As I look out the hospital window at the moon rising in the sky, the sky starting to darken, I have a healthy mixture of joy, fear, and uncertainty that roams through my body. Four days ago my wife and I had our fourth baby (a baby girl!!). Four kids under the age of seven, however only three of them live at home.
Just over a year ago I was sitting in the hospital as well. That day my wife, already eight days overdue, went into labour with our third child.
We had never experienced a “normal” labour before. Our first two children were gently persuaded to join us in this world (read: my wife got induced), so this was new for us. We were using midwives again, so they showed up to our house to check on my wife and see how the labour was progressing. They laid her down on the couch and took out their ultrasound machine. As the machine whirred to life I sat at the edge of the adjacent couch waiting for the whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the machine as it detected the baby’s heartbeat.
Only it never found it. Moments later we were rushing towards the hospital where our son, Ezra, was born. Straight into the hands of God. Just over a year ago I sat in our hospital room holding my little son in my hands as my tears streaked his cheeks. Just over a year ago I sat in our hospital room as friends and family came to visit our little Ezra. They came to hold him, kiss him, meet the child that two days later would lie in the ground as his legacy would be born.
Just over a year ago, I sat in our hospital room watching the walls of my life come crumbling down all around me.
The walls that I had constructed over the years of working in social services as I served clients with mental illness and those who had development delays. The walls that I had constructed starting up my own company helping people figure out the details of their parenting arrangements during the separation and/or divorce. The walls that I had constructed as I transitioned that business and specialized in conflict management in organizations and churches.
To be fair, the walls starting crumbling a little earlier than that day. They were slowly getting chipped away from some personal work that I was doing. Working on myself, learning more about myself, getting to know who I actually was. But this experience. This experience of our son being delivered without a breathe, what we would eventually call our devastating blessing, this experience was the wrecking ball that took out those walls.
And so here I sit. Thinking about the new life that has joined our family. Thinking about how we were just here a year ago under very different circumstances. Thinking about how I broke down shortly thereafter and made one of the best decisions of my life – Going to see a therapist.
I don’t have an official diagnosis from any person that holds some special fancy degree. But I do know how loss can impact you. The thoughts that run through your head, the things you ingest into your body in an effort to self-soothe, the physiological problems that stem from the anxiety of watching your children digest the loss of their brother.
And so here I sit, basking in the joy of having a new child while feeling the despair and grief of the loss of our son. Feeling both at the same time. Joy and despair. I’ve learned to sit with the mixed emotions. I’ve learned to surrender control of those feelings and accept them. I’ve learned that it’s hard to control life, and sometimes it’s important to sit in the discomfort and be willing to be blown about in the wind.
About Jason Dykstra
Jason Dykstra is a husband, father of four (three living), and a conflict management specialist. After the loss of his son in 2016, Jason started a blog called, They Call Me Dad, where he explores #dadlife, grief, the role of men in today's world, and shares his many mistakes as a parent. For work Jason serves organizations and churches as they turn conflict situations into creative solutions. As an international speaker and trainer, he journeys alongside his clients as they unleash their potential in the areas of conflict management and leadership.