Friday, October 30, 2015

When Your Youngest Child Outlives the Oldest

On October 24, Ariana outlived Brandon's days by one day.  He lived for 7000 days, she had lived for 7001 on that date.  I feel like that number, 7000 seems really weird, like it should mean something or be something special and, instead, it's just a sad number and now it's another number that will forever have new meaning to me.  Not that I go around thinking of the number 7000, but I guarantee you, that bad boy will be cropping up, I'll start noticing it places, like we do with the things that have great (good or bad) significance in our lives.

Her birthday was really hard for me this year.  It has been hard each year, honestly, because it's a reminder that Brandon won't get one.  I try hard to make it about her, but I see in past writings that it has really been a big deal.  I know that I should be so grateful to have another birthday with her, and I am.  I'm so very grateful that I get to still be the mama here and that I didn't lose two children, but there are definitely a ton of mixed emotions at play.  I try to focus on that, on the gifts, on her nearing adulthood and I crack.

I worry, of course, about losing her, too.  I know that's part of the reason this birthday was really difficult because I really had to work hard to keep shoving the fear back that I'd lose her, one day before she got to 19 years and two months old, like I did Brandon.  So, there's this ridiculous fear, fighting with the need to not suffocate the child with your worry, fighting the blackness from depression, fighting the plastered on smile.  And, something has to give.  The easiest to give for me is the facade of happy, don't pretend there's joy, just let everything suck the life out of me.

From shortly before her 19th birthday, until the day after (honestly, the day he died, I thought about the fact that she was going to outlive him), I did a lot of trying to reign in my thoughts, to not let them control me, to remind myself that fear does not come from God.  And, instead, I find myself wandering to the what-ifs because I know that losing one child, losing ten children, does not preclude you from losing another.  I wonder if I lost her, would I be ok, would I give up and die, would I still love God, would I still be able to trust his sovereignty.  Because I'm not always sure I understand things now.

I still wonder why he allowed me to be born, knowing that I was going to have to go through this, why he allowed three generations (just that I know of) to each lose a son and will I ever have any sort of peace, should my girl ever give birth to a boy?  What could we have all done differently and why didn't he direct us that way, why just allow our babies to die, the cruelest of hurts that exist?  What could I have done differently years ago to prevent my son ever dying?  God is still God and I trust him, but it doesn't mean I have all the answers and it doesn't mean that sometimes my faith gets frayed and I wonder if it won't just break.

So far, I am ok on the faith remaining intact, but I have Ariana.  I feel like I have lost everything my heart and soul ever wanted on this earth, except for her.  And, so I back away from her, sometimes, because the risk of loving, with reckless abandon, someone who could just be gone tomorrow is sickeningly frightening, at times. Yes, it's made me appreciate each day more and it's helped me to remember to let things go that I wouldn't have otherwise, but when you have one half of your heart left and it beats through that kid, it is so, so very hard to lay that heart out there, knowing in the blink of an eye, everything can change.


  1. This article hit home. My brother was murdered when he was 20 and i was only 17 at the time. Its been two years and everyday that passes i think about how hes gone and im still here.

    1. I'm so very sorry, Shaelynn. The burden that rests on the shoulders of the surviving child/ren is huge. I try real hard to make sure my daughter knows it's not hers to bear, but it seems that it's going to be a part of our lives. I guess it's survivor's guilt? I hadn't even thought of that until I re-read your message....hhhmm.