I find myself sitting here at my desk at 5:00 in the morning. I’ve been doing this for a few months now— enjoying the stillness and peace of my home at this early hour. My children are still sleeping, and I’m waiting for a new day to begin. Then it hit me—the last time I really enjoyed mornings like this was when I was breastfeeding my babies.
This realization makes me think of what-should-have- been. Right now I should still be breastfeeding Maddux, getting ready to wean him. I should be planning his 1ST birthday party. I should still be changing diapers. But instead, I’m trying to juggle my life as a wife and mother, room mom, cheer mom, baseball mom, housekeeper, taxi driver, trash taker- outer and my small part in the new life of a non- profit organization. Although I thought about it, I didn’t break down and cry. Instead, I welcomed and smiled at these thoughts. Smiled at this great challenge. Last year during this time, we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new little baby boy. Everything was ready. All we needed was Maddux.
What a turn this past year has taken. Ten years ago, if you would have asked me what I would be doing with my life, I would have never answered, “trying to find a way to help parents heal their broken hearts after the death of their baby.” And even if I would have said that, I sure didn’t think that it would come from my own personal experience. I was happy just being a wife and mother.
Some people ask me how I got to this point in my healing. Why am I not a mess? How am I able to hold it together? Truth is—I think I’m a mess. I don’t think I’m able to hold it together. Am I healed, you ask? No. Is my family healed? No. Will life get better? Yes!
We will always grieve the death of Maddux. But at the same time, we will ALWAYS celebrate the birth of Maddux—the birth of our son and our children’s baby brother. We will celebrate the importance of his short life, the importance of his being. We will always think of the 'what-should-have-beens'. My heart will always be broken and a piece will always be missing. But there came a time when those broken pieces started to come together again. And if you look really close, you can see those tiny fracture lines. Some days they are closer together. Some days they are ripped wide apart. They will never go away, and I accept that.
I hear there is a new pill that can help you forget bad or painful memories. The death of Maddux was extremely painful for us, individually and as a family. But would I take a pill to help me forget it? NO WAY!
My pain, my grief and my heartache are the consequence of loving deeply, loving unconditionally, and the death of one of the greatest loves in my life. There is a quote that really fits this: “Tis better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.” - Alfred Lord Tennyson
I can’t imagine what our lives would have been like, had we not had Maddux. As a husband and wife, we have silently learned to support and depend on each other. As a family, we have grown closer and are more aware of each others feelings and needs. I personally think I am a more gentle and kind person. I think I am a better wife, a better mother and a better friend. Yes, I have my memories. Some good, some not so good. I have my faith. And I have my precious and priceless photographs of my beautiful baby boy.
I have loved deeply. I have lost greatly, and I will grieve always. If I had just one piece of advice to give at this point and time in my life, it’s this—remember to always love deeply. Love those seen and those unseen. Loving deeply, for the most part, will not end in heartache. But when it does, accept that this heartache is the consequence of a parent’s deep and unconditional love. Don’t try to get rid of it. Accept that because you have loved deeply, you will grieve greatly. Take your own time to grieve, not someone else’s. And one day, you also will feel the broken pieces of your heart start to come together again.
And my name is Maddux. I live in heaven now. I was born February 4th, 2005, and I died on February 10th, 2005. My family misses me very much. Ask about me sometime, and see how my mommy's eyes light up.
NILMDTS video of Maddux
Christmas Photo - 2007
In Honor of Maddux:
The mention of my child’s name
may bring tears to my eyes,
but it never fails to bring
music to my ears.
If you really are my friend,
please don’t keep me
from hearing this beautiful music:
It soothes my broken heart
and fills my soul with love.
Finding my new normal:
Like the butterfly, I have the strength and the hope to believe. And in time, I will emerge from my cocoon... Transformed.