Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's been a long time

I've pushed writing aside for quite some time. I hear the voice longing to express itself in my head but then shut it out. There are so many reasons for this and I've expressed some of them before. But the turmoil in my head has been so great these past few months. I have wrestled with my faith and really feel myself searching for a redefinition of what it is I truly believe. This is unsettling to many people in my life and so on top of my own struggle I think I've wanted to avoid dealing with some of those unhelpful opinions and voices. I don't know if things will ever fully shake out. I know I am forever changed and can never see the world the way I once did. If anything, my ignorance is gone and with it a certain amount of bliss. I told Brad the other day that it's not that I don't believe anymore. In fact, I long more for Truth than ever before. I think I realize now how skewed we all perceive it. If anything, I think I am glimpsing more of Truth than before, and it is a bit more daunting, more frightening than I ever thought. So, Truth hasn't changed but I have.

I think Brad and I realize that we may never have answers to some of our toughest questions. But one day, we hope that we will be able to come to a little more peace about it all, a bit more acceptance than we've felt over these past few months. Maybe we will finally settle into and figure out how to live with the not knowing or understanding why.

So where does that leave us with Christmas before us. I thought I'd be able to handle it all, at least put on the good face for my kids. But the weekend we pulled out all the decorations I just wasn't feeling any Christmas cheer. As I went to put the first wreath up over the mantle, I fell apart. I thought of the ten month old that should be crawling around my feet, that should be getting into things and mesmerized by all of these new sights. It all felt so empty and not the way it should have been.

We took the kids to the Polar Express at the Botanical Gardens to see the lights. I watched families with their bundled up babies and thought about the little one I should have had bundled up on my lap. As we rode through, we enjoyed the lights but I just felt dull inside. It's like the anger has melted into dullness. Everything I do seems to have a film over it making every experience not quite as cheery as I once thought it was.

Until today...

Edmarc offered to have carolers and Santa Claus come with presents to visit us in this first year after losing Sully. At first I hesitated. How would the kids react? How would I react? Finally, Brad and I decided that it might be fun and an opportunity not to be missed. After all, how many kids get a day visit from Santa to their house? We heard the singing coming up our driveway this afternoon and raced to the front door. And, there, following them was Santa Claus, and, no kidding, he was the real Santa Claus! Brad said he looked like they took him right out of Miracle on 34th Street. The kids were mesmerized watching him walk up to our house and I teared up as the carolers sang. It was such a good moment, a moment of joy and excitement and Christmas cheer for all of us, and I felt the hope that maybe the dullness wouldn't last forever.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008


While Sully was with us, we made his hand print and foot print that now hang on our living room wall. I look at them all the time. Not a stop and stare look but always here and there out of the corner of my eye as I go about my day. From where I sit at our family table they are in my direct line of vision. A while back the double sided tape gave way to the weight of the clay and his hand print came off the mat and fell an inch or so to the bottom of the shadow box frame. I noticed it right away. I didn't fix it right away. I wondered if other people noticed when they came in and out of our house. Does anyone see his hand print has fallen? Do they wonder that I haven't repaired it? Do they wonder if I've even noticed? Strange things go through your head. Last night, in a fit of orderliness, I finally pulled it down and super glued the clay back to the foam tape. As I pulled the cold clay out of the box frame, I traced his sweet little hand. How small it was. I remember the day we made the impression. It all comes rushing back to me as I feel the little crevices of his fingers and wrinkly skin. I can't believe what has happened. I break down and cry and realize, this is why I couldn't fix it for so long. Maybe somewhere inside me I knew how hard it would be and so I let myself stare at the fallen hand print instead of facing the weeping mother in my heart.

It happened again one afternoon as I looked at a photo of Ella and Zane holding Sully. I noticed the white headband in Ella's hair and wondered where it was. She doesn't like to fuss much with her hair, but that was one of the headbands she rarely would choose to wear on her own. A while back, I gave most of her headbands away, and suddenly I panicked that I had given that one away. I raced to her room and went through her draw of random stuff and hair things. I couldn't find it and hated myself for giving it away. I just wanted to hold it. Weird, I know. But it felt like a piece of that moment that Sully was with us, and somehow in the irrationality of grief, I believed holding that headband would give me that moment back. Despite fearing looking stupid, I asked for the white headband back, and when I saw it again and held it, I cried.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Saying it out loud

Today I had a chance to talk with a friend who I find very dear but don't get to spend a lot of time with. She is good at asking deeper questions, real questions and actually seeming like she's interested in my rambling answers. I love that about her. As I spoke with her, I found myself sorting out some things in my heart, saying some things out loud that I haven't said out loud before. And when I said them, I could finally hear for myself how silly they sounded. Yet why is it as they are going around in your brain they seem much more threatening? My friend was gracious with me and encouraging. She eased my silly fears with her kind words and assurance. I am thankful that when the thoughts creep back in as threatening, I can replay in my mind her response and be comforted.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I'm up early or in the middle of the night whichever you want to call it. I guess if I can get myself back to sleep it will be the middle of the night - otherwise just up early. I always think of Sully when this happens. I was awake so many times at odd hours through my pregnancy with him. The beautiful thing about these hours is the intense stillness and quiet. My thoughts seem so much clearer, like I have the space and time to let them work themselves out without any of the distractions of the normal waking hours.

I had been thinking about the title of an entry - perhaps "Retreat into Normalcy" or something of the sort. As I get comments from people or clips of my writing mentioned through others so often there is misinterpretation or just the strangeness of people knowing more about me than I might tell them on my own. I suppose that is the nature of writing in a public space. I've often thought about making a private blog. But then, I hear of someone facing a similar situation who was able to read through those Sully days of ours and find some comfort even in knowing they are not the only ones to walk through such difficulty, and for that reason I know I can't close down this space. And then, there are those dear souls who read and do get it, and do offer such encouragement and beautiful insight and for them I am so thankful. I suppose a blog is just like life, full of the ups and downs, those who get you and those who don't, full of the great moments and also the moments of disillusionment.

That is where I have been lately with relationships in general, maybe with life in general thus making for the relational difficulty. Disillusioned. There are certain gifts of friendship in my life that have stood the test of time, been through struggle and still come through as solid, beautiful relationships. I think for most these types of friendships are fewer and thus all the more valuable. Yes, we do things in those relationships to foster their growth but there seems to be a certain naturalness to them that can't just be recreated in two people who might not "click" quite as well. Yet that's not always the case. In one of my dearest friendships there was never an initial click but more of a gradual growing together. Or maybe there is an initial "click" but time reveals that the connection lacks depth and so you both move on. In the dearest relationships, is there less expectation and thus the opportunity for relational freedom and growth? No, I think my friends and I expect certain things from one another. Perhaps, because of the connection and the longevity there is a large well of love to draw from, offering one another forgiveness or a willingness to overlook certain things. Or that could also be part of the "click" - that your personality doesn't rub that other person quite as raw as it might someone else. So it seems you have to have both connection and depth for the making of a true friend.

But why is it that in the people you hope most for closeness and deepness there seems to always be disappointment? After years of tensions and in the middle of grief and now carrying a new child, I just find myself too tired to want to try anymore. I feel so disillusioned. Life has not turned out as I would have hoped, people are not who I hoped they would be, I am not able to respond as I would have once hoped I could. All "illusions" are shattered.

And then I read by Dietrich Bonhoeffer that if I am ever to have knowledge of genuine fellowship, "so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves...Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God's sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it."

So maybe this is right where I'm supposed to be. Maybe in this disillusioned state I can recognize the limits of certain relationships and just allow them to be what God intended them to be (instead of all I had intended them to be). How foolish of me to believe I could have or expect to have with everyone the depth of closeness and friendship I have with a handful of cherished souls. But this does not mean that I cannot love in those relationships; in fact, I feel like it gives me a freedom to love by letting go of the expectations and false hopes to which I once clung. And it gives me freedom to just be where I am and who I am. Maybe this is all a part of Sully's gift to me, part of learning to live in the wake of his absence, part of accepting the brokenness in us all.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Every year I take the kid's portraits. This year, there wasn't ever a question as to where I would take them. I knew I wanted to photograph them on their brother's playground. It just seemed right. I took Zane's a few weeks back when he turned three and Ella's last weekend.

Ella is Five!

Ella turned five October 9. We had lots of fun turning her and her girlfriends into princess ponies.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Stupid Hope

It has been such a relief to not feel the need to hide a pregnancy, to stop trying to pretend in my head that it wasn't happening, to let myself emotionally embrace this fourth child of ours. People have been so kind in their joy and excitement for us. Sometimes it is quite draining to try and explain why we withheld our news from practically everyone but then, I think most people probably understand. Our news is good and joyous but of course quite different from that first time I found out we were expecting. I do not feel so naive and light hearted. I feel quite guarded in my happiness realizing that life is fragile, that I am still not guaranteed anything, even a healthy baby in my arms.

But friends have been so dear and kind to us. One girlfriend insisted on a baby boy buying spree at Babies R' Us. When I walked through those doors I couldn't help but think of the last time I was there, to buy but a few very tiny things for my Sully. Those sweet things now find themselves on Ella's dolls, and a few I could not give up are tucked away in Sully's box. I think about some of Sully's things and wonder which ones I will pass on to this boy. It seems only right that Sully should be able to pass on something as all big brothers do, that this little brother of his would know the story behind the blanket, the hand-knit booties that Sully's feet were just too small for. But I think Sully's hats will always remain his. I can't pass those on. His image is so closely connected to those blue hats made with such tenderness for him. And I think those tiny clothes will stay with Ella's collection. If this baby is as healthy as we hope, he will never fit in those tiny things. What a strange thought.

Even stranger still to me is the fact that only five months before this little life came into being, Sully lived where he now does. Sometimes I think we are absolutely crazy to do this again. I think about how tired my body is of being pregnant. Brad and I have termed it "stupid hope" that caused us to even attempt to walk down this road again. But somehow, it seems right. Despite the fatigue, I am grateful that I am able to carry a child again.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Good News!

A phone call came today - and on the other end was a voice saying, "I have good news!" Our test results finally came back and this baby is well! This child I am carrying is genetically whole and healthy - genetically perfect! I want to live in this good moment, in this hope. I'm pushing away the sadness. Just for a moment I don't want to let it in. I don't want to listen to the voices of reality reminding me that we aren't promised anything, that even healthy babies have things go wrong. So I do. I push it all aside and believe, if just for this moment, that life will be good again, that I will know the sweetness and yes, even the sleepless misery of a newborn. Yet the ache is inescapable; I see it in Brad's eyes. I know we can never change our story. I know that this is our fourth child, not our third. But I want to hope that this little life will bring with it healing for all of us.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Two Blankets

I am waiting. I have been in this state of waiting much of this past year. First, we waited to see if tell-tale blood work was accurate with an ultrasound of our third child. That was one year ago this past week. We were devastated but then had more conclusive testing done to be sure. We waited some more. No good news came after we waited. So, then we waited for this child to possibly die in my wound or be born, whichever came first. And he was born and lived for six days filled with love and light but also with the waiting, the knowing that the days would end before they ever should for a child.

I sit on my bed and look at Sully's beautifully crafted box, the one made by his grandfather. On top of it is the blanket I made for him, the blanket that held and touched his sweet skin for those brief days of his life here on earth. And now, folded even smaller on top of it is another blanket. I found it years ago but just recently rediscovered it tucked away in a closet. It is so soft, a warm creamy color with intricate blue crochet work added to the edges. I bought it as a possible gift for someone having a baby boy but today I pulled it out and gave it to myself. I look at the two blankets as I am once again waiting.

We had genetic testing done two weeks ago and have anxiously waited for our results. But it seems our test cells are growing slowly and the results are taking a bit longer than we hoped. I broke down today when they didn't come in yet again. How long will I live waiting? I just want to hear something good, something hopeful. I want to hear that the child I have carried these past three months is healthy and whole. That this baby will stay with us, and yes, make us miserable with lack of sleep! That this baby will grow up to love and annoy his older brother and sister. That yes, living here, this child will know suffering and pain but that still, it will be here for my arms to hold. So, I wait and wonder if this blanket will hold a new life, a healthy life. Could I feel joy in carrying a child again? Could this new life bring healing, bring a sense of restoration? Will the waiting ever end?

Thursday, September 25, 2008


For our anniversary present Brad and I gave ourselves the gift of a special house cleaning - what a treat! I loved not having to scrub toilets! But, the best part of it all was walking back into our (lovely smelling) house to find my camera sitting on the table! I was so excited and so relieved. All of those pictures placed back on my table, just like that. I called to try and found out where it had been - still don't know - but I don't really care. I'm just glad it has been found!

So here is my Zane - my big three year old Zane! I am so absolutely smitten with him! Happy Birthday big boy!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I've lost the camera I used last night to capture Zane blowing out his three candles for his third birthday. I've lost the image of him bursting through the streamers hung over his door and his excited smile over the balloons covering his floor. Brad insists that it will show up but I feel like I'm losing my mind. I feel like I've lost something forever. I know the camera can be replaced but none of those moments will.

I've searched our house high and low. I've gone through our trash twice now. I've gone through pine straw by hand, walked the yard at least five times. I've looked under couches and cushions, behind and below furniture, everywhere I could have put it and everywhere I know I absolutely wouldn't have put it. I can find it nowhere.

That's what I was doing this morning as I was supposed to getting ready for church. When we should have been leaving I just cried on my bed. I told Brad that rationally I should let it go and accept it for lost. But I was paralyzed. I couldn't get ready. I couldn't do anything. The world stops for me when something is lost.

I remember as a child my father's incredible rages he would enter when something of his was lost. Everyone had to stop what they were doing and at least pretend to look as he yelled and demanded of us to find what had been done with his lost item. I know I have a trigger for lost things because of this. In fact, I remember Brad asking me the first time after we were married where something was and totally flying into a defense of how I wasn't responsible for whatever he had lost. He was totally taken back and caught off guard by my "baggage".

I hate it when something is lost. In fact, when things are lost I feel unsafe. That makes total sense given the conditioning of my childhood. But on my hands and knees as I scoured the pine straw I realized that's part of what is going on in my heart right now. I have been questioning the "safety" of God, whether he really protects us, what his promises really are. He obviously didn't protect me and my family from the pain of losing a child. So, what does he protect us from? Is it just hell-insurance? What about right now? I see that I feel very unsafe right now because I will forever have to live with the fact that my third child is lost to me. Something great has been lost and I do not feel safe.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A moment alone

I had a moment alone today. I realized I don't often have them when I found myself in it. I've finished all the packing and preparation for our trip, Ella is at school and Zane is asleep. And now it's me, alone. I just sat down and cried. And then I cried some more and it just kept going. I'd try to stop but it feels like there is a never ending flood of tears that has been waiting to unleash itself. I'm anxious for Zane to wake up so I can step back into my role as mother, as needed care taker and tender of tasks. I see clearly how I'm operating like this with almost everyone in my life. I'm back in life, I see people, I answer questions, I fulfill my obligations but all from behind this thin wall that is just barely holding the tears in. I'll see a friend and feel the pressure behind my eyes increase as I fight for a sense of composure. In a phone call recently someone asked me simple but sincere questions and I found myself a complete mess. And for some reason it always surprises me. I always feel unguarded, like I'm never safe from the blow of raw emotion.

I just finished a book a friend gave me called Comfort by Ann Hood. I appreciated the raw honesty of this mother who lost her healthy five year old little girl. I appreciated her struggle and that she didn't try to give any of those silly answers that people try to give you thinking they are helping. In fact, the prologue of her book is an essay she wrote on all the lies she heard when it happened and probably the most comfort I have felt in these recent days:
"There are no words for the size of this grief. There are only lies.
You will see. Time heals.
In time you will sleep again and dream of beautiful things.
In time you will not miss her.
You will see.
Time heals."

Further on in the book I tagged this because it felt so very true: "Time passes and I am still not through it. Grief isn't something you get over. You live with it. You go on with it lodged in you. Sometimes I feel like I have swallowed a pile of stones. Grief makes me heavy. It makes me slow. Even on days when I laugh a lot, or dance, or finish a project, or meet a deadline, or celebrate, or make love, it is there. Lodged deep inside of me. Time has passed and I am living a life again, back in the world."

Sunday, August 31, 2008