I have had a few great days now, after what seemed like a very long stretch of gloominess. It felt like my feet and heart were stuck in a pit of mud. I didn't want to do anything. Thank-you Dave for your patience and understanding!! Yesterday I read stories to our kids. I talked with them and laughed and it was so healing for my soul. This morning, all my kids were happy and I made chicken noodle soup and put something in the crock pot for supper. It felt so good to 'be domestic' again.
Our lives are not just gloom and doom - there is so much laughter in this house. But I feel like I can swing so quickly from one end to the next too. This afternoon I re-read one of my last posts and decided to follow the link to Pearl's story. I was familiar with it but as I read it again today, her story brought me right back to those early days. If you want to know what it was like for us to wait for Rachel - read her story. Because if I were to write our own - it would sound so much the same. Except that we have not yet had to say our good-bye's.
The feeling of our broken hearts
The coldness of hearing the words 'termination'
The thankfulness for each peek into Rachel's world by ultrasounds
The sometimes profound thoughts coming from our children - gifts from God
The awkwardness of talking to strangers
My gratitude to David for his amazing support
The preparation for birth, the desire to see her, mixed with the dread of saying good-bye
The large bag for the Hospital, four times what other moms need to bring
The preparations to cram years of memories into minutes, hours, days
I remembered back to that day near the beginning - of standing in the kitchen holding back the sobs but knowing I had to make lunch for my kids. And Ethan said something to me that stopped me in my tracks. True story - Ethan - age 4 said to me "Mommy, don't cry. Don't you know that God takes the good things and bad things and mixes them together to make something beautiful?" Those were his exact words. We have no idea where he heard this and we did alot of asking around. I can only think that God whispered these words to him. Right afterwards, he switched into monster truck mode again. Thank you God for your gifts - your reminders to us that we are not alone. Your windows of grace.
I remember what it was like to stand in the shower and weep and weep, because that seemed to be the only place I had left where I didn't need to be strong. I remember the feeling of dread that came just before the questions and comments I knew would come. "How far along are you? oh, you'll be so busy with three. Abigail will have a sister? How exciting!" I remember telling a table full of women a bit about Rachel (right after they had ohhed and ahhed over a friend's pregnancy) and being met by a long stunned silence. Not even an 'I'm sorry'. No questions. It was like I had said something obscene and I had ruined the party. I didn't want to steal the show from my friend - but I couldn't pretend I had a healthy pregnancy. It was the truth and their lack of response hurt. I remember how large groups of people made me feel nervous - I couldn't just blend in because of the very obvious belly lump, but I didn't want Rachel to be unknown either.
And with those I knew - I wanted her to be celebrated. I wanted to talk about how special she was and how she was changing us. I had a hard time sometimes explaining the feelings in my heart but I felt so cared for when people asked me how I was really doing anyway. I was glad when friend didn't assume we were being taken care of. And I was glad they asked questions about our life, not assuming they already read everything on our blog. I found it hard sometimes to give of myself to others the way I once had - to initiate things, and I was thankful that many close friends were (and still are) so patient with me. So many of you continued to call and email even when I wasn't able to respond.
In a previous post, I wrote that a stranger said something unkind to me about Rachel. I have wrestled sometimes about how/if I should write about the unhelpful things that people have said. (and about how they make me feel) The last thing I want to do is cause you to wonder if you have been 'that person' who said something hurtful. Please trust me - I have never written something with a certain person in mind - hoping that they will read this. I can say honestly right now that I hold no bitterness in my heart - and I am asking God to keep me free from that. I have learned (and am learning) to appreciate that people show love differently. I myself often feel very awkward around hurting people and I have said 'the wrong thing' plenty of times - and I think that helps me to be more gracious to others. I am learning to see past the words to the heart behind them - and I am learning to speak up when something doesn't sound right to me too. I think we need to help teach each other how to speak to hurting people. I have alot to learn myself. I hope that writing about these things will be helpful and not alienating.
Our journey started almost a year ago. And now the things that most concern me are not so much the random 'odd things' that I have heard - but statements that indicate a belief system which I believe needs some challenging. The topic of miracles and faith has been on my mind alot this past year!! Please pray for me as I continue to work through this. Something that I have heard quite often throughout this year is a variation of this statement. "You just gotta have faith and believe. (and God will heal Rachel)" Another one is a bit different. It's "oh, I'm sure she's just fine. Rachel is so special. I'm sure God won't let her die." Neither of these statements allow room for us to express any sadness at the reality in which we have found ourselves. And neither do we believe that they portray an accurate picture of God's work in our lives. Or a healthy response to trials/disappointments in our life. A few people have been pretty militant about their ideas. I am quite weary of these 'conversations'. One day I would like to write a proper response to this. (and by the way, yes I do believe in miracles - Rachel's life has been filled with them!) But for now - if you want to read something we have found very helpful - you can re-read this post. It is titled Father's Day. (go right to the end) I copied in a section from a book we were reading while I was pregnant.
Remembering is tough. Sometimes it means wrestling again with painful memories. (Sometimes like today - we end up meandering all over and we feel a bit crazy!) But at the same time, I remember the very real experience of God's strength in my life. I remember many hours of pacing the hall of our house with music playing and I how clung to the words and to God. Many people told me then that they didn't know how I did it - that they were amazed by our strength. Honestly, I had no strength of my own. On my own, I would have been a big heap of mess on the floor. God was my strength. He carried us through.