“I want you to trust Me in your times of trouble so I can rescue you and you can give Me glory.” Psalm 50:15
It’s hard to believe that in a few days it will be three years since the last time we held our sweet Evie. Memories of her and the loss rush in like a flood during this time. Fortunately, God has planted me on solid ground so when the flood of memories rush in, I don’t get washed away like I did before. However, there’s still something about the anniversary that leaves me feeling a little heavy, sad and reflective.
Since Addy’s arrival, it’s been really tough for me to go back to that part of my past. I haven’t even wanted to visit Evie’s grave. Her grave was such a peaceful place for me. It sits on top of a large hill surrounded by beautiful landscape. I used to love sitting out there watching the geese walk around. I know it’s somewhat strange to imagine a cemetery being calming, but it was. Now that Addy’s here, it reminds me of a tender little body that I love so very much buried under six feet of earth. It reminds me that I could lose my loved ones at any time. God is not selective when it comes to death and I’ll be honest the thought alone still terrifies me. So, to protect my heart, I didn’t go to the cemetery for a while.
I have a small keepsake box to remember Evie and Luke. It’s filled with sympathy cards, baby outfits, pictures; things that help keep their memory alive. I just recently looked at Evie’s pictures again and started sobbing because I felt as if I had neglected her by not wanting to revisit her loss. I also cried because I felt terribly sad for the fact that a box full of “items” is all I have to remember them by. Aside from my memories, these are the only tangible pieces of evidence that they were real, alive and a part of our family. In a sense, a lot of the memories I have of my two children are tucked away neatly in this little box.
The loss is what I like to describe as a “beautiful mess.” It certainly got messy. Very messy. There were moments I wanted to walk away from God and never look back because I was so heart broken. I questioned Him and His sovereignty constantly. I would scream at Him shaking my fist and demanding He change things for my favor. I thought I would never see the light in my most broken moments. It was hard to catch my breath because my heart literally ached. The week after her death, I remember asking Danny if he could quiet the chirping birds. It’s kind of silly, but they sounded so happy and cheerful that it literally made me sick to hear them. I just wanted to lay there miserable in my own grief and I did, for a while. Eventually I came to terms with the fact that I had to get up and face the world. I really had no choice. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t stop the birds. I couldn’t stop all the pregnancies going on around me. I couldn’t stop the earth from rotating. I couldn’t magically erase what happened. I had to suffer through it and eventually, somehow, come out on the other side. How in the world did I survive it all?
I’m intrigued with how grief ends and where healing begins. It reminds me of a wilted flower. Its leaves are droopy, limp and in need of water and sunlight. As soon as the water penetrates its roots and the light hits its leaves, a transformation begins. The stem and leaves stretch high towards the sky basking in the nourishment. Like the wilted flower, our loss reminds me of how God nourished me with His truth, light and grace. The loss left me wilted, but God penetrated my heart healing my broken soul. In the end, I had my hands stretched out to the sky needing more of what only He can provide. I’d like to think that this is where the beauty shines through in my story because when I stopped resisting God, He rescued me.
I kept a journal and I revisit it every once in a while. Its pages are filled with some of my most vulnerable moments. In reading it, it’s also very evident that during this painful heart-wrenching season, I had a hard time finding God’s light. But, I did find it and it’s pretty amazing to watch my own transformation unfold on paper. I would say things like, “my stomach has ached all day. There is a huge pit that just won’t go away. My body feels so heavy and my arms feel so empty. Every time I say or hear her name, my stomach hurts even more.” The next day, I wrote, “I was able to stay by myself today which was therapeutic for me. It gave me a chance to scream out loud to God and have it out with Him. I yelled at Him for a lot of things, but in the same breath I told Him that I desperately needed Him. I have to realize that just because I can’t feel, see or touch Him, doesn’t mean He’s not with me.” Those were just my unfiltered thoughts poured out on paper but looking back that’s pretty powerful stuff. I know that some people may think that I disrespected the Lord by yelling at Him and that’s okay. But, I believe coming to a person with raw emotions is part of what makes a relationship. I felt like Christ was big enough to handle my anger. I felt like I was being called to bring Him everything instead of shutting Him out. A few months after the loss I wrote, “I think when you accept Christ and lean into Him, you get a whole new perspective on life. My life continues to transform. I feel that God is working in my heart and is helping me grow spiritually. I want His plan for my life more than anything. I truly believe He has a perfect plan for Danny and me.” I’m so incredibly grateful that I was moved to write in this journal. It shows my gradual progression of healing and it gives me encouragement. It assures me that God was there, is here and will always be there in my darkest moments. He will be there in all of my moments.
My memoir reminds me of when Jesus walks on water with Peter. In Matthew 14: 25-31, scripture portrays a powerful moment with a believer that battles with doubt. Keep in mind that this wasn’t any believer. This was Peter, a disciple who walked along side Jesus and witnessed most of His miracles.
“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Yes, even Peter who was there in His presence struggled with faith. There were many times I would find myself sinking because of doubt, fear and anger. As I was drowning, I would cry out to Christ because even in the middle of the uncertainty of what He was doing, I trusted that He could save me. He did rescue me.
Danny and I were a mess before we opened our heart up to Him, broken in several different places within our hurting souls. The baggage we brought into our relationship left us beaten and bruised desiring our empty hearts to be filled by something or someone. We tried to fill the void with worldly things but it never fulfilled us. We were aimlessly spinning our wheels but getting nowhere. Things changed when we experienced the losses. Unfortunately, it took losing two children for us to start listening to our Savior’s “voice". Their losses changed us drastically. Christ literally gave us a lifeline to hold onto through this pivotal circumstance. It took a while but we finally grabbed a hold of His hand. I’m grateful that we did. I’m grateful that He never gave up on Peter. I’m grateful that He never gave up on us.