I died the day he died.

Or at least a large part of me did. 

I held the hand of my 10-year-old son, and I watched him leave this world for the arms of Jesus.  I watched his chest rise and fall with more time lapsing between breaths. I laid my head on the hospital bed in a dark room surrounded by our friends and family. I sang to my sweet boy as his body failed him.

It has been almost two years since that day. Each day brings new memories I thought I had forgotten.

Each memory brings with it a fresh wound I thought had healed. 

Some wounds are small. A Band-Aid works well. Other wounds feel as though I have been ripped open, and I am unsure if I will survive.

Grief does not care the time or place it makes its existence known. It comes in like an unwelcome visitor, and it makes its presence known. However, grief serves a purpose.

Grief is love unfinished. 

My love for my baby boy was not finished, but his earthly body was unable to continue.

I have questioned God so many times over the past years. I have questioned God’s existence. I have questioned His goodness. I have questioned whether what happened to Matthew, or our family, was fair and a part of God’s plan.

The simple answer is God is good. He is good all the time. 

God is good when life begins. He is good when life ends. God was good when Matthew took his first breath, and He was good when Matthew took his last.

My faith was broken in 2019. It took getting on my knees and crying out to God for me to find it again. Through the darkest days, God was near to my broken heart. He knew what would happen. He predestined me to be Matthew’s mother, a job I never felt qualified for.

You see, Matthew is adopted, as are his three siblings. Infertility encountered my marriage early on. Years—eight to be exact—of miscarriages and negative pregnancy tests prepared us to adopt our children. When I was first contacted about Matthew, I hesitated.

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How do you parent a child with severe disabilities? The answer is the same way you parent a child who is typically developing. You love them. You tend to their needs. You provide the best care you can, and you pray to God every single day. 

In the early days of parenting, I recited Esther 4:14 over and over again, “Perhaps you were created for such a time as this.”

I was created to be Matthew’s mother, and he was created to be my son.

We learned about caring for his special needs quickly. We also learned that even when global developmental delays are present, we are still able to know and feel God. Matthew was the best version of himself in church. He was loud. His wheelchair took up space. But he would smile and sing for all the congregation to see. He was his happiest in that sacred place surrounded by the love of God and of others. His ability to see through to the true heart of our Lord and Savior deepened my faith and did my heart good.

Those memories both comforted me and haunted me the most. I envision my son, my dark-haired, dark-eyed boy worshipping God with no chains of his limited life on earth, and I am overjoyed. Then, in that same moment and with that same breath, I am again desperate for him, missing him so badly my heart aches. 

After his passing, that verse haunted me. I did not want to be created for this time, this pain. I wanted to forget how much my heart missed him. I wanted to bury myself in something, anything else to make the unbearable pain go away. 

And that is where God found me. On my knees crying out.

He was there. He had been there all along, but I had to walk through some of the grief to see Him. 

Grief is love unfinished.

I was not finished missing Matthew.

For me, grief was like my car, and Jesus was my windshield wipers. I knew I had them when I needed them, but until it started raining, I had forgotten their purpose.

When my life began to pour down, and I was not able to see the road in front of me, Jesus was there, clearing the rain, and holding my hand. 

Counseling, grief support groups, books, and blog posts only go so far. I needed to feel the arms of Jesus around me to truly know both Matthew and I were OK. My head knew that in Heaven, Matthew was no longer confined to his earthly body. He was now free to run and play. His mouth was able to speak. His arms were now able to hug and embrace.

My heart did not catch up so quickly.

In all honesty, I am not sure it ever truly will catch up. 

And in that middle, where my heart and my head fought against each other, I found my faith again. 

Perhaps I was, in fact, created for such a time as this. How lucky that I was able to be Matthew’s mother for 10 whole years when we were told he may not live to see one year old. How lucky was I to see Matthew engage and communicate with others when we were told he would be unable to understand the smallest of words? How lucky was I that I was able to witness Matthew develop friendships and bond with people when we were encouraged to not expect much from him?

How lucky was I?

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Grief is love unfinished. 

But Jesus is love everlasting. There are days when connecting with God is hard. I do not want to do it. I want to live in my misery and wallow in the profound sadness that eats away at my soul.

But Jesus.

So, I open my Bible. I have my pen ready, and I let the Word of God fill my soul. It does not take the sadness away. It does, however, allow that sadness to be useful. I focus on the children still earthside while consistently honoring the child in Heaven.  I focus on the relationships that need tending while allowing myself to be a visitor to my grief.

My sadness, my depression, my grief—they are all a small cabin in the woods in the middle of winter. I needed to visit there. 

I needed to see the scenery, take in the atmosphere, smell the snow, and hear nothing but the quiet. I needed to be alone in the middle of that place and allow my heart to be so unbelievably overwhelmed that only God could bring me back. I needed to put my faith back in Him and not rely on my own understanding. Because in this place, I did not understand at all.

Parents should not have to bury their children. It isn’t fair. 

But, I did not need to unpack my bags and move in. I needed to save that cabin in the woods for specific moments when my heart needed a break, and my head needed to remember.

Real life, the day-to-day happenings, move along without acknowledgment of loss. The world keeps spinning. The people keep moving. Jobs continue to be completed. Dinner still needs to be made. The mundane becomes overwhelming when all I want to do is cry in the darkest areas of my home and allow my heart to ache. The emotions are too big. The heaviness is too much. I am not able to live like this.

Grief is love unfinished.

But Jesus.

Jesus is love unending.

He puts out his hand and whispers, “Come to me all who are weary.” It has not been an easy path. I do not believe it ever will be. But, perhaps I was created for such a time as this. 

Brandi Fought

Brandi Fought is the mother of four children with special needs. Through adoption, her family dynamic changed quickly, and she has spent her years tending to children, doctor appointments, therapies, and IEP meetings. Loss entered the Fought home in May of 2019 when the oldest Fought child passed away. With years of special needs parenting and grief behind her, she writes to help others navigate the journey of medically fragile children and faith.