six months it has just sat there-lifeless-and on the week of my son’s passing and birth and this amazing holy week-life bloomed again. I find such beauty in the hope this represents. This picture is a reminder that life sits aside death. Death does not win, ever. Because life is eternal for those who believe.

So one year later all that I can simply say is this…Oh death, where is your sting? And that is the last thing I thought I would say one year ago today.


“When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong…
Just remember, in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows.
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose.”
-The Rose
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