66: A Divine Goodbye

66: A Divine Goodbye

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

A Divine Goodbye

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

~Matthew 5:4

One brisk, fall morning in 2001, I held my lifeless toddler in my arms, tears rolling down my cheeks. I would have given anything for a simple goodbye. I longed to hear her chuckle. I wanted to see her climb onto the ottoman and perform a silly dance again. I craved all the things I’d never do again. No more cleaning paint-stained overalls or muddy shoes soiled during playtime. No more pushing the tire swing or hearing her squeals of joy.

I needed closure. I put my healthy three-year-old daughter to bed one night and she was gone forever the next morning. I felt my options were to withdraw and become bitter or allow God’s healing hand to work deep within me. Yet grief still took its toll. I avoided people. Isolation was comforting. In my solitude, I cried out to God. I gave only Him all my feelings: anger, pain, sorrow, confusion, and fear. My only request was to know my daughter was okay. As a mother, I wanted reassurance and my final goodbye.

Days ran together. I drifted in and out of sleep. I self-medicated to calm my nerves (or so I told myself). It was just more escape. The reality that my firstborn child was gone became more and more apparent as each day passed without her. Despite the pain, I continued to pray. Eating, praying, and sleeping were the three main elements of my daily routine. I couldn’t proceed with my life until I knew she was okay.

According to my Christian beliefs, she should be playing in heaven and filled with joy. But my faith was shaken. I just needed to know, as her parent, she was happy. I prayed for a sign.

One night, soon after I made my petition, my prayer was answered. To this day, I’m not sure if it was a dream or a supernatural encounter. Madison visited me. I saw my precious daughter one last time. I smelled her sweet essence and even felt her warm embrace as she ran up and hugged me. I heard her precious voice. “Hey Mommy. I’m okay. It’s nice here. I like it. It’s really fun.” I was overcome with delight! I fought back tears as I let her know I was glad she was happy in her new heavenly home. I held her in my arms until she said it was time to go.

She started walking away, but then quickly whipped around. She placed her hand on her little hip and, with her sassy voice, lectured, “Mommy, you didn’t tell me.” She flipped her hair and rolled her eyes. I looked at her with a question in my eyes.

“He’s a guy, Mom,” she declared.

“Who?” I asked.

“God, Mommy. God is a boy.”

I couldn’t hold back my amusement. I giggled. “Yes, dear, God is a boy. I thought you knew that.”

She walked away into the white, puffy clouds.

“I love you my child,” I called out as I watched her go. I heard her sweet voice call back, “I love you, Mommy.” I woke and could still felt her presence around me. We had our last goodbye.

That one encounter allowed me to move on with my life. The hole in my heart will always be tender. But through God’s love, I can move on and face my future with hope. Now, support groups, journaling, praying, and remembering are the main elements of my daily routine.

I think about Madison every day. I’m learning how to remember and celebrate her memory by cherishing our good times. I have gained the strength to share my healing journey with others. Hopefully, my story can help them let go of their pain while embracing sweet experiences shared with their loved one.

I believe losing a child is the biggest heartbreak anyone can experience. Watching someone you brought into this world leave is unnatural. Life never seems so precious until it is gone. Love is never sweeter than that of a child. In my pain I had an awakening of my senses. The promise of Matthew 5:4 came true; I was comforted in my mourning.

My final goodbye with Madison catapulted me into a new level of faith. I cherish life more. I love without limits. I take more risks. I try to take in every precious moment God gives me. Not even death can take away the memories we build over a lifetime. Madison may have only lived on this earth for three years and ten months, but she gave me a multitude of precious memories. I will never understand why God took her to be with Him at such a young age, but I accept His will. I know she is content. It was God’s grace in these dark circumstances that drew me closer to Him.

~Delena Richeson

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