A Broken Voice

  • When your heart is broken, much more of you breaks along with it. For me, I have been weeping over a broken voice. Sometimes when I sing to the Lord the words are felt from so deep within and surrounded by so much pain I am amazed I am even able to utter them. Many songs that once brought me only joy bring tears. Words that once flowed off my tongue with ease hold different meaning now and are harder to sing. Mercy Me illustrates this battle well:
    “It’s easy to sing when there’s nothing to bring me down
    But what will I say when I’m held to the flame like I am right now”
    I wish so very much that I could go back to a time when singing was easy. When I didn’t know hard. But I can’t. Because the mountain I face cannot be moved. The longing I have to hold my baby girl again on earth will never go away. That ache can’t be soothed this side of heaven. But the same God that formed Madelyn in my womb, that gave me my sweet baby girl, is the same God who longs to hear my broken voice. Because, to Him, it’s not broken. It’s beautiful. Because it comes from a heart who needs Him. From a voice that absolutely cannot sing without Him. So this morning, I will step on stage to praise Him with song for the first time since my baby girl went to heaven. Because even though my life has changed since I last stood there, God’s purpose for me has not. I was made worship. To praise. Even when it hurts.
    “But God, when You choose
    To leave mountains unmovable
    Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
    It is well with my soul”
    And strength He gives. Always. Until all hearts are mended. And all broken voices are put back together again.
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As I am focusing on my health now more than ever, I am amazed at the things my body can do that I never realized it could.  Physical health has been critical for me as I am maneuvering through healing after loss.  If you are in a place where you are feeling lost, broken, forgotten…please hear me when I say you are loved.  So very loved.  God loves you and created you in His image.  Fuel your body with proper nutrition.  It’s amazing how doing these things mends not only the physical body, but the heart, mind, and soul.

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A Very Special Story

I have been wanting to share this story for some time, but wanted to make sure I was ready to give it the attention it needs.  If you have followed my blog and story, you know how God has worked and what sweet messages He has sent since Madelyn’s passing.  If you haven’t read my Butterfly Blessings post, I encourage you to do so.  Anytime I feel sorrow taking over my mind, I think of butterflies.  Those beautiful creatures that God has placed on this earth and has spoken to me through.  I am so thankful for the way He speaks to me.  If that story touched you, I am certain that what I am about to share will too.

I was 38 weeks 1 day pregnant with Caleb, our first, one cold December day when I started having contractions.  However, I did not realize they were contractions yet.  When I shared with a friend that I was having a “dull pain in my back that seemed like it was coming and going but I wasn’t sure” she laughed and said, “that’s a contraction sweetie.”  By 5pm they were more and more regular, and I was fairly certain I was in early labor.  My husband was on night shift at the time, and scheduled to work that night.  The first thing he always tells people is that when your wife says, “I don’t want to worry you, but…” you better be prepared.  That’s exactly what I told him when I woke him up to prepare for his shift.  We both agreed it was best for him not to go to work, and so he stayed with me as we both waited for things to progress.  My contractions weren’t regular at all–in fact they were quite sporadic.  We had been told to wait until they were consistently 5 minutes apart.  They were 5 min, 7 min, 6 min, 9 min, all over the place.  I had heard that you can’t eat once you get to the hospital and you are in labor, and decided I was craving a burger and chocolate shake (anyone who has ever had a baby probably knows where this is headed).  Let me also say that this was our first baby and we knew NOTHING about the labor process.  We were really going into it with childlike eyes.  After we ate, it was about 8pm and the pain was getting intense.  But my contractions still weren’t regular, so we thought we still needed to wait.  Around 10pm, I was in severe pain and getting very sick, so Matt called the hospital.  The nurse said to come immediately, as it sounded like I was in active labor. On the way to the hospital, all of a sudden my contractions became regular, however they weren’t five minutes apart.  They were 4 1/2, then 4, then 3….if you read my blog from a few days ago about my labor with Joshua, you now know that we have almost had two babies in a car.  By the time I got to the hospital, I was 7cm dilated and they sent me straight to delivery.  I remember screaming for an epidural and all of the nurses kept brushing it off, saying, “let’s just see if you’ll be able to sit still for that sweetie,” and “let me go check on that.”  Now, when you are a woman in active labor who puts two and two together and realizes that not only are you not going to get an epidural, but it is time to push a baby out, things can go downhill rather quickly.  I remember being told to push with the next contraction and literally saying (yelling) that I would not and could not.  In the rush of things I cannot visualize much about those moments in my head, but what I can tell you is the one thing that stands out very clearly.  All of a sudden, the room was quiet, and a sweet older man with such kind eyes leaned over me and said, “Jennifer, this baby is coming.  And he’s coming right now.  I need you to push on this next contraction so that we can get him out.”  Later I learned that Caleb’s heart rate had started to drop and that it was important to get him out quickly.  Something about that doctor, and the way he spoke to me, helped me accept the circumstance, that I would not get medicine, and I was going to have to push.  So, all in that moment, it was as if an overwhelming peace came over me.  In only 3 or 4 pushes, Caleb came into the world.

Now, you might be thinking, why is Jennifer sharing all this?  I promise you, I am getting there.  I have to share all this with you for you to completely understand and for it to make sense.  It turns out that sweet doctor’s name is Dr. Stamm.  At my doctor’s office, they like you to see all the doctors when you are pregnant, because you never know who will be on call when you deliver.  We maybe had seen Dr. Stamm one or two times before Caleb was born, but it wasn’t many.  So I didn’t remember him very well before that night. After Caleb was born, and he visited us, he sat down with us and spent a great deal of time with us.  He went above and beyond what you would expect a doctor to do.  He was wonderful.  And, he got me through one of the most terrifying yet beautiful experiences I have ever had.  I knew after Caleb was born that he would always be special to our family.  When I became pregnant with Joshua, we would request him for appointments, but timing and which office he was scheduled to be at never coincided with where and when we needed an appointment.  We went my entire pregnancy with Joshua and with Madelyn without seeing him.

I won’t divulge much about my delivery with Madelyn today.  I am not ready to share that, and I may never be.  But I can tell you that my labor with Joshua was 7 hours from start to finish, and my labor with her was only 4.  When I got to the hospital to deliver her, I was already fully dilated and I knew medicine was out of the question.  I remember laying on the hospital bed, and my doula whispering, “it’s ok, sweet mama, Dr. Stamm is on the way.”  It took me a few minutes to process what she had just told me, but when I did, I knew that this was not a coincidence.  God knew that I needed that sweet man to get me through the hardest thing any mama could ever do.  And he did.  He was with me the whole time.  He saw her, touched her, and told us how beautiful she was.  He was with us in the hours that followed, and sat with us for hours.  He was so much more than a doctor to us.  He was a friend.

In a follow up visit to Dr. Stamm after Madelyn was born, he shared that he was retiring and that he and his wife had purchased a farm.  Just being in the same room with him was such a comfort.  He knew my baby girl.  He had seen her, touched her.  Being around him was like being close to her.  We made plans to take the boys to visit the farm later in the summer.  And visit, we did!  The boys got to ride in the tractor, feel the animals, pick vegetables, and gather eggs.  It was wonderful, and they had the time of their lives.  How many families get to form this kind of relationship with their doctor?  How was it that of all the doctors, Dr. Stamm just happened to be on call when I was in labor with my little girl, who was already with Jesus?  The answer is that we serve a loving God who is good.  Who send blessings like that in moments when you need it the most.  Dr. Stamm provided hope and comfort in a moment that I needed it the most.  And now, I not only call him a doctor, but I call him a friend.  When Caleb was born, did I ever imagine that the same doctor would also deliver my sweet girl years later, in that circumstance?  No.  But God knew.  He knew from the beginning of time.  If you take anything away from this story today, please hear this: God knows your needs.  Big and small.  He knows the number of hairs on your head.  He is with you in every moment, good and bad, light and dark.  Open your eyes to His voice.  He is constantly speaking, if you will listen.

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Baby Boom

The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays.  I remember visiting my grandparents at their lakehouse as a little girl, waving sparklers and eating tomatoes fresh off the vine.  I remember watermelon seed spitting contests with my dad, and the “koo koo” firework display being our favorite as a family.  We always saved it for last.  2015 was the most exciting 4th of July I have ever experienced.  We were at a friend’s 4th of July barbecue when I started having contractions.  A few hours later I was in full on labor.  My husband and I drove through downtown Greenville, as we viewed beautiful fireworks light up the sky.  In a hurry (I have very fast labors) we didn’t think ahead about our route, and ended up in bumper to bumper downtown traffic.  I remember calling the hospital ahead of time in a panic, because I knew I would need to go straight to the delivery room as I was already starting to push in the car.  I remember screaming to my poor husband that we absolutely could NOT have Joshua in the car!  As we stared at red taillights ahead and that thought started to become a serious possibility, I made the decision that I would have to try to calm my body down to try to slow my contractions.  Somehow, they actually did slow down as I breathed through them.  A few hours later, after barely making it to the hospital, our sweet second little boy was born, just two hours shy of being a July 4th baby.

This year’s July 4th was not your “typical” one, but it was the most special one we’ve had.  We took the boys to visit Madelyn’s grave, and had a picnic together as a family.  While a passer by might have looked on our happy family sitting on a picnic blanket at a cemetery as strange, to us, it wasn’t strange at all.  Caleb sang to her, and Joshua hugged her flowers. I’m so glad the boys take so much joy in visiting her.  It warms my heart to see them thinking of her, talking to her, and loving on her.  We didn’t need a glorious fireworks display.  We just needed each other.

It’s hard to believe that our boys are 3 1/2 and 2 now.  When they say time flies, it really truly does.  You don’t realize how fast until you are witnessing it for yourself, wishing it would all slow down.  At this stage of life, most of our friends have young children, and there are babies everywhere.  It is such an exciting time of life filled with firsts and picture perfect moments.  There truly is a baby boom going on around us.  And just like fireworks, I look with awe upon every baby and pregnant belly I see as amazing, wonderful, and beautiful.  But, with every baby and pregnant belly I see, there is also ache.  Especially now, since I had so many things I hoped to do with my little girl this summer.  I couldn’t wait to see her in her first bathing suit and dress her in her little summer bonnets.  At this point, she’d be laughing at her silly brothers and we would be playing patticake in the back yard while the boys ran around with their bubbles and swords.  Oh Madelyn, you should be here.  You just should.  There is nothing that will ever feel right about you not being here.  And I am living in a world that constantly reminds me that you are gone.

Over the holiday weekend, I had an experience that was one of the harder ones I’ve faced.  We took the boys to a Greenville Drive game.  To get out of the heat for a bit, we walked over to the little park they have set up.  We let the boys loose, and they ran off to play.  A bench opened up, and I sat down for a rest.  I turned around to watch some of the game, and when I turned back to look for the boys, a woman walked up to me.  I listened as she told her two boys to be careful, and sent them off to play.  They were just slightly younger than Caleb and Joshua, with about the same age difference between them. There were so many things about our families that were the same.  Except one thing.  Where my arms were empty, she was carrying a baby girl.  She was the same age Madelyn would be now.  As I watched a mirror image of what I had once expected my life to be, it was almost as if I were living through her for a time.  As I watched her sit next to me, unstrap her sweet one, prepare a bottle and feed her, I almost felt as if I were going through those motions myself.  I’m sure she felt me staring at her, and looked over and smiled.  “Look at my baby,” her eyes said.  “Isn’t she beautiful?”  “Yes,” my eyes answered, “she is.”  She couldn’t have known that behind my admiration was such a strong, unbearable ache.  An ache that has been placed in my heart that will never be soothed until I can hold my little girl again.  As I blinked out of my daze, and the hurt grew stronger, I looked at my husband, touched my hand to my heart, and he nodded.  No words needed to be spoken, he knew I needed a moment.  I walked to the bathroom, where a mom was helping her little girl in a stall next to me.  Their conversation was nothing out of the ordinary, and consisted of, “here is the toilet paper honey,” and “be careful,” and “make sure not to touch anything,” and “let’s go wash your hands, sweetie.”  To me, however, these simple words made me miss my girl even more.  You see, I don’t just long for the special outfits and the picture perfect moments.  I long for all of it.  The sleepless nights.  The messy diapers.  The spit up.  The packing bags full of items only to leave the house for a few hours to attend a baseball game.  The daily conversations that pass by as quick as a flash and aren’t important enough to remember.  But to me, those conversations would mean everything.  Some might say that I have had these things before, and can still have them with my boys.  And I do.  But you see, with each child you have, a separate place in your heart grows.  It’s like puzzle pieces fitting.  My boys each have their own place in my heart, and so does Madelyn.  So, yes, I am their mommy.  But I am also hers.  And the place that was made for her in my heart will never be healed until I am reunited with her.  My heart puzzle is not complete.

I have asked God why I was faced with that interaction at the ballgame.  Why was I presented with a mirror image of my heart’s desire, only to be reminded that my desire is not possible?  I still do not understand, but I can tell you that God is good, and that sometimes we will not be given answers this side of heaven.  But it doesn’t mean He isn’t working.  I do hope that seeing newborns, pregnant bellies and little girls will get easier over time.  I have been told that it does, so I am hopeful.  But, in reality, I think there’s some part of it that’s just always going to be hard.  But I also know that everyone has their own hard.  Some of you long to carry children of your own, but instead all you see are negative pregnancy tests.  And so babies and bellies are hard for you too.  Some long to find your soul mate, but God has not revealed that person to you yet.  So seeing couples is hard.  We all have hard.  Every one of us.  But it doesn’t mean we don’t have good, too.  God gives us the good to help take the sting away the hard brings.  And in my experience, the good doesn’t come with a boom, like fireworks.  It comes in the little things, the quiet things.  It’s in butterflies.  It’s in two little boys singing and praying next to flowers at a gravesite.  It’s in laying my head on my husband’s shoulder.  And one day, it will be in holding my little girl’s hand, as Jesus explains everything, and she smiles.  And that will be the best good of all.

 

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I have created this blog as a place to release my thoughts and feelings, and find healing.  There are so many things that you go through when you grieve someone you love, specifically a child.  So, writing helps me cope.  But, I have also felt led by the Lord to write for others.  Each time I write, I pray that there is someone out there who will read it and be blessed.  I pray my writing will bless those who have experienced the loss of a child.  You are not alone.  I know your pain.  I know it so well, sweet friend.  And I’m sorry.  I pray my writing will bless those who are going through a different type of hardship, to know that you are not alone in suffering.  But, just as much as I pray that my words will bless those who are suffering through a trial, I also pray they will bless those that aren’t.  Not so anyone feels guilty or bad.  But so others will be changed in a positive way.  Maybe the parent who is complaining of lack of sleep or caring for a sick child will be reminded of what a blessing it is to be able to hold that child, and hug them a little tighter at night.  Maybe the wife who was planning on complaining to her husband for leaving his laundry on the floor or dishes in the sink yet again will be reminded that life is short and will instead decide to tell her husband what she LOVES about him.  Whomever is reading this blog, my prayer is that you are blessed.

So, tonight, the Lord has laid it on my heart to share some of the hard things.  So that those who do understand feel less alone, and those that don’t can understand more.  I know there are so many people in my life who want to help, but are unsure how.  They want to pray, but aren’t sure specifically what to pray for.  By sharing this, my hope is that it will shed a little light on some of the things I’ve been experiencing, and help the beautiful hearts out there who want so much to love on me.  I love you.  And because I love you, I’m sharing this tonight.  Here are some of the hard things.

The Hard Things

It’s hard to fully believe that it’s not my fault.  That somehow I didn’t eat something, do something that day that caused her to leave me.  This is common among women who have experienced a still birth.  But I trust in the Lord, and because of this, He reminds me that His plans are greater and better than anything I could ever imagine.  So, no matter what I could have, would have, should have done, there is nothing I can do to change His will.  And His will is good and perfect.

It’s hard to see babies that are the same age as Madelyn would be now.  And, I imagine that it will be this way for the rest of my life.  Seeing children graduate kindergarten the same year she would have.  Attending a friend’s daughter’s wedding, and mourning her all over because I will never be able to experience that joy for her.  But, I trust in the Lord, and because of this, He reminds me that there is so much more joy ahead than I could ever imagine, and that I will get to spend eternity with her.  So, I hold onto that thought tightly, and I’m able to rejoice with gladness.

It’s hard to see other women who are pregnant.  Their faces glowing, with sheer joy.  And this is as it should be.  However, for me, I approach the thought of pregnancy very differently now.  One day, I do hope to carry another child.  But I know that I will worry every single second of every single day.  And the worry won’t end after the first trimester.  It will continue until I am holding that sweet baby in my arms, alive and well.  A future pregnancy will be joyful, but also very, very hard.  But I trust in the Lord, and because of this, He reminds me that He is in control.  It’s so nice to know that I am not.  And, my children are mine, but they ultimately belong to God.  So from day one, I should surrender them to Him.  Surrendering them to Him is a very comforting thought, because He loves them even more than I do.  So how can I be fearful?

Trauma is hard.  Of all the hard and hurt of what I’ve been through, this is the part that is very difficult to talk about.  And maybe one day I will.  But, I trust in the Lord, and because of this, He calms me.  He eases my mind, my body, and my soul.

It’s hard to walk by an empty nursery every day.  Not having her here on earth with me is agonizing at times.  All I want to do is see her and hold her.  But I trust in the Lord, and because of this, He reminds me that I will see her in heaven.  And what beautiful hugs the Lord has been giving me!  Every time I see a butterfly, I am holding her.  Every time I look at Caleb and Joshua, I am looking at her.  I am so thankful that I know how beautiful she was.

Just Because It’s Hard, Doesn’t Mean That It’s Bad

A few days after I got home from the hospital, I listened to a broadcast focusing on a couple who had been through several miscarriages and a still birth.  Something the husband said has stuck with me ever since.  “Just because it’s HARD, doesn’t mean that it’s BAD.”  For every hard I have listed, there is good.  It’s all in your perspective.  You can think of the hard as a negative, and feel defeated, or you can think of it as a positive, and be changed.  God is for love, peace, and GOOD.  So I am too.

 

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I’m Still Grieving

It’s a tricky thing when you start to emerge from the fog of grief.  Here you are, in the life you were in before.  Yet it’s not how it should be.  Yes, I am seeing friends.  Yes, I am going places.  Yes, I am talking to people again.  And these are all good things.  Because you have to live.  There’s no other alternative.  You are faced with tragedy, and there is no “out.”  You don’t have a choice but to keep living.  You live, but you are changed.  The sadness, ache, and trauma that come in waves are never easy to deal with, but most of the change I have experienced has been good.  I have an entirely new perspective on life now.  I cherish everyone and everything.  I am so much more thankful.  I push away the rush of life, and I take my time.  I don’t worry about the little things.  I don’t allow myself to get angry.  But, behind my smile, I am often crying.  Behind my joyful tone, I am often weeping.  Behind my cheerfulness, I am often sad.

I’ve always been a joyful person.  “Full of sunshine” some would say.  And I’ve always embraced and owned that part of myself.  I love being that person.  And, that part is still there.  The past two months, I have fought so hard for that person.  I have prayed and prayed for that person not to leave me.  And only by the grace of God, she is still here.  So when I speak of hope and joy, that’s real.  I have felt so much of God’s peace and comfort these past few months that I could not begin to describe it to you.  Because “blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5: 4).  My happiness, joyfulness, my smiles, are all real.  But, at the same time, I am still grieving.  I am still hurting.  I am still crying.  To say it’s complicated is an understatement.

It doesn’t matter how much time has passed.  When you have experienced tragic loss, you still hurt and ache just as much as the first day you said goodbye.  A mama that lost a child 20 years ago still feels like it was yesterday.  I know this, because I’ve talked to those mamas.  You never get over it.  Life goes on, but you think about and miss your child day in and day out.  One common fear I have discovered in talking to other grieving parents is that other people will forget your child.    So, my mission is to remind others of my beautiful little girl.  To let her beautiful life live on.  In the way that I live and in the way that I love.  And this is nothing short of painful.  Because I wish more than anything that she was here.  That I didn’t have to remind others of her through my story.  But, that is what God has given me.  He has given me this story.  And because it is from Him, it is good.

You may have seen me smiling and thought, “I don’t know how she is able to smile.”  You may have talked to me and thought, “She has so much strength.”  But, what I need others to know is that I am still weeping.  Just as much as I ever have.  The ache hasn’t gone away, even though my smile has come back.  Because, when you are given a story like this, you have to own it.  Even though you may not want to at times, you still trust in God.  In the words of a sweet friend, it’s a broken but beautiful journey.  Because even though I will ache for the rest of my life, at the end of it all, joy wins.  Peace wins.  God wins.  The grief is there, but so is grace.  And by the grace of God, I will keep living.

 

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This Little Light

The fog is starting to lift a bit.  I am feeling more and more joy in my days.  There is still a lingering ache, but as my sweet husband reminded me last night, that’s not a bad thing.  It’s not bad to miss her.  It’s not bad to cry. I will miss her and cry for her for the rest of my life. But, crying is remembering her.  It’s thinking of her.  And those are good things.

I’ve started working out again, which gives me such wonderful energy.  Today I was celebrating doing REAL push ups for the first time in 11 months (yay!), and I noticed the lamp on behind me, letting out its light.  It reminded me of my ultimate purpose here on this earth.  As a follower of Jesus I am called to make His name known.  To tell others about Him.  The light also reminded me of Madelyn.  I have the light of Christ inside me.  I also have her light.  She is with me, a part of me.  Just as Christ has made me who I am, so has she.  As you know Him more, as you lean on Him, walk with Him, your light grows.  Part of my light is how He has carried me through this, and continues to carry me.  How He has helped me grow and change.  I like to think of it as my Madelyn light.

It’s not the tragedy itself that tells a story.  It’s response to tragedy.  God is calling me to show that there is life after tragedy.  There is good.  You will smile again.  You will laugh.  You can LIVE.  I will never stop missing Madelyn, and I will still cry for her.  But that’s good.  That’s thinking of her, and loving her.  And that light, my Madelyn light, will help me continue to shine.

 

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The Best Picture of All

As a parent, one of the most enjoyable things to do is to share and talk about your child.  It comes so naturally. When the boys were born, I loved celebrating and sharing them. I placed stickers on their bellies to take monthly photos and like all proud mamas, posted them for friends to see. I found myself taking what seemed be 100 pictures a day.  Every facial expression, new outfit worn, outings and introductions to family and friends.  First smiles, first giggles, sleeping through the night, first words, first steps.  When those things happen, as a parent you can’t wait to share it with the world.

Madelyn is my little girl.  She is just as much my child as my boys are.  She is part of our family, even though she is no longer here on earth.  Yes, there are times and there will always be times when it is hard for me to talk about her.  Because even though there is so much joy in sharing her, part of it also hurts.  I want so badly for her to be here. To be able to experience and share her first smile, first laugh, or first steps.  But, even though we won’t get to see these things during our time on earth, she is still with us.  She is a part of us.  And because she so much a part of us, as we live on, so does she.  For a while, I didn’t know how to respond when I was asked, “what do you need?”  Nothing can ease the pain of loosing child.  It was very hard to talk about her because the sadness was overwhelming.  I missed her so, and still do, just as much.  Recently, though, as the fog has slowly lifted my head, I have realized something I need very much.  I need to talk about her, even though it hurts.  I want and need others to acknowledge her.  To say they love her too.  To share in my joy about my beautiful baby girl that God blessed me with.  Her sweet, delicate hands. Her curly blonde hair.  Her daddy’s eyes. How she always moved from 10-11 at night, like clockwork.  She loved routine like her mama, and was a night owl like her daddy.  How she loved music, and when I would start to sing, she would stop kicking to listen.  These are all things I want people to know about her, because I want her to be known.  Just as any mama of a newborn wants their child to be known.  We want others to fall in love with our children just as much as we have.

I won’t be able to share pictures of Madelyn’s first smile, or watch her walk down the aisle.  But, I will continue to talk about her and share about her just as I would if she were here on earth with me.  And one day, she will take my hand and lead me to Jesus.  And won’t that be the best picture of all.

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Darkness Isn’t When there is Light

There are many times throughout the day where I feel like I can’t do this. I feel a sadness that is beyond what I’ve ever known as sadness. It’s so intense that it feels like an entirely new emotion. I had a conversation with a friend the other day about children. As children grow, they have to learn every emotion along the way and how to handle them. Toddlers throw tantrums many times because they don’t understand how they are feeling, and don’t have a way to properly express themselves. The emotions they are feeling are new, and they don’t know how to handle them. In a way, that’s this grief has been. It’s a whole new explosion of emotions that are new. I’ve never experienced how I’m feeling, so it’s very difficult to understand. Because I don’t understand it, trying to explain it is impossible. Trying to think of anything I need when asked is hard, because I don’t know.

I spoke with another mama today who is grieving the loss of not one but two sweet babies. She gave the best description of this journey that I have heard. You do experience joy and peace many times throughout the day. You have moments where life seems normal again for a time. Then, it’s as if a big blanket is placed over you. You can’t breathe. You can’t think. You can only think about the blanket and how you wish it would go away. You don’t want the pain. The missing her. The wishing she was here. But it’s there. And it’s suffocating.

Just like that darkness, though, there is light. 2 Corinthians 4: 8 says, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” Through this storm, God’s light is shining. It’s shining out of my boys’ faces as they laugh, splash and play during bath time. It’s in the butterflies that my gracious loving God continues to send me since her passing. It’s in my husband’s calm, steady voice when he helps me through the dark times. It’s in Caleb’s voice, when he prays at night for Madelyn and the angels. It’s in Madelyn’s hand and footprints, so small and perfect. And, it’s in my heart. Yes, light is shining out of darkness. You see, darkness isn’t. It can’t be, when there is light. You just have to let the light in, and breathe the darkness out.

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I met a friend for coffee, and felt better for a time.

But I still miss her.

I went to another doctor’s appointment. I’ve been to so many now that it’s starting to get easier.

But I still miss her.

I took a deep breath and actually went to the store because we were out of diapers. I made it in and out without crying.

But I still miss her.

I planted some flowers, and they seemed to brighten up our whole yard.

But I still miss her.

I ate a picnic lunch with my sweet boys. I love them so very much and I love being their mommy.

But I still miss her.

I ordered special Easter flowers for her grave, and felt so good to be able to do something for her.

But I still miss her.

I ordered a picture of her and placed it in a locket. It is the most precious thing to me that I own.

But I still miss her.

I took care of our dog, our cat, our two boys, our house, and before I knew it another day had passed.

But I still miss her.

I told my husband how much I love him.  I’m so thankful how this has opened my eyes and heart and enabled me to love more than I ever realized I could.

But I still miss her.

I think about her and smile because I know how happy and at peace she is now.

But I still miss her.

Days have almost turned into a month. Soon, months will turn into years. There will be a time when I can look back and realize I made it through my life without her.

But there will never be a moment that I don’t miss her.

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