It 's hard for my heart to compute that Zach left this earth six years ago. For six years, I have not heard his belly laugh, inviting the rest of us into his world of joy. I haven't anticipated his enthusiastic burst through the door after school, exploding with stories to share. I have missed his quirky stories, random facts about life, incessant talking, goodnight prayers, and even his 6:00 am wake up calls, assuming the rest of us were as enthusiastic to begin the day as himself. So much missing and longing, yet I feel so blessed to have had the honour of preparing a thirteen-year-old boy for heaven. Most people require a lifetime of preparation for heaven. Zach only needed thirteen years.
I daydream about the incredible adventures he goes on daily, knowing that he carries part of me with him. The bond between us is not severed. Not even death has the power to separate a mother from her child or a child from his mother.
I thank God that I had the wonderful opportunity to keep Zach safe in my womb for nine months and then watch him grow for thirteen years, and now he is held in the womb of heaven, where hurt and pain can never touch him again. I feel a tremendous sense of peace, which has been a long time coming. I was at a grief retreat a few weeks ago, and a wise woman said, "Your grief does not get smaller, but the container holding it expands, so pain doesn't take up all the space." I hadn't been able to articulate that truth until she shared. Pain no longer defines my every waking moment. It still comes and settles in for a while, but there is more light than dark in those moments. My wound no longer festers and bleeds, but has become a sacred wound—one that will go with me wherever I go, reminding me of love and life and loss. Author Richard Rohr says, "sacred wounds show us how to honour our hurts so we can become healing people healing people." Healing is a process, a life-long process, but the sacred wound brings love and light and healing to others and does not spread bitterness and anger around like shrapnel.
My time in the wilderness of grief has been intense and unbearably gritty and raw. I have struggled to redefine who I am and have felt like throwing my hands in the air and giving up hope more times than I can count. But miraculously, Grace has taken my hand and whispered, "Get up. For today, just get up and keep moving." By getting up and just doing the next thing, I have begun the ascent out of the desert. I have come to be more like Jesus and more like Zach, who were fearless in the face of terror. Zach taught me, in his short life, how to be an overcomer and how to fall back on a strength greater than my own. Your legacy lives on Zach. Your bravery continues to touch lives. I am so proud you are my son.