Archive for May, 2009
Today is my 30th birthday. Really, I’m cool with it. I’ve felt 30+ for a long time; it’s about time my chronological age matched up with my mental age.
As we reflected last night right after the stroke of midnight, the tears came. It wasn’t about being 30. It was lamenting the change in us that’s happened over the past 20 months. We’re no longer those happy-go-lucky, vibrant people we used to be. We’re haggard and weary and completely transformed. And it happened in an instant.
It’s as though when the doctor looked at us and said, “I’m afraid this baby is no longer living,” that a huge boulder dropped down onto the timeline of our lives, marking the point from which everything changed.
But, like I said in my post-Mother’s Day report, there’s sadness and joy on the same day, sometimes in the same minute.
Like last night. Right after this tearful conversation with Abraham, I popped over to his blog and saw a video that I could watch continually today. Everything inside of me that is joy rises up when I watch it.
And last night, before the tearful conversation, Abraham took me out for a wonderful birthday date. It was creative, surprising, sacrificial… I have an amazing husband.
And tonight is a dinner party with some of my closest friends. I’m really really excited for that.
So here we are again—joy and sorrow, sorrow and joy.
I’m thankful for waking up today to the faces of 3 of my family members. I’m thankful for the loving parents and parents-in-law who love me so well. And sisters and brothers and friends.
It’s a good day to be 30.
In my post about Mother’s Day, I made quick reference to some of the sweet moments of Mother’s Day. I thought I’d let you all in on a couple of them. There really were many, all things considered.
First of all, we had Morrow’s dedication at church. When I think back to last Mother’s Day, when I couldn’t even bring myself to go to church, knowing it would be too painful, and compare it to this year (being able to not only go, but stand up in front of people and participate in a dedication service), I realize that God has done a lot of healing work in my heart.
Of course I cried. That’s part of what I do. And that’s Morrow’s Granddaddy doing the dedication—another sweet moment of the day.
The words of dedication go like this:
Morrow, together with your parents who love you dearly, and this people who care about the outcome of your faith, I dedicate you to God. Surrending together with them, all worldly claims upon your life, in the hope that you will belong wholly to God forever.
One of the things our church does to recognize the heaviness of a holiday like Mother’s Day is distribute white roses. They have vases of them at the front of the church for people to take to commemorate their losses—whether it’s your mother, your children, your desire for children….
Doing it this way means that no one is singled out or told their pain isn’t significant compared to another person’s pain. Anyone can take one—I love that.
Here we are with our red rose (given for the dedication) and our white rose (to remember our Felicity).
Ater a Mother’s Day lunch and hanging out with Abraham’s mother, we went to the cemetery as a family.
I even laughed and had some fun on Mother’s Day this year.
It’s not abandoning her to smile and laugh. It doesn’t mean I’m over her death if I enjoy certain aspects of motherhood.
I hate that she’s dead. I hate posing by a gravestone for Mother’s Day pictures. But I love her. And I think it honors her to laugh sometimes, just as it does to cry sometimes.
Mother’s Day, all in all, was better this year. Of course it had it’s tearful moments and heartaches. Of course it had laughter and enjoyment. All of it mingles together for a mother who loves her dead and living children.
Ever since our first-born son arrived on the scene, people have commented on the size of his head. When we was six months old, he was something like 1oth percentile for height, 3rd percentile for weight, and 90th percentile for head size. The kid has a large noggin.
His head has been the center of much drama in the last couple weeks.
Act I: I got Orison off the school bus last Friday and was told by his bus driver that there would be a message on our answering machine from the preschool director, because during school that morning, he had decided to cut his hair.
I suppose I never thought to tell him, “Never cut your own hair.” I guess I didn’t want to give him any ideas.
But at school that day, while they were potting their Mother’s Day flowers (which of course meant that the teachers were trying to handle 17 4-year-olds in a project that involved copious amounts of dirt), Orison sauntered off to the writing center and snagged himself a pair of scissors.
He then proceeded to hide behind a bookcase in the reading area and go to work! He snipped some hair from the sides, the back and the front. Apparently, after a few minutes, he popped up from behind the bookcase and exclaimed to his teachers, “I’ve been cutting my hair!”
Needless to say, he looked really funny. And because Abraham was busy with a conference for work at the time, he had to stay that way for two days until the situation could be remedied. Every time I looked at him I wanted to laugh!
So he ended up with a pretty short buzz cut, just in time for summer. Which leads us to…
Act 2: While Abraham was shaving Orison’s head, he got to the one side and said, “Uh… what’s this?”
He had uncovered a scabby, scaly patch on the side of Orison’s head. I knew right away what it was. “Ringworm!” I exclaimed.
You might wonder why I was happy to have made the discovery. But it’s been driving me insane for months! Orison has developed splotches of ringworm on his torso that I’ve been treating with topical cream, but they never seem to get any better. I had searched through his hair many times before, looking for a patch in his scalp, but never found one under his long tresses.
It was like solving a mystery. I felt guilty that I hadn’t seen it before, but more than that I was just happy to know the cause!
So a trip to the dermatologist and a few scrapes of the head patch yielded a new prescription that should blast this out of his system once and for all.
*Intermission* Nice, uneventful rest of the week and Mother’s Day weekend.
Act 3: About an hour before we were supposed to head off to dinner at a friend’s house Monday night, we heard a thud from the kitchen followed by a loud cry.
We met somewhere in the middle between him running to us and us running to him. He had been messing around on a step stool in the kitchen and had fallen off backwards and hit his head on one of the handles to the kitchen cabinets.
He had a small, but pretty deep, split on the back of his head. Of course Abraham and I went back and forth about whether we should take him to the ER or not. Since it was in his hair, a Band-Aid wasn’t going to stick, unless we shaved it. And then we’d have to be really diligent about making sure he didn’t mess with it, that his butterfly Band-Aids were staying on correctly, etc.
After about a half-hour of discussion, we decided I would take him in. Three hours, three stitches, and a popsicle later, we emerged. He did a fantastic job laying still for the suture nurse and remained very calm through the whole process.
Needless to say, I’m ready for the Head Trauma Drama to be over. Everyone just take your bow and drop the curtain already!
For most of you who read this blog, Mother’s Day is a happy day, full of celebration and laughter as you behold the faces of your children—all your children.
For some of you who read here, Mother’s Day is part-celebration and part-torture. There’s sweetness in the faces of the husband and children who are here. But just about a millimeter away from those joys, a deep and bitter pain resides.
For some of you, there seems to be only torture and (what feels like) everlasting pain. Maybe you’ve miscarried all your children. Or maybe your only child is dead. Or maybe you long for children like nothing else on this earth and you still don’t have any. You probably feel like you’re not a mother. You probably feel like half a woman.
I’m in the second category. For me it’s because one of my children is missing. I have two precious boys, but my only daughter is missing. My little girl is missing.
I suppose “missing” implies that I don’t know where she is. But I do know where she is, I just can’t get to her.
Unless I died this Mother’s Day.
There have been many times when the pain has felt so intense that I was sure that it was going to kill me. And most of those times I thought I would’ve been happier if it had.
But I’m still here. And she’s still there.
So what’s a grieving woman to do on Mother’s Day?
- Does she just end it now?
- Does she hole up with her pain and steel herself against love?
- Does she receive comfort from the Lord as she laments before him?
I want to live in #3. I want you to live in #3. I don’t want to miss one thing that he has for me through this pain.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really hard, long road. I have no idea how many twists and turns and bumps there will be. But I see him transforming me along this road of suffering. I know I haven’t been perfect in the transformation—I still fight anger, bitterness, hatred, fear, and jealousy all the time. I still rail against his plan for me.
Paul said this in Philippians 1:
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two.
Was Paul suicidal? No. He was giving words to the paradox that we live in as Christians. It would be “far better” to be with Jesus today. It would mean the end of the pain, the end of the tears, the end of the loneliness. It would mean beholding my precious baby girl.
But what did Paul conclude? He knew his presence in the flesh was necessary. He knew that God had plans for his life on earth. If God were finished with him, he would depart.
For probably all of us, today is not the day that God will fulfill all of his work in our lives and take us to be with him. As much as we might long for it, it’s probably not happening today.
What convincing do you need that your presence here is necessary?
- Will a living baby do it?
- Will a daughter (or son) do it?
- Will the love of family and friends do it?
I think those things can certainly help, but even those amazing realities will never be what you and I truly need.
In the deepest part of me, I need Christ. I need his presence in my pain with me. I need his strength to carry my burden. I need his forgiveness for my constant distrust of his plan for my life. I need his peace to rest in, all the days I will live on earth, separated from my daughter.
I guess I want to encourage all of the mourners today to press into the pain with Jesus. Just go ahead and let it flow. Not only can he handle it, he’s the only one who can truly handle it and even heal it.
So as I live through another Mother’s Day without my Felicity, I’m going to laugh at the funny parts, cry at the sad parts, and let my love for her flow through all of it. That’s where I have to live this Mother’s Day.