Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Little" Losses

Fourteen months ago, I said goodbye to one of the loves of my life, and since then, I've never been the same. Recently I looked at Bo and Whit and realized our lives would be completely different if Webb was still alive. They would be different, their relationship with each other would be different, their relationships with us would be different...and for some reason, that makes me so sad. I can no longer easily picture what our lives would be like if Webb was still with us, and the realization of that loss is huge. You see, when you lose someone, their life itself is a giant loss, but the losses that flow from their death, the ones that pop up months, even years later, are the ones that take you by surprise and keep you constantly in a state of evolving grief. It's part of why there are some losses that are impossible to "get over." I experience these "little losses" all the time, which are still part of the giant loss but need their own mini grief session all the same. For instance, Bo and Whit have been sharing Bo's room for several months. Recently, I decided it made more sense for them to move back to the twins' room since it is twice the size. We had not taken down Webb's crib yet. It still sat in the exact same place it did the last night I laid him in it, December 22, 2008, with his name hanging above it. I could not even THINK about taking that crib down the first year. But once I decided to move the boys into that room, I was able to do it. I was sad, but not hysterical because I did it my way, in my own time. It was a loss, but one I had prepared for, so handling it was something I could do without breaking down. The rest of my life I will have to deal with these "little losses" that aren't so little.

Many people have asked me how we have been able to maintain our strength, our sanity, our faith and our marriage in the midst of such unspeakable grief. I have a lot of answers, but "the answer," of course, is by the Grace of God. Something happens when you are faced with the worst of all, something I have a hard time putting into words. "The peace that transcends all understanding," is the closest I can come to describing what Jesus does for those who are broken, but I heard those words a million times before I felt them and didn't appreciate them until I experienced them. It's a double -edged sword, because I would not wish this type of experience on one person, but in a way, I feel incredibly lucky to have heard and felt God in a way that I never knew existed.

Part of a song that captures some of what I'm talking about is copied below. It is called "Held" by Natalie Grant, and I must have listened to it 100 times a day right after Webb died and still listen to it every once in a while. For me, it is such a great description of the way I felt when Webb was ripped from my life - "held." After Webb died, God didn't sweep into my life in a big way and start telling me I was going to be ok and help me in and out of bed. No, it was much more subtle than that. Looking back, He was there the entire time, but sort of off to the side, giving us His gracious, quiet presence and His small, still voice. I remember feeling warm, comforted and peaceful - "held" is an almost perfect way to describe it, similar to the way I imagine my children feel when they are in my arms - safe and secure no matter what may come....

by Natalie Grant
Two months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing
To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling
Who told us we'd be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We're asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it's unfair

This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow.....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Picture of my soul....

For 13 months I have been unable to look at pictures of Webb I wasn't used to seeing everyday. Of course, I have several in frames in my house and in my office and in my parents' house that I see all the time. But then there is also this giant box of all these pictures I have not looked at in so long. Pictures of the twins' birth, right up through a week before Webb died. I finally opened the box. I looked at hundreds of pictures of my boys and remembered those days. I thought I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Webb and Whit because they were SO identical - especially when they were younger. But I could. I could tell which one was Whit and which one was Webb in every single picture. And it filled my heart to see that baby, in a way I couldn't even describe. I had been avoiding looking at the pictures because I was afraid I would feel such pain because those days are long gone. And there were little stabs to the heart as I looked through the pictures. But I mostly felt peace. And love. And looking at those cheeks, those eyes, that dimple, that smile, reminded me how happy he was. Right until the end. I was able to tell myself he was not in pain and believe it. I looked at pictures of myself and in ways I was barely recognizable. Did my face used to be that round? Did my eyes really sparkle like that? Was my brow smooth then, not furrowed? I have changed, inside and out. I am not that girl anymore. And although that makes me sad, I know that I have grown, and I know that I have an insight I never had before, and although I would trade all that for Webb, I cannot, so I must accept this new reality that is my life. I closed the box and cried. Cried for me, for Webb, for Zac, Bo and Whit. I wondered again why we are on this path and why the roads are not straight for us. I wondered why, 13 months later, we still have so many challenges, so many obstacles to face. I do not know the answers. I do not know why some people move through life without one bad thing ever happening to them and why others cannot catch a break. But I don't think God causes those circumstances anymore. In fact, I know He doesn't. God didn't promise us that being good meant life would be good. But He does promise to be there when the bad comes. And He is. He is here. But to quote Mother Theresa: "I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much."