Updated: Jul 13, 2021
It’s been 3 months.
3 months since I saw my baby’s face break into his perfect, heart-melting smile.
3 months since I held him free of cords and awake.
3 months since I saw him crawl.
3 months since I said “Finn Benton!” loudly to tell him to stop climbing or pulling on a cord.
3 months since we played in his room together.
3 months since I heard his sweet laugh.
3 months since he touched his toys.
3 months since we watched Sing together.
3 months since my family of 3 was a complete, happy unit.
3 months since the worst day of my life.
3 months ago Finn was perfect, happy and healthy. And then 3 months ago at 11:30pm; he wasn’t.
It happened so fast and despite being the over the top, rule following mom I was. I couldn’t protect him. I couldn’t save him. I couldn’t keep him. It kills me. My heart shatters all over again every single day. Austin and I have both described the feeling as if we’re slowing dying. Like every day a little piece of us is gone. I understand that’s morbid, but it’s our truth, and I have promised honesty.
How are you?
When people check-in on me they often ask that question, I appreciate it but please know it’s impossible to answer. I want to tell you I’m ok, but I’m not. So here’s how I am: I’m not wailing crying every day. But my heart and my home is filled with the deepest sadness one can feel. My heart and home that used to explode with happiness, are both now the exact opposite. The absence of the smiling, happy boy that made our entire world brighter is on my heart the moment I wake up to the moment I close my eyes for bed.
It doesn’t get easier. As more time passes, I feel the distance between my time with Finn growing. I question if I remember the way his sweet, translucent skin felt. The way his hair smelled and combed over perfectly. The way he looked at me when I got him up each morning. The way he sat in my lap as we shared animal crackers or veggie straws. The way he stroked my hair as a I nursed him or patted my chest with his puffy, chunky hand. I remember. But some days, the memories seem foggier and it scares me. Terrifies me. All I have left are the memories, and I’m frightened to forget.
I am lost. Incredibly lost. Every day my life revolved around Finn. We had a routine. We had it down. Him and I, all day long. We did everything together. Being a Mama to my Finn Benton was the first thing in my life that ever really made sense. It was so meant to be that it became everything I was and now, I have no idea who I am. When your child goes to heaven, and when it’s your only child at that, the sense of worth from being a parent is gone too. I know I’m still his mama, but the absence of the duties that made me a mother make me feel like less than one.
My sweet husband returned to work last week. He is now on a part of the journey that I can no longer relate to, and he feels alone. Seeing him in pain each day as he remembers how Finn was woven into his old routine of going to work, is difficult to say the least. Working an 8 hour shift might seem like an easy task but imagine trying to stifle your emotions for 8 hours and maintain a sense of normalcy. I can’t imagine. I am sure you all know, but incase you didn’t… Finn is beyond blessed with his dada. One of my favorite things as a Mama was just to watch the 2 of them together. I found such pride in watching the man that I had chosen as a partner be the best Dada I have ever witnessed. And now, to watch that same man become a shell of himself, it’s another loss in itself. He, like me, will be okay one day; right now, he just isn’t.
In all of this profound sadness, there is one HUGE growth that has occurred for both me and Austin. We have never been closer to God as we are today. I talk to him all day. I desire to know him. I long for that relationship. Religion has become a huge component of our survival. We work each day to become better Christians and to grow in our own walks with God. He is the reason we are still standing. The other day I had a thought. I thought about the night Finn had his surgery. I thought about what I would have done if the Doctors had come out and instead of saying Finn was likely brain dead, what if they had said they saved him? How would I have reacted? I imagined myself dropping to my knees at their feet and thanking them profusely. Then, a thought entered my mind, Jesus didn’t want me dropping to my knees and worshipping doctors (although I am thankful for them regardless of the outcome). He wanted me dropping to my knees in thanks to Him who gave his life and DID save my son and is the reason I have hope each day in seeing Finny again. So when I get to heaven, I cannot wait to drop to my knees in thanks to Him. Until then, I will continue to thank him daily and live a life that will assure my ultimate place at Home with Him and Finn.
How are you and Austin?
For some reason this is everyone’s burning question. I guess everyone has seen the “statistic” that predicts couples who lose a child will separate. Like all trials in life, it has the ability to strengthen you or break you. I can confidently say that it has strengthened our relationship. We have both become more aware and attentive to each other’s needs, being strong for one another when necessary. Crying together when we both just can’t take the pain. But always together.
Didn’t yall have genetic testing done?
Yes, we did. AND thanks to the generous donations of so many, it was completely paid for as well. On November 1st we will be going back to McLane’s Children’s Hospital in Temple to get the results.
How can we pray for you?
First off, if you have asked this or are continuing to pray for us, THANK YOU. I told Austin earlier today that if we truly knew the number of people who were still lifting us in prayer each day, we would be absolutely floored. SO how can you pray? Pray that the genetic results show that Finn’s aneurysm was a fluke and not tied to any genetic conditions that could affect a future child, God willing. Pray that Austin continues to find his footing at work and for the strength to endure an 8 hour work day when his life has been shattered. Pray that God continues to reveal his purpose for me so that the loss of the life I had before is less burdensome.
What about medical bills and the foundation?
I wish there were a way of knowing if we are done receiving bills. I think we are…for the most part. Finn’s Foundation to support other families in the organ donation process (although I haven’t licensed it yet) will be underway making it’s first donation soon because of all of your generosity.
Have you heard from the recipients of Finn’s organs?
No, we have not. This is still a big hope of ours, but we are learning to be patient. For now we just pray that they’re healthy and able to make the most out of the beautiful boy’s organs they received.
How to help others
In ending, I’d like to acknowledge that some of you reading this might know someone who is now walking the path of child loss and you likely feel helpless in what to do for them, so I thought I’d share what helped for us in the early stages.
-Encourage their relationship with God but avoid phrases like “everything happens for a reason” (because no reason seems good enough for the loss of a child)
-Bring them food or start a meal train for them (Thank you to everyone who contributed to ours) – this is likely the reason Austin and I didn’t completely waste away in that first month home.
-Be present (you don’t have to speak – just be there)
-If you don’t know what to say, just say, “I am so sorry” (because there really isn’t anything you can say)
-Share memories you have of their child and let them know how he or she impacted you
-Check in on them every day (if they cross your mind, tell them)
-Remember their child today, tomorrow, and 10 years down the road
-If you know someone who is walking the same path, connect them. Sometimes we just need to know we aren’t alone.
-Put down the important dates in your phone (the child’s birthday, incident anniversary, etc.) and reach out to them at those times because they are likely to be even more difficult than the everyday
-Support a cause, offer financial support to them, or begin something in their child’s honor. Finn’s Fundraiser was a gift from God in encouraging us of Finn’s incredible impact.
-If you truly want to help, do not put the responsibility on them to come up with something for you to do. (Saying things like “When you need us, we are here.” “If you need anything, please ask.”) Although very kind, we can barely breathe much less come up with things we need you to do.
I love you all and appreciate the continuous support. I wish I were able to be more uplifting, but I’m learning to give myself grace and that it’s okay to be exactly where I’m at in this journey.