Guest post by Jill Burnham
Our youngest son Wesley was killed on December 19, 2014. He was six weeks away from his third birthday and so excited for Christmas. He didn’t ask for toys for Christmas, but he was very specific with his wish list. He wanted a navy blue electric “gee-tar”– as he affectionately called it– with a strap, a yellow pick, a case and a tuner. Pretty tall order for a two-year-old, but that is what his heart desired. He was a lover of all things music. He graced our home with a talent show every day. He took his guitar to the ballpark, the grocery store, and even to preschool. On his last day with us he lead his preschool, along with their music minister, in their Christmas program. It is a moment I will never forget.
I don’t remember much about that first Christmas, except for sitting on my closet floor sobbing as I began to sift through the bag of stocking stuffers that had items for all three boys. With each item I pulled out of Wesley’s I sobbed harder. I felt desperation, anger and hopelessness. What was I supposed to do with his stuff? How could I simply put them back into the bag like he was never here? I knew I had to carry on for our other two boys, but we all felt a mind-numbing shock and nothing felt real.
After Christmas many more “first” milestones arrived. The one month mark since his accident, his third birthday on January 30, Easter, etc. They just kept coming. I knew down to the days how long I had been without him. I read in many books that eventually you will lose count of the number of days, you will then remember it by months and then years. That hasn’t been the case for me.
From the very beginning I dreaded the first year anniversary of his death and the third. The third seems odd to people when I say it, but it has weighed heavy in my heart from day one. I tried tricking myself into thinking if I can make it one year without him I would have some peace, knowing I’ve made it this far… I didn’t. It still didn’t feel real. After the first year anniversary passed, what should have been his fourth birthday arrived– followed by many more milestones I had to miss. Year two was no different. Another birthday and the realization that I will never get to walk him into his Kindergarten class. It was just one more year of ups and downs, moments passing me by– leaving my heart shattered each time.
Being a bit of a control freak, I researched very early on how many days we were blessed with him here on Earth– 1054 days. I know that November 8, 2017 will mark day 1055, and our family will have lived one day longer without him than we lived with him. I am not sure how this is possible. We are fortunate to have the support of family and friends, and we have faith on our side. But it still feels like a bad dream. How has everything around me continued to move forward, while my heart is standing still?
A few weeks ago, my husband and I were sitting on our back porch talking about our day. Out of the blue, I began to cry tears so heavy that I could barely speak when he asked what was wrong. I told him, “I feel crazy.” We’ve slowly learned over time that there is nothing we can do to take away eachother’s pain, except be there for each other. No words comfort this type of broken heart. This time was different. I explained to him that I felt crazy for knowing Wesley lived 1054 days. I told him on November 8, we will have lived one day longer than he was alive.
“Why do I do this to myself?” I said, “Who knows how long her child was alive, down to the day?”
He looked at me and softly said, “A mother who has lost her child knows that… You aren’t crazy, you are heartbroken and you are a good Mom.”
In that moment I realized, he was right. I am not crazy, I am a mother who has endured the greatest heartache possible– and I am surviving, milestone by milestone.
As November 8 draws near I already feel myself starting to retreat. My body physically feels the weight of this milestone nearing and aches all over. I know I need to let my heart go through the process of feeling whatever it is I need to feel, but going through these emotions is like ripping off a Band-Aid each time. I hope to find comfort in going through Wesley’s clothes, remembering each moment we shared together in them. I will hold his guitar (looking for his fingerprints,) and I will snuggle his stuffed animal shark that he loved so much. But I know nothing will replace the longing I have to hold him again.
As one of my biggest hurdles is staring me in the face I have accepted the fact that I’m not crazy. I am a mother whose love for her children never goes away. Not having Wesley to hold in my arms doesn’t make me love him less. I am his mom and I always will be.
Each of us deals with the loss of our children in different ways. Know that your way is right if it helps you heal. You aren’t crazy, you are a Momma with a heart that longs to be in two places at one time. You are surviving. You are loved.
Jill Burnham is an aspiring writer, hoping to engage readers by sharing her raw and transparent experience of child loss, after losing her youngest son, Wesley. Jill is an Interior Designer by trade, but is taking a leap of faith and fulfilling a calling from God to embark on this journey. Jill has been published as a guest writer for Still Standing Magazine, and is the Co-Founder of the Wesley Burnham Foundation. When Jill is not working as a designer, giving the gift of music and scholarships through the foundation, or writing, she is finding ways to be thankful for the little things with her husband and two sons. Jill will always be the proud mother of three amazing boys.
Copyright © 2017 A Bed For My Heart. All rights reserved.