Here I sit sifting through the mountains of emails and cards we received after losing Asher. And like it or not, all those memories of love and loss come pouring back to me. In the past six years, there has been sadness, anger, peace, jealousy and joy and everything in between. If I have learned anything over the past seven years, it is that grief is not a linear process and that joy and sorrow can simultaneously inhabit the same heart. One moment you feel like you have moved through all the phases of grief and, before you know it, something will trigger those emotions and they will come flooding back to you as if it happened just a day ago.
Today is Asher’s birthday. Today my eldest son would have been seven. If I am being entirely honest, I cannot say those words aloud without feeling a lump form in my throat. Seven years! I cannot believe it has been seven years since I held my firstborn. When I think back to that day I think of the fear, the peace, the pain and the joy. Heaven came to us that day in the form of kind doctors and nurses, and Asher’s sweet spirit will forever be embedded into my heart.
If I could go back in time, I would have held Asher for a moment longer, taken more photos of his perfect little body, and been adamant the nurses clip a locket of his hair before he left my sight. However, if I am being honest with myself, there is nothing more soul wrenching than filling out a death certificate when you are in the process of giving birth, and given the situation – I did my best. Motherhood for me has not been the joy filled journey it seems to be for the masses. However, motherhood has proven to be a sacred role I have fought for.
I will never forget the days and months after giving birth it felt as though every woman in the world was “dripping” with children. Everywhere I went I would see women juggling car seats and strollers and toddlers. Those visions ripped out my heart and tears would stream down my face. I remember going out with my mother and seeing my despair she said, “I think this is too soon.” For better or for worse my pain could not be avoided. Women would always be pregnant, always have children, and always appear as though it happened easier for them than me.
The gift Asher has given me is the gift of gratitude. You will never hear me complain about my child. I might get frustrated and some days downright mad, but you will never hear me complain about him. I might complain about his insistence to do everything himself, but he has never for one moment felt like a burden. When I first had Jasper someone told me, “Being a mother is either easy for you or you are faking it.” In reality I think the answer was neither. Although I adore being a mother, I don’t think it is terribly easy, and anyone who knows me knows I am a great many things, but I am never fake.
When I am at a playground and a mother approaches me and asks, “Do you just have one?” This question always pierces my heart. Most days I say “no,” but on the days I am feeling weak, emotional or don’t want to be bothered I don’t waste my breath telling them about the delightful, brilliant, sweet boy I have watching over me in heaven. But I always want to correct them and say there is nothing “just” about having one. Jasper is the beneficiary of all my time, energy, talents and love, and there is nothing “just” about that.
And when I asked Jasper if he missed Asher, his big hazel eyes locked with mine and he stated, “No, he is having fun playing with cars and trucks with Jesus in heaven,” and when we you think about it that way, there is nothing to be sad about for a moment.
Lisette Wolter-McKinely is a self-taught photographer, visual storyteller, trained interior designer, outdoor enthusiast, world traveler, wife and mother. She is the founder of the blog, Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary. She likes to tell stories through photographs.