Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Grasping at Straws

There was actually a point in time that I thought getting a puppy might make me feel better. Then there was the time I begged my husband for a vacation. If I could just get away for a while, have a change of scenery, I know I wouldn't feel so sad. I have tried buying furniture, cutting my hair off, eating chocolate, drinking tea, and running a half marathon. I even contemplated leaving my marriage and getting an entirely new life. After all, if my husband was a better husband I wouldn't hurt so badly right? If I had more time to myself or more money or could get more sleep it would certainly be easier to cope. Maybe if I had another baby I would feel better? There has to be some way to make my pain go away...and I am determined to find it.

I haven't found it.

And I keep doing that to myself. Convincing myself that somehow I can put an end to my sadness. But I went on vacation, and it didn't help. And cutting all my hair off only made me cry more. I tried to run it out of me but even 13.1 miles was not enough. The truth is a thousand miles wouldn't be enough. And my husband is not to blame either. He has been as supportive as he can be. I have tried everything. And I still hurt.

I just want to know when I won't hurt anymore?

The hardest thing for me to accept about my girls' deaths is that even God's comfort and restoration does not take the pain away completely. The pain is a part of my life now. Some things cut too deeply to ever really heal this side of heaven. I will never wake up to discover that the pain is finally gone. Nor will I ever find anything that can take it away. But I trust that God will help me carry this burden so I am not crushed by the weight of it. And I know God will continue to use my pain to draw me closer to Him. It is in Him I find refuge, where I am free to feel pain and relief simultaneously, where I can cry and laugh at the same time, where sadness and hope coexist.

I don't think healing should be measured by a decrease in pain, but instead by an increase in hope. I think of Paul. The more he suffered, the more hopeful he became. I want that kind of hope. I would rather have hope like that than less pain. I think six months ago I would have said less pain. But today I choose hope. My pain is still very real, but hope is real now too. Morning is coming.

Beach Day

I took my son to the beach for a play date last week with other moms from my church and their kids. It was nice to get out of the house. I enjoyed getting a little sun and my son enjoyed playing with every toy on the beach. He doesn't really understand yet that not everything he sees is for him to "borrow." I love his innocence. And his boldness. He makes me laugh.

I have to keep a close eye on my son because he wanders. He lives in the world of a child, as he should. And as my husband points out, not just any child, but his mother's child...it is not unusual for me to exist in my own world as well. I am easily absorbed into all that surrounds me, captivated by what is there, and often deep in thought. My son is just like me in that way. He loves to walk, to touch everything, to explore, to ask questions, to chase birds, to walk up next to another child his age and say "lets run!" There is no fear in him.

And I love it. I love him.

He knows that I am watching out for him. He knows that I will call him back when he walks too far from me or lead him back if he gets lost. He trusts me to keep him from getting sunburned, provide food when he is hungry, and make sure he doesn't go with strangers. He plays blissfully while I take care of everything. I wish life could stay this way for him forever.

I think that my relationship with God used to look a lot like that. I walked out my faith with a childlike naivety. There was not much to fear in my world and I often reached for God's hand to hold as I walked contently along. God was with me. And I loved Him so much. What could happen?

My girls.

In an instant my world was shattered. I went to sleep walking along the beach with God and woke up stranded at sea. I was face to face with a crash course in a new kind of faith. Time to grow up? Time to grow deeper. And that means growing pains. Deep growing pains that carve out the flesh to make more room for the Spirit. Less of me and more of Him right? That's what I want...

...but my girls. I want my girls too.

Deeper faith fills my heart, but not my arms. It is hard to feel ok just yet. My girls are gone. But my Jesus is more near to me than ever. I used to feel that God's faithfulness was more of a consolation prize in comparison to losing my girls and I accepted it like bad tasting medicine. Eventually it would help right? But now I can honestly say I feel the grace. God's comfort is real to me. I feel the relationship. And that relationship has become EVERYTHING to me.

God has been reaching his hand out to walk with me this whole time. It was me that wouldn't take hold. I just couldn't, and I'm not even sure why. Too hurt? Too disappointed? Maybe too angry? All I know is that I was no longer on the beach like I used to be. Like I wanted to be, watching my children, all of them, play and wander around. I would never be on that beach again. And I resented it. I watched my tears drop on the sand.

I guess I was tired of hanging my head because I looked up. I felt compelled to choose again to heal. To choose Christ and his healing power. I re-focused my eyes on Him and let my tears dry in the sun. I reached my hand up and took hold.

OK God, I will walk with you today. Bring my girls!

And we did, on the beach of all places.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Names in the Sand

These are almost as beautiful as my girls.


We love and miss you sweet girls.

Not alone

This journey is a lonely one. It just is. Even when I am not alone I struggle with feeling isolated in my pain, untouchable almost, impossible to relate to. I am not the same woman I was before my daughters' deaths. And my perspective on life has drastically changed. The death of my girls was a paradigm shift of indescribable magnitude. How do I navigate this new terrain? When I feel that I have lost my barrings I can only pray for Christ to show me the way.

And He does.

I can't even count the hours I have sat alone crying, praying, contemplating, and wrestling with the loss of my girls. I don't purposefully hide my grief, anyone that knows me knows that my pain is not a secret I am keeping. After all, this blog is my way of sharing it with the world. But my pain is internal, I battle on the inside. I can't very well spend my days wearing a t-shirt that says "my babies died" on it (don't worry, I don't really have one of those, but sometimes I wish I did) to involve the world in my pain. It wouldn't help anyway. I need understanding from those who know, those who have walked in my shoes. I need the fellowship of other mothers with babies in heaven.

It is in the quiet times and alone times that my pain grips me the most. The tears sneak up on me in the shower or while washing dishes. I cry sometimes when I walk past my girl's room or into the garage and see their empty crib, high chair, strollers, and car seats. I cry a lot while driving. Especially when certain songs come on the radio. Daily I stop suddenly, as if taken aback, as the tears hit me, and put my hands over my face as I take a few seconds to breathe and recompose myself. My day is a constant ebb and flow of sorrow and peace, pain and relief, suffering and joy.

Does anyone else understand?

More than imaginable. I am not alone.

I find great comfort in the stories of other moms who are on journeys similar to mine. Although I would give us all back our babies if I had the power and spare us this common thread. One of my favorites is the story of Audrey Caroline. You can read her mother Angie's blog at http://www.audreycaroline.blogspot.com/. My heart resonates completely with Angie's words. Her honesty is powerful and her testimony even more so. Her blog is truly lovely.

I also love a website called http://www.namesinthesand.net/. All the way in Australia a mother honors the memories of babies who have died by writing their names in the sand at sunset and taking a picture of it and posting it for the world to see, just as she did for her own son, Christian. Names in the sand is Christian's legacy, and it is a beautiful one. I was scrolling through all the names (and there are thousands) that have been written in the sand and was in tears. I truly am not alone. How breathtaking, how touching, how sad. I even saw Audrey Caroline's name. Soon I hope to see my girls' names in the sand.

I am daily reminded that I am not alone. Jesus has been so faithful to connect me in miraculous ways to other moms with babies in heaven for my own comfort, and I hope for theirs. Elizabeth...Arianna is waiting for you! Chelsea...you will be with them all someday! My Aunt Donna...who joined her daughter Mary in heaven last October after more than thirty five years of missing her. And there are more, so many more...

2 Corinthians 1:7
And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rescue Me

I still go to bed at night and hope that when I wake up in the morning I will find that all this has been a dream. And each morning when I wake up and see that it has not been a dream I feel sad all over again. I want so badly for my girls to simply reappear to me. To wake up one morning and find them in my arms and start this journey all over again how it was meant to be and not how it is. I hate how it is. And it is hard to accept that it will never be different.

The past few months have been rough. When the girls first died I had a horrible time. But after four months or so I started to feel a little better, I started to see that I was not going to be sad forever. But just when I felt the worst was over I experienced a new low. I spent the past few months in a bad place, a very bad place. I felt hopeless and empty. I felt dead inside.

Few things in life cut straight to the core. My girls' deaths wounded me so deeply that, at my lowest, I could not imagine life ever being ok again. I felt permanently altered inside. I may have looked like my old self to everyone else, but I was a different person now. I would never again be who I was. I was in no way prepared to lose my girls, to be forced against my will to let go of what I wanted to keep forever, nor to live on afterward. How is living possible after something like this? I felt overwhelmed. I had lost my way. I needed help. I needed a miracle.

So I prayed for one. "Jesus, rescue me."

It was a simple prayer but passionately sincere. I was desperate. I needed to be rescued from my grief. It wasn't enough anymore for God to walk with me through this, I needed to be carried. My pain and questions and guilt and anger had left me lifeless. I needed to be transformed. I needed to be made alive again.

I have passionately prayed many prayers in my lifetime, calling out to Jesus in my most helpless times. And I have learned that it is impossible to predict what He will do. He often answers my prayer in ways I do not expect, sometimes in ways I don't even like. That may seem harsh to say, but it is true. When my girls died after begging God to save them I was disillusioned, heartbroken, and angry. Why did God allow them to die? Why did He answer my prayer for their healing in the most painful way possible? It didn't make sense to me. How could I ever trust Him again?

Here is my answer to myself...what other choice do I have? Without Christ everything is meaningless...including my girls' lives and my pain. And I think the only thing worse than living without my girls is living without hope. Hope that God can make right all the wrongs of this life. Hope that God can heal even the most destroyed heart. Hope that God can make good come from something so bad. Hope that I will be reunited with my girls in heaven and our separation will eventually end. Hope that in the meantime God still has a future and life for me and my family. And hope is impossible without trust.

I know God will rescue me. In many ways He already has. Just having hope again has given me strength to hang on one more day. One day at a time...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Baby Things

I miss my babies. I was in their room today sorting through all the baby things they will never use. Receiving blankets, little toys, sleep sacks, even the infant bathtub. Everything has tears on it now.

I really want to have another baby. But I am scared. I can't imagine losing another child. And I know that Aubrey and Ellie could never be replaced. But I love being a mom and I miss having a little baby. My son is so old now. He is a little boy, not a baby anymore. I adore watching him grow up, but I miss having a baby in the house. I miss nursing and giving baths and holding something so squishy and tiny. I can only pray that God has more children in my future. Despite Aubrey and Ellie's death, becoming a mother is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I would not trade it to forgo this pain. Some risks are worth taking I guess.

For now I am going to keep all the baby stuff out. I don't want to put it away yet. I need a little more time. When I am ready I will pack it all away for the next baby, but not yet. For now it still belongs to Aubrey and Ellie and resides in their room. And someday I hope they will pass it down to their new brother or sister (or God willing, twins again) just like their brother passed it down to them. That is the proper order of things.
 
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