Every soon-to-be parent dreams of their first “it’s happening” moment. Water breaks… bags are packed… call the families… wait in exciting anticipation to meet your precious little one. It seems crazy to many how long the past forty weeks felt, yet how fast they went by. You may not feel ready to be a parent, but nevertheless, you are ready to give it your best try.
March 15, 2021: Samson James’s due date. The day Ali and I could not wait for when we found out Ali was expecting last summer. As her pregnancy progressed, I couldn’t help but think about what kind of dad I was going to be, how I was going to do on delivery day, and how beautiful Ali would look as the miracle of childbirth came to light. When I first found out I was going to have a child, the thought that anything poorly could happen never crossed my mind. Struggles in the past for Ali to become pregnant and her miscarriage prior definitely lingered, but something felt different this time. I was so full of hope, excitement, and confidence that God’s promise for us was coming to fruition. Knowing that today is supposed to be the day that I would see God’s promise revealed absolutely wrecks me.
To be honest, I didn’t think it was going to hurt this much. So much has happened since SJ met his maker. We have had incredible experiences connecting with other individuals who have grieved similar losses. We have felt the impact our son has left on many and have been comforted to see how much he was loved. We have felt overwhelming support from so many friends and family around us and were so grateful to honor him with an incredible memorial service. Work has been extremely busy and has served as a healthy tool to help me move forward. Ali has begun teaching again and has made an incredible physical recovery. I am having a really hard time fathoming the fact that under “normal” circumstances, we would be expecting to have a healthy baby boy delivered TODAY.
Many have reached out to check in on us, and we have been so appreciative of these incredible acts of kindness. I hear frequently that it is good to see us doing so well, but I cannot express enough how difficult this season continues to be. As an optimist, I do a decent job of making it seem that everything will be ok (which I honestly believe), but underneath the sales pitch that I am constantly giving myself, I still feel so much hurt, sadness, and confusion. I cannot comprehend why God has put Ali and me in such a sad situation. I don’t always know how to separate the reality that no person is immune to tragedy in this world we live in from the perception that “you get what you deserve”. Losing our son has felt personal as if to teach us something. I know that the God we serve doesn’t hold grudges and exemplifies a grace beyond comparison, but that doesn’t quite explain why losing a child had to be a part of my life. It is hard to wake up with this reality every morning; the pain, although I have learned to bear it more, has not lessened at all.
Something that I have had to learn in the past couple of months is that it is okay to not be okay. This sounds extremely cliché, but it is this reality that continues to give me a sense of normalcy. People aren’t designed to be able to go through these things, so I can say confidently that I am not alone when experiencing these feelings. I have had to learn to be more upfront when I am asked how things are going. To be able to help myself, I have had to let others in to share the pain in order to relieve myself of so much burden. Being able to invite others into our grief has definitely helped me progress, but I still find myself searching every day for a reason that would explain everything. I want answers or a sign. It is so difficult to have to live with such a huge loss without knowing how the impact of our son’s legacy will play out in the long run. I long for a day to come when the evidence is so clear of why everything went down the way it did, but in the meantime, I remain helpless.
As I was planning to write this post, I was hoping I would come up with something that would greatly inspire everyone so that I could make SJ proud. However, as I began to write, it became clear to me that being honest and raw was more important. People should be able to know the real me, and I shouldn’t have to feel shame to express honesty. I wish times were different, but unfortunately, this is the season that I have to face. I don’t share these things to ask for sympathy, but rather to encourage everyone to be honest with themselves in their everyday lives. The only way we can truly help each other is by confiding in one another. No one should have to go through these seasons alone, and even though there may not be answers to all of our tragedies, we can still be a light to one another.
Lastly, as I continue to battle this season, I need to reiterate an important message: GOD DOES NOT FAIL. Many of us resonated with numerous bible characters as we learned about the Good News in our youth. We were inspired by the many characters who pursued God’s mission and found great success, but we forget many times about one important detail among these incredible stories in our history: most of these characters we are inspired by initially responded to God’s calling for them with doubt. They weren’t immediately sold on the fact that God had chosen them to change the world. Whatever season you find yourself in at this moment, remember that our battles have already been won. This doesn’t always instantly take away the pain and suffering we feel, but it does provide the promise that the season we find ourselves in now is not the end. Currently, I feel more like Jonah running away from God than I do like David defeating Goliath, but nevertheless, I know that seasons come in go, but our God remains faithful. Being hurt and confused doesn’t mean you have lost sight of what is important, it just serves as a reminder that the best is yet to come! So hang on, and join me in committing to the belief that when we cross that finish line, everything we ever questioned on earth will be understood in a way unimaginable to us right now.
I am thankful for each and every one of you, knowing we have a community of support around us has been enough to make it through each day. I still hurt more now than I ever have, but I will continue to fight the good fight. As long as God continues to give me breath, I will continue to sing “it is well, it is well with my soul.”