I feel kind of naive that I fell for the idea that each day gets easier. That was true of my miscarriage... each day that went on, especially after I became pregnant again, felt better...less painful. Until I got to the point where I no longer cried for that baby.
But it's not how it is with Rachel.
Last night I looked at our hospital photo on my wall.... I was holding her. Her cute, chubby little self in her "little sister" shirt. She was so real, so mine, so already gone. But I got to hold her. I got to touch her fingers and run mine through the dimple on each one. I got to kiss her toes and put a diaper on her. I got to dress her. She was so awesome. And I miss her so much.
Today is two years since her funeral. We had a beautiful service for her. And I remember like it was yesterday the last kiss I planted on her nose. Shutting that casket over her, knowing it would be the last time I saw her this side of heaven, was the single most difficult thing I've ever done, next to leaving her at the cemetery.
I wasn't expecting this day to hurt so bad. But I've been crying all morning.
Monday is the day I clean the bathroom here and as I washed the bathtub, I remembered all the things I had told her while I was in the shower. It was where I talked to her the most because we were all alone. I sang to her, I rocked her, I told her how much I loved her and I taught her how to shave her legs.
This morning in the shower, I remembered my first shower without her. I remembered the weight of my empty womb hanging... and she was gone. I couldn't tell her anything. I couldn't rock her anymore. The blood and the breast milk were proof she had arrived.... but my body didn't seem to accept that she had left. And neither had my heart. They were both screaming to care for this child that I had just given birth to. And it wasn't possible.
Still, while she was at the funeral home, I knew she was still within reach. Somehow I felt better knowing that I could still see her again. I was afraid of how she would look after so many days of being dead, but it didn't matter, she was still above ground.
Today was the day I had to let them cover her with dirt. To put the cold cut out ground on top of my baby and know I could never see her again. Never kiss her again. Never touch her again. And it was the hardest day of my entire life.
I walked into church today, at the same time her funeral was happening two years ago. People were giving me hugs and congratulating me on Baby E. I was smiling and felt good.... but somewhere along the walk between the door and my seat, I started crying and I couldn't stop. The dance of grief and joy continues. I was in that place again, worshipping God again, remembering her funeral and how my only concern that day was that God be glorified in that place. That through her life and death I could show people that my God is awesome. That HE is GOOD. That even when life sucks, He is worthy of praise. And I did that. And I'm not sure how. It was Him alone.
We sang the song today that I heard at the Ash Wednesday service (the day I found out I was pregnant with Asa).
"Jesus, worthy is the lamb that was slain for us. The Son of God and man, You are high and lifted up and all the world with praise Your Great Name. All the weak; find their strength; at the sound of your great name. Hungry souls; receive grace; at the sound of your great name. The fatherless; they find their rest; at the sound of your great name. Sick are healed; and the dead are raised; at the sound of your great name"And as I sang the last line, my tears poured like pounding rain. My heart truly and overwhelming thankful for that truth. She is healed. She is raised. She is alive.
I thought after worship, I was calming down. Then at communion time, they played "Uncreated One". This is a song that Erik learned so he could sing it at Rachel's service. I picked it as our opening 'special music' because I wanted to make sure the focus of her funeral was on the fact that God is good. Her service was not about her being dead. It was about how God is worthy of our praise. And I picked songs accordingly. I didn't play songs that had to do with babies dying, but that had to do with Jesus being enough for anything I might go through. The worship team has played this song a couple times since her funeral, but today, it hit me hard.
I listened to the lyrics and I remember the day I picked that song. I was in my kitchen and nobody was home... Rachel was still safe inside me and she was dancing with me as I sang it to her. "Our God is so good girl, He's going to take good care of you when Mama can't anymore" I told her. And I swear she heard me... I felt her kick my belly like she was jumping for joy. I sometimes wonder if in the womb, she already knew Jesus. Is this where the 'childlike faith' starts? Did she already know He was good? Was she the one reassuring me, not the other way around? I don't know, but I knew that was the song I was going to play that very moment.
A friend came to hug me after the service and I just fell apart. And as I tried to tell her through my sobs about the song and how much I miss Rachel, I heard myself say "It sounds like it shouldn't matter, but part of the reason it hurts is because I don't think anybody else knows or remembers."
Everyone filed out of that place and went about their days. And I haven't stopped crying yet.
But God is still good. He is still worthy of my praise. And He will always get it. If even through my heartache and tears, so long as I have breath in me and a beating heart, I will praise Him on this earth. And when I take my last breath and my heart stops beating, I will fall at His feet in heaven. And I bet I'll sing something like this....
Holy Uncreated One
Your beauty fills the skies
But the glory of Your majesty
Is the mercy in Your eyes
Worthy Uncreated One
From heaven to earth come down
You laid aside Your royalty
To wear the sinner's crown
O Great God, be glorified
Our lives laid down
O Great God, be lifted high
There is none like You
Jesus, Savior, God's own son
Risen, reigning Lord
Sustainer of the Universe
By the power of Your word
And when we see Your matchless face
In speechless awe we'll stand
And there we'll bow with grateful hearts
Unto the Great I am
The verses we read that day were from 2Samuel 12:15-23. It was about when David's son was sick and how he wept and fasted until he found out that he had died. When he did, he went into the house of the Lord and worshipped, saying "When the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said 'Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live?' But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."
Here is the video I made of her funeral and burial photos. I'm so thankful to have these because it helps me to remember how beautiful the day was, how much it hurt, and how God carried me through it. And how my deepest desire, for Him to be glorified in my pain, was met. It was six days after she was born, I was still healing from my c-section and somehow He gave me the strength I needed physically to make it through that long day. (although I did fall asleep in the limo on the way back to the church after her burial) I went home that night and wrote in her funeral book like it was her baby book that she would get to read someday... and fought the urge to go back and dig her up for hours. I sat alone and cried, much like I am today... but still I can say I praise You Lord. Thank you for this journey. Thank you for Rachel. Thank you for allowing me to be her Mama. And thank You that You are always with me. Thank You that You will bring me back to her, even though she will never come back to me. Please Lord tell her that I love her.