"He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm,
and carry them close to his heart, and shall gently lead those that are with young." Isaiah 40:11

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Life 3 1/2 weeks after Rachel

Today was the second day that Dave was back at work and Ethan was in kindergarten.  Wow, is it quiet!!  Yesterday was ok.  But today's rain is starting to get to me.  I'm realizing how important it will be to make a schedule for myself to try and keep to and at the same time, to allow time for the work of grieving.  And it is work.  Somedays it feels manageable and I would say that in many ways, we are doing well.  The tears don't flow nearly as often now. But sometimes I feel the heaviness as a huge weight and crying is a release I need and even long for.  I have made a few trips down to the respite room where all her last things are still sitting on the bed.  Honestly, I can't help thinking that we are both still in shock - how can it really be true that Rachel isn't here anymore??? Really? She's gone? It seems impossible.

We have spent some time with others who have also known grief.  And there are so many different ways that we can hurt deeply.  Our time at the cabin and the sun was good for us.  Lots of time on the beach.  Time to scrapbook and journal and read too.  Now that we are home, I have been amazed at how busy our life is, even without Rachel.  Paperwork - ROE's for our respite workers, laundry, Thank-you cards, making plans for Dave's sabatical, getting Ethan prepared for school.  I'm so thankful for the normalacy of daily work. 

I have often thought that once I was in the right head-space and had the time to be on the computer, I would write and write.....and now that I am here, I'm not sure what there is to say.  Amazingly, it seems like I have less time to write now because Abigail needs more of me now that Ethan is at school.  (I used to make time for writing by sitting Rachel beside me in her chair, while the others kept each other company.)  However, I do hope to write soon about Rachel's last day.  I have some of it in my journal but I feel like I need to write some more things out.  I have wrestled with some remorse and sadness about her last day and how she died, and I think I am coming to the point of being able to let those things go.  Journaling and talking about these things with others has been really helpful for me. 

Thank-you again for all your notes, cards, invitations to get together etc....! We are slow to respond.  But we so appreciate your expressions of love to us.  There is alot of reading material (including comments on the blog etc...) that will be of deep encouragement to me again on those long winter days... 

And God is so Good.   We Give THANKS to the Giver of Life for allowing us to know this precious little girl.  We are sad... sometimes deeply so, but at the same time we are filled with immense gratefulness.....

Saturday, August 20, 2011

God will Keep His Promises...

Abigail turned four about eight days after Rachel passed away.  We made this cake at my parents place. 

Saw this Rainbow a few days ago, from our window....
What a beautiful reminder of God's faithfulness to us!

More rambling...

Tomorrow, we are off to our friends cabin that they are so generously allowing us to use for 5 days, so after today I am really going to take a break from writing (except in my journal) Really! We won't have internet access out there.  I think it will be really good for us to get away for awhile with each other.

Before we go, I wanted to say thank-you again for your emails, notes etc... I have been so encouraged by them.  It will probably be awhile before I can respond personally but I wanted you to know how thankful I am for your support.    

We brought the last paychecks to our respite workers this morning.  We are so thankful for them!! They loved Rachel so well and we often told them that we believe they were God's gifts to Rachel and to us.  I know that their hearts are sad too because she is gone.  We will sure miss our nightly and morning chats.  At the Wednesday funeral service, these beautiful women helped us to place some toys on the casket at the front. 

Abigail seems to be needing some extra tender loving care today.  She is having more nightmares and periods of being inconsolably sad.  Not sure how much this is connected to Rachel being gone.  But Dave and I feel so sad for her too because she doesn't have a sister (here) anymore.  And she was such a good big sister.  I wish for her that she could have had a sister here to grow up with and do stuff with, like I did. One thing on our list of things to do, is a new bed for Abigail.  We have needed to move her to a bigger one anyway.  But now we wonder if she is associating it with Rachel's death?  Shortly after Rachel died, we all gathered on Abigail's bed to say good-bye.  If we had been thinking, we would have brought the kids into the living room.  But of course, we couldn't think clearly - it all seemed like such a shock at first.  And then I noticed soon after, that Abigail was almost unusually distraught about being in her bed.  And she couldn't tell me what was wrong. I think it's a bit better now but I'm sure that sometimes our kids won't even be able to voice why things don't feel right.  Us adults can feel that way too....     

Most of the time we are really doing ok here.  We still laugh. There are plenty of things to Give THANKS for! We laugh about special things that Rachel did and what we miss.  The hurt is usually more of a dull aching, but there are times when the sadness feels so big. I guess I will just have to accept that this will be how our life will be for awhile.  Yesterday, we were getting ready for friends to come over to have a small (belated) party for Abigail's birthday...and as I was working in the kitchen, around 3:45, I started crying.  I had this incredible urge to burrow myself in her things. So I told Dave I was going downstairs to the respite room.  I lay on the bed with her clothes and toy and other things - and listened to her sleep machine (a sheep with the sounds of rain that I often played for her when she napped) and held her blankets and wept.  Maybe it was the subconscious realization that it was almost exactly two weeks since she left us.  Or the curly ribbon I found from her birthday party that she loved so much. Maybe it was looking at the pictures and imagining what it would be like to pick her up and kiss her again.  Maybe it was just time for a good cry. 


Mostly we are finding that our grief is disorienting....as if we don't know what end is up anymore. A few days ago, Ethan asked me straight faced if I would move Rachel out of the office so that he could play on the computer.  When I reminded him that Rachel was gone, he laughed a bit and said, "oh yeah, I forgot".  Sometimes for us too it feels like she should still be here.  I started thinking I could hear her crying yesterday and during the night.  One time it even seemed that our respite worker was running up the stairs and I actually got out of bed to check.  I haven't had that happen in so long.  


Caring for Rachel was a full-time job for so long.  Some people have asked us whether we felt relief.  But truthfully, we can't say that we have felt relief at her passing -so far we have just felt sadness.  I think a big reason for this is that she was doing so very well those last few months. We had come to a kind of acceptance of the way our life was, and her needs weren't a burden to us.  I think it would be different had we been in the middle of a hard stretch of spells and eating struggles.  I have heard other parents say that they felt relief afterwards and with that, came guilt for feeling this way.  And I was prepared to deal with the same.  Maybe it will come yet, and it wouldn't surprise me.  But right now I just wish more than anything, to hold her.  I know it is far better for her where she is, and I don't wish her to have one more spell, but it still hurts.

I will say that it does feel very strange to have a sense of enjoyment at being able to do things we couldn't before - and yet still feel incredibly sad at the same time.  I remember the first time at my parents when I realized that I could walk to the garden with the kids, not having to think of Rachel.  (I could never be far from her in case she had a spell) Sometimes I think the kids almost seem happier because they have more of our attention than they have had in a long time.   

Now we are making plans as a family of four.  Another thing that feels strange is to be able to do things that we normally would feel excited about, but now we don't.  I can say that we look forward to things but we don't have the same desire for them as we once did.  We feel like a family of five with one missing.  So, please don't be too surprised if you hear that I am not feeling excited.  It's just how things are right now.  It is going to take us some time to wrap our minds around the fact that Rachel is gone.  

ok, that was a long ramble...if you read this far, Thank-you. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Memorial Service in Riverton

Immediately after the burial, we had a memorial service in my home church in Riverton.  We were moved and blessed by how many people came to honor Rachel's life.  Friends lead the worship songs - "Blessed be the Name of the Lord" and "Because He Lives".  And they sang the song "In Feast and Fallow" by Sandra McCracken.  It was lovely...

One thing different from the last service - we played a video of Rachel playing with a balloon. Most of the people at this service had never met Rachel in person, so I am really glad we could show this to them.  The kids said their bit about Rachel again too.  But this time, after Abigail said that she liked to play with Rachel, she paused....and then said "We like each other."  It was so sweet. 

A Good Friend of Ours, Giving the Meditation


After the service, we laid some of the flowers on her grave, on our way back to my parent's place....


My sister and my mom - and we all Match!
I don't think we planned that.....maybe they copied me?;)
Two days later, we took pictures once more - on our way to visit Dave's parents two hours south of my parent's.......it was hard to leave....but I am glad that my mom is just across the road. She can visit it for us. 


Burial

The burial was done with our immediate family and with a few close friends in Manitoba....We sang Jesus Loves me. Oh, that was good but so hard too.  I still have such clear memories of holding Rachel and singing this song to her. Our friend did a short meditation and we did a balloon release with some pink helium balloons.  Rachel's body is buried in a small church cemetary across from my parent's farm.  I have memories of walking there with my mom, her telling me the stories behind each gravestone.  It is a beautiful place, partially surrounded by trees and the church just put a rock garden nearby.  It feels right to lay her body to rest there...but this was another very difficult job to get through.  I dreaded this moment all week.  I think part of the reason I was finally able to sleep that night was because this was done. 


Funeral Day Wed. August 10th

I am adding the pictures now....with plans to write more about the day later.

I bought myself a dress for this day - my first since our wedding! (yeah...it was probably time..)I also wore a piece of jewelry that David bought for me the day before.  It was an opal, significant because now we see through a mirror but one day we will see clearly.  It also had the eternity symbol.  I love it! Thank-you David!
Both kids helped us with the Tribute part.  They told us their name, who they were in relation to Rachel (big sister etc..) and what they liked to do with Rachel. Abigail liked to play with Rachel.  Ethan talked about a time when he set up a ramp to do 'monster truck' jumps.  In his words "Rachel laughed and laughed." 
The kids and ourselves, along with Rachel's respite workers put these toys on the casket at the start of the funeral.  These were Rachel's favorites.  The blanket is the one I knitted for her - thinking she might die in it shortly after she was born.  We didn't use it often, saving it for special occasions.  But which blanket do you think she died wrapped up in???? This very one!! I'm really not even sure how she ended up having this one at the end but she did.  I like that it happened this way. She was wrapped up in something I made for her - loved by us from day one until the day that her life came to completion.

Dave and I doing the rest of the Tribute.  You can see two stuffed toy sheep on the stand in front of us.  These were given by our Pastor to the kids during the Meditation part. A reminder to them that when Rachel died, she went from our arms into the arms of the Good Shepherd.  

We loved the music.  We sang the songs "Jesus loves me", "It is well with my soul", and "Everlasting God." Our friends performed the songs "In feast and Fallow" by Sandra McCracken and "God is in Control" by Steven Curtis Chapman.  Thank-you to everyone who was involved in this! The service was very meaningful for us.

Tribute Speech at Funeral Service

I will add Dave's speech later, with his permission.  This was my letter to Rachel. It was so very hard to write.  I spent a few hours in the middle of the night just staring blankly at the computer.  I had thought of writing something before she died but it just didn't seem right to do this before hand....but eventually some words did come....and then I stole some others...


Dear Sweet Rachel,

I think it was a few weeks ago when I talked to you in the kitchen about Jesus. It was after one of your last spells and I wanted you to know how much he loved you. I tried to tell you a little bit about heaven and what God was preparing for you and us. I usually cried when we had these talks. Do you remember Rachel? And now you are really there, and what is so hard for us to imagine and understand is now very real to you. I wish so much that I could see what you are experiencing right now. And that’s what makes it so hard to wait. My heart aches for just one glimpse.



Your fight here is over. No more spells. No more morphene and fentanyl. But also no more giggles. No more watching Ethan and Abigail bring laughter out of you. You had a special bond with your big brother and sister that you had with no-one else. There will be no more early morning moments with you – lying on our bed, in that quiet time before the day started. You trying all your sweet charms on a mommy who wanted just a few more minutes of sleep. No more warm cheek pressed up against mine. No more little feet to eat. Most of all, I miss your sly grin as you tried to get your feet up near my mouth for me to bite them. I miss seeing you shake your head as an invitation to play. I miss watching you grin with pride when you could kick off anything that was on your lap – a ball, a blanket. I love the way you fit so perfectly in our arms.



Dear Rachel, you made all of us fall in love with you. You were so full of life. What a blessing and a gift your life is to us. I remember when we found out we were pregnant, I wrote in my journal the words “Already I love you fiercely” And that love has just burned brighter. And yet, my love for you is just an echo of your Maker’s perfect and fierce love for you, and now He has welcomed you home with open arms.


To borrow another mother’s words to her daughter: I am so grateful to you for taking me to a quiet place of intimacy with God – for giving me a glimpse of the nature of his love. There was nothing you had to do to earn my love. I didn’t require anything from you before I loved you, not even your physical normality. I loved you simply because you were mine. You were not precious to me because of the things you did. Your worth was written into your being from the very first moment of your existence. The value of your person was not measured by your usefulness, nor was your identity composed of hard-won achievements or the gleanings of experience. Thank you for helping me hear an echo of God’s eternal love for us. Thank you for giving me a message and a song. You whispered them to me in the secret place, but I will shout them out. I’ll shout them to a world afflicted by activity, obsessed with strength, afraid of weakness, outraged by deformity, and intimidated by death. You were precious, Rachel, because you were created as a gift. I am privileged to have carried you. As your mother, I honor you and all that your life has been.”
(from "Shaming the Strong" by Sarah Williams)

The Viewing


Something we decided early on is that our kids should see Rachel after she died.  We had wrestled a bit with how much we should include them in the funeral process and wondered how they would handle this.  But now, we can say with confidence that it has been the right thing.  Our kids have been included in the journey from day one and so it was natural that they were with us right until the lowering of the casket.  We have cried with them. We have talked to them about how the Rachel we know and love isn't here anymore - that she is running and playing with Jesus.  (I think Ethan is really happy about the idea of Rachel getting to do all those fun things in heaven.)  Her body is like her house that she lived in for awhile.  One day Jesus is going to give her back her body all fixed up.  But for now she doesn't need it.  They ask us from time to time where Rachel is, but they don't seem to be overly concerned about our explanation.  They accepted that this is how things are.  I have often been amazed at how our kids seem to grasp and accept concepts that are complicated for us.

Off to the viewing.  Ethan was so proud to be wearing his new "Cars tie" for Rachel. Dave bought the tie and shirt for him. I just remembered now that a few days before Dave bought it, Ethan told our friends that the color yellow reminds him of Rachel.  Another reason why it seemed appropriate for him to wear it on this day!

Hugging a teddy bear given to her from the funeral home.  Each of the kids (Rachel too) were given a teddy bear.  Whenever they feel sad about Rachel, they can hug this teddy. 
  
Ethan's armband is showing.  You might remember that someone made these 'remembrance bands' for us. (actually called "Heartsleeves") We have been wearing them alot! I think it gives me strength to feel like I have a bit of her wherever I go.  Puts new meaning into the phrase, 'I'm wearing my heart on my sleeve."

Such a little doll.  I felt so proud of her - she looked so beautiful in her Easter Dress. (Reminder to us of the promise of Resurrection!)
Someone overheard our nephew saying "Is Rachel a toy now?" I think he was confused because everyone was saying she looked like a doll!

Abigail had times when she looked really sad.  Mostly she was having fun running around...and then now and then, she would stop and say that she wanted to see Rachel.  She would take a look and then run off again. 
  
 "ooooooohhhhh.....so sweet" I think he might have been mimicing us;) Ethan cracked us all up with his eagerness to serve everyone tea and coffee.  "Can I get you some tea? Coming right up!" Too bad I had to put an end to it though - Ethan running with hot tea? Not a great mix.


What went into the casket...Every item chosen with love.
1. Rachel's favorite blue shaker.  It fit so perfectly into her hand.  Abigail loved to 'help' her rattle it. Never fail - Rachel would light up every time we put it into her hand. 
2. Easter Dress from Grandma Funk and special bootees from Auntie Evonne (her christmas gift)
3. Special butterfly clip added later.  (from my mom and sister) I have a matching clip. 
4. Armband that says the word "Loved".
5. Special Teddy bear from a friend's daughter who we know from the Flames House.
6. Special "Sheep like" Blanket from a friend, given before she was born. 
6. Teddy from Funeral Home

*We kept the cross that has her name engraved on it.  It fits into the top of the casket. The casket was hand-made at a monastery in Idaho.  If you want to know more, you can click the side link on the blog.   

August 5, 2011

I don't feel quite ready to write about this day yet.  But one day I will.  And I will complete this post.  One thing I will share now is that these pictures were taken shortly before we carried her body to the hearse.  Just before we did this incredibly hard thing, our respite workers and a few other friends from the Spanish church, came to say good-bye to her and then they prayed out loud (Korean style - everyone at once) in Spanish.  It was so very beautiful...and powerful.  We sensed the presence of God with us, the power of God that gave us strength to do what we needed to do that day - one of the final acts of love that we could do for Rachel.  What a very hard day it was. But I know that God was with us. 

Just that same morning I was talking with another mother, whose child also died. And she was telling me about how when she looked back at their hard day, she could see God's hands in it, in the timing of it and in His provisions for her and their family.  It was so hard for her to see it on that day.  It was hard for me to see this on the day we said good-bye, on August 5th, 2011.  I was pretty doubtful that it would be anything but incredibly tragic.  But now, I think I understand better when she meant.  Oh, there is so much I want to share with you - when the time is right. I feel so sad at having to say good-bye, and yet, we know that this pain is real because we knew so much beauty too because of this little girl.  And we would not have traded a minute of time with her if it meant less pain now. 

Thank-you God for this precious little girl.  Thank-you for every minute, for every day...         




The Last Video and Picture

video

We think this video was taken two days before she died. I just love how expressive her hands are.  At one point, it feels like they are saying "drum roll please......then wait for it.......wait for it....'ta da!" I like the little hand tussle between Abigail and Rachel.  (Let go! I want to do it myself!) I remember passing them in the Living Room, busy with other things.  I almost didn't take the video and I am so very glad that I did now...

Wearing Jean Shorts! Picture taken on July 29. I want so much to scoop her up and cradle her body in my arms....kiss those delicious soft cheeks!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Video

Speaking of running the race set before us.....a friend sent me this video that I want to share.  *Lots of tears over here*... oh Rachel, you finished your race!! You crossed the finish line.  I wish I could have been there to see your face when you saw Jesus...

Father and Son Run Triathalon Together

Some Ramblings on Grief....

Some of this Grief feels very familiar.  After all, we did face the real possibility of Rachel's death for a long time already.  But there have been a few surprises too.  One, is how very final death feels.  I knew it with my mind before.  I believed it. But to see my child's body and know with utmost certainty that the person of Rachel was not there any more, and to feel and see the changes in that same body in the hours and days afterwards is quite another thing.  To face the truth that my child's body - her shell - will be returned to dust, is....a bit difficult for my heart to fathom.  And yet the body that we lowered into the ground is not really the body that I remember and love because she was not there.  She is somewhere else - somewhere I long to go. 

Another surprise is how much it hurt physically to lose her.  I have read alot of stories about women whose babies died shortly after birth and all the changes in their body and their physical aching for them.  I think I understood, at least on a rational level, what they meant.  But what I didn't expect is that I would feel pain for my 14 month daughter...in my womb.  It has been a long time since I was pregnant with her - and yet one of the first sensations I had after we walked our daughter's body to the hearse was the aching emptiness of an empty womb.  And then later, in those first days I found myself lying on my side, clutching my imaginary belly as though she were still there.  I guess I am remembering the early days after hearing the news about Rachel's 'broken-ness' and her death is bringing me back to the first terrible days when I spent many hours and nights trying to wrap my arms around her little body, wishing I could protect her, praying for God to heal her.  And now, while I don't feel the need to protect her - now that she is free from the body that caused her discomfort - I do miss her physical presence so much.  I can't hold her and the sensation of being pregnant with her again was comforting for me. 

If you were at the funeral in Calgary, you would remember how the Pastor gave our kids two sheep to hold on to when they felt sad.  This way they could have a visual reminder of how Rachel went from our arms into the arms of Jesus, their Good Shepherd.  Our kids hold those sheep alot - they spent alot of time holding them on our long drives in the van and now and then, they would talk about Rachel.  But our kids are not the only ones that held those sheep....

Yesterday we returned Rachel's basinet to our friends.  We threw most of her bottles away.  I used to feel frustrated at how much counter space and room space all her stuff took up. What do I need the extra space for anyway? It's going to take me awhile to take care of her things.  I don't want to rush it either. I'm not sure I want all the reminders of her to be gone - the reminder that she really was here once.  It feels like she is already slipping away too fast.  Already, I can't seem to remember her face or the feel of her and I need pictures to remind me. 

Our kids are doing ok.  They are starting to ask more about Rachel, and to show their sadness. A few bad dreams.  Acting out. I think we have learned and are still learning to pay attention to signs that they need some extra attention.  Dave had a good conversation at the dinner table with them last night.

We are starting to make some plans for the next few weeks.  First step - some time at our friends' cabin.  Looking forward to it.  Last time we went with Rachel...    

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Going to the Gym....

I went to the gym today.  Maybe it was a bit crazy of me to go back so soon, but I know that my body needs exercise.  And truthfully, it wasn't much different than it has been any other time.  I think I have grieved the loss of Rachel with every difficult spell  - and I have felt pain at each separation away from her, so very many times - that I am accustomed to going to the gym feeling sad.  I can't remember what it is like to want to go to the gym anymore - it has been a battle every time. 

Today, the tough part was walking in the doors and remembering that the last time I was there, Rachel was alive.  And the even harder part was the realization that I could put the cell phone back into the locker because this time I didn't need to be watchful for a call from home.  There was no 'spell' that might cause me to rush out of a class, for home.  Whenever I have been out of the house, I have needed to have immediate access to home for 14 months.  I think my heart still beats a bit faster when I hear it ring.  And so, for the first half of the class, my mind was occupied with the thought that there was no Rachel to go home to and with trying (sometimes uselessly) to focus on the directions.  But somehow I made it through....and this felt like a small victory because there are plenty of times when I don't.    

Towards the end of Rachel's life I started seeing this trek to the gym as a discipline that had significance in a spiritual sense too.  And Scripture has alot of references like this too. On the whiteboard in our kitchen are these words, "Let us run the race that God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Champion who initiates and perfects our faith." (Hebrews 12) It goes on to say that because of the Joy awaiting him, Jesus endured the cross - and we should think of all the hostility he endured so that we too would not become weary and give up.

There was a class at the gym a long time ago, when we were enticed to stay until the end of the class because there were prizes at the end - our names might be drawn.  And I remember how worn I felt that day - and sad.  I had planned to go home midway - and yet I stayed - just for the chance that I might get a prize.  I didn't get anything - I left with empty hands.  But I couldn't help comparing it to a different kind of race - one in which the stakes were so much higher.  And the prize so much better than a measly gym bag. I know that I worked harder that day - just picturing what it might be like to see THAT prize at the end of my 'race' and to picture HIM cheering me on.         

So often it has felt like the finish line is too far away.  Grief can be so consuming, so merciless at times.  And yet I so badly want to win the prize that God has promised us....and I see glimpses of it sometimes.  I want to hold on to them whenever I see them. Glimpses of God's grace in the stories of Narnia that Ethan is becoming enthralled with.  Glimpses in Scripture - God's promises to us about what is coming.  I wish I could see more but for now I just have to wait....

Coming home...

As we neared Calgary yesterday, we found ourselves feeling heavier and sadder.  We both wanted to be at home and we dreaded being here at the same time. And then to walk into our home...our empty home.  Oh Rachel - I wish so much that I could see you sitting in your blue chair and watch you thump your legs up and down while you watched us unpack.   I think I alternated between crying and steeling myself to do what had to be done all evening. It hurt so much to feel the emptiness, to see the feet and hand molds in the kitchen - to walk into the office where she died - to see her basinet and the things we still couldn't bear to part with.  We had already thrown away the last of her milk, the prune juice, packed up her baby food, some of her diapers, threw her clothes into the box in the kid's closet, and each of these tasks a bitterly painful one.  I remembered that one of her dirty bibs had fallen behind the chest freezer when I did laundry the morning she died.  Dave had to dig it out before we left for Manitoba.  Sometimes it is so hard to believe.....is Rachel really gone? I can't pick her up and hold her again?  I know the time is coming when I will but it seems like an eternity away.    

A dear friend of mine wrote what her 'coming home' was like.  I couldn't read it last night because it hurt so very much.  But I read it this morning.  I hope it's ok if I share it here.  It helps me to understand her journey a little better now, having had to walk into our home last night.  And I can relate to her feelings - of relief at finally finding some sleep, and the jolt of remembering when I wake up.  I am comforted to know that this will not last forever too - that this grief will change too.    
Little Bits of Grief

This morning we (all four of us) walked Ethan to Kindergarten.  He's missed a few days and he will likely miss a lot more days between now and January.  The school is very understanding and after all, it is just kindergarten.  I think it will be good for Ethan to go for awhile though.  But it was hard to wait in the playground for the line-up and even harder to see one of the moms I know from playschool look at me, even wave, but not even try to come ask me about Rachel.  I know they want to know where she is, but they are afraid to ask me themselves. And then to walk home with Abigail who was so sad about not getting to go with her brother.  I am so thankful for these two children of ours who keep us moving with their own needs, and laughing at their antics....but our family seems so small now.  

I started reading one of Dave's books on the trip home.   It's called "Yearning - Living Between How it is and How it Ought to be" by M.Craig Barnes.  Do you know it? I really liked what I read.  I found his raw honesty so comforting.  Here's a bit that caught my attention...

"Grace can be demanding. As a pastor, I am struck by how seldom we recognize grace when it shows up.  That is usually because it rides into our lives upon a vehicle that will take us to places we'd rather not go.  We are sure it will lead us to our death.  Turns out it is the way to salvation. By definition, grace is a gift.  As Dietrech Bonhoeffer reminds us, however, it is not a cheap gift.  Once it has hold of our life, it is relentless in it's demand that everything be changed.  It was the call of God's grace that led Abraham and Sarah away from their home toward the promise of a new land.  it was grace that invited the disciples to drop their nets and follow Jesus, and it was grace that knocked Paul off the course of his effort to become a great Pharisee.  Certainly no one in Scripture earned grace.  It seems that nobody even asked for it.  It did save their lives, but that salvation never looked like what they'd had in mind....."

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Let us be good to one another...

Now it's all over.....and we feel rather lost.  Not sure what we should do next.  We miss Rachel so much.  Thank-you so much for your support this last week.  There is alot of work and details involved in preparing for two memorial services and it all came together, much of it before we even asked for it - and both services were beautiful and full of meaning and reminders of our Hope.  There were some very difficult events of this last week - carrying our daughter's body to the hearse, laying her casket in the ground...and we are thankful for the strength of God.  How else could we have done it? And we are thankful for the comfort of friends.   

I don't think I will be writing much in the next while.  We will need some space and time as a family of four to rest and process and begin thinking about where we need to go next. I am hoping to learn to sleep again. Over the counter sleep-ease is helping.  Dave has a sabbatical (break from his work) coming up.  It is hard to imagine life without Rachel and we don't feel the kind of anticipation and interest in this as we once did.  As to the blog, I  expect that I will be writing here again some day.  On the trip out here to Manitoba (with Rachel's casket in the back), I journaled 19 pages so that I would not forget what this last week has been like.  One day I will write on the blog about Rachel's final hours too.  You are welcome to ask me about it.  I just want to wait until a quieter time before I share about it here. I will try and add some pictures of the last week as well, once we are somewhere with faster internet.

My new favorite book - one we listened to on the way - is The Magician's Nephew by C.S Lewis.  I have read it before but it was so much more meaningful to me now.  Here's part of it....

"But please, please - won't you - can't you give me something that will cure Mother?" Up till then he had been looking at the Lion's great front feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion's eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory's own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.



"My son, my son," said Alan. "I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another. ..."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Add on to Memorial Information:

In lieu of flowers, please consider giving to Compassion International. (Medical Response Fund) Click on the words "Compassion International" and then scroll to the bottom of the post to get more info on how to give. We will have donation cards available at the memorial services. Thank-you.

And thank-you so much for all your notes and especially for your prayers! 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Memorial/Celebration Services

And the day dawns on a very different world....oh, we miss her so much already.  I want to run downstairs and get her from our respite worker.  I want to hold her so very badly and feel her reach up and touch my face and see her silly smile.  I want to see her shake her head because she wants me to growl and bite her feet.  Some of the shock is wearing off and now the pain is hitting. Thank-you so much for praying for us.  We need God's help to get through this day and the ones that are ahead!

We have now settled on the following times for services.

Viewing - Tuesday 7:00 - 8:00pm
                 Pierson Funeral Home
                      4121 17 Avenue Southeast, Calgary
   *This is simply a come and go.  Please feel free to bring your children. 

Memorial Service, followed by refreshments
                                 -  Wednesday 4:00 pm
                                 Abbeydale Christian Fellowship 
                                 1352 Abbeydale Drive SE Calgary
             * Children are Welcome!  But fyi - Child care will also be provided for children ages 1-3 during the service. 

A Private Burial will take place at the Mennville EMC Cemetary on Friday August 12, followed by a 
Celebration Service on Friday 3:00 pm at the Riverton Gospel Chapel in Riverton, MB.  (and refreshments afterwards as well) All are welcome to join us at the celebration service. 
                                             

Friday, August 5, 2011

Rachel is with Jesus now.  She died around 3:45 pm this afternoon.  She went relatively peacefully.  It doesn't seem real.  Thank-you for praying for us. 
Rachel almost left us today.  And it wasn't because of any 'spell' that I have seen before.  I fed her - she even ate fairly well - and then suddenly she went completely stiff and still.  I think all my mind registered at first was 'wow, she's so long." She usually still keeps her legs folded up most of the time.  She has grown so much since her last bad spell. And it took a little while to realize that she didn't seem to be breathing at all.  I really thought this was "it" and I called Dave to come home and friends to come help with the kids.  Abigail was going crazy because I wasn't giving her a hug and Ethan was yelling that I didn't give him the coloring book he wanted.  This all started long before - the normal 'driving me crazy' stuff. And I was fiddling with her drugs and pacing the house whispering in her ear and kissing her cheek, watching for signs of life - and finally a breath! And then everyone got here and I passed Rachel off to her Daddy so I could pack up the kids stuff.  (our friends took them to the park - thank-you!!!)

It was taking a really long time for Rachel to pull out of this one.  She wasn't fighting it, just laboring to breathe for a long time and unresponsive - so I called the Doctor this time.  We don't call every time she has a spell anymore but this one seemed so different.  There are only a few times when I have really wondered if she was leaving us and this was one of them. I am still shaky even now because it is such a shock.  She has been so very alive and well for so long....oh God, I want this little girl.  I don't know how to live life without her anymore.  My arms ache just thinking of it.  I had forgotten what it was like to think of her death.  And now I have to remember all over again.  God, give us strength!