Monday, April 25, 2011

The Ocean of Grief

As I spend some time reflecting today on our first holiday without the physical presence of Bella I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts.
Over the past few months I have found that there is nothing consistent about grief. It is ever changing and ever present from moment to moment and day to day. Today I was thinking that grief is like the ocean. There are times when it seems so calm and inviting, to completely submerge yourself into it could bring rejuvenation and clarity. You allow yourself to grieve openly on those days, you allow yourself to remember, to talk and to long for because you know you are safe to do so. There are other times when it is stormy and choppy, the red flag waving and warning you that if you go there you risk being swallowed whole so you stand on the shore of safety and occasionally stick in your toe to test the waters.
Today was a day where I was unsure of what the ocean may bring but I dived in head first taking flowers to Bella's grave site, looking at photos and listening to songs that reminded me of her. I needed to submerge myself into it and hope for the best. I needed her. As I sat at her grave and thought of the Easter baskets that would go unfilled, the many beautiful Easter dresses that I longed to buy and the family gatherings that would go unattended by her I was washed away, going further and further into a sea of grief. The memories, the longing and the pain crashing into me and pulling me under. And just when I thought I might be swallowed whole He saved me again. Sending a raft of realization that all of the things that I want to give to her and do for her pale in comparison to the many gifts that she is now receiving in heaven and sometimes shares with me on Earth. Realizations that the overwhelming beauty of the Easter service that filled my heart and gave me an understanding of the true meaning like never before, the tears of happiness that I wept because of this new understanding, the amazing view that I beheld later that day while lying on a rock by a waterfall with my husband as the sun peaked thru the trees and the beautiful Easter lillies that decorated the church given by our friends in her memory and now will continue to grow in our yard....these are the gifts that take the place of the Easter traditions that I long to share. These gifts are enough for today and are a testament that God's grace is sufficient.
So back on the shore of safety I am a little worn, a little beaten but now that I have faced the storms and submerged myself into the ocean of grief I can fully enjoy the view, the calmness of the waters again and the peace of the sunset.

Hoping that all of your Easter celebrations were peace filled and the beauty of the true meaning touched your hearts like never before.

Much love to you all

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Our life today...

I have sat down to write many times over the past few weeks and the words just haven't come. I have wanted to fill everyone in on how we are and talk about the process a bit. But nothing came. It was just a few days ago that Chris and I sat down with our pastor (thanks Ken!) and were able to communicate how we are doing today and what this all means to us at this time. It was after that hour of just hearing us say these things out loud and meaning them that I realized we are doing well. So I just wanted to take the time today to share with all of you some of the things we have come to realize and the many ways the Lord continues to bless us.

There were several weeks following our return from the beach that I remained lost. I just went thru the motions with no real enthusiasm and very little motivation. I remember worrying that maybe this is how life would be from here on. Nothing with the exception of Dylan was as fulfilling as my days spent with Bella and watching her progress and grow. Nothing still is but I am learning to live with that void. I literally prayed my way out of bed in the mornings and completely relied on the Lord to carry me thru my days. Those were some long days. The early stages of grief is the hardest work you will ever do. It is exhausting and excruciating. It is lonely, hollow and empty.

I feel very blessed that we were able to move thru those early stages of grief rather quickly and have come to find peace & joy again in our life. Chris and I have discussed this and we agree that our sense of loss is different than most that grieve. Our gratitude and realization of just how blessed we were to have those 9 months overcomes any sense of loss. There is no bitterness, little regrets and peace has overcome all understanding of how and why. And more recently in the past few days or past week I have found that she is still always with me. I carry her throughout my days and her memories and presence bring me joy many, many times a day. I feel her always near and I never thought I would get to that point because I missed her physical being so much.

It has been interesting to watch how each of us have changed from this, just instantly we are different people than we were before. I like to think that we are significantly better and look forward to seeing how the Lord continues to change us for His needs. I see how both Chris and I are able to prioritize life and what really matters. All of the little stressers and silly worries are minimal these days. In myself I see that I do things because I really, really want to do them, not because I feel like I should or feel like I have to. That alone has made life more fulfilling and in many ways calmer. In Chris I see how he is willing to drop work in a drop of a hat to be there for me or Dylan. I have found that the moments we spend as a family, no matter what we are doing, are just richer. We prioritize time with friends and family like we never did before. We are blessed with so many that this is still a work in progress but we see the importance of doing it today like we never did before. I have realized that Dylan will never have the "only child" qualities because he will always have to share the love of his parents with his sister. He talks openly about Bella and how he misses her and I have come to realize that even at his young age he will carry her with him forever. I have found myself able to play and let go of responsibilities much easier just to be with him, completely and totally focused on him. Bella has made me think more about being welcomed into heaven than being remembered here on Earth. She has made me really think about the beauty of eternal life and cherish that one day I will be with her again forever.

There are some things that we are going to have to work on over time. There is a hard reality that sets in that life is not permanent and there truly are no guarantees for anyone. In many ways this realization will be the biggest influence on our life here forward. In some ways now it can be debilitating. I have to learn to trust again and live with the fact that my husband or my other child could be taken at any time. Right now the thought of this is crippling and I start to panic if I am away from either of them for a prolonged period of time or if Chris doesn't answer his phone when I call. I think this will calm with time and I am still learning to turn these emotions over to the Lord in prayer and meditation. We have more tendencies now to be over protective of Dylan than we ever did before. We are going to work on these so he doesn't live his life in fear and neither do we. I have come to realize that the Lord does allow you to choose: to choose to live in fear or trust, in sorrow or joy, for tomorrow or for today. The choice is ultimately ours but the blessings from the right choices are plentiful from Him.

There are other questions that have surfaced from her loss like do we intend to have more children? This is something we are not permanently set on today. But at this time we feel like we wanted 2 children, there was never any consideration of 3. We have 2 children. We have a daughter and son when both were never a guarantee with all of my female issues and medical history. I personally think to ask for anything more would be pushing it and far too risky. I would love for us to consider over the next year the thought of fostering or adopting. There are so many children that could bless our lives and benefit from the love we have to give. For now though we are going to learn to live with our circumstances of one child in heaven and one child here on Earth. We have faith that our year in Florida will lead us to the right answers for all of these questions. Where to go, what to do and so on...

We thank you again for lifting us in prayer, for all of the cards, messages, gifts and acts of kindness that you all have shown us. We are blessed to have all of you to share this life with and pray that we will see each of you in the next.

Much love to all