Today has been a tough one so far, and it’s only 10:30 in the morning. My “baby” girl started FIRST grade today. Let me tell you, although I don’t think dropping her off today was as hard as her first day of kindergarten, it was certainly close. She is growing up SO quickly, and no matter how hard we try to enjoy every moment, they still pass us by far too quickly. As I took the pictures of her and her brother, and her and her cousins this morning it was SO bittersweet. Last year I remember being so proud to share those pictures with my daddy, because I know how proud he was of them all. As I pulled out of the parking lot I recalled, at that same moment a year prior, calling my dad sobbing about leaving my little girl. I asked him how he did it year after year, and if it ever gets easier. He reminded me that this is life, and all we can do is live every day to the greatest extent possible and understand that it’s God’s plan for our children to grow up and need us less and less as they do. I needed to pull up my bootstraps and get ready for the rest of her life. I wept, still, as I so badly wanted to send him the pictures I’d taken and be able to share this day with him. I miss him so much, sometimes I still just can’t wrap my mind around it all.
On the other end of the spectrum of our life… my heart also hurts. Every day the reality of what we are facing sinks in just a tiny bit more. One moment I am going about my day as a normal, pregnant mother of two. The next I feel like I’ve been hit by a 18-wheeler full of actuality. The thought of losing a child is completely mind-boggling and unfathomable. I never, ever thought I would be in this position. I was blissfully ignorant to the pain of those who had suffered loss of a child, whether it be during pregnancy, soon after birth, or later in life… all of which come with unimaginable grief. Of course, my heart always broke for them when I’d learn of it, but in all honesty, I would feel sad and then something would distract me and I would rarely think about it again. There were certain circumstances that I thought about more than once, and touched my heart more deeply than others, but for the most part I was oblivious to the tremendous pain that accompanies loss. My heart hurts so badly now, thinking about the people that I didn’t reach out to, the prayers I didn’t pray during these times of loss for my friends and acquaintances. How much just a few words of support and love would have meant to them. If you’re reading this, and you’ve suffered a loss- not only of a child but of anyone you held dear, I pray that you find comfort, peace, and hope in the only One that can provide it.
We are in the beginning stages of being supported by a non-profit organization called Be Not Afraid (www.benotafraid.net). They are similar in many ways to perinatal hospice but are Catholic based and don’t follow all of the same guidelines. I had an incredibly insightful conversation with one of the co-founders last week. I gained so much insight from her about the coming months and how to handle different aspects, as she assured me that they would be with us the entire way. In complete contrast with the name “Be Not Afraid” I have to admit, I am scared to death. Really, really scared. Trust me, I know what the Bible says about fear, as I’ve struggled with it in different ways all of my adult life. Regardless, I have a very difficult time handing over all control to our Creator. Those of you who know me well, know that I’m a serious control freak, likely to an unhealthy extent. It’s something that I have been working on for a long time, and continue to battle daily.
I’m afraid of the future, which I always tell myself is a pointless thing to be afraid of. We are never guaranteed a tomorrow, so why worry about it? (Something my dad always used to remind me of) But in all honesty, with the tumultuous few months ahead, I’m not strong enough to push that fear aside. I’ve tried as hard as I can to live in today, and until recently, I did a pretty good job. More for survival than for anything, the past couple of months I couldn’t look past today because tomorrow and the next day were too overwhelming. Since the reality of our precious child’s “condition” has begun to feel more palpable, preparing for tomorrow seems like all I can do to control my life. Oh, if I could only give it all up to Him. I know that’s what I should do, and I know that it would release me of such burden, but I just don’t know how. I’m afraid of the extraordinary love I have for this child. I’m afraid of the day he is born and having to say goodbye. I’m afraid of the days, weeks, months, and years to follow. I’m afraid of the unending sadness. I’m afraid that my faith will be tested for the rest of my life because of this loss. I TRUST HIS PLAN. But I am scared of the pain that will likely come with it. There are times that I feel like I’m suffocating in hurt, drowning in heartache- very much as I did in the weeks following my dad’s death. The difference is, this period of mourning is so much more extensive and long-lasting. It’s so hard to understand how I’m getting through my days. But even as I write it, I know that there is only one answer.
Jesus Christ. What a beautiful name it is. I continue to pray for increased faith, and for the release of my own control to His very capable hands.
I know I’m not the only one that struggles with this pain and these fears. I will ask for special prayers for our sweet daughter. She is so gentle and sensitive, so aware of all of the things going on around her. If she hears me crying from her room she will immediately run down to check on me and ask me if I’m OK. “Do you miss your Daddy?” she may ask. Or sometimes, “Do you miss the baby?”. Oh my precious girl, she’s so innocent but I know that the more time that passes, the more I have to share with her about what is to come. I want her to be prepared and not caught off guard. I simply ask that you pray for her, her mind, and her heart, that they may all find peace in these turbulent times. I pray that the Lord wraps her in His loving arms and comforts her spirit.
I’m eternally grateful for the love and support we have received, as I’ve said before. I think this journal of mine has gone so much further than I ever imagined it would. I believe that God has a great plan for our family and for the life of our precious son. I have heard so many people praise me for my strength and bravery. I thank you, but MUST say a few things with regards to that. First, I am nothing without Christ. I am only as brave and strong as He has made me, I would never be able to stand through this without him.
Second, I can not go another minute without praising the incredible man I married. I don’t write much about him because I don’t want to speak for him.
This man, he is my rock. He holds me when I cry, he guides me to the Lord when I’ve lost my way, He reminds me of His promises when I forget. He is the most Godly, gracious, sacrificial, loving, devoted, honorable man I could have ever been blessed with. He is an outstanding father to our children and none of us would be where we are without him. I am certainly not the only brave, strong one in this journey. If not for him, and our God, I would be no where near what I am. I thank him for all that he does for our family, day in and day out, and for me in particular.
In conclusion, I’ll leave us all with a bit of encouragement. I quote by Christine Caine says, “It is in your broken places you are most often used by God.” I know that God is using us, or will use us in the future, because of these broken places I seem to be inhabiting so frequently. I pray that in your broken places you recognize and allow God to use you as well. He has great plans for us all, if we will only listen and follow Him.