*continuation from Part 1. I also received permission to use all names in this post*
My Dear Sweet Turner,
Today I took a huge step. One I was so very hesitant and scared to take. A step I feared would feel like I was stepping off a cliff into a deep abyss not knowing what lied below. However, it was one I knew I needed to take, despite my not wanting to take it. A step I have known for 2 months now I needed to eventually make in order to begin my very long journey of grieveing and healing. I knew it would hurt so bad, but hoped and prayed it would be a healing kind of hurt and heartache my heart would feel and not the gut wrenching painful hurt I have felt for 2 months.
I finally held my sweet dear friend, Janae’s, baby boy, Otis, again. Janae’s precious baby was due to be born 3 days before you. Her due date was April 7, while mine was April 10. I feel as if I have to let you know who Janae is and how very important she has become to me. Janae and her family moved here from Nevada in December of 2016. They had 5 children and were expecting their 6th and moved into our ward for church. I was stunned to find out all of our children were the same age and the same gender as each other. Each of our kids had a playmate their age and they all got along so well, which is so very rare. The only difference was they had an 5th child, a sweet little boy who was a little over a year old, when they moved here. We hit it off from the start and our families became quick friends and very close. We had so much in common and I was so very excited that she was also expecting a baby and was due just 3 days ahead of me. From the moment I met Janae it was almost as if I knew God placed her in my life at this moment in time for a reason.
As we counted down the days to finally meet these little babies we were growing in our bellies, we often wondered who would give birth first. They knew their baby was a boy and I just knew we were having a boy too, even though we never found out your gender until your birth.
Fast forward a few months. When I found out you had passed away my whole world was crushed. Everything I knew, felt and loved came crashing down on me like a ton of bricks. I was nearly 38 weeks pregnant with you. You weren’t suppose to die. Not that close to your due date. While still in the hospital, after you were born and laying in my arms, my heart and mind turned to my dear sweet friend. I knew she would be completely devastated and scared as she was still pregnant with her baby boy. I knew if anyone would understand the devastation I felt losing a baby that close to my due date it would be her since she was literally as far along as I was. I didn’t want her to feel guilty or feel as if she had to walk on eggshells around me out of fear. So I texted her. If my memory serves me correctly she was the only person I contacted personally while still in the hospital. I wrote her a message to let her know that despite my complete deveststion that I was so very extremely happy for their family with the upcoming birth of their son. That I didn’t want her to think she couldn’t talk to me or have to tiptoe around me. That I knew God placed her and her sweet baby in my my life at this time for a reason. He knew I would need them and that they would somehow play a huge role in my healing and grieving your death.
Her baby boy, Otis, was born right on his due date. It was exactly 13 days after your death and birth. I couldn’t have been more excited to hear that little Otis arrived safely into his parents arms. It brought a lot of pain but I was so very happy for them. I was able to hold their son a couple of times that first month after your death. The fog and shock of your death was still so heavy that it didn’t hurt to hold him. I knew Otis wasn’t you and he felt different in my arms, but my arms ached so badly to hold a baby. I can’t even begin to describe the aching arms I felt to have you in my arms. I still feel it now. It just felt nice to have that weight in my arms again when I held him.
After that first 4-6 weeks it was if the fog lifted, the shock wore off and reality hit me right in the face. It now hurt so badly to see any babies because they were a constant reminder of you not being here. It was and still is as if a million knives are stabbing me right through the heart and it somehow reaches my soul. It literally hurts my body. I get short of breathe and all the thoughts, feeling and emotions come flooding back so fast like a sumami. Babies your age or younger seem to be everywhere I look. Every single time I go anywhere. Constant reminders of the empty arms I have and the child who is no longer here with me. I can avoid most of these babies by not looking for a minute or two, but little Otis and his sweet mom are a part of my life. A part of my life I don’t want to let go of.
I saw them each Sunday at church. I saw how beautiful Janae looked with her sweet son. The blanket that always draped her shoulder. The kind of blanket I should have on my shoulder as well. The friends we both have doting over her baby, knowing they should also have been doting over my baby too. But no one except family were able to meet you face to face and see how simply beautiful you were. How perfect you were and that you were a newborn baby. You and Otis were suppose to be buddies. Suppose to be playmates. We were suppose to do so many things with the two of you. You could have both had the same birthdays for heaven sakes. But that wasn’t meant to be.
After that first 4-6 weeks after your death it just became to painful to see them. So I avoided them and had to almost pretend that they weren’t there. I knew I needed to protect my heart as it hurt so very badly. I was constantly afraid each Sunday that I would run into Janae in the hallway while she was carrying her baby and be forced to see him when I wasn’t ready to. That I would break down right there and lose it. I just couldn’t bring myself to see him. I knew looking at him would be looking at a constant reminder of what you would be like and would be doing if you were still here.
I ended up seeing Janae in the hallway one Sunday and she didn’t have Otis with her. I immediatly seized the opportunity to give her a huge hug and cried on her shoulder. I let her know how much I missed her. How much I wished I could be stronger to be around her and Otis, but I just couldn’t. I told her that I just needed time and space for a while and to just be patient with me. She completely understood and was and has been so wonderful to me since you passed away. She is one of the sweetest and dearest friends I have ever had. It hurts to know I had to distance myself from her for a while in order to allow me to deal with my life. I hated that I had to do that.
So for nearly two months I held my breath each Sunday. I had anxiety each Sunday. I literally feared walking into the building because I knew there was a constant reminder in there of what I don’t have, the life I should have had, and the love I should be giving but aren’t able to because you aren’t here. I struggled. Seriously struggled each Sunday to put on a face and pretend I was “ok”.
However, since your father left for his deployment I knew I couldn’t continue to live like this. I knew it was slowly killing me. It was doing so much more harm to my spirit and my heart and I wouldn’t be able to avoid my reality for much longer before it destroyed me. So I contacted Janae last week and asked if we could get together. All of us including little Otis. I feared what today would feel like. How very strange to feel so scared to see a baby. As if the mere sight would destroy me further, as if that is possible. For anyone who knew me before you died, they knew I loved seeing babies. I mean I absolutely LOVED seeing them, holding them and just basking in their sweetness. But now it is so different.
I started crying on the drive over to their house knowing I was about to see a baby the same age you would be. Knowing I would finally hold a baby your age, but it wouldn’t be you. My heart was beating so fast.
Little Otis was sleeping in another room when I arrived. When I walked in I immediatly went to her and just hugged her for a while. Told her how much I missed her and thanked her for being so patient and understanding. Having Otis sleeping allowed Janae and I the time we needed to hug, cry and talk. I have so missed her friendship these last few months and I so desperately needed her to know that. We talked for quite some time before Otis woke up. Janae brought Otis into the living room and he was crying because he needed to be fed. Hearing his cry reached the deapth of my soul. I cried right with him. It hurt to hear him cry because I have been longing to hear a baby cry, but I want that cry to be yours. I never heard your cry. Hearing Otis cry made me realize that I wouldn’t ever be given the blessing of hearing what your cry sounded like.
I watched her feed him. I watched his little legs sticking out of the blanket she used to cover him while he ate. I watched his little hands reach up to his mommy. I watched her change his little diaper, burp him and watched his older brother dote on him so very proud of his baby brother. All things I should have been doing right alongside of her. She set Otis on the floor to attend to another child in the kitchen. I imagined in my mind you laying next to him. Next to your first friend. That’s when Otis began to cry again. I asked if I could pick him up and hold him. She of course said yes.
The second my hands touched his little body and felt the weight of him in my hands I immediatly broke down. I cradle him against my chest with his head next to mine and just sobbed. Having him in my arms hurt. I can’t describe the pain, but I knew I just needed to do it. I kept smelling his little head and just taking in that sweet baby smell. It sent me back to when I smelled your little head. Trying my hardest to soak every little bit of you in forever in that hospital room since I knew my time with you would be so short. I realized it had been so long since I smelled your little head. Since I have seen your beautiful face and kissed your sweet cheeks. I just swayed back and forth while holding Otis and let the tears flow. I so wished it was you in my arms. You that I was swaying and trying to get to stop crying. You who was looking me in the eyes. You. I held him for quite a while before the pain started to turn into a loving pain. It no longer hurt my body to hold him. I cried now because I felt relief for the first time in 3 months. Relief to finally not feel such a heaviness in my chest. While holding him I literally felt a very small part of my heart begin to heal.
I stayed at her house for about 5 hours and was even able to rock him to sleep and hold him while he slept. I had him in my arms for a long time and by the end of our visit my heart no longer hurt seeing him or holding him. I think Janae and I both needed that time together. Time on or own to share the feelings we had both been feeling and allow us both the time to start healing. I’m no longer afraid to see Otis or to hold him. I know you were there with me my sweet boy. You were holding me up when I wanted to fall today. You gave me the strength I needed in order to do something I didn’t think I could do. Thank you for being there. Thank you for allowing me to be at my most vulnerable state. Thank you for letting me know it was ok to do so.
I know you were there today. I know this because just a few hours later, as I was at your grave to visit with you, I took a picture of the sunset as I do each Thursday. When I turned around and faced the opposite direction there was a double rainbow in the sky that was so very bright it took my breathe away.
When I looked more closely I noticed it looked as if the rainbow was coming right out of the dirt that lies above your grave. I’m not a huge believer in signs, but I knew that was definitely a sign from you for your mother. To let me know you were proud of me. To let me know that it is ok for me to begin to try and heal. To let me know that I will always feel pain because of your death but to try and learn how to carry this pain more beautifully every minute of everyday. To try and have this heavy grief lift a little each day and for it to not be a hurtful pain but rather a loving pain. To let me know I am always going to grieve for you, want you in my arms and next to my side each day. However, I can turn this pain into a loving despair and heartache. I needed that double rainbow today. And you knew that.
Thank you for loving me Turner. Thank you for teaching me a love so deep that it extends beyond all space, time and even death. Thank you for choosing me to be your mom. I couldn’t be more proud to have you for a son. I long for the day when the baby in my arms is finally you again. That is an embrace I will long to feel everyday of my life.
Love Always and Forever,