Monday, August 31, 2009

Webb's Room

The pictures don't quite do it justice...but here are some shots from the Webber Bennett Broach Itty Bitty Forest:

Sweet Baby Webb

Bear playing with a ball

and another climbing a tree

Baby deer looking into stream with trout

My sweet Webb under the tree

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Past and Present

Today was unexpectedly emotional.  We have been building a Storytelling Room at our church in honor of Webb.  This summer we have checked in on the progress from time to time, but most of the building was done off site.  The room is to be a forest theme and feature baby animals found in a North Georgia forest : bears, rabbits, deer, trout, etc.  Zac and I were very involved in picking out the details....Webb's nickname was Bear, so we wanted twin bears; he loved balls, so we wanted one of the bears playing with a ball.  I picked out a Scripture verse to be painted in the horizon, which was to be painted on the wall.  And we wanted a painting of Webb sitting near the mountain and horizon.  It was fun to visualize, but I had no idea how it would all come together.  This morning, we dropped Bo and Whit off in the nursery and walked through Webb's room on the way to church service.  Zac got there a little before me, and when I walked in, it was all I could do not to hit my knees.  Our eyes met in a mixture of panic and disbelief.  The room was done.  The forest we had visualized was now a reality.  We stood in the middle of it, crying and crying and crying.  People and their children were walking through, having fun looking at the animals....they must have thought we were crazy.  We were just not prepared.  There were twin baby bears, one climbing a tree and one playing with a ball.  There were lifelike trees, a waterfall, and a pond with baby fish.  There was a beautiful sunset with the verse I picked out "Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven."  Matthew 18:4  painted in the sky.  And then, underneath the verse, underneath what looks like a horizon where Earth ends and Heaven begins, was a life size painting of my baby, so real, it literally took my breath away.  The painting was done from a picture taken of Webb 3 weeks before he died.  He was laughing his unique little laugh, showing the dimple on his right cheek.  I stood and looked at this life sized Webb and almost felt like he was right there: I could see his eight teeth, his messy red hair, his sparkling blue eyes.  I missed him more than I thought possible as I stood in that room 8 months to the day we were told he had a brain tumor.  It was almost more than I could take.  People were everywhere, so we left, both of us bawling, and sat in the church service.  I had tears streaming down my face almost the entire time.  I didn't know whether to stay put or run screaming.  I could not believe there was a room downstairs honoring my child.  How did that happen?  It shouldn't be there.  Webb should be with us, not drawn on a wall!  It is surreal.  It is heartbreaking.  I was simply not prepared for the emotions that seeing his room would bring.  It almost makes his death a little more permanent.  We are still so raw.  It just does not get easier.  It becomes more manageable as time marches on, but it does not get easier.  On Friday, I drove by the hospital where Webb died for the first time since I left the day after Christmas.  I could barely even look in its direction.  I had a vague flashback of that day - leaving the hospital without Webb, which was the strangest, most horrific feeling imaginable.  I remembered exactly what I was thinking that day: "How many times have I walked through Scottish Rite and passed someone who is walking out these doors for the last time without their child?"  I probably have - after all, there is no "secret exit" for parents who are leaving for the last time.  I remembered wanting to run back upstairs to the PICU and grab my baby.  I remembered shaking my head in disbelief, thinking, "Surely this isn't happening.  Surely I did not just say goodbye to my baby.  Surely I will see him again...."
I don't know if I can ever walk back in that hospital again.  Driving by it almost killed me.
So no, 8 months later, it has not gotten easier.  In ways, it is harder.  I miss him more than is even imaginable.  I feel sick without him.  We will survive, but these feelings will not go away, and that is what makes this grief so impossible.  It is forever a part of who we are, he is forever a part of who we were.  And sometimes who we are and who we were just don't match up quite right.  

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Joyful, Patient, Faithful

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Romans 12:12

This is the scripture verse I have clung to the past week.  "Joyful in hope:" there are times, if I really try and I really think about it, I am hopeful.  I think about all the days we have ahead of us, and I am at peace.  Bo starting "real" school, Whit playing "real" sports, learning to read, riding bikes, family vacations, another brother or sister....we have so many years ahead of us.  When the worst nightmare happens at age 30, you can look at it in 2 ways : (1) we have many more years to experience joyful events or (2) we have many more years to live with the pain and agony of losing a part of our souls.  I suspect we will fluctuate between those two perspectives, but we are hoping and praying the joyful events overshadow the pain overall - until we are ultimately reunited again in Heaven.  But even in the hope, there is still the pain.  Because no matter how many joyful things happen, we will always know Webb is not here to share them with us.

....So we become "Patient in affliction."  "Affliction" seems like such an understatement when you're grieving the loss of a child, but I suppose in God's eyes, "affliction" is a pretty good way to describe it.  His ways are not our ways, and to Him, I believe Webb being in Heaven is a blessing He knows we will comprehend when it is our turn.  Being "patient" has never been my strong point, and I am in such a hurry to move past this horrible year.  But trudging through it is the only way, and I am learning patience, even in this most horrific of trials.  How does one do this?

....By being "faithful in prayer."  It is the only way.  You, my friends and prayer warriors, know I have struggled with this.  When about a zillion prayers went unanswered all in a row, and the prayers were centered around the most important things in my life, it was difficult to trust that prayer makes a difference.  I asked myself, "Why pray if God already knows the outcome?"  Over time, I have learned that prayer is not always requesting things and getting answers.  For me, prayer has become more of a way to tell God about my troubles and to change the way I react to the results.  Of course, I still make requests, just as the Bible encourages us to do.  But I have become more mature in what I expect to get out of prayer.  Now, it's not just for results or guidance, but it's a way to center my soul, have an intimate conversation with my Savior and trust He will help me though whatever life has in store for me.  He has proven faithful, time and again, in big ways and small.  And even though what we prayed for the most - Webb's healing -  did not happen, God was by our side the entire time.  It's pretty hard to give up on the One who saved my life - I would be nothing, a shell of a person, depressed and lost, without His grace.  I am not angry with God for not answering my prayer, because I trust in Him with all my heart, and I believe He only wants what is best for us.  And I came to this realization by being faithful in prayer.  So I pray.  And I pray.  I cannot stop.

Thank you for your emails, calls, dinners, prayers, cares and love.  Our family is loved more than we could have ever known.  I feel love pouring over me and picking me up when I cannot go on.  So few people will ever experience such an outpouring of love - we are truly blessed.  I have seen the spirit of God in so many people throughout these past 8 months.  What a wonderful and cherished gift.  I would ask for your continued prayers for our healing and for our weary spirits.    

Friday, August 7, 2009

What's Going On...

It has taken me a couple weeks to be able to blog about our latest struggles. Honestly, I was still trying to process it on several different levels: physically, emotionally, spiritually. I guess I have needed this time to be able to articulate exactly how I want to describe what happened and what I have taken from this experience. I will start from the beginning. In early May, I found out I was pregnant with our fourth child. Zac and I were very excited, yet we also recognized it opened up a lot of emotions about Webb's death and the aftermath of grief we are still firmly rooted in. I was feeling blessings on one hand, and strange fearful emotions on the other, like "what if something goes wrong? what if this baby is not healthy? what will we do?" I started to pray constantly for peace about the pregnancy. And on the other hand, I asked God that if the child was not perfect or healthy, to please take it in the beginning, in His natural way, so we do not have to endure that heartbreak again. That was my honest and sincere request. And yet I never felt a total peace. We hardly told anyone about it until I was well along, and after and ultrasound at 11 weeks, we saw a healthy heartbeat and started to feel a little better. At 13 weeks, I went to my perinatologist (routine visit), and we discovered there was no heartbeat. I had lost the baby, probably in the 12th week. After several consultations and a review of my past history (I sometimes hemorrhage during delivery), it was determined waiting and passing the baby naturally may not be the best avenue for me. I was quickly admitted for a D&C and woke up from that in some extreme pain. Long story very short, I had a uterine infection, from the fetus or the surgery, and I became very, very sick. I was in the hospital 5 days then sent home on oral antibiotics. I went back for a follow up and it was determined I needed another D&C. That was last Friday and I have been fine since, but have more follow up appointments. Needless to say, we are exhausted - physically and mentally. While the miscarriage itself was not completely devastating (what is after you've lost a child?) the entire situation, coupled with the fact we are already grieving so much for Webb, well, it's been tough to take.

So where was God in all of this? I'll be honest, for a minute, I did not know. First, we lost the baby, then to have all of these "rare" complications from the miscarriage. It left me asking "WHY US?!?" all over again. I felt like my children and my hope for future children were slipping away - it was like I couldn't get a grip on anything. And for what? Am I not worthy of more children? And then, I started thinking about the stupid psychic who told me I would only have 2 children last year. Wait - is that stuff real? Was that true?? I was spinning and spinning and spinning. I found my self on my knees, begging God to show up, asking Him to tell me what to do. I prayed fervently for a sign in my dreams, or in my devotional or in my life somewhere. I could not get the psychic's words out of my mind. As a dear friend told me, it had taken "bitter roots." My devotionals started heavily telling me to look to the Word. I didn't know where to start, so I said, "Ok, God, I am going to flip my Bible open. I know that doesn't always work, but if there is something you want to show me, now is the time." I opened my Bible to Zechariah, and let my eyes settle on the page. This is what God told me: "Ask the Lord for rain in the Spring, for He makes the storm clouds. And he will send showers of rain so every field becomes a lush pasture. Household gods give false advice, fortune tellers predict only lies and interpreters of dreams pronounce falsehoods that give no comfort. So my people are wandering like lost sheep; with no Shepherd to guide them." Zechariah 10. Ok, whoa. Thanks God, for reassuring me you are in control, and there are no other truths. I knew that, but I started to doubt it. He brought me back. He showed up, like He always does. Maybe not right away, but before it was too late. That's Him!! Of course, He was working along side of me the entire time, but sometimes I need a BIG sign, and this was one of those times. Isn't it amazing? I still get chills when I recall that moment and read those words.

As for the emotional part of the miscarriage? Well, I'm still working on that. Someone asked me if I went numb when I heard no heartbeat. The answer to that is no, not at all. "Numb" is "Your child has a brain tumor." "Numb" is "he's already got one foot in Heaven. I am so sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Broach." This was not that. Praise God. But I am still sad this wasn't the blessing we had hoped for. We did genetic testing and confirmed the baby had a common chromosomal disorder that ends in first trimester miscarriage 99% of the time. It was kind of comforting to be within the odds for that one. It was not genetically passed, so we have no reason to think this would ever happen again. We are still smiling and enjoying our boys, and we still talk about our future children, whether they exist or not. The point is, we know God is in control, and we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Thank you for your prayers and concerns during this incredibly difficult time.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Truths to Live By

"When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, remember: God has made the one as well as the other."  Ecclesiastes 7:14

"I promise this very day that I will repay you two mercies for each of your woes!"  Zechariah 9:12

"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know," says the Lord.  Jeremiah 33:3

"A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all."  Psalm 34:19

This is not our season.  I know that.  I have not embraced it, because I do not want to, but I am aware of it.  We have been knocked down in the worst imaginable ways over and over again.  I've been compared to Job at least 10 times this past week.  "It's just bad luck" are words I am tired of hearing.  "How do you do it?"  I am asked all the time.  Honestly, sometimes I do not know.  We have been dealt more than our share of heartache.  Plus, the heartache did not resolve the "problems" I had before it all began.  I still worry about the future, finances and dysfunctional relationships in my life.  I still struggle with the same day to day issues I always did.  But, in a way, I feel richer and more blessed then ever.  It's weird.  It's also God-sent, and this I know and trust.  It is my life, and I don't want another one.  Much has been discussed about Job, the most "cursed" man in the Bible.  But I don't even mind being compared to Job.  Why?  Because "the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning."  Job 42:12.  We have truths like these to live by.  We will enter our season of blessings.  And we are promised eternal blessings, even if we don't see them in this lifetime.  I think of all the blessings already waiting for me in Heaven and that alone keeps me going some days.  He will deliver us from our troubles.  We will be okay.