This Is What Seven-Year Grief Looks Like

My sweet Thao

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I stumble on my words. I brush past your photos sometimes. It hurts too bad.

It hurts because of time. It hurts because you’re gone. It hurts because I keep living. It hurts because it shouldn’t be this way. I’ve seen others given another chance, come back from the brink of death and I don’t get it. I don’t understand. And suddenly I find myself asking that question I’ve never asked before. Why? Why my Thao?

And yet I know the answer. Why not? Why not my Thao? Why not my sweet son?

No one really deserves the suffering, I tell myself. But yet, we do. Maybe it’s just that. I feel I deserved the suffering more than he did. Or maybe I feel none of us do at all. But that isn’t the truth, is it? Grief can lead me down these roads…the roads of untruth, of lies, of deep sadness and discontentment.

Maybe this is why. If I didn’t know this suffering, then I wouln’t know the depth of joy. If I didn’t know this grief and longing in the physical, then maybe I wouldn’t know how to be fully satisfied in Christ in my soul. Maybe this is actually mercy.

Because my sweet Thao isn’t suffering. Because my Thao is perfect. Although I would have argued he was near perfection here on earth, I know his body never quite worked right. I know he was physically fighting. I know he faced things I never have. I know that as my children grow they face more heartache and soul punches and gut wrenching pains. Because that is this world. It’s imperfect and sad and hurting.

But, God, I see you in it! I see you in trees with roots so deep. In the sunsets and sunrises. In the gentle giggle of a baby. In the doting older brother and the nurturing sister. I see you, God. You give us joy even in this suffering world. It’s not that bad here. And then I go full circle. Is it really mercy? Dear Lord, I want to see your purpose. I want to see the why. Seven years without….

I prayed for that child. I wanted him. I long for him. I miss him.

And once again, I can’t help myself. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of that precious life. You didn’t have to give us five beautiful years with him, yet you did. You didn’t have to allow us time for goodbye, but you did. You didn’t have to give us minds to remember, photos to treasure, more children to surrender, but you did.

And as deep and as painful as this open wound of death is, I would do it all over again. And again. And again.

Because love is deeper than all this pain.

Dear Thao,

I will never forget the way you looked at me the moment you were placed in my arms. All I had ever wanted was wrapped up in you. I had no idea what you would put me through, but I can easily say no, your strong-will was a gift.

It’s been a really long time since I woke in the night looking for you, or since I thought I heard your voice calling for me. I hate to even admit it but it’s true. I’ve gotten wrapped up in this life now. The past feels so far away. I’ve been without you longer than I had you. And somehow the pain runs so deep today. It doesn’t feel this way everyday anymore, something I also hate to admit. But I keep telling myself seven years without you means I am seven years closer to eternity with you.

What is perfect even like? I’ve tried to picture it a thousand times and I still fall short. I’ve tried to imagine what it would be like to spend one more day with you. What would I say? What would I tell you? I’ve come up with million things and all of them fall short. Even in my daydreaming, I stumble over my own words.

If I had just one more day, I would hold you tight. I would wrap my arms around you, smell your perfectly round head and listen close. I wouldn’t say anything at all.

You know how deep my love runs for you. That is all. That is enough.

I treasure the memories. I am thankful for the gift of your life. I know what a blessing you still are. I will never stop aching for you. And i could never be more thankful for the hope of heaven.

I love you, dear sweet Thao.

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