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 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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From God-Fearing to God – Loving; life lessons from the front porch.

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“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. ~ Proverbs 31:25”

   I looked down at my weathered garden and couldn’t help but feel I resembled the wilted weeds waiting desperately for that drink of water that would provided them with the energy needed to grow strong. 

  I was tired….and after a long week of wrestling with thoughts and fears of God’s fairness in my life as it seemed to continuously be up-heaved, I couldn’t help but feel the wretch in my stomach with each turn of the hand tiller.

   Abi sat quietly on the front porch watching as every weed root was ripped through the soil and finally broke the silence with expressing her excitement for the Science Olympics that following day. She ended with telling me that her team was going to win because she believed in God.

    I have to admit I had only been half listening. After all I was not only attempting to get the front gardens going, but I was also fighting my own internal battle and while getting ready to give her that one worded, not really listening “ya” I suddenly processed what she had just said.

    For some reason I couldn’t get what she had said out of mind and I could do noting else but to put everything down and sit my God-fearing self right next to that God-loving little girl. We spent an hour talking about God, faith, and that believing in him did not give us a free ticket. That sometimes winning just isn’t in his plan…and what she thought about what I had just said.

She looked at me and said that it wasn’t fair.

…..and believe me I got it.

   Fair has not been a word that I had used to describe God in my lifetime. Knowing he never promised fairness has been something I have feared my whole life.

    Fairness was not something I felt as I laid on a stretcher at 3am when I was told my unborn babe had no heartbeat. 

    Fairness was not the choice of wording I would use to describe the moment I kissed my sweet baby girls cold lips for the last time, or as I watched my husband sign a tear stained piece of paper that would turn our chubby cheeked, twelve pound baby into a mere pile of grey ash.

  As I sat there I began to fear the obstacles that Abigail would have to face in her lifetime. The times in her life that she would be shaken to the core and cause her to questions Gods faithfulness in her life. When I heard the words “This is so much more than you.”

    Fearing God has been something that I had become very good at. Worrying that every angry outburst, mess up, or mischievous thought would end up with a get back at me. Being afraid that every good thing would end up bad. Missing the blessing because I was to consumed with worrying about what would come after..later.

As my nine year old little girl got up so nonchalantly, shrugged her shoulders and said “oh well, God loves me anyways” and ran off in to the back yard I realized that this moment on the porch was  less about some science olympics and so much more about my God-Fearing self. 

   I had been brought some clarity that my blurry eyes has been trying to see.  My fear from God my whole life has not only kept me from enjoying his blessings to the fullest, but from loving him wholly. Loving him in fear was not loving him in truth and yet he loved me anyways. He is not the one to be feared.

   What a freeing feeling to finally get that I do not need to fear Him. That I can let that go and take that burden off of my shoulders because my life is so much bigger than me and he will help me carry it. 

   That whether through the unfairness of death, divorce, illness, and financial struggles God is still here to help us through. To show us the goodness in the cracks of our everyday lives.

   So this morning as I sit back down on that front porch where this God Fearing woman was set free, I am excited to open my eyes and heart to soak up the blessings in the here and now and to go through this day not fearing my mess ups or let downs.

Because after all.

Out of the mouth of a nine year old little girl.

He loves me anyways!

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Dreams, Dolls, Death & Daughters.

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“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” ~ Psalm61:2

    When I was young I dreamed about having a family of my own.

     Like any little girl, I spent hours wondering what my husband would like, and what my children  names would be as I dressed plastic dolls in lace dresses and carried them around so (un)carefully in my arms. 

    Those young days playing dolls, stuffing my shirts for pregnant tummys, and watching mothers push strollers around the park are what shaped my idea of what a mommy was. 

Cute. Fun. Perfect.

    All words I would have used to describe motherhood back then. Naively unaware of the sleepless nights, illness, and dangers of this world that comes along with the job title. 

   Years later as I sat in a pink hospital chair while breathless hours turned my perfectly pink, chubby, and bright brown eyed little girl into a cold, blue, expressionless being my mind was unable to grasp the reality of what being a mother now truly meant.

 After all I had failed at my biggest job of what being a mom entailed,… keeping my child healthy and alive.

    My sweet little childhood dreams had turned into a complete nightmare in the matter of a mere moment and It broke me so completely that I now felt unprepared for life…motherhood……or even my next breath.

     In all those years of playing, never once can I recall playing mommy to the dead. Not one time do I remember pretending to breathe life into the breathless, or bury my sweet cherished newly gifted doll in to the hard cold ground to never see again.

Because to the world it is “unnatural”…regardless of the one in four women who are faced with this reality every single day.

     This morning as I watched my four year old stuff her pj’s with a furry pink unicorn…..as I saw her face light up as she looked down at her swollen little belly….and as I listened to her giggle as she walked around my room with hands wrapped cherishing around her “unborn”…..I couldn’t help but feel a sense of fear for the life ahead of her.

The unknown. 

     Then I was reminded that I have no more control over my childrens life as I do my own but that someone who loves them and cherishs them….who created them, the someone greater and so much bigger than me does.

 I want my daughters to dream. 

     I want them to dream bigger than me. I want them to strive for those dreams, I want them to follow them as far as the road allow…but I want them to know that Gods are bigger. I want them to be able to let theirs go when he has other plans.

    I want my children to be protected from the dangers, illnesses, and tragedies of this world. I want them to be free from fear, from death, and  from suffering.

That would be my perfect dream.

……but I know that this would be impossible.

    So instead of fearing the dissipation of the perfect life I want so desperately for them, my  job is to lead them to “the rock that is higher than I.”

    My greatest job as a mother is to prepare them for life not with the ways of the world but by the ways of the word. It is to show them a faith and a God that they can hope in when hopelessness hits. It is to allow Gods love to be revealed to them in whichever way he sees fit…and to teach them to trust that through him there is life after death.

    My job is to show them that there is so much more to this life than what I can provide. That I am not number one, that each other is not number one, and that their spouses and children should not be either. 

    Although I hope that they never have to walk the same paths as me, I am desperate for them to be so much more prepared than I was. 

  …..  So that if one day they awake to find that their dolls and dreams have been replaced with daughters and death, they are able to remain standing in a world that without faith would tear them apart.

Because whether in parenting the breathing,

….or the breathless. 

    There is one dream for each one of them that I will strive for every single day until my……. or their very last breath;

A never-ending love for Jesus, and an everlasting life.

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What I Wish I Could Have Told Her…..

” Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:8 “

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Dear Sarah,

Dear sweet sweet girl,

   Today you are care free. Today while the hurricane of July 5, 2014 beats and bashes around on the outside….you……you are safely tucked away in the warmth and shelter of your home.  Surrounded completely by three beautiful girls. 

   Today you will sing “Let It Go” one hundred times with your dancing toddler. You will read a book with your eight year old, and you will rock that precious strong willed twelve pound baby girl in your arms. 

   Today the wind will continue to blow cutting out all power to that warm little home, but you….you and your Mother-In Law will chuckle while sipping tea that has been heated on the barbecue, and you will pack up that perfect little family of yours and spend the evening sharing laughs, and chips around candlelight and board games.

Enjoy those moments.

Hold them dear.

Because tomorrow…

   Tomorrow that hurricane…..those furious winds…..will no longer be on the outside of those four walls, but will make their way inside, completely devouring the only life you have ever known and leaving behind a trail of grief that can not be cleaned up overnight.

   Tomorrow your eyes will open to a limp and lifeless little twelve pound body. Tomorrow you will cry out to a God you paid such little attention to just hours before. Tomorrow you will be desperate for someone, anyone, anything….to make this pain go away and to fix the mess this terrible storm has left behind.

   Tomorrow you will hold that sweet little girl for the last time on this earth, you will hold her as those pink chubby little fingers that you had tickled just one day before continue to turn blue. Your cries will turn into desperation as your husband hands over the life you both created to be taken away. 

   Months from now your heart will still be hurting. You will still feel overpowered by grief….exhausted from feeling. Your questions will remained unanswered but that God that you had cried out for that very day will remain with you, wrapped up with you in that same over sized rocking chair that once contained your baby girl. 

   Months from now you will still be standing…..you may not be upright….your legs may still wobble….but you will be standing. Not alone….but with a new faith that allows you to trust your God in whatever storm has been brought your way. 

   A year from now. Three hundred and sixty five days into this never-ending journey you will be able to thank that very God that you were so angry at before for carrying you this far. You will stand at this day and wonder how you ever got here. You will miss her…..you will want her back…..but you will be able to be thankful that she is in the arms of Jesus.

   A year and a half from now I wish I could tell you the magnitudes of emotions and challenges you are yet to experience.

   I wish I could protect you from the first time that someones misinterpreted comment cut so deeply in to your heart. I wish I could warn you of the time that you would look at your husband and not see him as a blessing but as an enemy…for no reason other then he is a reminder of that baby girl that is no longer with in your reach. 

   I wish I could prepare you for the ups and downs this whole grief process will bring. That one day you will be so strong in that faith you worked so hard for…..only to have the next day leave you feeling defeated and as far from God as possible. 

   I wish I could tell you that just when you think you might have this….

YOU won’t.

….but HE will.

Truth is, one year and a half from now you will be sitting in the warmth of your home on a stormy February 7, 2016. You will still be struggling…you will still be missing your girl. You will be faced with the fact that you are not the same person that you were that windy July 5, 2014 day. You will be even more fearful of the fact that you may not even be the same person that you were yesterday… but you will be reminded of someone greater who is. 

With that comes a truth that no matter how many mistakes you make or how many times you fall down as long as he is with you… you are so loved.

Because the God that you will cry to that very day, the one that you will scream at in anger….the one who will sit and comfort you in that lonely chair…..that very God will be the same God then that he still is beside me tonight. 

……but you sweet Sarah will figure it out.

 

Sincerely, 

   The ever-changing, exhausted from grief but filled with a never-changing love Sarah. X0