Surprisingly, I remember almost every detail of that day. I remember driving to the funeral home, the steps into the building, sitting down with one of the nicest, most compassionate men I have ever had the priviledge to meet, and then spending time with Ayden. I wasn't scared. I wasn't overly emotional. I was a bit numb, but I remember feeling so strong. I don't know where that strength came from. It was strange because I found myself in "Mommy mode"....still protecting my child by being the strong one.....when he wasn't there anymore. I remember seeing him and not being able to cry. I could never look at him and cry. He had made my life complete and happier than I could have ever imagined. Although I knew he was gone, he still made me smile. I was in awe that I had a part in making someone so beautiful. And although "Ayden" wasn't there in that room, seeing him there made it feel like he was still with us. So, that day wasn't as difficult because we were still able to see him, touch him, and be with him.
I remember Jeremy and I requesting to be alone with him before the rest of the family saw him. We didn't want to be with everyone else when they saw him because we wanted our emotions, reaction, conversation.....all of it....we wanted it kept private....between the 3 of us. Our pain was/is different than everyone else's, and we wanted to keep ours separate. Our grief process has been one that we've shared together and kept very private between us because we knew that our experience was going to be different than everyone else's. No one else could relate to what we were going through. We wanted to be strong for each other, and we didn't want our family and friends to feel the need to try to comfort us or "make things better." Because nothing anyone said or did could help.....we just needed each other. Looking back, I'm sure that over this last year, many have felt like we have pulled/pushed away, but we have had to face everything in the way that worked for us, and finding strength in each other is what has held us together and pulled us through.
I remember going home, looking at the hand molds the hospital made, walking around our back yard and watching the butterflies, crying....a lot....at any given point in the day, getting ready...unsure of what to wear but knowing I would not wear black that day - I eventually decided to wear the last thing Ayden saw me in because when I first put it on I remembered thinking, "Well, if no one else thinks I look pretty in this, at least Ayden will." I remember walking into the church to see the beautiful flowers and the pictures of Ayden that a friend of mine so graciouslly had enlarged for us. I remember the sanctuary filling up with people and seeing face after face walking towards us. I greeted people and thanked them for coming as I stroked Ayden's head.....still so proud of my baby boy. I remember looking back at that moment and thinking how difficult it must have been for everyone else to see him there, but how comforting it was for me to be able to reach out and touch him.....I just needed to be connected to my son.
I remember walking up on stage and not knowing how I found the strength to speak. I remember Jeremy's words and how he worked so hard to make them perfect.....and they were. I remember the music....songs chosen with so much care....songs I still can't bring myself to hear or sing to this day without weeping. I remember going to the memorial park and asking to see Ayden one last time. I remember feeling a peace there.....a peace I still feel each time I visit because I know he isn't there. We remember him there, but our Ayden isn't in that place.
I remember going back to the church for a family meal...wondering why it was customary to feed the family who is grieving the loss of a loved one. How did I even find it in myself to be able to swallow any of it? How was I able to smile on that day....or make small talk with friends? How was I able to keep moving?
You would think that after a year, it would be blur.
I remember it all.
I haven't posted these pictures before, and I debated posting them even now. However, I wanted to share our lives a year ago today to show you how far we have come. Some days, these images seem like yesterday. Other days, it feels like it has been longer. However, the reality of it all remains fresh, and I continue to feel the pain of Ayden's absence every day. I long to see him and hold him again. I pray frequently for Christ's return because I can't seem to imagine another day in this world without Ayden. I miss him every day. I grow more and more in love with him every day. And every day I wish he hadn't been taken from us. I plead for answers still....with no response. Yet, I continue to serve the God who allowed this to happen because I know that His will is good, and although it is beyond my understanding, He will reveal His purposes to me some day. Ayden's short life has touched so many, and I know that his life was not fruitless. He has touched more people than I ever will in my life time. I continue to be so proud of my son, and I know his life was not in vain. I make it my mission to ensure that he is never, ever forgotten. We will never forget, and we will forever treasure the amazing and wonderful blessing that God gave to us in Ayden. We never took a moment for granted, and for that reason, the memories of our time with him remain to be so clear and vivid. I hope that never changes.
This chapter in our lives isn't one that we can just flip through...turning the pages to move forward to the happier side of the story. Our loss will continue to be a part of our story and a part of who we are. It won't define us, but it will shape us and propel us through to the ultimate ending.....where we're with Ayden again. What a happy day that will be....
This is the video that was shown at the Celebration of Life Service. The sound on the video isn't working, but I hope you will watch anyway.
Lord, we will never understand the WHY in all of this. You blessed us with a child we loved and continue to love with every ounce of our being. From the moment of his conception, we gave him to you and trusted you with his life. We accepted your plan for his life before we ever knew what it was. We trust you and believe in your promises despite the tragedy we have endured. You have promised to restore us, comfort us, and be our refuge. You have told us to lean not on our understanding because this is not within our ability to understand. You have promised us rest. And above all, you have given us life after death through the sacrifice of your son. You have given us hope. Comfort us, Lord, and continue to remind us of the hope we find in You. Let us be a light to others enduring trials and suffering so that they may also know You and Your unfailing love.