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Mourning

Mourning

July is Bereaved Parents Awareness Month, and this guest post comes from Sarah Batory’s blog The Batory Chronicles (https://batorychronicles.wordpress.com/2015/10/) where she shares about the loss she and her husband experienced in October of 2015.

It is Sarah’s hope and mine that these amazingly honest words will help each of us understand the depth of need for those who mourn. I urge you to intentionally share compassionate comfort with those you know who are mourning.

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

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“I don’t even know what to say.” I’ve heard this for the past two days, but I echo those words myself.

I’ve finally had a few hours’ sleep and in the darkness of the night, I hope to find some clarity in words.

Monday morning, we lost our little boy, Canaan Mark.

It’s such a surreal thing to say. To say that it was sudden, feels inadequate. His health was great. We had just moved to Greenville three weeks ago. He was thriving. He was even taking some food orally. He was all over the place, using his patented butt scoot. I discovered him on Sunday wrist deep in a vat of Vaseline. He was everything you’d imagine in a toddler, about to turn two on Halloween.

We had fought so hard to keep him here. Several surgeries, countless therapies, medications, and many, many prayers. But we couldn’t.

Monday morning, Canaan was found by his dad, and he was gone. I had gone into work early and, fearful of waking up the kids, didn’t check in on him on my way out. My husband’s worst nightmare became reality when I heard him on the phone, his voice hoarse and shaky, telling me to get home. Telling me he was gone.

I hadn’t seen my son since Sunday night. I dressed him in his pjs. Usually I lay him on our bed to dress him, but instead we sat in the rocker, and I dressed him while we rocked. I laid him down to go to sleep, having no idea that the end was coming.

I’m so thankful for this past weekend. I was off of work and with the hurricane passing though the southern area of the state, it rained the whole time. Saturday and Sunday was full of playing, snuggling, and pillow wrestling. On Saturday night, we had a family dinner at my parents, and on Sunday night we joined my sister and her family at their home. Canaan was tired so we spent Sunday evening sitting together while Wren played on the floor with her cousins. If I had known this was our last weekend with him, I don’t know if we would have done anything differently. I praise God for that time. It has been of great comfort to us over the past two days.

Grief is a funny thing. Everyone processes it differently. My husband’s pain is acute. He is working through the trauma, and I’ve never seen him cry out to God so hard. I feel nothing. I feel like a part of me is ripped away, and I’m left with a great void. To say we are heartbroken doesn’t begin to cover the myriad of emotions and pain. The waves of emotion that overcome us have left us feeling battered and exhausted.

It’s excruciatingly hard for me not to say “what if.” What if I had checked on him sooner. What if I had looked in his crib when the feeding pump beeped “low battery.” What if I had looked in on him when Wren was crying for her bottle instead of taking her out of the room. But these things are not profitable for us to dwell upon, and here’s why.

Because we believe that God is sovereign.

We believe that things are not by chance, and that you don’t lose a child due to an accident. It was simply his time.

Canaan was on loan to us. He was brought into our lives, as our perfect son, for a bigger purpose than just being our child. To us, Canaan was a reflection of God’s goodness and His unconditional love. God showed himself mighty in this little boy who touched the world through his sweet, sweet smile. My mom just shared with me that Canaan’s ability to smile and love in the midst of constant struggle was such a rebuke to her.

Canaan opened a new world to us. A world full of fear and pain and the unknown. But he shined in it. The Special Needs community is absolutely beautiful, and we never saw it before. Canaan’s struggles allowed us to treasure every victory, every milestone, no matter how small. He would automatically clap for himself whenever he would say “Dada” and point to Mark because he knew how excited we would be for him. This boy knew he was loved and was able to pour his love on others. His cuddling was, and will remain, legendary. I can still feel him in my arms, even now.

There are a lot of things I am thankful for.

I am thankful that Canaan’s last days were filled with quality family time. I am thankful that we were able to be in Greenville during his last weeks. Many friends were able to see him and know him. I cannot imagine going through this without the lifeline of our family. I am thankful for new family pictures that we had done right before we moved. I am thankful Canaan’s struggles are over.

I am thankful for his glorified body that is free from feeding tubes and painful teething, a body that is wiped clean of all surgery scars, even the bruise that he just got in Lowes this past week. I am thankful that he is now cuddling in the arms of Jesus. I truly believe that. Because I know that the God who created him loved him more than we ever could. And we did. So. Much.

I miss him. I’m so sad. Being at home is comforting. I love the pieces of him everywhere. His dirty jeans from scooting across the floor. The toys thrown askew. The feeding syringe left on the bathroom counter. I long to see his smile when I walk into a room. I want to watch him give his sister kisses and point to himself with both hands when we ask “where’s Canaan?”. I ache to hold him in my arms.

The outpouring of love and support is just . . . thank you. Being newly back in Greenville, we aren’t settled into a local church, and I bemoaned to Mark that we didn’t even have a pastor, and then we heard from five of them on Monday. You all have cried with us and wept with us. You share our heartache, because we all loved him so much.

The generous outpouring of countless people will allow for us to take some time to grieve. We are hosting a Canaan Memorial Celebration on Friday night, and then we are headed to Myrtle Beach next week. We need time with our family, time with our little girl. Our family of four felt so perfect. Three now seems so small.

I beg for your continued prayers in the upcoming days. The dark moments are far from over. Please pray for my husband as he continues to wrestle with the trauma and burdens of Canaan’s last moments. Please pray for our families and young cousins, who mourn the loss of their little playmate, and our parents as they mourn for their grandson. Please pray for our daughter, who finds herself without her cohort for the first time in her life. Please pray for me, that I am able to break down my coping mechanism of strength, and that I can feel again. Please pray for our marriage, that it will remain strong as we desperately seek to support each other.

Above all, thank you for loving our son. There will never be anyone else like him. He was our angel, sent to us for such a short time. But he didn’t belong here. And he rejoices in Heaven, where we cannot wait to see him again someday. I hope he knows how eager we are for that day.

To God be the glory.

*Text and photo used with permission from https://batorychronicles.wordpress.com/.

By: Nancy Lohr

Join us at www.just18summers.com for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

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