Repost: Hallelujah is an Exhale

You can’t hold your breath forever.

But when you first learn your child is dead you want to–oh, how you want to.

I don’t know if it was defiance or hope that made me certain that if I could just stop breathing, I could freeze time.

Read the rest here:  Hallelujah is an Exhale

Who Steps In? Who Walks Out?

I was absolutely overwhelmed in those first days.

Cars, cars, cars filled my long driveway and front yard.

People spilling out like ants scrambling after the hill is disturbed.

Oh, our hill was disturbed-knocked wide open by that deputy’s visit.  Phone calls to let others know.  Phone calls from people who couldn’t get in touch with him and were just checking “in case something had happened”.

It had happened.

It. HAD. happened.

After the customary ceremony and handshaking and food, the cards flooded in.  Some with hand-written heartfelt messages of, “praying for you”, “we are so very sorry”, “we love you”. Some with pre-printed poems that absolve the sender of the need to find words for things for which there are no words.

My son is dead.  What can you say to that?

And then the silence.  The morning that I woke up to  realize I had done all I ever could do for Dominic.  My last act was to find his body a resting place and pray his soul to heaven.

He was home.

I was left in a strange country filled with landmarks I no longer recognized and a language I no longer understood.

Who comes into that?

Not many.  Only a few brave souls stick around for the after-only a few true friends keep calling and coming and caring for the long haul.

Because sitting with me in my grief, listening to me question my faith, keeping company with uncertainty and loss of control is frightening.  It takes great self-control to simply be present and not try to say something or do something to try to fix the unfixable.

If it could happen to MY family, it could happen to theirs.  And no one wants to think of that unless they have to.

So most leave.

Not immediately and not flamboyantly.  They just drift away like unmoored sailboats caught in the rising winds of life and busyness and school plays and church socials.

My personal tragedy is a footnote to their life journal-and who reads footnotes?

But there are a few who purpose to make my burden their burden.  

A few who call and write and text and message on the important dates like when he died, his birthday, Christmas, Easter.  Even fewer who call and write and text and message just because-just because they heard a song or saw a sunset or remembered for a moment that there is a mama out there who carries this grief 24/7.

I have no idea how Jesus will reward His followers when they make it Home.  But I have a sneaking suspicion that the ones who choose to run in when others run away will receive a crown. Because their faithful love in the dark places brings life and light to hurting hearts.

And isn’t that the essence of the gospel message?

You are not alone.  

You are loved.

There is a way forward.

When you have exhausted all your own resources, God has made a way where there was no way. Even when you can’t take a step on your own-especially when you can’t take a step on your own-Jesus will carry you.

The ones who stay sing the gospel song to my heart.

They remind me that Jesus hasn’t forgotten.

presence best gift

 

 

(Almost) All Together

Our family has never been the “go somewhere for the holidays” sort.  We tend to stick close to home, to what’s familiar, to routine and regular bedtimes.

But lately life has thrown us a number of curveballs. And we are learning to swing at them instead of just letting them lob past us.

So just after Christmas, the four of us that were together in Alabama took a drive down to Florida to spend time with our oldest son and his wife in their new home.

We spent New Year’s Eve on a windy dog beach enjoying waves and walks and friendly strangers whose mutts came over to sniff ours.

Seafood  and people watching at a nearby restaurant sitting outside in the breezy cool topped off a lovely day.

I’m learning to live with Dominic’s absence.

I’m (almost) used to photographs of my three surviving children documenting adventures that don’t include his smiling face and raucous antics.  I’m trying to recapture the joy of his life and not dwell as much on the fact and circumstances of his death.

I can look forward a little further on a calendar.  I can plan a bit more.  My heart finds some satisfaction again in hosting friends and family for special occasions or no occasion at all.

In a word, I’m “better”.  

Not healed-never healed (past tense)-until heaven.

But oh, so thankful for the days I have to spend with the family I have left.

I don’t know if Dominic can see us from where he is, but if he can’t, we’ll have lots to tell him when we get there.  

One day closer.  

 

 

Christmas Cards-Yes? No? Maybe?

Getting Christmas cards out on time was always a challenge in my busy household.  

So for the last years of kids at home, we transitioned to sending New Year’s greetings.  It was easier to get a family photo with everyone home for Christmas, there was no artificial deadline to send them and we could include a “thank you” or respond to news in their Christmas letters.

I haven’t sent anything for three years.  

What could I say?  

And a family photo was out of the question.

But faithful friends and relatives keep sending us theirs.  

As I was looking at them this past week, I decided to make a go of it one more time.  I sat down and pecked away at the computer keys until I composed something that felt right.

HERE’S WHAT I WROTE:

“Hello from the DeSimones!

For anyone counting, it has been three years since our last Christmas/New Year’s update.

I just could not figure out how to send greetings when our hearts were so very wounded and sore.  I’m still not sure how to do it-but am plunging ahead. 

We are learning to live with the absence of Dominic.  We are learning to carry the weight of grief and sorrow that burden our hearts.  We are managing the necessary tasks of life.  We are moving forward in careers and education.  We live and love and even laugh.

It’s not the same.

It will never be the same. 

And that’s a testimony to our enduring love for Dominic and his lasting impact on our lives.

We look forward to heaven, where everything that the enemy has stolen will be redeemed and restored. 

I’ve been reading The Jesus Storybook Bible-it is a remarkable way to re-imagine and re-engage with God’s Story.  My very favorite part is a paraphrase of Revelation 21:4:

‘And the King says, “Look! God and his children are together again.  No more running away.  Or hiding. No more crying or being lonely or afraid.  No more being sick or dying.  Because all those things are gone.  Yes, they are gone forever.  Everything sad has come untrue.  And see-I have wiped every tear from every eye!”‘

[Here I inserted updates on each of us under the title “newsy bits”]

We are thankful for each one who has encouraged us, loved us and stuck with us in this journey.

It’s our prayer that this Christmas season the Saviour will fill your hearts-hurting or happy-to overflowing with His love, grace and mercy.” 

You may not be ready to send Christmas cards. Maybe next year, or maybe never and that’s OK.

I’m sharing so that perhaps my words can help you find a way to tell your family’s story.  

Christmas for those of us missing a child we love will always be different.  It will always be tinged with sadness.

But we are stronger together.

We can hang on harder when others hang on with us.

I appreciate each person who reads this blog and takes time to comment.

Thank  you for encouraging, loving and sticking with me in this journey.  

May the God of all hope fill your hurting hearts with hope as we wait together for our faith to be made sight.

 

 

Waiting For Release

 

This is our third set of holidays without Dominic.

I didn’t think I’d survive the first week after he ran before us to Heaven, but here I am approaching three years since he left and I’m still breathing.

I don’t know what I expected, exactly.  

Maybe that I’d get better at this?  Maybe I figured that I would be able to work my way through the maze of emotions and arrive at some destination?  

I‘ve become proficient at pushing down the rising tide of tears and terrible thoughts.  I’m great at ducking into a bathroom or around a corner or behind a store display when that fails and the tears fall.

My heart has learned this odd rhythm-thump, thump, thump, skip a beat for where Dominic used to becarry on.

The loss and sorrow are no longer a burden I carry, they’ve settled in my bones. 

I’ll never be rid of them.  Never be able to put them down.    

Sometimes my life feels like a kind of prison.  The freedom I once enjoyed-freedom from the knowledge of loss, freedom to hope, freedom to live with joyous abandon-has vanished.

I am powerless to change my circumstance.

Dominic is gone, gone, gone.

Like Israel, I must wait on the Lord to bring release.  

o-come-emmanueal

 

So this Christmas season I’m thinking about BOTH the birth of Jesus-the long-awaited Messiah-AND the dark and empty years of waiting that went before.

I know the end of the story.  The price has been paid and the place prepared.

I’m waiting for God to open the door.

A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes – and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of advent.

~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Repost: Surviving Christmas

February, 1992 I came home from the hospital with our fourth baby and woke up the next morning to a house full of children ages infant to six.

I thought that would be the most stressful and challenging season of my life.

I was wrong.

Read the rest here:  Surviving Christmas

Just Tears

No great wisdom today.  No wonderful insight.

Just tears.

woman-looking-through-rainiy-window

A day that was going pretty well ended in a conversation with someone who should have known better stomping all over my heart.

Someone who is very much aware of my loss acted like it hadn’t happened.

It really hurt.  

After all this time I was surprised by how very much it hurt.

So I cried.

IMG_2410

 

I cried because I miss Dominic.

I cried because a day that had felt victorious ended in defeat.  I cried because it feels selfish to hold people to the standard of caring about my broken heart when they are so busy with their own lives.

I cried because it feels like even those who shouldn’t forget ARE forgettingthe son that walked beside me for almost 24 years has been set aside in less than three.

My heart hurts and I don’t think I can just suck this up.  I’m not even sure that I should.

Where do I draw the line between extending grace and asking for it?

I just don’t know.

heart and wood