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 big...it 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 her...so 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.
4 days ago