I woke up this morning from a dream. I was lying on my back in the ocean listening for my girls and all I heard was silence. I was in the water looking up at the sky. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the sea was calm and quiet. I was content except for the silence. I kept listening hard, closing my eyes to listen, but heard nothing. Then I woke up.
When I opened my eyes I put my hands over my heart.
I wish you were here sweet girls. I wish I could have known your voices.
These are the confessions I make daily. These are the things I release so I can grieve them and find peace. When the longings grip me I give them a voice, even if that voice is one only my heart can hear, so healing can replace the longing and I can go on living the best life I can.
I wish I had more time with you.
I wish I could have pierced your ears—pearls for Ellie, diamonds for Aubrey.
I wish I had a picture of me holding you both, the one I imagined in my mind since the moment I found out I was having twins, one baby in each arm in the hospital bed, exhausted and proud.
I wish I had the opportunity to NEVER dress you alike so that everyone knew you were each your own person and honored your individuality.
I wish …
Every morning another wish.
Every morning another choice to heal.
Every morning a conversation with God to give me the strength to press on until everything gets put right again and for comfort in the meantime. This life isn’t all there is and thank God for that, but I still need hope and hugs and a way through because the pain isn’t less real just because Heaven is real.
When I put my hands over my heart I can feel the empty space inside, the two little Aubrey and Ellie shaped holes that remain since their death. I feel their absence, even in my dreams, when I listen for them and hear nothing except my own breath.
I have not filled these spaces and I never will, yet I live with a full heart. This is how I know I’m healing. I have fullness despite the empty spaces, wholeness despite what is missing, and peace despite longing. This duality is what makes healing from grief possible.
Joy and sadness can coexist.
From ashes can incense rise.
Healing is not the product of undoing all the pain but choosing to give our hearts a voice and willingly handing all the pieces over to the One who knows how to put them back together again. It is our chance to reveal our heart, to be honest, to seek intimacy, and recieve peace. Our circumstances don’t have to change one bit for our heart to change and find the healing it desperately seeks. We can choose fullness without having every nook and cranny filled; we can choose wholeness without every piece of the puzzle intact.
The human heart is remarkably fragile but also immeasurably resilient. And resilience is our choice, not our luck. All we have to do is ask and avail ourselves to the healing work God wants to do in our lives. Our hearts were never whole in the first place. He has always been weaving himself into our holes and cracks, since the first moment we asked Him in, and will continue the work He has started if we allow Him. We must invite Him into the shattered mess and trust that He knows how to piece us back together again, even if His work isn't complete until the next life. In the meantime He will sustain us. If He can make dry bones get up and walk He can breath life back into the broken smithereens of our hearts.
Broken hearts still beat. Hearts with holes and dents and scars beat powerfully. My heart is stronger than it has ever been. And I wear it proudly on my sleeve, holes and all, because, honestly, it is a miracle. It isn’t a gaping, hemorrhaging wound anymore. It is an always healing, ever-stronger, honest badge of the choice I made to heal. As long as my heart still beats I’m seeing my healing to the end without guilt or apology.
When my hand goes over my heart in the morning and I give my never-coming-true wishes a voice, my heart keeps beating. It doesn’t die with the pain. It beats again and again and again. Stronger each time. It’s another chance and another and another to get up and live full and whole with broken and missing pieces.
That is my choice. Morning after morning. Day after day. Night after night.
I choose life, abundant life, with every beat of my less than whole, missing a few pieces heart.