A year has passed and some think we should be moving on, not grieving. If you are one of those people, please delete me from your life and don’t feel the need to read on. If you think this is for sympathy or attention do not read on. If you judge me for my journey, […]
A year has passed and some think we should be moving on, not grieving. If you are one of those people, please delete me from your life and don’t feel the need to read on. If you think this is for sympathy or attention do not read on. If you judge me for my journey, do not read on. If not, this is just an update of my life the last year.
I have changed. Oh have I changed. A year ago, my biggest priority in life was always being a good mom and appearing to be a good mom. I still want to be a good mom, but appearing to be one isn’t important. I really don’t care if people think I am a good mom because I know, unless they have lost a child to an accidental death, they won’t get it. They won’t get that thousands of people make the same choice I made that day every summer while they are at work. Thousands of people walk away, leaving someone else in charge of their children and when they come back, guess what, their children are there safe and sound, not being fit in a casket the next day. So my need to please other people or appear to be super mom is gone. I am doing all I can and that is all I can do.
2 years ago as Mady prepared for sleep away camp, I remember meticulously picking out every outfit from head to toe so she would always look cute in my absence. I have always worried so much about the way my kids were dressed. I am not talking designer jeans, but clean, without holes or stains, and hair combed/fixed daily. When we went to California, I spent days packing, organizing, and color coordinating so my kids would look cute every day. That was just who I was. I was always worried that because I was a young mom, people were judging me about the way my kids and even my home looked. This is almost laughable to me now, but heart wrenching at the same time. How did I let “stuff” take my time away from my kids? How did hours packing a 9 year olds bag when the next year she went to camp (2 weeks after her brother died) I wasn’t sure she even packed underwear. How did I change so much to know that her appearance didn’t make her a good person. Her appearance didn’t gain her a spot in heaven, just like my appearance as a good mom didn’t save my 3 year old. Keeping him clean, as clean as you can keep a 3 year old boy, and dressed well, didn’t save him. It did, however remind me what is important and that isn’t stuff, it isn’t things, it is the people that I love. Money can’t buy happiness or bring Bentley back. I think that is what makes me realize so much that the things we are working so hard for at the end of the day are things. Bentley didn’t get to take his prize possession with him (his big combine). No it sits on a shelf collecting dust because I needed to back the camper in and put out a rug to protect the camper from dirt. How did this stuff rule my life?
1 year ago prior to the accident, I only worried about my kids. A year has passed and that is still very similar but I am coming very aware that soon they will all be graduating (6 years to be exact) and I will be work widow. I don’t have 15 years like I had a year ago, I have 6. I have 6 years to figure out how I am going to spend my evenings that are now filled with sports, clubs, groups, meetings. It had never crossed my mind because my life has always been my kids. I guess I thought being a mommy would last forever. Don’t get me wrong, you are always their mom, but their needs change. You do want them to grow up. Trust me the alternative sucks. You do want them to be responsible adults who are good people and productive members of society. I have never worried about what I want or who took care of me. I have always been the one taking care of everyone else. I am so thankful for the people that have stepped up this year to take care of me. It was an usual place for me to be, but I am thankful. I have come to realize that I matter. Taking time for what I want is important too. It makes me a better mom to do something for myself because I feel recharged are ready to take on the world again. I feel a way that is very foreign to me, but it is a good feeling.
I think for the most part we are still feeling those waves crash. We get through most days standing, but then we get caught off guard and the tidal wave knocks us down again. We all grieve so much differently that living with 5 people can be tough (not that you would want to grieve without them). I still need to visit the graveside often and listen to music that makes me feel like they understand. No one else needs those things. We all go through stages where we can’t get enough of the pictures and videos of him and then the next stage is where even seeing his face is too painful to bear. I still long for the things he won’t do. I will never get to take him to his first day of Kindergarten, he will never get to graduate from kindergarten, 6th grade, 8th grade, high school, college or anything like that. He will never get married. His book is missing so many chapters. His life was cut too short. I know God’s Will Be done and be still and worry not, but I feel so robbed. So abandoned. Nothing like the beginning stages but my heart aches for him daily. This is both physical and mental pain. It is pain that you can’t’ describe.
I have changed because I was one of those moms that with my kids almost every hour they weren’t at school. I got worn out and needed a break from time to time. Now I hear people say things I have said a million times and it takes my breath away. When you are tired of being with your kids or feeling drained, remember, I don’t get to rock my should be 4 year old to bed. When you say your “My kids are for sale!”, if I could buy Bentley back I would do it. When you say “Do you want her?”, I want to say are you kidding me!!! I would do anything to have my kid back and you want a 5 minute break. You don’t know the path someone else is on so think before you speak. My filter is on high now. If I say it, I mean it. I have thought through most of the things I say thoroughly. I speak less but more intentionally.
We are getting through this battle one breath at a time. Being a bereaved mother is not easy. It is a constant battle to get out of bed and exist let alone live. I still would not say I have joy in my life. I enjoy things, but joy in my heart has been robbed when I held my baby as he took his last breath on this earth. I buried the joy in my heart with my baby. I am hoping this isn’t forever because I miss it. I miss me.
To say my faith has been shaken is an understatement. I am not sure that in any storm we are faced we don’t question God. Why me, why him, what is your plan for him, me, us, where was his guardian angel, where was our miracle, our mercy, ect…my questions have been big and sometimes relentless. I remember sitting in church just a few weeks after and our pastor preached on our merciful God. It took all I had to not stand up and confront him in front of everyone. WHERE WAS MY MERCIFUL GOD? WHERE IS MY MERCY? I didn’t confront him but I did confess to him that it was tough. He is so understanding and definitely sent from God to answer my many questions and lovingly except my anger.
I still question how God planned such a miracle adoption and how it could have been such a temporary gift. 3 years 3 months and 6 days to hold a baby and then your will allows them to leave this world. My life will never be the same because of Bentley. I think my love for him glowed in my face. He was mine. He showed so many people that needed to learn that DNA doesn’t define love. I know God didn’t do this to us but it is his will. He performs miracles daily and we weren’t given the miracle of keeping him.
On the ranch death happens and I used to just except that as fact. Now I question all death and there is a level of compassion that I was missing before. Cattle, birds, our little deer friend, rabbits, coyotes and the list goes on. Last year the money aspect would have crossed my mind when cattle died but it is more than money, it is life.
So here is my faith. My faith is trying to learn and accept that God knows more than I do and that he knows what he is doing. I have to remain faithful because without the hope of seeing Bentley again, I don’t think this path would be passable. I would be snowed under unable to dig out. Heaven is my light at the end of this ever long and dark tunnel. I can only blame Adam and Eve for their original sin and not let the blame of myself, no one else, enter my heart. My faith is knowing that God may have been asleep in my boat while the storm was crashing in my boat, he was calm and knew what he was doing. Again he is smarter than me. (A work in progress). His faith is me never faltered. He knew this path and knows where it leads me, us. It’s hard to accept God is Good all the time and all the time God is good but I am working on that. I accept the basics still like God died on the cross for my sins. (Definitely a deeper appreciation for that and Mary)
My faith is shaken and altered. We still attend church but it isn’t a faithful every Sunday event yet. I say it is we are busy but that is just an excuse to protect my heart. I can’t walk in without seeing the funeral flashback still. I can’t walk to the front for communion without sobbing. I am trying.
Pray for peace, the ability to love ourselves again, and joy in our hearts again.
To say this was the worst year of our lives would be an underestimate. Nothing compares to the pain of losing a child. We have felt pain and have seen our kids hurt before after watching Luke suffer and eventually be moved to California. That pain was real and raw, but this pain is so much more. This pain is physical and aching. This pain is daily and unending. This pain refuses to stop.
The world refused to stop that Sunday morning we left our baby alone in the hospital bed. The world refused to stop when we had to bury him in the ground. The world refused to stop when we celebrated the many anniversaries of that day and most recently 6 months. The world refused to stop when we were forced to move on and harvest because we had medical bills and monthly expenses that needed taken care of. The world refused to stop when the holidays creep up on us and we are forced to get through them without Bentley. The world refused to stop and let us catch our breath sometimes when the pain is so intense that I feel like it is impossible to go on, to breathe, and to live.
That brings me to this. How do you live without Bentley? How do you find that naive happiness ever again? I know it is impossible to go back to that naive happiness because of the pain we have felt. We know the pain is real and tragedy can strike us at any moment. We are very aware. How do we find the balance between honoring Bentley and focusing on our surviving children? How do we keep Bentley’s spirit alive in our lives without denying ourselves happiness and joy? How do we learn to let go of his things without feeling like we are letting go of him again? How do we learn to live again without him?
We hit the 6 month mark just days ago and we head into the New Year. My New Year’s Resolutions are so much different than they ever have been. There are no vain goals that I will give up too soon, they are focused toward healing. Toward being a mom again to my 3 surviving children. The ones that see the hurt in my eyes daily, the ones who see me tears fall too often, the ones whose heart are broken, just as much, the ones who have stepped up to help me get through this last 6 months. They have been so good and I need to get back to being a mom to them. The mom I was before the accident will never be, but the mom I need to be is on the list. My list is focused toward finding joy again. Until you have been down this road, you have no idea how much this pain can rob you of the joy in your life. You can enjoy moments but pure joy is never there. My list is going to be tough and an uphill battle, but I have to move forward down this path I have been forced to walk, even if it is uphill I must walk forward.
We skipped Christmas this year and I know that is unrealistic forever, but it was so necessary for us. I know someday we will have to do the tree again open presents without Bentley. I know the family will expect us to do the traditional things sometime but I was grateful to not be forced this year. It was so obvious he wasn’t there with us this year and it is everywhere we go still. I still can’t make myself take a group picture of my kids, even though I brought a tractor to place in the picture in case I was able to. I just couldn’t. There were no Christmas cards even though we had our family pics done in like February or March. It feels like I am lying, trying to put together a card because the complete family in the picture is in fact very broken. The complete family is forever broken and will never be complete again. I am not saying we will never do family pictures again, because I know we will.
As this year ends, I am so blessed by the people that have done the unexpected. People that have helped us by prayers, texts, kind words, hugs, thoughts, help on the farm or ranch, unending support, meals, sweet treats, and gifts. We couldn’t have made it 1/2 a year without you. We couldn’t have become survivors of grief without you. Thank you all for helping us.
As we get closer to the holidays and the 6 month marker I am bombarded with emotions. I was beginning to find our new normal a little but Thanksgiving and Christmas have brought me right back to square one. My eyes are rarely dry, always full waiting for the second of weakness that I can’t hold them back. My guilt for my older kids is high! I want to be “ok” for them and be able to hold it altogether. I can’t. I am trying.
This leads to my first do and don’t. Don’t expect me to do things I say I can’t. For instance buy presents. If you think my kids are getting an unfair Christmas because I bought them 2 things fill free to shop away. I will even give you the money to buy them more but I think 2 and some cash is enough. Jeannie and Andrea did a wonderfully by asking my girls to help decorate cookies! I think wanting me to pretend for my kids is lying to them. I don’t want them to ever think you have to suck it up and hide your emotion. I think being real and upfront is more healthy than bottling up all your feelings to “protect” the people around you.
A couple times I have been told to put up a tree for my other children. If you think a tree is necessary offer to come put one up don’t judge the grieving heart. I am doing all I can. We will decorate our home again, just not this year.
Don’t tell me he is in a better place. I technically know this but 3 year olds are supposed to need their moms. They are supposed to be better without their moms.
Don’t tell me I should add color back to my clothes. I wish it was like the times before when a grieving person could wear a vail to signify they were grieving. If I had this when I was crying in the isle at the grocery store people would be like oh she is grieving not, oh look at the crazy lady crying over broccoli! It could hide some of the tears that I want to conseal. Sunglasses are great for that but you can’t wear them indoors.
Don’t ask me what I need. I can’t tell you or ask you for anything. Do offfer to do something, instead of waiting for me to ask. People ask me all the time what I need and beyond prayers I don’t know. Life is so much different and so much harder the list of to do’s is so long. I was never very good at asking for help so I definitely won’t ask now.
This holiday season has put my grief back to the pain that I felt in the beginning. It is raw and harsh. When little children are 3 they finally get the whole Christmas thing. Bentley got it pretty well last year because he had a speech prepared for Santa. This year would have been so much fun for him! He would have been excited the lights, the tree, the presents, the candy. Instead we are here, trying to count our blessings with an empty chair. We are trying to show our love to our surviving children everyday when their is a hole in our hearts so big it is hard to show any emotion but hurt. We are trying to realize the change in our home. There is not a wild, busy, little boy to be parents too. There is a bedroom fit for any little boy, full of toys and clothes without the little boy. I yearn to hold his little body again. Please be gentle with us. We are doing all we can even if you think it isn’t enough.
They say time heals all wounds, but I am not sure. Before the holiday season approached us, I would have said my pain was changing, but my heart is still as broken. 163 days and my heart is still broken into a million pieces that I am pretty certain will never heal or be whole again. I am pretty certain that no matter if it is 163 days, 1630 days, or 16,300 days my heart will still hurt and ache for Bentley.
I do think the time has changed my pain. Christmas seems to be squishing every breath of healing I had made out of me. Everyone expects a certain level of “living” at 6 months. Sometimes, I feel like they have forgotten the tragedy, I went through less that 6 months ago. I think they think I should be happy and celebrate Christmas with an empty chair, a candle in the window, and ultimately without my baby boy. The thought of celebrating anything, let alone a holiday that he loved, all children love, seems almost too much. I know I have 3 living children that still deserve this tradition at some level, but in the end they are grieving too. All 3 of them miss him too. We all do.
I spoke with my pastor yesterday about joy. Until you don’t experience it, you don’t realize how much it means or how much it is a part of your life. Please don’t get me wrong, I enjoy things now, but I don’t feel joy. Very different things. Joy isn’t only emotion, it is spiritual and a gift from God. God didn’t take that gift from me, I just can’t piece my heart together enough to accept that gift. He assured me that with prayer and time, joy will return. It is so hard to enjoy the stuff I used to love without this gift. I enjoy being with my children and watching them in their activities, but not like I did before. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, but it isn’t the same. There is always a reminder that he is there at the game playing with tractors in the bleachers or begging to buy a snack at the concession stands. Even though I had packed enough snacks for a year they were always better coming from the concession stands! Life just isn’t the same.
With the moments of enjoying life comes guilt. If I enjoy a moment am I forgetting Bentley. People keep assuring me Bentley doesn’t want his mom to be broken or sad. Maybe he doesn’t but it is what it is. If I allow the smile is someone going to think I didn’t love him enough. If I smile are they going to think I am over it or moving on. It is a double edge sword to even laugh at the dinner table. I know this probably sounds crazy from the outside looking in, but when I talk to other grieving moms, it is normal. I know I grieve deeply because I loved deeply.
My counselor and pastor remind me to be gentle to myself. I am asking the same. Be gentle and nonjudgmental, unless you have lost a child in the exact same way. Don’t push me to happiness or celebration. I am doing all I can, even if it isn’t enough or how you think I should be. Don’t judge my laughter or happiness as a lack of love. It is exactly the opposite. It is an act of love. I am loving him by keeping his memory alive and trying to enjoy his brothers and sisters.
This week was tough. This was the first time I think our family all experienced anger at the same point in this journey. We all let our heartache show in our words and actions masked in anger. We said things that were hurtful, unhelpful, unkind, unproductive, and all in the heat of the moment. We all let the immense hurt in our hearts hurt the people that we are closest to. The pain of losing a child or sibling is enough without the anger taking control. Anger is a healthy emotion, if you don’t hurt the people around you when you are angry. The people that live in our home, our family. We let anger control our actions, words, and reactions. It defined us this week. We have to do better. We have to work together and hold each other close because in the end, the people in our home are the ones that loved Bentley the most, we are the ones grieving the hardest.
Grief changes you. This week I looked very hard at myself and I am definitely not the same person I even was 3 months ago. I am far from the person I was 6 months ago. I have no tolerance for selfishness, ignorance, favoritism, being unkind, not being supportive or one sided relationships. I don’t have a tolerance to the hurtfulness I once had. This is probably a good thing! If you are not contributing positively to me or my family, prepare to have distance between us. We have had so much support from people that I would have never expected it is amazing. I haven’t gone a day without someone checking in on me. People have been great for the most part. There is a country song that says “You find out who your friends are.” We really did. I think some of it we needed to move on from anyway, this has just made it more obvious who truly cares about us. No more bottom-feeders, only people that are contributing. I don’t mean financially, I mean with prayers, texts, calls, messages, invites, or whatever blessings they can provide to us. There is such a small percentage of people that haven’t fit these categories, but they are the ones we have to sit back and realize they aren’t helping us heal, only hurting us more.
I don’t want the hurt and pain to define me. I want to, at some point, be better. I want to help more, be kinder, more loving, a better friend. I want to contribute more to my loved ones that I ever have before. I don’t want to be an angry, bitter person because my son died at age 3 years, 3 months, and 6 days. I have been dealt a tough hand to play, but I don’t want it to define me. I have to do better.
I am shocked that two people have asked me about the movie The Good Dinosaur. I can’t imagine asking a parent that lost their son to drowning about it. How could I have enjoyed it? I want to say to them, “Did you forget Bentley drown already?” I am not sure how you could already be so wrapped up in your life to forget my son drown 5 months ago. My lack of poker face ability, probably showed them exactly how I truly felt. Thankfully, two people had the same reaction I did and even asked how I stayed in the theater. I am not sure how I did because it was excruciating to watch. I wish there was a warning system for parents because I would have never went.
I am completely heartbroken about my baby that will never turn 4, start kindergarten, have his first kiss, go to prom, graduate or get married. My heart is broken into pieces that I don’t always understand or get. Pieces that I don’t think will ever heal. Pieces that are still sharp on the edges and slice deep into my soul. My eyes still leak my love for him. They leak my love several times everyday. I still am not sure how the world didn’t stop and 100% sure how we will ever start ours again fully. It is almost like I am standing outside the world watching it turn without being part of it. Almost like I am outside looking in. It is a strange way to live life. I love you Bentley.
As Thanksgiving draws near, this week, I am thankful my family has given me an out of celebrating and professing all I am thankful for. I know I am blessed, but listing them while I sit at family dinner without Bentley seems incredibly unbearable. There are no plates for me to fix and my sadness outweighs my thankfulness. I mentioned that being grateful is hard this year to close group of friends and it was met with understanding and critical. How could I not be thankful? My question is how could I be with him gone? I love and am grateful for my other children, my husband, and my home. I know how fast and something you are immensely grateful for, can be taken from you. I also know that because of that I don’t take them or anything for granted. Nothing is really mine to keep so I need to love it daily and make sure I am doing everything I want to be remembered for. I want to be remembered as a good mom, wife, friend and the list goes on so my actions toward the people in my life have to be better. I feel like a complete failure as a mom and a wife right now so I have to work toward fixing that. None of this makes the pain less deep.
This week the tears came often and hard. I was caught off guard several times by the tears driving down the highway listening to the radio or having a conversation with a friend. I know we are barely into this journey, 147 days, but some days I think my heart shouldn’t hurt as much as it does and others I feel guilty for having a moment of happiness. I don’t feel joy in my life and after talking to a lot of grieving mothers, I think this is normal. I can enjoy moments, but joy is never an emotion I feel. I was never a depressed person before. I have always believed that happiness is a choice. Whoa was I wrong. How can you be happy when your 3 year old is somewhere for who knows how long without you? How can you not be depressed after seeing your dying 3 year old, who was perfectly healthy 8 hours earlier take his last breath? How can you not feel like you failed Bentley, your children, your husband, your parents, all of your family, his friends, your friends, and his biological mom and dad? This pain runs deep. It runs through your heart so deep it literally hurts. My body still aches so much, it hurts to move. It hurts to brush my hair, to put on socks and shoes, to use a knife. I never thought about what a broken heart might feel like, but I am guessing this is what it feels like. The urge to cover my head and pretend the world isn’t going on without him is high. I could stay in bed and sleep. I sleep every time I sit still. I am forced to “move on” by the world that refused to stop but it isn’t what I really want to do. It is probably better that I am forced to because I am not sure I would if given the choice.
This week someone took our daughter Mady shopping and said they knew and remembered her mom’s pain. This situation was nothing like ours and I was appalled at the comparison. Why would you want to feel the pain I have? Why would you want to compare your pain to mine? Why would you want to walk in my shoes? I would give them up in a heartbeat to have Bentley back! I know we all grieve differently and our pain is different. I know that losing a 3 year old was awful and I hope is the worst thing I ever have to go through. I wouldn’t wish this upon my worst enemy. The pain at day one was unbearable. I still am shocked I survived that first week. I know the sadness has shifted from that first day, but the pain is still so raw and overpowering. I wanted to scream at this person. I didn’t, but I wanted to. I wanted to remind them that they didn’t have an empty chair at their table, a room filled with things that might never be played with again, an empty John Deere tractor bed missing the top sheet that Bentley was buried with, and a backyard filled with toys and swing that dances in the wind wanting that 3 year old boy to come back to swing.
Bentley was adopted and I know some of my pain and guilt comes from that. I feel like I failed God and his birth parents. We only knew of the possibility of Bentley 10 days before he was born and never met his mom until we showed up at the hospital to see Bentley be born. It isn’t a typical adoption story and I always felt like he was a true gift from God because adoption doesn’t happen like that. We hired a lawyer two days before he was born and we were able to bring him home 2 days after he was born. We were present when he was born and had him with us the next two days. I never took for granted how special that was, he was. So now I feel like this guilt to his birth mom, especially, she gave him to us and I couldn’t even keep him here. I failed him and I failed her. I always thought I was a good mom and now I can’t even let that thought in my mind. A good mom doesn’t let things like this happen. A good mom would have all 4 of her children at the Thanksgiving table this week. A good mom wouldn’t have buried her 3 year old son. Gut wrenching as that all sounds, it is my reality. I am fighting through it, but it is a slow, extremely painful fight.
I have survived another week. I am not always sure when I go to bed how I got through the day, but I always seem to have made it to bed at night again. I am still in such a fog that I rarely see beyond the immediate. This has lifted some, but my thoughts are still so scattered. It is a life I don’t want to live, but one that I have been given.
Today, as we shipped the final loads of calves off the ranch, I generally have a feeling of accomplishment. We survived another calving season and the calves are weaned. The momma cows will go out to the corn stalks and we can take a short breather before calving. Today all I could think is why Bentley isn’t standing on the gate with his whip herding the calves from the safety of the gate. All of our children had a hard time with us leaving them so he was always there. When Kenzie was a baby, I worked swing shift and I would come home and her dad would be trying to get her to sleep and she would be wide awake waiting to nurse. Mady cried for 2 hours for my grandma, of 30 grandchildren. So with Bentley we rarely left him. I would pack him with me in the wrap or he would sit in the ranger on the other side of the fence, always herding. I remember one day when he fell asleep on the ranger leaning on our dog, Lily. I remember Lily lifts her head thinking “Do I really have to stay here?” But she did like the loyal dog she was to Bentley.
How do I get through all the firsts without him? I know the firsts are the hardest, but some things I really don’t want to do without him. I really don’t want anything without him, but that isn’t reality. I have 3 surviving children, a husband, parents, sisters, family, friends that need me to go on. They need me to survive this path that I have to follow. They need me to get out of bed, to be mom even though I feel robbed of this title, wife, and all the other roles I have to be. How do we get through the holidays? How do I not buy presents for Bentley? (Which I have decided to do and give to someone in need) How do I plan a birthday party for a little boy that won’t be there? I just don’t know how to live without someone you loved so much.
I have spoken with several people this week about Bentley’s funeral. Burying your child is, I hope, the hardest thing I ever have to do. I have so many regrets. Why didn’t I hold him again after the day we got him ready for the funeral? I held him so long, I thought that was enough. I see the pain it caused from the pictures we have but it really wasn’t enough. I am not sure it ever could have been enough, but I really wish I would have held him again that day. Why didn’t I bury him with his blankie? I guess because it was summer I didn’t think about it, but seeing it now kills me. I feel like he should have it. His service was beautiful, but it was still for a 3 year old that should still be here. I know we did what we thought was right at the time and maybe nothing is right about a 3 year old’s funeral. I just wish I had done a few things better as his mom.
I have been praying for peace a lot lately. I had to come to grips with the fact that God did answer my prayers as I was begging him to heal Bentley that night, the outcome just wasn’t the healing I had wanted or expected. He was at the Children’s Hospital they would make it ok. Naïve in my thinking we all prayed fervently for him to be healed. He was healed, but it was for his heavenly body not his earthly body. I know that my prayers are going to be answered in his time. I want peace in my heart, for my children’s hearts, my husband’s heart, and my families’ hearts. I want to wake up without tears on my pillow. I want to be able to find joy again in my heart. I know God can help me find this and I don’t expect it to happen tomorrow or soon but I do expect it.
I think my faith in God is stronger sometimes, but other days it is hard. When I see someone say “My guardian angel was with me today or with my child”, I can’t help but think where was Bentley’s guardian angel? I have to try and believe that this was Bentley’s time or I think some of these little things could eat me alive. The why’s, what if’s and how’s are always in the back of my head waiting for a moment of weakness to attack. I am getting better at coping with them and being able to fight against them. I will never fully understand and I am thankful I don’t’ know why he had to be taken from us. I am not sure I could ever live with knowing even though not knowing is awful. I know God has a plan bigger than mine, but I am not sure any justification would ever be enough. Again, why my baby?
So another week has passed and we have “gotten by.” The pain is the same, my heart still aches, and my mind still knows I can’t hold him again until we meet in heaven again. Until we meet again sweet boy, play with your trucks and tractors in the dirt and eat hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and red mac and cheese. I miss you every breath I take! I love you Bentley Luke!
I woke up thinking about Bentley last night at exactly 3 o’clock a.m. The time he was pronounced dead. I was thinking about how much I missed holding his little body, his voice and how much he needed me. I think the age difference between Bentley and our surviving children was so great that the definition of mom without him is so much different. A 3 year old has different needs than teenagers. There are no bags to pack with toys and snacks for games. No one needs me to help them get in the car and buckled up. Bentley enjoyed being taken care of. He wasn’t super independent. He wanted me to get him dressed everyday and brush his teeth. My teenagers would think I was smoking something if I tried to take care them. I miss being his mom so much. I know I will always be his mom, but I miss doing the things a mom does for him.
Grief is a funny thing. It comes in waves. One moment I am getting by in this new life I have been given and the next I am back at square one, sitting in a corner crying my eyes out, screaming at the top of my lungs in my car, begging God to give him back, heal him. My husband and kids are all on a different wave than I am too. Their waves hit shore when I am standing straight and I am forced to crash with them because I am the wife and mom. That is what wives and moms do.
I am not sure how and when the bleeding will stop. Maybe it never does. Maybe that hole in your heart that is seeping never quite stop but maybe it slows to a trickle. I talk with a lot of parents of grieving children and they all seem to agree that the pain is always there, 1, 5, 20 years, the pain is always there. It does change. The pain isn’t the same as it was day one but I don’t feel like it is less. The reality has set, so the pain of knowing all the things he will never get to do is there, the pain of knowing the dreams we had have to change, the pain of knowing until I die I will never hold him in my arms again. In the beginning the pain was just so raw and piercing just that he died. I couldn’t think past the fact that he died. How does your healthy 3 year old die. Why did this happen to us? Why my baby?
This week has been tough. I quit my job and because of a situation with our employee the night after the accident we no longer have an employee. I enjoy the time with my husband and I think for the most part it is extremely healing for me. He is truly the only person that gets the love I have for Bentley because he loved him just as much. I think we grieve so hard for him because our love was so high. We spent 99.5% of his life with him. If he wasn’t with Tyler, he was with me. I think it is okay if I cry when I am with him but if I had to have a traditional job, I might feel like I needed to suck it up. Cows or tractors don’t care if I cry. I still can’t get in any farm equipment without tears coming to my eyes. I am not sure I have operated anything without one of our children in 17+ years when I became a mom. I think because of that, the quiet is deafening.
I am learning to be the mom of an angel. It is kind of like being a mom for the first time, minus the good. It is so scary and I always wonder if I am doing it right. I know their is no right way to grieve but I still judge myself so much. I don’t want to draw to much attention to myself, but I don’t want anyone to forget Bentley. (My biggest fear right now.) It is a fine line. I want to do so many things in his memory without people thinking, okay lady enough is enough. We are close to having all the bills paid and I want to benefit the community with something if there is money left over. I know benches maybe for the park or the pool. His favorite places in Pine Bluffs. We are thinking about a scholarship for farm related degrees. I just think I have to have someway that his memory will live on. As his mom, I need his beautiful face and funny spirit to never die. I can’t do much for him as his mom anymore, but I can protect his story.
I love you Bentley Luke