Mercy Me recently released a new album entitled “Lifer”. One of my favorite songs on their song list is called “Even If”. PLEASE… go to YouTube or Apple Music (or wherever) now and listen to the words of this song. It is SO pertinent to our lives as humans, on a day to day basis, but particularly in the midst of trials. The line that stands out to me the most goes like this, “They say it only takes a little faith to move a mountain. Well good thing a little faith is all I have, right now. But God, when you choose to leave mountains unmovable, Oh give me the strength to be able to sing, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL.”
I’ll be the first to admit, it has taken a considerable amount of time for me to get to the point of even seeking out my Heavenly Father, much less being able to say that it is well with my soul. As I continue our story, I have to encourage myself with this song. He has chosen to leave a mountain unmovable for us but I recognize that in order to have peace in my soul, I must never cease in asking for His strength.
14 June 2017
We made the emotional journey home in a family caravan of SUVs. We all met together at Dad and Mary’s house to bring Mary home. Thankfully her sister and brother-in-law were already there, waiting for her arrival. After spending some time at the house, trying to soak up what we could of what was left of Dad’s presence there, we all parted ways. My sweet momma was at home waiting for me when we pulled in. I’m so thankful to have had her there. I remember, as completely empty of tears as I felt, just holding on to her and sobbing as soon as I stepped foot in the door. Similarly to the way I felt when my brother, sister, and I were finally together, I felt a connection to my dad by being with her. I am a piece of them both, she is the half that I have left.
I think it’s important for me to be very honest as I share with you, as so many blogs and stories that I’ve read I feel are missing this quality. I would feel guilty when reading because I’d wonder if I wasn’t “normal” or if I was handling these situations the incorrect way. I’ve come to realize that 1) there is no normal, right, or wrong when dealing with tragedies and loss and 2) some people may not feel comfortable sharing their real raw emotions because, in all honesty, it isn’t pretty. But I’m SO over that! All that being said…
During these initial few days, and weeks, I felt a constant level of guilt about my feelings towards people, with the exception of my brother and sister. I felt this way particularly about John. I believed I needed to lean on him, rely on him more, let him help hold me up. But in all honesty, I couldn’t. My “family of origin” as it’s called in the professional world is VERY close. KC, Jennifer, and I have been through… A LOT. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t mean to imply that what I/we’ve been through is worse, or more difficult than anyone else’s circumstances, but different. In our case, I believe we are SUCH a strong, close-knit family because of what we’ve gone through together. In the midst of my clouded, grief-filled mind, no one could truly understand how I was feeling except for my brother and my sister… not even John. I’m eternally grateful to him for the space and time he allowed me during this period of such intense grief. I was so closed off and distant from him. But he waited, ever so patiently, for me to be ready to need him again. God blessed me with the most amazing man I could ever ask for.
I keep getting sidetracked…
The evening we returned home began slowly, uneventfully, but quickly changed pace after dinner. I began experiencing symptoms that I was sure were leading up to a miscarriage. Embarrassing to admit, I was taken to the emergency room via ambulance (insert blushing face here) and spent several hours waiting. And waiting. Blood work came back and all looked normal. Not too long after we arrived, a pastor from our church (The Cove in Mooresville) came by to visit with us. Full disclosure, as much as I appreciated the gesture and the thought that I knew was behind his being there, there was a part of me that wished he hadn’t come. I will admit it, the worst hadn’t even hit yet and I felt like God and I were on two completely different wave-lengths. I blamed Him for taking my dad away from us, and couldn’t understand how he could do that to us all, at only 65 years old. I still look around and see people that smoke packs of cigarettes a day, don’t take care of themselves, and live well into their 70’s and 80’s. Although those thoughts are further from my mind now, 2 days after my dad’s passing… they were there in full force and I was angry. Regardless, Pastor Hoye prayed with us and read scripture from a beautiful book of encouraging verses he’d brought for us. I never wanted him to believe he was anything but welcomed and appreciated (which OF COURSE he was, no matter my internal spiritual struggle).
Before he left, John’s parents arrived. It was the first I’d seen them since the news about my dad and I sat in the hospital bed, crying with them and allowing myself to be held by the family that had been mine, if not by marriage, for the past 15 years. I looked at my father-in-law in a different light that night. Along with my brother, Will James had fallen into a new role in my life, that even he may not recognize at this point. These two men are my new Earthly fathers and hold such value in my life, more than I ever recognized before. Looking back, this was yet another blessing that came from the heartache, my growing appreciation for the people in my life, especially them.
Around 12:30 or 1:00am I was finally taken back for an ultrasound. Much to my dismay, John was not allowed to be in the room with me. Although I had come to terms with the “fact” that I’d lost our baby, I was still scared to death of being alone to discover this with certainty. Looking back, I wasn’t alone. God was there, through the minutes of silence I endured, trying to keep my eyes from the technicians face, trying to find any clue that I could of our baby’s fate. The time ticked by, what seemed like hours, and finally she turned the screen toward me, asking if I’d like to see my little wiggle worm. I was in complete disbelief, and cried the moment I saw our precious baby moving around, two little arms, two little legs, just beautiful! She left to go get John so that he could see it for himself. We were so incredibly thankful in that moment, and believed that my dad was in heaven, fighting for our baby’s life.
The next morning, at a follow up doctor’s visit, our hopes were dashed as our provider explained to us that because of what had happened the night before, in addition to the possibility of a heart abnormality, we should be prepared for a miscarriage. The presence of a large subchorionic hematoma was very likely to cause us to lose the baby. The ultrasound had also captured a fetal heart rate of 208, which is significantly higher than it should be at any stage of pregnancy. I was heartbroken. She wanted to see me back the following Monday to see if our baby’s heart was still beating. My heart broke further as I had to tell her that Monday was the day we would lay my father to rest, and that it would have to wait. To say that I was overwhelmed with pain is an absolute understatement. She cried with me as I sat and broke to the smallest pieces I thought I’d ever be in my life. We set our next appointment date for the Tuesday following, June 20th.
The next few days continued to be some of the most agonizing of my life. I had to go shopping for a dress. When the perky sales lady at the counter asked me what the occasion was, I couldn’t respond. I had to leave the answer to my mom, who gently replied, “It’s for her father’s funeral.” Hearing those words, and now seeing them in front of me, I can’t tell you how they hurt my heart.
I think I’ll stop here for now. This is been another difficult entry to write as was the last and, I imagine, the next several may be. But please let me assure you, it will get better! Maybe better isn’t the right term, but they will change. My hope is that they become more uplifting and encouraging. These few weeks were dark for me. I’ve come through them now and can write about them with a candor that I think is important if I want my journey to really help someone. I want everyone to know that it’s not always perfect (obviously) and that there are times where faith will be HARD. Impossible it feels like. And that’s OK! He expects that, and isn’t surprised by it (DUH!). My point is, we’ve gone through some pretty rough times, and I could FEEL the battle for my soul. But I have learned that his grace is NEVER ENDING and no matter what, He was there, waiting to come scoop me up in His loving arms.