This is a humbling darkness to share, but I wouldn't be honest if I said that these struggles weren't a part of my journey. My goal in writing is to share my grief in the present tense. I've talked a lot about darkness and not a lot about specifics. I wanted to write this post to illustrate what the darkness is and the many forms it can take in the life of a believer who is grieving. 2014 will most likely will be, the hardest year of my life. We've tasted death far too much. Mama Bear passed after a heroic battle with cancer, losing my son, one of my best friend's miscarrying her baby, then my Dad dying on Mothers Day. This past week, the incredible woman who gave us Bobby's plot and told us it "would be an honor to be laid to rest next to our son", passed away, far too soon and suddenly. Her death completely leveled me. Death stings like a son of a bitch and it cuts deep. There's no sense to made of it all. As much as I hate that these things I share have been a struggle, I still believe in a faithful God who redeems and who never left me in the midst of a grief that often left me questioning the very faith I professed for most of my life.
Thoughts like these filled my mind on a daily basis:
"The girls would be better off in full time day care. I just can't do this Mom thing."
"I never want to get out of bed again."
"If I could just be alone and take a break from life I can finally grieve the way I need to."
"I wish I could just get through the day without feeling like I need someone to hold my hand."
I still believe in the hope of heaven, that it's the place where all our sorrows will be redeemed, but I got lost in the sadness and grief and couldn't see what I had here. Experiencing Bobby's death was twofold in a way, his earthly life was lost and a part of myself died with him when I left the hospital with empty arms. I didn't know how to go on. I was the extrovert turned introvert, the social turned recluse, the happy turned sorrowful, the functional turned dependent. "Normal" tasks felt like insurmountable challenges. The darkness was dark and the pit was deep. A mother was never made to bury her child, that was never part of God's good design for this life. Yet there I was, on that rainy Monday leaving the ultrasound office with a picture of my boy turned facedown while my world was being turned upside down. During that week, God showed his love for us and Bobby in profound ways. The biggest, being one of the most perfect and peaceful resting places, that was generously given to us by a cemetery counselor turned friend. God carried us when I couldn't see and in the countless moments when my "heart and my flesh may have failed." Going in to that week and coming out on the other side with the burial of my boy on that serenely perfect Saturday changed me.
Six months later, God is still redeeming that week and still pulling me out of the pit. That profound moment sitting on the crinkly white paper in a doctors office was when God came to me and showed me he has more for me here. More work to do. A legacy to live on behalf of my boy. Two daughters to raise to love Jesus and their brother. A husband to stand by and choose again and again even when our grief leads us down different paths.
I wouldn't call that day a totally snap out of it magical revelation, but the influence it had on my head and my heart was certainly profound. This past week, I finally stopped and made time to sit down and talk with my oldest, Audrey. Just about life and princesses and art and tornadoes (her recent weather related fixation) and we had a beautiful conversation. As I walked out of her room and said goodnight I realized what I had missed. The ordinary. The connection. The engaging moments of daily life. I realized she had grown up these past six months and she had changed too. I'm looking for those opportunities now. Even today, Audrey and I got to enjoy the sweetest date time, driving down the highway one of my "Bobby songs" came on shuffle, the light shone so bright and I missed him, deeply. Yet in that very same moment of missing, I was also taking in the endless chatter in the back seat from my girl who had so many stories to tell and things she wanted to talk about. I realized I could have both. I can remember my boy and enjoy my girl.
It's humbling, I can't recall many memories from the past 180 days, other than my children were clothed and fed. There are entire days that I've forgotten and erased from my memory. Days that I've been told by friends that "they've never seen me so bad" and I wouldn't know where to start to tell you why or what even triggered the downward spiral. When you're living a nightmare I guess it makes sense. You want to forget. You want to wake up and all will be made right. In that grief driven, depressed, dream like state of mere daily survival, I missed a lot. I don't have to let my guilt, sadness, and grief drown me, because my Savior lived and died to conquer sin and death.
Randy Alcorn shares this most beautiful picture of that day when our losses will be redeemed:
I like to imagine that heaven will begin where we all left off with Bobby. A 21 week little belly and the promise of a pain free labor. No post partum complications. Breastfeeding with ease. Sleepless nights won't feel sleepless with a newborn. Watching him grow and experiencing those early days of life with Bobby in its fullness as a family. Every milestone experieced: the perfect smell of newborn skin, first smile, first laugh, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, first solids, first kiss, first hug, first I love you and the list goes on for days. I have to agree with Alcorn that "it would be just like our God to perhaps do that."
I don't have to hurry up to get there or miss what I have here. His promises are sure "that he will wipe every tear from our eyes and death shall be no more." There's more for me here. I don't know why God made Bobby and took him back, but I do know it is just like our God to redeem. So I can say no to guilt, and hold my head high with the strength He provides, and live the rest of my ordained days to their fullness.