Happy 5th Birthday in Heaven Brandon Oscar McAfee Jr. (BJ)!
Today, makes 5 years since you were born and have gone to heaven. I walk pass your picture everyday hanging on the wall and I know that you are smiling at me, at us. I hope your 5th birthday in heaven is like what heaven depicts in the movie The Shaft. I picture you playing with other kids who were gone to heaven too soon. I picture you running around on the golden streets of heaven looking up to God, Jesus, my dad, grandparents, and other family members. I picture you looking down on us on this day smiling with our ancestors in the cloud of witnesses. I love you and have missed you everyday since you left us. But know that everyday I have grown stronger, wiser, better because I know I will see you again and God has given me the strength to make it through. Happy Birthday BJ! Being your mom is the best gift you have ever given to me and I am eternally grateful you made me a mom. I love you forever! ~Mom
5 years later and its hard to type these words. It's crazy to think that I had enough strength to write almost daily after BJ died. Every year during Thanksgiving and the days leading up to BJ's heavenversary I go back to those journal entries as a reminder of where I was and how God kept me. As I look back on these entries and the strength I had as I wrote I am amazed of God's grace over me, over my mind during this tragedy.
Here is my prayer from my journal the day of his funeral on December 7, 2012.
I am always reminded that God will never put more on you than you can bear or handle. Lord, I thank you for that egg and seed you planted to conceive BJ. I thank you for allowing me to carry him to full term 39 weeks and 5 days. Lord, I thank you for the labor and delivery and for allowing me to dilate to 10 cm and to push with all my might. I also thank you for him being delivered via cesarean although he couldn't come out naturally you were able to get him out and me out of operation safely. I also thank you for his birth and him living for 41 minutes. I thank you for his death even though I don't understand why. I know that it has brought me and Brandon closer together than ever and it's something that we have prayed for even in this moment. Lord I just thank you for life and for a healthy womb. Words can't describe the pain in my heart for not having BJ here but I know there is nothing imperfect about your plan. I'm just thankful to be used as a vessel even though I may not know now why! I want to be closer to you and continue to develop my relationship with you. Lord I pray that today goes according to your plan and that we will continue to give you all the praise and the glory. Please wrap your angels around me and Brandon and strengthen our hearts as we lay our baby to rest. We love you and always ask for your forgiveness of sins. In Jesus name I pray AMEN!
What will I do today to honor my son? Today, I will put up my Christmas tree and hang up his ornament in his honor. I will take time to pray, write, and take out the memories I have of BJ. I will look at his pictures, his footprint molds, his baby blanket and clothes. I will remember him and his newborn baby scent. I will show his pictures to his brother Maxwell. I picture both of them looking just alike. I will love on my family extra tight as we celebrate BJ's day.
What have I learned in these last 5 years? 5 years later after my son BJ died at birth and these are 5 things I learned:
- Know that grief takes time. Lots of time–and it’s different for every person. I may grieve for a lifetime and that is okay.
- Holiday's are difficult and will never be the same. You don’t have to feel thankful. You don’t have to count your blessings every single moment. You can, when you need, grieve for the holiday you thought you would have, either glowing and pregnant, enduring jokes about eating for two, or with that new baby, walking into relative’s home to the exclamations over the new family member. You can just go with the flow or make new traditions, and that is okay.
- Healing yourself is connected with healing others. As soon as I started to share my loss with the world via facebook and social media I began to heal. Every time I shared I began to heal and friends, family, co-workers would reach out and tell me they have healed. So, I continued to share and it is why I started the Erica M. McAfee Podcast and this blog. I want to continue to share stories to help others heal and for them to do the same.
- Sister's in Loss Community, Angel Moms, Loss Moms, Bereaved Mothers, etc.. we share an unspeakable bond. It is a club I did not want to join. But it is a club I can never leave because it is filled with the most shining souls of resilience, strength, tenacity, and endurance I've ever known.
- Marriage after child loss takes true commitment, communication, understanding, and a strong determination to stay together. We all take vows for better or for worse, but who knew in my first year of marriage we would lose a child? Not, I! I thank God for a husband who loves me unconditionally, seeks God first, and is constantly praying and interceding on my behalf. I love you forever Brandon O. McAfee!
So how will you acknowledge your loved ones heavenversary?
How will you honor their memory?
Have found yourself ignoring the day in the past. but feel ready to honor their life now?
Keep the Faith!