I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to find the right words to describe exactly how my life has been laid out the past year. The highs of welcoming a new baby, and the lows of losing my first ‘baby’.
When I became a mom I, like many moms only hoped that I would do everything in life right for my child. Raising a child comes with many fears, from that first ultrasound when you lay there just hoping to hear a heartbeat, to the day you hear the first little cry. The days, weeks and months go by. They grow out of their clothes, they go up a size in diapers, they learn to blow raspberries, and before you know it, saying ma ma, da da, pulling up on everything and crawling into everything you don’t want them to.
Before long you notice their chubby soft skinned baby rolls shedding and your little baby begins to look more and more like a toddler. They start walking, running, jumping, climbing, saying more words than you count. They start learning the words to songs, singing the alphabet, counting, putting board puzzles together, building towers out of blocks and before you know it they can climb the stairs at the playground, and go down the slide themselves. Their personalities are blossoming by the minute and sometimes you sit back and take a deep breath and say to yourself, I can’t believe we’ve come this far.
Never once did death, or the thought of losing my child at a young age cross my mind. In my heart that was my biggest fear, losing a child. But never once did I think it would happen to me, so fast, and without warning. I still don’t know what happened or what went wrong. When I left the hospital the morning my son passed away I honestly don’t know what was running through my head. I was wheeled away in a wheelchair after walking in to see him for the last time, with the biggest hole in my heart. I couldn’t even believe what just happened and to be honest to this day I still don’t. That portion of my life is very foggy still and a lot of days when I think about it, I feel like my head and mind are in a daze and I can’t think straight.
Today I got on my Facebook and my ‘on this day’ memories popped up, and there was nothing from this day. I hadn’t posted on Facebook in a few days because we were at the hospital trying to keep Grayson comfortable and figure out exactly what was wrong. When I opened that up this morning my heart sank, because I know what tomorrow’s memory will be.
Many people have followed our journey since losing Grayson, helping us share our story with other parents and families and I am thankful for that. I have worked extremely hard to be sure no other parent or family has to suffer the same loss we have.
We welcomed our daughter roughly 22 weeks after Grayson passed and still to this day I live in fear of something ever happening to her. We have tried to educate others on food safety, recalls, E.coli, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome and being as much of a positive influence to other parents who are suffering loss.
People often say, Kayla, you are so strong even when you don’t think you are. Everyday I cry. I don’t think I’ve gone one day out of the last 365 days without crying. Many see me on my strong days, but what many don’t see is the hurt that lies behind my heart that will never go away. Everyone’s journey on loss is different. Everyone copes and grieves differently. And as Brent said, “When something like this happens there’s many different paths you can take, for us helping others brings us comfort.” Maybe it’s the empathic person I’ve always been. Other people’s feelings tend to affect me. I love talking about my son and most times you will hear me talk about him as if he were still here.
For me, as we have now reached the one year mark grieving is becoming increasingly more difficult. I’m flustered, anxious and just down right sad. No parent should ever have to bury their child. We had such amazing things planned for Grayson. He was incredibly smart and handsome and we knew he would do big things in life.
I will never get to send my first baby to school for the first time.
I will never get to watch him graduate high school.
I will always wonder what he would do as a career.
I will never see him start or finish college.
I’ll never get to see him bring home a woman who would become his wife, my daughter-in- law.
I’ll never get to help plan his wedding and share a special dance with him.
I’ll never get to see him raise children, or meet my grandkids.
Since Grayson’s passing, I’ve had more thoughts go through my head that I wish I could ignore, but I would assume it’s a normal part of grief. I too would think I’m not the only person to ever think these things. There’s many feelings I haven’t shared throughout the past year, but I’m sharing now because maybe I’m just not alone.
I fear of losing another child. I’ve lost one and the thought of ever losing Graysie or any future child terrifies me completely.
There’s days where I question if I did everything right. What could I have changed? Could I have saved his life?
I worry about Graysie catching E.coli or any other type of sickness. What are the chances of it happening again? I hope never.
I’ve had times where I am focusing on Graysie, and out of no where my mind thinks all of a sudden Grayson is here and I’ve forgotten I need to go give him bath or take care of him.
There were a few times I couldn’t watch Graysie sleep in her swing as I sat on the couch, because a few times I looked over and her sleeping face reminded me of Grayson laying there in his casket.
There’s been times where I have gotten online to buy Graysie some clothes for next year and I thought to myself what if I bought these and she wasn’t here next year. I absolutely hate that that thought even goes through my head, but when you lose a child you fear ever losing another.
My life has been on guard since Grayson passed. I live more fragile. I’m scared of everyday things that most people wouldn’t even stop to think about. Every move I make I think about Grayson and how it would now affect my life and Graysie’s.
I am still scared of death, although I know that if anything ever happened to me I would be reunited with my son and that brings a little comfort, but I worry about Graysie and any future children.
I know the pain of losing a child doesn’t get easier. People say you learn to cope with it, but I’m not sure coping with it is as easy as it sounds. Unfortunately it has put a hole through your heart that will never be able to be fixed.
Don’t get me wrong I’ve had my days where I’m flustered and upset, days I just want to sleep I’m so tired because my baby girl is not sleeping and up every hour then not napping the next day. There’s days I just want to scream because my house isn’t as clean as I’d like. But you will never see me complain because I know how fragile life is. I know that loss does happen and it can happen to anyone. I hope if you’re reading this and your someone who posts negatively all the time about how difficult sleepless nights are or how crazy your kids were and they misbehaved more than you would have liked at a night out at dinner, be thankful. Be thankful you were the one to wake up and were there to comfort your child at night. Be grateful your child was there to get onto at dinner time, what I would give to have a crazy toddler doing things he shouldn’t be doing. What I would give to have him waking me up at night.
I’m not even sure this blog post makes any sense, but it’s a reflection of my year. A year spent without my child. There’s really no words to explain it. Child loss is hard. I think those of us who have lost a child really are superheroes. Why God needed my son, I don’t know.
“How cool is it that the same God that created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you too.”
The past year Brent and I have met many people. Many of whom we would have never met, had we not lost Grayson. Many of these people have changed our lives, we’ve gained friends and built relationships with people who have impacted our hearts so incredibly much.
We are so thankful for our family and friends who have been there to listen, or just be there for comfort. We are different people than we were a year ago, and we thank those of you who are close to us for understanding. We know many of you will never truly know how we feel, and may not know what to even say to us still to this day. I’m not sure what this 2nd year will bring, but I know our love for Grayson will never change.
I love you Grayson Scott Dunham. Your short time here with us, has changed us more than you will ever know. You have changed lives and saved lives. I will never stop sharing your story and you will never be forgotten. More than anything I wish I could just touch you and hear your voice. I miss your hugs and kisses, hearing you say my name. I wish I could bottle up every memory so that even when I’m 80 years old I can remember every single detail.
Until we meet again one day, I love you.
Grayson Scott Dunham
July 29, 2014-August 15, 2016