Natalia's Eulogy for Jackson
Exactly two weeks ago, we gathered at our new home – with many of you – to celebrate our sweet Jackson’s 2nd birthday. We can’t begin to explain how surreal and painful it is to be standing here today.
I will never forget the joy in his eyes on that day at his party. I was worried he might be overwhelmed with the festivities and all the guests. All the contrary, he was soaking it up, playing with friends, eating cupcakes, and running laps around our house. He had just figured out the path from the backyard to the front yard and through the house and down the small steps. He would then gleefully find me to tell me, “Mama I did it! See you later! I’ll be right back”, with the sweetest finger gesture.
After we sang happy birthday, I gave a short toast thanking our friends and family for all their support in raising Jackson over the past two years. I always knew it took a village to raise a child. And now I know it takes a village to say goodbye. Thank you all for your incredible support during this unfathomable time. For traveling here today, for the notes, the calls, the flowers, the hugs, and the tears. We never imagined or prepared for how to survive something like this, but I know we have to. And I am starting to believe that we will.
When I was in my 9th month of pregnancy and feeling afraid about the birthing process, my wise friend Sophia Conley joked that all mothers needed a sign in the delivery room that says “You will get through this, like the billions of women who have gotten through this before you”. Thinking of this helped me then, and it helps me now. It is a reminder to me that, despite how impossibly excruciating this feels right now, as humans we are evolutionarily wired to deal with grief. Just as I doubted my ability to get through birth, I am reminding myself, ourselves, that we have the ancient tools to recover from trauma and even the most horrific losses.
I preach the importance of acceptance with my clients all day. And Jackson’s death has been the most difficult lesson in acceptance of my entire life. But in the moments that I have the strength to accept – rather than reject – what has happened, it turns excruciating suffering into “just” pain. It’s a hard and never ending process, but I am letting go of the “shoulds” and “shouldn’t haves” and trying to focus on the years we had. Those two years were a gift, not a given. Though we feel robbed of his future, we were given two incredible, loving, joyful years. Simply put, we were lucky. So, so, so lucky.
Jackson, you lit up my life. With your love of pink shoes, flower walks, rice and beans, bubble water, foopy, ice cream, your sister Stella, silly faces, and domestic chores. I will miss sharing “mama’s cereal” with you in the mornings, watching you shout “OPEN SESAME” with such purpose at the day care elevator, playing “Where’s Jackson?” behind the couch after school, listening to you count numbers, hearing your sweet rendition of ABCs, and how we’d chat about our days, read your favorite stories, and sing our cherished songs together at night. I’ll miss giving in to your frequent demands to blow on your food, read you stories, draw hearts, and “sit right here”. And most of all, I will miss hearing your sweet voice, holding you close, smelling your skin, and tousling your hair with that familiar stroke that always soothed us both. You will forever be my hoppy bunny, and I will always be your mama.