Friday, November 26, 2010

Community

My grandmother lost her daughter, Rachel Ross, in 1965. Rachel had a heart condition and at just three months old, she died on the operating table. For decades, my grandmother has been finding support through Compassionate Friends. When Rachel died, support groups like this didn't exist. Now, so many years after her loss, my grandmother continues to go to help newly bereaved parents through their loss. 


When I was in my early teens, I started going to Compassionate Friends meetings with her. I wasn't afraid to be around this kind of loss. I so badly wanted to help these parents in their pain and deep, deep sorrow. For Thanksgiving week, I've been visiting in my hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. On Tuesday evening, I went with my grandmother to a Compassion Friends meeting. I hadn't been since I lost my own daughter. All those years ago when I went, I never thought I'd have to go for the same reason those parents were there. The same reason my grandmother was there. The faces and the stories there made a lasting impact on me and it was wonderful to see them all again. Most people there knew of my loss, but they didn't know all the details. After each person around the table told their story of loss, it was my turn. I didn't realize how hard it would be to tell Lily's story. I go to ParentCare meetings twice a month in Raleigh, but they all know her story. It was good to be there, especially since I hadn't been to my own infant loss group in over a month. The tears came, but tears are so healing. I said what I could and later wished I had said more. But, the people there were so dear to me. They offered such love and support. One lady said she remembers me before I was a mother. That seems like a lifetime ago. It seems like I was a girl then, now I've had to grow up...in good ways and bad ways. I know of the cruelty of the world, I know of loss. I know sorrow I never dreamed possible. Yet, I knew it existed from going to this group all those years ago...Isn't it amazing how God prepares us for what we need years down the road? He's always working, always moving. 


After the group was over, one lady came up to me and said that I put words to how she felt when she lost her stillborn son over two decades ago. That was truly precious. I gave my blog address to everyone and they said they will put it in the newsletter next month.


There was another wonderful lady, whose daughter died earlier this fall. When she heard my story, she mentioned that her neighbor has a daughter who lost a baby, actually four babies. She said she had just published a book and if I'd be in town for a while, she'd see if she could bring me a copy. Well, of course I said I'd love that and today she came over and brought two autographed copies, one for me and one for my grandmother, of Kathleen Olowin's book, Angels in my heart. Apparently, Kathleen and I are from the same hometown. Right when I looked at the cover, I recognized that I had seen it the day before on the Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope site! I couldn't believe it! What a small world this is, huh? It just reminds me of how tight-knit this babyloss community truly is. Next time I'm in town, I hope to meet Kathleen and remember our babies together. I'm already a third of the way through the book and am really enjoying it...you should get it too! :)



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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lily Remembered in Australia

Lily's name was written in the sand on Christian's Beach in Western Australia by Christian's mommy, Carly Marie at To Write Their Names in the Sand.


From her loving mother's womb to the arms of Jesus
on March 16th, 2010
United States

"The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; 
may the name of the LORD be praised."
-Job 1:21

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sometimes all it takes

Sometimes it's the silence that hurts the most. When you're all alone with your thoughts. Thoughts that can take you to a deep place of loneliness. Feeling isolated. When the phone calls stop, the letters no longer come, and the "how are yous?" fade away, all that's left are the memories. The sorrow that comes with all those thoughts of "what ifs?"

Everybody forgets. I wonder if she ever crosses their minds. If I ever cross their minds...or maybe they think it doesn't matter anymore. Maybe they think since it's been almost eight months, I must be over it by now. After all, they see me smiling and laughing.

Yes, life goes on for us all. And how easy it is to get so caught up in our own hectic schedules of kids, husbands, boyfriends, classes, work, friends...whatever it is that keeps us from remembering other's sorrows. Others that can't forget the pain they live with each day. Whether they are going through a divorce, grieving the loss of a parent, or saying goodbye to an infant child. So many hurts come with this fallen world.

Real life happens. But we never forget our pain. Sometimes a simple "how are you holding up?" is all it takes to show someone you haven't forgotten their pain either. It just may make the silence in their life less lonely.


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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Part of a Bigger Picture

He's known as Mr. Bill, "grandpa" to her. I never knew Mr. Bill. Well, we never met face to face. But, me and Mr. Bill, we're kindred spirits. Late on October 31st, this ninety-two year old World War II Veteran went home to be with Jesus. He waited a long time to meet his first Love.

I went to be there for her, my best friend. Saying "goodbye for now" is a hard thing to do...this I know too well. She was there when I had to say goodbye, so I wanted to be there when she had to say goodbye. I thought that was the only reason I was meant to go...I had no idea that Mr. Bill would teach me something, without a word. Just like she did.

The service was one of the most beautiful I've seen. Hope was written all over their faces..Hope of being together again with this man, this father, this grandfather, this friend. The words spoken for this man were not empty, like most funerals I've seen. It wasn't a sad day, but a joyful day! Tears flowed down my cheeks because the promise of Heaven for this man was sure. We all knew it. It's rare to see someone love Jesus like this man. This gentle soul who lived a simple life, yet loved with all he had. I see God in the legacy of this man. This man that never spoke a word to me, yet he'll be a lifelong friend of mine. We love the same Lord. Our hearts both beat for this man named Jesus. And one day, one day I'll get to meet him face to face.

I rejoiced for this man, my brother in Christ because he gets to be where there's no more pain, no more tears, no more physical ailments that come with having lived ninety-two years on this earth.

Saying goodbye to someone whose lived ninety-two good, long years is bittersweet. Bitter because you miss his presence, yet sweet because he's brand new. As I sat listening to all the kind words spoken for this man that fought for his country and fought in the army of the Lord and I saw pictures of his life on the big screen, my mind takes me back to the last funeral I went to, seven and a half months ago. And the fact that ninety-two years are between this man and my little girl seems so unfair. It seems like he got a chance at life, she didn't. Was she not as important as him? I listened to story after story and got to know this man.

For him, we grieve all that was. For her, we grieve all that will never be.

Yet, each life is sacred, precious to Him. Each life was set-apart for the purposes of the Lord and it doesn't matter what I want or what any of us want. We are only called to fulfill His will for us, whether that takes nine months in the womb or ninety-two years on the earth. We're all part of a bigger picture. And without a word, they have both taught me so much.

"I praise You because (Mr. Bill and Lily) are fearfully and wonderfully made;
   Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14

My friend Kala shared this at her grandpa, Mr. Bill's, funeral:

A short time ago, or maybe a long time ago (time feels different here), God let me be part of a blessed conversation that would offer comfort and peace, and laughter and tears. It happened in my grandfather's living room. Grandpa, Mom, Dad, Daniel, Thomas and I were sitting in Grandpa's home. We were talking about the new floors he just had put in to that old house. I can recall the words renting and selling; or we could have been talking about something else, but that’s not the part I remember. And then my grandpa said, “Well, you know; when I leave here, ya’ll can rent out the house, you might be able to get something out of it.”
“Leave? Well, where are you going?” My mom said. My grandpa just looked at her. He looked at us all.
Like the answer to that question had already been carved into his heart and pumped through his veins with every new breathe he took.
"Where am I going?" He stated, matter-of-factly, finger pointed upward to the Heavens “Well, I'm goin' Up Yonder!” And we all laughed and today I smile and cry, because God gave this conversation to us to remember on this day.
But sometimes it’s hard to look at situations like these and hear words put together by people who might not understand, for a purpose they probably don't fully grasp (I know I don't), when they say “He’s in a better place,” and then I'm supposed tell my mind and my heart that today is a day to rejoice. Because we are earthly-minded creatures by disease. And somewhere in between life and death; love happened. Love happened to us all and we are left forever changed. And now it’s gone. And what’s left feels like an empty house that was once filled with children and grandchildren and family and LOVE. But now it’s empty, empty but overflowing with memories and feelings of times past, all these that we hold on to, while simultaneously realizing that nothing will be the same as it was.
But God stops me where I'm at, for I am weak. And then He comes to me and says, "Let me carry it for you. I will show you the way." And then I start to realize that I was not meant for earthy-mindedness, but to become spiritually-minded. To put my eyes to the things of God. To recognize that today is the greatest day that grandpa’s soul has ever seen. And I know that there’s a great party up yonder to welcome him home. And I can see my grandma with her new and perfect eyes, taking his hand and placing it in the hand of Jesus, his eyes fixated on the radiating Light. And Jesus walks with him, and places it in the Hand of the Father. And with his new and perfect ears, grandpa hears the whisper, “Welcome home, beloved son, welcome home”.

A rose and lily from Grandpa Bill's funeral

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