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Monday, December 26, 2011

A Christmas Treasure to Ponder


We can't totally "do Christmas" yet.  We escape to a beach in South Carolina.  A place I have never been.  To make new memories.  Try to avoid some of the old.  I pull aside heavy curtains the first morning to peek at crashing swells pummeling against white sand.  I catch my breath.  I have not seen it since she died.  I spent the last week of her life watching her chase seagulls and splashing in the blue.  Toes in the warm sand and ears held up to shiny shells.  Fortunately, little cries pull me away, and I really have no time alone to contemplate.

Christmas Eve.  We give the girls presents and help them tear paper.  Capture their cuteness with a lens.  Try to freeze the memories in time.  Burn them deep into my mind.    'Oooh mouths' and tiny reaching fingers meet warm cinnamon rolls.  Slobbery kisses and snuggles in bed.  Brush aside the moments of nausea and missing.  Hurry past the toys in stores that she had wanted for Christmas before she died.

Christmas Day.  We pile into the car and wave adios to la playa. Thankful for IHOP brunches on Christmas morning.  And a stroll through beautiful downtown Charleston... another first for me.  Twelve hours later we roll into our driveway.  I find myself hugging a baby and exclaiming that we made it!  We made it home with both of them!  Somehow I am surprised.  Relief washes over me.  We did not come home with bags to unpack and an empty car seat!  I squeeze them tightly.  We are back  from the beach and our cribs are not empty... this time.  I did not even realize this anxiety had piled up so high in me until it was over.

Christmas Night.  We are all tucked warmly in bed snoozing.  And I get it!  My Christmas present!  One I have asked for many times before December.  One (I later learn) my Daddy had whispered a secret prayer for me to have only a few hours earlier in a Christmas service.  One full of hope and life and mystery...

I dream I am at a family gathering and many of my relatives are standing around talking and laughing.  I look up, and my heart stops.  There she is!  Perfect in a red Christmas dress.  Her hair cascading around her shoulders in soft blonde curls.  "Makiah!?"  I exclaim.  I run towards her.  Suddenly, I realize I am in a dream and fully expect that when I reach her she will vanish- the way she always has before.  A shadow of something past that I am always chasing but never catching.  A ray of light that always slips over the horizon before I can grasp her.  But not this time!  I wrap my arms around her little body, and I feel her!  The warmth of her and the weight of her and the softness of her skin and giggles.  I kiss her and tell her I love her and hold her so very close.  We talk about heaven, and I ask her questions.  And she tells me some things...  treasures I think I will hold close and ponder in my heart like Mary.  Pieces of the conversation are etched in my conscious memory.  The rest feels shrouded as if by a veil.  I cannot quite remember it all or how it ended.  Only that I awoke with the image of my dream encounter playing over and over and bringing smiles to places inside me where only tears have resided for many months.  I want to go back and not open my eyes.  But light creeps in the edges and baby cries poke at my ears.  I am still here.  With my broken family.  But the mystery of a heavenly chat and a little red Christmas dress on Christmas night fill my heart with hope and awe. 

New Year's Day.  I am overwhelmed with thankfulness for special gifts from God's people.  And I am still astonished at my unexpected present that is perhaps from God himself.  I think for a minute that I wish I had written about it a few days earlier, but then I change my mind.  I have spent the holidays soaking up every moment of my family.  Breathing in the memories as they form.  I do not regret it.  I hope this new year- for me and for you- is full of heavenly gifts and soaking up moments... until we are all dripping with life and light... the kind that drives out darkness. 




Monday, December 19, 2011

The Great Exchange


How do I describe the holidays in a life like mine?  It is hard to put into words.  Pain and joy are interwoven in a pattern unique to this season of my life.   

The thread of thankfulness.  I thank God I have a reason to shop this year.   We buy the girls a few toys.   I ask Cameron if he can believe they are almost a year old.  His voice faltering, he says, “They saved our lives.”   I am caught by his answer.  Surprised at the deep truth popping so unexpectedly from his quivering lips.  A throbbing thankfulness shoots across my heart…

The thread of aching.  One morning on the way to work I hurt so badly that it is physical.  A knife ripping through my chest.  Venomous thoughts tear through my mind.  A crushing desire for everyone to hurt this way so I won’t be alone in this bizarre alternate reality of holiday horror.   As if it would lessen my pain.   I hate that I can have these wicked thoughts.  I know why they say hurting people hurt people.   I picture the whole world in this pain, and it seems that everything would fall into chaos and darkness.   And I retreat away from such terrible thoughts in haste.  Repenting as I run…

The thread of blessing.  Gifts of time and thoughtfulness and little red dresses and rainbow scarves and green sunshine (for those who know :).  A rope into this dark pit.   A way to climb up into the light of brighter thoughts.  My husband looks at me and says, “God must really love you.”  Ironic words.  It seems to me.   Since she is gone.  But somehow true.  I think of the song we used to sing often with her…“Good, Good Daddy.”  And all around me the blessings shout that He is good still.  Even in the rain...

The thread of joy.  Yes, there are moments.  Moments of merry.  Humming Christmas tunes under my breath.  Chistmas is different now.  There is no anticipation.   No countdown to a special date.  The joy is not in the coming of the day, but in the now…  Christmas is now.    In this breath I celebrate the giving of a child to die.  A gift I can say with absolute certainty I would never have given.  My child for some miserable sinner?  My little love in exchange for even the most wonderful person?  A trade I would surely never make.  I did not have a choice and neither did Makiah.  But God the Daddy did.  And Jesus the Son did.  He exchanged glory for rags… my rags.  For this one capable of lashing out in painful, wicked thoughts.  For this one who so desperately wants to have a Christmas with her little blonde haired daughter with the curly pigtails and the sparkling green eyes.  For this one who would surely spend eternity in wretchedness and pain  if it had not been for the great exchange.  Him for me.   I take it.   And I have hope that this tangled ball of threads that is my life will be made into something more perfect in the end…

Will you take it?  The great exchange?   No need to wait for some special day.  Eternity lingers all around us.  It is offered to each of us you know…

Makiah Singing Good Good Daddy with her babysitter... a reminder in her own voice... left for her mommy... 


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Foot Washing


I wish I had something profound to write.  Something about the miracle of Christmas and time and hope.  But I can’t quite seem to conjour those words up to the muddy surface of my mind.  Maybe in another week it will seem clearer.  I catch a glimpse of the holiday light here and there in my swirling thoughts, but nothing I can latch on to yet.  I have had my feet washed this weekend, though, and for that I am thankful.  I mean I have been listened to and hugged and helped and my babies have been covered over with love by a very special visitor whose family sacrificed a lot to bring the water of herself to our raw and fragile lives.   And some others joined her, too.

We did put up a Christmas tree, and the word HoPe  sits on my mantle all red and sparkly, drawing the eye and luring the heart.   Makiah’s green eyes laugh at us through a half dozen picture frames and old ornaments scattered about.  She would want the babies to have a pretty first Christmas.  She loves sparkly things and happy music.  Some moments I catch Christmas carols escaping from lips… my lips… almost drawn up in a cautious smile.  Other moments I press the lids hard and disappear deep into a memory of Christmases past.  Of early morning cuddles on the couch while she watches cartoons under the twinkling, colorful lights on the tree.  Of a little blonde one playing mommy and baby with the tiny Christmas bears that have decorated our spruce for a generation or so.  Of her delighted yelps when she opens another mermaid doll that special morning.   Of sitting together and sampling a variety box of two dozen little chocolates…  exchanging  mmm’s for good ones and blah’s for the yucky ones… teeth marks in each, not carrying if we bite them all!

My fingers gingerly trace the reindeer ornament she made.  Her tiny hands as the antlers.  Oh to put those hands in mine!  To see her giggle and play with her sisters!  To buy that girls size 6 Christmas dress at Belks instead of wistfully feeling soft ribbons and then leaving it there to hang.   To hang.  It’s hard not to feel we have been left here to hang.  To hang on the memories and a thin strand of hope.   But then I think of the washing.  The bringing of  life-water  this weekend to pour over our messy lives.  Many others have  emptied out selves for us as well.  I stand thankful.  I will never forget my dear friend literally washing the blood from my feet as I sat stunned and sobbing in the ER room last fall.  She didn’t want me to go home with the blood- it was not mine- screaming from my toes.  

And so in my muddy swirl of emotions, I cannot deny the God-Man who first washed me of my grime.  He keeps sending himself in the life-water of others poured out for us.  In the moments I feel that God has abandoned us, I remember.   And I push against those lonely thoughts because the muddy water around my clean feet reminds me that it is not so.   I have not been left to hang forever because he did hang for me instead.   I grab on to the truth.  I must.  For God so loved me, He gave his only son…

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Glory Moments


We sit behind french doors overlooking the dancing ripples of the Tennessee River.  Orange and red are striking against the deep blue sky.  The leaves sway to the rhythm of glistening water.  Inside the melody drifts from the piano as my sister-n-law’s mother dances her fingers deftly across the ivory keys.  Powerful words pour from her lips and  move like a strong current through the hearts of the listening.  “His arms are fortress for the weak.  Let faith arise… I lift my hands to believe again… You are faithful God forever… Open my eyes…”  Lyrics from a song by Chris Tomlin.  I hold my daddy’s hand as tears stream down his weathered cheeks.  This year has aged us all.  I see it in my own face.  My tears join his.  We have sipped our coffee and listened to my Daddy’s deep voice read to us from Watchman Nee.  Words about eternity.  About finishing strong.  Written by one who died after many years in a Chinese prison.  The cost of his faith.  I bite my lip and squint my eyes in a vain effort to keep my composure.

It is a hard thing.  This living and believing.  This trusting what we cannot see.  This navigating painful waters.  But we are given grace.  And glory moments.

This.  A glory moment.   A taste of eternity.  Mixed with the bitterness of salty tears.  I sense that this is a fight across generations.  Not between us, but together we are bonded by these moments when we see God in nature and hear him in the music and feel him in the grip of each others’ hands.  And yet inside we have been stretched thin by the hard things.    We have fought alone.  And we have fought together. 

My Daddy says he prays that his eyes will be open to see a vision of heaven.  Words are caught in my throat, but I nod and squeeze his hand.  I know the longing well.   I feel it like a tangible thing in this room full of reaching hearts stretched thin.   And drawn tautly together.  Strangely closer.  Maybe to Him as well.
Perhaps you, too, have felt the pull of glory moments…

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Heaven, Pie, and... Math!

My little ones are napping and the warm chocolate morsels in my delicate pie melt slowly in my mouth.  I am trying to wrap my mind around  a thought that my mom's friend shared with her and she passed on to me.  The bible says that with the Lord a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day.  Now certain scriptures do indicate that there is some sort of passage of time in heaven, but we don't have any reason to believe that it is necessarily at the same rate there as here.  Clearly, based  scripture what feels long to us here can seem but a day to the Lord and vice versa.  Time is a dimension by which God is not defined.  Rather, he defines it.  One of his names in the bible is the Alpha and Omega, aka The Beginning and The End.

Keeping all that in mind.  We don't know if time here correlates with time in heaven or not.  So my mom's friend suggested doing some math.  If one thousand years here is as a day there and if I live to be 90 before I go to heaven...calculating... then it would only seem like an hour and a half to Makiah when I arrive!!  I have no idea if that is the case, but it is a very comforting thought for this mommy!

Though our time here seems long some days, in fact sometimes even the seconds drag painfully by, I am reminded that this is not what we live for.  Thank God!  Seriously, I enjoy a slice of pie as much as the next person, but no amount of earthly pleasure can completely cover the pain of living in this broken place.  A sweet friend brought me a book Sunday about a man's experience of heaven.  Thinking about how it could be, meditating on the perfection of what is to come, has buoyed me up to the surface during this turbulent week.

Minutes before I received the book Sunday, a new friend got the call.  The horrible dreaded call.  I saw it on her face as she ripped back through the church doors to grab her family and fly to the hospital.  Her 14 year old had been hit by a car.  He stepped into heaven instantly.  People think I know what to say. Comforting words escape me because there are none.  All that comes to mind is, "Welcome to hell."  (No, mom, I did not say that out loud!)  Truly, losing a child has to be close to the pain of hell... at least as close as my imagination will carry me.  But ironically, through many, many prayers and God's mercy, this earthly hell has caused me to long so much more for my heavenly home.

Please pray for my friend this week.  There is no quick way to walk through this valley that has crashed in on her.  When I saw her the next day, I sat on the floor and cried with her.  I held her hand and didn't say anything at all.  Sometimes, tears speak better than words.  I know for sweet Makiah, and her little boy as well, that however time goes by in heaven, it is full of joy and wonder and love.  There are no tears or dread or fear.  They have left that to us.  Oh, for a thousand years to be as a day!  Come quickly Lord!




Heaven, Pie, and... Math!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Sign


Traffic  slows almost to a halt.  I round the curve on my way to work and see two cars stopped in the road… an accident.  It doesn’t look like anyone is hurt.  But there is a mom on the side of the road clutching her little girl, maybe about 3 years old, and crying on the cell phone.  The girl looks okay.  Then a mile or so past the accident the state trooper screeches by me.  Then the ambulances.   Sirens wailing.  And I join them.   Wailing.

It is just too much.  I saw the broken glass in the road.  The mommy.  The sounds.  The cell phone.  The little girl who is okay.  But now I am in that day, and the little girl is not okay.  And the mommy didn’t get to hold her… ever again.  And the ambulances didn’t come just to screen us.  They came to carry her away.   Forever.  I cannot hold it in any longer.  I am losing it.  Control.  It broke down on the road back there with the crunched up hood and dented bumper.  My breath comes hard and fast like I have run a marathon.  The hot tears stain my cheeks.  She is dead.  

I have been awake since 3 this morning.  It started with a baby, but then I just couldn’t  escape the pounding reality that she is dead.  The feelings of disbelief.  The sights and sounds when we told our parents in the ER.  The truth I do not want to be true.  Will this darkness pounce on me when my consciousness awakens every morning until I die?  All the long years?  Will I be 70 and still wake up horrified?  Did someone say the second year is easier?  Oh God!  Has it been more than a year!?  God please help me to see something real!  I know Jesus said a wicked generation seeks a sign.  Then maybe I am wicked.  But oh how I long for a sign!

I cuddled my baby in the dark morning hours.  Felt her breath.  Smelled her hair.  Rubbed her cheeks.  For hours while she slept.  By daybreak there were two of them close.  Snuggling warm on mommy.  I listen.  With my heart.  Soft babies breathing gently.  Breathing in the contentment of nearness.  Breathing out the comfort of God.  Maybe… maybe I have been given a sign... or two.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Weeping Forward


I opened the red, leather bag to pack for the two nights away.  We were going to a conference at a church in the next state that we have attended twice a year since Makiah was born- well, until the accident.   I like to go because I can be anonymous and disappear into the crowd of worshipers.  This is a big step for me.  An act of reaching up to heaven… to God.  It was also another hurdle because of some very special nursery workers who kept her each time since she was a baby and always looked for her to come.  I knew they didn’t know.

As I swept my hand across the bottom of the bag, my eye caught a glimmer of something glistening and my heart dropped.  I felt the rough edges and pulled it up to the light.  Was it?  Yes…  Broken glass.  From the accident.  Her window or mine?  I cringe again at the image of the sickening crunch.  I thought we had wiped all the traces away!  Did you know shards of glass can cut into your soul?  Beyond flesh and bone, the deepest wounds are those that only the Maker’s eye can see.  I feel the withering inside.  The weariness.  The sting of remembering the thing I can never remember to forget.  I look at Cameron and he says knowingly, “Pull out.”  So this time I do.  I grit my teeth and pack the bag and decide to go and expect.

I am not disappointed.  Well, maybe a little because I had no angelic visitation or vivid dreams of heaven.  But I did feel God and I did feel closer to her- surprisingly.  The sweet nursery ladies did remember and ask and cry.  “Miss Mimi” made a special trip to see Kiah’s sisters.   She said she remembered one time when she was writing (she is left handed) and Makiah said, “Miss Mimi, dat’s not how you’re posed to write.  You’re using duh wrong hand!”  So she explained herself to my precocious little one!  Then Makiah put her tiny hand on Miss Mimi’s, and they colored together like lefties.   I laughed.  And I cried.  And maybe this weekend I healed a bit inside.

The summer before she died I did a bible study on the book of Ruth.  One thing the author said that struck a deep cord in me even then, in some strange and terrible foreshadowing sort of way, was that it matters what direction you weep in.  Ruth and her sister-n-law, Orphah, both lost their husbands.  Both were broken and mourning and desolate.  They could follow their mother-n-law, Naomi, back to the land of her people, God’s chosen people, or return to their home in a pagan country.  Orphah decided to go back to what she always knew- the familiar, but Ruth choose to go on with Naomi, to weep forward.  When we are weeping we are still walking.  With our teary steps we can slowly trudge back towards darkness or creep painstakingly forward towards God and the unknowable plan He has for us.  We will all face pain and sorrow in this broken world.  Although I feel so heavily the lifting of each foot, I want to be like Ruth and purpose  to weep forward.  Will you?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Extra

Did you know that Amish women wear black for a whole year when a loved one dies?  There was a time in my life that I would have thought that was just terrible.  Now I think it is an amazing way for broken people to express on the outside what is happening on the inside.  Everywhere they go others are visibly reminded that they need extra…   extra love, patience, tears, prayers, hugs, “how are you’s?...”  Extra.  

Our culture does not have many, healthy ways to express deep grief and pain (in my humble opinion).  We generally expect people to say they are fine when we ask and regret asking if they do say something else.  One of the difficulties in grieving is working out how to function in the world while your insides are screaming that the whole world should stop.  When she first died, I could scarcely look at Face Book because it seemed so obscene that other people were still going out on dates and posting funny antics.   The truth is, in many ways, we bear our grief alone.  Only God sees into the depths of our broken souls no matter how we may scream it out.  But still we need extra…

And for me that extra has come on this terrible anniversary in the form of toes.  Literally, thousands of toes.  Painted in the colors of a rainbow.  A rainbow that reminds us of God’s promises.  A rainbow that promises hope of life and happiness… that reminds us of the way a child can skip so gleefully down a hall- full of joy and completely unaware of pain or self or the opinions of others. That place, that life, does exist.  In a place we can choose to go some day, heaven, and just maybe in another place we can choose to go… in our hearts.  Oh my!  Those words just flew out of my fingers before I could stop them!  I am not sure I even believe that yet.  But I think a thousand rainbow toes have put in me the tiniest inkling that maybe a place of happiness can be found in the deep again even after sipping from the cup of despair.  

And He put one in the sky, too.  On Friday night October the 7th at 6:00 there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky over my town (she died on the 8th of last year but it was on a Friday and at 6:00 exactly).  Then on the 11th I was feeling submerged in the painful memory of her funeral and dreading 4:00- the time of the ceremony- but when the hands on the clock rolled around to that dark hour, I looked outside and another stunning rainbow streaked across the grey sky!  Now I have seen rainbows occasionally, but this timing just seems a bit much for coincidence!  Is it possible that the idea of a sweet friend, and the strokes of painted love on ten thousand toes inspired God to add his exclamation point to the expression of remembrance???

Your toes have said you will not forget her.  And my heart will not forget your saying it.  My little princess would be so tickled and giggly and covered over with delight.  I smile and I cry and I breathe in the extra…  Thank you for the rainbow toes and the butterflies on the cross at the preschool  and the dancers who danced for her and the beautiful flowers in my church and the butterfly necklace and the prayers that you said for us.  I hope some of the childlike lightness of rainbows and giggles will fill your heart as you think of the gift you have given us… the extra.

A Few of the Rainbow Toes

Beginnings of Butterfly Garden at Makiah's Preschool





Rainbow at 6pm Friday
Rainbow at 1 year Date and Time of her Funeral





Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Colors of Love

 Dear Sweet Makiah,

I suppose that God does not let children in heaven read letters from their parents on earth, but just in case I am wrong...  Today it has been exactly one year since your trip to heaven.   We have spent the whole day thinking about you (that is not too different than most days).  This morning we had waffles for breakfast because you had them for your last breakfast.  We remembered how you loved to have waffles after church on Wednesday nights and you asked for "waffle Wednesday."  Mommy let your cat, Buster, in for the first time since the girls were born, and they were delighted.  Abby gave his fur a good tug for you and Lena grabbed his tail.  It only took Buster a few minutes to go look in your room for you.  Even he has not forgotten!

Our sweet neighbor brought a hot apple pie so we ate it for lunch in honor of you.  You would have liked that!  After the girls napped we drove to the resurrection site and released 7 rainbow colored balloons with your story inside.  Maybe someone will find them and contact us...  you always loved "I spy" games.  We said a prayer as we released each one.  The girls fell asleep and Mommy and Daddy sat there for a long time.  We cried a little because we miss you, but we tried to picture you in heaven.  Mommy thought about the day that Jesus will come back and you will get up out of that grave.  The cool wind whisked away my tears and I pressed my eyes tight.  Trying to imagine that maybe I will feel that wind when it is my day to journey to heaven.  Did you hear that sound as you were whisked away from earth?  Did the light of heaven feel warm on your face like the sun did on mine?  We asked God to help us know how real heaven really is... more real than the wind in my hair or the sun on my cheeks.

We bought a pumpkin and some pretty flowers for our porch.  You always got so excited when we bought a pumpkin and Daddy carved it with you.  Then we took the girls to Mr. Chick.  The last thing you ate was french fries...  so we let the girls try their first fries!  I wish you could have seen their delighted little faces, Makiah!  We watched the clock all day and talked about what we were doing exactly a year ago as each hour went by.  We remembered the things you said and did and our last conversations.  Later, we looked at pictures of our last morning... you looked so pretty that day!  We spent the rest of the night trying to make slide shows of you to post.  I think Daddy's is uploading now, but Mommy's didn't work yet so I guess Daddy's mac wins out over my pc for tonight!

Do you remember that rainbows stand for a promise from God?  You told Mrs. Laurie, your teacher, that all the colors of the rainbow were your favorite because they were all so pretty you couldn't pick one.  I wish God would let you see that there are literally thousands of rainbow toes today- painted in your honor!  Your Mommy and Daddy are overwhelmed and humbled and thankful for all the colorful love!!  So many people remember and love you and can't wait to meet you one day, sweet Kiah!  Even your sisters wore rainbow socks for you.  And last night at 6:00 (the same time on Friday of last year that you met Jesus), there was a beautiful rainbow across Cairo that seemed to end at our church!  Coincidence? :)

I want you to know that you will always be my first baby.  I am asking God to give you angel, eskimo, and butterfly kisses from me on this, your 1st heaven day...  until I can give them to you myself...

All my love,
Mommy

Rainbow Toes from Cousins- one of hundreds of amazing pics!
Rainbow over Cairo at 6pm Friday night



Twin's Rainbow Toes
Mommy too


Makiah's 1st Heaven Day

Oct. 8, 2011








Oct. 8, 2010   Daddy's last kiss

The morning she died

Holding Daddy's Hand

Such a Sweet Little Princess
Makiah's Pink Sparkly Toes

Makiah next to Abby & Alena her last day
Our Last family Photo

Mommy's fingers in her curls
Our camera was blurry that last morning...  until the day we see clearly!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Shoo Fly Pie

Glistening sun across waving fields of corn.  Picture perfect red barns.  Gardens of leafy greens hugging square, white houses.  Crisp dresses and black trousers billowing in the breeze on sturdy, long clotheslines.  Long beards and bonnets in black buggies behind trotting horses clip clop down the lanes.  It's another world.  A place where people value hard work, each other, the process... the togetherness of life.  I breathe in the peace.

We have come to escape our world.  A brief reprieve from the place of our pain.  In still moments one or the other of us will let out a long sigh or notice a tear sneaking from the corner of an eye that dares to look back.  We eat shoo fly pie and cry and kiss babies as we make our way across this beautiful country- Amish country.   But people love to ask if the twins are our first so  we can't seem to leave our story behind.

I can't believe in 3 days it will be one year.  How is it possible that on a perfectly sunny, happy day like today she left me?  Have you ever imagined packing and going on a trip and then coming home with only your bags and not your child?  I have... turned the "if only's" over a million and one times.   Ultimately no one knows if those seemingly small every day decisions are saving you from tragedy or dooming you to it as you make them or if the death would have come anyway... as if predetermined.

I remember crying on the couch surrounded by my immedite family in the dark hours of the morning a few days after the accident.  Sleep was impossible, and they stroked my hair as I howled that I could not do this- that it was just too hard.  I could not live out all the long days and years ahead of me without her... a dark prison sentence.

One year into the sentence  I still feel the sharpness in my chest, but not all the time.  The dark heaviness is no longer pinning me down.  It still stabs through me often, but I can walk. I can see the beauty of Amish country and hope for the beauty of heaven.  I can breathe through the pain and see through the tears.  Thanks to many, many prayers... and rainbow toes. I know now that the long years only pass one minute at a time, and more than ever, now, I want to live in the minute.  I cannot go back, and I cannot skip ahead.  But I can rub my wet cheeks on tiny chubby ones and make this minute count.  After all, I don't know what the next one will bring.  Do you?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

No More Shadows

We sit in her room with the happy, pink flowers hanging on the wall and the butterfly curtains billowing- the babies and I.  They lay on the bright, white bedspread and I show them the things that were special to their big sister, Makiah...  her purple, shell necklace that sings The Little Mermaid's song because she wore it all the time and drove me crazy playing the song... her tiny ballerina bear because she wanted to "be a ballerina not when I'm a grown up but now while I'm a little girl..."  her baby doll that giggles because she loved babies and wanted brothers and sisters more than anything in the world.  I show them her picture and they grin and reach for her, well, for it.  I get out the video camera.  Then it hits me.  The profound sadness of it all.  I am taping my girls' reactions to their sister's picture.  Because I can't video their reaction to their sister.  I almost never cry in front of the twins, but today I cannot keep the tears from falling.

I run my fingers over some of her last art projects from school.  I pick up the baby doll and think how wrong it is that the batteries lasted longer than my little girl.  I have been finding "tiny fings" of hers all over the house lately.  A mermaid stamp in the kitchen drawer.  A pink barbie mirror in her daddy's socks.  A little aphid picture from The Ladybug Game under the living room rug.  A tiny barbie shoe on my closet floor.  And a breakfast bar I had packed for her in a purse that I pulled out of my closet.  I feel sick.  I used to put these things away, but now I leave them where I find them.  I can't stand the thought of having no more reminders of her to pop up around the house.  So they have become sacred in their hiding places under rugs and beneath socks.  I can never clean too deeply lest I wipe away all the signs of her.  The tangibles that remind me of happy days when she was tangible.

I feel inside a mounting... of what I do not know.  Eleven days until her heaven day.  It seems that it should be cataclysmic.   This day that is coming.  This marking of the days.   Even the ancients mourned on certain days.  This dreading and enduring and exhaling when it is past and we have survived.  What is it in us that cannot help but mark these anniversaries?  A verse pops in my mind... "Deep calls out to deep."  I wrote the other day that the Bible says God has put eternity in the hearts of men.  Maybe it is that place in us that yearns wistfully for these days to be set right.  For the tragedies to be undone.  For time not to matter so much.

As I film my babies playing with their sister's things, I wonder if all our memorable moments will now be quietly marked by sadness.  Not overtly, but always there beneath the surface.  In a deep place.  Like a shadow that has been cast across my life, her death tinges everything a slightly different shade.  As I hear the ticking of the clock in my soul, the approach of the one year anniversary, I weep for what is lost and I long for what is to come.  The day when there will be no more marking of sad days... no more holding our breath in sickening anticipation... no more shadows.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Well of Thanks


It was like Christmas when it came in the mail… well, what Christmas used to be like.  I couldn’t wait to get the little package open!   I pulled at the stubborn tape, and then ripping it open with a jerk, I held my breath.  I carefully pulled out a dark blue notebook and gingerly opened the flaps.  There they were!  The pictures!  Just in time for the first anniversary of her heaven day, the pictures of the first well and it’s dedication had arrived…  and I felt a smile in my heart.  

The well isn’t fancy and the crowd isn’t huge, but it is real.  Something my little girl wanted to do.  A way for her to leave a footprint, to impact another life.  The faces are precious to me.  A little baby in her mother’s arms.  We are connected, this mother and I.  Her child is in her arms and mine is not.  But a little girl’s gift, an outpouring of love from people like you, and a spout of fresh water have joined us together in a mystical way.  My loss is her gain.   I would change the loss if I could.  Undo it in a heartbeat.  But that is not given to me.  

I think of Tolkien’s  Gandalf and Frodo in a critical moment. Frodo: “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”  Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

And so the loss cannot be undone.  But the gain can be given.  The time that is left for me and for you… that is all we have to decide about.  We can change something for the little girl with big, brown eyes who clings to her mommy and hopes that today will be a good day.   My Makiah’s short life was full of good days and happiness.  And so I want to thank each of you who have given, on behalf of the brown eyed girl in South Africa, for changing lives with the gift of clean water and offering better days… and on behalf of the blue eyed girl in heaven, for helping her to leave a legacy of God’s love… and on behalf of this watery eyed mommy, for making my loss their gain- that it will not just be a loss.   Thank you from a place in me where words can hardly do justice...



Makiah's 1st Well- Manzingwenya, South Africa


Women Celebrating


The Plaque on the Well



The Brown Eyed Baby Girl

A Woman Gives Thanks


*The second well is being built in Ghana, and the third is now underway in Cambodia.  The funds for the fourth well are growing.  You can still contribute through the purchase of a well charm or by direct donation.  Tax deductable donations are now made directly to
Operation Blessing International
Attn.: Brenda Fansher, CSB 322
977 Centerville Turnpike
Virginia Beach VA 23463 
Mark your gift clearly for Makiah King Well Project, and it will be credited to her account.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Not Enough

I am not afraid to die.  Maybe I am afraid to live.  But I am not afraid to die.  How can I be scared of something my four year old has already faced?  But do I have what it takes to live-  strength,  endurance, courage to seek Him,  integrity to keep pursuing Truth?  Not enough.  I look inside and there are big gaping holes of not enough.  Faith?  Hope?  Love?  Not enough.

I read in the book 1,000 Gifts that Jesus embraced his not enough.  He gave thanks for it and a miracle followed every time.  Can I give thanks for my not enough?  Not enough time with Kiah.  Will it ever be enough?  Enough time with our loved ones?  The bible says God set eternity in the hearts of men.  All loving relationships here end in sadness and separation.  No matter how wonderful.  They all end in death.   But something deep in the recesses of our hearts tells us this is not how it should be.  That place in our souls longs for eternity... for a  place of no goodbye's.   No, it is never enough.

That is the hope of heaven.  The joy of the Godman who came to be the Way- the Messiah who came to save us... to save us from the not enough.  From the ever gaping holes of emptiness in our souls.  The places we try to cram full.  Desperately we do more, learn more, talk more, eat more, try to have more fun... more stuff.   But it is not enough.  Can I thank him for the not enough?  Will it precede the miracle?  For me?  For you?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Art of Surprise

I was hesitant to go.  I don't have any artistic ability at all.  I can barely draw stick people!  What could I possibly do in an art therapy group?  But it was for local moms who have lost a child recently, and I decided it might help me to meet some who are walking this broken road, too. 

We shared our stories and cried for and with each other.  The facilitator had us close our eyes and do some relaxation imagery.  When she said "now imagine that you are coming to a place of acceptance,"  all the relaxing imagery went out the window, and in my mind's eye I was fighting to free myself from an impossible box.  I was kicking and clawing to get out, but I was surrounded on all sides and shrouded in darkness.  I feel red.  I feel powerless.  I feel trapped.  I feel unseen.  I feel... angry.

I was totally surprised.  I didn't think that I had been angry at all.  Sad.  Broken.  Depressed.  Crushed.  Not angry.  But here it was. Anger.  Surfacing in this class that I almost didn't attend.  We were instructed to use art materials to illustrate what we felt in that place of peace and acceptance.  Lucky for me magazines were on the table.  Soon I was ripping out rocks and dinosaur teeth from a National Geographic and pasting them in a circular wall on a red page.  They formed a craggy enclosure of sharp slate and jagged teeth.  Weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Inside was a girl covered over from head to toe in a black burka.  She is unseen. Words were scattered across the rocks... 'powerless,' 'imagine the sound of the sickening crunch,' 'a generation lost...'  Outside the rocky prison  were the upside down words- 'back to life.'  Everything seems so upside down. 

They say it is one of the stages of grief.  Anger.  I thought I just missed that stage.  I guess not.  They also say acceptance is the final stage.  Clearly I am not there yet.  I still have moments when I am utterly shocked that she is gone.  I caught myself saying a phrase to Abby just like Kiah would have said it.  "I fink she is gonna roll over!" And I could picture her sitting on the blanket with her sisters and cheering them on as they learn to roll.  Giggly and sweet.   She would have loved it.  Her absence slaps me across the cheeks and they become wet.  Laying in bed last night I think of her little face, and I catch my breath.  She is gone!  She can't be.  Things like this don't happen to me!  My baby is fine... When will I stop being shocked?  My husband says I have to stop imagining life with her.  What could have been.  What would have been.  What should have been!  I don't think I can.  I am not ready to let her go.  After all, I never even really got to say goodbye. 




Thursday, August 25, 2011

Grace and Flip Flops

Tiny pairs of sparkling flip flops.  In and out they walk on tiny feet.  I am so glad I work with adolescents most of the time, but this week we are screening elementary children.  I have sparkly flip flops at my house, too.  Sealed up in a box in the attic.  They cannot find the little feet that should be in them.  They didn’t get to go to kindergarten this year.  Didn’t get to hear the little blond girl learn to write her last name.  Learn to read.  Feel  her toes start to hang off the edge as she outgrew them.  Get dusty on the playground or have chocolate milk spilled on them at lunch.  No, they didn’t get to go to kindergarten.

I fight off the feelings of anxiety.  The impulse to run away.  Too many little blonde ponytails with faces that are not hers.  Then I see them.  The rainbow painted toenails.  Exactly the way she wanted them the last Sunday when we were painting our nails together in bed.  “Mommy, please paint my toenails rainbow colors!” she pleaded.  I didn’t have the right colors with me so I promised her we would do it next time.  The next time was at the funeral home.

The rainbow toes walk out the door.  And I look down at mine.  Ten months later.  Still ten lonely, painted toes that should be twenty.  Our counselor says we should do something special on the one year anniversary of her death- her heaven day, as some have called it.  But what? How do you commemorate her and not the horror?  No one prepares you for this in the school of life.  There are no lesson plans for coping with every parent’s nightmare.  And what about the anniversaries in the future… the one when no one remembers?  The year it comes and goes and everyone else has forgotten?  I suppose the grace for that day won’t be until then.  Today I just need the grace to handle the sparkly flip flops and the little rainbow toes while missing hers so much…

Friday, August 19, 2011

Grace for the Morning

I have not let myself think about it.  Really.   I heard someone say once that we don't have the grace for something in advance... just that day.  So I figure the grace to face the hearing and the boy-man and the evidence will be there in the morning and not before.  I wish someone would tell my subconscious, though.

I dreamed someone was babysitting her.  When I went to pick her up, they had let some of their family take her off with a few of her friends.  And I knew.  I knew she was gone.   When their van pulled into the driveway, all the friends got out, but she was not there.  I screamed at the adults hysterically the whole dream- yelling at them that they had lost her.

Then the next night I was at the top of a grassy hill.  I could see her down at the bottom sitting in a lounge chair  just at the edge of the woods.  She was playing with a baby doll.  Suddenly I could hear the sound of something terrible and mighty coming in the woods.  A foreboding crunching of leaves and twigs.  I screamed for her to run.  She ran up the hill towards my arms, and in my dream, I somehow was thinking- this is it.  This is when I get to hold her again.  I was trying to remember what it felt like for her cheek to be touching mine. I reached for her. She jumped into my arms, and as I pulled her close to me... she vanished.

I have no control.  I am powerless.  I can't protect her.  I can't even hold her.  Oh, to have sweet dreams of my baby... I have only had three since she died.  One where we hugged and clung to each other for the longest, and another where I washed her face and fixed her hair as if for the last time.  Those were last October.  Recently I had one of her and the babies all together. I wanted to live in that one... to not wake up. But that is all.  Mostly the nights are full of aching and horror.  Sleep is there, but rest is elusive.  I feel somehow that the grace will be here in the morning for tomorrow.  But where is the grace for the nights???


Friday, August 12, 2011

The Place


It happened by accident.   I was driving to my friend’s new house, and one of the road signs grabbed me.  While we visited, I was turning the name over in my mind.  Could it be?  I thought the accident had happened much further down the highway.   My memory is muddled.   I said I would never drive that way again.  Never again see the place.  I had been with a group to tour my friend’s house a few weeks before she moved in, and I had been nauseous.  But I didn’t pay attention on the drive, and figured it was because I was close to the place.  As I packed my girls in the car to leave,  I took a deep breath to still the trembling inside.  Now I would be on the same side of the divided highway as that day...  Was this it?  I didn’t know another way home.  I would have to find out.  I drove slowly as if in a dream.  And then, suddenly, there they were just before the suspicious intersection- the skid marks, dark and hard, and then nothing.  The invisible mark where our car was torn from the road and my little, sweet one was catapulted into eternity.  Instantly, I was there.  The grass, the trees, the strangers’ arms,  their voices telling me not to look, the dripping,  people pulling me away, my hysterical voice piercing heavy air as I screamed into the phone to my Daddy that they were putting paddles on her chest.  Oh God!  It flashed in a second.  I had no time to prepare- to plan.  I am there.

Just before was a road named Legion.  I can’t help but picture hoards of demonic creatures cheering as in a Roman arena at the devouring of flesh.   Death.  That was their plan.  I feel smothered by darkness.  Then in the next second, I make a decision.  I cannot let them  win.  Here in this place of Death, I choose Life!  My lips, ignoring the sensation of horror, begin to pray.  And praise.  This is no light moment for me.  I have done those things only painstakingly, rarely, and with great effort the last 10 months.   But this time I barely think.  It is almost an impulse.  I can imagine that in the darkness of that day, as her body crumpled, there was a crack of piercing, radiant light torn through the black canvas of evil and she stepped into it in a flashing second.  Into the light.  The weighty glory.  The joy.  The promise.  The prize.  His love.    And the hoards remembered that their plan is foiled.  Oh death where is your sting?  Hell has been defeated.   The grave could not hold the King!  My shaking hands grip tight on the steering wheel.  I do not stop pointing my lips and thoughts to the throne as the next seconds pass and the place is gone.  Behind me.  The hurdle is crossed.  And I am still in the race.

Makiah died that day.  But she didn’t.  We have lost her, but He has not.  She is not all that died that day.  But the lightness in my heart, the turning I have felt for three days now since that moment, tells me that maybe, just maybe, a resurrection is in progress.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hold on Tightly... and Loosely

So many things have been swirling through my mind I hardly know what to write about.  My time alone is so limited that I think of more things to blog than I am able to get down.  Then I seem to forget them.  They slip away in the fog of mommy brain!  One of my girls was screaming her head off in a public restroom yesterday while I tried to change her out of her poopy (I mean covered in poop!) clothes, and a lady walked by and said "All I can say is thank God!"  Meaning she was glad she didn't have a squirmy, screaming, covered in poop child.  I just looked at her, smiled, and said, "That's what I say, too.  Thank God!  I say that every time I look at her."  And I laid a big kiss on my stinky, precious, red faced one!

Squeeze them tighter.  Kiss them more.  Laugh when they spill it all over your clean floor.  Yes, you should.  You absolutely should.  Don't waste another second with them.  If this tragedy has done anything for me, it is to make me appreciate every wonderful, messy part of being a parent.  On the rare occasion that both of my gifts are joining together in a chorus of screaming, I get out the video camera.  And I laugh.  Because this too shall pass- all too quickly.

I was thinking while I brushed my teeth this morning that before the accident, for about a year I had a sense of "hold on loosely" in my heart sometimes when I would pray.  I thought this was in reference to material things.  But I think now that it was to help prepare me- as if anything could- for a parting that I could not have dreamed.  Since I have been on an irony theme, here is another one.  We must hold loosely, and yet tightly, to anything in this world.  Our home, if our faith is in Jesus, is ultimately heaven.  So somehow, in a mystery of loving, we are to cling to our dear ones every moment that we have but hold them loosely as we offer all in surrender to the King.  He is the only thing we can never be separated from... unless we choose it.

I learned a verse shortly before Makiah died, and it has come back to me many times.  It is part of a psalm of David.  "Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you."  I was praying that it would be true for me.  Not that I would not value anyone or anything here, but that in comparison to my love for God all else would pale.   It is not true of me right now.  But the verse won't leave me alone.  How to get there?  To a place of really loving God above all else?  Even through the separation of your dreams and the crunching of your heart?  Is it possible?  Maybe you can tell me,  if you have walked this broken road...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Not Yet


Oh, grass, why won’t you grow?  My baby’s grave all dusty dry.  Bare as bones and fresh as the day we laid her there.  All around the lush grass grows and new life covers over ugly dirt.  Another buried after mine is just around the corner.  Beneath her stone the ground is green as if it were untouched.  Spring came and  bloomed around her headstone.  But not my baby’s grave.   

Oh, grass, why won't you grow?  You make tears spring to my eyes.  The stone’s shadow falls on bareness- a wound in the earth- a schism in the universe.  The pact between life and death was broken and her breath was stolen too soon.  Even the earth seems to know it was not meant to be this way.  It refuses to cover the gash.   As if the dirt is screaming that the belly of the earth should not have been torn open for this little one… no, not yet.  From the bird’s eye, all is lush and geen in this field of sacred stones- except the reddish plot where nature itself objects to what is unnatural- the death of giggly laughter and hair of sunshine and eyes green like the sea.  

 Oh grass why won’t you grow?  Almost a full year and it looks barely a week ago.  Seeds we have planted but to no avail.  Perhaps the birds have picked them away.  An anomaly in the meadow.  Maybe the earth is waiting for my heart to heal.  Could it be a mirror of my own refusal to accept?  A mystery of reflection?  The soul seen clearly in muddy dirt?  The life just can’t seem to cover over the death… to heal up earth or heart.  Ten months is just too short.  A turning of the head.  A blinking of the eye.  And so the dirt lies fresh.  And so the heart lies torn.  Perhaps waiting for my grip to loosen, to slip a little… no, not yet.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Little Fingers

A poem that my brother, a pilot, wrote last fall about Makiah.  He just shared it with me.  Such beautiful grief... another oxymoron. Thank you to all those who have shared their memories of her and held our hands in this walk of weeping.

Fingers and Flesh

Little girl why are your fingers so cold?  Arise sweet child! Arise!

With these fingers you held my hands while we played in the park. 
With these fingers you held my neck when you leapt from the ground to draw me close.
With these fingers you touched my heart, straight through the flesh touched my beating soul.
With your little eyes you held my gaze, hours gone by, through the camera your captive.

With these fingers you touched my picture, each morning and night asked my blessing.
With these fingers you touched the wife that I have yet to know.
With these fingers you pointed to my plane, reminding mommy you know where I roam.
With these fingers you blessed the twins whose flesh you will never hold. 

With these fingers, broke my throbbing heart, stained my wetted cheeks. 
With these fingers you held Yahweh’s gaze… “Jesus, I want to see you face to face!”
With His fingers He’s carried you home.
Little girl why are your fingers so cold?  Arise sweet child!  Arise! 

Oh that blessed day, when your Savior cries…Arise sweet child!  Arise!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Pendulum of Irony

There is irony in Death. In the death of a loved one- the snatching of a child from your arms. You become suddenly, painfully aware that time here does not last forever. That life has limits. That every minute is intrinsically valuable. That tomorrow is truly not promised... to any of us. And yet, at the very moment your eyes are stripped of their blinders and you perceive the preciousness of the inhaling and exhaling, that every breath is on loan, you seem to lose the ability to really live. Now you want to carpe diem, but there is a gaping hole that seems to drain away attempts at happiness. How do you enjoy when the joy is leaked away? Now you know, but with the deep inner knowing comes the deeper pain of loss. They hold hands in a cruel pact of friendship- the loss and the eyes-wide-open living.

Losing a loved one is like losing a limb.  If your right arm were gone, you could still live your life.  Just differently.  You would have to brush your teeth differently, drive differently, learn to dress yourself differently.  When your mind would try to reach for something with the missing appendage, you would have to redirect and compensate... use what is left.  But always there would be the old thinking, a catching of oneself.   It is the same with sudden death.   Maybe all death?  You continue to function, but everything you do is through the lens of loss.  Nothing feels normal.  Inside you must fight to accomplish basic tasks.  If you forget for a moment, then it catches you- the truth you don't want to be true.   The stinging of the loss is multiplied because no one sees your missing limb.  The hole is in your heart- your real heart.   The struggle is invisible.  Boiling beneath the surface.  Hiding behind the to do list and masked by niceties. But the absence is there, and the mysterious void snakes its tentacles through every thought and wraps around every action.  It squeezes the life breath out of you. You who know better than most now that you need to infuse each moment with life... not death.  And so there is a relentless tug of war.

A friend, one who carries a deep hole of loss in her heart, too, said to me "there is pain in this life that we have...but there is also beauty.   Where you are right now....pain and beauty can keep you on a HUGE teeter totter emotionally. Then one day...the beauty once again begins to outweigh the pain."

I can't imagine that right now.  It seems impossible.  Like I am irrepairably broken.  An innocence that I had has been lost forever.  Too much knowledge from this tree of good and evil.  But her words feel like hope.  Ironically that is her name... So I wait for the pendulum to swing.  For the teeter totter to lean away from the pain.  To lift me up towards the beautiful sky and maybe towards some of that light, feathery, soaring  innocence that I so deeply miss.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Postponed

We have waited 9 months for this very first hearing, and we got a call that it was postponed... with no new date scheduled.  And so a new roller coaster begins.   I am sick today (literally) so I will borrow a line from Forrest Gump- that's all I'm gonna say about that. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Dresser Drawer

I could hardly sleep last night.  I lay in the darkness feeling the cool air billow across white sheets and listening to the hum of the fan.  I want to immerse myself in memories.  I want to be there in them.  I hear her little footsteps as she runs to our room in the night.  She stands by my bed and her arms are full of fuzzy friends and her silky pink pillow.  "Mommy I dropped the bunny!" she cries.  I pull her across me and make room for her little pillow and stuffed animals.  "Mommy will get him, baby."  With a little irritation at the number of animals that must make the midnight trek to our bed, I retrieve the pink softness.  She sighs and snuggles into the warmth between mommy and daddy.   I kiss her soft cheeks and pull my fingers through gentle, blond curls.  And the world feels right.  I think of the morning.  Light creeps through the blinds and she exclaims exuberantly, "Time to get up!  The sun is up!"  I rub her little arm and kiss the birthmark near her right shoulder.  She giggles and tries to wiggle away.  Blue-green glistens and the sweetness around her eyes crinkles with delight. 

I try to think of more.  Frantically I rack my brain for clear memories.  I think of the last day.  We stop at an outlet for Cameron to buy some running shoes.  I sit on a bench next to a bin of miniature basketballs.  She picks out the pink and black one and tries to bounce it.  I try to show her how to dribble it, but there is not enough air in the ball.  She won't try the others because they are boy colors.  We walk outside to wait, and tiny fingers are laced through mine.  She says we should lay on the bench.  I laugh and say I think I will sit, but she can put her head in my lap if she likes.  She does.  The weight of her on me.  The last time.  We squint, and I remember I left my sunglasses by the basketballs.  I stand by the door and watch as she bounces her way back to retrieve them for me.  I thank her, and she says "What for?"  I say for getting my glasses.  She smiles, grabs my hand, and says, "Oh mommy!"

Later we wait again while daddy looks for shirts.  I take her to the restroom; then she climbs up onto the chair beside me and says "Now what can we do?" with her arms up in a gesture of bewilderment. We play "I spy," and a woman walks by and smiles at us.  I wonder what she would think if she knew my baby would be dead in a few hours.

Every time my eyes are open during the night, I am grasping memories.  Trying to live in them.  Then this morning we get the call.  The slowly creaking wheels of the judicial system are finally moving.  A motion has been filed to try the young man who killed her as an adult.  The hearing is next Tuesday at 12.  I think I will throw up. Are we ready for this?  Are we ready to hear the first decision... to see the man?  I choose with my will to forgive him whenever he crosses my mind.  But forgiveness does not negate the need for justice.  My memory of his face is foggy.  Do I want to let that change?  Will he be tried as an adult?  Whatever his sentence turns out to be in this onerous process, his family can still touch his face, hear his voice, kiss his cheeks...

I put the babies down for a nap.  I can hear them fussing as I almost run to the bedroom on the other side of the house.  The wailing sound startles even me.  Can that animal like noise be coming from my mouth?  I cannot stop it.  The groans and cries come from a deep pit of agony... a place no one should visit.  I just want my baby.  I don't want answers or logic.  I just want my baby!  In my arms, cheek to cheek, kissing all over her sweet face.  To hear her voice.  To touch her warm skin.  To hold her close.  Not just in the memories that I cling to.  I fight against the feeling that she was never real.  Never really here.  Invisible.  A part of a memory or feeling that can only be conjured up in the mind.  All I have left of her is a lock of golden hair.   Wrapped in a delicate white cloth.  In a wooden box.  In my dresser drawer...