Editor’s note: As the Tighe family observes the one-year anniversary of the birth and death of baby Luke, they remain in our prayers, as do all families grieving the loss of a child. We appreciate Tommy’s willingness to openly share his family’s experience in the hopes of helping other families in similar situations. –Lisa
It’s been a year.
Seeing those words typed out on the screen doesn’t make it seem any more real. How can it already have been a year since our sweet baby Luke was born, baptized, and died?
I’ve thought a lot about what I would say in my reflection on our experience a year later; thought a lot about the new perspective I wish I could share with readers looking back over the last 12 months of our life.
What have I learned? What do I see now that I didn’t see before? Would I be able to be like so many before me, who have written thoughts a year later telling the story of their happiness, joy, and peace looking back on a situation that initially felt tragic, hopeless, and shocking?
I wish I could. I can’t tell you how much I wish I could.
Instead, a year later, my eyes still fill with tears every day. A year later, I allow my grief to become anger and frustration. A year later, I find myself lacking the motivation to do much of anything and find myself just wanting to be alone in my sorrow.
I’m still so deeply and utterly crushed by the death of our son.
I see a newborn at our local farmer’s market and feel jealous. I watch my three kids playing together in the backyard, knowing there should be four, and I feel robbed. I respond to the question “how many kids do you have?” with “three”, and I feel guilty.
Yes, it’s been a year, and I’m still just as devastated as if it had only been a day.
From the agony of realizing the memories of our short time with Luke are starting to fade, to the overwhelming fear and anxiety that envelopes me when we consider having another child, to the heartbreak that feels so fresh every time I look at the photos of Luke that I cherish so deeply, the pain is still so acute and intense even after all this time.
Through the pain and sorrow, my wife and I have most definitely seen the hard truths that can only be understood through suffering. God does bring good out of pain, the Church does come together to carry those of us who can’t carry on alone, God is with us even (and especially) when it feels like he’s turned his back on us, and we do receive God’s strength, grace, and saving power through the crosses we face.
And yet, learning those truths over the course of this past year hasn’t automatically make our walk through the valley of tears easier. Even though we know our son is currently experiencing unimaginable joy in Heaven, we’re still struggling to reclaim the happiness and joy that used to come naturally to us down here on earth.
So where do we go from here? How do we push on for the next year, the next ten years, and the rest of our lives?
I don’t know.
But I do know I have never been more focused on the goal of eternal life. Not when I was a faithful young altar server, not when I got married, not when I reverted to the faith shortly after my first son’s birth, and not at any other point in my life before this moment. Never have I so strongly desired to allow the grace of Our Lord to flow through me, flow through my marriage, and empower my wife and I to lead each other and our children to that moment in Heaven when we can finally be reunited with our precious son.
Thinking of that moment brings me joy, and as we prepare to mark what should have been our son’s first birthday with tears and sorrow, that’s the moment I’m holding on to.
Copyright 2017 Tommy Tighe