Friday, February 27, 2009

Flowers

I made a promise to myself that I would keep a fresh bouquet of flowers in the house at all times in memory of Aubrey and Ellie until their first birthday. And so far I have done just that. Once a week or so I pick out a bunch of flowers for Aubrey and a different kind for Ellie. They each get their own kind of flower to represent their individuality, but I put them in the same vase so that they can be together. This week I have a cluster of Gerber daisies in a giant pink vase. Light pink ones for Aubrey and dark fuchsia ones for Ellie. I set them in my line of sight so I can see them often throughout the day. They look so pretty.

Babies and flowers have something in common. Their is something so lovely about them. I choose Aubrey and Ellies' flowers based on what I imagine their personalities to be. I often get roses for Aubrey and tulips for Ellie. Or light colored flowers for Aubrey and dark colored for Ellie. I don't know why, it just feels right I guess.

I was thinking today that I wish I would have given them each their own flower arrangement at their funeral. They deserved to each have their own, instead of one generic arrangement picked out of some funeral catalogue for them to share. I did not have the clarity of mind at the time to do that for them. And to be honest I don't really blame myself. I was in a fog of shock and grief. Now that I am thinking clearly it is one of my regrets. I think often that I would have liked to do that for them.

What I really would have liked to do for them was keep them in my belly until they were ready to be born. All my regrets added together do not equal the disappointment I have in myself for my inability to carry them full term. I realize I did not purposefully cause them harm, but I can't shake the feeling that my body failed them. I will never know exactly what happened or why. I get frustrated not having any answers. It really bothers me. But answers will not bring them back to me. Nothing will. But someday I will go to them. And I won't have to imagine their personalities anymore. I will finally know them. I look forward to that moment with all my heart.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Disappointed

If I could describe how I feel these days in one word it would be DISAPPOINTED. I have gone through a spectrum of emotions since my girls died, but disappointment seems to be the most intense so far. I just can't seem to shake the very real feeling that God let me down.

I have been struggling for months, emotionally wrestling with being honest with God about just how disappointed I really feel. I feel ashamed of being so disappointed. After all, He is the God of the universe, creator of the heavens and the earth, He gives and He takes away. Who am I to question him? I tell myself on a daily basis that God didn't take my girls, He saved them, and that death is simply a sad fact of this fallen world...no one is exempt, not even my babies. But what I understand to be true has not traveled to my heart. When I sit alone, wrestling with my grief, I can't shake the indisputable fact that God could have saved my girls but didn't. He could have stepped in, but instead He stepped back. At least that is how it seems to me.

So I found a book. Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey. I needed something to help me make sense of the extreme disappointment I feel toward God for my daughters' deaths. Something to help me see again the God I love, the compassionate, trustworthy, and powerful God I gave my life to twenty years ago. The God I entrusted my children's lives to, the God I entrusted my life to, my heart to...the God I never thought would let something like this happen.

As I read I was moved. The book is profound. It does not explain away the reality of my disappointment with God. It doesn't talk down to me as the peon human who cannot possibly understand God's ways nor tries to make me feel guilty or judgemental. Instead, it teaches. It digs into the Word. It showed me how God is not positioned away from what happened but directly in it. He didn't step back. He jumped right in, or better stated, He jumped right ON...on the cross...and suffered and died and rose again not only so that I can have hope, but so that I can also be confident in His knowledge of my pain, His experience of my pain. God is not outside of my suffering. He is in it with me. There is no pain I have felt that He has not. Every tear I have cried for my girls He has matched. And He does not want it this way either. That is why He came, so that there will be an end to all this very real pain and suffering and death and disconnect...and comfort in the meantime.

Philip Yancey writes with regard to Hebrews Chapter 2,"Yes, it's true that Jesus is in control--but it sure doesn't look like it: 'at present we do not see everything subject to him.' That one sentence encompasses all unfairness: all war and violence, all hatred and lust, all triumph of evil over good, all illness and death, all tears and groans, all the disappointment and despair of this chaotic world. It may be the 'truest' sentence in the Bible." Jesus is in control, everything is subject to Him. He has made right every injustice that was done to my girls, He has rescued me from my suffering...I just can't see it yet.

But what of my pain though? I still hurt. I still miss my girls. I still feel angry and disappointed. I am still so devastatingly sad. I guess that is the real issue. Not my understanding, but my pain. Why does God let it hurt so much? I don't really have an answer yet. My hunch is that love comes at a cost. In order to feel the true joy of love we risk the pain of loss. Jesus himself cried out on the cross, "Lord, Lord, why have you forsaken me?" Even the Son Himself expressed disappointment with God. Not because he was bored or lonely or because He forgot what God had asked of Him, but because He was suffering. Maybe He too wanted to know why it had to hurt THIS much? I am not sure. I have to look into this more. I will write more on this later...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

To My Friend

I have not been able to get my friend Chelsea off my mind today. I have known Chelsea since childhood. She lived just down the street from me. We are the same age. We became mothers at the same time. We both have three-year-old sons. She was actually at my house the night I went into labor with my son. We both got pregnant again at the same time, me just a few month behind her like before. We both gave birth in June, her to a little boy named Micah. Her son was full-term and healthy. However, just months after Micah was born he was diagnosed with a fatal illness. It is only a matter of time until he will join my girls in heaven.

My heart breaks for her as it does for anyone who has ever lost, or will lose, a baby. I was imagining what I might say to her after Micah passes away. Infant death is such a devastating and confusing thing. Having experienced it myself I know that there is really nothing that can be said or done to lessen the pain. It just takes time. Lots and lots of time. And she will have plenty of people telling her to be strong and that God works all things for good and that Micah is whole in heaven as God intended...blah blah blah. All the things that I hated to hear as none of them brought my babies back to me. And she will plaster a smile on her face and talk about God's grace and mercy and faithfulness just like I did, but go home after the funeral and cry for her son night after night, who God could have saved but didn't...and she will have to live on without him while everyone else goes home to ALL their children. It is a level of reality few will ever know. And it is a much harder road than anticipated.

I guess if I could say just one thing though, it would be to be honest with God about how you feel. Give Him your questions, shout out your frustrations, cry out your disappointments, talk through every thought and feeling. Include God in the process at all times, even the ugly times, because at the end of the day He is the only one who will carry you through this. He wants to carry you through this. Let Him.

It took me a long time to really process and accept that God did not take my babies from me. Sin did. And by sin I don't mean my sin. Losing my daughters was not my fault. By sin I mean the sin of the Fall. We live in a fallen, dangerous, imperfect world. And even my sweet babies were not exempt from the consequences of sin entering the world. But what sin tried to destroy, God restored. God rescued my girls from death and placed them in heaven. He healed them from their injuries and made them whole. And what sin tried to make permanent, God made temporary. My pain is limited to this life only. It will end when I am reunited with my daughters in heaven. My girls are waiting for me. I will see them again.

Chelsea, Your son will be waiting for you too. And you will get through this. I promise. And I will be here to help you. Why God has allowed us to bare this burden we will never know. Why us? Why our babies? So much does not make sense. But at least we can bare this burden together, bonded in Christ first, and then bonded by our babies. Kiss that little boy for me. I know you are soaking up every moment with him. I am praying for you all.

Visit Chelsea's blog at http://www.micahpaulmarshall.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Same But Different

I wrote recently that I never got the chance to look into Ellies' eyes. But it dawned on me today that I did get to look into Aubrey's eyes and although Ellie and Aubrey are two different people, they are identical twins. Aubreys' eyes are Ellies' eyes. Although I never looked into Ellie's eyes I know exactly what they would have looked like because I looked into Aubrey's eyes. God has blessed me in ways I am only beginning to realize by giving me my identical twin daughters. What I missed out with one, God gave me in the other.

I only have a tuft of Aubrey's hair. She grew it in the week that she lived after Ellie died. It is dark red just like my son's hair when he was born. And I know that Ellie's hair would have been exactly the same. When I see Aubrey's hair I see Ellie's too.

After Ellie died the social worker made tiny plaster casts of her hands and feet. Not imprints, actual molds, perfect tiny molds. You can even see the imprint of her tiny fingernails, toe nails, and skin wrinkles. They are beautiful. And when I hold them I know that I am also holding Aubreys' hands and feet too.

When I close my eyes I see both of my girls. I see what was the same about them, but I also see what was different. I see their individuality. They may look the same, but they were not the same. Ellie was so sweet and calm. She laid in her incubator peacefully, always clutching her little clawed hand. Aubrey squirmed and protested constantly and preferred to sleep with her hands above her head just like my son did as an infant. They were each their own little person. It was precious to watch.

Aubrey and Ellie were miracles. Their sameness was a miracle and their individuality was a miracle. Only God could make two individuals so alike and so different at the same time. I honestly can't believe sometimes that God gave me identical twins. They are such a rare treasure. I looked forward to raising them will all my heart and was devastated when I had to let them go. But I remain deeply thankful for them. They will always be my precious twin baby girls.
 
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