After Koen died, I lived in a fog. A complete haze at times. I was present, but not there. I remember thinking "this is it, this is how it will always be". I didn't think I would ever escape the dense fog I was residing in. It didn't just last a week or two, but months. And even after the fog lifted and there were sunny moments, sometimes even days, it returned often. My pregnancy with Tobin brought another wave of fog. For over a year of my life I gripped tightly to the side of a mountain, clinging, reaching, and barely hanging on. I am sure the only way I kept my grasp is that Jesus had his hand under my feet, keeping me from plummeting down even further. Then we had Tobin. He was safe, we were relieved, we felt joy, and a new normal began for us. It felt good to breathe again, it felt good to pull myself from off of that ledge. You have read my journey as I processed my grief, so you know I did not ignore it, but at some point you make a decision to climb back on the train of life, instead of watching it race pass you. It seems that time heals, and in some ways it does, but truly time just allows you to grow accustomed to living with a shattered heart. I am not all better, even after almost 4 years, I am just better at living with a constant dull ache in my chest. Better at swallowing tears.
As we move further away from Koen's death, Kevin and I are learning that his death not only had a profound impact on our lives then, but also still today. The trauma lingers. We pushed things down out of survival. It changed us, both as individuals and as a couple. Both wanting to protect one another, we went to our own corners in sorrow. I share this knowing others can relate who have also gone through grief, but also to shed light on the fact that there is no time limits on grief and the trauma that someone endures. It gets wrapped up in the very fibers of your heart, your personality, how you are relationally, who you are at the core. You cannot expect others to be who they were in their "before" state, that person - their carefree nature and innocence is forever changed, not gone, but different. I flashback still. Not as often as I once did, but it happens. Some days I am off, impacted by the movie reel my mind plays for me. But my normal daily life is happy, filled with joy and parenthood frustrations, laughter and laundry. Some days or hours are hard though, traumatic even as you reluce memories. Extend grace to those you come in contact, you never know what trauma is lingering in their lives on the day you cross paths with them. Be kind..
I am Jackie.