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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kindergarten

"Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come" by Nancy Carlson. The book arrives in the mail today. I thought that these free books we get were supposed to stop on Makiah's 5th birthday. Apparently not. I feel an invisible punch in the gut as my eyes trace over the title. One more reminder that she is not with us. That we had to return the clothes I bought during the end of season sales last summer for her to wear to kindergarten. That her friends can write their last names now, but she never got to learn.

I wipe down her baby toys. Her little sisters are grabbing things now. Time to pass on big sissy's things. She wanted them to play with them. No, she wanted to teach them to play with them. I sit in her room with the babies laying in front of me on the crisp white bedspread . I read her books to them and big, blue eyes like saucers bounce to the rhythm of the words. I sing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider," and two pair of lips curl into grins at the hand motions. I tickle little ribs and kiss four soft cheeks and two slobbery, pink mouths. Smiling on the outside. Inside I feel the crushing. The weight of her absence. The heavy silence when I stop. Another song. Another book. Keep filling in the void- the absence- the loss- the mystery of the missing. I want her room to be a happy place. At least for little hearts still free from pain. I push the smile back onto my lips and watch it reflect in the mirror of their faces. I soak in their love, and I can take it. Another breath. And another.

I slide the book on the shelf with all her others. And I hope. I hope that maybe in five years I will need to read it. "Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Daddy's Arms

Daddy's Arms

Daddy's arms.  There's nothing like them.  Cutting her cord his face is alive with joy.  Holding her in his strong hands tears trickle down.  One hundred thousand  kisses from soft lips couched in a scratchy goatee.  He always keeps her on his day off while mommy works because he wants to.  Diaper changes and spit up never sway him.  Daddy daughter dates for crunchy fried chicken legs are what memories are made of.   Splashing in muddy puddles together.  Sharing breath and sweaty sleeping close.  Eskimo kisses and Valentine's dances.  She throws herself across his lap and exclaims "Don't tickle me, Daddy!"  Sweetest laughter follows.  Eating first food...catching first fish.  Daddy gently teaches.   "Daddy, please swing with me... play barbies with me... pretend mermaids with me..."  she asks.  His answer is always yes.  Bedtime routines that last an hour.  Stories and rocking and singing so slow.  Taking it all in.  Over and over the words he says, "You make me sooo happy, Makiah."  Too many times to count he whispers it in her ear.  Her delighted grin fills up her face as his unrestrained adoration fills her little heart. Memories to treasure- Makiah and Daddy.  Memories still to make- Abby and Alena have so much to look forward to... Daddy's arms.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Paid in Full

A pale light creeps up in the east.  The purple clouds are streaked with brilliant pink as the world rolls over and begins to waken.  It reminds me of a painting Makiah did at preschool that she painted with a fork- subtle lines etch an intricate pattern into the sky, swirling color through the cumulous layers.  And I am on the porch.

I am sipping mocha, munching cinnamon bagels, watching the sky... and crossing a rickety bridge over a chasming gulf.  It has been almost a year since I have been here.  Almost a year since I got pregnant with twins and became too sleepy to keep my morning appointment like I should.  Almost a year since I was put on bed rest and wanted to spend my mornings there in bed.  Almost a year since the wreck, and I did not want to come out anymore.   Here is where I feel accepted, but I have been rejected.  Here is where I feel loved,but I have been hated.  Here is where I am known, but I have been cast aside.  Here is where I watch the light creep up in the sky and in my soul, but I have been shrouded in darkness.  Here is where I would pray that God would "zacar" me- "remember" me like Rachel in the Hebrew scriptures and open my womb like hers, but I have been utterly forgotten.  Or have I???

A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a website and a book called "one thousand gifts."  I thought to myself how I would like to read it and needed to order it.  The next day I waited in the car with the girls while  Cameron went in to the Christian bookstore.  He came striding out and handed me the book.  My mouth dropped open because I had not told anyone I wanted it.  He said the owner was on the phone with his wife and mentioned that Cameron was there.  She told her husband to give this book to him for me to read.  I must confess that my first reaction was anger- not at the precious lady who so clearly heard from God- to her I offer thanks.  But anger at God who would care to send me the book I secretly wanted but not preserve the life of  the beloved daughter I so openly longed for. 

Then there was last night.  My amazing husband came out in a suit and asked me out for dinner.  A half dozen dresses later, I finally found one that would still zip, and we were off to dine by candlelight.  We laughed and cried and celebrated almost a decade of togetherness.  We clinked our sparkling water glasses and toasted eternity.  We made a pact to talk about it more- to try to spend the next decade living in light of the endless decades to come on the other side where all real living begins.  He asked for the check, and we were shocked when the waitress said our meal- our expensive meal- had been paid for anonymously by someone in the dining room.

She said it was all covered. 

Paid in full.

This morning feeding babies early, the words kept ringing through my mind.  Paid in full.  Paid.  In.  Full.  I want to thank the stranger for our anniversary dinner.  More than that.  I want you to know it is because of you and those words that would not leave me alone this morning that I am out here on this porch again.  Sitting in the blackness of my room the light beckoned me through the slits of my blinds and the darkness in my heart, and I could see the reason I will hold her again.  I remembered that I come to the porch because the debt I owe, the cost for my life and my mistakes, has been paid in full. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Their Courage

The guitar strums.  People sing.  "Here I am, calling out... if you can heal the broken hearted, if you can take away the pain...will you hear me if I call on your name..."   God.  Think on him.  Engage.  Pain swells in my chest until I think it will  burst from the pressure.  Throat tightening.  Eyes on fire.  Press the thin lids tighter and seal off the flood.  How to recover?  How to grasp this and his love?  Now is when I always abort.  Avert the eyes and the thoughts and retreat to shallower waters.  Pull back to safety.  But not today. 

Today I think of the widow's words that I read in VOM (Voice of the Martyrs) Magazine.  The attackers broke each of her husband's fingers, then his arms, then his legs- each time giving him an opportunity to renounce Christ.  He refused, and the  radical Hindu mob buried him alive. The Indian woman's words seared my heart.  "But God is alive, and I am surviving only through him... I just want my story to be a testimony to the love of Christ."     And the courage of another new, young widow.  "There is still fear there but God is with us, so he is leading us day by day.  Because of his blessings we are surviving and still worshiping him." 

Still worshiping him.  Still.  Worshiping.  Him.  I am ashamed in the face of their courage- these women who are younger than I.  Chagrined.  Encouraged.  I sip from their courage a tiny drop.  I slip one hand up, reaching toward heaven, and form the words, pushing them off my lips.  "Here I am... calling out..."  More strumming.   I look up and a friend has appeared to hug me.  The lids lose their hold on the flood.  She has no words.  Even better- she just stands there and worships and cries with me.  She stands there.  With me.  And I am not alone.