As I walk my journey through the grief of the loss of my son, Jason, I feel like last week I turned a bend in the road and saw something more clearly than I had ever seen it before. I saw my grandmother in a completely different way. My grandmother lost children, not just a child, but children. One of her three living children was born with special needs, there has to be a certain type of grief that goes with this also. For most of her parenting years and beyond she was a single parent.
My grandmother lost several children before they were born. I bear the name of of her oldest surviving child. At three years old she watched this baby pass, her oldest, this one of diphtheria. I cannot imagine how helpless she must have felt. My mom was in her mid 50’s when she was struck by a car and killed. When my grandmother passed this last year at the ripe old age of 98, she had one surviving child, one with special needs.
When my mom passed, I was so busy grieving the loss of my mom and the loss of my children’s grandmother that I did not really grasp that my grandmother lost another child. My dad traveled for his work, so my mom and grandmother were companions/friends not just mother/child. This must have been such a huge hole in my grandmother’s life. But she never really said. I don’t recall her ever crying in front of me.
I don’t remember my grandmother talking much about her losses. There were many, I know she lost at least 2 children, at or before birth. I think there were more. I wonder what she did with all that pain? Did she think of her babies every day? Did she miss the companionship of my mom like I miss that of my son? She lost a husband to divorce when she had 2 young daughters to raise, and then later after her children were grown, she lost the love of her life just a few months after they married.
I find myself almost crushed beneath the weight of these losses. I wonder how I would have done with this much loss. I have been pondering this the last few days; I wish she were still here to talk to. (My grandmother passed 2 months to the day after my son, Jason.) I understand more of what she must have gone through, and the magnitude of her loss leaves me in tears.
In the last few months of her life she spoke of a little girl that came to her room and played with her “knickknacks”, and a woman that walked beside her sometimes. We smiled at her when she talked about these “visits”. I wonder, were these her children? Was the lady my mom, and the little girl the one she lost at three? Did these visits bring her comfort?
As I deal with the loss of my son, I wonder how she did not go a bit crazy. How did she hold it together? Did she cry at night? Did she have any one to talk to? I wish she had kept a diary. I wish I could ask her about these losses. I wish I had thought more about what she might have been going through.
I know with all that I am she rested in the arms of Jesus, she was a prayer warrior. I know she was a strong woman of the plains of Oklahoma, and her blood runs in my veins. I rest the arms of my Savior, I rest in the arms of my husband. I enjoy the company of my daughter, from all these things I draw strength. I am strong because of the heritage she leaves me. I am strong enough to know that sometimes I need to be weak and ask for help. I hope she knew that also.