365 Days Later

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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

"365 Days Later" by Tommy Tighe (CatholicMom.com)

Courtesy of Tommy Tighe. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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

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About Author

Tommy is a Catholic husband, father of four boys, and the author of The Catholic Hipster Handbook (due out Fall 2017 from Ave Maria Press).

7 Comments

  1. This: “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.”
    All of it. Thank you so much. Your honesty is what we all need.

  2. Susan Hudak on

    Your story touched my heart when I first heard you tell it on Jen Fulwiler’s show. I pray for you, Karen and Luke’s brothers everyday; and I know you will be reunited with your precious Luke in life eternal. Keep looking to that moment…God Bless You..

  3. Tommy, thank you. Your family remains in my prayers, even as I embrace the truths you struggle to articulate and share. Losing a child is no easy task…and sharing it compounds the gift it can become to others. Thank you for your courageous witness.

  4. Praying for you. I lost my second (of four) to miscarriage five years ago. While my experience of loss was different, I relate to so much of this. Thank you for sharing it. Peace.

  5. Tommy, I beliI remember seeing your story about your loss one year ago and now, one year later hearing about your struggle with the pain of your loss I really feel for you. You have my prayers for your loss. On a positive note when you experience the emotional pain you can offer it up to God on the behalf of others, to save souls, for the protection of unborn children, etc. so your suffering can be used for something good.

  6. I can’t believe it’s been a year either. I followed your families story all of last year and prayed for you. Grief is SO HARD and most people don’t understand it. I’ve never lost a child but I lost my dad when I was 8 and it’s still hard 23 years later and people don’t understand why I still cry and miss him. Your son will always be missed and I pray for peace.

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