This was the last picture of the “old” me.
The last picture before I became a bereaved parent.
I see so much hope and determination when I look at myself. I was 22 weeks pregnant, and despite being on hospital bed rest, I was glowing.
When I look at this picture, I see so much beauty. A soon-to-be mother, who longed for children of her own. Sure, there was fear, but hope triumphed as three little babies were tucked safely in the comfort of their mother.
This is the last picture before my life changed forever.
This is the old me.
The person before grief took a hold of me, the deep sorrow forever engraved in my heart.
After you lose a child, the lens of life has changed. The rose-colored glasses can be found shattered on the ground as you try to pick up the pieces of your soul, wondering if life will ever be the same.
When I look at this picture, I see a twinkle in my eyes, that smile beaming with pride.
Some days, I miss that person, the person I used to be.
I miss the naïve woman who believed that bad things didn’t happen to her.
But for so many parents, there is that “after” picture. It’s the picture of a grieving mother or father, filled with tears that appear at random times. It’s the heartache and sleepless nights as we think about all that our child has missed; the baseball games, the dance recitals. It’s the wondering what our child might be like, but never fully knowing because their life was cut short.
As the years go by, the grief changes. But anniversaries, birthdays, and the unexpected triggers are a reminder that we will always be a bereaved parent.
You never get over the loss of a child. There is no Band-Aid to mend this type of broken heart. Even on my good days, I carry the grief of losing Parker and Abby silently on my back.
But when I look at this picture, now eight years later, the grief is mixed with tears of joy and comfort.
No, I’m not the same person I was in this picture. I’m older and jaded, but I’m also more gracious with a deep appreciation for life. It’s taken years, but I have found that grief and happiness can coexist.
When I look at this picture, I see a mother who deeply loves her children. And eight years later, that love is exactly the same.