Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Dress

I've sat to write this post 3 times already.

Last night I stared at the blank screen for a long time and didn't write a single word.  I think there should probably be 3-4 different posts here - if only I had the time... the drive... the mental energy.

I'm sure if you've been around awhile, you've heard of *the* dress I had that I wanted to put Rachel in.  I bought it the week before her diagnosis when Des and I went out for my birthday.  It was on clearance for $1 and I had no idea if it was a girl yet, but the price was right.  I brought it home, and hung it on a nail that was already in my wall in my livingroom.

The next week, we got her diagnosis and when I got home from that ultrasound, this dress was the first thing I saw when I walked into the livingroom... right before I saw Desirae's 7 year old smile, waiting to hear if she was getting a sister.

That dress hung there for a lonnnng time.  I can't remember how long exactly, but it was her entire pregnancy and a long time after.  Through my pregnancy, I would look at it every time I entered the room and say to myself "Hope does not disappoint us."  It was what I held onto... that maybe - just maybe - she'd be healed and one day wear that dress.

Of course, she never did.  It hung on this wall as she died in my arms and hour away from home, never to see our home with her own eyes.

Eventually, I took it down.  The nail remained there as a reminder that God had graced me with so much hope throughout that entire time... impossible without Him... but one day I hung a picture of me holding her in the OR on it.

In the beginning of my pregnancy with Eden, God continuously called me to face my fears and "step out of the boat".  I wrote a few posts about that early on... about just how hard it was for me to be pregnant at all, let alone with another Christmas baby and with all my health issues.  One day right around that time, Sam came home from church with a project on Jesus calming the storm.  I hung it with the photo because I can't think of another time in my life that Jesus brought calm and peace in the most unexpected of places than in that delivery room as I watched her die.   And if He can do that there, it's possible anywhere.
of course this is #1243 in my photos ♥

time stamp... 12:03 ♥
If you know me, I'm not one to hang random stuff around my house.  I'm pretty into my decor looking put together.  So this nail has consistently held things that seem out of place, that only my heart really gets.

Almost 2 years ago, we moved a bunch of our stuff to a friend's attic so we could put our house on the market (again).  I put all of Rachel's stuff into a couple of big totes and even moved her hope chest out of here to make the house more spacious for showings.  I went back for her hope chest that year on her birthday - I couldn't stand not having it here.  But the other tote I left.  I actually forgot about it.  Until Eden came along.

In that tote, there was a big plastic bag with things I had for Rachel, most of which she didn't ever get to use.  The things she actually wore I had here, but I had a lot of clothes I never got to put on her...  and in that bag was *the* dress.

I sat here yesterday afternoon, looking through the bag, with Eden laying next to me... such a wide range of emotions.  I found the first outfit I planned to put Rachel in that my friend Harlee bought for her.  It was that day that she said "I guess purple will be her color!"  She bought it in October I think, and it had a bunny on it.  Odd timing for a bunny, but I didn't realize it until I pulled it out yesterday, just before Easter.  It is too small to fit Eden and never would have (and it was too small for Rachel, which is why she never wore it)... but then I found a little bunny blanket.  I had two of those - but I buried her with her lamb and kept the other lamb, so I didn't use these.  I gave one to Harlee for her daughter who was born just a couple weeks after Rachel and I kept the other.  As soon as I saw it, I knew it was going to be Eden's Easter gift from Rachel...
photo courtesy of Asa :)  and when I looked at the time stamp - 11:10  

I pulled out all of the clothes, hoping something would still be able to go on Eden, but most of it was up to 3 months and she is wearing 3-6 or 6 month clothes already.  I felt a little crazy as I laid out all the things I had for Rachel... all the things I had put into a tote that I was never going to be able to use, but couldn't get rid of.  And did I really think there was a chance I'd need that much for her??  I don't know....

But as I went through it, I realized that there were quite a few things with cupcakes on them.  Some were things my sister's friend Colleen gave me second hand, and one thing I bought.

I didn't remember that at all, but when I saw them, I realized someone else 'happened to be' sporting some cupcakes that day under her sleeper on the day I happened to go through these...
this was handed down from someone else!!
After over an hour of going through this stuff (including her scrapbook I started when I was pregnant with Asa and never touched again), I felt drained.  I guess I started to question what in the world am I doing holding onto these clothes that Rachel never wore, never would - and her siblings never would and they only take up space.  For what?  Why is everything so complicated?

And that's the feeling I was left with for the day - and the one that had me at a complete loss for how to write this post... it is that feeling that makes me question why I even still blog.  Is it possibly still helping anyone?  Does it help me?  Who is it for?  Does Rachel care?  Is my life now relevant to Rachel's Legacy?

So, as I sat there, holding Eden with the white screen in front of me, I got the urge to put her in the dress.  I had washed it earlier in the day.  I looked up at the clock and it was 10:27 ♥   For the next half hour, late in the night and alone with my 3rd little girl, I finally put a baby in *the* dress.  It's funny how I never noticed it had daisies on it until long after Rachel was gone, but it does.

She's either wondering why I'm taking pictures in the middle of the night or hoping I'm not taking her out of the house without pants - LOL

Not much of a 'dress' on this chubba wubba, but if I put some pants on under it, it will make a super cute shirt for a super cute little sister ♥

I got her back in her PJ's and nursed her to sleep...  I hate that I never had any of those late night, just me & her times with Rachel.  These are the most precious hours with my babies.  But after she went to sleep, I was having trouble sleeping.  I was thinking about the tag on the dress... it was a "Faded Glory" brand from Walmart.

Faded Glory... I wondered if the reason I stare at blank screens is because Rachel's Legacy is fading.  I wondered if maybe my words are hard to come by because I'm not the same writer with the same purpose, bringing the same glory to God.

I looked at the tag again and saw that the size said for up to 43cm.  I picked up the dress and looked at the tag inside the diaper cover. (I never realized this was a two piece, I always thought it was connected!)  It said "Rally Blue".  I don't know what made me look up the word "rally", but I did.  I looked in many different places because it has a few different meanings, but here are a few...

  • Use rally to describe that last push to finish a difficult something.  When you hit that last mile in the race and are so tired you want to quit, that's when you rally, finding strength to pick up the pace."
  • A marked recovery of strength or spirits during an illness
  • Return to a former condition
  • A quick or marked recovery after a period of weakness
  • To bring together again in order to keep fighting 
  • To rouse from depression or weakness 

 **Here I am again... another day has passed since I started this post.... I just can't get my thoughts out and it's kind of frustrating trying.  It's never been so hard for me to write before!  anyway....

We had missed our usual Good Friday visit with Rachel and so we went today.  We had to clear off some of her decor, per new cemetery rules... so we did that and we had a picnic there.  The kids played for a couple of hours and had a blast.  Me, Des & Eden went for a walk around the 'block' there together.  It was a nice afternoon together.

I tried to do our annual Good Friday photo, but boy is it hard to get a good photo with all these kids!  It's neat to see our family grow with each Good Friday shot though.

I also had Eden wear the dress...

♥ sisters ♥

I guess the reason I have such a hard time blogging these days is because I have a hard time making complete stories out of my thoughts.  And for days, this dress - and all that it meant in July 2010 through until today - has been on my mind constantly... trying to figure out what God is wanting me to hear.

I sat above the spot where my sweet Rachel's body lay, holding her little sister in her dress.  And I know that God is healing me though all these little earthly 'rallies'.  I do feel like this year, I hit a whole new bottom in my life - with all the changes that we've had in our home from Matt's job, to the kids going to school, to both of my grandfather's dying within 6 months of each other... Once again, I was brought to a place of brokenness that has led me to such sweet surrender.  A place where I needed my God more and where He revealed so much I needed to know about myself to become more like Him.

And here... just as things in all other areas of my life seem to be turning around... I found Rachel's clothes and the dress.  And it is the only thing of Rachel's that fits Eden when I did.  The one piece of clothing that continuously hurt that it remained empty... and today, it's not.

I do feel like I have been given a renewed strength and am ready to pick up the pace.  Except not in ways I would have expected.  Not in a Martha kind of way... but in a Mary kind of way.  God has put so many things on my heart for the days ahead.  Slow... relational...meaningful...purposeful days with my husband and the 6 children He has given me to watch over here on earth.  And this rally hasn't come as a result of Eden joining our family - but instead, I believe that God already knew I would be in this place when He sent her to be with me at this particular time in our lives.

He's so good.  I'm so thankful.  And I can't wait to celebrate Easter - and the truth that Jesus Christ conquered the grave!!  It's the greatest day in history...  It's the reason I'll see her again - and why I can trust Him with the details between now and then.

Thank You for the cross, my Lord.

Monday, March 14, 2016

I Go Without

For the first few years after Rachel died, I would lay down at night hoping that I wouldn't dream of her...

As a general rule, I was afraid to lay down at night because my mind had no distractions and would automatically land on Rachel - and usually I would cry.  I'm not sure why I feared crying at night so much... maybe because it feels lonely to cry in the dark....?   Maybe because things hurt more when there is nothing between your heart and the silence...?  I don't know, but I know others can probably relate.

I have had only one dream with Rachel in it since the scary dreams I had before we got her diagnosis.  It was in 2011 and I woke up feeling comforted, but a little sad.  You can read it HERE 

Still, I was afraid to dream of her.  I would ask God when I laid down to not let me dream of her because I was afraid it would either be scary or make me miss her more.  I am not usually one who tries to avoid feeling things - but this has been a consistent fear of mine - to dream of her and wake up hurting more than I already did.

Some time last year, I started to ask God to allow me to dream of her again.  I asked him specifically to let me meet her in my dreams.... I felt ready to feel what that might bring.  I was hoping He might give me a glimpse of her face... a moment of her laughter... a peek into her life...  I was hoping He might show me who she is in heaven... what she looks like... sounds like... I was hoping to feel like she wasn't dead... like she was a normal, healthy kid who never left me... like she'll be when I see her again.  I wasn't wanting my mind to bring me to Rachel in my sleep, but rather was hoping that God himself would hijack my dreams and show me her heavenly beauty.

Last Friday, I had a dream about Rachel.

This dream, though, was nothing that I had asked for... nothing I had longed for... nothing I have wanted to remember - and yet I can't get the thing out of my mind.  It's haunted me for the last 10 days.

In my dream, I told Matt I had some of Eden's clothes that I wanted to put on Rachel... so we went and dug her up.  In my dream, this was a totally normal thing to do.  We dug her up and put a board over her hole so that nobody would fall into it and then brought her home and put an outfit on her.  I'm not sure why the outfit was so specific, but it was a white sleeper that my Aunt bought for her that has little bikes, flowers, a girl and a puppy... and a touch of sparkle... but nothing pink or purple at all.  That surprises me since it's always the girly stuff that makes me wish I could have dressed her up...

I was sitting back in the hospital bed and Matt was holding her and held her up for me to see it.  I got disappointed and I said it was too small for her.  I said "She's grown since we buried her... we'll have to get a bigger size."  She looked just like Eden, but a little bigger.  We decided to keep her with us for the night so we could get her some bigger clothes.

Matt wanted to put her in Eden's sleep rocker... and this is part that bothers me.... I got grossed out.  I was like "I know she's Rachel, but she *has* been dead for 5 years and she is deteriorating and must have germs all over her."  Matt said "It'll be fine, I'll wipe her up." as he started to wipe her hands with baby wipes and her skin was coming off with the dirt.  I got really upset and said "You can't put her on that, I don't want her to get Eden sick.  Please... just go put her back in her grave.  I won't be able to sleep unless I know she is safely buried again and won't touch any of Eden's things"   He agreed and we went back to bury her again... But we couldn't find her grave.  In its place instead was my Grandpa's grave, but even that was hidden under this cement covering.   We went to a community building to try to find a shovel so we could dig her grave again and instead we found these large music makers - like the ones behind the rainbow on her Ark Playground.

And that is all I remember.  We dug up our dead baby, dressed her in clothes too small, wouldn't let her touch any of Eden's things, got to see my Grandpa's grave (hard one because he was supposed to be buried on the same family plot that Rachel is, but plans changed after he died so his grave there remains empty), I didn't hold her, I saw no life in her at all... and I woke up before I knew where her body was being kept.

Last night I was at JCPenny's and I saw the sleeper... and my heart skipped a beat.  I found myself staring at this outfit, touching it and trying to figure out why it made its way into my dream.  I hadn't even put it on Eden yet in real life.  I lifted it up and the shirt that comes with it says "I love kisses from Mommy."  My heart sank...

I have lots of thoughts on what pieces of this dream could mean... what they could be referring to... where the idea might have come from... what fears/regrets/sadness might have been floating around in my head to make the dream go the way it did... but mostly, it just makes me really sad.

The next night, I wanted to sleep with her blanket really bad - I looked over and Eden was sound asleep wrapped in it... and I had to go without.

And I guess that feeling right there is the overall memory from that dream... the feeling of her being gone... of all the things I long to see and asked of God in my dream because I long to know them... to know her... to hear, see, feel, love her... to kiss her again....

But I have to go without.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Amazon Smile Donations

You can support our non profit just by shopping on Amazon Smile.  They give a percentage of what you spend to Baby Rachel's Legacy when you pick it as your charity.

Here is a link if you are interested!