Tuesday, June 19, 2012

From the Day She Went

A few journal entries from 6 months ago. 

Taken directly from the journal I write in for Anna, before I went to see her that day:
Monday, December 19, 2011
Anna girl,
   There's so much I want to say to you; it's hard to know where to start. You are so beautiful... in more ways than one. God created you to be beautiful physically - your  features are proportioned and pretty. Round head, dark hair, perfect eyebrows, sweet little nose, pretty lips, full cheeks, little round chin... long fingers and toes...
   Your toes are a cute mix of Daddy & I. You have the longer 2nd toe and space like me, but I've notice your 2nd toe sometimes rises higher than your big toe, which is like Daddy. Your arms, legs, and shoulders & back are so soft. I can't touch you enough.
   The nurses are saying you have sensitive skin - some of the tapes and things are causing red spots & irritation. Isaac has sensitive skin, too.
   But you're also beautiful because of the glory of God you bestow. It's obvious Jesus is holding you. Many souls have been drawn closer to God because of your story. I'm so honored to be your mother. You are my hero.
   I love every bit of you. I long to hold you close, kiss you all over, nurse you, bathe you, dress you...
   What a gift you are, Anna! 
   I love to see you move. Your toes, your grip on my finger, your blinking eyes, your puckering or suckling lips...
   I'm pretty sure you have a slight dimple on your right lower check. So cute.
   I pray for God to heal you constantly. May he help your little body function correctly. In the powerful name of Christ Jesus, I pray those veins in your lungs grow and stretch so your body can pump blood efficiently. 
   You are so precious. I don't know how to express the depth of my love for you.

Taken directly from my personal journal, still hadn't seen her...
Monday, Dec. 19, 2011
   How do You want to speak to me today, Lord? Your Word, Your Spirit, Your presence, Your people, my husband, son, daughter, other family...? I open my heart to You - desperate for You. Longing for Your touch on my sweet baby, and on my own spirit as I wait on You. Provide grace for the moment. Strength for this day. We're depending on You - hoping in You. It's hard to give Anna to You. But it seems like it shouldn't be. She's in the best care in Your hands. I just love her so much. This hurts so badly, Lord. Carry me. 
   Touch Matt & bring him health. Don't let him get depressed. 
   We need Your touch. We cry out for Your supernatural touch, Father. Step in with Your power. Stretch her tiny lung veins so she can pump blood & live. 
   So many are praying for Anna to be healed. You hear every prayer. There are children praying for her. There are people coming back to you who haven't prayed in a long time. There are those praying who don't know you personally, but pray anyway. May they come to know You, Jesus!
   It doesn't seem right for her to die with all the people watching & hoping. I have to trust that You know what is best for Anna, for us, for all the people watching. But it's so hard...
   Show Matt & I what to do when faced with tough decisions. We don't want to have to decide these things. Please make things clear. Obviously clear & total peace-filled. It sickens me.
   Christmas is coming. Just a week away. What are you going to do this week? Keep providing strength.

And from the journal for Anna again, after she was gone. I couldn't sleep...
   My forever daughter - 
   You are with Jesus now. You left us around 6:45 this evening. I'm so thankful we had time with you. We all got to hold you before you were gone, then you passed away in my arms - resting snuggly between Daddy & I. I'm going to miss you so much. I can't believe I'll never get to hold your hand, kiss you, or stroke your eyebrows ever again. Oh, sweet girl... Mama loves you so much, and I miss you already.
   We were blessed with 11 days with you. And I'm truly happy for you. I rejoice that you're in heaven. You are so fortunate to be with our Father & Jesus. You're going to experience your first Christmas in heaven. I can only imagine what it's going to be like. You are whole and healthy now. I'm so glad. It's a burden lifted knowing you're well and perfect and dancing for Jesus. Your life brought people closer to Him, and I'm honored to be your mama. My arms will always ache for you. Daddy & I will always miss you.

Friday, June 8, 2012

6 months

I delivered Anna Joy six months ago today. 
There is so much to say, and yet I'm having difficulty finding a place to start.

I miss by baby girl so much. It's been a rough week. I am recognizing that the initial shock of trauma and loss is starting to wear off, and I'm experiencing waves of grief at a deeper level. It's sinking in that this really happened and it's not going away. I hate that. This experience is real, not just a bad dream. But it's like living a bad dream. 

The waves that throw me under and keep me down for a while are more fierce, and I come up gasping for air, covered in dark filth. The waves that push me up, the ones I've learned to ride - that give me a glimpse of perspective - have started to provide a tiny bit more relief instead of deepening ache. Sometimes I can actually smile at memories and thank God for certain blessings in Anna's story. These moments don't happen often, but they do and I'm grateful. Every small step makes progress toward healing. Often a few small steps forward will be followed by a huge fall backward. I don't usually know when the fierce waves are coming, but I'm not shocked by them anymore. I know that I have to endure them; they're part of the process of living on the shore I've been on the past year. I really want to move so I don't have to deal with the changing tides. But I realize living here for a while is necessary, because the waves will reach me somehow, someday... if I don't let them hit me now. I don't know how long I'll have to live here, which is daunting. 

I feel like I've written these words before. If I have, please forgive me. 

Six months ago I was in the labor/delivery room at UW Medical Center, wearing a stylish gown and trying to find a comfortable way to sit on the uncomfortable bed as I managed light contractions. I remember trying to stay in the balance of distraction and engagement - always seeking God's peace & strength - as various medical activity and conversation was taking place around me. It's 7:40 right now. None of us knew that my water would break in thirty minutes, and that the long awaited and anticipated little girl would arrive in less than two hours from now... 9:36am on Thursday, December 8, 2011. What a day. What a beautiful child. I remember seeing her for the first time as they held her up after she was born. Her little face was scrunched up, and I stroked her left cheek with my right index finger. At that moment, all physical pain I had just endured disappeared and I was filled with awe. I'm totally serious. I was blessed with a wave of clarity and supernatural connection for a few seconds. Then they took her away and the pain came back until I got to hold her for a short time. 
I will never forget this moment.
This week I've been struggling with the concept of finding a solution to this heartache. At first I felt that there isn't one. I thought, There is no solution for losing a child! And in a way, there isn't. She can't be brought back. The pain of her absence will always linger. The "what might have been" is a forever mystery. And all of that hurts terribly. It's awful. Like, please just let me die so I don't have to feel the ache anymore. Seriously. 

As I wrestled with the no solution concept, I believe my merciful heavenly Father revealed something to my broken heart. I now long for heaven like never before. I see people as eternal souls in a fresh, new way. Through my long, weary days I can somehow see a bigger purpose down the road. I can't see what it is, but I know in my gut that it's there. I have an interest in heaven that is deeper than intellect - there is a spiritual connection that draws me to learn. There is more to this life! The "solution" to this ache is really nothing new to any of us. We all long for heaven, for perfection, for our fulfilled callings... as I've written about before. So... WHAT DO WE DO WITH THAT LONGING? It should change the way we live. 

And that is grace. Only a good, graceful God of hope could use loss and produce such perspective. 

What if every time I miss Anna, I let God turn it around and help me to pour my heart into what is before me today? What if every time I'm paralyzed on my bed, bawling my eyes out from the finality of it all (it happened just this past Monday), I somehow ask for help to see a new way? What if every time I'm tempted to give up (and it will continue to happen), I remember that people are giving up every day without hope? What can I do to share the true Hope I know?

Someday it will be the right time for me to minister. Right now God keeps reminding me that it's OK to miss Anna, bawl on my bed, and want to give up (temporarily). I must ride these waves for a while. I'm thankful He is showing me light and lessons along the way... even if I must reside on the shore of grief indefinitely. 

I long to hold my baby again. Sometimes I can almost feel her. I'm so sad she was taken from us... from me. I still can't believe it most days. 

Today is hard. It's hard to believe it's been six months. It's still surreal. 

Even if I don't feel it, I know hope is real. It's not an empty wish or unsure longing. My hope is sure. God made me for Himself - for love, eternal purpose, and to experience hope become reality someday. Heaven awaits. This pain reminds me to keep on. If there was no pain, we wouldn't have to fight for good. 

Yet again, here is a song that says it well.

It's 9:36am. One more strong contraction, scream, push... and here she is! "Hi, beautiful! It's so good to see you! Welcome to the world."

"How I long for the sunrise"...