The sadness has started to sink in more these past few days. This is really hard. This sadness is so deep. It is dark, confusing, and all-consuming. I'm learning it's called GRIEF.
I still believe in God and His goodness and perfect will. But I also believe that He can handle my disappointment, anger, confusion, and tears. I don't get why things turned out the way they have. I want my baby back. I miss her terribly. It's so hard to accept that we've really been through what we have.
I've been crying more lately. But I still haven't let myself really cry. The yelling, wailing, yearning-type cry that I long to let loose. I still hold it in. (Not sure why - maybe I've trained myself to hold it in for years.) My body needs to let it go - to exercise, to cry, find release. I'm worried that Isaac will be scared if he hears/sees me that way, or the neighbors will wonder. My whole body is tense, and my neck is sore. Maybe that's why I have such a bad headache... still...
Matt went back to work today. I'm concerned for both of us. Matt is grieving, too, of course. But we are grieving differently, and aren't sure how to help each other.
Saturday we gathered with my family and a few other friends to release 11 balloons as part of our celebration for Anna going to heaven. It was super cold, but turned out to be meaningful regardless. I spent time finding scripture verses about heaven the night before, which was so good for me.
Here are a few photos and the 11 scriptures we read:
1. "Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth - so wonderful that no one will even think about the old ones anymore... And the sound of weeping and crying will be heard no more. No longer will babies die when only a few days old..." Isaiah 65:17-20
2. "There are many rooms in my Father's home, and I am going to prepare a place for you... when everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am." John 14:2-3
3. So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:18
4. ... we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. That's why we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8
5. Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return to Jerusalem, singing songs of everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be overcome with joy and gladness. Isaiah 35:10
6. And they will see his face and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there - no need for lamps or sun - for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:4-5
7. Our bodies now disappoint us, but when they are raised, they will be full of glory. They are weak now, but when they are raised, they will be full of power. 1 Corinthians 15:43
8. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever... Look, I am making all things new! Revelation 21:3-5
9. ... for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return. 2 Timothy 1:12
(It was harder than I thought it would be to let go of my balloon...)
10. Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely... 1 Corinthians 13:12
11. He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon!" Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20
My 5-yr-old niece made a special note for Anna from her heart-shaped notepad (the same niece who made the "celebration cake" - see previous post). It said:
I hop for joy
I can't get this song out of my head. It's the special song written for Anna, "Safe in His Hands", by our friend Kathy Kerber. The chorus lyrics are...
You are safe in His hands
And though my tears fall like rain
Though I don't understand
God is real, He is love
You're already a part of His marvelous plan
And all I need to know
Is you are safe in His hands
My tears have been falling like rain - my face is often soaked. I had to ask myself again, "Do I really believe Anna is safe in God's hands?" As humans, made of flesh, it's hard to picture heaven - it's not tangible. My hands long to touch her again. I want to feel her. My body is still recovering from carrying her and delivering her. She was real, right? She really existed, right? I really gave birth and loved on my baby for 11 days, right? It doesn't feel real sometimes. But my aching heart and body tell me it did happen. I study photos to convince myself that it did. She was born, she went through surgery, I watched her lay in the hospital with tubes coming out of her - my beautiful girl - and then I lost her. Way too soon. This isn't supposed to happen! This isn't right! My heart screams these things. I cry out to God to help me survive, even though I'm mad at Him at the same time. I run to Him because it's all I know to do, yet my broken-heart reaction is to stiff-arm him.
All I can do is surrender my baby daughter to Jesus again... and again... and again...
Even if she was still here, the safest place for her would be in HIS hands. No one could love her more than Him - not even her mama. And I love her a lot. Her 11 days here on earth were full of major medical intervention. I couldn't care for her as my mothering instincts longed to; I couldn't keep her safe. So God keeps asking me to trust Him. Even now that she's gone. This may be the toughest lesson of all.
I am so sad. And I will be for a while. Joy doesn't equal happiness. Joy doesn't mean things are OK. Joy doesn't mean the absence of sadness or pain. Joy means there is something bigger going on, and God knows what it is. Even though I hate my circumstances, I can choose to trust that God sees and knows the answers to my questions - and He'll get me through... somehow... until I join Him (and Anna) someday.
I believe He loves Anna. I believe He loves me. Love doesn't always feel good.
This is going to hurt. I hate that it is my reality. I don't want it to be real. I want to rewind several weeks and see the outcome change. I want to hear Anna cry. I want to see her in the cradle. I want to touch her soft brown hair on her warm head - wash it, kiss it, smell it... instead of just looking at a few locks that were cut and put in a baggie after she died.
Please continue to lift us up in prayer. We won't survive without it. Pray for healing of our broken hearts, comfort in our pain... for hope to be reachable, and for darkness & depression to stay away. Pray for strength for the next task, courage for the next step, and sensitivity to be kind to each other.