Saturday, May 29, 2010

One

Yesterday marked one month since Lydia went to heaven. One month. It seems strange to me now that I'll be marking time, not by how long she's with us, but by how long it's been since she left.

I haven't really felt too much like writing. I've been attempting to distract myself during the days by reading and visiting with people. It's too much to deal with every day if there's nothing to fill the days. I think that's why the nights are so hard - there's nothing to fill them. When it's dark and I have nothing to do but wait for the ease and comfort of sleep, I feel doubt and uncertainty begin to creep slowly into my mind and heart.

A couple nights ago I couldn't fall asleep. I got out of bed and as I rounded the corner into the living room the picture of Lydia that hangs on the wall caught me off guard. All of a sudden I couldn't breathe. In that moment, I couldn't remember what it sounded like when she cried or when she breathed or anything about her being alive. I sat down quickly, opened my laptop and watched a video I had taken of her. I cried. As I cried, my mind started to race. I kept thinking of all the things I did while Lydia was alive that took me away from her. How could I have ever left the house when she was still breathing? How could I have put dishes away or vacuumed the floor? How could I have done laundry or made dinner when she was still here, feet away from me? How could I have wasted all of that time? I should have been with her, every moment of every day that she drew breath. I knew the time would be short and I wasted it.

I know. I know. It's not true. I had to shower, keep things going, lead as normal a life as I could. I would have gone crazy and been incapable of caring for her the way I needed to if I never slept or left the house. I know those things are true. But it doesn't stop me from feeling that way. I know that even if I had done all of those things, I'd still be in the same place because no matter what I did or didn't do, there would never have been enough time with her. Eight months is not long enough for a mama to hold her daughter.

Everything feels empty now, but I know God is in my emptiness. I catch glimpses of Him as He works to make me whole again, just as He has made Lydia whole. I praise Him that at the end of all my irrational fears, when the tears have subsided and I've stopped yelling at Him long enough that I can hear Him speak the truth to me, at the end I'm OK. I'm weak. I'm broken. But I'm OK.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Back to Church

Yesterday I went to church. It was the first time since we brought Lydia home from the hospital that I went to church without her. Granted, I didn't go to church often. The amount of stuff that had to come with us everywhere we went, not to mention the fact that if she had seizures she made a lot of noise, and the fact that (despite the kindness of people at church) I couldn't help but feel like a spectacle whenever we went, made it so that over the course of Lydia's life, I think I went to church five or six times. Kind family members offered to stay with her so that I could go to church with Micah, but I couldn't. If I couldn't bring her, I didn't want to go. I didn't want to have to deal with all of what I knew would be waiting at church without her.

Yesterday, I went to church without her. On the way there, I started to get that tight feeling in my chest. In A Grief Observed, Lewis talks about how he never knew that grief felt so like fear. That feeling and I are becoming fast acquainted with each other. When we arrived at church, I started to get the inside shaky feeling...you know the one. You try to take a breath and you can literally feel all of your insides quaking at whatever it is that's about to happen.

Got out of the car, walked to the door. Took my bulletin with a smile, entered the auditorium, hugged a few people (still holding it together), picked a row, took a deep breath, sat down and started to cry. With the exception of fifteen or so minutes at the beginning of the sermon, I cried the entire service.

Of course, OF COURSE we would sing about the holiness of God. Of course the songs would repeat the attributes of God including His kindness, mercy and love for us. I thought I would cry as I recognized the overwhelming truth in the midst of my difficult circumstances, and at times I did. But I cried for another very unexpected reason.

Every time we sang about God's mercy, a voice in my head said, "Well, if God was really merciful, your baby wouldn't be dead." As we sang about God's kindness, I heard, "Kind? He's making you suffer. How kind is that?" When we proclaimed His love for us, I heard, "Are you kidding me with this? Love? What kind of love would force you to watch your child die?"

The devil. People, he's a sneaky bastard.

I know that God is merciful. I know that in His mercy He allowed Lydia to live and grow in my body long enough to be born. I know that in His mercy, He freed her spirit from her broken body when it was His time. I know that God is kind. In His kindness, He allowed us to keep her on earth for 251 days. Out of kindness, He allowed us to be together the day He took her home. I know that God is love. Because of His great love for me, I will see my girl again. Because of His love, He watched His own child die.

I know. I know. I know.

But my baby is still dead. My heart is still broken. His mercy, His kindness and His love doesn't magically fix that.

So I cried. And my dear friends sat with me and held my hands as I cried. They proclaimed the mercy and kindness and love of God when my heart couldn't feel them and my mouth couldn't even begin to form the words. They did it for me and did it without question. How thankful I am for the body of Christ.

It was a step. I'll take another one next week. Maybe next week, I'll be able to sing all the things I know to be true. Maybe not. But that will be OK, because even though I don't feel the truth of anything I've always known, I still know it. Even though I can't open my mouth to declare the mercy, kindness or love of God, it's OK. My brothers and sisters will be there to do it for me until I can do it again.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fear and Faith

Grief is a funny thing. I've been describing it like there's a switch somewhere out there that is not controlled by me. I'll be merrily(ish) walking around or reading, minding my own business and then *FLIP* The pain of it all takes my breath. It sneaks up and there are moments I can see it, hovering, waiting to swallow me up. Sometimes I let it. Sometimes I force my mind to think of other things so I can keep it together. All the time I feel an ache in my chest that misses so much the feeling of her soft body pressed into it.

I've been experiencing the full spectrum of emotions. I'm angry. I'm thankful. I'm sad. I'm happy(ish). I want to be alone. I want people around me all the time. I appreciate what people say to try to comfort me. I want to punch every single person who talks to me in the face.

One emotion that I was unprepared for, that has slowly started to seep in and all around my thoughts, is fear. In moments of clarity today, when I could see things for what they really are, I've wanted to talk about it. I believe so much that if I talk about it, I can see it for what it is. If I can see it for what it is, I can allow myself to deal with the truth. So, here's the truth, people.

I've never been to heaven. I've never seen what Jesus looks like. I believe there is a heaven. I believe that Jesus is there and that He is all of the things I have read and learned that He is. But I've never been to heaven. And I've never seen what Jesus looks like.

I had to send my eight month old daughter to a place I've never been and to a man whose face I've never seen. So, while I know Lydia is safe in heaven with Jesus (and I greatly appreciate the people who remind me of this), every now and then I start to feel afraid. Because I don't know what it really means that she's in heaven. And while I believe that wherever she is she is safe and whole and happy, I have not been where she is.

I also know that fear is a weapon Satan would use to bring me to a place where I no longer trust the one thing I KNOW has brought my daughter eternal life.

For all I know that the fear is not from God, it doesn't take away the fact that I still have no evidence that I can hold onto that tells me of what I so desperately want to see for myself.

I guess that's what faith is. Funny. I thought it would be easier. I mean, it sounds so simple.

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Can my faith fix everything? No. Does it take my fear away entirely? No.

But I know what the truth is. If nothing else, even if I'm holding onto it by a stub of a pinky toe, I'm going to hold onto what I know is true. And for the times where what I know doesn't cut it, I'm going to believe in the God who has never left me or forsaken me. If He's sticking with me, I know He's sticking with my girl. And I know that wherever she is, if He's there, that's all she needs.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We'll See How This Goes

It's strange that I should feel nervous as I sit down to type here. But I do. My heart is racing and I have that really lovely "I want to throw-up" sensation. I've debated these past weeks about what to do about this blog. I know so many of you read because you wanted to know how to pray for Lydia. But she's not here now and here is not going to be a place for you to read all of the fun things we've been doing or to see cute pictures of her. I don't know even how many people will still bother coming to read here.

I've come to the conclusion (albeit rather hesitantly) that I still want to write here. But I'm warning you now, it's probably not going to be pretty. I feel like I have to keep writing for two reasons. One is mostly just selfish. I have things in me I want to say. Part of me thinks I should just keep a journal for myself and no one else, but I want other people to hear me. That brings me to reason two, which is that I know other women will walk this road or are walking it. I want to encourage. I want to point, as best I can, to Christ despite my brokenness. I want Lydia's life and her death to mean something. Obviously they mean something, but if this had to happen, if I have to walk this road, I want good to come out of it. And not just "Oh, one day there will be something good from all of this," kind of good. I want good I can see.

So...hi. My name is Jen. My baby girl died two weeks ago today. All of my faith rests in a God who I know let her die. I'm a little angry with Him right now. And I have no idea what to do with my life now.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lilly

I've written about my friend Jen and her sweet baby girl Lilly here before. I wanted to ask you all to pray for Jen and her husband Kent as Lilly went to be with Jesus early this morning. I know so many of you are in prayer for Micah and I still, and for that we thank you so much. Would you please add Jen and Kent to those prayers?

Thanks people. You are wonderful.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Slide show

We've run away for the week, up to a quiet, coastal cottage in Maine. It's been a much needed escape. I'm not sure what the next weeks will hold for me without my girl, let alone what this blog will be without her. I'll let you know when I do.

Until then, here's the slide-show I made for the reception after her memorial service. It's long, but the songs are worth listening to, even if you don't watch the whole thing.


video

Sunday, May 2, 2010

8 Months, 8 Days

Dear Lydia,

It’s almost impossible for me to write this letter to you - I don’t want to imagine you concerned with things of this broken world anymore. I wish there was any other way for me to do this, but since I still live on the earth, these words are all I have.

These past few days have been awful. Empty. Quiet. For such a small little girl, you leave a big hole. I’ve wished in my heart a million times for you to come back to us. But for all I would take you back in a second, I’m so thankful that you are now in your true home. I hope you know now how deeply we loved you while you were with us.

I did my best while you were with us to tell you that you were the answer to the most fervent prayers I have ever prayed. Before you existed, we prayed and prayed for God to give us a baby. But not just any baby. We wanted the baby that He wanted us to have. Whoever it was He needed to be born to the world to fulfill His perfect will, no matter how long we had to wait, no matter the struggle, that was the baby we wanted.

And He gave us you.

You were not what we expected. Nothing about the situation, about your sickness seemed right to us. But you. YOU were right. God knew you were right for us.

It wasn’t an easy road He asked the three of us to walk. I’ll never completely understand what exactly it is God was doing through all of this. But as hard as it was for us, I know it was worse for you, trapped in that broken but beautiful little body. But every time your tiny hand curled around my finger, every time you yawned your sweet baby yawn, every time I smooshed your cheek up against my lips made every other horrible moment worth it.

Our hearts are broken without you here. But we have hope in the prospect of seeing you again in heaven. I cannot wait until the day when we can stand together as a family, hand in hand and worship at the throne of our Savior.

Until then, know that we love you more than we ever thought possible and every time we speak of you it will be with pride and thankfulness for the great gift you were.


Love,

Mama