by Elise Getter Kowlaski
Being present is the only place you can be truly free, free of the regret of the past and free of the worry of the future. This is one of the main lessons I have learned through my journey as a grieving mama for which I am so thankful as it has completely changed my life.
I lived in the past for a very long time after Luke transitioned to Heaven. I think this is quite normal and a part of the grief process, to re-hash everything that happened both during your child’s life and surrounding the passing. I beat myself up for all the times I didn’t feel I was the perfect mom, didn’t show enough compassion or patience. I thought about the times I yelled at my sweet boy and would just cry thinking “Why did I do that?…he was a child and didn’t deserve that and now he is gone.” But I also loved on my boy so much and he loved me so much! And I thought about that as well, thinking about how that love was “taken” from me. I thought about what I could have done differently to have possibly prevented his death. I told myself I shouldn’t have let him play outside without me even though he was so excited that kids were outside to play with. The last image I have of him is sitting on the bottom step putting his shoes on and I had opened the garage door and had seen the children outside playing and said “There are kids out there for you to play with Luke!” and he looked up at me with the sweetest, happiest, excited face and said “There are, mama?!?” And then he scrambled outside to play while I went over to the kitchen to do dishes. I can still remember his sweet voice and excitement and his huge smile before he went out the door and that was the last time I saw Luke alive and conscious. I truly believe I am lucky that I got to have that moment and that last image is so sweet. Through this journey I have had to forgive myself for all the regretful thoughts because what I have realized is that everything that happened did happen for a reason and that my boy was supposed to go when he did. I know newly grieving parents do not want to hear this but my heart knows it is true and it does need to be acknowledged at some point to help you realize that this life, no matter the length, has purpose and meaning. And that purpose will never be fully realized until it is our time and we meet them again.
Before Luke transitioned, I lived completely and totally in “the worry of the future.” I look back and think, wow I wasted so much time there. I can honestly say I never lived in the present moment and am thankful I have so many photos of my Luke to look back on and remember all that amazing time. I no longer worry at all about my future and it is so incredibly freeing. I realized pretty much the absolute worst thing that can happen already happened to me and so what could possibly happen in the future that could be worse? (sidenote, it may be “the worst” but abundant blessings and spiritual growth has occurred because of it) I have also come to realize that things that are “bad” to a human are seen very differently from the other side. Bad things on earth create learning opportunities and make room for growth. Of course I ask myself, could I have grown and learned these things if Luke had stayed in human form and I know in my heart that I could not have and that him “leaving” catapaulted me through a lifetime of lessons in a very short time. I do believe part of his purpose here on earth, which now continues on the other side, was to help me grow and learn how to continue living my life both for myself and for my Luke.
Not only is being present the only place you can be truly free but it is also the only way you can connect with your child on the other side because time does not exist where they are. If you are stuck in regret or anxious of the future, your heart can not be on the same wavelength as your beloved child who wants you to know they only remember the good and the love. They have absolutely no regret or worry in Heaven and are free in every way; free to just experience love, peace, and joy. When I think about what Luke’s life is like right now, I get a huge smile on my face because I know without a doubt that he is experiencing magnificent things while at the same time is still so completely connected to me and all the people he loved here. My boy was amazing while here and his soul still continues to amaze me and I am so incredibly proud. I used to think that when he died, that life was over and that our connection was gone and that no present-time positive emotion could ever be felt again. Wow have I been schooled! Life goes on whether on earth or in Heaven and we are connected forever and I can still feel pride and love and joy daily for my Luke. And that is the ultimate lesson; being present means I still get to have a relationship full of love with my sweet boy and that his light still shines so brightly.
* Photo taken by Lora Denton Photography – 11/18/14 – three days before Luke unexpectedly went to Heaven and the last picture I have of him and I. A treasure to be sure!