“When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person that walked in. Thats what the storm is all about.” – Haruki Murakami
It’s 5:43 am. At this very moment last year I was waking up to every Mothers worst nightmare. Exactly three hundred and sixty five days ago my eyes opened to my beautiful, loved, and desperately wanted daughter lying lifeless beside me. The lifeless look on her face and the way her limp body slouched between my hands as I picked her up from the bed will continue to haunt me not only this year but for the years to come. Years from now I will remember the smell of embalming fluid that had replaced her purple baby lotion when I kissed her perfect tiny lips for the last time.
In a few hours from now I sat in a cold hospital chair in mismatched pajamas, covered in the milk she would never drink again, and held Audrey for the last time….wondering how in the world I was going to get through the next second let alone the next year. Having to physically remind myself to inhale and exhale because it hurt too much. Today..twelve months later,
It’s easier to laugh.
It’s easier to breathe.
But it is not easier missing her.
Truth is…in some ways it feels like just yesterday when I held her, but then other days it feels like a forever ago. I panic about tomorrow. I panic about not being able to say she was just here a year ago…that we were just here a year ago. Surpassing this year is the hard honest truth that the world is continuing to revolve without my precious baby girl…..that the world does not stop even if yours has come crashing down. Leaving you with no choice but to keep going forward.
Sometimes I get caught up trying to get back to life before….finding myself discouraged when I am unable to reach it. Forgetting that my life is never going to be the same again because my life on this earth is never going to contain Audrey again. Life became busy when she joined our household and I was suddenly out handed with the three girls. The emptiness in our house arriving home from the hospital a year ago tonight, without a baby to no longer juggle in my arms as I bathed kids and made school lunches seemed cruel, and unfair…..but through that I learned something.
Audreys death taught me that life is unfair at times but that I have been angry at the wrong person. That I could easily spend the rest of my life asking “why me?”, “why us?”, and “why now?” …or I could put my faith in someone who already has the answers. That the very person I have spent years wrestling with was the person who has been trying to protect me all along. That I was never promised a pain free life on earth, but was offered a pain free life in Heaven. Audreys death left me desperately searching for a God I may have never left my comfortable bubble to find. A god that has given me a peace that truly does surpass all understanding.
Her life taught me how precious each moment with your children are, and her death showed me how quickly those opportunities are gone. Her death shook my marriage to the core and made even the biggest of our issues that we had before seem trivial. She showed me that my family is precious and worth fighting for.
To attempt to put all the gifts given, and lessons learned from Audreys life and death into one post seems impossible. It’s impossible because I will forever be receiving them….learning from them. My journey doesn’t end today, it continues on. Her death has brought so many opportunities of healing for others. Through real tears cried, and vulnerable broken hearts poured out…true friendships have been made. Nothing but pure joy has been felt each time I have been stopped because someone has read or heard about my sweet girl…even now she continues to create beauty from her ashes.
Audrey has caused me to be a different person than before….but I am a better one for knowing her and a stronger one from losing her. Loving on her for two and a half months was better than never at all. Scared that her death was going to cause me to become afraid of getting too close or loving too much, it has instead caused me to love deeper…harder. It has showed me the insignificance of a messy home, but the overwhelming need for a loving one. That time is better than things, and to fit in as many extra hugs, prayers, and kisses as possible. My love for her will forever live on in the remainder of my children.
Years from now I have no idea where I will be. I have no idea what other trials and hard times will come my way….but I do know that I will be ready for them. I will be ready because Audrey led me to a God that thought I was worth waiting for. She led me to a God that loves me no matter what. She led me to a God that didn’t let me walk through this year alone….that won’t let me walk the years ahead alone.
When my time comes, and I am surrounded by my children while I leave this world. I take comfort in the fact that because of Audrey…that because of the God she led me to..the one that is missing from around my bedside…will be waiting for me with arms open wide.
I thank her for that.
Until then I will continue to feel her where the waves meet the sand.
A year ago today my worst fear in life happened yet again. Not once…but twice the absolutely worst thing that could happen in a Dads life (or anyone for that matter) happened again. I should have been the one that keeps his wife and children safe from harm, but this I had no control over. No matter what I tried to do for her that morning it just wasn’t enough. It was out of my hands. That morning left our familys protector helpless. It kills me that I couldn’t save her.
In the days that followed this morning only a year ago, I could not help but think “What God?” That a God that would allow something like this happen to a family who had already endured so many trials already could not exist. It was when I began to see people in our church and community step up and care for people like us that they didn’t even know in various ways that I began to see a clearer picture. Ways such as paying for our previous pastor to travel from another province to speak at her funeral, provided meals, and we even had offers to pay for our daughter funeral. People that we didn’t know, people that didn’t know us, people that wanted nothing in return. I knew that these things were not “just” happening and there had to be more to it. I knew it had to be because of something far greater than us. My opinion of a God changed the day of her funeral when I found a sense of comfort knowing she was really with the Lord. I could just feel it. I knew it.
Through Audreys passing I have had my life opened in a way that I may have never had opened otherwise. I am thankful that I no longer need an answer for everything and that I just need to keep having faith and trusting him. That at times when It feels dark and its hard to go on I can remember that ” God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.- 1 John 1:5″
I am slowly being able to find peace with the situation by knowing that Audrey really is with him. In the past few days leading up to Audreys death I have been brought to the verse in 2 Peter 3:8 that has been the most comfort to me yet. It says, ” But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” To me this means that by the time I pass not even one day has gone by for her. That even though I miss her, she is still enjoying her very first day in Heaven. That my arms are empty but she is still being welcomed with opened ones. I cannot bear to wait so long to see her but I know she is in the best hands she could be in. Hands that are better than mine.
I thank him for that.