Spring has turned to summer and I find my body physically aches. I’m often not consciously thinking about being sad or about the fact that another school year has finished without Ethan and that another summer is upon us and we will make memories without him. I’m reminded that grief is physical and at times all encompassing and that it demands my time and my attention. I’m reminded that more time is passing and that healing is a process. That I'm still a student and that I have more work to do.
15 days ago Ethan would have turned 10 years old. In 14 days I turn 40. Needless to say I’ve been in deep reflection these last few weeks. I have been reflecting on these last 10 years as a mother, my last 40 years on this earth, and looking to my next 40 years. I don’t want to live in the past, but I want to carry it with me and to learn from it. I want it to continue to mold me, form me and shape me.
As Ethan’s 10th birthday grew closer I mourned the 10 year old I’ll never know. What would his voice be like, how tall would he be? What would it be like to hug him? What would he be asking for his birthday? We all agreed it would of course be the Apple Watch!
Lately I’ve felt like I’m drowning in little people; in constant multitasking. And it feels like groundhog day. The kind of multitasking that makes your brain feel like it’s going to explode. I struggle to enjoy the moment to moment demands of being a mom. If you saw me and didn’t know me you’d see me with a 6 ½ year old, a 3 ½ year old and a 7 month old. You’d see me corralling my boys and tending to my baby. You wouldn’t see the 10 year old that made me a mom. You would’t see the 3 1/2 years before Blake (my 6 ½ year old) that shaped the rest of my motherhood experience.
As humans we need have a deep need to be seen, heard and acknowledged. And this 10 year mark of being a mom really mattered to me. I had a need for it to be recognized.
It was the night before Ethan’s birthday, May 19th. I checked my phone and went down the basement to turn off lights in the playroom before bed. I glanced over at Ethan’s drum set and keyboard and quietly told him that I needed a sign; I need to feel him close to me. I just deeply missed him. I came upstairs and got ready for bed and checked my phone one last time. I received a beautiful message from another mom.
In the time between checking my phone and going down stairs to turn off the lights where I whispered my request, I received a private Facebook message from a woman I do not know. Through a mutual friend she ended up on my Facebook page. She has faced the death of her own son, Ian, and so was taken by the story of Ethan she was able to piece together from looking at my page. She wrote, “So I just want to wish you a Happy 10th Mom-iversary and a Happy 10th birthday to Ethan a couple of hours early. His story touched my heart tonight. And I just wanted to let you know that he is still making a difference in this world.” And just like that I felt seen and heard and acknowledged by a woman I don’t know. By a woman who shared her story with me, who allowed herself to learn about my story and who went outside of her comfort zone to reach out to me. This was no coincidence, but rather a divinely inspired answer to my need, the need I whispered to Ethan, to God just minutes before. This woman said “yes” to a prompting inside her heart and in turn she gave me a gift. A treasure, a message that I needed to hear in that very moment.
This experience touched me so deeply and got me thinking about how well I answer these promptings in my life. I have become keenly aware of my intuition and the importance of listening to God and to Life over the last 3 years. It's been a gift and lesson of my journey with Ethan. But there are many times when I think of someone and even write their name down on a post it and time goes by and I don't act on that prompting. What if I just wrote them a two sentence note? Or sent them a text? I surely have time for that. What if we listened more; reached out more often? What if we took risks like this woman did and give each other the gifts we need at the moments we need them?
It's a privilege to love each other. It's a gift to give of ourselves. We are born to do it. We are here to love each other. Listen. Act on the promptings of your heart. Say yes to the nudges that life gives you. These nudges are Divine. They are of God. You are called.