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I don’t play that song anymore…

The other day I was thinking about Ella, and the song Tears in Heaven came to mind. I remembered that is was about Eric Claptons son, but I couldn’t remember exactly what had happened and where the song came from. My curiosity led me to his wiki page, and I read the tragic story of a sweet little boy gone too soon. At the end of my reading I came across a quote from Clapton–and his explanation for not playing that song anymore. He said too much time had past and he didn’t feel he could convey the song in the same spirit in which he wrote it. He was devastated back then, and he wasn’t so much now. Loss of a child thirty years later…He also said he didn’t want to go back to that place.

I’ve thought about this a lot recently. The two songs I’ve written about Ella are now played far and few between. They bring me back to a very dark and sad place, a place that I don’t really have the luxury of living in now that I have another child to care for. The other night I got a request to play climbing clouds, and I actually turned it down, I said it was too sad and I didn’t want to go there. Its very strange to me that we can choose to “go there” when it comes to grief. The mind can lock things away and put walls up around certain memories and thoughts that are too painful to feel constantly. My grief for Ella is always there, but I do not always choose to dwell on it.

Recently I had a heart-to-heart with a very close family member, during which she told me that she was confused by my appearance of being ok, and this blog where I continually confess I am not. She didn’t understand how I could feel both. How I can function and smile, and be in so much pain underneath the surface. I am a complete paradox. If you have not experienced a life-shattering death…I can understand your confusion. To put things bluntly, sometimes I don’t want to think of my daughter and be sad. Sometimes I don’t want to think about what happened at all….but I do think about it all the time. I am resentful of my grief at times, while at the same time thankful for the opportunity to love. What I am struggling with is the definitions. I don’t want my daughter to always make me cry. I don’t want her name to illicit tears of sorrow and remorse. I don’t want to think about her helpless precious body….

I wish I had funny stories about her. I wish I could say “remember how she always used to do this…” I wish that there were other ways of feeling close to her. That is what I am struggling with currently. How do I love her and honor her and think about her and smile? I want to. There was a time that I would’ve slapped myself silly for thinking such a thing…but I am realizing that I don’t want Ellas life to just be something sad that happened in my past. How do I carry her on with me in life? Not only death…

Even when I smile, even when I laugh, even when I see pink tutus and hear a little girls voice speak momma–there is a current of unfulfilled desire. Sometimes I can handle it, other times I can’t. But she is always here with me in my heart. This is new territory for me…and it’s scary. It’s acceptance in a lot of ways. It’s faith. Faith that this is not the end of the story. I haven’t been ready for that faith or perspective until now. I am desperate for it. I will never understand why she is not here, but I am thankful that she wasn’t taken from me in a brutal way. Ellas gift to me has always been compassion…I know there are FAR worse ways to lose a child.

My words aren’t exactly coherent or graceful now, but I feel the need to begin to unpack some of these realizations, and fears. Not a lot of time has passed, not even two years since her death. But so much has changed. Our family has changed. Seasons have changed, and I have changed. Ever since her death I’ve not only mourned for her, but for myself. I mourn for the person I used to be. The woman who didn’t lay in bed every night playing out every scenario you can fathom of all the horrible things that could happen. I miss the old me so much. I miss my carefree spirit. I miss how oblivious I was. I miss not worrying. I miss being able to live in the moment. Mentally I haven’t occupied a single moment in the present…I’m bound to look behind and wonder why, and bound to look ahead in fear. I can’t go on like this, missing out on the joys of the simple things in life that make it worthwhile. I see this about me, but I don’t know how to change. I just know that I need to. Because time is flying….and I don’t want to look back and realize that I spent my whole life living in my past, and worrying about my future.

So I’m navigating. Learning to be grateful. Learning that love is always constant, but does not always surface in the same ways. I am realizing how very human I am, and how my need for a great big God is the all encompassing desire of my heart.

I am missing you always Ella, and I am learning to celebrate your life in joy and seasons. I still miss you terribly. You are the tear and sigh behind every smile, but I want you to be the smile behind every tear and sigh…You are both my sweet darling daughter. I love you, and I am learning that I don’t need to prove that anymore…

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Anecdote

Sometimes after the passing of time, someone you love can sort of be turned into an anecdote. “Grandpa in heaven,” or “so and so always liked this,” or “I bet Ella is so happy in heaven.” The tenderness and quiet honor that people once observed seems to be a thing of the past. Now, when people talk about Ella…it’s just so matter of fact. I do not harbor any bitterness or resentment towards people, but I do not know how to react. I cannot feign the indifference that time has brought to others. I cannot feign the acceptance that others have chosen to embrace. I am still her mother, and I have not accepted her death.

The other night I felt the clouds of grief descend upon me, and the tears would not stop. I don’t know why it’s difficult for me to admit these feelings and tears to others and even to my husband. The words struggle to come out. The truth is–at times I am completely submerged in a sorrowful anguish. My heart breaks open anew continually, and all of my memories, regrets, questions and broken hope come spilling out. I feel lost again, when all I want is to feel found and safe..even for a moment.

I thought that after Beck came, I would feel infinitely more grateful to God. I thought that that gratitude would somehow propel me to a greater intimacy and closeness to Him. Beck is here, and although I am grateful–I still struggle with a faith that is to me, so fragile. Sometimes it even seems a facade. I don’t know why I am still ignorantly trying to “figure God out.” Trying at times to stuff him back into the box of my past understandings…how I long for that child like trust and naiveté. I am trying. Trying to do the things that I think I should, and the things I think God wants me to do. Read my bible, memorize and meditate on scripture. The truth is, I do not know what the truth is..and I don’t think thats good enough. I wrestle with God on lots of fronts, but I really desire peace. I wait vainly for a prompt or secret message that will suddenly make life and all it’s tragedies “click.” I know that Jesus is the answer…and that He was a man of suffering and sorrows. I know this. I like this Jesus. But I still don’t understand Him.

A relationship without trust must not have any love in it, and that scares me. I cannot reconcile my former faith and foundation, the death of my daughter, and the birth of my son. I don’t know why this is so challenging for me, but it is. I can pin-point the time of my doubts and the start of the extreme testing of my faith.

After Jason and I found out that Ella had no heartbeat, we were required to go to the hospital and get an ultrasound for a second opinion. We called my entire family, and had everyone praying. As we went into that room, the ultrasound tech searched, but found no heartbeat. My dear family…sisters, brother, mom, dad and brother-in-law all came in the room. My mom asked the tech to leave so they could pray over me and Ella. She left, and my family prayed the most fervent prayers I have ever heard in my life. They begged God, petitioned God, recited scriptures to God, rallied their faith, wept their tears and asked. Then the tech came back in and checked again….and still no heartbeat.

Before Ella died I had made the habit of reciting the Lords prayer everyday…”Our Father who art in heaven hollowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” I cannot pray this prayer right now. I am afraid of Gods will. I wish I was more godly, and a stronger person…but I am shook to the core, and my foundations are laid bare. All I can cling to is that God is doing a work in me, and that He will finish it. I cannot change my own heart, and this current excavation is incredibly ugly and broken to me.

4

Another Mother must bury her Son

 

Image

Today I am carrying someone else’s burden. Earlier this week my mom called to let me know that a former classmate and nephew of some dear friends of ours was dying in a hospital in Miami. Hearing the news really broke my heart, and I found myself unable to really focus on anything but praying for him and his family. I prayed fervently all day..that he would know he was loved by the God of the universe, and that angels would be sent to comfort him and his family. I prayed for healing. I prayed that his parents would not have to bury their son. I prayed as a mom who has lost a child. I’ve mentioned in other posts that my relationship with God has changed since Ella’s death tremendously. I no longer ask for selfish things that I want. I don’t ask God for protection, or blessings, or good health…I only ask Him the things that I truly believe in faith He will answer. I believe that God wants to hold Alex more than anything…that He wants to heal him from the inside out. I prayed for Alex to accept that love, regardless of his life or death. I know from experience that God doesn’t answer every prayer the way we want Him to or the way we expect–so I’ve changed the way I pray. I pray knowing that God is able, but for whatever reason He is not always willing. 

I believe that God did answer my prayer to cover Alex with love and warmth and light…even though he has died. His death has shook me again. In three weeks or less I will give birth to a baby boy–God willing, and Alex’s death has made me realize all over again that I do not have control. Alex was someone’s son, someones nephew, someones brother…he was carried with love in the womb, just as I am carrying my son. I can’t help but think about my son when I think about Alex. It breaks my heart knowing that I am powerless to save my son from disease, cancer, heartbreak, and even death itself. Finally, I am at the place where I can at least admit that Ella’s death spared her from knowing pain–and this does give me a little comfort sometimes. But today I am carrying his mothers burden –she had to watch her 26 year old baby die. I can’t imagine going through 26 years of things, of clothes he wore just last week, of sheets, and pictures, and memories. I hate that I cannot take away his mothers pain. I can only bear it, and all I can pray today is “Lord carry them.”

 

The picture above is of my sister Brooke at Ella’s first Birthday. We released lanterns and it was very special and symbolic of letting go all over again. I want to share a beautiful poem that she wrote about Ella, and her questions and grief…

 

Are you here with me?
Can you hear my voice….
There is so much noise
Am I one among many, or can you recognize me?
I see a blade of grass, it grew apart from the field

it is shaking in the constant might of the wind

But it has no bend in it, Can you see me standing here?
Surrounded by outstretched limbs and reaching branches, almost as fists shaking in the sky

Angry so angry
Do my words reach you? My whispers in my head, do they matter?

I’m afraid they are meaningless words that float through empty space, and then sink to the soles of my feet
If I had an anchor I would trade my sails in for it any day
Will this wind ever die down? If only my troubled heart could reach you, and rest

Just rest in whatever dose of healing you would lavish on it
All the happy words and easy phrases, shallow unbelieved praises, spoken from uncompassionate faces

Apathetic to any tragic life changes, eager to judge my response to MY personal anguish
There is this ache that burns like an ember resting on your skin

Tearing through layer by layer, melting flesh to reach your bone

And as it restfully burrows in your whole body ignites within as a raging flame, spreading head to toe, heart to head to mouth

What I speak comes as black smoke left from ashes smoldering in a pit
Never will my eyes see a beautiful thing and truly recognize it, or an ugly imperfection without surprise or expectation
You give and take away, but for some reason it feels as though you have stolen from me

From us
I imagine If I extend my hands I could release this frailty of belief and trust and that it would shoot from my hands into your being

And I would know that you know how little I have to hang on to and you would send out your life rafts to rescue this drowning soul

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Cussing At You

A series of short journal entries that show me grappling with my faith. I felt like they needed to go together.

 

 

Where is my Shepard, Where is my refuge?

I’m bound for more bad weather

And I’d feel a lot safer if I knew that it was you

The waves came without warning

And I know that I am bordering on defeat and doubt

It’s just before, I never had to go without

If you could find it in your gracious heart

To not only do your part, but mine too

I’ve been told that there is nothing your Love can’t do

Well tonight I’m a drunken sailor

And I’m afraid I’m cussing at you

__________________________

 

Tight rope and we can’t let go

Or we’ll wreck ourselves

And the whole pain will be for naught

Do you exist?

It feels like you don’t

My faith is paper thin

If this is a battle, don’t bet on my win

 

_____________________________

Nothing I do will ever be as important to me as it once was

No, I do not want to go out to dinner and talk about your life

Mine is not alright

They’ll have to forgive my terrible social interactions

I’m not feeling capable of much undeserved compassion

Really, I’m on the search for my new distraction

Throw myself into song

Throw myself into deed

Maybe that is what happens when we are in need

We give that hope and pray that we hold someone else’s