Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Respite Retreat

The past week or so has been difficult. Getting back into the swing of work (which, turns out, is hard to do when you only have teach three days of school in two weeks) has me pretty wiped out, despite being only part time. I will say, the first day of school was lovely. I don't know that I've ever felt more appreciated, so thanks to all students and teachers who made the day a heck of a lot better than I thought it would be. Of course, I cried like a loon when I got home, but come on. You expect it at this point.

There's been a lot of angry lately. Hope feels far and it's gotten easy to forget the times and ways that God has been faithful to me. Especially easy when I start to think that the God who loves me plays a significant role in my pain. How can I trust someone who has had a hand in my pain? I don't know. I don't know how to work it all out. I know I will, I just don't know how.

That's why this past weekend was a gift. Micah and I went down to Nashville, TN for a retreat run by David and Nancy Guthrie. It was a retreat just for parents who had lost a child. Here are the eleven wonderful couples that we got to meet and spend time with.

There were many wonderful things about the weekend. The most looked forward to was that we got to meet Jen and Kent. Lilly and Lydia were born two weeks apart and went to heaven two weeks apart, both from Zellweger Syndrome. Jen found this blog when Lilly was three months old and we've been e-mail and phone friends ever since. To see her IN REAL LIFE was fantastic.

In addition to meeting them, we met these ten couples. I can't explain to you the blessing it is to sit in a room full of people and look into their eyes, knowing they understand the kind of broken my heart is. The first night we were there and the beginning of the next morning we told the stories of our children. It was the first time that we told Lydia's story, specifically the end of it, all the way through. These dear people laughed and cried with us as we told about our beautiful girl and at the end, we prayed thanking God for Lydia's life.

I didn't have a big breakthrough, but I had many small moments of understanding that I haven't had before. As we talked, I realized how blessed we are to have people around us who miss Lydia, who speak of her, who care that she's not here anymore. It hadn't occurred to me that it could be any other way - that people's families don't care or speak of their child after they die. I'm surrounded by people who loved our girl and who love her still, though she's not here. Sometimes it's difficult to navigate other people's feelings about Lydia's death, but this time made me realize that whether or not I always appreciate how people express the fact that the miss her, I am so so so grateful that they miss her at all.

I was thankful to be reminded again that this huge pain won't last forever. As it is now, I still cry all the time and church is still unbearably painful. I sat across the dinner table one night from Jill. Knowing she was further down this grief road that I, I asked her if she hated going to church. She told me she did, but that it eventually got better. I think I know this practically, but it seems so far away that it's hard to focus in on anything but how it feels now. Thanks, Jill, for reminding me that the dark days aren't forever.

During times and talks with Nancy and David, I was reminded again about the patience of my Savior. Though I know I'm acting like a child who is screaming and screaming and refusing to be consoled, I know that I am being held tightly. I know that no matter how long I rage, He's not going to put me down. He will stay until I'm comforted.

I was thankful to remember again that I am not alone. One of the greatest tools of the enemy is the belief that this pain secludes me from the rest of the world. Eleven other couples, twenty-two other people have walked this road. They still walk it. They are not defeated. If you are reading this, please know how your strength has encouraged me. You have kept going when you didn't want to. I know that I can too. You have found Christ in the midst of your sorrow. I know I can too.

Nancy said it best - better days are coming. I will hold on until they do.


  1. I just ran across your blog.... You have a Beautiful family , and inspiring story that I'm sure SO many grieving parents would appriciate knowing about!
    I know I have no experience in this type of situation, but I know your sadness will lighten and I will pray and think about all of you & I wish you all the very, Very Best!

  2. I am glad you went to the retreat to be with people who hurt like you and experience like you.

    I am not going to say that things will get better at this time. In fact it is going to hurt more and more.

    Last night, at a study on suffering, I related the times when my son was born and dying, it was very important to have good Christian friends around, to support you.

    My Andrew would be 21 this month, instead he lived only 55 days.

  3. Hi Jen,

    It was so good to meet you and Micah last weekend at the retreat. Please know that you guys were a great encouragement to us, too! I'll be thinking about you and praying for you tomorrow morning as I sit in church!! Nancy is soooo right when she says that better days are ahead. Let His strength keep holding on to you!

    In Him,

  4. So glad you had the chance to be with Nancy and "the whole gang" on the retreat. I was praying it would be a blessing for you guys. We continue to pray, knowing the road ahead is still rough. Love you!