Last weekend, Jordan and I each took turns having a 24 hour personal retreat. I went in to the weekend thinking it was going to be rejuvenating. I had major plans for Chinese takeout, chocolate, binge TV watching, reading, and sleeping in.
Honestly, it didn’t turn out as amazing as it sounds.
It’s ironic: staying in a hotel by myself to do those sorts of things has always been a dream of mine (and every other mom, I’m sure!); but I finally was able to live that dream only because of the tragedy of losing our son. It certainly was not the same. When you lose someone you love, colors aren’t as vibrant anymore. Wine doesn’t taste as sweet. Fresh air doesn’t feel as good. And even Chinese food, Egyptian cotton sheets and alone time don’t bring pleasure or rest. My 24 hour retreat only made me realize just how sad and lonely I felt. Instead of rejuvenating, it was exhausting. I was forced to face how this death has cut into the depths of my heart and soul and I shed many tears.
Although I was ready to come back home to my family, there was one helpful reflection from my time away:
I thought about the ways that my son has changed me.
A few weeks ago I told Jordan that it seems my taste buds have changed. I now prefer regular coffee to flavored coffee (I used to be a daily French Vanilla or Hazelnut coffee gal), I prefer red wine over white, and dark chocolate over milk chocolate. Those preferences were the opposite, prior to my pregnancy with our son. Now every time that I eat dark chocolate or drink red wine or when I have my morning coffee, I think about our son and smile. And I ache for him.
My heart and character have also changed. My heart is softer and my perspective is clearer. I am more compassionate than I used to be. I see people more easily. I am better able to recognize hurtful and helpful ways of communicating with others. I have started to see people’s pain and joys in life as an invitation to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, in ways that I did not before. I am more easily propelled into action. I want to love people better.
I must say, I would trade all of this in an instant. No benefit can outweigh the cost of death. Ever.
But it brings comfort to my heart to recognize these changes and to realize that the affect my son has had on my life is visible to the world. And it is a sweet gift to have things that remind me of him. Little trademarks of his life.
I have stretch marks on my body to show that I carried Riley, but these things show that I carried our son as well <3.