The absence of Lily during this precious time has felt so pronounced. I am the Made of Honor and realized recently that if my girl were here, she'd be the flower girl in the wedding. She would be just over 3 1/2 by that time, so would be the perfect age for it. How beautiful she'd be in her little flower girl dress, walking down the aisle sprinkling lilies along the way. I'm sure everyone would be oohing and aahing over how gorgeous she'd look. I wonder how she'd act and what she'd say. It hurts that I have to imagine what these things might be like, but I will never truly know.
A friend made the suggestion to include Lily in the ceremony by having lilies along the sides of the aisle. I love that idea and hope she can be honored and included in this way. Small gestures like this mean so much to me.
As these thoughts flood over my heart, I have felt such a deep grief. There are so many moments where Lily's absence makes it feel as if a scab on my heart is ripped off over and over again. So many moments. The loss of a baby is unlike any other loss. I literally am missing out on and grieving everything that her life would have held...from beginning to end.
I missed out on those sacred moments in the hospital, right after birth, full of only joy and happy tears. I missed out on those newborn moments, and am missing out on those toddler moments, and will miss out on those little girl moments, teenager moments, adulthood moments. I am missing out on all the little moments in between, such as when Lily would be a flower girl in my brother's wedding. I am missing out on her being a part of my hoped-for future wedding. I am missing out on her being in every family picture, a part of every holiday dinner, and all those little moments that make life so special and beautiful. I am not just grieving my baby girl, but my all that my daughter's life would have held.
"I am reminded of you at sunrise and sunset
and a thousand other moments in between."
and a thousand other moments in between."
This grief will never be over because those moments will never end...
I love this letter written by John Piper, which he wrote to a grieving mother whose son was stillborn. His granddaughter, Felicity, was stillborn in September 2007. This particular piece of the letter really speaks to what I am saying:
Amputation is a good analogy. Because unlike a bullet wound, when the amputation heals, the arm is still gone. So the hurt of grief is different from the hurt of other wounds. There is the pain of the severing, and then the relentless pain of the gone-ness. The countless might-have-beens. Those too hurt. Each new remembered one is a new blow on the tender place where the arm was. So grieving is like and unlike other pain.
There is a paradox in the way God is honored through hope-filled grief. One might think that the only way He could be honored would be to cry less or get over the ache more quickly. That might show that your confidence is in the good that God is and the good that He does. Yes. It might. And some people are wired emotionally to experience God that way. I would not join those who say, “O they are just in denial.”
But there is another way God is honored in our grieving. When we taste the loss so deeply because we loved so deeply and treasured God’s gift — and God in His gift — so passionately that the loss cuts the deeper and the longer, and yet in and through the depths and the lengths of sorrow we never let go of God, and feel Him never letting go of us — in that longer sorrow He is also greatly honored, because the length of it reveals the magnitude of our sense of loss for which we do not forsake God. At every moment of the lengthening grief, we turn to Him not away from Him. And therefore the length of it is a way of showing Him to be ever-present, enduringly sufficient.
This is so, so beautiful. So full of truth. I feel God in the "gone-ness" and the countless "might-have-beens." I feel Him in her absence. I want others who read and hear my story to see authentic grief. Because you see, grief is a messy thing. It is not clean and tidy. Sometimes, it feels like I just keep saying the same thing, just in different ways that, I miss Lily. I wonder if people get sick of hearing it. This life of grief is painful, it's hard...
But, even more than that, it has drawn me closer to Jesus than a life without grief would have. The Lord changed my mother heart towards both my babies and it is because of that love He has placed within me that I miss them and grieve them so much. Because I taste the love so much, I taste the loss so much. I see what I am missing without them...all those might-have-been moments. I see the value of their lives, created in the image of Most-High-God. I believe that intensely grieving the loss of little ones who never live outside their mother's wombs testifies to the fact that all LIFE is so, so precious and valuable.
The Lord can be honored not only in the happy seasons of life when everything seems to be going swell, but in the midst of heartache, loss, grief. He is sufficient for us, in moments of joy and pain.
Today as I grieve another moment in this life that I will not experience with Lily, I will cling tightly to the beautiful truth that Lily knows all the joys of earth, without any of its sorrows. And I am remembering that one day soon:
You will know her. God will see to that. And she you. And she will thank you for giving her LIFE. She will thank you for enduring the loss that she might have the reward sooner.
God’s crucial word on grieving well is 1 Thessalonians 4:13: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” Yours is a grieving with hope. Theirs is a grieving without hope. That is the key difference. There is no talk of not grieving. That would be like suggesting to a woman who just lost her arm that she not cry, because it would be put back on in the resurrection. It hurts! That's why we cry. It hurts.
I pray that the Lord would be honored and glorified in my life, even in my grief.