As we are approaching the 1 year mark, a lot of thoughts have been running through my head as you can imagine. Some of it I write and don’t share and some of it I have/will share. But, I keep coming back to the people who surrounded us June 1st and beyond.
You know as they say, “it takes a village to raise a child” and it certainly does but I have learned that it also takes a village to bury a child.
A large village.
As every cell in my body that created Noah’s body was crying out in pain I became surrounded by a village I knew I had, but I didn’t know I had at the same time. If that makes sense.
Within hours my BFF came through my front door and surrounded my family in her hugs. It was the first person, other than John and the kids, I allowed to give me a hug, that I didn’t cower away from. She knows me well enough not to ask and just do because she knows me in crisis. I knew I was in complete breakdown mode and by keeping my physical distance it let me stay on my two feet and make sure our kids were fed, diapers were changed, and they weren’t alone. She came and I knew I could stagger and fall and she’d make sure my kids were fed and kept busy. Then came brothers and sister-in-laws and more friends and co-workers and ex-co-workers and therapists & teachers and neighbours. All for him. All for us.
I always felt that our family was going it alone a lot of the time since becoming parents. We are so far from family and friends that have become family it hasn’t been easy. We miss a lot. They miss a lot. After Noah was born, a lot of other people couldn’t relate and didn’t think they could help so we lost a lot of friendships. We just put our heads down and powered on and through. I no longer fit into regular Mommy groups, I was a Mom to a child with Special needs and that life is unexplainable and truly un-understandable unless you live it. The sheer amount of appointments, therapy time, etc and differences overall did not allow me to get out and experience life as I had expected and did with Elijah. I thought we were alone most of the time. I truly did.
Within hours of the news spreading we were inundated with thoughts of love, memories shared, food brought to the door, toys brought to the kids, just people reaching out who knew Noah. His reach was far. So much farther than I ever knew.
The community, local & online, rallied around us and lifted us up when we did not have the strength to do it ourselves. Our friends and family who couldn’t be here kept sending messages and calls, even though we rarely ever picked up or probably even responded. We had things set outside of our door from well-meaning neighbours and friends who didn’t want to intrude. We had a great social media show of support with photos and memories and people wearing their super hero shirts. People ran errands. People ran damage control. People made sure everything that needed to be done got done and to this day I can’t tell you exactly what that entailed because I don’t remember. It’s a blur. I just know I felt so much love and support from this village we indeed had built and surrounded us and they took care of what they could. We weren’t alone.
It taught me one thing. If there was ever a time when someone needs a village it’s when they have said a final goodbye to their child.
So if you ever can be there for someone. Be there in any way you can. Near or far. You don’t have to say anything prolific. You don’t have to say anything at all. There are honestly no words. Just be. Let them be whoever and however they need to be in that moment. Don’t try to make them feel better. Don’t expect a response. Avoid the cliches because those honestly are.the.worst. Silence works.
In those weeks, months, and years to come say their child’s name. Don’t be afraid to say their name and say it often. Remember the “big” days (and the not-so-big ones). Remind them of happier times. One of a bereaved parents biggest fears is forgetting or having everyone forget. It’s awful how much I’m already forgetting or what isn’t at the forefront of my brain any more. I love seeing things and being reminded of his life. His big beautiful life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard. Really, really hard but at the same time, gives me bittersweet joy.
So to our village, thank you.