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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.