Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Anyway, I don't care so much as I get older what my plans are, but rather reflect more on what a New Year signifies. Most years I am usually excited about what the New Year will bring and this year is no different. Most of 2008 has been a rather difficult year for me and my family....with learning on March 20th that we were expecting our third child and finding out May 2 that our baby had some serious anomalies, getting the diagnosis of limb-body wall complex on May 20, the rest of the pregnancy that was very emotional, and then giving birth to Joy, who was stillborn, on Sept. 15. Despite all that...I am sad to see the year go. It means we are moving farther away in time of where my memories are so fresh of Joy. I don't want to forget even the smallest of details. Good thing I have a pretty good long-term memory...most of the time anyway. It's my short term memory that is a different story.....I blame my forgetfulness on something I like to call "momnesia." Some of you know exactly what I'm talking about. Regardless, 2008 was Joy's year...so much time, thought, prayer and tears were committed to her. Obviously just because we are about to enter 2009 doesn't mean I'm done thinking about her or that I won't shed any more tears....these are still daily occurrences for me.
Even with all the sadness and disappointments over 2008 all of those have been intermixed with joy along the way. Why is it that joy and pain, two concepts that seem so diametrically opposed to one another seem to often travel hand in hand with each other?? Maybe it is God's way of making the pain bearable by pairing it with the joy? During each one of these trials that we have endured this year we can always look back and see God's hand at work sustaining us. Obviously things on many occasions never turned out the way we had hoped or prayed for, but yet our faith remains and dare I even say stronger? God allowed us enough grace for each new day.
Here is a quote I think pretty much sums up my year as I look to 2009.
"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain."
I'm still learning to dance and appreciate all the joys, all the pains, all the things God gives and takes away, and yes, all the storms. I feel I've spent so much of my life waiting for certain storms to pass making sure I don't get splashed by the rain, ensuring I'm protected by a raincoat or an umbrella (you know....trying to control things that are beyond my control). If you've ever been caught in a real monsoon of a storm you know it's pretty futile. No matter how much you try to stay dry in the rain part of you is gonna get wet....why not learn to dance in it? Knowing and trusting that God is in control certainly gives me the freedom to at least try even if right now all I can do is the two-step.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Lewis was trying to figure out why things happened the way they played out here over the past two weeks and why God did this or that. I was like "Lewis, if I've learned anything about God it is that I don't always know or understand his reasons for things." I've really learned not to try and give myself a headache in trying to figure out the why because it is all just speculation anyway. I just have to trust him.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.
During this Christmas season it is so easy to look around and see who is missing. You can imagine I see Joy's name everywhere I go during this time of year and I love it!! I really do. Some may think it would be a sorrowful reminder of what I'm lacking. On the contrary...I don't want to focus on what I'm lacking, but on how much richer Joy has made our lives. Sure I would rather have her here with us, and I miss her so much it hurts, but I don't want to be so consumed by the grief that I miss the blessing God has for me.
Be blessed this holiday season!
Monday, December 15, 2008
The pictures were taken at Redondo Beach, CA by her friend Emily. Thank you so much Rachel & Emily!! You have brought great joy to this day that marks three months since Joy was born into the arms of Jesus. I miss her more than I can possibly put into words! The pictures literally took my breath away because they were so unexpected.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I'm sooooo glad I do not find my identity of who I am in my work. It is so much more fulfilling to find my identity and value in Jesus and who He says I am. It is also much more fulfilling to me to find more value in being a mother to my kids and wife to my husband. Those are the things that bring me the most happiness. Unfortunately in the world of work, as much as you think you might be valued or valuable, you are always expendable and replaceable. I'm so glad the creator of the universe doesn't view me this way.
With all that said...one still has to make a living. I feel like my bachelor's degree is no longer serving me well in this day and age with the economy the way it is. Not to mention there are few jobs in my area. Soooooo, I am going to be taking classes starting next month to try and get into the nursing program at the local community college. The truth is I was registered to take classes this past summer, but with everything that was happening with Joy I did not feel I could really focus on school. It's been a few years since I have been a student...ummmmm over 11 years!! It is a little scary to me, but I'm looking forward to the change.
One door closes, another one opens. ...right? My job being eliminated is kind of a blessing I suppose. I was at a point where I was no longer enjoying it. You know, surprisingly I don't have much anxiety about the loss of income as I know God is faithful to provide. There's that crazy thing called "peace" again. It keeps showing up when I need it the most.
The real unfortunate part in all of this is that the timing could not possibly be worse. Losing Joy has really made me feel less capable of handling other stresses that come along. I know it won't always be like that, but since this has happened so close together it's hard for me at times.
So on the topic of joy, not my baby Joy, but joy. My pastor said a very profound thing last Sunday about joy. It was simple, but profound and so I had to write it down. "I have joy because I see the situation from God's perspective, not my own." That is so true! When I get caught up in feeling sorry for myself because my child died, or because I'm about to lose my job it is hard to find the joy. When I try and see it all from God's perspective,even though I don't know what his plan is, I can have joy knowing that he is in control and he's got my back. At this point I'm almost excited to see what he has in store for me. I'm anticipating good things. Honestly, it took me a few days to get to this point. I can't lie to you.Please pray for me to stay strong in this peace, joy, and hope that I have. It doesn't always come easy. I have to pray and fight for it daily.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I'm having a difficult night and maybe I thought trying to write something might help. Lewis has been out of town since Sunday on business and he is gone for another 3 days. I'm not sure if that is contributing to how I'm feeling. It is the first time he has had to travel since Joy was born.
Regardless, I can't seem to stop the tears tonight. My whole body just aches with grief and my heart is so heavy. I miss my baby so much. It's just not fair! I just want to scream "Why God, I don't understand?!" I trust you, but I don't get it.
I'm not sure that it completely makes sense to me, but I seem to be more emotional since Joy's due date of Nov. 23rd. It could be because it just happens to coincide with the start of holiday season? I think I've been a little bit in denial. I didn't think the holidays would be any more difficult than any other day without Joy. Perhaps I was wrong? Perhaps I just over analyze everything and should stop trying to figure things out. How's that go...Let go and let God!
It's late and I'm tired. I think I'll end on that note....let go and let God!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I was supposed to give birth to a beautiful, HEALTHY baby girl.
Our family of five was supposed to be complete.
This day came much sooner than today.
Nine weeks and six days sooner to be exact.
I should have been able to watch my husband give her a bath,
to watch our children's eyes light up at the sight of their new baby sister.
I should have been able to nurse her, change her diaper, and wipe spit-up off my shirt.
I had four months to get ready to not be able to do any of those things.
Four months to get used to the idea that instead of bringing our baby home
we would be burying her.
Four months to pray for a miracle.
Four months to cherish her while she was still alive.
Four months to not take any of it for granted.
Those four months were a gift.
A gift of life.
A gift of hope.
A gift of bonding.
30 weeks and 1 day you lived in my belly,
but you were born in the heart of Jesus since the beginning of time.
He knew your name even then.
He knew your purpose, He knew the plan.
He picked me to be your Mommy?
All the tears, all the heartache, all the pain, and all the emptiness was worth it.
It was worth it just to have you in my life.
I would do it all again with the same outcome,
just to be able to hold you.
Just to be with you, I would do it all again.
Today was Joy's due date. It is hard to think what might have been, what could have been, what should have been. The only thing is that God doesn't make mistakes. Although this should have been her due date it was never meant to be. Her birthday was always meant to be just as it was...Sept.15, 2008. It is still hard for me to accept this at times. But I do accept that God is a sovereign God and his ways are not my ways.
With thanksgiving approaching our Pastor was preaching today on being thankful. I have to admit that I was really challenged this morning to be thankful in my circumstance. I mean am I supposed to be thankful that my child died? Of course not! Something Pastor Mark said that resonated with me was..."If you can't be thankful in your circumstance, be thankful for who He is." I guess that is where I am.
Being an imperfect, selfish human it seems to be so natural to dwell on all the negatives. Instead of being at the hospital celebrating the birth of my newborn baby where people are supposed to come and visit us. I am visiting my child's grave site thinking about what I am missing out on. For me, a natural born complainer, I really have to fight against those thoughts. I have to be thankful on purpose. Though I wished Joy's life had a different outcome I can still be thankful for many things. After church I visited her grave site and I took that opportunity to thank the Lord for several things. I thanked him for Joy, I thanked him for choosing me to be her Mommy, I thanked him for carrying us and continuing to carry us through this storm, and I thanked him for the work he is doing in our lives and others through Joy and her story.
So many conflicting thoughts. The best way I can sum it up is in the lyrics to the first song you hear when you arrive on my site by Sanctus Real. "Whatever you're doing inside of me, it feels like chaos, but somehow there's peace." That is the truth....no matter my crazy conflicting thoughts, no matter the pain, sorrow, and tears....there is peace! The kind of peace that can't be explained, it can only be experienced through Jesus Christ. The kind of peace where you have joy in spite of the sorrow, because it's the kind of joy that is deep down. It is God given and therefore cannot be taken away by circumstances.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
A phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated or missing limb (even an organ, like the appendix) is still attached to the body and is moving appropriately with other body parts. Approximately 50 to 80% of individuals with an amputation experience phantom sensations in their amputated limb, and the majority of the sensations are painful. Phantom sensations may also occur after the removal of body parts other than the limbs, e.g. after amputation of the breast, extraction of a tooth (phantom tooth pain) or removal of an eye (phantom eye syndrome). The missing limb often feels shorter and may feel as if it is in a distorted and painful position. Occasionally, the pain can be made worse by stress, anxiety and weather changes. Phantom limb pain is usually intermittent. The frequency and intensity of attacks usually decline with time.
Like I said, I haven't had these feelings often but for a split second afterwards I would think Joy was still inside me or that I was still pregnant. I said for a split second and then of course I know I'm not and that she is not still inside me. I find the similarity with phantom limbs intriguing. I know I'm not missing a limb, but I'm missing something/ someone to me that is so much more valuable than a limb....Joy. If you've read my blog you will know that the doctors told me all along that Joy was missing a right leg and in fact she was not. She was born with both legs and feet!
One of the main differences of course is that phantom limb sensations also involve physical pain. I am not in any physical pain, but there is no denying the emotional pain I am dealing with. I'm always drawing strange parallels between things. I say strange because I often think most people don't think the way I do or maybe they do and they are just too afraid to voice their thoughts for fear of being laughed at? Well you can laugh if you want. I thought myself very clever to come up with the term "Phantom Baby," but low and behold I am not the first. As I do with so many things......I "googled it." Apparently there are other people out there who have had these strange sensations. I couldn't find any of these women that were similar to me in the sense that they lost their child, but I really did not look that hard.
Aside from the sensation of being kicked from the inside. Limb or no limb. I will always be missing Joy and wishing she were here with me. She was not just a part of me for the 30 weeks I carried her, but she will be for the rest of my life. I will always have that pain of her death, but just like with phantom limbs "the frequency and intensity of attacks usually decline over time." Of course when you lose someone or experience something difficult people tell you something similar..."time heals all wounds."
Personally, I've never found any of these cliches to be helpful or comforting. My absolute least favorite one is...."God never gives you more than you can handle." Hogwash! Of course He does! This has all been more than I can handle on my own. It's God that has been carrying me through every step of the way. This has made me lean on Him like never before.
Joy's due date is quickly approaching.....this Sunday, Nov. 23. Please keep me in your prayers as this date draws near. At one point Nov. 23 was supposed to be a day of great happiness, but instead I'm anticipating it to be a difficult day, or at least an emotional one.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Anyway, I suppose much of the same can be said for these waves of grief that come my way. Just like I have never literally surfed, I have never had to deal with grief from the loss of a loved one. Perhaps some people think this grief is not as bad because I didn't actually get to know Joy as one would get to know a person with whom they've had a relationship with. Honestly I cannot compare the two because I don't know that side of grief. All I know is that part of my grief is just that...not getting the chance to get to know her like I do with Elijah and Phoebe. I won't get the chance to see her grow.
I was up the other night with Phoebe, who was crying, just holding her in the chair in her room. I started thinking how I don't have this opportunity with Joy. As much as I really dreaded getting up in the middle of the night with Elijah and Phoebe as infants. I find myself missing that opportunity with Joy. How silly of me to take something like that for granted. I also started looking around Phoebe's bedroom and was quickly reminded how this was supposed to be Joy's room too. Right now Phoebe is still in a crib, but there is a big girl bed for her in there when she is ready for it. It looks like it is a bedroom for two, well except for the fact that the big girl bed has no mattress yet. It was supposed to be Phoebe and Joy's room. Joy is supposed to be in that crib and Phoebe is supposed to be in that bed. They were supposed to be sisters who were only 22 months apart. Instead, they were born 20 months apart, but Joy did not live. I grieve for my children and the sister they will never get to know in this lifetime.
When I found out I was pregnant I had secretly hoped for another girl. I thought how cool to have a sister so close in age. I probably thought this because I don't have a sister, but recognize the unique bond that a lot of sisters share. This is going to sound bad, but I also wanted a girl for convenience sake. Phoebe has the bigger bedroom and it would not be crammed to have another girl in there. Sure we could move rooms around if we had to, but the room was already decorated for a girl. Lastly, Phoebe was a much easier baby than Elijah was so I just assumed that if I had another girl it would be relatively easy if she turned out anything like her big sister.
Well, I partly got what I had hoped for...a girl, but of course we know that everything did not turn out the way we had anticipated. It's strange the things we take for granted. I certainly knew there were no guarantees with any pregnancy as I had experienced in Feb. 2006 with my miscarriage and subsequent D&C. I never had morning sickness with that baby, so once I started getting morning sickness with Joy I thought it would be smooth sailing...or should I say surfing?
As I get older and experience more I find myself so rudely reminded that in this life there are no guarantees. I know they say the only thing you can be assured of in this life is death and taxes. Blah, blah, blah. As much as that is partially true I would hope that wasn't it. Of course I don't believe that to be it...thank God! My trust, my hope, my faith is based upon the truth of Jesus Christ and who He is and what He has done through the shedding of His blood on the cross.
So many truths in this world change. What may be true one year may not be true the next. Science is ever further advancing, we are discovering more about so many things we once had no clue about, and on and on it goes. Textbooks become quickly outdated due to new and more information, but the word of God is never changing. It is always the same. Could you imagine waking up to discover that what you had known to be the truth one day was no longer true the next? Well, that never happens with Christ. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Amen!
So back to the idea of this wave thing. So many people talk about grief coming in waves. I do find this to be the case. Some days I get caught off guard by things I see, things I hear and it all comes crashing down around me. Some days I can't believe all this has happened. Did I really have another baby? Did she really have so many physical things wrong with her? Did she really never take a breath? Did we really have to bury her? It still seems so surreal. Looking at her pictures confirms to me that she was here with us, we did get to enjoy her only for a brief time. Her life had significance. She did touch our lives and changed us forever.I know I had months to plan for this, months to grieve, months to pray for a miracle. I don't know that anything can prepare you for the end result. Perhaps some of the knowing has lessened the "blow" and shock of what happened, but I don't know that it lessens the grieving, lessens the heaviness of my empty arms and the hole in my heart. I know God is working on mending those things in my life.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
I know that Joy is not really a common name for babies these days, but the word joy seems to be used quite often. I must hear it several times a day. I never noticed this before Joy. Even some products I buy and had in the house have her name on them. I think I will make sure I am loyal to these brands from now on. ;) I know...I'm a dork!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Today marks 6 weeks since Joy's birth. I wonder if that day will ever come when I don't know how long its been and I have to actually think about it? Knowing myself the way I do I would say...that day will probably never come.
It seems I haven't had a blog entry of substance lately and I would have to blame that on work. Now I understand when some people are going through a difficult time and they throw themselves into their work as a distraction to what they are facing. Honestly, in the 5 weeks I had off after Joy's birth I never once felt like I wanted to work as a distraction from my grief. Just the opposite really. I wanted to feel everything as fully as I could. Nevertheless, being back to work has served as a distraction this past week. I'm not sure if that is a good or a bad thing. This is probably why I was not very eager to get back to "normal." In my mind I don't want to get back to "normal," but the reality is that "normal" happens anyway. Life is going to go on with or without me. The kids are still going to get up around 7:30am, they still require to be fed, clothed, bathed and disciplined. I could go on about all the other things that require my attention, but you get the point. It feels a bit like life is dragging me around by the arm while I'm trying to dig my heels in.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Often times I would mindlessly be putting on my make-up except for the very last part. For me, that was mascara. "Oh, I don't think I need to put this on because I'll probably end up crying and in turn look like a raccoon." Not only would I look like I had been crying, but I'd look like a clown too. So for months I avoided it.
Well the other week I was getting ready for church and without thinking I put mascara on. As soon as I did this I realized what I had done. I thought ...oh well it's too late now I might as well just go with it. Turns out I was just fine. No spillage of tears. You know what...after everything that we have been through this year I just don't care if I look like a clown. I don't care if it is noticeable that I was crying. Me, the over-analyzer was thinking maybe by putting on the mascara it means that I'm getting back to some semblance of "normal" life, but I really think it's more indicative of a small change in me. I'm not so concerned with what other people think anymore. Perhaps part of "not going back to okay?"
Now I know you must be thinking...Sharleen, you know they do make such a thing called waterproof mascara. Yeah, I know, but really I'm so scatterbrained most of the time I never remember stuff like that when I'm at the store. Truth is I wouldn't even care so much about the stuff if I was blessed with thick, long, full lashes like my son. Go figure!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I have had so many thoughts these days on so many different things that I'm thinking about, dealing with and wondering that I feel like this post won't be very coherent. One thing is that through this blog I have been able to connect with so many other women out there that have gone through the experience of losing a child. Many who have gone before me and walked this road and even a couple who have had to say good bye to their sweet babies since Joy went to be with Jesus. There is this network of women out there who blog like me about their journey, their heartache, their loss, their joy, their hope, and their Saviour. I know a lot of you coming to my blog are getting here by way of some of those blogs. I feel so connected to these women I have never met and I really do need to add their blogs to a blog roll, particularly for those of you going through your own journey so you can see that you are not alone. Okay they are now added to the side bar on the right. If you scroll down you will find them.
I know that reading their blogs often helps me in the emotions I'm dealing with, if for no other reason than knowing that my thoughts and emotions are not as crazy as I once thought. I know they say "misery loves company," but I think it's more like "brokenness loves understanding." Even if you haven't experienced the loss of a child you have certainly gone through something in your life where you have gained strength, insight, support and understanding from someone who has gone through what you have. I think it makes us feel like we are not alone, like we are normal, like someone else has gone through it and they survived. It gives us hope. Well that is much the same thing I'm trying to describe here.
I seem to be a part of this exclusive club of moms who have lost a baby. It's the type of club where nobody is happy about having a new member. I haven't been a part of the club very long, but already I have connected with new members. Not only was I not happy about their memberships, it brought me to tears. I don't want anyone to have to join this club. In fact, it's the type of club that nobody wants to join, but if they do they are pleasantly surprised at the love and support they find within this club. I can guarantee you that all of our children are friends in heaven, sitting at the feet of Jesus having the best time. The funny thing is that though I call these ladies my sisters, we have never met. Our children have met, but we never have. We will one day. If not during this lifetime then in heaven.
Speaking of heaven...since Joy's passing I can't help but feel so much closer to heaven. Not in the physical sense of course, but being more "heaven-minded." I have so many questions.......What is she doing there? Can she see us here on earth? Does she know how much we love her? Is she the same age there as she would have been here on earth? So many questions...so many thoughts. Many people have some conflicting views on some of those questions and it is not my objective to answer any of those just to let you in on my thoughts. Mostly I think about seeing her again one day and holding her. It gives me peace to know that she has a brother or a sister there to play with who I will get to meet for the first time once I arrive.
Elijah has also wondered about seeing Joy again. That is a difficult conversation to have with a 4 year old. In order to answer that it inevitably centers around death and going to heaven. He doesn't understand the concept that we are all going to die one day. It's understandably upsetting to a 4 year old. Every once in a while he surprises me with his questions. I love that he loves to talk about Joy and ask questions. He likes to get into our bed in the morning and often asks "Can we talk about baby Joy?" The other morning he asked if Joy would get lots of toys for her birthday in heaven and thought that Jesus would need to help her with the wrapping paper. ;) And this morning he asked if we could have another baby. Hmmmm
Last Thurs. night I had settled in to watch Grey's Anatomy while Lewis went fishing with a couple friends. I could hear Elijah crying from his bedroom. I just figured he'd probably stop in a couple minutes and I continued watching TV. He was still crying so I went up to check on him. As soon as I opened his door he cried out "Mama, I'm sad about baby Joy" and continued crying. I got in his bed with him and held him. I asked him what was it about baby Joy that made him sad. He said "because she didn't survive." I started to cry with him and he told me that his heart hurts. I prayed with him.
I hadn't seen him cry like this over Joy before. He mentions her most days and always says "I'm sad about baby Joy." He asks a lot of why questions like why did she die etc. It just broke my heart to see him broken like that. It seems so much easier as a mother to nurse the physical hurts. You know....kiss it better, clean it up and put a band aid on it. This is uncharted territory for me. All I know how to do is pray with him, pray over him, give him lots of hugs and kisses and try to explain things in a way in which he understands. That last part is the hardest. Our conversations have a lot of repetition. The same questions and often times the same answers. Please keep us in your prayers. I have a hard enough time as an adult understanding everything. I can't imagine being a 4 year old trying to make sense of it all.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
It was one month today that Joy was born and went on to be with the Lord. I decided to go to her grave site and spend some time there. It was a cool 65 degrees outside, a beautiful autumn day. The trees were all in full color. I went and sat by her grave stone. I did not purposely go with my Bible, but lucky for me I had it in my car. I have to say as a side note that I have been so hungry these days for the word of God. Hungry to dig into his word either for comfort, for strength, for answers, or for truth. Today was no exception.
I've said before that I've been at a loss for what to pray for these days and the following scripture certainly rings true in my life right now. I heard it quoted on the christian radio station the other day and knew that was for me.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
Boy do I understand "groanings too deep for words." I just said "God I don't know what to pray for...please speak to me, please show me something." I don't know if you are like me when you pray, but often times I never shut up and just listen. It's often a one-sided conversation. I thought since I did not have any words that it might be a good time to try and listen.
I was looking at the ground around Joy's grave stone and was really captivated by the grass seed on the dirt. I noticed that some of the seed had taken root and was starting to sprout up. In other parts the seed just seemed to lay there on top of the earth. Parts of the ground had some cracks in it from lack of moisture. We haven't had much rain these days come to think of it. (We actually just got some after my visit there) I could not get the grass seed out of my head and thought "God, what is the significance of the grass seed that you are trying to show me?"
I opened my Bible and went to the index to find scriptures with the word "seed" in it. The first one I turned to was,1 Peter 1:23-25 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.
This life is really just a fleeting moment in light of eternity. My life, your life, Joy's life....a fleeting moment. I've never been able to wrap my head around eternity. In fact, the idea of eternity scared me as a child. Nevertheless, if there is one thing that we can hold on to it's God and his word. It never changes. His principles are eternal.
In Luke 8:11-15 it states the meaning of the parable mentioned a few verses earlier: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches, pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
I want my heart to be "good soil" that produces a crop. That is my prayer! That the seeds of truth that are being planted in me during this time would mature, bear fruit and produce a crop. I don't want to be that seed I saw sitting there on the dirt not taking root, not watered, and dried up.
I've always felt close to God in nature. Admiring his creation. I mean who can look at some of the most awesome things in nature and deny his existence? At least this is how I have always felt. Just look at the majesty of the rocky mountains, the power of Niagara Falls, it takes my breath away. Some of my greatest "quiet times" with the Lord have been outside. I had a place on the campus of the University of Toronto, when I was a student there, that I liked to retreat to in order to gather my thoughts, pray, etc. I called it my grassy knoll. Not to be confused with the grassy knoll referred to in the assassination of JKF. I digress...you get the point....let me get on with my visit to the grave site.
The maple tree close to Joy's grave site had the most brilliant red leaves. I would venture to say it had the most brilliant bright leaves of any of the trees in the cemetery. The red leaves were strewn about on the ground and I tucked a few in my Bible to take with me. Something I noticed as I was driving out was that most of the rest of the leaves in the cemetery all appeared to be dry and brittle with a brownish yellow hue. You know...the kind of leaves that crunch when you step on them. The red leaves on the ground below the maple tree were not only bright red, but they were flexible, not crisp. Not sure the significance of all that, but it was just one of the details I picked up on. For some reason it brought me joy.
Anyway, back to sitting there on the ground....I could feel the wind all around me. Leaves were falling from the trees like snowflakes falling from the sky in winter. It was quite beautiful. In the wind I could so strongly feel the presence of God. Just as God gave me that beautiful vision when Joy was born, today he gave me another. As I could feel the wind blowing against my left cheek I envisioned God holding Joy up under her arms to give me a kiss on the cheek. What a sweet wind. I could feel it cooling the tears running down my face. Not thinking of this at the time, but later realizing that wind has often been used as a symbol for the Holy Spirit. Not only that, but we know from scriptures that the Holy Spirit is our comforter. I certainly felt comforted!
I really thought I was going there to have a good cry. I did cry some, but even more than that I left with peace and a little more joy!
With all the talk about leaves I thought I'd post some recent pics of the kids enjoying the leaves.
The red leaves I brought home.
Look close. Yes, that is a piece of leaf in her mouth. Yum!
Monday, October 13, 2008
My last post "Life on Mars" alluded to this concept of never going back to the ways things were. As we were driving back home from church yesterday the song "Never Going Back to Okay" was playing on the radio. It's really kind of a groovy song. (Yes, I said groovy.) It truly is a positive message really, but I was looking at it like a bad thing. God was showing me that not going back to okay wasn't a bad thing. In my grief I suppose it's normal to reflect back on that time. That period of time between March and September, particularly since May 2 when we knew there was something wrong with her. It's just a fact that there won't ever be a day that goes by where I don't think about my sweet Joy. The last thing I want to do is get stuck in a funk of just looking backwards with sorrow. Obviously that will happen now and then, but I really am trying to focus on the joyful aspects of all of this. That may sound very strange to some of you but.......the joy of the Lord is my strength! Nehemiah 8:10
I don't ever regret for a moment carrying Joy in my womb for as long as God allowed it. 30 weeks and one day to be exact. The pain and heartbreak was worth having her in our lives, even it is was very brief. I feel so blessed to be able to call her my daughter. She was no less a gift from God than my other children. She has changed my life for the better and so I can say that I'm never going back to "okay" and that's okay with me. I mean "okay" isn't so great anyway. I want better than "okay." Plus, just going back to "okay" would not honor Joy's life now would it?
By the way, I just added the song to my playlist at the bottom of this page.
Never Going Back to Okay
Performed by The Afters
It's not the end
But it feels like it is
I'm waking up
Like I'm back from the dead
I'm stepping out
And I feel so afraid
But as long as I'm moving it's all right
I feel alive
And it hurts for a change
And looking back
and it's hard to believe
That I was cool
With the days that I wasted
complacent and tasteless and bored
but That was yesterday
We're never going back to OK
We're never going back to easy
We're never going back to the way it was
We're never going back to OK
Like a slap in the face
I've had enough of this place
This party's over
And I'm moving away from the frills of you Beverly Hills
but that was yesterday
We're never going back to OK
We're never going back to easy
We're never going back to the way it was
We're never going back to OK
We're here to stay
This is our time
Our only life
Our chance to live
We're never going back to OK
We're never going back to easy
We're never going back to the way it was
We're never going back to OK
Friday, October 10, 2008
I checked out that new show on TV last night called "Life on Mars." It was alright, but I couldn't help but think about the title of the show and the storyline behind it. "Life on Mars" is a good way to describe how I feel these days. The main character, a police detective, is living in the year 2008, gets hit by a car, and somehow is in transported to 1973. There are some familiar things to him in 1973 and some parallels to what he was dealing with in 2008 and from what I can gather he is trying to find his way back to 2008.
I guess that is kinda how I am feeling these days since Joy's birth/ death. Like I am in a life that is very similar to the one I had before that, but it's very different at the same time. Somehow I'm trying to figure out how to get back there, but I know it will never be the same as I knew it before.
With that said, I found a quote on a website of poetry regarding baby loss. This passage is apparently from a bereavement book. It is untitled and no author is mentioned. I was struck by how much this quote really captured what I've been feeling and kinda what I just expressed.
When my baby died, I felt as though I was suddenly caught up in a tornado whirlwind, spinning around in circles and upside down, finally dropping at lightening speed back to earth, but in a totally different place from where I was first picked up, and unable to find my way back to the place I had been before. That place no longer exists.
Hmmmm, kinda reminds me of "The Wizard of OZ." Anyway, you get the point. I'm not much of a poetry buff, but I found a few poems that really express what I am feeling these days. Their words are much more eloquent than mine
A million times we'll miss you,
I think about you day and night and wonder "Why Me?",
The one that died, you know.
Don't worry about hurting me further.
The depth of my pain doesn't show.
Don't worry about making me cry.
I'm already crying inside.
Help me to heal by releasing
The tears that I try to hide.
I'm hurt when you just keep silent,
Pretending she didn't exist.
I'd rather you mention my child,
Knowing that she has been missed.
You asked me how I was doing.
I say "pretty good" or "fine".
But healing is something ongoing.
I feel it will take a lifetime.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Anyway...life goes on here. As much as I would like to hide myself away sometimes it's just too hard to do with two young kids. This week has felt the most normal (so far) for me since Joy's birth...whatever "normal" is? Part of me feels bad for saying that, almost guilty for getting on with my life, even though most of the time I don't feel like moving on. I want to wallow in self-pity. It's a constant battle. More on that later...
I am now finally allowed to physically pick up my kids. Of course this was not such a big deal with Elijah since he is 4 and doesn't require a lot of picking up, but I know Phoebe was mad at me for a while. I'm sure my time in the hospital and then back home where I could not pick her up was hard for her to understand. She did often seem angry with me. All is well now. It feels so good to be able to pick both kids up now if I need to.
I went to the doctor's on Thursday for my post op appointment. I guess all is healing as well as can be expected. I still have some numbness close to the incision and I'm praying to regain feeling there by the time I completely heal. Gotta go back at the end of the month and that should be it.
I had a chance to ask my doctor some things I was a little fuzzy on regarding Joy and her abnormalities. I don't believe I've mentioned it here before, but Lewis and I chose not to have an autopsy done on Joy. For us personally, we did not feel that it would have provided us with any more answers than we already had. We knew from the CVS testing that she did not have any chromosomal disorders. We also knew about the fluid around her heart and brain from the ultrasounds. We also learned some new things after her birth, like her having a right leg (Praise God!) and which organs had developed outside of her abdomen, and how she was connected to the placenta. To let you know, it was her liver, intestines, and bladder that developed on the outside of her little body and she was attached to the placenta by way of her liver. Other details I am choosing not to share with the whole world.
Bottom line is we did not feel an autopsy, in Joy's case, would have given us any more significant details than we already had. The more significant questions I have...well...we've gone over that before haven't we? Only God has those answers.
I'm realizing that as I go on in this journey and deal with my grief that choosing joy is a daily choice. Quite honestly, it is a daily struggle. Some days I have to fight for that joy a little harder than others. Countless numbers of you have commented how strong I am, how brave I am etc. I really have to point you to Jesus, because without Him, none of what seems strong and brave to you would be remotely possible. I just really felt the need to make that clear here.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Friday, October 3, 2008
It started to develop the afternoon of Joy's funeral. It started out as a cluster of tiny bumps and had that "tingly" feeling. At first I thought I was breaking out with a couple zits and then thought it to be more of the feeling you get when a cold sore first starts. Well once I started applying the cold sore medicine it quickly scabbed. Okay Sharleen, you said it was massive? Yes, we are not talking your average facial scab. This thing is easily the size of a dime. Mind you it is slowly getting smaller, but not nearly as fast as I would like.
As nasty as it sounds, it looks ever worse. However, I must say it has no doubt provided us all with some much needed comic relief. Lewis has joked how it looks like a piece of chocolate and how I could always just walk around with my hand covering that side of my mouth. We've compared how it looked like the BBQ sauce Lewis had on his mouth after eating his ribs the other day, although not as shiny. I've sworn that this thing has a life of it's own and even it's own pulse. Phoebe has been pointing to it for days. My neighbor, Sarah, suggested that perhaps I should name it. LOL I have to admit I've even been tossing some names around in my head. People no longer look me in the eyes when they are talking to me. I mean who can blame them? It's kinda like a train wreck...you just can't look away.
Okay, I know what you are thinking....this girl really has lost it. Perhaps, but no doubt it has provided many a friends and family a good laugh. I certainly don't take myself too seriously that I can't laugh at myself and recognize how silly I look these days. Sorry, no pictures. I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid!
**Update: I wrote this a couple days ago and as of today the scab fell off! Now I just pray the redness goes away and I am left with no scar.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Elijah and our dog Isabel want to help.
Lewis is always so safety minded. Great foot protection, no to mention fashion statement.
If you can tell from the pictures...we made the garden heart-shaped.
We planted a weeping mulberry tree, sandcherry bushes, black-eyed susans, a knock-out rose bush, and stella de oro daylillies.
A different angle. We still need to put down mulch and are thinking of lining the garden with rocks. I'll update pics as we do more work on it.
The headstone just got put in the other day. I went yesterday to Joy's grave site to see the completed headstone for the first time.
I'm really happy with the way it turned out.
Looks like someone planted this and put the little statue of an angel holding a bunny in front of Joy's headstone.
I went by myself yesterday as the kids were napping and Lewis was home with them. I had myself a good cry. I told God I was at a loss for what to pray for. Joy no longer needs my prayers as she is with him. I did not want to pray for healing of my heart...I'm not ready for that yet. I just wanted him to give her a big hug and a kiss for me and to let her know how much I miss and love her and look forward to holding her again one day in heaven.
I cried so much I gave myself a splitting headache. I haven't had one like that in years. You know the kind where any kind of light, sound or movement make you absolutely miserable? Well, that is the kind.....almost migraine like really. I slept if off last night and woke up without one.
Monday, September 29, 2008
I wonder how long I'm going to continue to measure time like this? Knowing me, I'll probably always measure time like this. Even more so I'll think about how old Joy would have been and what she would have been doing given her age. I'm sure that is normal too.
The other day was the first day I drove since I had Joy, the first day I went to the grocery store, and a couple of other firsts. I've always kinda measured monumental experiences in this regard for some reason. I assume other people do this sort of thing? I don't know.
Things since her birth/death are changing. It has turned from summer to fall. Leaves are starting to fall from the trees. The flowers that people have sent are starting to wilt. My milk is now drying up. My incision is healing, although it still hurts at times. I guess I'm supposed to get on with normal life, although I do have 3 more weeks off of work. Part of me doesn't want to get on with normal life. I mean what is "normal" after this? Everything seems so mundane. It's like I want to stay frozen in time. Where I can look around my house and everywhere be reminded of Joy. From the flowers, the cards, the meals people have brought for us, the maternity clothes I am no longer wearing, the thank you cards I still need to write and send. I want to stay in time where my memories of her will still be so vivid. Part of me wants to stay grieving and not move on. To continue to feel that fresh wound.
Boy that sounds so depressing and sadistic. Is this a normal way to feel after losing someone? They say that grief comes in waves, and it certainly does. I experienced this even while I was pregnant with Joy. Some days were okay and others not so much. I suppose I can expect this for quite sometime.
It's so easy to get caught up in the grief and I know at this point in time it is expected. The tears feeling healing. They feel cleansing. Have you ever noticed how songs often use the metaphor of rain and storms to depict pain and difficult times? Many of the songs on my play list are about rain and storms. I mean anyone who has ever taken a literature course knows that water signifies rebirth.
Think about how much we need the rain to produce crops and to sustain life. In order to produce "fruit" in our lives, we all need a little rain. Not many of us actually like the rain, but I think it's safe to say that we all enjoy the benefits of it....green grass, beautiful flowers, delicious fruit and veggies to name a few. While it's raining we often complain, think about how we would rather be outside doing something we enjoy. It sometimes makes us want to hibernate and curl up in bed. Heck, the rain itself can sometimes be pretty depressing, especially if it has been raining for days on end. I suppose the same can be said for the rain that comes into our lives for a season. The trials, the difficult times that we all experience one time or another.
One of the first scriptures that kept coming to mind as we started to go through this journey was James 1:2-4. I love how it mentions joy and this was even before we knew we were having a girl and named her Joy. Cool huh?
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must first finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
The whole first chapter of James has some great stuff it it. Read it.
For some reason this scripture has grabbed me for years. Mostly during my university days. I guess maybe I thought I had some difficult times back then? LOL I don't know. Or I think maybe I thought it such a strange scripture. I mean come on.......consider it pure joy when you face trials??? Does anything sound more abnormal than this? Perhaps as I am nearing my ...uh em *clearing my throat*...mid 30's it's not so hard to see how difficult times have brought great growth in my life. This is probably more difficult to see in your very early 20's unless you've been through a lot and have gained some insight.
I'm not sure why I'm writing all this. I suppose part of me writes this to encourage you if you are facing difficult times and part of me writes this to remind myself. If I didn't have Jesus carrying me through, I don't really know how I would cope.
Do you guys remember that poem "Footprints in the Sand?" It seems pretty fitting in light of my last thought. I, like many of you probably read this a hundred times and thought..."Oh, that's nice", but I could never fully relate like I can now.
Footprints in the Sand
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there was one only.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods
of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there has only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”
The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one
set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”
Mary Stevenson, 1936
Does this post seem as much like a jumbled mess to you as it does to me? I'm not quite sure that I completely finished a coherent thought. Let just say I'm writing in a stream of consciousness.
Before I end this post I wanted to share some pictures from my camera. More to come later.
We are quite the motley crew. This has to be one of the few pictures ever where Phoebe is cooperating and nobody else is. LOL
Elijah loving on Joy.
Lewis, Elijah, and Joy.
Phoebe looks at her little sister.
Joy and I at the funeral home.
The balloon release in our backyard.