Wednesday, September 23, 2015

First Day of Fall


Well, we made it to the first day of fall.  I've been anticipating this day.  Ready for the cooler temperatures.  Ready to feel better about the way that I look because my cooler weather clothes fit much better than my summer clothes.  Ready for my favorite part of fall...pumpkin spice lattes (though I've actually been drinking them for a few weeks now.  Lol.)  I know, I know...those are all pretty superficial.  :)

And while it is technically just a day, it is so much more to me.  It is a victory.  A triumph of sorts.  Though it included 12 hours of time that I would never give back (the hours in the hospital with Arabella Grace), I survived the worst summer of my life.  The hardest thing I've ever gone through.  I've somehow made it into another season, wounded & broken, but still standing.  And I thank God for that.  To Him be all the glory.

Today my heart still hurts.  Not just for myself.  For a precious person...a beautiful soul who I just found out today is suffering another loss.  And for everyone who has had to say goodbye too soon to their beloved babies, no matter what stage of life.  No matter how new or seasoned the loss is.  It isn't fair.  It just plain sucks.  And I stand with you, wherever you are at.

"This was not your fault.
This will never be your fault,
no matter how many different ways
someone tries to tell you it was.

Especially if that someone happens to be you....

Do not believe it,
not even for a second.
Do not let it sink into your bones.
Do not let it smother that beautiful, beautiful light of yours.

Instead, breathe in this truth 
with every part of yourself:
You are the best damn mother in the entire world."

-Angela Miller

This is just a couple of clips from her book, "You Are the Mother of All Mothers".  I read this book almost every single day.  It reminds me that I didn't fail.  Not even a little bit.

To all of the mamas that I know who have lost their precious ones...you didn't fail.  Not even a little bit.

To all of the mamas that I don't know but somehow happen upon my blog...you didn't fail.  Not even a little bit.

While our motherhood feels invisible to the rest of the world...it is not.  It is real.  It is sacred.  And it is hard.  Because we mother with empty arms.  We mother a child we no longer see, that we no longer feel, but that will always be a part of us.  When everyone else forgets, we will always remember. 

I acknowledge your motherhood, mama.  And I stand with you, arm in arm...holding you up when you cannot stand, and leaning on you when it is me who is unable.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

10 weeks


Reason.  It's a 4 letter word in my book these days.

Last week I was called with the results on the very final set of tests that were run on me.  And they came back negative.  Most people would be thrilled to not have something wrong with them.  I should be, I guess.

But I wanted a reason.  I wanted a biological reason why my precious Arabella Grace didn't survive.  I wanted an explanation other than "it was a fluke."  It's not a fluke to me.  Two failed pregnancies, one being ectopic & the other being stillbirth at almost 6 months along are not flukes to me.  I have zero of the risk factors/diseases that can cause both things to happen...yet they both still happened to me.  In terms of beating odds...I'm at a big fat 0%, and I am absolutely sick to death of hearing that it was "just a fluke".

Biologically, I'm not going to get a reason.  And that is a hard pill for me to swallow.  But what I wish people would understand is that I don't need nor want any other explanation.  I was waiting for a medical one...and I didn't get it.  Now I have to work through that & come to terms with it.

I read a piece from another mom who lost her baby titled "Everything Does Not Happen for a Reason".  And it just rang true for me.  I stand with her in rejecting the notion that everything happens for a reason.

You might think that sounds strange coming from me.  It's no secret that my faith is very important to me.  I believe in & love God with every inch of my being, with all of my heart & soul.  I believe that He is good, He is perfect, and He has a plan.

I believe that He can use this loss for His purpose & plan.  I believe that He can refine me as I stumble down this road of grief.  But I don't believe that Ellie had to die for a reason.  Because believing that would require me to believe some things about God that I can't reconcile.  And that's not the God that I've learned about my whole life.

Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

This verse is often quoted together with "everything happens for a reason".  That verse doesn't tell me that there was a reason for Ellie dying.  It tells me that God will use it for good somehow, and for His purpose.  I can take comfort in that.

I believe that God hates death.  I believe that because of the shortest verse in the Bible:

John 11:35 - Jesus wept.

Angie Smith really says it better than I ever could in her book "I Will Carry You", so I will just share an excerpt with you:

 "As Mary ran to Jesus and fell at His feet, she was crying (John 11:32).  The emotion that Christ feels at this moment is not fully communicated in most modern translations, but the original Greek words are embrimaomai, which refers to anger, and etaraxen heauton, which means "troubled Himself".  One commentary I love said that a better translation of this moment would be that He "became angry in spirit and very agitated."  

Many scholars suggest that this emotion was not aimed at the women and men who were gathered around Him but rather at death itself.  He was angry at the hurt it was causing, and I believe that on that fateful day with my daughter, He was angry that death stole her from us.  What happens next in the passage brings tears to my eyes as I think of the way we offered our daughter to Him.  Jesus asks where Lazarus is buried, and when the women begin to walk Him to the tomb, Scripture says He weeps (John 11:34-35).

Jesus wept.

Surely those two words are some of the most powerful in all of Scripture, as they reveal the man within the deity.

I want to share a beautiful distinction I came upon months after Audrey's death as I poured over these verses.  At first glance it appears that Jesus, Mary and Martha were sobbing together, but the original language of the text reveals that while Jesus was weeping (dakryo), the women were wailing (klaio).  While Mary and Martha were crying out in agony over the loss of their brother, their tears moved Jesus, and He began to weep.  This is the only occurance of dakryo in the entire New Testament.  He isn't crying over the death of Lazarus but rather the hurt He is experiencing with people He loves dearly.  He isn't crying because the situation is hopeless, but because He is an empathetic God. 

He knows that in a few moments Lazarus will walk out of the tomb. 

He also knows that they can't see that hope. 

And neither can we."

Ellie didn't walk out of the tomb.  And while I believe that she is safe in the arms of Jesus...I can't see it.  I don't have a Dropcam to Heaven.  There isn't a video monitor that allows me to make sure that she's okay.  It's hard to reconcile that anyone, even the God who created her, could love her & take better care of her than me.  I know that He does...  I believe that He does...  But my heart doesn't comprehend it very well.

The Savior of the world can understand why I struggle so much with her death.  He knows why I don't find comfort when people say that everything happens for a reason.  He gets why I feel anger when someone tells me that God needed another "helper", or just needed her more than I did.  Don't even get me started on when people say that He needed another angel.

Like Mary & Martha, he knows that I can't see the other side.  And because He loves me the way that He loved them while on earth, I believe that he weeps with me when I fall at his feet & wail.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

8 weeks, 2 days


It's been awhile, hasn't it?  Part of that is due to travel.  We went to Colorado, were home for a couple days, then went to Montana for almost a week.  We spent time with my family in Montana, and went to the Griz vs. NDSU game {which the Griz won, by the way.  Yay!!!!}.  Getting to spend time with them was definitely healing for me.

The other part is that I haven't had a lot to say.  I haven't written much lately.  I've been a bit stuck in the anger I feel.  Not the rage filled, lashing out, & confrontational anger that most people think of.  This is the anger that just plain hurts.  The anger that you feel because your heart is shattered in a million pieces.  The anger that sometimes you just need to hide from for a bit...and that is where I was.  Hiding.

I did start writing again yesterday, and I wanted to share it with you.

Monday - 9.7.15
Today I put together Arabella's photo album.  The bookmaker that I use for my photography business was so amazing, and she made three matching albums...one for me, one for my mom and one for Josh's mom.  They are utterly exquisite.  I've had them for over a month now, but I just haven't been able to put it together.

188.  That is how many photos I have of Arabella Grace.  My album fits 50, so I had to go thru them & pick the ones I wanted in the album.  Tears began to fall as I adhered a treasured photo to each page.

The weight that these are the only photos I will ever have of my daughter just came crashing down.  I'm a photographer.  I planned on taking thousands upon thousands of photos of her.  She was supposed to grow up with a camera in her face.  But instead, all I will ever have is 188 photos of my precious little girl.  188.

I curled up and sobbed after I added the last photo into the book.  It brought me back to the finality I felt when Josh brought her ashes home.  I will never take another photo of my sweet Ellie.

But I will treasure the 188 photos I do have.

"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  -Matthew 6:20-21

One of my treasures in heaven is my baby girl.  I shed tears for her here on earth because I miss her so much every single day.

But I take comfort that when I get to heaven she will know me.  She will know of my love for her.  And we will be reunited forever, rejoicing in the presence of Jesus.

********

Recently I've felt the need to just read about Jesus, and his ministry here on earth.  So, I'm slowly reading through all the gospels.  I'm realizing that if you will just pick up your Bible and use it...it will give you what you need.  Those verses were just what my heart needed, and I didn't have to fervently search for them.  They were right there on the page that I flipped to.  God is amazing, my friends.