Today marks 9 years that my firstborn was born and died via stillbirth. I remember his little tiny face and hands and tiny lifeless body swallowed by his baby gown even now. His tiny feet barely even made a semblance of a footprint on his footprint card. I remember returning home after having delivered my dead baby boy. No baby in my hands but still mother’s milk flowed almost as rapidly as the tears down my face. Even now, sometimes, the pain runs so deeply that I can still smell Baby Cade's sweet scent.
This year is one of those years of intense sorrow due to very personal issues that I will not divulge in order to respect the ones who are closest to me. However, what I will share is that even in the midst of a year of deep grief, there is joy.
I was prepared to complete our annual ritual of taking flowers and a balloon to the gravesite of Cade, [my heavenly baby] while singing “Happy Birthday” followed by a mope fest in my darkened room with only solitude as my partner. This year solitude would be a new addition to my annual ritual due to the aforementioned personal struggles; I even told my husband that I was ready to mope in seclusion. I told my husband, “I have no strength. No fight.” However, on last week, my daughter came to me and asked, “Can we throw Cade a birthday party with balloons and cake?”
I replied, “I am not sure about that,” because little did she know, her mommy was already in mope mode. However, both my kids interrupted my planned response with, “Please, Mommy, Please. He deserves a birthday party. It’s so sad that Cade had to die so early. He was only a baby. Why did he have to die so early?”
At that moment, all I could say was, “Yes, Yes, it is,” followed by words my great grandmother used to say. In that moment of sheer honesty and transparency, I had no others to utter but, "We will understand it by and by. When we reach heaven, we can ask God all about it.” Later, as I pondered upon my response and those dear words of my sweet children, I found peace in the innocence and utter wisdom of these little people and the message of my elders. My ancestors—“We can’t understand it all, but we will understand it by and by.” That very moment took me back to a poem I wrote to my son Cade for his memorial service 9 years ago. A few years after that I later, I turned Cade's memorial poem into a song entitled, “Only God Knows”. The chorus is as follows:
So what happened sweet angel, why did you have to go?
So what happened sweet angel, where did our dream go?
Only God Knows
Only God Knows
After 9 years of grief, I now understand that often times, we, grieving parents, are prepared to wallow in our sorrow, but there is so much to live for and to celebrate, even in the midst of sorrow. My children reminded me of that today.
Even now, I think back to how many women (and teenage mothers) I have helped over the years, even in the midst of my grieving process through comforting words, words of encouragement, sharing my story/testimony at services, personal letters I wrote and sent to grieving parents, singing my original song "Only God Knows" at events, and more. This year alone I have ministered to several women who have lost babies to stillbirth, miscarried, or have had struggles with conception. I even had one person tell me that the letter I wrote and sent to them “saved their lives.”
The biggest lessons I have gained through these 9 years are:
Allow yourself to go through the grief process.
Wrestle with the pity, and always win.
Beat the sorrow to a pulp.
Always attack pain with joy. But, take time prepare for the battle with prayer, positive affirmations, hope, faith, and love.
And, I am finally completing my book to help women and their spouses in their time of loss as well as their family members to help them understand the taboo subject of child loss, stillbirth, and more. My goal is for this book to be one more weapon in a grieving family's arsenal as we move into the new year.
Happy Birthday, Cade Dawson. Mommy loves you. Your short life was not in vain.
*The song “Only God Knows” may be found here https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/CarloLChelle
if anyone needs one more weapon to help them through the holiday season along with the lessons listed above.
Bless Your Soul,