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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,

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?