Keep Holding On

It’s been 5,479 days since we last saw our son take his last breath. It was a day of unexpected proportion and one that plays out in my mind often. Often as Christians, we feel that we are doing something bad if we grieve long after our loved one has died.

You hear the words, “But he’s rejoicing in the angels?!” My mind knows this and for him I’m grateful. Yet my heart still grieves.

I want him here.

Our days with Elijah.

My son was born without kidneys. We knew early on in my pregnancy that his life with be a battle. Yet, like any mother, I was unfazed by the challenge. I was willing to give up my life whatever that looked like. If it meant care 24/7, so be it. If I ended up losing my life in the process, I’d do anything for my child.

More often than not, Elijah’s pass-away date falls around the Easter season. I often am able to take this time to remember that death is not our end, but rather a new beginning. This year as it follows Resurrection Sunday, I was reminded of Mary’s grief. We watched this amazing production of “Jesus” by Sight and Sound theaters. One particular scene where Mary is screaming guttural cries as Jesus is being merciless tormented and finally dies, they flashed back to her holding him when he was a baby. She sat there sweetly singing over him and emotion hit me like a ton of bricks.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always thought she was so faith-filled that while she was sad, she was somehow prepared. Yet, at that moment I was reminded that she was a mother watching her son suffer and no amount of knowledge could take away that grief that she bore to see her child die before her very eyes.

My mind immediately brought me back to the OR when Eli was about to be born. It was filled with people waiting to see the baby with no kidneys. I just wanted to see and hear my son. I held my breath as he finally began to cry. He sounded like a little lamb bleating and my heart soared! Oh, how I wanted to stay in the moment as joy overwhelmed me to see our beautiful boy alive!

With the flip of the switch my mind switched over to the Pediatric ICU room six months later and seeing my son laying on the table while the nurses and doctors swarmed the room. Alarms were beeping like crazy and I felt paralyzed as if I was in the water and couldn’t come up for air. I helplessly watched our boy flat-line.

It felt surreal.

I as a mother could do nothing to fix and bring him back. I wanted to go with him, I was his mother, he couldn’t go alone.

As I watched this production and saw that scene in that moment to recognize the agony that Mary felt moved my heart in a unique way.

I believe that when I have hard days where it’s hard to accept that he isn’t here, G-d knows. Not only that, but he understands. I don’t believe He sees me as faithless, I believe He sees my mother’s heart and He weeps with me.

Our son died from a blood infection in his dialysis line. I learned at an early age how dangerous germs have been. I’ve tried to explain to others about my overprotective germ-conscious parenting, but I know it’s hard for most to understand.

That is, until Covid-19.

As I’m watching the whole nation switch to a way of life that has been ours for the last fifteen years my heart grieves. I now see on a broad scale the ravages of the fear of death and sickness. I see people fearing for the lives of their loved ones and I can so relate not because of the news, but because we have lived it.

We had been trained to live this way every day that our son was alive.

Out of trauma, I couldn’t put my rose-colored glasses back on and we continued to live this way. Then we had another son with severe asthma and I almost ended up losing my life so this further solidified this way of living.

Yet, the lesson in all of this is I realize now how much fear has robbed me and so many of us. Fear has often held me in a prison of bondage reminding me over and over “What if it happens again?”

I remind myself:

Yes, it was messy and hard.

But he was worth it.

Life is worth it!

I want to encourage you that whether you are facing the loss of a loved one, loss of a way of life, loss of freedom, loss of control…

I know it is so hard.

Keep holding on.

Keep living and don’t let fear win!

Let out all your emotions and know that our sweet Father in Heaven is weeping with you. He can handle your questions and your pain. It’s okay that we are struggling, that doesn’t mean that you are lacking faith. Rather it’s the admittance that you need Him.

These are places where healing can begin.

While today marks 15 years since our son’s life ended on earth, it also marks 15 years that his new life began in Heaven. I rejoice for Him that he feels no pain or sorrow and someday we will be together again.

But today I miss him and that’s okay.

Elijah Praise Nickerson
Our Sonshine

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