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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...