Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I just feasted on the most extravagant meal. From the most perfectly seasoned and grilled steak and shrimp to fresh corn shaved off the cob. There were juicy tomatoes with mozzarella and fresh basil, a huge pan of baked macaroni and cheese, bread with basil butter, and a delicious blueberry cobbler (reminiscent of my grandmother's) to finish off the feast. It is some of the best food I have tasted in months, perhaps the best meal I have eaten all year! I sat at the table and just smiled and savored. I didn't really worry with my kids goofing off at the dinner table because I was so absorbed in the display of love in front of me, love in the delightfulness of each morsel, love in the sheer extravagance of the number of dishes brought and the enormous quantities of each. I felt so indulged in, so delighted in, so loved.

I guess I'm just so in awe because of the way it all happened. A person (unaware of my last blog entry in which I wished for God to show up for me as that big black woman and cook me a meal) came up to me and just said, I want to cook for you this week. Out of nowhere. Just like that. Tears filled my eyes. Really? Okay. And then more tears. I told her my story from the shack and how I'd been feeling and she just laughed. This sweet, petite little white lady told me about her family teasing her that she was really a big black woman deep down in her soul. Coincidental? I think not. It gives me chills to think that God really cares about the tiniest detail of my life. That he knows how much I have been hurting, how crazy things are in our life right now, how many uncertainties, and how I just longed to be loved in a very tangible way. So he goes and whispers into this lovely woman's heart and she acted on it. And there it is. Love made visible. Love revealing itself in relationship, in people caring for one another and reaching out to one another. Love made visible in the extravagance of a feast.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Shack

So, I must admit that as I'm writing this I have had one drink too many. But, I am a much nicer person under the influence - definitely not an angry drunk. Today has been a hard day and a few gin and tonics have helped to take the edge off. I called one of my closest and dearest friends to just go do Target retail therapy with me and ended up by the end of the evening laughing and fully avoiding the pain in my heart.

Today, all those really prego mommies just got to me. And, a friend just birthed her third child, a son. While I thought all along I was good with it, today it just tore me apart. The problem is that she has a girl Ella's age, a boy almost Zane's age, and now another son - exactly the portrait of what our family should have been. I want to never speak to her again. It just isn't fair. Why did our family get ripped apart the way it did? Why do I have to live with the image of this family in front of me for as long as I can possibly forsee into the future?

Not helping is the fact that I just read The Shack. Those images and thoughts are stirring up so much in my soul. Today, I needed that big black woman of a God to hold me, to cook me food to satiate my soul, to love me in my pain. But, as the best hugging friend I have held me in the hallway between church nurseries, I realized that I was being embraced by God. That she was telling me how much She knew I hurt, how much She loved me.

I wish sometimes I could live all of life with the cloudy haze of intoxication...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Time wasted

I have made a new friend since I lost Sully. She found me through a friend of hers who read this blog and so she learned of me. She lost her own little boy, a vibrant toddler, 11 months ago. It is tragedy and grief that has brought us together. I am thankful that she is willing to walk alongside me in the most understanding and compassionate way. We are thankful for the friendship between us but agree that if we had the choice we would rather not know each other because that would mean that we had our boys.

We spent some time together this week at the beach and having lunch and just talking. We talked about how different we feel after walking through the death of our children, how different it makes us to carry every day the weight of such a great sadness. We both have situations in our lives that before our tragedies would have brought much worry to our hearts. While these situations deserve much prayer and wisdom, we ask ourselves what can be worse than what we've already been through? What can not be survived after surviving losing a child?

That got me thinking about all the ways Sully has made me see the world differently. I know I'm not immune to more bad things happening, but, I know that, come what may, goodness and mercy really do follow me. I know that I will be OK even though OK looks very different from what I might have once expected.

I find myself more willing to enter into lives that are truly suffering and broken. My compassion has grown in leaps and bounds. But, on the flip side of that, I find myself quite intolerant of the stupidity of vanity, ego, pride, selfishness, materialism, etc. Granted, those are all things I also still find in myself. But then, I hear that voice asking me, "what does any of this matter after losing your baby?" and the eternal comes back into view.

And what else do I find changed? I find I am much more willing to waste time on those I hold dearest. The other night Ella sat in my lap at the computer hours past her bedtime while we played with her webkinz. That is so not me. But I realized as I just enjoyed her and gave myself over to playing in this world she loves that it was exactly this time wasted that built the bond between us. I could have been doing a million other things and she, of course, should have been sleeping. But, instead, I gave her myself, my time, my attention. And she was worth it. So, I stop what I am doing more often these days to read a book to them or pick them up when they stretch out their arms to me. In wasting time I sense healing for this broken heart.

(and - just as a side note -I believe in a God who could have taught me all of these things without the loss of my son. It irks me when people put that twist on it - you know - that 'God must have had to teach you something' twist. That's a crock to me. I want to honor my son by learning and growing from my experience with him. God's gift to me is his redemption of the brokenness and the goodness he brings out of the tragedy. I don't buy into the kind of a god who would bring tragedy just to teach me a lesson.)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The extra vest

Yesterday, the 4th of July, was a great day. Brad's parents are in town for the weekend and it's so nice to have them here. The kids just adore them. We started off our day by participating in our neighborhood parade - always a treat for the kids. Then we headed to Waterside for one of our favorite outings, a ride on the ferry and a walk through Old Town Portsmouth.
After lunch and naps, we drove to Aunt Kay and Uncle Dave's house in Virginia Beach for a boat ride and fireworks. As we pulled the life jackets out for the kids, my brother-in-law noted there were plenty for the kids, five, even one extra. It hit me so hard that the extra jacket would have been Sully's. It was the infant jacket I remember buying for Ella when she was only 7 or 8 month old. Now, it's just the extra life vest, needed for no one. He would have been 5 months old yesterday. It's thoughts like this that enter even in the midst of the happiest moments. I guess it will always be this way.

I made my monthly trek to the wholesale florist for my Sully tulips this morning. Zane was up early so he tagged along with me and helped me search for our flowers. At first I couldn't find any tulips and thought I would leave empty handed. But then, there they were, three bunches of purple tulips. I bought them all. What I love about arranging them each time is how focused my thoughts are on my boy. How I smile as I place each stem. How I try and create significance out of the color I found this time, or the number of flowers and so forth. This morning I counted thirty tulips. I muddled through the numbers of five months and how many weeks and days but couldn't come up with any correlation. Then, I knew. These weren't just Sully tulips, but they were mine, too. Thirty tulips for my thirty years. They feel like a gift from my baby boy, like a hopeful gift for good things to come.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My place in this world

I had such a great trip to Seattle to see my friend Nicola. It was so good to be away, to have time to just be, to see beautiful sights, to eat good food, to talk for hours with a dear and long time friend. I find myself refreshed. And, I find myself thankful for my little niche in the world, the place I have carved out for me. I missed my family, my Ella and Zane, I missed Brad. I think that's why we must leave from time to time. We need to step outside of what has become so ordinary and everyday and be able to view it from afar. From across the country I could see how happy I am. I could see how dear my children are, how good my husband is to me and what a great fit we are for each other. Distance lends perspective. I have loved being away and now I am glad to be home, grateful for my home filled with love.

Nikki was a good sport about being a tourist with me. We peddled all about the city and also went a bit further to explore some of Washington's wineries.

Our friends Rob and Claudia Wootton now live in Seattle and are starting a church plant. It was great to see them and have dinner together while enjoying their incredible view!

Just minutes from Nikki's home in Lincoln Park. It was soooo beautiful there!

This was the best sight of all. I couldn't wait to get my arms around Ella and Zane!