Unlike all of my previous guests, when Miles’ mom, Kate, first contacted me in January of this year, her sweet, almost 1 year old son, was still alive. They had just taken Miles home to die after learning that his cancer had spread to the point where treatment could no longer be effective. Kate and her husband were grasping at anything, trying to prepare themselves for his death, perhaps trying to limit some of the pain that they knew would be coming.
Kate knew, even then in January, that she would want to share Miles’ story with others. She just didn’t know when that would be and what exactly that story would be like. During those days and weeks at home, Kate and her husband, along with both sets of grandparents, sang to Miles, played with Miles and even celebrated his 1st birthday. They tried to get ready as well for the day they knew was right around the corner.
It turns out though, as much as you’d like to, you can’t truly prepare for the death of your child. You can’t prepare yourself for how quiet the house suddenly becomes. You can’t prepare yourself for the fact that after weeks and months of your life revolving around that care of your child, it is suddenly over. There is nothing left to do, nothing left to prepare for. Life is now just the ‘after’ – that moment where your child, and in Kate’s case, their only child, is gone.
Today, only months after Miles’ death, Kate is ready to share Miles with the world, on this podcast, as well as on her blog, thisgrievingmama.ca. The wound is certainly still fresh and raw. Some days, in fact, she wonders if the whole thing was even real. Did she really even have a baby? Did that year where Miles was alive even exist? Miles was born shortly before the COVID pandemic began. His life ended before the pandemic did. It’s hard to even imagine that an entire life was lived during the time the world shut down, but for Miles and his little family, that is exactly what happened.
This took me back to month 5 after my 2 year old died. When you talked about what it was like every day to wake up and remember that your little boy isn’t here anymore. It crushes you over and over again every day. I also really appreciated what you said about having 2 options- you could give up and die or you could just keep living. I wanted to be with my son so badly. Thanks for your vulnerability. This is going to make so many moms and dads feel less alone in their grief. I often still have days where I can’t believe this is my life. It went from so good to so unbearable in just a few days and I try desperately to get that back and it just can never be…You are brave. Keep going. One thing I did every day was go in my sons room and read books to his picture. Another thing I did every day was write in a journal with all of the memories our family had of him and our other kids and my husband would add to it with me. Having these two things to do for the first 6-12 months as a routine, helped me continue to parent my son even though he wasn’t here anymore. Now I do other things in his honor to keep parenting him and I hope I always will.