Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's Cold

(This is Alissa. I wrote this January 19th when the power was out, so couldn't post then...)

We’re covered in snow and ice in Olympia, WA. The cold combined with power-outages has presented a new aspect of grief to me today. It’s kind of an eery feeling that brings additional emptiness. Things are dark, shut-down, damaged, quiet, buried, unsure, paused, heavy. Maybe these circumstances bring a new emptiness because all of the words I just used to describe our town resonate with my spirit right now. 

My fragile newborn girl died one month ago. One month. “The 19th” will probably bring varied emotions related to Anna’s passing for the rest of my life. It seems so very long ago, yet my body, mind, and heart ache like it was yesterday. If you haven’t experienced death close to you, you can’t understand how weird it is to breathe in someone’s spirit one moment, then try to grasp how it is suddenly gone the next. Wait... she was just breathing, looking around, making facial expressions two seconds ago... she can’t be gone! Her imperfect little heart was still fighting to beat longer than the medical staff expected. But it stopped. And some things in my spirit stopped with it. Babies aren’t supposed to die before their parents. 

* * *

(I wrote this just now...)

Thank you for continuing to read this blog. Thank you for praying, sending cards, and sharing how Anna's life has touched yours. All of these lift us a bit higher and carry us through another blurred, exhausting day. 

I'm still struggling with migraines and stomach aches. Please pray that we figure these things out so I can take care of my husband & son like I need to, spend time with friends, let myself grieve properly, etc. Matt has a cold again, and he doesn't usually get sick very often. We spent 4 nights at my parents' house this week while the power was out. Theirs was too, but they had a generator kicking heat out from the gas fireplace, and hot water. It wasn't too bad, really. We managed just fine, but it is good to be in our own home again. Praise God: I have had small breaks from the migraines off and on a couple of times this week, so I actually folded laundry, put dishes away, and swept the kitchen floor. 

Speaking of the kitchen floor... 
Today I was making dinner (another task I haven't done in months!) and started crying while listening to a song that hit me. It was "Stars Will Fall" by Aaron Shust:

When there's no breath in my lungs to scream
When there's no strength left inside of me
When there's no light that my eyes can see
I will say Your name

And stars will fall like rain
All the heavens and the earth will start to shake
Every mountain will be moved and cast away
At the mention of Your name 

When hope is a long lost friend
And the broken that was meant to bend
Lift the wounds that will never mend
I will say Your name

I cry JESUS!

I leaned on the kitchen counter as I cried, and Isaac immediately knew. He notices when I cry, and is quite sensitive and loving when I do. I sat down on the floor and let the tears come. Why didn't you move mountains for Anna, God? I cried out Your name so many times before and after she was born, believing you could. What stars did you make fall? Did the heavens and earth shake? I was sure hoping they would for my little girl. Why do other babies get better and get to go home? God, my hands feel so empty...

Isaac climbed into my lap as I cried, and just stayed there. Every few seconds he sweetly said, "Mommy?" like he wanted to help but wasn't sure how. He knew I needed comfort.

Most of the time I feel I'm trying to figure out whether I need to cry, laugh, scream, punch a wall, or run away. I'm so glad God carries me moment-by-moment, and gets me through when I never figure out which one I need. 

Like the song lyrics above, I feel like there's no breath in my lungs to scream, no strength left, and it's very hard to see the light most of the time. I believe I will eventually. And even now I get glimpses. But it's been awfully cold lately. 

And yet...

I still cry out His name. There is power in the name of Jesus. I can't see what He's doing, all the ways He's moving... but I call to Him - cry to Him - run to Him - sing to Him... and I know He is with me, even when I can't feel it. 

The beginning of this post is a portion of what I wrote on the 19th. My flip calendar displays this quote by Gloria Gaither for that day:
     God walks with us... He scoops us up in His arms
     or simply sits with us in silent strength until we 
     cannot avoid the awesome recognition that yes, 
     even now, He is here.

I can't avoid recognizing that Jesus is present. I'm wounded and beaten down. But as I look back on the past 2 months, although the memories are a blur, I see Him doing all of those things mentioned in the quote above. He has walked with us, held us in His arms, and sat with us in "silent strength". He got us through those stressful, scary days, and He'll get us through those ahead. 

Maybe God's "mountain-moving" in Anna's story is a million miracles I can't see. 


  1. I'm glad you are still writing because we are still thinking about you. What a sad but sweet image of Issac in your lap while you were crying. I hope you are finding peace with him and that he is making you smile and laugh, as hard as that may be. I hope you also get better soon and get through the days without migranes and stomach aches. My heart aches for you and Matt.

  2. I love you! I'm praying for all of you! I seriously think of you every day and I will continue to pray! I love you!

  3. I started reading your blog right before Anna was born and have been thinking of you all and praying for you ever since I heard your story. Please know that you are loved and prayed for. It amazes me when the things that I feel that God is trying to show and teach me are things that He is showing others at the same time. Although the things going on in my life in no way compare to losing a precious child, it is comforting to share the lesson of "God is in the middle of the messy."

  4. I love you guys and continue to pray for you. Sometimes I pray specifically for things and sometimes I just pray "God you know what they need, please make yourself real to them." I am not a mom, but have the heart to someday be a mom and my heart just breaks because although I don't know how you feel, I imagine how you must be feeling and it is hard to imagine having the strength to go through all of this. I said this once before on a post, but my mom lost a baby, her first, and I've asked her how she got through it. She said that it truely was a day by day grace that God gave her and my Dad as they healed and mourned but that had it not been for God, they would have been lost. Today I'm praying for new strength each morning and for you, Matt and all of your family. Love you guys.

    -Carrie Hays

  5. Still have you in my heart - I am moved by your intimate post - and thankful that you feel his presence around you as you walk this path.

  6. I check your blog all the time. Thank you for continuing to share your journey with us. You have a beautiful spirit and I trust that God will heal your broken heart. Continuing to pray.

  7. Good morning, Alissa. Still praying for you all. Carrie's post above reminded me again of a line in my favorite hymn, "Great is Thy Faithfulness". On any given day, a different part of this song might pop into my mind, but today it was from the chorus where it says "Morning by morning new mercies I see." I have thought at times that this could either mean that the mercies themselves are "new" for that day, or that I am able to see God's mercies (always there) in a new way. Either way, it's a wonderful thing to think that our amazing God - who himself never changes - is able to meet each of us where and how we need Him today.... now. Morning by morning - one day, one hour, one minute, one breath at a time. I love you sweetheart. And I am encouraged that you continue to turn to God. Your vulnerability and honesty in your posts is a gift to all of us who read, and it helps us to know how to pray for you specifically. As always, love.

  8. Thinking of you today. We've been out of town so couldn't write. Grieving is a tough process, but you are doing what you're supposed to. Bless Isaac for comforting you. I hope you feel better soon. Having migraines is so miserable. Emotions are sure tough on the body. Still praying for you and your family, Cindy

  9. Sometimes I think of writing a comment here, but I feel like everything I have to say would sound so cliche to you. I just want you to know that you are being carried on the wings of prayer. I think of you every time I hear the song that says, "I know I'm not strong enough to be everything that I'm supposed to be. I give up. I'm not strong enough. Hands of mercy won't you cover me? Lord right now I'm asking you to be strong enough, strong enough for the both of us." God IS strong enough. Thank you for showing that to us...even in the midst of the worst pain imaginable.

  10. I read this today and thought of another song for you. It's from the CD Music Inspired by The Story. Sung by Todd Smith. Called Broken Praise and is written from Job's perspective.


    Normally I'm really good with voice recognition, but I don't listen to a lot of Selah, so I didn't recognize Mr. Smith as the lead singer from that group. What sealed my desire to send it to you was this. When I googled Todd Smith, I found this article.

    Apparently his singing of broken praise, comes from a very real state, very similar to yours. He just has more time between then and now.

    But you were the one who filled my cup.
    And you were the one who let it spill.
    So blessed be the Holy Name
    If you never fill it up again
    If this is where my story ends
    just give me one more breath to say, Hallelujah.

    Perhaps Anna has no more breaths, but you do, and we do. And we will continue to raise this broken praise to our Great God, in the face of the pain and the heartache. And we, those her story, your story, have touched will continue to pray and lift you up, even when you cannot lift your own head. God is there, like Isaac, through Isaac, loving and comforting. I know you know. You are held and love and will never be let go.

    Just a reminder.

  11. Alissa - like so many, my heart aches because your heart aches. When I read this post, especially when you talked about Isaac climbing in your lap and just knowing to be there.... such a beautiful, compassionate little man you have, just like Jesus.... I continue to pray for all of you. Lovingly, Jackie

  12. Dear Alissa Your transparency helps me know how to pray for you and I do daily along with many others. Heaven must be filled with our prayers. There are no answers on this earth that could ever soothe your pain, and I am crying again right now as I lift you up before our Lord. I pray you know his gentleness and His comfort during these dark hours, and that angels surround and protect your family. I pray He will restore you in every way and fill you with hope that one day He will wipe away all tears from your eyes. Kathy K

  13. The Holy Spirit brings you to mind so often and I continue to pray. It's so hard to understand it all. I pray that He will continue to draw you to each other and to Him through it all.

  14. tears melt a frozen heart.
    God is always around; sometimes, we need to reach out to Him more than He reaches out to us each and every day. I know that sometimes the grief is so overwhelming it is tough to feel God's touch; that is when your memory needs to kick in to remember it. It's been the longest days and nights of your life, and there will be more to come. I was always told time does heal and it does; it's just so hard to let go because you're afraid you might forget. You won't forget. You gave your baby girl the name Anna JOY, and in your grieving, please rediscover the JOY Anna brought you.
    Big hugs to each of you, and God Bless!

  15. tears, tears, tears, let them come...what a beautiful gift Anna Joy

  16. You will look back on this blog some day and even in the fog now you will see clearly how Jesus was right there in the midst even when you can't feel it now. I pray peace over you and drop tears with you every time I get the privledge of reading your words.

  17. Sweet Momma! I love reading your feelings, your words. In a world where everyone questions Gods forever giving love, I feel your strength. Your conviction is a lifeline for many of us that have nothing more than daily struggles. It is so awesome to see Isaac knowing when to give Momma love. Your strength is a wonderful testimony to an awesome Savior. Hold fast and strong. I believe in both of you along with many others!

    Hugs for all of you!