So many things remind us of her. The kids talk about her too. Lately they have been saying "That reminds me of Rachel" and it's kind of funny when they say it. We were at Costco and they said it when they saw some flowers, again when they saw spaghetti sauce (I think?), and other odd times. Today Ethan showed me a picture of a butterfly nechlace and suggested that I buy it because doesn't it remind me of Rachel? Sometimes they can't say why these things remind them of her (like the spagetti sauce)....but maybe they just want to talk about her too just like we do.
Which reminds me, if you meet us somewhere - please please do ask us how we are doing. (and give us time to answer) We might just answer 'fine' or we might want to say more, depending on the situation or how we feel at the time. Grief is kind of a confusing experience. We feel differently all the time. But I would say that OFTEN, our desire is to talk about Rachel. She might not be here, but we still have so many memories that we want to talk about. And laugh about because she did bring so much joy into our lives. Sometimes we don't feel quite ready to talk about other stuff yet. I know that it can be hard for people to know what to ask so I think I am learning to just bring her up without waiting to be asked. Someone told me the other day that I should just talk about her when I wanted - oh, it felt so good to hear someone say this. It is so refreshing to be given permission to talk freely and I hope to be able to do this for others. This is something I have learned from friends who were grieving - I was so glad when they just talked about their loved one whenever they wanted. Initiating conversations about Rachel doesn't come naturally to me - I would rather wait for you to ask. But I am learning.
I was trying to think of questions you could ask me when you're not sure what to say. Maybe if you see me staring off into space - you could ask me "Do you want to talk about Rachel? and I'll let you know. I am a pretty open book that way. I know it can be scary to spend time with people who are hurting. But the truth is - it means so much more to know that you are interested and that you care (and might say the 'wrong thing') than if you avoid me. At the same time I am learning that some people have a harder time with this and I am choosing to extend grace because God extends much GRACE to me. Also, I am not sharing this with anyone in particular in mind so please rest easy. I only share this with hopes that it will help you know what we need and appreciate right now. I do hope this helps.
Something that really suprised me after Rachel was gone - was that I actually wanted to hold other babies. Even at the memorial services! I thought it would be painful. And now, truthfully - it is sometimes. It is so different than holding Rachel - and sometimes it makes me long for her more and it is sad, but sometimes it feels healing too. So don't be too surprised if I beg to hold your baby. On our first Sunday back to church, I looked across the pews and saw a lady in our church holding her foster baby and I told Dave, "I really need to go hold her. Can I go?" It felt so right to love this precious little girl, whose mom is unable or doesn't show any interest in caring for her now. We had both lost someone but her loss seemed so much larger and I felt a connection with her. It might have seemed odd to some people that I did that. But who can say how grief affects us until we are smack dab in the middle of it? One day I want to hold a baby, the next I can't bear to see toddlers at the playground. That's how it is I guess.
By the way, friends of ours gave us a book called "Tear Soup." What a fantastic book!!! I added it to my Book List so if you know someone who is grieving a loss, look this book up.
I understand how our grief can be awakened by small things- sometimes very surprising things. Yesterday I did a Combat class at the gym. And if you don't know what it is, there is alot of punching, kicking that sort of thing. Perfect activity for a pastor's wife don't you think? I love it - it feels like the perfect kind of exercise for me right now. But there is this one movement that looks kind of like chopping the air with your palm up and all of a sudden....I had this memory of cradling Rachel's head - and it was almost like I could feel it - the bones in her head, her soft hair...and I had to walk out of the class for a bit. So often I can't remember what she felt, looked like and then there are these brief moments of remembering...
Thank-you God for all these things, for the absence that reminds me of my longing for home, for the taste of heaven that you have given us so that we will not settle for less, and the invitation to go deeper with you. I am learning that your blessings do not always appear the way I expect. Rachel's life was one of those things and I praise you for the way you have used every aspect of this journey to increase our faith. Because I know firsthand how you brought beauty from the ashes of our broken dreams, I know you can and will do it again. Help me to have eyes open wide to see it in people around me, in our own story and in theirs. You promise to make all things new and you are already doing it. I Praise You!!! I Praise You!! I Praise You!! Thank-you!!