Thursday, August 22, 2013

Praying about Grief and Gratitude

This morning I prayed for a friend grieving the loss of her son.  He was stillborn a few days ago.  I've been grieving with her ever since and my heart is heavy.  It was only a few months ago another friend went through this as well.  This tragedy seems rampant and ever-present all around.

I have been praying daily for her heart and body to heal. For her family to feel peace and comfort and know her precious son was made for God's glory in eternity.  To know that her son is in Heaven and the length of his life is not in correlation to its importance.  I've been putting off actually blogging about these prayers because I want to "write it right."

Not that I have the words, I don't.  I learned, when my daughter died, that no one has the words.  But the silence was deafening.  I wanted to pray scripture over her, and over all who are mourning.  However, I am busy. And tired. Like really, really busy and really, really tired.  So I spoke to God what my heart felt, with no eloquence or beauty to it.

Today was a challenging one.  My current Facebook status reads: Somedays I just... Can't.  I do and did and will, but my head isn't in it.  It has shut down.  I overslept - the whole house did, since once again we were up to late (and here I am typing at 1 am because it is the only time I am not attending to the needs of a child).  I hate that, it gets the whole day off wrong.

Taylor comes to me tear-stricken with a phone charger and penny.  "I don't know why I did it, Mom." she sobbed. I guess she stuck the penny in the electrical outlet, blew a fuse in the house, and the charger caught on fire briefly, started smoking, and both it and the penny were charred.

I took her face in my hands and asked if she was hurt. She wasn't.  "I don't know why." she kept saying. "Taylor Honey, I didn't ask why. I know you know it is not safe to play with outlets. It is also very important to take your pills first thing in the morning to help you."  She was concerned I was mad and I explained no, she was not in trouble.  I am glad she is not hurt and very proud she told me the truth instead of trying to hide it.  There will be no punishment.  I hugged her; she really needed a hug at that moment.

(BTW - It is by the grace of God alone that I did not yell. A new phone charger costs money. She's old enough to be in the kitchen alone without starting a fire. I had to go to the circuit breaker and fix the fuse, etc.)

Shopping and appointments today were a new level of hell. Dean needed to be weighed and his height measured.  It may have to do with prior experience (he has failure to thrive and often after a weight check blood tests or other exams were needed) but he loathes standing on the scale.  I stood, cringed at the number - the highest of my life - and stepped back on with him in my arms.  Full scale meltdown followed (not tantrum, they are different) and we never did get his height.

He really wanted to go to the park so I gave him a new opportunity to earn it.  I went to Lifeway to buy my friend a book (Safe in the Arms of God by John MacArthur - regardless if you believe in Jesus or not, the concept that your child is in Heaven has to be comforting) and a figurine.  Dean runs rampant throughout the store. He breaks a toy and drives a car around the store.  I have a baby in my arms and a heavy bag on my shoulder and just had to leave.

At the checkout he grabs candy and asks for it. A firm "no" is, of course, my answer. He asks again, this time shouting and crying. I take it away and he grabs it again. This goes on.  "Dean, I know you want this candy but my answer will not change. No, not right now because of your behavior." Of course logic and gentle parenting do not work on him. I had to carry him out (still holding the baby) and forcefully buckle him into his carseat.

Later he dumped a slushy (his sister earned one) on the changing table and all over the blankets he had covered the floor with (threw them off his bed).  He's down to zero toys (we've been taking away what he does not clean up) so he is finding new ways to make mischief.  I gotta give him credit, he is creative.  While I was putting away groceries in the kitchen I managed to keep a good eye on Bruce but lost track of Dean.  He was in my room with the peanut butter jar, rubbing it all over the walls and bed with his bare hands.  Oh, and he was poopy, in underwear, for the 2nd time today.

The day continued like this.  The kitchen I worked so hard to clean was beyond disasterous by night.  I barely squeezed in the game I promised the girls and wrestled with Dean for hours to get him to sleep.  Bruce was having a rare fussy day as well.  When the chaos settled I pulled out Bentlee's memory basket.  I was looking for a poem I wanted to share with my friend when I drop off meals and a gift on Friday. Instead I found myself reading the cards and my pregnancy journal.

There it was - raw, fresh pain.  As if she died just yesterday.  I read about emotions I didn't even remember feeling and thoughts I forgot I had.  So much despair, so much anger, hurt, numbness.  I had prayed that others would see Christ in me through this.  I wrote how He was getting me through this (I also confessed to being livid with Him) an hour at a time.  The tears came flooding down and I remembered what it was like to feel that grief.

I stopped, looked over at the kids, asleep in a heap on the living room floor (no judging, it needed to happen that way today), the baby at my breast, and I cried.  I confessed my sin of ingratitude.  How quickly we forget all the we have been given.  Lord, I am so grateful for these children and for this life.

Actually, my life is so amazing I have to remind myself not to brag. Not to talk about how happy I am too much because so many others are in a place of deep hurt.  Yes, I struggle with the usual parenting challenges, and special needs, and we are always broke, but I am blessed.  Profoundly and deeply blessed. I mean, I named my blog website Simply Blessed Journey. How can I so quickly forget all that I have?

Sometimes I look at Bruce at I wonder what it would be like if his twin had not died.  If I was raising them together, how special it would be! I feel a twinge of sadness, because it is okay to allow myself to feel sad over that loss.  But Bruce has brought such healing to our family and we are all in such a blessed place right now.

It wasn't long ago I was pleading with God to bring her back.  If I could just go back to the time when she was still in me and still alive.  I remember wanting to enjoy Dean being still a young baby and my girls so innocent but also wanting to move past the pain, past the time in life when it hurt so much.  How can I press pause and fast forward at the same time?!

And I forgot that.  So I set out to offer comfort to another, but instead was comforted by her circumstances.  The loss of my children past remind me in the present to appreciate what God has given me.  How dare I lose sight of the most important truth here: my son, while challenging, tiring, and mischievous, is ALIVE. Sure, I had to drag him kicking and screaming, but I would give anything to be doing the same to my dear Bentlee today.

So once again I am reminded of all that I DO have.  I needed that today.  Thanks for that, dear friend. And know you are not mourning alone, I am feeling your loss and praying for comfort. I'm thankful for the 9 baskets of laundry I just folded because it means I have a family to clothe. I'm grateful for the house that needs cleaning because it means I have a home and children to mess it up.

I'm sorry I don't have more fancy words, but know that you are blessing others right now. I look back on where I was 3 years ago and see how far our family has come.  You too will someday be able to comfort another.  The pain will always be with you and you will carry his memory forever, but it will hurt less and differently.