I often get told how strong I was through everything and how strong I continue to be. While I appreciate the sentiment, I hope people also realize that not every moment is full of strength. Sometimes there are moments of weakness.
Today is a perfect example. I feel like perhaps Gabriel is trying to get my attention and I'm not sure why. I took the kids to a local playground today. There was also a daycare center enjoying a day out too. I was watching the kids play and suddenly heard one of the teachers yell for Gabriel. There was a little tinge to my heart upon hearing his name. Then I heard her yell it a second and a third time, all while images of my own son scroll through my mind.
I looked around, desperate to see this Gabriel child. A short bit later I said hi to one of the teachers and we got into some small chat about the weather and whatever else. I randomly asked how old the kids were and sure enough... Gabriel is 5.
5 years old. That's exactly how old my Gabriel would be today. The teacher and I parted ways and I sat on the bench. I was watching my kids happily play without so much as a pause, but also watching this boy, Gabriel, out of the corner of my eye. I was catching a glimpse of all the things Gabriel would be doing if he were at the park with us today, how he would be acting. Communicating. Playing. Interacting with other kids.
Tears quietly rolled down my cheek as I thought of him.
As we were leaving I thought to myself, "strength?". This isn't what it feels like to be strong. This isn't the image that I put out there for everyone to see. In society it doesn't feel acceptable to cry 5 years after the loss. So I brush the tears away and put on a happy tune as I drive away.
Then, while sitting and editing photos at my dinner table awhile later, I received a message through Facebook. It was a friend who had helped me tremendously after the loss of Gabriel and always had thoughts and prayers as I travelled the journey. A friend of hers just got a Potters Syndrome diagnosis.
I love receiving these messages. It devastates me to know someone else is beginning the journey we started 6 years ago. My heart breaks for them and their families and I always send thoughts and prayers to these broken hearted strangers. The part that I love - people reaching out. People trying to help others. People who remember my Gabriel and everything we went through and they think of him, they think of me. They think of ways to help their friends, they ask for help in how to support them and things they can do. I am more than happy to help, to listen to these parents as they walk through the darkness they face.
With tears in my eyes and a broken heart, this is how I help Gabriel live on. He lives through me helping friends of friends, strangers via email and even in chatting to certain politicians. He lives on through me. He lives on through helping others travel this journey.