My name is Lisa Dalton.
I am a mother of 4 living children and 2 sweet babies who will forever be alive in my heart and in my memories.
This is my story…
My husband and I knew we wanted a large family and we were happily on our way. We had 3 beautiful children, one boy and two girls.
In March of 2003 my 4th pregnancy ended abruptly in a miscarriage at 9 weeks. We named our tiny baby Alyssa.
I was pregnant again quite quickly and found out we were expecting a little boy the following February. After my previous miscarriage, I was grateful to make it through the first trimester. I anticipated this child’s birth with great joy. Benjamin was born full term at 9# 11oz in February of 2004.
Benjamin was a healthy baby with a lusty cry and a sweet spirit. He smiled often and he was just starting to coo. One morning after his bath, he joined my youngest daughter and me in a silly made-up song, cooing earnestly as we giggled and danced. Later that afternoon, my life was forever changed.
I received a frantic telephone call from my babysitter. She said that Benjamin had stopped breathing.
She initiated CPR and called the paramedics immediately. They were unable to resuscitate him. The doctors and nurses in the Emergency Room did their best. But they could not bring him back either.
An autopsy was performed, and the medical examiner confirmed the presumed diagnosis of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
I was totally unprepared for my child’s death.
I tried to comprehend how a perfectly healthy baby can die without warning and how something like this could happen to a child so loved and wanted.
This wasn’t supposed to happen…
-Not to him.
-Not to us.
We had Benjamin’s memorial service on Mother’s Day in 2004.
Friends and family poured into the sanctuary, all of us trying to understand what had happened.
How could I move forward when it felt as if time had stopped? when I was so overcome with grief that I could hardly take my next breath?
How could I laugh again? Sing again? Find happiness again?
How could I integrate a loss so great into my life?
How could we be expected to say “good-bye” when we were not yet finished saying “hello”?
Our family was supported in every way possible in the days, weeks, and months that followed Benjamin’s death. With the help of our family and our church families, friends and neighbors, we began to reconcile ourselves to the fact that Benjamin was gone from us in this life.
I understood how he died. He stopped breathing, and his tiny heart stopped beating.
But, I did not understand why he died.
I did not believe that there was a reason or some, yet-hidden purpose for his death.
I reflected on the things some people had said to me, but I didn’t think that “God needed another angel” or a “flower for a heavenly garden.” I didn’t believe that God lacked anything. I didn’t believe there was a heavenly quota system for some predetermined number who must fall victim to motor vehicle crashes, or suicide, or SIDS, or cancer.
I believed that this world is not heaven and I knew that bad things happen in this imperfect world. I did not believe that God controlled every aspect of life on this earth, and I resisted the thought that a loving God would take my baby in order to “teach me a lesson”. I did not have the energy or the nights to spend trying to pull myself through knotholes in an effort to understand what “God was trying to teach me” by “taking my son”.
Pastor and author Peter Gomes wrote about times of suffering as the “thin places” in which heaven and earth are perhaps closer together than at any other times. And I trusted that God had not brought me such despair but would walk with me through that early time of loss and grief.
That was 13 years ago. And though the pain of my loss is no longer so unbearable, I still grieve. The holidays are a particularly tender time for me. The stocking with his name on it hangs on the hearth. His smiling face hangs merrily in home-made ornaments decorating our Christmas tree.
It is bittersweet. And when I feel sad, I think of the very first Christmas. I envision a star-filled night, a quiet place where the bodies and breath of stable animals warmed the air. I see a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and cradled in his young mother’s arms. I am comforted that God knows what it is to love a child.
I am a changed person since my child’s death. I have had to find a “new normal” I remain stubbornly optimistic that I will breathe more deeply, laugh more often, and sing a little louder as I continue to journey forward. I will do my best to integrate the loss of my child in ways that are life-affirming as I look for ways to remember and honor his life.
It is my wish that you know there is healing after loss. There is no way around our grief, but there is help through it. You are not alone. I hope that this website and A Memory Grows will be a source of help in your journey.