Monday, September 30, 2013

My Chains are Gone

Today marks 12 years that I have been free from the chains of addiction....

I've recently heard that there are people around me who are being misinformed about my past.  I personally think my past is colorful enough without having to make anything up. I'm surprised anyone would believe it since I'm not exactly a private person.  I'm all for sharing the darkness that God removed from my life. (and the darkness I still struggle with, too. Because I am far from perfect)  I'm not proud of it, but I no longer carry shame either.  So, just in case anyone is wondering this,  I am not and never was a prostitute - and I met Matt after we were both clean, so no, he wasn't my drug dealer pimp.  Yes, we both had drug problems. Yes we met in rehab, yes we both did jail time. (all before we were believers)  And yes, we both have been rescued from that and don't ever want to go back. Yes, we take the Bible seriously.  If that makes us "Holier than thou", I'm okay with that.  I'm not ashamed of the Gospel that saved my life.

I want so much to pour my heart out on this day over what God saved me from. But I'm so mentally and emotionally preoccupied - and I know I've said it all before on different days - that I'm going to just re-share a couple of old posts that came to mind.  I'd love it if you'd take a few minutes to read them to truly understand what today means for me and what God has done for us.  I'd also really love it, if you have any questions, that you would ask me directly.  I promise to not be offended.  It's a lot worse to hear that everyone is believing lies than it would be if you just asked me. 

So, there were two posts that came to my mind today.  One is titled "Jesus Christ" and it's interesting that I recently posted that on the day of Jay's stroke, His name - Jesus Christ - were the only words I could utter....  Then, the other day on the "Pray for Jay" Facebook page, I wrote Psalm 116 - and it is quoted in the post titled "My Dirty Laundry - Washed by God"where I talk about the end of my battle with drugs. 

Both Desirae and I are in the video I posted at the bottom of that post... if you don't have time for the whole thing, I'm at about 3.5 minutes and she's at about 6 minutes into the film.  On my part, I am standing in front of the jail where I was sentenced to and on hers, we are here and it's me, Matt, Isaiah and Sam in the background... they were still so small...

I do mention in one of these posts that I had fear over the fact that some will take my willingness to be transparent and use it against me for their own motives.  I got a little sad when I read that because I have never experienced that to the degree I am feeling it right now - and it's hard.  But I just keep holding on to what I know to be true....

My life was horrible.  And even with the pain I feel in the trials I endure now, it's still so much better than it was when I didn't have Him.  And that is all because He pursued me, made me His and He is stronger than any stronghold I have ever had. And He is bigger than any enemy that will rise against me.

Someone told me yesterday in an attempt to make me feel better about my niece, "God doesn't give you any more than you can handle" and I strongly disagree.  I think He doesn't give me any more than HE can handle....  and exactly that which will help me to remember how much I need Him.  Because without Him... I've got nothing.

My Chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior
has ransomed me
And like a flood
His mercy reigns
Unending Love
Amazing Grace.

A Long Week

This week has been long.  so long.

Last week at this time, it looked like a real possibility that Jailyn might not stay with us.  And through the last 9 days, we've had moments of great victory.  Little miracles....things we take for granted every single the ability to wave.  We've celebrated each of these....and we've mourned the reason these things bring us joy - and what this all means for all of us and for Jay. 

I feel so void of words to describe this past week, but I realize that not all of my readers are on facebook, which is where we have been doing all the updates, so I wanted to give a run down for you here as well.  Plus, the facebook page is pretty busy and hard to follow.  I wish I had more in me to write about this more often, but I don't.

Jay started out last weekend okay.  We knew there was permanent damage to the right side of her brain and that she was paralyzed on her left side - but she was talking a little and interacting with her right hand.  Then on Sunday when her brain swelled, everything took a turn for the worst....the next 6 days were the longest days ever. Every time she would do something great and we'd be putting out a praise, something would go wrong and we'd need more prayer.  It's been such a rollercoaster. 
3 weeks before Jailyn's stroke - A day of swimming with cousins at Nana's.

York's Wild Kingdom, the day before school started.  We had no idea in just a couple weeks, she wouldn't be able to walk.
The neurology team met and they told my sister that Jailyn would never use the left side of her body again.  That afternoon, she moved her left leg!  We were all moved to tears over the thought of her proving the doctors all wrong....  proving that God is bigger than textbooks.... and we still hold so much hope over that moment.  But the next morning, she threw up, aspirated it and now she has a lung infection.  For days we have watched them suck thick phlegm out of her lungs with a tube as she has cried for them to stop.  Then we get to the point of taking out the breathing tubes and we were so happy.... until she spiked a fever.  It just seems like the ups and downs are so constant that we are all still waiting for the chance to take a breath. 

Tomorrow, Jailyn goes back under anesthesia, with the breathing tubes back in for an angiogram and hopefully the repair of the vein/artery in her brain to try to prevent a future stroke.  If the swelling is down enough, they will put the skull bone back on.  All of this is so heavy considering we just finally felt like things were coming to a place of steadiness.  Obviously, we want them to find the problem and fix anything they can - but I don't think any of us feel ready for anymore crisis.  Please pray tomorrow morning and in the coming days for this.

Since we started her Facebook page called "Pray for Jay", there have been over 1700 likes.  There are thousands of people all over the world praying for Jailyn.  She is going to be excited about that when she is more awake again.  At the top of the page, we have a photo that I took the day at the zoo a couple of weeks earlier....

And the other day while I was there, during one of her assessments, she showed us just how strong God made her.  And I have no doubt that He created her the way she is for this very trial and that He prepared her in advance for it. 
She couldn't even open her eyes, she wasn't breathing on her own, eating on her own or talking... but when we asked her to show us a peace sign.... she used every ounce of energy she had and got those fingers up in the air.  It was amazing.

 Her little brother, Caleb (5) has been staying with us most days and I brought him up to see her this same day.  He was nervous and stood in the doorway for a while before he would enter.  I took a short video of her letting him know that she knew he was there....  You'll hear me in the background telling her how strong she is and that we'll be taking her home soon.... it seems that is all I can say.  I just keep telling her we'll get her out of there soon...

The pink bear you see is one of two matching ones - she sleeps with one, Des sleeps with the other.

okay, so that is the short version of the facts....  now to try to say how I feel about this....

I'm not sure I really can.  Maybe I'll tell you what it's like in my house right now.....

As with any time that the frailty of life is right in your face, I started to question and think on my perspective...  my regrets...  my relationships.... who I love and who loves me.  I found myself in tears over and over as I thought about the regrets I would have if this were one of my children and I did what I do best... beat myself up over it for a while.  The good that came out of that is I've been sitting down more with my kids, taking more time to listen to them, reading to them more and trying to be a part of their world more.  I've been more patient. I've cared less about chores getting done and more about if they know I love them. 

In the meantime, my house has turned into a complete pit.  And I am a neat freak...  and I mean freak.  As in, when things are messy, it will literally drive me to irritation.  I've come along way in that since Rachel, but I have not left it behind, which is probably a good thing cause with this many people in the house, there is a lot of work to be done and if messy didn't bother me, we'd have a problem.  So, this past week, I could not have cared less about messy.  And it's been good.  But last night, I decided that I would clean.  I cleaned for 3 hours straight and it felt awesome.... but as I picked up the books, I noticed one of the magnet letters was on the floor....
I started to cry... Jay was always the first one to help when I said I wanted the kids to pick up.  One of the last times she was over, I went into my mudroom to find it completely cleaned.  I asked who cleaned it and she said "I did" all nonchalantly.  I didn't ask her to or even ask anyone to for that matter, she just did it.  She is just that kind of girl.

Tonight as I helped Desirae pick up her bedroom, I came across some news articles they had created.  They made up a news channel called "DJ News" (Desirae Jailyn News) and they had cut out photos from the newspaper and then re-wrote the stories.  I asked Des "Was Jay with you when you wrote this?"  And I watched my little girl fall apart.  She started sobbing - and so did I.  Desirae isn't really a crier - very few things make her cry.  But she is devastated over this.  Her heart is broken.  And as she tucked her face into my chest, my sadness was overwhelming.  Des mentioned we could get her a wheelchair for her American Girl doll... I cried harder... Jay will hate being in a wheelchair.  How can this really be happening????

In the background, I could hear the conversation between Matt and Caleb as he tucked him in...  "Jay told the doctors her name was Professor Poopy pants" he said to Matt. (which she totally did, she is so funny)  He talks about Jay all the time and how "Even though Jay was mean to him, he can't wait to help her learn how to walk again."

Sam has been walking around telling people about Jailyn's brain dying and Isaiah keeps asking questions about which side of the brain control what.  He's trying to think logically about it all and figure out what that means for his cousin.  I think my kids have had their fill of people they love having problems with their brains... I know I have. 

And me....  well, it's complicated.  I feel crushed with sadness.  Sadness for Jay, sadness for my sister, sadness for my mom, sadness for my kids and for Caleb. This time of year is extremely hard for me anyway.  I look outside and see my garden dying as the cold weather moves in and I feel Rachel's birthday coming.  I feel it coming and it feels wrong to even be thinking about it - and yet, I can't help it, it's heavy on my heart.  I feel all the memories of this season of my life 3 years ago.  Jailyn has always been the one kid to remember Rachel with me.  Haven't these kids been through enough?  Most kids don't deal with even a portion of what my kids and my sister's kids have been through in the last 3 years in their entire childhood. 

And I can't help but wonder why?  Why couldn't Rachel stay?  Why another huge trial for our family?  Will we ever get even remotely close to the way things used to be?  Or will we forever grieve what this stroke has taken from Jay, from her Mama, her brother, and the rest of us who love her?  Will we ever enjoy the things we were able to do together just a couple of weeks ago?  Will her and Des ever play in the pool together again?  How much pain is this going to continue to bring to all of us? If she makes it through this to come home, what kind of condition will she be in?

Yesterday, Jay had started asking questions (by writing). Her hands could barely keep up with her mind. The front of her brain has not been damaged so she has her ability to think... she is asking some hard questions to "Am I dead?" "Did I get hit by a bus?" "Did someone hurt me?" "Is this my fault?" and the hardest one of all... she keeps writing "why" and circling it.

That was the title of one of my very first blog posts.  "Why?"  And when I heard she was writing it, my heart just ached for her.  I know the feeling of wanting to know why - knowing full well that even if you do know why, it won't change a thing.  She has such a long road in front of her. 

I feel like I've been all over the place, but it's probably better than not writing at all.  I almost gave up about 20 times as I tried to write this.  And I'm sure it doesn't even come close to describing what this past 9 days has been like for us.  The only thing I know for sure is that God is good.  That doesn't mean I will like His plan.  It doesn't mean people I love won't die.  It doesn't mean that I will get what I want or that I will ever know why something happens.  It just means He won't leave me alone in it.

And I guess walking a path like this, that's about the best thing I could hope for.  Because this side of heaven, pain free will never exist.

I continue to pray for Jailyn's full and complete recovery.  I told Des I will not stop praying until that girl is running around with her again - and I won't. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Friday was already a hard day.  I cried half the day over every day life stresses that were too much for me that morning. 

I don't even remember why I cared. It all seems so meaningless now.

That afternoon I got a call that will forever be embedded in my memory, just like the moment I heard my daughter would die.

It was my sister pleading with me to go to God for her....  "You need to talk to God right now, Jailyn's having a stroke" she said.

Things had been so hard here...  we've struggled in so many ways.... I was feeling pretty disappointed in God's plan and in some of His people....  and honestly, when she asked me to pray, I had nothing.

I remember saying "Let me pray with you now" which is I think the first time I've done that with her... I knew by her voice this was not a time to say I would and do it after - or to just rely on my humanness for conversation.  A 9 year old have a stroke??  I went on to pray and I was at a loss.  All I heard come out was "Lord, sometimes it feels like it never stops...." and as I heard my little sister interrupt and say "It never f-ing stops."  I was mad.  I was so mad at Him.  When is enough enough?  How much can one family take?  How much can my sister take?  She has been battling her own health issues and spent 5 days in the hospital herself the week before.  I had spent an entire evening just days before in tears worrying over if I was going to lose her to her Crohn's Disease.

I kept praying, because I had to.  What else was I supposed to do?  I don't know what else to do. What else could I offer her in that moment?  But I remember feeling like I just didn't even want to talk to Him.  That's not a feeling I'm used to.

Her phone eventually dropped the call and I couldn't sit here. I called Matt and he came right home and I drove up to the hospital.  On the way, I was making calls trying to reschedule a board meeting for Rachel's nonprofit that we had scheduled for that night and once I got to an area where my phone stopped working, it was just me.  Me and God and my thoughts.  I cried so hard.

The song played on the radio...  "When you don't know what to say... Just say Jesus"

I sat in the waiting room with my head in my hands and I just whispered the name...Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ. 

Within moments of seeing her, I knew it was serious.  She was screaming it hurts, it hurts.... she was begging for more ice on her head....  I asked her where it hurt and she said the right side of her head... she looked at us and said "Am I dying?"  We assured her she wasn't.... but I'm not sure we felt like we were being honest. I will never forget what she looked like on that bed. 

The. worst. moments. ever.

It took forever for the hospital she was at to decide that she needed to be air lifted.  I am going to say it because it's true - Huggins is the worst hospital on the face of the planet and I wouldn't step foot in there again for anything.  You'd be better off wasting your time driving in a car than there.  Actually, I would rather die in my car trying to get to a different hospital than ever go to that hell hole again.  They took a CT scan, saw nothing and insisted she had a migraine and gave her Ativan and shut of the lights.  For an hour.  She sat in a dark room screaming in pain as her brain died. 

They finally admitted that they weren't able to help her - I mean seriously, they can't even do an MRI - they don't have the ability to even give her the test she needed....  the test that hours later would show she had a massive stroke and her artery was completely blocked - and now she was completely paralyzed on her left side.

The last 3 days have been a nightmare.  I keep hoping I will wake up and it won't be true.  But it just keeps going.  Time keeps going.  The world keeps going.  And I don't want it to.  I want it to stop.  I want Friday back.  I want Jay back.

I woke up Saturday and called right away to see if she had woken up... she hadn't.  I hung up the phone painfully aware of how serious this all was and I thrashed around on my bed quite similar to the physical reaction I had to Rachel's diagnosis in the doctor's office 3 years ago....  why does life hurt so bad? 

Sunday we decided to go back to our church for worship....  I so needed to be there.  I needed to feel known and cared about and I needed to know that Jailyn was known and cared about there.  Everywhere I turned people were telling us they were praying for Jay.  I cried a lot, but I needed it.  Then after worship, I went down to change the baby and eventually my friend Mel brought my purse down... my cell phone had been ringing over and over during the sermon.  I NEVER bring my phone into church.  But I looked and I knew... I called my mom and heard another call I will never forget... "Something's really wrong, they rushed Jay in for emergency surgery. Her brain is swelling and her eye is fixed. Meg wants you there"  I looked at the two people standing near me and asked what I should do... within 20 minutes, we had Darla back here at our house with us to watch the kids and we were on the road.  Jill later brought some groceries and later Melissa and Carol came and stayed until we got home.  We worried about nothing except Jailyn and Meg.... it was amazing provision from God thru His people.  But what a long ride when you know every minute counts so much.

I want to end this with some really good silver lining.... some great God story or some line about how it's all His plan and His plan is so good.  I want to finish it strong with what I know everyone wants to hear.... but it just isn't there.  My sweet, precious, innocent, funny, soft-hearted, loving, sensitive niece is laying in a ice pack covered bed with a feeding tube, a machine breathing for her, half her beautiful head of hair shaved and her skull in a freezer so that her brain can have room for the crazy amount of swelling it's doing... holding on for life. Meanwhile, we're all on egg shells waiting for this to get past the point of critical so we can breathe again. And I watched my little sister bend over her bed and sink her head onto her daughter's  hand and cry with no answers as to why this even happened.  I listened to how Jailyn's little brother said he doesn't want to go to school because he wants to stay home and wait for Jay. I watched my Desirae sob for 2 hours as she grieved over her cousin, best friend and the closest thing to a sister she has on earth.  I've watched my mom break down over and over.  I've watched all the men in Jay's life... her dad, my dad, my stepfather, Matt..... all fall into tears over this unbelievable tragedy.  We're all running on too little sleep, too much stress, and a ton of tears....  and there isn't a silver lining.   And if you think you see one, keep it to yourself.  Because there are 5 words that I have heard come out of my mouth over and over and most people can't comprehend what it even means to think this, let alone live it....

We can't bury another child.

This can't be real.... how can this really be happening?  I can't fully comprehend what it all means yet and I'm afraid to feel the feelings that will come with that.  It hurts so much.

and since I have nothing more I can say.... I just keep saying "Jesus"  I'm thankful that even though He is fully aware that I am completely upset with Him allowing this to happen, He still remains faithful to carry me. because I can barely walk.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Desperate for Prayer

I am desperate for prayer. my 9 year old niece has suffered a major stroke. her right carotid artery is blocked and the right side of her brain looks like it's dead. She is paralyzed on her left side. She is non responsive. They think she might have had an undetected heart problem. The doctors can't confirm that she will be okay. Please pray for a miracle. No 'sending good vibes' please.... PLEASE carry this child to the feet of Jesus in real and fervent prayer. We need a miracle. Lord Jesus please heal her body.....

I always talk about how Rachel is the 1st and last thing on my mind each day.  Last night and this morning, it was Jailyn Rachel. (her middle name)  Teetering between "this can't be real" and to "what the fuck are we supposed to do if this little girl doesn't make it?"  to  "how will my daughter possibly be able to take this?  Hoping in between that this is all either a bad nightmare or that she will come out of it with some physical limitations, but still be with us.  The thought of having to miss her too makes my stomach sick.  God please don't take her from us.

The weight is the heaviest weight I have ever felt in my entire life. I cannot begin to imagine what my sister is feeling.  Please pray for her too.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Until Then, I Ache

Matt was home from work again yesterday so we ceased the time and took the kids out to pick pumpkins.  It was perfect weather and Ezra's first time at our favorite orchard (outside my womb).  He did what Ezra does and slept through the entire thing in my carrier, but I'm positive he loved it :) And having him strapped to my chest made the day that much better for me, too. My heart is so full of love.

Before we went, I was trying to show the kids pictures from our time last year.... it's still amazing to me that if I Google "Baby Rachel's Legacy" and add a word like "pumpkins" I can pretty much find any post I am thinking of... but the one that came up was our trip to the orchard in 2011, before Asa was even born.  I had remembered that trip in my mind as last year's...  I hate how fast time is flying by - and how I feel like I miss so much while I deal with all this heavy painful crap.... and the fact that there is no way around it.  They are growing up so fast.

But the part that made me smile is remembering that it was the first letter of everyone's name on our pumpkins last year that made us decide that our next baby (who I was not pregnant with yet, but expecting) would have a name that started with "E".  And probably within a month from that time, our little E was on his way...

And I have to say it.... although I am praying for a bit of a baby-making break.... as I placed our pumpkins out this year - along with the big one that represents Matt & me (and says "Thankful for our pumpkins") - I couldn't shake the feeling that this isn't all of our pumpkins.  We're missing an "E".
The yellow ("dandelion") mums are for Rachel. 
When we first got to the orchard, I bumped into a friend I used to work with at a salon in Dover...  she had her new little girl with her too.  We talked for a few and then I looked around to account for all the kids and said "Who am I missing?"  Even when they are all there, I feel the empty space that belongs to her alone.

My heart sank.  I kept smiling as we said goodbye, but inside I felt it.... I am missing someone.... and as we headed off to the pumpkin patch, with all the excitement and smiles, I missed her.  so. much. But nobody else would have known it.  I've become used to the fact that my pain and joy must coexist - and it does, sometimes quite beautifully and sometimes... no so much.  But it always does.

Often I wonder if I feel like our family isn't complete because Rachel isn't here or if it's another child we have yet to meet.... and then I can't help but wonder if it is another child, will we get to keep him/her?  Will it be one I birth or one we adopt?  Will I know when we're all here?  And oh, how I hope we all meet back up together there.... 

Nothing is simple in my mind anymore.  A simple photo holds so much emotion and heaviness.  I smile over the children I'm surrounded by while I ache for the little girl who never got to come here with us.  I tried to include a pumpkin in the picture to represent Rachel - but the kids kept moving around and Asa decided to sit on hers.... I later noticed in the picture that he's wearing his sweatshirt with the "43" on it.  I guess we'll count that as her representation.  Have I mentioned I miss her??

my love
We left and headed home, running late as usual... the kids had gym class an hour later and so we rushed home.  They changed while I made sandwiches and I sent them on their way with Matt.  I put the babies down for naps and the house was all mine.........

I did a quick exercise video, I made phone calls... I got the house cleaner than it's been in a long while.... and as I wiped the counter down, I had a flash back....  I really do think this is part of post traumatic stress disorder or something... it was so fresh in my mind, I felt like I was standing in that exact moment again.

It was the week she died.  Matt took the kids out and I decided to clean.  read post here  I was cleaning the same portion of counter when I came across a CD that had the song a friend wrote for her on it. (now called "Rachel's Song")   I put it in and fell apart on the floor.  That was probably the first time since the moment we got her diagnosis that I totally lost it emotionally. 

As I wiped the counter down again almost 3 years later, with a house void of the sounds of children, I saw that moment... that hour... in my mind.  I felt the pain.  I heard myself weep.  And this might sound strange, but I got the urge to hunt down the CD so I could do it all over again.  I felt like it was my chance to let all this pain out.... to allow myself to feel, to cry, to burn in rage any way I needed to without an audience and without worrying about the little hearts I'm responsible to protect. 

I fought it and kept going... no time to cry, there is so much that needs to be done.  Babies only sleep so long and gym class will soon be over. 

I moved from there to the living room where I started by putting a few things away in Rachel's hope chest.  As I lifted the top, I saw her little purple dress with daisies on it at the top of a pile of clothes she never got to wear.  I sighed.... keep going Stacy.... keep going.... I closed it and started dusting it.

I have had a photo of her sitting on it for months that needed to be hung.  I looked around for where to hang it and caught a glimpse of 'the nail' in the wall.... the one that the dress hung on for so long.... the one that I can't seem to take down, although it hangs there empty.  I slid the picture onto it to see how it looked. 

There was no holding it in....

I fell apart. 

I didn't fall to the ground, although I might have had the wall not sustained me.  I leaned on the wall, hands above my head and sobbed for a minute.  I started pacing around mumbling something about how I can't believe my daughter is dead as I felt the ache in my heart fill my entire body. I shook my hands as if I would somehow be able to shake it out of me... to brush off the pain.  Oh, God, please make it stop.  I wanted to scream.  I hate this.

And then I grabbed a tissue and kept going.... except the tears weren't following my lead...  they just kept coming.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to sit in it.  Actually, I didn't want to, I needed to.  But I wanted to get things done too.  I needed to get things done.  I don't get the chance to work without kids in tow very often. My list of to-do's has been practically drowning me and I knew that if I wanted to lift some pressure in my life, I had to get this work done while Matt was home and the kids were out.

I went out to mow the lawn and I cried the whole time.  And usually I would care if someone noticed... but I didn't.  I couldn't have cared less if my neighbors were all standing there staring at me.  It mattered not a bit what anyone might think.  I've learned over and over that most people wouldn't get it anyway....  I was a broken hearted Mama on a multi-tasking mission.  The harder I cried, the faster I worked.  I'm task-oriented.  It's a blessing and a curse.   But I guess I've also learned that no matter how many tears fall, no matter how much time passes, no matter how long I allow myself to "feel it fully" or maybe I should say to feel it alone....  it's always going to hurt.  Even if I sat down with the purpose of working through my grief and let it all out, it would never be *all* out - because it never will be.  There will never be a final tear over her until my final day on earth.  This is what makes me long for heaven.

I always said I knew that I'd never be over her, but living it long term is something completely different.  Feeling it.... not being able to escape it and this strange desire to never be able to.  I just had no idea.  Even after she died, and I knew the pain of losing my child,  I had no idea how hard it would be to do this long term.... for the rest of my days.... I couldn't comprehend it.  It might not always be that shooting pain anymore, but there is always a constant ache that never lets up.  It's like I'm always multi-tasking.  I live my life and I grieve.  I smile and I cry.  I move forward, but never forget.  I live for today, but long for tomorrow knowing that this place is not my home and this pain is temporary - and one day it will not be part of me anymore. 

I hold strong to the hope I have in Jesus.... to the hope of eternity....  to the promise of a life spent with Him - no pain, no sorrow.... all of Him, less of me.... and Rachel - whole and healthy.  I look to that day with great anticipation and endless thanksgiving.  I know one day it will be my reality.

Until then, I ache.  .

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Friday, September 13, 2013

My Todays

So, I've been feeling like a post is due... and yet I feel so unsure of what to say.

How many different ways can I say the same thing? 

And how can I share about how I keep Rachel in my todays without sounding like I'm stuck in a rut a refusing to heal?  I've been accused.  I've heard some think that my keeping a blog is 'dumb'...... are they heartless?  Maybe.  Or maybe they just don't get it.  I guess I can see why it would be hard for someone who has never put their own child in the ground to understand why almost 3 years later, I still feel like it was yesterday at times.  I wish I had their problems and no blog.

 When I was pregnant with Rachel, there were so many blogs I followed of people just like me.   But most of them continued writing for a little while and then a little at a time drifted from it.  Believe me when I say, that does not mean that they have found that 'healed' place that some think exist.... just because they aren't writing it, doesn't mean they aren't feeling it.  This is bittersweet for me - because while I know for a fact that so many moms like me appreciate that I keep writing and identify with so much of what I say and I'm thankful that I can be that safe place for them.... it is really hard to not have any to read from that remind me that I'm not alone... that I'm not crazy.... or stuck in a rut.... or being dumb.  I could probably find plenty blogs of people at my place on this journey, but honestly, I don't have time for the search or the desire to make new connections as strange as that may sound.  And to a certain extent I really just miss hearing from the moms and babies that I came to know and love through Rachel.  Because in my day to day life.... it's just me and my loss. And in a way, they are part of my journey with her and I hate that it all just keeps getting further away.....

And so on that note, I guess I feel like for blog purposes, I should say a little bit about what it's like to be a mom of a dead baby 2 years and 9 months after her death. So here it goes....

In my daily life, I don't shed a lot of tears over Rachel.  I know based on what I write, it may appear that I cry about her all the time, but I obviously don't write about every minute of my life - and this blog is where I process the hard stuff, so that is going to appear to be the way it always is... but it's not.  I cry when I need to, and sometimes I need to but I just don't have time.  I am blessed to have a very busy and full house, but it doesn't leave much room for grieving when I need to and that can be hard.  I find myself sucking it up and holding it in a lot just because it can feel even more lonely to let it out and have people look at me like they are confused. 

I do, however, think about Rachel constantly.  If I was to try to give you an idea.... I'd say every minute might be an exaggeration because I have so many other things I have to oversee... but it's pretty close.  I'm pretty sure she is still most days the first thing I think of when I open my eyes and the last before I close them at night.  When I wake to go to the bathroom in the night or to feed or change the baby.... Rachel.... In some ways that sucks.  In other ways, it's beautiful.  I guess I have never known a love and longing so deep before - and I'm so thankful to experience this.  I know with all that I am that knowing her and walking this journey has been a gift that has brought me so many blessings I could have never had any other way.  But I will say that on some days when I look at my wall and her photos or think of all I do in her memory, or get overwhelmed with all I have to do to keep her memory alive..... I just wish she wasn't dead.  Even on good days, the heaviness of her death lingers and I don't believe I will ever be separate from that.  It's part of me.

I've sat and looked at pictures and heard myself say "I can't believe she's dead."  and some days I really can't.  I can't believe that this is really my reality. 

Other days I think of it and it feels so real that the pain is unbearable....

Sill others, I wonder how it ever got to the point where I could make it through a day without emotion over her.

And sometimes I go from one to the other within moments of each other.

I hurt, I cry, I laugh, I remember, I rejoice, I regret, I love, I miss, I long for heaven.

Some times, as I do my every day stuff.... from cleaning - to groceries - to playing with the kids - I feel the constant weight of the fact that I will never be the same. 

I have been thinking a lot lately about when I was young.... the simplicity of it...  the way it felt to have and keep my first child... second child.... to only have the 'normal' motherly fears.  To do 'normal' things and have 'normal' conversations.  I grieve the ignorance that I had and hate that I can't still have mindless conversations like others can do.  Some days what I miss the most is the ability to dream about my future fearlessly.   To look at my children and not wonder if I will see them grow a day past this one. 

But I think the hardest part at this point is that I can feel her drifting away.  I know she has been gone for a long time, but I mean in the people who helped keep her feeling alive with me.  I used to get hundreds of emails/letters each week - and even some phone calls from strangers! - telling me of different ways she was changing the world - their worlds.  People were moved by her life and they couldn't hold it in.  I made some of the best friends I have through emails like that or by responding to cards I got in the mail....  If ever there was a day that I couldn't see God in this, if ever I felt she was being forgotten, there was always something, someone....  and these days that just isn't the case. 

To make it even more complex, I know that all those things were unbelievable and rare in the first place and I'm just so thankful for the time I did have them.... and I don't take any of that for granted or think I deserved it, because I know I didn't.  I don't want to come across as feeling entitled.  But it's so painful to see the change... to see fewer people remembering her -  to talk to people and know that they don't read about her anymore - that they have moved past an interest in how I am making it through my days.  Or maybe my writing is just not as interesting as it used to be.  Maybe my words don't leave people with the same desire to see what's next.  Maybe they are tired of 'listening' to me say how much I miss her.  Or maybe it's because it never had anything to do with my writing at all, but with what God was doing in the lives of others through her and he's already accomplished it.... Or maybe it's just because she is gone....she's been gone... she's not coming back.... and life goes on....

And besides, how many different ways can I say the same thing?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Loved in a Mess

I've been getting ready to start school with the kids and having a horrible time getting my small space in order.  I have Googled "how to organize Homeschool in a small space" in about every way possible and the search ended with the hopes of eventually either moving or adding on another small room because it just isn't happening any other way. 

I was completely revamping my school cabinets when I came across some hand mold kits that I had been sent from a support site while I was pregnant with Rachel.  I guess I planned to use them on someone else eventually, but we all know I'll never be able to do that.  I decided to read the paper inside the package and as I read it, I remembered why I never used that kit on Rachel.  I dropped it and went to sit on the couch in tears.

Isaiah followed me in and asked what was wrong...  I blubbered something like "I just didn't understand what to do with it then... I was so overwhelmed, I couldn't understand it... so I didn't use it... but I should have used it... and now I can't...." 

Des brought me a tissue and I picked myself up and kept going.... like I always do....  but later that night when the kids were asleep, I was back at the cabinet and realized that I was focusing on all my clutter and mess because the truth is that I am scared to start another school year...  this time with both Des and Isaiah officially in school - and another baby on top of that....with Rachel's birthday on it's way.

I put my hand on my head and looked at Matt "I don't know how I'm supposed to do this." I said as I started to cry again.  I feel so inadequate.  It's such an amazing gift to be able to spend my entire life with my children as they grow and learn.  I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world, but it's so hard.  So, so hard. 

As Matt encouraged me and told me that I could do it, I looked down to a game he had been picking up for me..... and may I just add that he didn't write this on the hangman game while I was in tears and saying I was overwhelmed.... he wrote it about 20 minutes before that when I was being a complete jerk and giving him an attitude because I was frustrated with the unbelievable mess I had created that day and the fact that it was now very late and my house was still a mess. 

How humbling is that?  He loves me.... He knows the depths of my heart and He loves me the same...

I serve an amazing God who I know will be with me through every good school day - and every messy one... when the cabinets are clean and the kids behave and act smart and the days when you have to wear shoes to be safe on my floor and I wonder if perhaps the children really could have evolved from apes. (sorry, super bad joke....)  But no matter what He loves me.... wow....

and I'm just that blessed that my amazing husband loves me too.  He loves me enough to stay up until midnight going through coats to make room for games in the mudroom closet so that my shelves aren't cluttered - just because that's what I need, even though it's not important to him at all.  He loves me when I'm unlovable.... I'm so glad God gave me him.

Lord, I am so thankful for my family... for how You love me through them.  Thank You for the opportunity to teach our children, for a husband who has the same vision for them as I do, and for being with me every step of the way.  Because oh dear Jesus, I need you.

And so here goes nothing.... 2013-2014 school year begins in 8 hours.... or 10 if Ezra wakes up just as I lay down :)

And of course, as I went to upload the photo... it was taken on the 3rd and the pic # ended in 143.  Always here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hard to Fly

Isaiah came in the house with a tiny bird feather....
I told him how amazing and cute it was and asked where he found it.  He said it was in our backyard and I asked if there was a baby bird out there too.  He said no, the bird must have just lost a feather.

After a moment, he said "Losing a feather is kind of like losing a son."
I asked "How so?"
He sat in silence searching for words.
"Cause it makes it a little harder to fly?" I asked.
He nodded.

Was that what he was really thinking?  I'm not sure, but it makes sense to me....