Endless Summer

I didn't post during the month of August. There was a sacredness to those days. A waiting, a longing for closure and as I counted down the days to my due date and the anticipation of celebrating Bobby's life I wrote a lot but wasn't ready to publish it for the watching world to read. The grief of those warm days of August has carried over to September and thoughts of "progress" have been thrown to the wayside. These are the days to grieve, to experience the emotions, to acknowledge the loss, and to trust that this process is going to help me move forward the rest of my days.  August and September have brought closure and reopened wounds, joy and sadness collided in one holy labor room when my best friend gave birth to AJ (the meaning of his name will be a post in and of itself because its a story I want people to hear). In so many ways, these milestones have thrown me back to the kind of grief I felt in those first two weeks. Where tears flow easily, where your life feels like its over, where sadness pierces your heart and the feeling that Bobby is missing is so acute. His best friend is here and he is not. The milestone days were always hard,  but now it feels like he should be here in the day to day of our lives and he's not.

On the outside I appear more functional, more social, more happy, but on the inside, I'm still that same Mom who was crushed that second week of April and in the quiet, alone moments when its me in my bed with Bobby's very empty blanket the tears come and the sadness can't be pushed away. As darkness fills my room and the clock turns to another day at midnight I'm awake thinking of him and imagining what life would have been like with a tiny baby in my arms this September. 

I poured myself a bowl of applesauce a few weeks ago. A normal enough thing to do at lunchtime, on that particular day it made me sad. Memories of being pregnant with Bobby flooded my mind as the first bite hit my palate. I craved it often and went through jars by the day. Call me silly, but I will never think of applesauce the same. Sadness often accompanies reminders, but it's a different thing to just be sad all the time. There are some days when the ache runs deeper into your body and your soul. The days where brushing your teeth takes an hour and getting your kid's diaper changed feels like an accomplishment that deserves a reward. Getting out of bed feels like you won an Olympic medal, but that's what we all do, everyday, right? And a shower, well, there are days between to wait for those. 

Giving birth to your stillborn son. Sucks.
Losing your Dad, a month later, on Mother's Day with no last goodbye. Double sucks.
Struggling with depression on top of it all. Triple sucks.

All of these things have changed me and are still changing me, every day. I will probably say it a thousand times, but its the truth: grief is a process. God made us all with senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. The way those function within grief is  a part of what changes you and exhausts you. Your body is on overdrive physically, emotionally, and spiritually at all times. 

The sight of a bare closet that was once filled with clothes.
The smell of Seth's homemade French fries that made me want to hurl every time he cooked them when I was pregnant.
The touch of an empty blanket, saved for a baby who was wrapped in it months too soon.
The taste of Wegmans sushi, mint M&M's, Starbucks vanilla chai and Annie's granola bars recall the memories of those first two weeks in bed and were almost all I ate. The sadness those weeks is incomprable.
The sound of songs that move me to tears, everytime, "take me deeper than my feet could ever wander" "on Christ the solid rock I stand, the Rock won't move" "though you take from me I will bless your name."

The list goes on. 

As I've said before, I'm not writing to illicit pity or cry "woe is me." I'm writing to share the forms grief takes in my life, it might look different for someone else. This is my personal journey, I'm opening up and sharing because if no one talks about it, it will only continue to feed the loneliness, isolation, and stigmas you feel when grief rocks your world. I'm writing so that people can be invited in to understand what this is like, so we can all love on the hurting better, not with judgement, not with expectation (you look great, shouldn't you be doing better by now?), but with the kind of compassion and mercy our Savior lived when he walked the earth.

We are all mere mortals. Grief will find us all in this fallen, broken world. We all will meet our maker and come to our end. That natural order isn't always followed and some perish tragically. Not a sparrow falls apart from the will of the Father and I'll never understand on this earth, but he has me here and he's given me the courage to give my feelings words and to share them. 

This recently showed up on my Pinterest feed and I had to laugh at the foolishness of it.

I texted my friends and said: "Yeah, I wish that was my life." I agree we shouldn't spend our whole lives riddled with worry about all the what if's of life. Yet there are times when those seemingly imaginative worries become your reality. That's the world I'm living in, in the here and now. The night before my ultrasound I told my best friend it would be a "relief to go in for my appointment to see him move." I didnt see him move. I saw a dead baby on the ultrasound screen and my life turned into a nightmare in an instant. Since then, "Janet, your baby isn't alive" has rung in my ears more times than I care to count. 

When the phone rang on Mother's Day evening, I assumed it was my Dad calling me to leave a late message wishing me happy Mother's Day. When I saw the call come in, I mentioned to a friend who was visiting, "I hope my dad is ok." Instead, it was my uncle trying get in touch to let me know my Dad had passed, somewhat suddenly. The things we worry about can become our reality and completely change our lives in an instant. It doesn't change who I believe God is, but it's the reality of this fallen world. Death has taken people from me I love dearly.  The aftermath is what has crushed me to the core and left me in the pit. Being crushed doesn't mean the God I believe in isn't there, it means in placing my trust in Him that He's tied himself to me and is with me. There isn't an answer in this life for the "why?" but our God is big enough to be asked. He cares about His children and wants us to come to Him. 

Psalm 23:4 promises that: "
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for YOU ARE WITH ME; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

Life has changed, I've changed, my grief has taken turns and the missing goes on. 

In these times, grief wins and right now that's good. It's needed. Grief was made to be gone through and not around. The other day I finally decide that the facade is gone: that if I needed to cry I was going to cry, even if it was the grocery aisle at wegmans or the drive thru at chick fil a. Knowing 
every tear is counted and not a sparrow falls apart from the will of our Father. Some day I'm gonna hear the number (probably something like 1,245,694) and everyone will be wiped away.

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