Who’s Holding on to Whom?

I have three surviving children.

And every time I don’t hear from one of them when I expect to or I can’t reach them on their cell phone I have to take a deep breath and speak truth to my heart.

God began to do a good work in you. And I am sure that he will keep on doing it until he has finished it. He will keep on until the day Jesus Christ comes again. Philippians 1:6 WE

 

I have to talk myself out of plunging headlong off the precipice of dark “What ifs” that is always at the edge of my concious thought.

 I have to remember that even when I am right there with them, I am not in control.

I am not the one who orders their days and determines their steps.

You see all things; You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb; Every detail of my life was already written in Your book; You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it. Psalm 139:16 VOICE

all my days written

Losing Dominic suddenly, unexpectedly and violently has shaken my faith. All the verses I recited and underlined and “claimed” now bear witness against my doubting heart.

So I remind myself that God had a plan, He has a plan and that He worked His plan through Dominic and is now working it through me.

“Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; [and] he was buried with his ancestors” Acts 13:36 NIV

Here I am, a bit more than two years later, and I can say this:

If my grip on Jesus was the determining factor in staying connected, I would have fallen into the pit long ago.  If MY hold on hope decided whether or not the rope slipped through my hands, I would be lost.

But while I can muster the strength (sometimes) to grab desperately at a thread of His garment, I am not the one who holds Him.  He is the One who holds ME.

no one can snatch them

Jesus said:

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never lose it or perish throughout the ages. [To all eternity they shall never by any means be destroyed.] And no one is able to snatch them out of My hand.”

John 10:28 AMPC

I still have work to do, and I don’t want to be immobilized by fear of what might happen.  I don’t want to waste the days that I am given by worrying about the ones that might be taken away.

gods workmanship good works

For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]. Ephesians 2:10 AMPC

So I recite truth to my heart.  

I sing courage to my spirit.

I remind myself that while  I am not in control, but I am loved by the One Who is.

loved by the one in control

 

It’s Complicated

One of the things I’ve been forced to embrace in the wake of child loss is that there are very few questions, experiences or feelings that are simple anymore.

“How many children do you have?”

A common, get-to-know-you question lobbed across tables, down pews and in the check-out line at the grocery store.  But for many bereaved parents, it can be a complex question that gets a different answer depending on who is asking and where we are.

I decided from the beginning that I would say, “four” in answer to that query.

But that doesn’t always get me off the hook.  A follow-up of, “Oh, what do they do?” means that I have to make a decision:  do I go down the line, including Dominic in any kind of detail or do I gloss over the fact that one of my children now lives in heaven?

I try to gauge whether or not the person is deeply interested or just being polite. No sense making them feel uncomfortable if they are really only making chitchat.

All of these calculations flash through my mind in an instant but they are distracting and draining.

“Want to go to a movie?”

Maybe.  

First I have to look up the plot (something I never did before because I didn’t want to ruin it).  I can’t be stuck in a dark theater in the middle of a row full of people with no way out if larger-than-life there will be anything that sends me back to Dominic’s accident.

Same standards for television shows or books-but it’s easier to turn those off or set them down.

Sitting in church can be excruciating.  

A hymn or chorus, a Bible text, a random statement from the pulpit-any or all of those things can lead my thoughts down a path that takes me to a dark place where sorrow is overwhelming.

No matter how much I long to listen and participate, I find myself literally biting my tongue so that I don’t burst into loud sobs.

It doesn’t happen every Sunday, but I never know when it might.

Social media is an emotional minefield.  

first world problems

 

I confess that in the first days after Dominic left us, I had to limit the posts that showed up in my Facebook newsfeed.  It was too difficult to see complaints about children growing up or graduating and how hard it was to “let them go”. I could not take whiny status updates that included having to wait in line for the new iPhone.

It’s easier now that my grief isn’t so raw but there are days…

Making a meal, I reach for his favorite ingredient or leave something out because “Dominic doesn’t like it that way” and then I remember he won’t be here to eat it.

waves of grief

 

Music can transport me to a moment of joy or pain with a single note.

Sometimes I walk in a store and smell coffee-he loved coffee-and I have to turn around and leave.  Other times the fragrance draws my mind to sweet memories of shared Starbucks runs for a caffeine infusion.

 

If you ask me to do something next week or next month, I might say, “yes” and then find on that day I just. can’t. go.  

I used to be a woman who lived by her calendar and commitments, but now I’m someone who never knows what a day will bring.

Learning to live with this changed me is an ongoing process and exhausting at times.

So much energy is used up negotiating what used to be simple things that there’s not enough left for pursuing new interests or delving deeper into old ones.

I’m trying to reach equilibrium.  

I long for a time when simple things are simple again.

But I don’t think it will be today.

courage doesn't always roar

 

 

 

 

Some Days, Getting Out of Bed is Courageous

We walk past them every Sunday.  

Those people who almost didn’t come to church.  The ones who spent thirty minutes just talking themselves into getting out of bed.

And we never know.

Life is hard.  Suffering abounds.  

Since losing Dominic I have become ever more aware of how very many people are hurting. And how very many people are truly brave.  Every. single. day.

It’s one thing to act in an instant-when adrenaline rushes through your veins and pumps extraordinary strength to your muscles and grants clarity to your mind to gather all your nerve and power to jump in and DO SOMETHING.

It is quite another when, without aid of chemical courage, you wake each day to a long list of “to do” items knowing all the while you will be dragging the heavy weight of grief and sorrow everywhere you go.

Read the rest here:  Brave

 

Brave

I grew up reading and hearing tales of bravery, of one person risking their life for another, of people standing for their convictions and dying because of it.

The first time I read The Hiding Place,  a book about Corrie Ten Boom and her family’s commitment to hide Jews from the Nazis, I cried and cried.

It cost them everything to do the one thing God had called them to do.

As the years rolled by, I learned of personal stories of rushing into burning buildings to save children and of others standing between violence and its intended victim.

All of these people were brave.  All of them put aside fear of their own safety to do the right thing.

But I am here to tell you, some of the bravest people I know are mamas who have buried a child.

It’s one thing to act in an instant-when adrenaline rushes through your veins and pumps extraordinary strength to your muscles and grants clarity to your mind to gather all your nerve and power to jump in and DO SOMETHING.

It is quite another when, without aid of chemical courage, you wake each day to a long list of “to do” items knowing all the while you will be dragging the heavy weight of grief and sorrow everywhere you go.

Brave is the mama that still participates in her surviving children’s birthdays and school plays and graduations and weddings–all the while marking in her heart the child that IS NOT THERE.

Brave is the mama who gets up, gets dressed and walks out the door to work.  The one who manages to lay aside the overwhelming grief load and still get the job done.

Brave is the mama who boxes up what’s left of her child’s belongings, the things that speak of who he was and who he was going to be and lays them aside for another day, when the pain might be less and she can look  at them again.

Brave is the mama with the broken heart who keeps on keeping on-who shows up to church, who goes shopping, who cleans her house, who refuses to give in to the cloud of doom that threatens to undo her.

And the very bravest thing about these mamas is that they know, THEY KNOW, that this side of heaven, there will be no relief, there will be no respite and they have no idea how close they are to the finish line.

courage doesn't always roar

These brokenhearted warriors are committed to continue to love the child they lost and those around them by bravely facing each day as it comes, giving the best they have to give, and persevering until the end.