Monday, October 29, 2012

The Hardest Days

Do you know what it's like to dread a day on the calendar? Maybe the day you lost your child...or spouse...or parent? To know that in the days leading up the the day you are not the same - your mind preoccupied with what is, once again, a reminder of what you have lost? There is a feeling that you will know well...you will understand. It is that bracing for the memories, that steeling of your resolve to relive what was.

You know, as do I, that time does help...some. You realize it has been days...then weeks...then maybe even months since you cried. Since you despaired. And one day, you realize you are talking about the one you love with a smile on your face - even if your eyes are full of tears. Until you reach the place where it is OK to feel peace. Where, even if you are sad, you feel simple joy at the love you have for a person long gone.

And who knows how long that takes? For me, it has only been three years since I lost Kasey. Less than a year since I lost Isaac. But again I have people telling me that it is time - it is time to be better.

But the peace they want me to feel is elusive yet. I feel it's edges sometimes, soft and ephemeral. It drifts alongside me, alongside my grief - and brushes up against me. It is much less of a presence than pain. Pain is hard and harsh and heavy. Whereas those fleeting moments of peace feel like freedom.

Maybe the truth is that the pain gets worn. Maybe it gets as tired as I do - and lets itself be chipped away. Like so many other things, what if pain gets weathered and smoothed by both time and my own neglect? I do not bolster or encourage it, letting it come and accepting when it crashes in on me. I do not ignore it, either. It simply is.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Stop the Press!

For those of you less familiar with the Old Testament - a brief synopsis of the book of Job.

Job, a righteous man, is attacked by Satan (with God's knowledge). He loses all his possessions and wealth, all ten of his children, and eventually even his own health.

See? Brief. 

In all of this, however, Job never cursed God or blamed him for his troubles. Thus the phrase the patience of Job comes into existence.

But, for today's musings, I have little interest in Job - and a good deal of interest in his wife.

She is known by exactly two verses, a brief conversation between she and her husband (exceedingly brief really). When they have lost everything and then Job is struck down by physical ailments, she says, "Are you still holding onto your integrity? Curse God and die!"

And Job replies, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

I have heard countless sermons on Job, and even a few on his wife. And, I'm going to protest pretty much every single one of them right here in blog. Because I think that every sermon I've ever heard on Job's wife has done her a terrible disservice.

Job is a long book! But we hear the entire story portion in exactly two chapters. And what we learn in those two chapters is that on one day Job loses all his wealth, his seven sons, and his three daughters. What I never hear any one speak of is that Job's wife lost all of that, too!

She lost her security, provided by her husband.

And she lost every single one of her children. In a freak accident!

Then, to add insult to injury, her husband falls physically ill and sits by the roadside scraping his sores while seated in ashes.

At some point she loses faith - and that is the moment we capture in the story of Job. That is the moment they preach on - the moment she faltered. Of course Job is held up as perfect, and what woman can compare? Certainly not his wife!

She crumbled. In despair, and anger, and probably not a little fear - Job's wife crumbled. She faltered. She fell.

 But who among us is truly like Job? And, if we're honest, aren't we sometimes more like his wife?

I know that have faltered. I have lost faith, if only for a second. I have cried out, and shaken my fist at God. Was I right? No...but it happened.

I will contend that we all have those moments. The only difference is that ours is not captured for all of posterity. That is not the only snapshot people have of us.That is only one of the reasons I have for feeling a great sympathy for Job's wife. The others you can perhaps guess at.

My final conclusion is this: Job's wife was human. She hurt, and in her hurt she lashed out. End this! her heart cried. End this now!

It is the cry of a mother's heart, a broken heart. So next time we preach on Job, perhaps we should show her compassion - not scorn. 
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dancer

Yesterday we celebrated


DANCER!   

We celebrated how she came into our lives and has changed our world. We marveled at how she's grown and who she has become. We wondered what might yet be in store for her.

These are the things we do as parents. 

Each year, when I lay down to sleep on their birthdays...I cry. Just a little. Just enough to mark that one more year has passed, that they have grown in ways I couldn't have imagined the year before. That they are becoming, with every moment, who God made them

And in recent months, Dancer has become fascinated with the story of how she was born. She wants to know what she looked like, what I thought  when I saw her, etc. She seems to love the part of the story where I completely unwrapped her swaddling to count all her fingers and toes. I cried then, too. I cried at how something so arduous and crazy and beautiful could result in this perfect little person I now held in my arms. 

In that moment, I understood perfect love. She cannot damage it, lose it, break it. She is mine - and she is wonderful. 

Praise God for the beautiful blessing of each of my children, the first of whom was Dancer.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Goodbye

October 15, 2012

A day of remembrance.

A day to tell you, once again....all my children are precious. Every single one.

And to tell you that silence will not ease the hurt, mine or anyone's. In fact, the angry part of my grief and sadness wants to shatter the silence - smash it into so many little pieces. So that I, and others like me, can boldly speak of our children, our love...and our loss.

While I feel the day is coming, it is not here yet. I cannot speak freely without that uncomfortable shift and averting of eyes in my companions.

So today, I'll show you what goodbye looks like.




Tonight I will light a single candle - one candle in memory of five children. Tomorrow I will celebrate one of the children I keep with me here. And then, on the 17th, I will check on the baby growing within me now. I will find out if he is with us for one more day, or if he too will be remembered forever as a lost hope.

And every day, not just today, I'll say goodbye. I'll let go, once more, of the pain and the sorrow - and the ache.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

To My Son

A letter to my son, Isaac. Written after he left us. 

Dear Isaac,

You...You are the one that broke us. You are the loss that ended our hope for another child, the one that devastated our family. The others - we hurt and we cried, but we tried to move on. With you, we fell. We fell off the proverbial edge, down into a chasm of grief - and we see no way out. 

How do we be in this place?

You are the one Dancer remembers. You and Kasey. She remembers Kasey because she was the first - her first experience with death. She remembers not only her own bewilderment, but Mommy and Daddy's grief as well. She wanted to comfort us, to make it all better. You she remembers because she wanted to be your big sister. Dancer named you, insistent that if we had a boy his name had to be Isaac. And when we told her you were gone, she wrapped her arms around me and laid her head on the large mound of my tummy. She cried and said, "I would have been a good big sister, Mommy." All I could say was, "I know." 

And now, she doesn't pray. She says she has nothing to pray for. How that hurts my heart. It twists my soul into knots - her inability to ask God for anything after her prayers for you went unanswered. 

I miss you. I held you within me and felt your kicks and rolls. I wanted so badly to hold you, pink cheeked and wailing. I would have given anything for you - anything. And it is so hard not to be angry. There is some comfort in knowing that you will never know the pain and disappointment here - that you do not have the same battles to fight as your sisters. But, it is only some comfort. It does not ease my empty arms. And when I think of you - I know that you do not feel the grief and sadness that I do. 

You do not miss being my child the way I miss being your mother. How could you? Grief and sadness have no place where you have gone. And I wonder where my love for you goes. I ask myself, "Will I ever get to be his mother?" Does Heaven recognize such bonds and love? 

Even that thought hurts. You are in a perfect place of joy - and I am useless to you. You do not miss me. How could you?

I am so afraid that after being denied the chance to hold and love you here - that the same will be true there.

I love you.

Mommy

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Indomitable Spirit that Defeats Chaos

It has been one of those days...and it's only 9:56 AM. But, while the morning is only half over for most, I've been up for 6 hours. That's right, people. Six hours!

The trouble started with all the fire alarms blaring at 4 AM. You can imagine Dancer and Diva's reactions. Yes...cue the terrible screams of doom and the panicked run for Mommy's room. And, as every mommy knows - the terrible screams of doom are the absolute worst way to wake up.

I shot upright in bed, rolled out from under the covers with my eyes still closed, dashed for the door with baseball bat in hand...and got buried under an avalanche of trembling, crying, panicked little girls. I fought my way to the surface and shoved them behind my back. My heart was in my throat and I'm pretty sure my pulse exceeded 100 BPM. Only then did the shrieking of the fire alarms penetrate my sleep deprived mind. But, that's not all folks! Oh, no!

GET THIS....

The house was not on fire. But, the alarm wouldn't shut off.

Fearing something terribly wrong in the attic or walls, I did what any self respecting woman does when faced with a crisis - I called the fire department.

We waited outside on the porch for their arrival, where we continued to hear the alarms shriek. It was 50 degrees, and us in our pajamas. Then - for the final indignity - a massive, humongous, horribly large skunk paraded through our yard. I told the girls to not look at it and not talk too loud. The last thing we needed was a stink bomb!

When the fire department finally arrived, they inspected the fire alarm system. Apparently, it is simply "malfunctioning." In my 4:30 AM brain, all I could muster was a, "Really, that's it?"

They told me to call a repairman (remember it's not even 5 AM yet), and they left. And all I could think was, "I had company and my house was such a mess!" 

The aftermath continues to be interesting. The girls are exhausted, as am I. They won't go anywhere in the house by themselves. In my sleep deprived and jittery state, I am having trouble figuring out just who you call to repair fire alarms....

So we may watch way too many cartoons today, eat sandwiches slapped together without much finesse, and fall into bed exhausted at 7 tonight (if I can keep them up that long). But, until then, we soldier on with school, ballet, reading, etc.

We are warrior princesses people!

Monday, October 1, 2012

October

National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month was founded by Ronald Reagan in 1988. He spoke of how there is no word - no identifier - for a parent who has lost a child. They are not an orphan, widower, widow, etc...

He dedicated October as a month to recognize these losses, ensure that support systems are in place and utilized, and to inform both bereaved parents and the public about the issue.

Ultimately, October 15 became the day the child loss community claimed. At 7 p.m., across the world, parents light candles for the children they have lost. In some communities, candle lighting ceremonies and balloon releases are organized, so that all those parents can come together. There are, across our nation, Walks to Remember. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles - they all come. And they walk through communities and across busy streets in support of each other and in a heartbreaking effort to make the world see them and their children.

And so October is a special month for us - it is a chance to participate (if we can) in the community to which we never thought we'd belong. It is also an opportunity to show you, our friends and family, how important each of these children are.

And last, but certainly not least....October is a month of celebration. Because right in the middle of the month we celebrate the birth of our first child, Dancer. And I'll honor that as well.

So, to kick off National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month - I'm going to ask for a couple of things.

I'm going to ask you to watch this:  Why the Still Project is Important to Me

I'm going to ask that you please "Like" The STILL Project on Facebook to spread the word about this awesome idea!

And then, I'm going to ask that you be with me through this month, as I look for ways to honor the sons and daughters I've lost as well as celebrate the ones I have with me.