In August of 2009 God changed our lives by giving us a beautiful little girl. Lydia was born with Zellweger Syndrome. Lydia went to be with Jesus in April of 2010. This is the story of her life and death, and of our journey through grief in search of healing.
In the week after Lydia's death, Micah and I went and spent some time hiding away in Maine. We have some dear friends who have a cottage right on the water. We spent the days sleeping and reading. When we weren't sleeping or reading, we were walking the beach. As we took a walk the last night we were there, I started gathering rocks and shoving them into the pocket of my hoodie. Once my pocket was full, I started handing them to Micah. All told, I think I got five pretty large rocks.
Now, I'm not a crafty lady. I have my moments of inspiration but I don't really have the patience for intricate, time consuming projects. The plan I had for these rocks was very simple. I wanted to write on them things that were important to me, always to remember the meaning of these words in my life. And I wanted to write them on these rocks, gathered at the beach days after I buried my child because I knew then, as I diligently searched for the right rocks, that holding on to these things in the days to come would be important. In the clear moments of that week, I could see far enough down the road to know that I would need reminding.
So, a couple weeks ago, I finally finished my project.
Now faithis being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him. Job 13:15
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth 1 Corinthians 13:6.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Despite the fact that I haven't written in a while, I'm going to start monitoring comments. I've been getting several spam comments per post and I don't want you to have to deal with those and I don't want to deal with them. So, I hope you'll still comment - the comments will be e-mailed to me and I'm pretty sure I'll post all of them as long as they don't link to something horrifying.
I haven't felt too much like writing these days. I'm low. I'm crying a lot. I don't want to talk to people. I don't want to read. I don't want to write...at least not right now. I force myself to do most of those things most days, but writing is the one thing I just don't have the drive to do.
I'm finding I have a lot less to say right now. I'm daily trying to remind myself of the truths I know and have written down before. The thing I've discovered again and again is that the truth just doesn't even remotely change how I feel. I'm thankful for the truths. I believe the truths and they do change something about how I deal and live my life now. But the truth can't take away my pain. It doesn't put my sweet blue-eyed girl back into my arms or fill the gaping hole that she left behind.
And this! I don't want my blog to be about how awful I feel since Lydia died. I don't want this to be a place where all I do is bemoan the tragedy of my life. But it's all I'm feeling right now. I don't want to talk right now about the goodness of God or the ways in which He daily bears my burdens because it takes all I have in me to claim right now that those things are true. I don't think it's weakness to share these things, but I don't want this blog to be some horrible tale of what happens to women when their babies die. I don't want to be someone who strikes fear into the hearts of other mom's who have children who can't live. I want to encourage. I want to bless. But I want to be honest too.
I know I'm going to get out of this dark place, I just don't know when. So, if I hide for a while, I hope that's OK. If I ramble on about how much I hate everything, I hope that's OK too.
We were at the beach this past weekend and I kept thinking about this poem by Edward Spenser. There is a beautiful website that does this for parents who have lost their children, but I wanted to do it for myself. And for my girl.
God is good. In the midst of my sorrow and my times of weeping for what I've lost, there are moments of clarity when I can look at my life, my situation, and see things for what they truly are. Now, we all may have a different idea about what "true" is. But for those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you know that for me, true is Jesus. Truth is looking at my life through a lens of the eternal, knowing that what I do and what happens to me has more to it than just what I can see on the earth.
I had a moment of clarity last week. I went to visit a friend of mine who has a daughter currently suffering from a fatal syndrome. Her body is degenerating. She is in pain. We have been able to have many honest conversations about where God is in the midst of these things and I always walk away from the time with something to think about or be thankful for.
Last week, we were having lunch along with my friend's oldest daughter. We were discussing the purpose of what we suffer and the frustration that comes when people say, "Your situation has taught me..." or "I've learned......from your difficult times." There's a real sense that we all recognize in which you just want to look at them and say in the most sarcastic voice you have, "I'm SO glad that MY horrible life is doing something for YOU." In my humanness, I confess, that is often my response. When I'm having a particularly good day and can think and see clearly, I can look at these kinds of comments and say, "Thank you God for using me." I don't always like it. I don't always understand it. But I've been able to come to the conclusion that says if my life and sufferings, or Lydia's life and sufferings can play a bigger part in bringing people to knowing Jesus, I'll take it.
Again, I keep this perspective as often as I can. There may very well be a time you come up to me and tell me that and I'll say, "That's great and all but can you learn from something else and I get my baby back? Thanks."
We spent a while talking about that and later went to the living room so my friend could sit and hold her daughter who was in so much pain that putting her down was out of the question. As we sat quietly together, she looked at me and said the words that I said in my heart and with my mouth so many times as I watched Lydia seize, "I cannot stand that God allows her to suffer like this."
It's so difficult to reconcile this thing to God's goodness. The allowance of pain in general is difficult. I am much more ready to accept my own suffering than to watch my child suffer in a way I can't understand - I think that would be true of any mother. I can take God using the situation to teach people. I can accept that death is coming. But I cannot accept the suffering. The question "How can You do this?" was often on my lips. How can He make my child suffer in this way and make me watch as she does?
I don't remember exactly when the answer was whispered softly to my heart, but I remember the realization clearly.
He let His only child suffer. He watched as His only Son died. Yes, He knew the plan. Yes, He knew what the end goal would be. But I know it didn't hurt Him any less. He knew the pain of being separated from His child. And He allowed Himself to know that pain for me.
Of all the hurt that God has ever known, I always forget that He has known this one more deeply than I can understand. He knows, HE KNOWS how I feel. And no, it doesn't make me hurt any less because He knows how I feel but, oh, the comfort it brings me to know that He understands my broken heart.
He knows how it feels to watch the child that you love beyond words struggle to breathe. He knows how it feels to watch as that child takes it's last breath. He understands the deep pain of separation.
It doesn't fix it. But it changes something in me. I'm not desperately clinging to a God who has never experienced the death of a child. He knows. When no else can understand the groaning in my heart, He knows. And just as God always knew what Jesus' life and death was destined to do and so willingly sent His son to willingly die for me, so I can stand and say, with a little more courage each time, that I know the life and death of my child means more than just her life and her death. Obviously, Lydia is not Jesus, nor will her life and death ever, ever mean what His did. But if God could send His son (His SON, people. A perfect, perfect being) to suffer and die to bring life to the world, what excuse do I have to want to hold Lydia back and say, "No. You can't use her life and death for something else"?
Please, please don't think that I'm saying this out of an attempt for mock holiness or spirituality. I wrestle with this. I fight with God. I yell. I curse. I am indignant. HOW DARE HE?! And I don't understand. Even as I try so feebly to put all of these thoughts to words, I still don't really understand them all, nor do I like them.
But I know the truth. I KNOW THE TRUTH. And the truth is, my life, my death, your life, your death, Lydia's life, Lydia's death, Jesus' life and His death - it's all to point people to God. And if God wouldn't hold on to His own Son and would choose to watch Him suffer and die so that others could know Him, what argument do I really have?
That is one moment of clarity. Talk to me tomorrow and I'll say something completely the opposite of all of that.