What I Wish I Could Tell Them…………

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I’ll never forget the moments when I found out that my children had died. In an instant the only world I had ever known was completely shattered. It immediately became dark…..as if I had been thrown ever so deeply in a hole that I couldn’t see a way out. My heart stopped beating….or at least it felt like it. It somehow kept going enough to keep my body alive, but everything else had disappeared with the words “we couldn’t save her.”

Over the past couple of weeks I have watched gracefully broken and incredibly brave Moms say goodbye to the most treasured pieces of themselves.

Three and a half years have gone by since my loss…. three and a half heart-breakingly, breath-takingly, painful and beautiful all at the same time years have passed since the moment I sat in their very shoes.

And I wish I could tell them…..

I wish I could tell them that the minute the news of their precious babies deaths hit my ears, that as a Mama who has been there… I immediately felt their pain, their desperateness, and the newly formed holes in their hearts. That I thought of them constantly, prayed for them greatly, and felt the need to want to protect “one of our own”  from the heartaches ahead.

I wish I could tell them that they are so incredibly loved.  Not only by so many that they do not even know,  but also by a God who does.

I wish I could tell them that God, the very one I doubted to exist…the one that I screamed at and questioned over and over again, the God that chose to not breathe life back into my baby girl… revealed Himself in my pain in ways I could never have imagined.

I wish I could tell them that clinging to the very God and the hope that comes with him was the only thing that gave me strength even when friends and family didn’t understand.

I wish I could tell them that they’ve showed incredible strength. That although they feel numb, weak, and barely alive….that I have watched them in awe as they have battled on through.

I wish I could tell them that this immense pain that they are feeling, the pain that consumes every inch of their entire being will fade, not today, and certainly not tomorrow but as the moments , days, and “firsts without” go by…. the rawness of it all will soften and that waking up each day will get easier.

I wish I could tell them that the guilt can consume every single inch of you if you let it. That no matter the loss, or no matter the cause, we as mothers have the incredible urge to blame ourselves. That the most freeing thing I had ever been told was that it wasn’t my fault. That it isn’t their fault, but that horrible awful and incomprehensible things happen to good people.

I wish I could tell them that they’ll one day receive the answer. The answer to the question we all want to know. The whys…the why me. Except they won’t. That as infuriating, and frustrating, and painful that it is…… healing won’t come from the answer anyways.

I wish I could tell them that their precious children will never be forgotten. That although one of the biggest fears for us Mamas is that as time passes and our childrens names get spoken less and less, that not a day goes by that they wont think of them and whisper their sweet names from their lips.

I wish I could tell them that it is true. That a piece of their heart will forever be missing. That they’ll miss their precious children terribly, that they will at times desperately want nothing more but a chance to have a moment with them …but that each moment they keep going is one moment closer to seeing them again.

I wish I could tell them that their grieving hearts does not come with an expiry date. That they will be told that they should be beginning to heal, that as others lives begin to return to “normal” so should their own. That they will question and be questioned on the soul crushing grief that seems to be never ending. That their grief has no limits….because neither did their love.

I wish I could tell them that life does go on. That its the hardest part. That people vanish, that activities resume. That although this world has not stopped spinning, I know theirs did and has completely changed its orbit. That their lives will never be the same but eventually they will be able to start again.

I wish I could tell them that they will laugh again someday. Not the one they will force out of themselves to mask the silence in the days and weeks to come, but a real laugh that reminds them that joy does still exist in this unfathomable world.

Most importantly, I wish I could tell them that there is HOPE. That although there is absolutely no way that they are able to comprehend or even imagine that there is anything outside of this pain in this very moment….. that this Mama…the one who sat in the very same seats at the front of the very same church and said goodbye to my own little girl, the one who doubted the same God, the one who couldn’t see it myself…. has experienced a hope, a joy, and a healing that I never thought would be possible again in this lifetime.

I wish I could tell them that its the beginning of a life long, some times painful, other times beautiful, life altering journey that only they will be able to understand as the days, months, and years go by.

In their own grief.

Immersed in love.

Surround by Hope.

In His time.

A time when their heart begins to truly beat life again, when there is but a glimmer of light in the seemingly forever darkness, and when their hopelessness is restored to hope-filled once again. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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……Because it all Leads Back To Hope.

” I will praise the one whos chosen me to carry YOU.” ~Selah

 

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Dear Sweet Mama,

      It’s almost Christmas and I can feel your heart tugging in a million different directions. I can feel it because mine to, is doing the same.

     December has a way of bringing out the hustle and bustle, the financial struggles, and the family stresses….and with it comes the emotions of it all. You feel them a little stronger and harder as family is placed at the forefront and it reminds you over and over again of the  someone who’s missing.

      Every year I prepare for the emotions…the reminders….the memories. As I dig out the Santa bags with children’s names whom will never be filled. As I hang stockings for five when there should be seven, and the Christmas pictures that will never be complete.

      I feel your confusion as you wonder how to sign that Christmas card or gift tag. I know your desire to write your precious child’s name down with the rest of your family’s, but your weariness of making someone else feel uncomfortable.

      I know because no matter the time. Whether your first Christmas or your twenty-fifth, that child will never be forgotten. I know because a piece of your heart is eternally missing where they implanted themselves the moment you laid eyes on them or found out they were coming.

   Last night I was wrapping presents with tear filled eyes. I was stressing about cookies that still needed to be decorated, the strained relationships that I did not have the ability to fix, and the list that seemed to be getting bigger instead of smaller.

   I was hurting, I was missing my “what should have beens” and longing for my “what could have beens.” As the emotions began to build I felt myself getting angrier and the feelings of hopelessness set in when in what seemed like an instant I was reminded of the most simplest, yet most complex point of it all.

Jesus is HOPE.

Christmas is where HOPE began.

…..and that very HOPE remains constant.

   So as we go into the coming week. When we are consumed with the pain, emotions, and memories of our empty arms and broken hearts be reminded of such HOPE.

    Be reminded of a tiny precious baby who was also born to a proud, faithful, loving mother whom held her baby with no clue that he would die years later. A mother whom God loved yet had bigger plans that she could not see. A mother who watched hopelessly as her son took his last breath.

….and most importantly that beautiful baby who was born to die.

A baby who gave us the HOPE of seeing our sweet little ones again.

The same God who chose us to carry our precious children.

So in the business, and the emotions of this week,

Be still. Remember. HOPE.

 

Merry Christmas Mama,

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When He CAN…..But He Doesn’t.


“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8:28 “

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I remember the breath-takingly surreal moment I found myself desperately waiting in the small room in back of the Outpatient Department. The nurse in me was anticipating the moment the emotionally and physically drained doctor would come in and tell me that my baby girl was gone. After all, it had been too long. Far past the appropriate amount of time we give someone in a code. A code? My baby was being resuscitated in this very moment? How in the world did we get from  a nursing, smiling, sleepy baby… to this?

But the Mama in me…..the God believing part of me begged Him to save her, pleaded with Him to show my church family in the waiting room…. that He was bigger than all of this. That if only He would perform this miracle, He would enable the physicians, the nurses, the staff involved to see just how mighty He was.

I tried to reason with Him in my final moments before the words of my new reality would be spoken. In my last desperate attempt I told Him that He could use this moment to change lives. That He could perform a miracle that would be talked about throughout this community….one that would ultimately lead people to Him.

Then moments later It happened.

…..and as the physician entered I immediately began to scream no. No to what he was going to say. No to God because this was not in the plan. No because this was not happening, not my life, not my story. I refused it to be. The doctor did manage to say the words. That all attempts of resuscitation had been unsuccessful. But I had already knew that part. I knew that part when twenty minutes had gone by and there were still no more signs of life than when she had left my home. I knew that when one of my co workers who had checked in gave me the look to get prepared for what was next.

My faith had never been in the science.

My faith has been in God, but with the stipulation that He was going to go along with my plan. The miracle. The saving her part. The breathing life back in to my breathless  baby ending.

Yet there we were. Small baby girl in my arms, proof of the attempts to save her still stuck in to her body. A white fleece hospital blanket and tear filled kisses that could not cover up the fact that time was causing her to become colder and colder.

Surrounded my friends and family and questions and whys?

Encapsulated by a God bigger than it all.

He could have saved her.

He could have changed the outcome of my story that early July morning.

He could have performed a miracle,

……but He didn’t.

Or so I thought.

Audrey’s survival wasn’t my story changer.

Her death was.

As painful as it was, it was our family’s survival that became the miracle.

The never ending prayers for healing from our amazing church family, My pastors gracious ability to love like Jesus, and every single day thereafter He gave me to go on.

The community watched as we wept, trusted, and healed. They became enveloped in our story…..in Gods strength and watched closely and questionably as He carried us through.

Audrey’s death ultimately led people to God.

All things I begged Him for that morning.

All outcomes I prayed would come from my baby girls life.

Assumingly unanswered prayers; answered.

His way…..not mine.

Still a miracle….just one that took longer to see.

He’s here. In all of it. Working behind the scenes. Healing,transforming, preparing, saving, carrying…..

Writing your story.

A story that may be unlike anything you would have written.

…..but with an ending that is ever so beautiful.

Because ultimately its not the miracle we really want……….it is the God that makes it all possible.

 

 

 

When From Death Comes Beauty.

 

 

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. ~Ecclesiatstes”

 

Audrey’s viewing day.

I remember getting ready as it was yesterday.

The black dress. The gold earrings. The mascara that would run down my face before I could even fully apply it.

The emotions. All of them. The desperation, the despair, the torture, the anger, and the inability to accept.

Most prominently I remember the feeling of wanting to see my beautiful baby girl again, but came with it, the sickening fear that seeing her would indefinitely show the proof that death had consumed her fragile tiny twelve pound body.

I feared she wouldn’t look the same. That death had taken her for too long. That the sweet baby that lay cold in a wooden white box would trick my mind into believing that there was just no way that it could be the pink chubby-cheeked one who filled my arms only days before.

I arrived to the front doors of the church and anger filled my every being as I questioned God for the ten thousandth time. Why? How could you? Why me? Why now? Why her?

All questions I have still never received the answers to.

the purple tutu

 I remember looking to the front of my church, the box sat out just steps away from the staging where my pastor spoke Gods greatness into my very ears just a week and a half before. Where he spoke Gods greatness into my church families ears the Sunday morning I held my lifeless baby in a hospital room only days prior.

 

To tell you the truth He didn’t feel too great to me right now.

To be completely honest I felt He was mocking me as my beautiful baby girl lay still in a casket to be seen for the last time.

I refused to accept that ANYTING even remotely good could come from this.

That if my daughters death had anything to do with glorifying him there was absolutely positivity no way that I was going to be okay with that.

Maybe because a part of me felt like I was being punished for something….that I had failed terribly.

Perhaps a piece of me was convincing myself that if I had have done things differently or had listened to Him better, sooner that I wouldn’t have been standing bare footed at the alter holding her hand and counting fingers for the last time…..

That if I acknowledged that anything good could come from her death that I was somehow approving of it happening.

I don’t know.

But I do know one thing.

My precious Audrey was beautiful even in her death.

That Gods love intensified in that over flown room filled with friends, our community, and my church family who loved me unconditionally and without judgement.

Her death was not great.

But my God still was.

That death did not consume her.

But God did.

The same God who formed Audrey in my womb, who calmed me during my pregnancy, whom rejoiced with us in her birth, and who wept with me at the alter………still was.

Two years later I can confidently say that whether I refused or not, Audreys death has glorified God.

That Gods greatness shone even in her death.

She has impacted more lives then I could have ever imagined, and she was surely an amazing piece of my story that belonged to Him no matter how badly I selfishly want her.

For some reason I was chosen to walk this journey. A journey that has introduced me to opportunities and women who have added a substance to my life I never knew could exist.

Her death led me to a God that defeats it.

That very God led me to a beauty that her death….that this world, had been blinding me from.

So this month of October I remember her.

I remember my other sweet girl Alexis.

I acknowledge that I am 1 in 4.

That I am one face in the many of mama’s who walk this very same road as me.

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In Alexis’s death I became a Hope Mom.

In Audrey’s death I became fully His.

Because of that I can look at my baby girl and see Gods presence.

I can look at her and not see death, but life.

….and that right there…in Him……is where beauty can always be found.

 

 

 

 

 

Because I Could Never Be Fatherless.

 

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“Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” ~Psalm 73:23-26

    It was Monday morning and my day was already up to not the best start. My oldest child had missed the bus, my middle one had been crying for ten minutes over wanting to wear her flip flops to school and the baby…well, need I say more.

   I packed some very unimpressive but quick lunches and loaded up the car with everyone and everything I needed for the day….a normal everyday occurrence in our household….but little did I know in a mere hour this Monday morning was going to be one that I would never forget.

   A few drop offs later and I had finally arrived at work just seconds before my scheduled time. I smiled as I seen a co-worker arriving the same time as me and was steps away from her when my phone begin to ring.

I pressed answer and shear screams pierced my ears.

“Dad’s dead”

“Dad died”

…..and in two words, in seven simple stomach turning letters… the world as I knew it had changed.

     The missed busses, the wrong pair of shoes, the cars that had drove to slow in front of me while not so nice thoughts filled my  mind. None of those things mattered. If anything I had wished they did. That I could just go back to my Monday morning being defined by the mundane everyday things that went wrong.

But it couldn’t.

Because in that moment.

   On that overcast, overly cranky morning of September twenty-sixth….in a cold wet parking lot…….

I became fatherless.

Or so I thought.

   See, I sat on my Fathers bed that morning and desperately clenched my Dads cold hard working hands, I studied them and traced each wrinkle and line with my fingertips, and I sat hopelessly in his death.

This time there was nothing to pray for…..it was too late.

The evidence lay still and breathless beside me.

Oh how I missed him already.

    Anger filled my every being as I began to ask the very God I needed so desperately the why questions I knew I would never get the answer to. I didn’t want to need him. I didn’t want to want him. In fact, I demanded him to restart this day over and breathe my Dads life right back in to him.

    But as I watched my Dads earthly home be carried out in a black bag and placed in the back of the coroners car, I was too desperate…too angry…..too immersed in the sudden grief, that I missed that my Dads life had already been restored and that the very life I had demanded had already been breathed back in to him.

Not because I had asked.

But because he did.

    So this morning as I awoke to the aftermath of the storm. As I laid in bed staring out at the beauty of the world in front of me, and as thoughts of memories of a man who truly loved like Jesus filled my mind.

   I was reminded that although my Dad is not here, he is alive. That even though I can not see him, his eyes are on the one that matters most, and I am so very thankful for the moments this past week where he has shown me small glimpses of Heaven.  Whether in the sighting of a butterfly or in the power of Gods word.

    I will forever think of the missed opportunities with my father. The words that weren’t spoken, the times I got distracted and didn’t take the call, or the last hug I gave without saying goodbye. All the chances I may have missed.

See my Daddy didn’t miss his.

But my Dads death showed me just how quickly we could.

    Because in an instant. In a single heartbeat, the every days of this world could be taken. The houses, the cars, the dance recitals, and the very people that filled them.

Me.

You.

And all that will be left is a Father that would have never left us Fatherless…..

……and the missed opportunity to make that so.

So today I sit saddened, still angry, but ever so confident in the truth that I may have lost my father, but luckily for me I am not left without.

…..and it his Him that will carry me through the coming days…weeks…months. It is because of Him that I will never be…

……..Fatherless.

How about you?

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To a New Hope Mom….because I’ve been there.

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Dear Sweet New Hope Mama,

 

Today you woke up to find evidence that your body had failed you tinged red on a piece of paper, today you walked in to the Dr’s office only to find the sweet sound of life had silenced within you.

Maybe today you laid that precious baby of yours down to sleep only to return and discover they had left your arms for His….or maybe tragedy struck and that beautiful, energetic, and full of life child was taken in an instant.

No matter the way…we all end up here.

In the very place you are right now.

In the gut wrenching, life changing, seemingly never-ending moment of complete brokenness.

I can’t describe it.

……because there are no words.

There never will be.

I would like to tell you that I am walking, talking  proof of survival…that I made it through to the other side.

….but I’d by lying.

Because there isn’t one.

I am just a little further ahead of you. Pondering the same unanswerable questions…the whys, the how comes, and the no fairs of this world.

I am but a mere figure of yourself in the years to come. Who can smile. Who has learned to laugh again, but who is attempting to navigate that same fine line between my old life….and my new….between my broken dreams and my ever so present reality.

Right now you are scared and angry.

You want to know the whys.

The why you? The why me? The why now’s?

Me too.

Truth is you sometimes never get that answer.

That one that you feel if you could just know…..if you could just figure out…then somehow, just some way it would be easier to accept.

But it wouldn’t.

Right now guilt is flooding in to every single vulnerable, grief stricken crevice of your being.

Your blaming that last workout, that missed kick count, or that one second you turned your head the wrong way.

Your beating yourself up over and over and over again as you continually contemplate the what ifs and the if I’s.

You replay the different scenarios repeatedly in your head as you try so desperately to turn back time.

But you can’t.

Because death is ever so present.

…..and as you lay in bed feeling the empty place where the precious life you created once was or as you sit in a cold, stark hospital room with your lifeless child in your arms….. it will never be more real than it is right now.

and you feel alone and isolated…and like no one understands.

Your heart lies in a million pieces in front of you and there is no one you feel that can help pick them  back up…..and no way it could be put back together the same way even  if they could.

Because it couldn’t.

You miss that beautiful baby already…and you break all over as you count those ten fingers and ten toes for the last time.

You aren’t ready to say goodbye and your desperate for just a few more minutes to prepare..

But you never will be.

Because no amount of time will ever be enough.

I hear your desperate cries and wails as you once again realize what is happening, because they are but an echo of my very own. They travel through me and I can feel every bit of your broken heart as mine shatters all over again.

Because you see…

We may have never met.

But we are bonded you and me.

Forever forced out of fear and our comfort zones and in to the very grief that the world tries so hard to ignore.

You are not alone.

There are so many of us on this same journey….more than you could ever imagine.

…and you’ll find us.

…….When your ready.

One day, in what seems a gazillion moments from now you will wake up to find that your smiles out number your cries. That the good days out weigh the bad, and you have traveled farther than you ever could have imagined.

But right now that seems impossible.

…and that’s okay.

Because right now..in this very moment.

I’ll sit with you in silence.

I will smile as you talk about the way that sweet baby would laugh as you blew raspberries on that now still tummy.

I will giggle as you describe the funny face he used to make when he tasted bananas for the first time.

….and I will cry with you as reality hits a million time in between.

Because I’ve been there.

Because this is not your fault.

………and right now…….

That’s the only words from me you need to hear.

 

Love,

A once too was hopeless, but now ever hopeful Hope Mom.

 

 

 

 

 

To The Woman With The Footprint Tattoo…..

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I seen you standing there.

Close enough to watch your children,

…..but far enough away from the rest of the world.

You were grumpy…..distant.

    I sat on the bench while our children’s attentions turned from the playhouse, to the swings, to the sandbox.

     I may have been the first to judge……to wonder what could have been so wrong for you to be present, but not be really there. How you could give such sharp remarks to your children so publicly, or how you could not care that all eyes were on you as you shouted across the playground.

   I was jealous in some ways. That you could be so real. I felt like I could sense there was something…….

Then I seen it.

   You turned around for just a moment and there on your back, a little to the left…were two teeny tiny footprints and two dates.

    Two dates that did indeed signify a birth, but it was the second that caused my stomach to scrunch up tightly in my body. The date that your precious little one took their last breath. The year of 2016.

…and I got it.

You weren’t here yet.

You couldn’t be.

I knew.

Because I had a hidden mark on my inner wrist that said the same thing.

Because I had been there only a couple years prior.

   I knew you didn’t want to be there….neither had I. That inside it killed you to place your completely broken self right in the middle of a populated play area where you struggled between feelings of guilt and whether anyone knew you were even broken at all.

    I got that your quick snaps were not of anger, but of survival. That it was easier to yell then as to physically move your body. That just being there was exhausting enough when your newly emerged in grief self could barely find the strength to get out of bed each morning.

   I knew that you missed your sweet baby. That as you watched your girls play in the sandbox your thoughts were reminding you that there should have been another hand with a shovel….that as you watched my baby eating tiny handfuls of sand you envied me because you wanted yours…that as you tried so hard to take a picture that in your mind it was and would always now be incomplete because someone was missing.

    Truth was, you were branded by death long before that tattoo. I could tell from your movements…from the “dead” look in your eyes. You were branded the moment your precious baby took their last breath on this earth. So was I.

   All we ever exchanged was a half smile while we rounded up our sandy children from the swings and slides.

But I knew you.

   I wish I could have told you I had been there. That I was still there just a little further ahead on the road. I didn’t need to know your name to know that your heart was broken in to more pieces than you could ever imagine. That your entire world had been shaken to the core. I didn’t need to have a  conversation with you to understand that you were in the middle of a storm that seems like it will never end.

……because it doesn’t.

Not really.

It gets “easier”, it fades and clears off at times…..but its always there lurking ready to show its self at the most random of moments.

You are going to get it through it.

If you can just hold on, next year you may just be sitting next to me on that bench.

   Able to smile at those precious life savers of yours playing next to you….maybe even to help build a sandcastle. Maybe even ready to speak to the Mama next to you.

   Until then I will remember you…..remember the brief encounter that placed my feet back on to the ground and allowed me to feel those raw, first year feelings.

Until then….you will remain in my prayers.

   You and those small set of footprints that changed this Mamas heart more than you will ever know.

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