Today is June 24th, it has been two months since Maxwell was born. Sometimes it feels like it’s been years and other times it feels like yesterday. Time is a weird thing to measure anyway.
If things were different, Maxwell would probably be smiling by now. Maybe giggling, I don’t know. It’s hard to remember infant milestones when that newborn stage feels so long ago. If things were different, I’d be taking his naked baby pictures in the crib to document his second month. Maybe he would be sleeping in longer stretches. I wonder if he would look more like Isabelle, or more like Lincoln? He seemed such a mix of them at birth. Would he have more dark hair? The fluffy kind? Sometimes at night when I’m supposed to be sleeping I close my eyes and hear that little newborn cry, and I imagine getting up to nurse a baby that isn’t here. My instagram feed is full of babies and I can’t help but think of all the soft froggy pictures we would have taken and shared with our friends and family.
I heard the other day that “to sympathize” means to suffer. I sympathize with you means “I suffer with you.” I know that there are so many who are suffering with us, for Maxwell and for their own struggles. Maxwell’s story on my blog has been visited over eight thousand times. Eight thousand! I don’t even know eight thousand people. My heart is begging to talk about Maxwell, to strangers and people I run into or to anyone who will listen. I want everyone to know that we have a third child, a sweet and perfect baby who we knew so briefly. Please don’t be afraid to ask about him, to sympathize with us, please don’t tiptoe around in fear of my feelings. He was here, he was real, he is ours.
There is this talk I listened to the other day- it’s from conference back in April and I remember hearing it but now it has a whole different meaning. It’s by David Bednar and it’s called “Bear Up Their Burdens With Ease.“ Sometimes you just hear some words that really hit home with you- and this talk was created just for me I think.
“Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness.”
There are times that we are so happy, all of us together. Yesterday swimming in the pool with my two little ones, getting my hair soaking wet and encouraging Isabelle to leap again from the diving board- was total happiness. We wore ourselves out being so happy. There are other times that I remember how it felt to cry out in complete agony after hearing confirmation that Maxwell was gone. Times when the tears come so fast and so hard that I can’t see straight. The highs and lows of grief are constant and exhausting.
Losing Maxwell is such a big trial for us, really a big “bump” in our plan of happiness. I never thought that I would bury a child, or that before I was 30 I would have burial plots picked out for me and my husband. This is not the stuff you think about when you dream of getting married and living happily ever after. There will be bumps and trials and who I am to assume that because we are trying our best to be faithful, that we are immune to such tests. Maxwell’s life had a purpose, and I’ll spend the rest of mine learning what that was. But what an impact he has had already! Oh, our sweet baby Max. I’ve always known that the Atonement is for the repentance of sins, but it is so much more than that.
“Thus, the Savior has suffered not just for our sins and iniquities- but also for our physical pains and anguish, our weaknesses and shortcomings, our fears and frustrations, our disappointments and discouragement, our regrets and remorse, our despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities we experience, and the emotional distresses that beset us. There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first.”
Two months later and we know we are not alone in this. Even our Savior can sympathize with us, because He has suffered for us. He suffers with us. Maxwell is such a special little spirit, we know that, we know that he was too perfect to stay on earth, that he didn’t need to be tested or subjected to life on earth like we are. I’d like to think that before we all came down to earth, when we were being organized into families, that Maxwell was presented to us and we said, “here we are, choose us…we love you, we can do this for you.” Oh my heart aches when I think about what we are enduring, but I would do it again and again for this boy of mine that waits for me on the other side.
All that is unfair in life can be made right through the Atonement. This I know.