Monday, December 9, 2013

A Balloon Filled with Hope

Today marks 3 years from the day I had to leave Rachel in the cemetery.

I've been so overwhelmed with all kinds of emotions from joy to sorrow and everything in between, that I'm struggling to find a direction for this post.  I actually wrote this post already... spent hours on it to be exact... and I hated it.  It was too... I don't know, dry?  Emotionless?  I'm not sure what to call it, but although it gave great detail about my day, it really didn't share my heart.  I do want to tell you about what happened in detail, but I know that what I need right now - and the reason that anyone still bothers to read my blog after 3 years - is to open my heart and let it pour out.  Hang on, because I have no idea what this will look like when I'm done.....

I've had nightmares every night.  They are always different, but pretty much always have to do with someone or something dying and the pain associated with that.  Last night it was Desirae's hamster, Daisy... I dreamed a scary, mean wild cat got into her cage and killed her.  The nasty bloody fangs still haunt my mind.  I spent the rest of the night trying (in my dream) to get time to reverse so that I wouldn't have to tell Des that Daisy died before she ever got to celebrate her 1st birthday. (She got her last Christmas so that's coming up)  I would cry every time I would think about having to tell her that Daisy was dead.  It was so real.  I felt like I dreamed this all night long... even when I would wake and go back to sleep.  I woke up with a horrible headache and my neck in so much pain I felt sick to my stomach.... and wishing I never got her a hamster because it's too painful to love and lose.

I've been following a freaking balloon around for 17 days.  And I probably will continue to until it falls to the ground just so I can try to feel connected to my dead daughter.  What am I talking about?  A balloon?  I'm talking about the fact that I had a bunch of balloons filled for the kids' "Winter Baby Birthday Bash" and two of them were purple for Rachel... and even though I was told they would only float for 24-48 hours with this special 'stay float' stuff they put in, this balloon was still high in the air yesterday - long after all the rest had fallen.  And today, just as I expected, the balloon was flat on the floor at the very hour of when we had Rachel's funeral service 3 years ago. 

And I was crushed. 

I was heartbroken that a balloon stopped floating on the anniversary of Rachel's funeral.  And I'm not going to lie, I feel crazy.  But even better that that - I don't care that I may look, feel, behave crazy because I continue to grasp for anything that makes me feel closer to Rachel... closer to the Truth that she is still alive... because no matter how much faith I have, I can't help but wonder if heaven is real and if it is, if she is really there....  And I know that isn't the 'right' thing to say as a believer and follower of Christ... but it's just the truth.  God already knows so it makes no sense to try to keep it in before people... Fortunately or unfortunately, God is a lot more gracious than so many humans where grief is concerned.  His love and compassion never waiver. 

So, here I was at 9am laying on the floor taking a picture of this purple balloon and in the back of my mind, I'm thinking What has my life come to? 

I got all of us ready to go to the cemetery in the snow and we stopped to get Rachel flowers first.  I couldn't make it out of the flower shop without telling the florist... It's the 3rd anniversary of Rachel's funeral...."   OK, so it's true... but do I really think anyone cares?  For heaven's sake, more half of the people related to us don't even acknowledge her BIRTHDAY, never mind the day of her funeral (which to me is kind of like the day she officially died in my heart)... do I really think the florist cares?  Again, I feel crazy, but I can't help it... I continue "We're going to the cemetery to play in the snow..."   And I just wish I would shut up, but I can't.  It's like the overwhelming nature of the loss this day brought me won't stay off my lips.  And just for the record, the less I feel like I'm "supposed to" talk about her - the more I feel the insides of me being torn apart by the silence.  It hurts so much I have to say something. 

So I do and then I feel kind of like I did when I was in high school and bled on my pants. Do you remember what that felt like?  Like this is such a natural thing that happens as a mom who buried a baby but yet I feel horribly embarrassed.  Like I just wish I could wrap something around me and hide the blood stains on my heart.

We went and played at the cemetery.  I hung more lights because I can't get her spot light enough.  It's like I think she needs it.  And it never fails as I'm hanging lights or putting up a new decoration, I have the thought... she doesn't care about any of this....  and I just keep going - because I have to.  I can't not do it.

Lots of people walk in the cemetery and I find myself telling the kids to stop having so much fun because I feel like we're interrupting the much more serious visitors.  They were running around and screaming and chasing each other.  I was snapping photos of me & my little E and saw a guy walk by me... I wondered what he was thinking... who goes to the cemetery to play and take family photos?  That would be me.  I know it doesn't look normal.... whatever 'normal' is.... and I also always think of how awesome it will be when I am gone and buried in this very spot for them to have fun memories with me there - and even photos of us together where they will one day stand above my grave.  I hope it brings them great comfort.  But seriously, who tries to plan ahead for their kids' time at their grave?  Well, that would be me!  And I'm actually thankful for the opportunity to... because if they are anything like me, this is going to matter to them.  I love these guys to much....

Me & all my babies...

I love 3 things in this photo - 1st, E is about as cute as they come! 2nd, you can see my daisy ring.  3rd, you can see Des in the background, making Rachel a snowman. 

We left and went to get hot chocolate.... should hot chocolate hurt?  Well, it does.  The whole way there I'm wondering if I should buy and extra cup for Rachel even though she clearly can't drink it.  And then I get excited over the cups having hearts on them - as if Rachel designed them herself for me...  everything is so complicated.  Every daily thing much more significant.  In some ways that is a great blessing and in others, I wish things could be less emotionally charged. 

I've never seen Cumbies make their cups pink with hearts!
The entire day, I kept hearing the lyrics to this song that's been on the radio recently... "Hope is what we crave... that will never change... so I stand and wait....  I need a drop of grace to carry me today...  to live to die, to lose to get, to rise above, to love again...."

And I know it's true... Hope is what I crave.  Back when I started this blog, a week after her diagnosis, I wrote that I wanted her legacy to be about HOPE.  I wanted the Hope of Jesus to carry me.. and remind all of you that HE is enough.  I needed it then - and I need it now.  I needed Hope that He could heal her... I needed Hope that I might meet her alive... I needed Hope that I might bring her home.  Without Hope, I couldn't have made it through those days.  I clung to it.  But I was waiting on a much closer end.  Or at least a determined end.  I was waiting on a miracle.  It would either be a miracle that she lived - or a miracle that I survived her death. 

These days I need Hope just as much.  But I need a different kind of hope... I need the Hope of heaven, the hope of eternity, the hope of seeing her again, the hope of God meeting me in the middle of all of this pain and granting me peace, the hope of being blessed to be part of God's eternal purposes.... but heaven is so far away and no matter how much I can see how God has used Rachel for my good and His glory - and the encounters with this truth are innumerable - it doesn't erase any of my pain.  So I crave enough Hope to get me through each day and whatever they might bring my way. 

This afternoon, God fulfilled my craving.  And I do believe it will be my manna for the day - but tomorrow I'll have to start again.  But for today, he used the balloon....  actually, he's been building up to this all week, I just didn't know it.

I was doing Asa's naptime routine and he threw in a new request... "Sing to me, Mama." he said looking up at me with his big squishy face (That's what I call him, squishy face)  I started singing a song that Matt made up and sings to them at night.  It's to the tune of Jesus love me, but different words.  When I finished he said "Sing Jesus loves me..."  He has never asked me to sing to him before....

My mind went back to the days during my pregnancy when we would all sing "Jesus loves YOU" to Rachel through my belly.  Then I thought about Rachel's funeral.  We stood above her open grave, with her tiny casket at our feet and as the service ended, everyone was standing around unsure of if it was over.  Through the awkward silence, I nudged Matt and whispered "Let's sing to her." and he asked everyone to sing "Jesus loves you" to Rachel... and we did. 

I didn't stay to see her casket lowered and I've always second guessed that.  Mostly because I still wonder if she is really there and if so, if they put her there gently.  But at the time I could not fathom the idea of watching dirt be put on top of her, so I let her pretty casket with daisies on it be my last visual memory.  But walking away that day was the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life and I hope nothing ever tops it.  It was finality in it's most brutal form.

Suddenly it was as if I could hear Rachel's little voice through Asa's words... "Sing to me, Mama."  And I was so thankful that we sang to her that day... and all the days before when she was still inside of me.

When I finished singing "Jesus loves YOU" to him, he said "No, say ME!"  and it honestly felt like a big hug from Jesus.... who loves me, too....

I got Asa tucked in and closed the door gently behind me.  And as I did, I saw a balloon in Desirae's room...  I had no idea that the other purple balloon was still in the house and still flying high....

But "ironically" right after my singing Rachel's song to Asa... I found it....

I told Des & Isaiah about it and she said "It's been in my room the whole time... That's so cool because it's like this balloon down here is dead... but that one up there is ALIVE!!"  And it was the exact word picture I needed to grant the Hope I was craving today.... 

I thought on December 9, 2010 when I left Rachel to be covered in dirt below the ground, that she was dead.  And she is... her body is down there and I hate that.  But today, I saw such a clear picture of the truth.  I knew this balloon had been up there the whole time, I just couldn't see it.  I knew that after 17 days, neither one of those purple balloons should have really been floating still... that's just crazy... and so I believe that God had a plan with them to comfort me,(which started when I decided to buy them last minute) And that is just so humbling.  I believe what He was trying to show me is that what I can see isn't all there is.  And He gave me such an amazingly beautiful reminder that I need to keep walking by faith, not by sight like I did while pregnant with her.  And he said it so clearly that even the kids were in total amazement and found deep biblical truths in these balloons....

Let me share with you some of what I saw this past week....
I noticed on Rachel's birthday that the purple balloon was randomly hanging out with us while we set up the Christmas tree.  This was the first time I noticed that it was still floating. 
4 days later, I saw it in Asa's room. I bought the balloons on November 22nd and this was December 7th!
I saw it starting to lose it's float last night and told Matt I was afraid it was going to fall on the anniversary of her funeral.
The dandelion that Isaiah picked for me on Rachel's bday was still alive when we went back that Friday!  I've never seen a dandelion live this long after being picked, especially without any water!  LIFE!
And so I guess to sum it up - it was a really hard day for me.  It's hard emotionally.  It's complicated socially.  It's heavy spiritually.  I feel really alone in all of this.  And I am, and I guess that makes sense.  But, she did feel closer... and she did feel alive.... and I did sense God's presence and provision for my heart today...  and no matter how much it hurts, if it has to be this way, I couldn't ask for more.  Actually, that's exactly what I did ask for today. 


  1. Just found your blog. Bless you. My brother and "sissy" (sister in law) lost Emmalee Rose on March 1, 2013. She had Anencephaly and she was the most beautiful little person I've ever seen. And your little girl looks so precious.

  2. ♡♥ Amazing that God always knows how to show you in a way that you'll know.


We so appreciate your words of encouragement!
Thank you! ♥ The Aubes