Bereaved Parents Month Post: The Missing Never Ends

I’ve learned that there are new things to miss even five years down this road of child loss.  

I’ve learned that any odd moment, random smell, taste,touch, or occasion can pierce that place in my heart that screams, “Dominic should be here!”.  

I’m also learning additional ways his absence continues to shape the family we have NOW.   Dom’s absence continues to impact decisions, expectations, hopes and dreams TODAY.

I miss family photos when I don’t count heads and note unfilled spaces.  It’s not just Dom I’m yearning for.  I long for us to all be together-no one missing.  It’s a little easier (sometimes) when one or more of us aren’t able to make a particular trip or event because then it’s not ONLY Dominic gone from the frame.

But truth be told, I can’t stop my heart from looking and hoping that this time, it’ll be different. 

This time, we’ll be whole. 

wedding our family

I miss the ease with which I used to toss together family meals, social occasions and holiday gatherings.  I’ve always LOVED making things special and never minded cooking buckets of food.  I used to plan weeks in advance-gathering recipes, ideas, decorative items and sometimes little gifts or favors for those who attended.  I checked with folks for dietary preferences or allergies.  It was a joy even when it exhausted me because I loved shaping spaces and experiences to strengthen family ties.

I miss waking up and facing a new day without reservation or trepidation.  I’m a sunrise kind of gal.  I used to turn my face toward the big picture window in our living room waiting for first light to dawn and the day to get going.  Fresh start.  New opportunities.

It took awhile but some days I can do that.

Still there are many days I watch the trees come into focus knowing daylight can’t always lift the darkness in my heart.  

winter sunrise pines and zeke filter

I miss turning corners in my house or walking on my land encountering only good memories, happy reverie and hope that tomorrow would bring more of the same.  When we moved here over twenty years ago, it felt like home.  Plenty of space for children to run, exciting adventures discovering woods, water and animal life abounded.  There are so, so many memories everywhere I turn.  Memories used to spark hope for more.  Now they are silent witness to the line that demarcates our lives into BEFORE and AFTER.

I miss the certain assurance when someone doesn’t pick up the phone or answer a text that “all is well”.  We have always been a family on the move.  It sounds ridiculous today, but a driver’s license was the ticket to a personal cell phone when my kids were growing up.  As each one gained the privilege of driving away alone, we made sure they had a way to call and let us know they arrived safely.  If I called them and there was no answer, it was a good hour or two before my heart went into overdrive and my mind imagined all the horrible possibilities.

Now I make that trip in seconds or minutes despite any logic that can easily explain it away.  

cell phone in hand huffpost

I miss having energy to spare.  I know part of my energy drain is simply age.  I’m not so cocky as to assume the years don’t play a role in slowing me down.  But I know that’s only half (or less!) of it.  The constant effort to edit, direct, control and contain my words, thoughts and emotions sucks the life right out of me.  What used to easily be a one hour job takes two.  And projects I could whip together in a day require a week or more.  Discouragement makes me sad and tired.  So the cycle continues.

sleep doesnt help if your soul is tired

I miss sound sleep and good dreams.  Right after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven I could barely sleep at all.  There was no escaping awful scenes playing across my closed eyelids.  Eventually I was able to lull my mind into a kind of calm and sleep a little.  Five years later I rarely sleep more than two hours at a stretch without waking.  While I usually roll over and doze off again, I never get the kind of restorative rest I really need.

Dreams are another matter altogether. 

They are often full of jumbled bits that leave me unsettled and full of dread.  

I miss making plans for next month or next year without the silent caveat that we just can’t be sure they will come to pass.  A large calendar hanging prominently in our kitchen was my go-to for keeping track of crazy family schedules and commitments for decades.  I took it down a day after Dominic died and didn’t hang another for over two years.  I couldn’t bear to turn page after page knowing Dominic’s name would never show up again except in reference to him being gone.  I have one now.  But while I still write things in different colored pen (easier to see and track) my mind knows every single plan is really just penciled in.

Until the day comes or the moment arrives, my heart holds it lightly.  

calendar

I miss saying innocent good-byes.  I was never the crying mom waving a handkerchief as my kids made their way down the long driveway to the larger world.  I always missed them, of course.  But the goal was to raise independent persons capable of doing things, going places and living their own lives.  So a good strong hug, a kiss on the cheek, “I love you” and they were off leaving a smiling mama behind.  It never occurred to me that THIS time could be the LAST time I touched or talked to them.

Now, every good-bye is sacred.  Every hug a prayer.  

I miss hearing Dominic’s name in casual conversation.  Oh, we still talk about him.  But it’s not the same.  Sometimes it’s awkward and leads to odd pauses.  Most times it’s more natural.  Always it’s with sad recognition that instead of memories we should be sharing fresh stories of adventure.

rememberers

I appreciate each new day I’m given. 

I take nothing for granted because I know how quickly and easily it can be snatched away.

But my heart can’t help but long for the way things used to be and yearn for the way things would be if Dominic were still here.  

fiona and brandon wedding memorial flowers
In memory of Dominic from an anonymous friend for Fiona’s wedding. Photo by Katie Jewell Photography

 

 

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

12 thoughts on “Bereaved Parents Month Post: The Missing Never Ends”

    1. Oh, that first 365 days is so hard! And when you get to the end of them and realize you “made it” there’s absolutely nothing waiting except the sad realization you are still breathing. I remember that day and I was horrified. Praying that the Lord meets you where you are, gives you strength to hold onto hope and overwhelms your broken heart with His love, mercy and grace. ❤

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  1. So many things we encounter these days that we never expected in our lives Melanie. Every day you help us along this path showing us your heart and letting us know we are not alone. I hope you also do not feel alone xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What used to easily be a one hour job takes two. And projects I could whip together in a day require a week or more. Discouragement makes me sad and tired. So the cycle continues.
    This is so true for me. I seem to stay tired and I am rarely motivated or excited to do alot. It was 10 yrs this year for my son, and 4 for my daughter this yr, but I still plug along. I grieve for the missed memories too.

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  3. Melanie, you have put into words what is on my heart. It’s been a little over two years since we lost our son, Chase, in a tragic car accident. I have felt all the feelings you shared so beautifully. My name is also Melanie, one of my friends sent me your link and I know God had a hand in making sure I read this today.

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  4. Today marks 5 years since my 16 year old daughter passed away. The pain and sadness are with me every single day. In just a few months our first grandchild will be born. Even such a joyous occasion is wrapped up in pain. Lauren would have been the greatest aunt. She couldn’t wait for her older brother to have children.
    I am having such a hard time still.

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    1. We have a new granddaughter; Emmaline is 11 months old and is such a joy, but she lives 6 hours away. She also looks just like my daughter (who died almost 13 years ago at age 18) looked as a baby. My son and his wife will not even acknowledge that she looks like her Aunt Mandy, and oh what an amazing Aunt she would have been. The strain on the relationship between my son and me since Mandy died has been so unexpetced and surreal. It’s heartbreaking how the family dynamics change when a child dies in ways you could never expect or explain. I’m praying for you as you welcome your new grandchild and grieve your daughter. Melanie, thank you for another excellent post.

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      1. We all grieve differently simply because of our own personalities and the specific relationship we have with the missing child. Add to that different seasons of life and it’s a recipe for misunderstanding, impatience and hurt feelings. I pray that you and your son are able to work out your relationship in a way that honors both of you and Mandy. ❤

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  5. This one really touched my heart. We are the rememberers and no one remembers my child more than myself. I guess I talk about him to keep him alive in our lives – lots of times we laugh a the crazy things he did…sometimes I cry wishing I had one more day, one more hug…if only. I too have learned to take nothing for granted – and I try to make special memories with my only child left on this earth and my grandchildren. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. “…Every goodbye is sacred. Every hug a prayer…” This is absolutely beautiful and true. Thank you for this post, Melanie. May our Lord give you rest and good sleep💙💛

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