My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:15,16

Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
John 11:40
See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands… Isaiah 49:16a

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Strong? No, not on our own...

I lost my child a while ago. No, no please Don’t look away
And change the subject or say It’s ok.
You see at first I couldn’t feel, It took so long, but now it’s real.
I hurt so much inside you see. I need to talk, Come sit with me.

You see, I was numb for so very long, And people said, “My, she is so strong.”
They did not know I couldn’t feel, My broken heart made all unreal.
But then one day, as I awoke I clutched my chest, began to choke,
Such a scream, such a wail, Broke from me..My child! My child!

The horror of reality. But everyone has moved on,
You see,everyone except for me.
Now, when I need friends most of all, Between us there now stands a wall.
My pain is more than they can bear, When I mention my child,
I see their blank stare.

“But I thought you were over it,” Their eyes seem to say--
No, no, I can’t listen to this, not today. So I smile and pretend, and say,
“Oh, I’m ok”.But inside I am crying, as I turn away.
And so my old friend, I shall paint on a smile, As I have from the start,
You never knowing all the while, All I’ve just said to you in my heart

I did not write this poem. I am not sure who did so if you know, please feel free to comment with the author's name.
Twice in the last while I have experienced this awkward silence from a friend, which made me think of this poem.
A lady we know came up to us and asked about how our children were. I said they were fine. She asked how old they were now. I rattled off their ages, Jinaea 9, Jaron 6 and Kyler 4. She said, "And how about the baby?  Where is your baby?" 
I cringed inside as I said, "No, our baby was stillborn last summer." Awkward silence, she looked away, both of us trying to figure out what to say next... I guess the last time she talked to us for any length of time, we were about 18 weeks pregnant with Zoe and happily awaiting our next ultrasound to find out if she was a boy or girl.
Then a friend we had not seen in a few months stopped by our house to visit. About half an hour into our visit, this friend looked at me smiling and asked, "So, how are you feeling? How is the baby doing?" I told him quietly that I had lost the baby in November. First there was shock, then embarrassment on his face as his smile left and he looked down. He quietly said he was sorry and the rest of the evening, for the most part, he avoided eye contact with me. I did not cry this time. Any other moment lately, tears seem just under the surface and can spring up at any time, but that night, I didn't.

When my father-in-law passed away, I remember hearing people criticize my mother-in-law for not crying at his funeral.
I remember others saying how incredibly strong she was and we were to hold it all together during the funeral and the days and weeks following. The truth is, she was not strong, and neither were we.
We had cried for days beforehand and we were utterly exhausted. We had no more tears left. 

That is how parents are after the loss of a child too. Sometimes we just have nothing left. We have no strength on our own. The only strength or appearance of strength we show comes from our Heavenly Father. In our weakness, He is strength for us. Yes, there are even moments of peace in the midst of the pain and disbelief in reality. 

I can now laugh and smile without feeling guilty most of the time. I cry less now than I did in the days surrounding the losses, but the pain is not gone. I have not "moved on" or "gotten better." It is impossible because this IS my life, my reality. It may be messy at times, but mine has become a beautiful mess. A mess of hurting hearts joined together to encourage and support and cry with each other and God is helping us to bring beauty out of pain. I have met people in the last year and a half who have become very close to my heart after just one conversation or meeting because of the common ground we share. They are precious to me.

If you are a grieving parent and your heart feels completely shattered, I would like to encourage you that joy will come again. You will feel alive again. I pray you will come to a place where you can feel peace about where your loss has brought you in life and that you will take steps to move yourself forward again.  There is no moving on and leaving this mess behind. We can, however choose to look for the things we can be thankful for through the tears and keep walking. One step at a time. Somedays one step is all we can do, and that's ok! There are people out there like myself who have been there. I may not know you personally, but that doesn't matter. There is a kindredness in our hearts because of the losses we share. My heart is here to listen if you need it and my virtual hugs are always abundant. 
There have been many times I have felt I had nothing to offer because I didn't even feel strong enough to stand myself. I was the one reaching out. Now I reach out my hand to you who are hurting, because in my weakness, He is strong. 

A beautiful quote I read tonight:
‎"Only we who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb can both weep and laugh at the same time, and with hearts that are breaking in pieces scattered all over the floor say with sincerity and honesty that it is well with my soul."
~ Gary J. Oliver