This past week has been one of wonder. It started last week as I was watching the X-Factor on TV. A teenager made it through to the next round and collapsed in tears with their mom. I instantly lost it. Part of grieving Koen is not in reminiscing of memories of all the amazing times we had, but rather all that I will miss. This week I have been wondering what would he be like? What would he have become? As I sat in the pep assembly at the high school for homecoming and the band came marching in, my eyes filled with tears. In that moment I had to choke down my emotion, but I continued to watch all the students and wonder. Would Koen have been a saxophone player in the band, a star athlete, the homecoming king, quiet and studious, or the class clown? I will never know, not in this earthly life.
I must trust. I must keep my faith. I must be courageous. I must be strong. I shared some of this with a dear friend this week and realize that I have not written it here. Without my God I would still be laying in my bed and looking at the leaves on the trees out my window. It is impossible to understand why Koen was taken from us without warning. What I do know is that we live in an imperfect world. Accidents happen, disease exists, and sometimes a baby gets sick in a mothers womb and dies. I am heartbroken and shattered, but I am up and moving forward. I have made the choice to trust and keep my faith in Jesus Christ, but it is Him who has given me the courage to be strong. I will never know why God didn't choose to intercede and take the bacteria from my womb and keep Koen safe. Part of living in this imperfect world is facing obstacles. God does not promise rainbows and butterflies, but He does promise to walk alongside us and even carry us along the journey of life on earth. Some days I have the strength to walk, but other days I would not be able to do what I am doing without Jesus carrying me. His Word is carrying me this week with these two scriptures.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
I have listened to this song on repeat over the past few days. God is carrying me, but my heart is overwhelmed.
When I role on my side in my bed this is my view. The week I lost Koen I just stared at these trees and leaves for hours. Without my God, I fear that is where I would still be. Praise God for the strength and courage to leave my bed and that view.
Some days I cruise along like nothing has happened and other days I ache. Today was one of pain. Yesterday, one of our dear friends had a baby ... a son, their second son. I praised God for them. I am so thankful that they are experiencing the joy instead of this empty hole of heartache. But it has triggered my grief. In my quiet moments today, during lunch and after I was done teaching, tears would strike. They were pouring down my cheeks so quickly that before I could wipe them away I would hear them thud on my sweater.
I had so much work to do today, yet I found it challenging to focus. My students will be witnesses to that as the papers I corrected have scribbles all over them. In my lack of focus, I continually made errors. It seems once you fall back into that dark pit, the clouds just billow over you. I was swarmed with sadness. I am overwhelmed by new role as a teacher, and the great responsibility that goes with it. Made even more evident by our lockdown drill today. Not only do I impact their minds, but I am also responsible for their lives. The weight of that feels awfully heavy on gloomy day like today.
Hackett came down with a fever after school. My sweetheart wanted to be read to and snuggled. He pulled some books from the bookshelf in the living room, not our typical reading spot. One of the books he selected, that we have only read once before after receiving it as a gift from my dear friend, "We were gonna have a baby, but We had an angel instead" by Pat Schweibert.
Here is the story:
We were gonna have a baby, but we had an angel instead. My mommy had a baby in her tummy. I was real excited about that most of the time. I thought about playing ball with my baby. And building a fort, and playing trick on our parents. I loved to listen to the baby, and talk to the baby, and I really liked it when the baby would knock on Mommy's tummy to get my attention. But something happened. The Baby died. Our baby is not going to live with us. We are all sad right now. Mommy sits in the rocking chair, holding the baby's blanket and cries a lot. Daddy is building a box to put some of the baby's presents in. Even Grandy and Pops wish the baby would have stayed. I'm sad too, but I think they are sadder. Grandy says the baby can always live in our hearts. People send us flowers and cards, but we still miss our baby. If this just happened to you, I'm sorry you got an angel instead of a baby. I think having a baby would have been more fun.
With Kevin working second shift, it was just me and my little man. Hackett saw my grief, and I explained it, reassuring him along the way. He shared his desires for another baby. Even through his fever he consoled his mama, not a role I want him to be in often, but tonight that is where we were. His manner is so tender and genuine. I told him what an amazing husband he will be someday. We talked about what a gift he is and how I thank God for him every single day. I wish that Hackett wouldn't have to read books like this and see his mom cry, but I have to pray that God uses this to shape his little heart. How honored I am to have the gift of being both Hackett and Koen's mommy.
After we said goodbye to Koen it was after 11pm. Our nurse made up a bed for Kevin, we both ate, I got assistance to got to the bathroom ... how quickly life moves on. The world keeps moving, even when it seems to come crashing down around you. This phenomenon is something that continues to be a struggle for me to cope with.
After the most exhausting day of my life, both emotionally and physically, I was unable to sleep. I tried sleeping pills and pain pills, but nothing could touch my heartache and give me the peace I needed to close my eyes. At four in the morning my nurse tried yet another drug and I was able to drift off for a few hours. I awoke at six and tears immediately began to stream down my face. I felt shock, I had to remind myself why I was there, and why I was crying. I had no words, just tears as they did more blood work and took my vitals. I just stared out the window. I felt like all I did for a week in my quiet moments was stare off into space, unable to focus on anything.
My mom had spent the night with a scared Hackett who know knew that Koen was no longer here. He is not used to being away from his mommy, and when he is, it is something that he is prepped for. He wanted to see us. So my mom got him ready to come to the hospital. He chose his own clothes that morning, his "Big Brother" shirt. He told my mom that he wouldn't be able to wear it much anymore so that was why he had chosen it. We knew he was coming, so we requested any personal care items they could bring us. We were not packed, we were not ready to deliver our child. All we had was the clothes we had worn to the hospital. They didn't have much, but they did have baby powder. We used baby powder to freshen up. Hackett is a sensitive soul and I was worried about him. When he walked in I pulled it together and smiled. I let him play with the buttons on my hospital bed. Then we hugged and he said "Mom, so Koen is dead right? He died?". My mom was trying to be sensitive in her explanation, and Hackett needed me to confirm his understanding of this situation. I looked at my 6-year-old in his "Big Brother" t-shirt and said "Yes, buddy, Koen is dead".
Here is a picture of Hackett in his "Big Brother" shirt the day we found out Koen was a boy.
Sitting at my desk at school today, without kids in my classroom, tears were streaming down my face. I have been so busy. Morning until night kind of busy. It is a new speed for me. I am not complaining, I know it will improve, it already has. I am just trying to adjust to the many changes in my life. Last night my mom drove out to the Sleeping Bear Dunes to seek some solace and this picture is what greeted her on the beach. A heart cloud bursting from the heavens, complete with angel wings. Love from my Koen to his Oma. During a text exchange this afternoon I wrote to my mom "I miss him". I miss him so much. In this busy speed it is easy to pretend. No one knows at the school. How bizarre that is for me. Sometimes I want to just be like, "Hi, I'm Jackie, and my baby died less than four months ago." That's just not a socially acceptable way to begin a relationship with co-workers, so I keep quiet. So tonight I am writing it instead. This helps give me a voice. I can dive into my grief with my playlist streaming through my headphones, my fingers dancing on the keyboard, and tears pouring down my face. Even when I am busy - I miss him, I miss him so much.
First day of school tomorrow. Hackett will be a first grader and I will be teaching. With so much to think about and prepare for, but today all I can think of is Koen. It is often hard for me to find my trigger, but today I think is a combination of many things. Koen was supposed to be here with us now; I envisioned him going with us to drop Hackett off at his first day. Koen will never have a first day school. Koen's marker is now set on his grave after waiting for the cement to cure. I put new flowers at his gravesite this week, as the sweet bright spring flowers were dying (the symbolism was not lost on me). As I was buying the flowers for his grave, I couldn't help but think of all the many things I would have preferred to lovingly purchase for him. I was also reminded of a memory I had early in May. I was excited to meet him all the time, but this one day in particular I could hardly stand it. I was thinking about Koen, not just a baby, but him. What would he be like, what would he look like, what would his personality be like, what would he become, what would make him cry and what would make him smile. The excitement of the new relationship filled my thoughts. I could not wait to have a third man steal my heart. For a lifetime I will wonder about him. I know what he looks like, but I don't know him. How heartbreaking that we never got that opportunity. Life is altered now. I am okay, but forever changed. Koen did steal my heart and he took a large piece of it with him.
I am Jackie.