Prior to losing Noah, I'd always enjoyed writing and had been told by many that I had some talent at it, that I had an ability to make people feel and see and smell the places I wrote about, to really help them connect with whatever it was I was writing. And so, when I lost Noah, I knew I had to write something. I knew almost instantly that I had to write something for him, a gift from my heart as surely as he had been a gift from God.
Writing the letter I made for Noah was a hard and painful thing, but also cathartic. As much as I cried writing it, it also brought me some measure of peace, knowing I was truly giving of myself, doing the most for him that I knew how. I never realized how far reaching that impact would be.
Back when I lost Noah, nearly some 6 years ago now, there wasn't anything like a blog out there in cyberspace. There were bulletin boards and websites with comments and articles, but that's about it. I did my research and found a loss group called SHARE. I think my genetic counselors might have even mentioned them, or my OB....I can't quite recall now, but I do believe someone pointed me in their direction. I found them online but was saddened to learn they did not yet have a chapter in Richmond. So what did I do? I did the next best thing and got involved online. I started posting to some of the message boards they had and in doing so, stumbled upon an unexpected blessing. I could help people.
Purely for me, I had posted the letter I wrote for Noah. I just wanted a record of it somewhere, a testament to my precious baby. And then out of the blue, I started getting emails and comments from folks who had read it, all people who had suffered a loss of one kind of another. They thanked me through their tears, and sighs and pauses, telling me how much my words had meant to them, how much it touched them. I had folks thank me and say that they had read the letter at their own children's funerals or memorials, some had placed copies of my letter into their own memory boxes, others emailed it to their family and friends and told them to read it, that this was how they were feeling but didn't know how to explain. And with every thank you I received, my heart felt lighter and happier. Sure I was still devastated with the loss of my son, but it felt so good to be able to help others through their own dark and terrible times. It gave me such pride and joy and made me realize yet again what a blessing having had and lost Noah was. Through him, I was able to touch countless others and right then I knew someday I'd have to write about the whole experience. I knew somewhere deep down, that part of my mission was to help others through the pressing darkness of their own losses.
And the blessings came, whenever I happened to talk about it, I found I was reaching people, affecting them in ways I never knew possible. And the more people I helped, the better I felt.
I had a very humbling experience yesterday, one more blessing brought back around my way at an unexpected time. I was talking to my mother on the telephone. I'd only recently told her about this blog, but she knew of some other women I'd been helping recently through church and some other things, women going through their own losses. She said she'd heard something the other day on the radio or TV about the heroes in your life and how so many times we never tell them how we feel. I could hear her voice faltering on the phone as she almost shyly told me that I was her hero. Even just thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes. Never in my life had I imagined to hear I was any one's hero, much less my mother's. I didn't know what to say. I mumbled some sort of thank you and that I appreciated it, that I thought it was really sweet, but I was honestly at a loss of words. You know, like so many others, I am more content giving than receiving compliments and as adeptly as my words can flow from my fingers while I am writing, I find I am far less graceful in person and my tongue often trips me up.
So I listened quietly to my mother tell me that I was her hero. I was her hero for how I dealt with the loss of my children, for how I managed to hold everyone together during that horrible time and how I have been able to put aside my pain, even dwell in it so that I might help others.
Thank you, Mom. It meant more than words can say. You are a truly special person and I am thankful to have you in my life. I love you.