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.|
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??
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. .