This morning as I fed Hope her breakfast, I chatted with a friend who was looking for words to say to a couple who has just lost their sweet baby. I have been there, in that place, that deep dark place, TWICE, and yet I still find myself at a loss for words when it comes to this. Perhaps it is because there just are NO words. NONE. Not one single word changes anything. When you were hoping for a bassinet and you get a tiny casket or urn, there are no words that make that better. It sucks. Plain. Simple. Parents aren't supposed to bury their children. It is just not the natural order of things.
It breaks my heart each time I hear of another family, so cruelly being inducted into this "club". I am all too aware of all of the platitudes and Bible verses that are tossed around, and though they are all said with good intentions, they do nothing to help and are likely to just irritate an already emotionally spent couple. I, myself, try so hard to avoid such phrases, and yet sometimes, like word vomit, they spill out despite my clenched lips. We all want to have the words to help someone who is hurting so deeply.
As I have spent time in prayer this morning for this couple, and for my friend who will perform the memorial service for this sweet child, I am taken back to the day Isaac was born. The world just didn't make sense. I had been on the fence about God prior to this and was sure that if this unimaginable pain was coming from Him, I wanted nothing to do with a God like that. I remember lying in that hospital bed on that rainy July day, filled with anger and consumed with sadness. The days that followed were a fog for me. I had reached my melting point and had just checked out. I went through the motions all the while the anger was eating away at me. Howard was the only one with a window to the rage I felt. I hid it as well as I could but took it out on the one I loved the most.
I carried that guilt and anger for far too long. I held onto it as if it were the last thing I had to grasp after losing so much. I was confronted with the idea that a very large percentage of marriages will crack under the kind of tragedy we faced and Howard and I made a pact to survive. Nothing more, nothing less. Just survival. That was it. It wasn't the fairy tale we had hoped for, but our minds could not think far enough ahead to imagine joy again and yet we did not want to have to endure anymore pain so we decided from that day forward we would survive together. That meant him understanding my incessant need to talk about Isaac constantly even to strangers and my understanding his need not to. We dealt with things differently, I worked through my anger and he held on tight. We picked up the slack of the other when the grief had consumed one of us and we retreated to bed. It was a team effort for sure.
In the days and weeks following the death of Isaac, we experienced God's love, in a tangible way. Many people we barely knew acted as the hands and feet of Jesus and poured their love out upon us and my bitter heart began to soften. It is a long process and one that is different for everyone, but as I sit here today, praying for this couple, I am reminded of our decision to survive. For now that is all you can do and really it is enough. God will take care of the rest.
It is crazy to look back to those days where my grief was so thick I could barely get out of bed. They seem like forever ago and yet they seem like just yesterday. I have come a long way from that place. I am far from "all better" but I am changed. I have found joy, and yet I still feel the sorrow, I am a better mom, wife, daughter and woman of God. I still miss my boys each and every day, but I am with God's grace, able to each day put one foot in front of the other and keep on keepin' on, but back then, back on that rainy July day, it never seemed possible. It felt like that anger, bitterness and sorrow had taken up residency and there was no room for anything else EVER. I have since learned that letting go of the anger and bitterness doesn't mean forgetting or letting go of my boys, it has allowed me to fully embrace the gift of each of my children and praise God with every breath.
I would be honored today if you would pray with me about how God would have me reach out to this hurting family. I have not walked their personal journey but do know the agony of losing a child (twice). My heart breaks for them and I pray God would use me however He sees fit. I want them to feel the comfort that God had so graciously extended to us in our times of great need. I want them to survive.
and in the words of Gloria Gaynor...." I will SURVIVE!" (LAME-O but I could not resist)