Walking With Drake

One Mother's perspective on autism.

Fourteen Candles

There isn’t a day that passes when I don’t think of her.

Of course one could say that is huge improvement from dwelling on her every second of every single day.  But, I suppose after 14 years things change. 

 Lexi would be 14 years old today.  Surreal. 

I remember the moment she was born and how terrified and overjoyed I was at the same time.  I was a brand-new mama.  I didn’t know what to do with a baby, but I was so excited to try.  However, right from the start I had this gnawing feeling that something wasn’t right.  One week later we found out that her heart was very abnormal and our worlds would be altered forever.  I never dreamed that she wouldn’t live to see her first birthday.  I never dreamed that I would only have her with me just over nine months.  I never knew pain until I held her fragile body in my arms until her heart stopped beating. I explained most of our journey and our loss of Lexi in last year’s blog, Heaven Has A Teenager.

Every year since I started this blog for Drake, to spread awareness for autism, I promised myself that I would give tribute to Lexi too.  Technology wasn’t as advanced when she was here with us.  I didn’t have an outlet to share my thoughts and feelings.  In many ways I’m glad.  The emotions I felt during that time were too raw.  Losing a child changes people in ways that nothing else can.  I think most people assume that if you survive such an ordeal that you are strong, brave, and can handle almost anything else. 

The strength that comes from losing a child is not the same strength that comes from surviving cancer or surviving a horrible car accident.  Child-loss brings fourth unwanted strength.  A type of strength that is forced.  A strength that makes you trudge forward, while a piece of your heart is buried under a small mound of dirt in a little white casket. 

Yet, despite such intense heartache, I know where Lexi is and I know that one day I will join her there.  However, the loss is so great that hope seems mythical during the first days, months, and even years after losing a child. In the years since Lexi has been gone I’ve pondered many things about life, loss, and the hereafter.  Life took on a whole new meaning when I lost her and I don’t think people who lose children view life the same as people who have not had the unthinkable happen to them.  I think perhaps this may be why people avoid talking with me sometimes about struggles in their life.  They assume that nothing they go through can ever compare to what my husband and I have been through.  While that may be true to a degree, I understand that life still has struggles outside of the suffering I have faced.

 Unless you have lived this, you have no way of knowing.  You have no idea how precious each second with your child should be.  Cherish your children, always. You have no idea what it feels like to go home to an empty house with baby things scattered all about…and no baby. But, at the same time, I know my loss is not the same as what others may suffer.  I’ve always told myself that losing Lexi at nine months old was a blessing in many ways.  While many of you have no way of knowing what losing a young child feels like, I can’t imagine the pain of losing an older child.  I can’t imagine how much harder sudden loss would be verses a loss we had time to prepare for. I can’t imagine the gut-wrenching pain of losing a child suddenly in a car accident, drowning, or freak accident. I can’t imagine having your teenager laughing and joking with you one morning, but then gone by the afternoon.  Somehow that pain seems even more unbearable.

Lexi will always be a huge part of me. She will always be at the forefront of my thoughts. Sometimes my breath catches in my throat when I look at Drake and he makes a certain face or shows me his pouty lips. I can see her for the briefest second and it brings me joy and heartache at the same time. 

Then sometimes like today…she is all around me, reminding me that she is just fine.  I’m not one of those folks that thinks people can look down from Heaven and see what is going on here.  Heaven is a perfect place with no sadness and pain.  I feel like there is too much sadness and pain going on here for the happiness of heaven to behold.  However, my bible doesn’t tell me the whole story…and I know there are angels all around who can see what we are doing here on earth. Proof of this came today.

Just now as I am typing this a Facebook friend who has no idea that today is Lexi’s birthday or the significance of this image sent me the following photo….

Smiley faces were what Lexi loved most and they would almost always bring a smile to her face.

Simple reminders such as this let me know that Lexi is happy. In my mind, I have this amazing guardian angel who sends me these simple reminders, quite often, that she is just where she needs to be.  I just need to be patient and finish my job here before I can see her sweet face again.  I thought for a long time that my purpose on earth was to be her mama.  Many wonderful things happened in her short life despite any amount of heartache we faced.  However, I believe she was preparing me to be a warrior mama for Drake.  God blessed me with this beautiful, healthy, baby boy and I have no doubt that he has big things in store for Lexi’s little brother.

Happy 14th Birthday, sweetheart.  I can't imagine what kind of celebration you are having today.  I know it is magical. Until we meet again, I love you.

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1 comment:

  1. You simply took my breath away.

    Penny S. Reynolds