Rearview Mirror

I talk about Dominic “running ahead” but it feels like Im leaving him behind.

I know he’s the first to Heaven and I know I’ll join him, but my daily experience is that I am the one moving forward and he is the one stuck somewhere, unable to catch up.

I absolutely HATE that his footprint on my life grows smaller with each passing day, each new memory made without him, each event at which his smiling face makes no entrance.

I can’t stop the accumulation of bits and pieces that make it harder to spot his unique contribution to the collage of my life.

I am in no danger of forgetting him.

That’s not what I fear.

But bringing what he still is to me into a conversation, into view for others to see and appreciate is getting more difficult.

When I mention him, people don’t know whether to be sad or happy, question my sanity or rush past hoping I’ll change the subject.

There’s just no natural seque between the living and the dead.

And it hurts my heart to watch the gap grow wider.

closure-door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deflated

Backing up my rear tire hit the edge of a little stump and the sidewall blew out with a loud “whoosh”.

No fixing that.  No way to plug it or patch it or make it work for just a little longer.

That tire was toast.

I bought a new one.

But imagine if that wasn’t an option.  Imagine if I had to take the ripped apart shreds of what was left of that tire and cobble it together to make do.  Imagine if it barely held air, had to be pumped up each morning and needed attention every mile or so just to keep going.

That would be exhausting and enough to make you wonder if traveling anywhere was worth it.

That’s how my heart feels these past days.

When Dominic ran ahead to heaven it was like my heart exploded into a thousand tiny bits.  So many fragments with no way to put them back together.

fragile

But getting a new heart isn’t an option-I’m stuck with this broken one.

And I have to keep on going.  Even when it takes every ounce of energy to hold it together, even when I can barely make two steps without feeling like it’s going to fall apart again, even when I want to give up.

So today, and maybe tomorrow too, I’m going to just sit here.

I’m going to give myself permission to acknowledge that my heart is broken, I feel deflated and defeated and pushing through is not something I have to do if I don’t feel like I can.

ok to just breathe

I’m pretty sure the feeling will pass.

I’ll gather strength and manage to glue the bits back together in a day or two, add air and travel on.

I always do.

Retreat

As a kid our family made a yearly pilgrimage to the Gulf Coast-back when the beaches were wide open vistas, the water see-through green and the days long and unhurried.

We didn’t spend money on the “attractions” or tourist trap souvenir shops-we got up early to watch the sun rise and spent the remainder of the day back and forth between the beach and the water.

I loved to find a spot that was about waist deep and feel the waves move across my body-up and down, up and down-floating in rhythm to the world’s heartbeat.

But every so often a wave would surprise me, crash over my head unannounced and break the cycle of gentle rocking with a sputter-inducing plunge beneath the salty sea.

As long as the giant waves were few and far between, I could recover, regather my sense of well-being and continue to enjoy the water.

But when the first wave marked a change in the tide or an incoming storm and was followed by more and more of the same, I knew it was time to move toward shore.

I could withstand one or two of these but if there was no chance to catch my breath in between I was going under.

This past week has been a deluge of waves.

Waves of grief,

waves of regret,

waves of disappointment,

waves of discouagement.

No storm clouds on the horizon.  No major life events or grief anniversaries-just a turning of the tide.

And so I find myself retreating a bit.

Backtracking from progress I thought I had made. Retracing steps and repeating cycles I though I had left behind.

I suspect that most of us have weeks like this.

You don’t have to bury a child to beg Jesus to make things whole again-to bring hope to your heart again-to ask Him to calm the storm and save you from destruction.

Ebb and flow.  Waves and calm.  Storms and sunshine.  Life is made up of all of these.

I am confident that Jesus is the Peace-speaker.  He can calm the wind and the waves.

I want to have faith.  I want to learn to call out in trust and not doubt.

I’m working on that and waiting for His Spirit to work on it in me.

But as I wait, I’m going to have to sit on shore for awhile.

 

 

 

How Do You Breathe?

It was the question I asked the bereaved mother that came to my son’s funeral.

It was the question a mother asked me as we stood by her granddaughter’s casket, surrounded by family and flowers.

And it is the right question.

Because when the breath leaves the body of your child, and you look down at the shell that used to be the home of a vibrant, living soul, you simply can. not. breathe.

What should be an autonomic, automatic, don’t-even-think-about-it bodily function escapes you.

When your lungs finally scream for oxygen, your body takes over, against your will.

And even more than two years later, it’s where I still live-between the conscious world of aching loss that drains me of the will to go on and the unconcious biology of a body still functioning without my permission.

I live in a no-man’s-land with one foot in the HERE AND NOW and one foot in FOREVER.

But there are no bright flags to mark its borders, no crossing guards to give warning to the people I mingle with every day that they are over there- outside my world of hurt-and I am stuck in here.

And so they wave from across the way, cheerful and unburdened by the weight of sorrow I drag around.  They give me odd looks now and then, vaguely unsettled by my inability to plunge unrestrained into their fun.

Memory escapes them-what happened? how long has it been? shouldn’t she be over that by now?

They can’t understand, and I’m thankful for that.

“How do you breathe?”

Only the ones who share the secret knowledge know the answer to that question.

You learn to will your heart to keep beating and your lungs to keep filling because there are others who depend on you and who need you to stay.

You can’t hold your breath forever, even if you want to.  

You lean harder on the hope you have in Christ.

You recite verses and hymns and fill your mind with the promises of Jesus.

And you beg the Spirit of God to fill you to fullness with His breath, His life and His hope.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 NLT

 

 

 

Broken Hearts, Beating Still

The events of this past week have thrown my body into a tailspin-like muscle memory acquired through repetitive action-I feel the terror of parents hearing the awful news that their child is gone.

It’s as if I am the one hearing the knock on the door.

As if I am the one absorbing the terrible blow.  

And I know what they don’t yet understand-there is no wonder drug or magic pill that can erase the pain.

There is no miraculous cure for a broken heart.  

I wrote this months ago, but this week has made it fresh again: 

When Dominic was born by c-section, they placed the epidural too high and I was unable to feel my chest rise and fall even though I continued to breathe.

It was a frightening experience. I WANTED to keep breathing-because I wanted to touch this new life coming into the world and into our family.

But when the deputy brought the news that Dominic had been killed, it felt like I stopped breathing and my heart stopped beating-and I would have welcomed both.

I wanted to escape the pain that filled my heart, my soul, my bones.

I think most bereaved mothers will tell you they have absolutely NO IDEA how their bodies continue to live and carry this heavy burden.

I do it for those still here and, having felt the pain of being left behind, my mama heart wants to spare the ones I love as long as I can.

But rest assured, it is a daily struggle to decide to go on.

heart_640

“Broken Hearts Still Beat”

BIRTH

I’m not breathing.
They assure me that I am.
My heartbeat thumps the truth for all to hear.
A welcome wail ushers his life into the spotlight of this wide world.

DEATH
I’m not breathing.
They assure me that I am.
My lungs draw air against my will and my better judgment.
An anguished cry marks the end of his earthly life.
I am breathing.
My body refusing to keep pace with my broken heart.

melanie desimone, november 7, 2014

There’s a Hole in My Bucket

I bet most of you reading this have listened to more than one round of the kiddie tune, “There’s a Hole in the Bucket, Dear Liza, Dear Liza”.

It is a funny song full of silly remedies for patching a bucket that won’t hold water even though it’s been dipped in the well and filled to the brim.

I was talking to my husband the other day about how hard it is to describe the ongoing difficulty of living with child loss.

And this song popped into my head.

Good things still happen in our lives (our bucket is being filled) but losing Dominic has put a hole in the bottom of it (the bucket never gets full anymore).

It’s not that we don’t appreciate and enjoy happy moments.  We do.

We love seeing our children, we like to celebrate their accomplishments and sing, “Happy Birthday!”.

We are so very proud of who they are and what they have overcome.

We savor the time we get to spend together, we enjoy eating and laughing and sharing experiences.

But we can’t plug the leak of loss that saps our strength and reduces the fullness of our joy.

Hope postponed grieves the heart; but when a dream comes true, life is full and sweet.

Proverbs 13:12 VOICE

Lest anyone think I’ve forgotten that Jesus promises joy to those who follow Him, I haven’t.

But I also know many promises will not be completely realized until He returns as King on Earth.

lion-and-lamb-best-friends-fahad-photographer

 

The lion will lie down with the lamb, but not today.

Swords will be beaten into ploughshares, but not just yet.

 

There will be no more night, but the sun still sets once every 24 hours.

rev 22_5

I am looking forward to the moment when every single thing I now believe in faith will be plain to every eye.

I can’t wait to see the redemption of not only my pain, but ALL pain.

I long for the morning when JOY is all I will know.

In that day the New Jerusalem shall descend and there will be no need for the sun or moon, because the LORD Himself will be the light.

All the way around shall be eighteen thousand cubits; and the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE.

Ezekiel 48:35 NKJV

 

Can I Quit Now?

Yesterday was one of those days-a mixed bag.  I enjoyed an unseasonably cool yet sunny day but sorrow was sighing in the blowing breeze.

I’ll be honest:

I want to quit.

I want to give up.

I’m tired of hauling the extra weight of grief while trying to do the everyday.

charlie brown too tired to cry

Every. single. thing. is harder and takes more effort than it used to.

I want a time-out!  

I’d take even two minutes of absolute unadulterated rest and joy.

I am stronger and more capable than I was, but today, this minute-I’m just plain tired.

I’m often teetering on the brink of despair and forced to throw out my arms in a desperate attempt to maintain my  balance.

Six months ago, in one of my first posts, I wrote:

One reason grief is so exhausting is that every step I take is on a balance beam of faith and hope.

I must navigate every necessary task without falling off.

Read the rest here:  Walking The Balance Beam