Signing up for MOPS (Mother of Preschoolers) last May, I guess I never thought I’d be returning without Conner. It’s not like I just dropped him off at the childcare room. He was in 1st grade, so he should’ve been in school with his friends. But his illness made him home tutored last year. So he would sit at my MOPS table with me. He’d do the craft, eat a banana or drink his Boost and chat with the ladies. He’d sit in my lap. I can still feel it and picture it, how he’d sit on my lap facing outwards yet put his arm up and behind my head, a non-stop Conner hug. He needed me. I needed him. He felt safe with me. I felt safe with him.
He wasn’t there today.
These firsts are getting harder and harder. Because they aren’t always the obvious things that I know will bring sadness and pain, they often take me off guard and hit me suddenly, regardless of whose around. I have no control over the when and the how. It’s hard.
I walked into that church, that beautiful, horrible place where we’d spent so much time as a family doing Wednesday night dinners, Little K, vacation bible school, MOPS, and church…the same church we did Conner’s service at. I didn’t really think about it, I’ve been in that sanctuary a few weeks back, and that was knowingly going to be difficult and proved to be horrible and painful. But walking in the side door and turning the corner to the nursery and the man sitting there was the friendly, loving funeral director.
the man that took my baby out of my house for the last time.
the man that surely was there as my son was lowered into the cold ground.
the gentlest man I’ve ever met perhaps, but none the less a very difficult man to run into. I breathed a sigh of relief when he wasn’t at church a few Sundays ago, I couldn’t take it if he were there. But today…
He has never been at MOPS before, it took my breath away. My heart sank. My knees shook. Somehow I dropped off my kids and went downstairs to the meeting room. Then it hit me. This was the same room we had refreshments in after Conner’s service. The very same room that last MOPS season he sat in my arms and held me close and smiled kindly at everyone he saw. The pain overtook my heart. But by the grace of God I was able to swallow back the tears, I didn’t want to be stared at anymore than I already was. I went thru the meeting trying to smile and say hello to familiar faces but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched or that people were avoiding me. Nobody knew what to say to me, so most didn’t even say hello.
I had my picture taken for the phone directory, they asked me to verify my kids, next to Conner’s name it said (with Jesus)….so they knew, they all knew and I knew.
I made it thru craft and prayer and the kind of shockingly quiet visiting time I kept my head held as high as God would provide for me. Surely I couldn’t sit there without Him.
and then again it hit…
The ending devotional.
A prayer about new beginnings.
Life’s changes. Life’s greatest pains.
I was done for.
My friend who sat across the table from me looked me square in the eye and all i could say in front of all these relative strangers sitting with me was “i’m so sorry…”, covered my eyes and started to cry. All that built up pressure and pain overtook me. I hated being there. I wanted to go, I knew all along after Conner passed that if I don’t sign up to do SOMETHING it’d be WAY too easy to sit at home and do NOTHING. I have every excuse, but I don’t want to do this alone. I need fellowship, I need love, I need friendship, I need people. And in that moment I felt like maybe it was too soon, a bad idea to go back to this thing, this very important thing in my life…but not in my new life but in my last life with Conner. I wondered if that meant that this too will have to change? Can I possibly be strong enough to return? These poor girls sitting at my table maybe didn’t know what I knew in my heart, maybe they didn’t know my son is with Jesus now, who knows. All I know is that I already felt like people were staring, unsure of what to say, or trying not to make eye contact with me, and there I go crying. Of course I couldn’t, nor can I help when that happens…but I know it certainly doesn’t help people want to reach out to me. who knows…
i just hate this new life.
i hate that God trusts me too much to be strong.
that He thinks I can make it thru this because I don’t feel most days like I can.
I know I don’t stand a chance without Him…but I wish this wasn’t my lesson.
I wish this example and lesson wasn’t born from the death of my child.
I wish to wake up from this never ending fog and find that it was all just a bad nightmare…
but i know that i won’t…because I know that it’s not.
it’s the truth.
I guess I just wish sometimes that my truth could simply be a lie…