Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Afghan

A couple of weeks ago I was going through some old things in the basement and came across an old afghan my mom made me when she was pregnant with me. It was covered my twin bed for most of my twin bed days. Pastel, well loved and threadbare, I pulled it from the storage bin it had been in and decided it would cover Hope's bed since we haven't bought her bedding for her new bed yet.

This week our house has passed around some strange cold and everyone has had their turn being "down" for a day. Yesterday was Luke's day. As his fever broke he shivered and I turned to find him a blanket and there in the laundry basket, freshly washed and folded was the afghan my mom made. "I'd like that one, mom." he said to me pointing to my childhood blanket. I swallowed hard, opened it up and snuggled him into it. He fell asleep and I watched as he slept, thanking God for the gift that he is.

When he woke up he was feeling a little better and was chatty. He asked where the blanket had come from and why he had never seen it. I told him that my mom had made it and he just gave me a sympathetic look. I've always been honest with the kids about what happened to my mom and he knows her story. In that moment I was a kid again...just months older than Luke himself...hearing from friends at school the gruesome details they overheard their parents talking about.

He I am sure saw the emotion coming to a cusp and he began asking questions. He has asked about her before but this was different. He wanted to know her. The blanket was something tangible...something that proved that she lived.

In that moment as I told him some of the few things I remember, I realized that in my life, I have encountered great loss...repeatedly...and with Isaac and Asher, we are open and find ways to include them in our daily lives. Their pictures sit right next to their siblings and they are just a normal part of our family. I don't have pictures of my mom around...for so long I was just angry and didn't want them to know how broken this world really is...and quite frankly I didn't need the reminder.

After she died, my dad was so angry that most of her things were destroyed or donated...I have VERY few things that belonged to the kids aren't used to having objects around that would trigger them to wonder about her and honestly, neither am I. I wasn't ready for what that afghan would bring, but I have found tonight that those woven, worn threads are weaving something more beautiful in this house...healing.

As I talked with my boy, wise beyond his years he was more compassionate than most adults I know. Tears rolled down his hot cheeks as he admitted that he felt sad that he never knew her. Then it dawned on him that I was just a bit older than what he is right now when she took her life...and she was just a bit older than I am. He hugged me tight and said "It must have been hard mom, to live without your mom, I don't know what I'd do without you, but you sure were blessed to have your Grandma to take care of you. I wish I had known her, but I am glad you had Great Grandma White. You missed out on a mom and I missed out on a grandma, but God still gives us what we need." (insert ugly cry)

He does. He really does. Sometimes this world is so unimaginably broken...sometimes we encounter loss, and it breaks us...changes our world forever and leaves scars that will never fully heal. God makes no mistakes and she is the woman God chose to be my mother, my kids' grandmother. She is an important link in the chain and for nine years of my life she was a wonderful mom. I ache to know her and I won't lie and say that I don't feel cheated. I can't just keep leaving her out though...she is a crucial chapter in my story. My heart hurts knowing that there are others out there hurting the way my mom did. Others who think that the best choice that they have is to just end their life to stop the hurting. There is such a taboo even still swirling around mental illness and depression...a shame that comes with it that saddens me. We were never created to walk this world alone. I am so thankful for the hope I have in the One who gives and the One who takes away. I pray daily for the mother out there feeling as my mom must have, buying into the lie that her children might just have a better life without her. Satan is a sneaky punk...he is on the prowl and he is doing all he can do destroy families...the good news is that God is greater...Satan might be a lion on the prowl, but our Lord has him on a leash. Beauty comes from our brokenness especially when we share it and put it out there.

Tonight, I sit here, tears streaming down my face thanking the Lord for this life He has blessed me with. I have known great sorrow and I have known great joy, and both of those have helped me to be the person I am today. Tonight, the gift He gave me in my 8 year old little boy has shown me the beauty coming from grief. I've never known a wiser, more compassionate little guy and I can only pray that the Lord continues the work he is doing in him and helps him become a wise and compassionate man. Tonight...Luke amazed me...God REALLY always does give us what we need. Sometimes it hurts like Hell. Sometimes it makes no sense and brings us in a puddle to our knees.

Tomorrow, in an act of healing that I NEVER thought would happen, when we get home from serving at the City Mission, I am going to walk the steps to the basement and bring up the bin of photo albums I haven't opened in years. I am going to share with my boys the grandma that they were cheated out of. I am going to help them to see what a wonderful lady she was and how hard she tried to be everything she could be. While sometimes I just wish I could shield them from the brokenness of this world, Luke has shown me that it is the brokenness that brings beauty...we take our hurt, our loss, our grief and we keep on moving through it in the hope of comforting others as the Lord has comforted us. We will be praying for those without the hope we have that they would feel His loving arms around them, warming them like a threadbare afghan. The world is so very broken my friends, but there is hope. There is always hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.


LeeAnn said...

beautiful posting. just beautiful.

Unknown said...

I don't usually comment but I have been reading your blog since before Hope was born. Tonight I am sitting here fighting insomnia and praying for answers. See today my mother in law (who lives with us) passed away suddenly. She was fine last night and this morning she was gone. to say there is a hole is an understatement. I have a son who is almost three and a baby girl who will be a year old in a few weeks. Grandma kept my son every day while I work and this loss has been huge for him. He doesn't understand and to be honest neither does his mommy. I know that God is sovereign and will give peace through this valley but I would be lying if I didn't say that my heart was broken for my babies who probably won't remember this woman who loved them so much. Thank you for posting this. Thank you for raising Godly children who can be the hands and feet of Jesus to a grieving family thousands of miles away.


Kristy Henry said...

Kristy, this is amazing. Going to be praying for you tomorrow as you share your mother with your children. I think that its amazing how God does things like this.

Maryellen said...

This is a beautiful post and such a wise little son. Out of the mouth of babes. So proud of you to share your Mom, their Grandmom. I think we all do the best we can in this life, and sadly your Mom too. She also lost out on some awesome grandchildren and an amazing daughter & Son-in-law. You can hold on to the good memories and incorporate those into your lives. Good for you !

Jenn @Treasuring Lifes Blessings said...

Beautiful! Beauty from ashes! Thanks for sharing (((hugs)))

Cheryl said...

Beautiful post...I can't wait to hear how they enjoyed opening up the albums and a whole new chapter of learning about their grandmother in a wonderful way :) Pictures hold more than memories...healing too.

With love and Hope,

Annalien said...

What a beautiful post! God bless!

Amanda said...

Wow Kristy, this brought me to a puddle of tears ... beautiful.
I pray that the photo albums will bring back all the wonderful memories that you have of your Mum.
God bless & lots of love

Jodi said...

It's been a long time since I've read your blog Kristy but I think God brought me to this one today for a reason. I love your heart and how honestly you share it with others. You are willing to be open and vulnerable so that God can speak to others through you. I am praying that He continues to heal your heart as you remain obedient to His leading. You are doing what God commands of us in Deuteronomy 6:5-9 and your children are proof of your obedience! I am looking forward to watching how God continues to use your family as you take one obedient step after another.

LeeAnn said...

The afghan is so pretty, the colors remind me of Joseph's coat in the Bible. I love the picture of you and your mom sleeping together, under the afghan. You do look like your mom and that sweet little girl reminds me of Hope. You are loved!

Becky said...

It is something to ponder that the only memories your children will have of your mom are the ones that you pass along. Possibly they have even inherited some of the traits of this woman who never got to hold them in her arms.

Michael Card, one of my favorite artists, once shared that his father was a country doctor. He had many patients and at night would lock himself into his study and Michael would pass little notes under the door to get his attention. A friend commented to him that he is still that little boy trying to get attention and Michael wept and wept. His friend finally said, 'That's enough Michael.' He encouraged his audience, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to go back to those events and situations in our lives that have greatly impacted us. We recognize them, acknowledge them, and move on.

My mom is facing eternity soon. She too has afgans that she has made. She too struggles with depression as did her mom at a time when mental illness (depression) called for institutionalization. My goal is to pass on the memories of my mom to her great grandchildren as a woman of faith. A woman who prayed. A woman who truly did love her Lord and let them know that above all, she would want them to 'be there'.

Great post, Kristy.

Stephanie said...

Beautiful post Kristi! Thanks for sharing your heart, and your family with us.

Kelly @ Sufficient Grace Ministries said...

Oh Kristy...this post rips my heart right open. I have been aching for my mama something fierce. I know that my loss is different than yours. I had her until I was past thirty and it was cancer that took her from me. I know that isn't the same. But, the One that carries us...the One that makes the beauty from the ugly...the One that heals the broken places in the most unlikely ways...He is the same.

My mother made afghans, too. And there is something that is stirred from deep within a longing heart when looking upon something made with a mother's hands. Tangible evidence that she was here.

Crying the ugly cry with you tonight...and feeling the ache of missing, as well as the beauty of the healing...

Love to you...

Jamie Lea said...

Hi, I've been following your blog for several years. I just started a blog and linked yours up to it on my sidebar. Just thought I'd say hi and let you know :)