Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The new me

When I think back to the day that I lost my son, one thing that I remember thinking was "I will not let this change who I am. I will not let this define me." I could tell you that I have kept my word but I would be lying. Losing my son was the most terrible thing that I have ever had to go through. It was a nightmare that I would not wish on my worst enemy. It did change me and maybe it does define me to some people, but I am thankful that it happened to me. I am thankful because I survived. I survived and it taught me that I can survive ANYTHING. I can do anything that I put my mind to because I put one foot in front of the other in the days after my son died and I lived. I breathed... I persevered. Here I am almost 3 years out. I still think of my son every single day. I still miss him. I still wonder what he would've been like, what colour eyes he would've had and what his personality would have been like. When we took our kids to Disney World last month I wondered how he would've reacted to everything we saw and did. I cannot sit here and tell you that I was sad while thinking those thoughts. Every one was bittersweet because I was there enjoying it all with my other two kids. My beautiful daughter and my sweet rainbow, who might not be here with us if Zach had lived. I miss my first son but I appreciate that this is the path that I was meant to take and that every event was a necessary part of my journey to where I am today. I love my life today and I am grateful for the lessons that I have learned along the way. I am grateful for my son who I will never get to raise.
Losing my son taught me that I am stronger than anyone could ever give me credit for. I am a warrior. All of this brings me to a new topic. I need to give myself a little pat on the back here. This weekend I ran my very first 5K race. For the first kilometer I followed a girl who was wearing a t-shirt that said "The biggest battle is with our own mind" and while I ran I thought about it. I thought about that vow to myself and how far it has taken me. I refused to let my son's death define me but it has. My son's death has shaped the person that I am today because every time I come up against something that I don't think I can accomplish I say to myself "Look at what you have survived! You can do anything that you put your mind to." So far I've done some amazing things. In the last 17 months I have lost over 80 pounds! Most of that was done without a gym membership while working full time and raising two kids. This weekend I ran my first 5K. I remember in high school struggling to get a passing grade on the 12 minute run and now I can run 5K in 32:05 minutes. I refuse to let my son's death be an excuse. He is my motivator in everything I do. He propels me to reach my goals, and often sends me soaring past them.
When I picture a mother who has lost her child I often think of Thomas J.'s mother in the movie My Girl. A sad shell of a woman wandering aimlessly with red puffy eyes, not knowing what to do with herself now that the reason for her existence has been ripped away. I knew on that day that if I allowed myself, I could become that woman. I also knew that I couldn't allow that to happen. When people think of me, they may think "Poor her, she lost a baby." but I would rather they think "Look at her, she's amazing... and can you imagine, she lost a baby?" I think that is who my son would want me to be. My son gives me strength.