Sunday, December 25, 2011

A poem for myself

Christmas turned out harder than I had expected. As I tucked Mr. Monkey into bed, weeping, with a heart aching for my son, this is what evolved:

Give it to God

When your heart breaks
and there's no cure for the ache
Give it to God

When your tears come down
and threaten your soul to drown
Give it to God

When you despair of life
and your mind is full of strife
Give it to God

When you can't sleep
and your body lies in a heap
Give it to God

When the days are too long
and all you want is a song
Give it to God

When you need hope to have
but you see no rope to grab
Give it to God

When your faith tarries
and you need to be carried
Give it to God

When the time is right
there will be an end to the night
You fought the good fight and did not fall
because to Him you gave it all

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Special things

I haven't had a moment to spare. I can't count how many times I have tried to sit down at the computer and blog! So many ups and downs on this roller coaster, yet I am finding that either I am getting used to them, or they aren't as high and low on this course of the track. I marvel still at how one can survive this kind of heartbreak and loss, yet am in awe of God's blessings and comfort. I can see progress, though I wonder if the profound sadness will always remain.

This week, I caught myself saying, "It's getting better" in response to the dreaded "How are you?" It's such a peculiar emotion, this grief mixed with healing, bitter mixed with sweet. I don't understand how they can co-exist, and it leaves me a bit perplexed.

Yesterday was Dh's birthday. It was also a GriefShare meeting night, but our group, however, had been invited to dinner by a "veteran" member of the group. He is a generous man who brings hope to the group with the assurance that, yes, joy will return. So we met last night at Lyle's house, a beautiful, beautiful home where he served us chicken kiev, wild rice, dinner rolls, and asparagus. And for dessert, there was peppermint ice cream!!! (I was then obliged to confess my peppermint addiction!) It was a wonderful evening of fellowship and, yes, even laughter.

On the down side, church, however, is still the one place that I find so very difficult to be. I realized it's because it is so much like home. So much of our time is/was invested in our church body and family. And church is where I see so many familiar families. It's that reminder, seeing them, that makes it so painful. It is hard, but I know I must do hard things. I tell myself that going to church isn't as hard as burying my son. I also know that it is for my good. I need to hear truth, and I need to keep myself in fellowship even if I don't feel like it.

I'm unable to sing worship songs yet, but I am trying to give myself grace. I am allowing myself to just soak truth in and let the music minister to me. Some day I will sing again, but, for now, I know it's o.k. not to, too.

It seems for every down turn on this ride, there's an upturn. God continually reminds me of His love for us. This afternoon, another dear friend unexpectedly stopped by with gifts for the kids and a beautiful cardinal ornament for me and Tim. What a blessing to visit, even if only for a short time.

These special gifts and visits are treasured. God is seeing us through, not only the holidays, but this season of sorrow. With a thankful heart...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Finding hope

Psalm 147:3 "He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds." 

I am finally starting to feel as if healing has begun. I can feel the binding over my wound. The pain at first, so intense, masked the physician's hand and camouflaged the bindings. I honestly wasn't so sure they were there. I wondered if, indeed, the Great Physician, had left me. When grief sweeps me out to sea, it takes every ounce of strength in my being to swim back to shore. At times, I have simply allowed myself to be carried on the waves, not even attempting to swim back. But I realized this past week that I was not made for the sea. I was not made to stay in grief. The Great Physician had, indeed, NOT left me. He has continued to speak to me and carefully, tenderly inspects and tends to my wound. He is so good.

This week, I found myself being able to give thanks again. I am thankful for the ministry of music that speaks the truths of His word, and I am so thankful for a pastor who preaches God's word. I am thankful for the sound of my children's laughter. I am thankful for Advent and the reminder that this season is about hope, the hope of Christ Jesus. I am thankful for those wonderful, dear sisters and brothers in Christ who allow God to work through them.  

On Monday afternoon, a dear friend and sister in Christ, gave me peppermint candy canes nestled in a special mug. And that evening, a dear neighbor and sister in Christ, delivered a beautiful blue poinsettia to our door, along with a plate of goodies. On Wednesday, another dear sister in Christ unexpectedly delivered an assortment of cookies and sweets. And today, an anonymous brother and/or sister in Christ sent us a very generous gift of money instructing us to "spoil" the kids with it. I am overwhelmed with God's goodness. He reassured me that hope is possible, and, indeed, certain. I just need to trust that He will do what He says He will do and remember His unconditional love for me.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Out to sea

It's been a difficult day. I just want this Christmas season to be over with. I'm sick of hearing cheerful voices and seeing happy(read that as "whole") families because all I am reminded of when I look at them is that one of my children is no longer on this earth, my family is not whole. The cheerful voices mock the continuing sorrow in my heart. The more time that passes by, the more I feel it's no longer "acceptable" to show the face of grief. I feel like people expect me to be happy, to be better. And I find myself putting on a mask, a plastic smile. I rely upon my standard answer of, "I'm functioning" when asked, "How are you?" because what I really suspect is that they really don't want to know any longer. Because this is the Christmas season. And we're all supposed to be joyful and merry. But I'm not. And I'm not a good faker or liar.

I started reading the book, God's Healing for Life's Losses tonight. I know already that it is going to be a very good read. The author opens the introduction of the book by saying, "JESUS PROMISES THAT LIFE WILL BE FILLED WITH LOSSES. I know. That's not exactly the promise you were hoping for. At least it's honest."

Kellemen continues the line of honesty on page five. "Let's be honest. Growth through grieving is an arduous journey, much like the journey of Much-Afraid, the lead character in Hannah Hurnard's dramatic allegory, Hinds' Feet on High Places.

    Tired of valley living, but terrified to trek the high places alone, Much-Afraid asks Shepherd for companions on her journey. Encouraged by his pledge that fellow travelers would soon join her, she starts alone, anticipating the arrival of her partners. When they appear, she's horrified. Shepherd introduces them.

     They are good teachers; indeed, I have few better. As for their names, I will tell you them in your own language, and later you will learn what they are called in their own tongue. "This," said he, motioning toward the first of the silent figures, "is named Sorrow. And the other is her twin sister, Suffering."
      Poor Much-Afraid! Her cheeks blanched and she trembled from head to toe.
     "I can't go with them," she gasped. "I can't! I can't! I can't! O my Lord Shepherd, why do you do this to me? How can I travel in their company? It is more than I can bear...Couldn't you have given me Joy and Peace to go with me, to strengthen and encourage me and help me on the difficult way? I never thought you would do this to me!" And she burst into tears.
     A strange look passed over Shepherd's face.
     "Joy and Peace. Are those the companions you would choose for yourself? You remember your promise, to accept the helpers that I would give, because you believed that I would choose the very best possible guides for you. Will you still trust me, Much-Afraid?"
 The author continues with, "Don't misunderstand. Fear of suffering is normal. Grief is necessary. Shepherd is not denying these authentic life responses. So just what is Shepherd saying? Trust me. Trust is vital because suffering is inevitable. How do we find hope when we're hurting? Through trust. Where do we find God's healing for life's losses? In Christ. With Christ."

I wept as I read the words of Much-Afraid. Those are the exact same words I have uttered to God. When grief sweeps me out to sea, as it did today, trust is hard. But not because God isn't trustworthy. While I may doubt my faithfulness, I am clinging to His. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Little things

Recovery is slow, but there are small improvements. Though tiny, they speak of big progress. Those who have walked this road know how significant these little things are. Things like finally dreaming again during sleep. I hadn't realized that the past four months, I hadn't been dreaming. My sleep was so poor, I never slept deeply enough to have R.E.M. sleep. Last Friday morning when I woke, I realized I had had a dream! Unfortunately, it was about Matt and I arguing, but was a dream. Having dreams again is a huge improvement. Drama boy is pretty much sleeping through the night again, too. Mr. Monkey has improved as well, though he still wakes once a night. Little things, but in the right direction at least.

The waves of grief aren't quite as unrelenting, though they still catch me off guard in the strangest places. I don't like being caught off guard. For instance, I wish I would have been warned about the Christmas cards. We received our first one last week, and several others have followed. If it was just the cards, it would be o.k. But it's the letters that accompany them. After reading the second one, I realized very, very quickly that I cannot read them. It's just too painful, like having the bandages ripped off a wound that had just been bound.

This week has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. Monday, again, was a good, yet convicting GriefShare meeting. Tuesday, we said goodbye to Jessie, our 16 yr. old "inherited" Dachshund of nine years. We took Jessie in when my beloved friend Jean passed away nine years ago. It was a difficult good-bye because Jessie was my last "link" to Jean. Jessie was a good dog. She adjusted so well in coming into a house full of little children, a fat cat, and a Pekingese. She was very sweet, but had that stubborn Dachshund personality, without a doubt! Wednesday night was spent with Sweet Stuff at Urgent Care. She again has strep throat! Once more, we are in the love/hate relationship with antibiotics.

In addition to the emotional see-saw of the week, my back has been the worst I've ever experienced. I've had a few chiropractic appointments, taken some Ibuprofin, and gotten several massages. Thankfully, the combination of all three have helped. AND, Dh and I also ordered yet ANOTHER bed! I swore I would never order one, but we ordered a Sleep Number bed. It is due to arrive by Monday. I'm praying it'll arrive tomorrow and Dh can put it together on Saturday.

The joys of the week, and there were some, were having Artsy girl make and decorate gingerbread cookies, seeing the children play in the 5" of snow we got, watching them eating icicles, hearing their squeals of excitement as they decorated the pathetically small, fake Christmas tree in the living room, and listening to them plead for me to read them the advent story each night. I am learning to appreciate the little things, no matter how small.

And now it's Thursday evening. Another Friday tomorrow. Praying the waves of grief stay out to sea.