Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tulips

I love tulips. They are my favorite flower. They are beautiful in a simple yet bold way. Simple green stem, bold colored petals, not too frilly, just lovely. But what I love most about them is that even after they are cut they keep growing. It is miraculous really. And they always grow toward the light.

My husband bought me some tulips a few weeks ago. Two huge bunches. Beautiful, bold, lovely, hot pink tulips. He knows how much I love them. They sat on my mantel in a vase for a week, growing each day toward the sun that streamed through the living room window. And then one day I walked down stairs and saw that my beautiful tulips had slumped over and the petals were falling off onto the floor. I couldn't even bring myself to throw them away. I just left them like that. Eventually my husband cleaned them up and made room for a new bouquet of flowers on the mantel. But this time I put lilies and roses there. I didn't want to watch another bunch of tulips grow then wilt. The symbolism was too strong. It hurts my heart too much.

Tulips remind me of my little girls. Even after they were born they continued to grow. Their little bodies continued to develop. Something inside them continued to try. They did their best to thrive even though they were separated from me so early. It was amazing to me. Even though I was scared, I was amazed. I knew that although they were separated from me, the were not separated from God, who had a plan and purpose for their lives. And that gave me hope.

In the end my deepest fears came true. My amazement became disappointment and my hope to keep them faded as I watched my girls slip away from me. Their ability to overcome was limited. They would not be with me in this life. Like little tulips, they continued to grow for a while, then wilted. How quickly they bloomed and faded.

Yet unlike tulips, my girls have more to their story. Their bodies may have faded in this world, but were restored in heaven. Their temporary lives were so short, but they live eternally in the arms of their creator. They no longer struggle to reach toward the light, but exists in THE LIGHT, in the presence of the Almighty God, in perfection, in glory.

Now I strive to be more like a tulip, always growing toward THE LIGHT. And I have a new hope. The hope of seeing my girls again someday. My girls' deathes has instilled in me a deeper longing to know my God, to be sustained by Him, to be comforted by Him, to love Him, to wait on Him. I choose to stay attached to the vine despite my questions and the permanent ache in my heart. I choose to live, not just exist, as long as God allows. Like my girls, I desire to keep trying and to keep growing, all the days of my life. No matter how few or how many God grants me.

John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Laughing and Crying

I used to laugh a lot. My family has teased me for years about my ability to crack myself up. I used to laugh out loud at, well, almost everything. And it wasn't just a little giggle here or there but that kind of laugh that came straight from my belly. It didn't matter if I was the only one laughing, or if what I was laughing about was in my own head, I laughed anyway, freely and often. If it was funny I laughed. It was who I was then.

When Aubrey and Ellie died I lost my laugh. I lost my smile too. At least the genuine versions of both. Every once in a while I laughed sort of, but not the same as before. I would do that "half-smile and tip by head back with a raise of the eyebrows" maneuver that insinuates a laugh but isn't really a laugh at all. And I only did that to appease others when I knew I should laugh but couldn't. It seemed my laugh had died with my girls and replaced itself with tears and melancholy. It was who I had become.

Then one day I realized I missed my laugh.

I missed the feeling. There is something healing about cracking up. Laughing so hard you can barely breathe is exhausting, but in good way. Like when I was a kid I would swim all day long and be so tired I would nod off at the dinner table. Or after the league championship basketball game that went into triple overtime to finally win it by a single point. Or after 8 hours of labor to finally to hear my son's little squeaky cry. Sometimes pure exhaustion can be so indescribably fulfilling. Unlike the exhaustion of grief. Exhaustion isn't even the right word. I was so tired I felt tourtured, defeated and empty...and I really didn't want to feel that way anymore.

God, I want to laugh again.

I didn't immediately start laughing. Not that day or the next, or even the next week. But I daily offered up my request to God. Slowly I found myself smiling more or chuckling to myself. The heaviness began to lift and the lighter side of life was finding its way to my heart.

And then one day, it happened. I was in the car with my sister being silly and I couldn't help myself. I laughed and laughed. We both did. We could barely catch our breath. When we finally composed ourselves it hit me. I haven't laughed like this since...

And then I cried.

Laughing and crying now go hand in hand. God answered my prayer. I can laugh again. But I still cry. I think I thought that laughter would replace my tears, but I know now that is impossible. Nothing will replace my tears. I will always cry for my girls. But now I see that I will not only cry for my girls. I will smile and laugh too. Joy is possible and attainable after such tragedy. I never thought I would ever be able to say it, but it is. God is a faithful comforter. All I had to do was ask.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day.

I don't even know what to write. I had a few messages left on my voicemail today from people who love me, checking to see how I am holding up today, because they sense that maybe today might be a hard day for me. And they are right. It is. How could it not be?

I made myself a cup of tea and grabbed my computer. Here I sit ready to decompress. A paragraph in I am already crying. My husband commented that I usually wait until half way through to cry. I just need to get it all out. The thoughts, the tears, the questions, the conclusions...all of it, out. So here it goes...

I love being a mom. Love it. Even at the graveside of my daughters' I didn't hate being a mom, I hated death. I have always dreamed of being a mother and when my son was born it was like I found my place in the world. I knew my purpose in life, to be my son's mom. When I learned that I was having twins my purpose tripled, I was to be three people's mom forever more.

Even as I adjusted to motherhood and its demands (and yes it was a huge adjustment) there was never a time I wanted to undo becoming a mom. Sure, at times I would have given my left arm for more sleep or a shower, but when my son flashed me that little toothless grin on his chubby face the challenges seemed so worthwhile. I anticipated a similar experience with Aubrey and Ellie. Twins would have their challenges of course, but I had two more little smiles to look forward to. Those special moments are profoundly rewarding even in the most hectic of circumstances.

Becoming a mom changed me. Raising a child stretched me and grew me. My life was no longer my own. I realigned my priorities, became less selfish, and developed patience. And I discovered how unbelievably much I could love something. The depth of my attachment to my son was immeasurable and instant. I never knew what it felt like to be willing to die for someone until I held my son in my arms. Motherhood is humbling, transforming, and beautiful...

...and completely heartbreaking.

Becoming a mom is the most uncertain endeavor in the universe. It offers no guarantees. It costs all the love you have in your entire being. And you have to pay upfront. Everything is on the line, all your hopes, dreams, your very heart. And you can't be sure if you get a lifetime, a day, or just a moment to be your child's mom. So why do we do it then? All of us that are mothers, why do we risk a lifetime of sadness and longing for what might be only a moment of joy?

Because it is absolutely worth it.

Every single tear I have cried, every moment of sadness, has been worth the privilege of being Aubrey and Ellie's mom. Knowing them, although for such a short time, was a true blessing. Nothing has impacted me as profoundly as the existence of my children, especially those two little girls. And a lifetime of missing them will never negate the joy they brought to my life. I don't understand why I could not keep them. I would prefer to be holding them now. But those moments with them were priceless. And nothing could make me give that up.

This post is for every mom who has had the privilege of holding their children for a lifetime or a short time...we all know it is so worth it. And we don't need a day to remind us of that. It is in our every heartbeat, our every breath. We didn't become mothers in time, it is not a process, but a single amazing moment. We were instantly and permanently transformed. And whether we still have our babies or they were taken to heaven, nothing can take from us that moment.

Dustin, Aubrey, and Ellie...thank you for making me a mom. It is truly my privilege and honor. I love you all.
 
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