Happy Friday! We’re continuing our Messages from Moms series with my conversation with my friend, Adrienne Graves. Today, Adrienne begins by discussing the balancing act of managing her son’s hospitalization and care with her marriage and her responsibilities to her then-four year-old daughter, Emily.
Emily had just turned 4 years old when her brother was hospitalized. At first I wanted to keep her out of the picture, I thought in doing so it would protect her from scary things like hospitals. Little did I know it was my own fears driving Em away from the hospital. We had family and friends who came to town to help us but she really just wanted to be with her brother, she would say. Finally, realizing she was in preschool and being with her brother and parents was more important, her Grandmas and Aunts would take turns each day bringing her up to the hospital. Emily wasn’t intimidated by the hospital at all. She would climb up into Noah’s bed, color him pictures, head down the hall for snacks out of the fridge, go say hi to the nurses and staff…let’s just say, the kid did “rounds” and everybody loved it. As I learned the machines and Noah’s cares, I’d teach them to Emily. We let her hold her brother. We knew as the days wore on, it was important for her to make a heart connection with her brother, even though we knew her heart would eventually feel ache and loss when her brother died. Jason and I literally passed the baton every night taking turns at the hospital with Noah and at home with Emily. I’m not going to lie: being at home was nauseating to me. During our 5 month hospitalization, being home felt wrong, but I would allow myself to “be” there, with Emily, in the moment, whether it was dancing to “Beautiful Day” by U2 or doing a puzzle, or building a fort in the basement and snuggling, I knew Emily needed to feel loved and assured because her entire world had turned upside down having a brother, more so than a healthy, thriving little brother. I will say this: our support team of family and friends was priceless! I know Emily went to the zoo and museum and parks with people that loved her. I know she got to sit and do crafts and play with family and friends while I was focused on trying to figure out Noah in the day to day. I missed out on a lot, but I don’t feel Emily missed out.
Next, Adrienne described how Noah’s hospitalization affected her marriage to her husband, Jason.
I can tell you this, our marriage grew deeper because we were intentional that it did. We both realized that we were walking slightly different roads of grief because a father and son relationship is different from a mother and son relationship. Jason and I fell in love in college and got married at 21 years of age, living on love, certainly not on our incomes. We had already lost one child through miscarriage prior to having Emily, as well as losing Jason’s dad who was his very closest friend in 1998. I remember looking at him and saying, “We have gone through a lot together. We will get through this, too. We have to be a team.” Losing a child radically changed our perspective of what really matters in life. We’ve both recently learned we share the same love language and that is time. At least for us, losing a child emphasized our desire for quality time, not a need to fill our lives with stuff. Jason’s been my very best friend since college. I think when your hearts are both broken with the same heartache, it’s impossible not to grow closer…at least that’s how it’s worked for us.
Please join us next week when Adrienne describes how she coped with her anger with God during Noah’s illness, and also how the local church supported the Graves family.
Katie, thank you so much for allowing me to be part of this journey to encourage other moms. I really hope my sharing helps other families who have walked similar roads or who may be in the thick of it even now. No matter what, whether we have losing a child in common, or raising kids in general, if God isn’t our Source of strength, wisdom, and daily grace for our mistakes, we’re missing out on the beauty. xoxox