Watering the Plants in the Rain

I have this evening ritual of watering the plants in our front yard. I used to be motivated by this fear that I would kill all the beautiful landscaping that had been done around our new house and then I would be forced to figure out how to actually garden for real. But, over time it has become one of those “staring times” I mentioned in my previous post. It is 15-20 minutes of mostly uninterrupted time; except when my 50-something neighbor comes out of his house listening to Justin Timberlake, what? It’s actually been a great time to reflect on the day, check in with the Lord, and pray.

The other day I went out to do my nightly watering and after a few minutes it started to rain. Which, you Texas-folk know, this is not a common occurrence. I didn’t stop watering at first because you Texans also know how the Texas sky can look like it’s about to rage, then it spits out a few drops like a wet sneeze, and finally the sun pops back out like the sky is proud of what just happened. A couple more minutes went by, and it turned into a steady rain. But, I just kept on watering until I was completely soaked.

And, besides thinking to myself how the JT listening 50-something was no longer the oddity on the other end of the cul-de-sac, I thought….this feels familiar?

A few days later I came across this verse,

 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, 

and one who waters will himself be watered.

Proverbs 11:25

 

I was e-mailing with a friend a few days ago and described my longing for Brooklyn, the longing for Heaven, for right-ness as a kind of…thirst. You know that feeling when you’ve had a crazy morning and you’re going from one thing to the next, and suddenly you see a billboard or a commercial for an ice cold anything and suddenly you become keenly aware that you’ve got to have something to drink!  It feels the same with my grief. On my good days I am usually trying to go about doing normal every day things and then I hear a baby cry in the aisle over at the grocery store, or an incredibly obnoxious commercial for a babysitting service pops on the TV screen with a woman holding 2 babies who says, “Got your hands full?”. It’s in those moments when I feel it the most. How is this great thirst quenched? I know when I get to be in Heaven, it will be. But, what about now? This day, this hour, this minute, this second. What I want is to feel satisfied with my baby in my arms, I want my thirst to care for, to nurture and to mother to be quenched. I want to see the curse of Brooklyn’s broken body to be undone. I want to experience good without the stench of evil lingering behind. Yet in all of this desire I am not cursed, He says I am blessed.

     Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Matthew 5:6

It has felt safer to stay in my house. For a time, I needed that. And some days I still do. But, as I continue to seek comfort in its various forms, I think about watering the plants in the rain…one who waters will himself be watered. Thus far, my comfort has come through my couch, my bed, my bathtub, definitely a cup of tea, or a glass of wine now and again, but it might be time to step outside. It might be time to trust another crazy ass-backward thing that Jesus says and go engage someone else’s pain – to go learn how to comfort and bless in faith that I will find a depth of comfort and blessing I haven’t known yet.

-Brooklyn’s Mommy

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For Better or Worse

There’s a part of me that almost wishes I had started blogging sooner. It feels a little like when you’ve watched the first 20-30 minutes of a movie…then something stole you away for the next 30 minutes, leaving you trying to piece the remainder of the movie together. But, what I’m having to remind myself is, this is not a movie, nor is it a book. It doesn’t have to be set up perfectly. It doesn’t even have to be sequential and most likely won’t be. 

 
I’m kind of feeling like a vent might be coming on. I apologize up front if that’s what this becomes….
 
We brought Brooklyn home from the NICU on December 6th. The next day we went to her first appointment with her new pediatrician. We had no idea how blessed we would be by this man when we first walked into his office, but we definitely left feeling something special. 
 
After they did the standard routine for a new patient, we sat down with Dr. C and told him about Brooklyn’s diagnosis and how we had decided we wanted to walk that out. Then he asked us if we would like some advice. I think we both answered, yes, very hesitantly. He said, “Take care of your marriage.” 
Every week after that we heard, “Hang together”, a lot. And, some mini lectures about how incredibly high the divorce rate is for parents who walk through something like we were. 
 
So, here we are 8 months later. And, those little bits of advice and wise warnings are all starting to make a lot more sense. For us, marriage hasn’t been the cake walk that we seem to witness from the outside of other people’s marriages. I guess that’s the beauty and the trouble when you mix two people who are complete opposites on every front, and then add a few dashes of stubborn, selfish and stupid expectation…it can get a little messy. 
 
At first, we just needed each other so badly that I think all the normal marital dysfunction was just kind of not important compared to all the other hurt we were trying to navigate through. We were both just trying to get through the day. As time has gone by and we start trying to relearn how to be married without the demands/distraction/JOY of Brooklyn’s care, things are starting to resurface. And, when they resurface it feels 100 times worse than before. 
 
We are both hurting so deeply. And, when we hurt each other – no matter how trite it may seem – it hurts like crazy! I’m sure it’s probably a little different for both of us. But, a lot of times I feel like Adam is the only person on the earth that can understand my pain the most. Or, the only person who could possibly understand my love, longing and desire for Brooklyn. Sure other mothers who’ve gone through similar experiences can understand to a degree, but Adam is the only one who knows it with Brooklyn. So, when I feel disconnected from him whether it’s because I don’t feel pursued by him, or we had an argument, or whatever…I feel like I’m on an island all by myself. I feel so isolated. 
 
She really was and is our bridge. 
 
For better or worse, continuing on…
When conflict would arise in our marriage usually one of us would have enough strength to go to the other and make things right and process through how we got to that place. And, to be honest, 90% of the time that was Adam. Now, that we both feel hopeless in a lot of ways when something hard pops up in our marriage it feels so despairing, but neither of us have the energy on our own to go do what needs to be done. We need Jesus so badly here-and sometimes our friends when we don’t want to listen to Jesus. I told Adam recently after rehashing a fight that lasted far too long, and had really only been started from a simple miscommunication that I can’t wait for the day when we can just say I’m sorry, hug and spend more time talking about how much we really love each other and want to love each other better, instead of trying to go around and around in circles desperate to be understood. Which is really rooted in this lie that if only they understand why I was so hurt, they won’t do it again. That’s a bunch of bologna, they will! I will! And, we’ve been called to extend and receive grace every time. 
 
Connection. Without the help of petty arguments, this is pretty hard in itself. We’ve never exactly been that couple that had a ton of stuff in common, especially when it comes to what we want to do. So, now that we have A LOT of time on our hands conflict finds us here. I think even the fact that we have time to spend together can set the tone to be…sad. We will always be able to connect over Brooklyn-the joys and the grief. But, we still feel so raw that it can be really painful to connect over this. A couple of weeks ago we sat together looking at pictures and crying together. Those are very connecting times but they can be filled with fear that we’re both going to fall into this pit of despair and we won’t be able to help each other out of it.
 
I’m tempted now to pull out all the blessing woven in and between these ‘complaints’. I certainly hear them and am working on giving them a louder voice, but today they remain kind of weak. 
 
I do believe that God is ‘re-setting’ a lot within out hearts, and our marriage is no exception. At the very least, He’s giving us the opportunity to heal in a completely new and whole way. I feel that every day as he shows me the ways I have been bound up in my thought patterns and ways of being and doing life. This quote I found a few months ago is ringing in my ears….
 
Today you see only your loss, but then you will see how God used it to break the chains that had begun to restrain you.
 
 
-Brooklyn’s Mommy
 

Mountain High and Valley Low

This Wednesday Adam and I are headed for the British Aisles. We fly into London where we will stay for a couple of days and then we will head to Southampton to catch a cruise ship that will take us to a few stops in Ireland before our final destination in Edinburough.

As I was getting a head start on our packing the other day, I distinctly remembered when Adam told me that he had qualified for this free trip 11 months ago. I did some shamefully slow math and said, “There is no way I’m going to want to leave my 9 month old baby for 9 days while I go off on vacation!” It was sad to think we would have to miss out on a free dream vacation but that was what life would be now, right? And, I felt completely content with that. I was actually excited about it. I knew the joy of parenthood would be so much more rewarding in the long run.

So, as I think about this trip I feel such a mixture of emotions. It feels like such a blessing! An extraordinary gift! But, just the fact that we are able to go at all is a cold reminder of what our life looks like now, without our little one. As it seems with everything, He is teaching us the dance of joy and sorrow.

How do I enjoy this trip fully? How do I grieve that I don’t have a reason to not go on this trip? It’s tempting to just give in to the adventure and push down the sadness until we get back home. But, I know that’s not living by faith, and I know that I won’t be able to experience what He has for me in this trip fully. You can’t numb the painful things in life without numbing all the good in life too. So, I’m left with submitting to the pain when I feel it and, what seems by far more difficult, submitting to the joy when I feel it.

Adam has referred in a couple of his posts to “our new normal”. Well, this way of living seems to be my “new normal”. I resist it sooo much though, and sometimes I feel more sad about that than I actually feel about everything else.

So, here’s to being a mess and enjoying the peaks and experiencing the valleys all the same.

-Brooklyn’s Mommy

Until now

I am so nervous right now. And, I’m only writing a draft…

 
As I’m sure many of you can tell already by the first two sentences, this is not Adam. Over the past couple of months I’ve been wanting Adam to write some more current blog posts because a) I think it’s good for him and his healing process, b) I wanted people to know we haven’t fallen off the face of earth and c) he’s just really good at it. 
 
But, after a while I thought….maybe I should start writing some blog posts? Then a whole mess of, “no way jose!”, came up inside of me and stuck around – and still is there, but I’m just deciding to ignore it. But, maybe releasing some of my fears about this whole blogosphere thing will decrease my heart rate a bit. 
 
Why I don’t want to blog:
 
1. Everyone does it. Oh my desperation to not be like everyone else and at the same time WANT to be like everyone else. This dichotomoy usually has something to do with what I do or don’t do in life. Sad. So very sad.
 
2. Adam is so good at it! He’s the communicator out of the two of us. I do a lot of sitting and staring. On the back porch, out the window, in the bathtub, etc. I am much more of an internal processor and only open the great vault to a select few. Until now…breathe.
 
3. I’m afraid of being judged. I want people to see and experience the whole me. I’m even saying to myself now….This has been a pretty “light” first blog post. No one would suspect you’ve spent the last 4 1/2 days in your house, in your PJs, reading, crying, writing, eating, crying, drinking tea, crying, reading, crying, writing…Everyone is going to think your OK! Then, what? I could write an entire blog on just that last thought right there. 
 
And, those are just the top three. 
 
So, why am I here you say? I’m still trying to figure that all out myself. I’m sure it has something to do with swallowing my pride. It probably has a lot to do with learning to let people in again. It might even be part of my healing. But, most of all, I think it’s part of learning how to be exposed and learning how to be a mess in front of others. And, I realize this is cheating because even this is edited and filtered and no one will be able to see the tears or the snot or hear the wailing that happens from time to time, but it’s a step I guess. 
 
An introduction seems all I have the courage for today. But, I also just want to say thank you, to all of you. All of you who read our blog and have prayed over the past 9 months, and some of you even longer. I still don’t know exactly what praying for others does? But, I know it makes me feel less alone to know that other people are pleading on our behalf. Even though Jesus knows it all already. Thank you for the countless meals, the gifts, the flowers, the random messages, notes, cards, poems, stories etc. It has kept us seeking and knowing God’s goodness. 
 
Until next time. 
 
-Brooklyn’s Mommy

Our Most Recent ‘Normal’

* I wrote this post at the beginning of June but couldn’t post it.  As I’ve battled through depression and hopelessness since Brooklyn passed, a friend of mine encouraged me to stay committed to the Lord’s redemptive process.  Today is a difficult day for me, and I keep getting drawn back here and wanting to write.  I think this is part of that process for me.

——-

It has been almost 3 months since my last post and Brooklyn’s memorial service.  I have wanted to write an update for a while now but couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write.  I haven’t known what to write because my thoughts and feelings have seemed like a bowl of confusion.

I wrote a post on our new ‘Normal’ when we came home with Brooklyn from the NICU.  Our most recent ‘normal’ is completely different but has required a lot of adapting like when we brought her home.  After Brooklyn’s memorial service we felt a huge burden lifted from our shoulders.  Life was far from easy, but we weren’t consumed by the rigor of Brooklyn’s 24/7 care, the fear that the next hour would bring her passing, and the fight to celebrate and find joy in every moment.  There was a flood of emotions, and we were surrounded by 100s of friends and family.  Within a couple of days, we were alone in our house just as it was before Brooklyn… Corrie, Maggie (our dog), and me.  It kind of felt like we were at this amazing sold out concert and when we opened our eyes from a quick blink, we discovered that we standing in an empty room with no signs of the band or fans.  I feel crazy even trying to draw an analogy because I can’t really express how strange life became, and is.

In general, I feel unable to accurately communicate where we are right now, but I’ll try.  The reality is, we still have everyone surrounding us with love and support.  Most days I am not able to give a status update or express ways that we can be supported.  A lot of our close friends and family have told us that they don’t know what to do.  Don’t worry, I don’t know what to do most of the time.  We go to sleep every night not knowing if we’ll wake up and get out of bed or stay in bed all day.  We have done both.

We have had to adapt to life being really messy.  It seems impossible at times to get relief from the pain and longing to hold Brooklyn again.  There are constant reminders of the life we had only months ago.  I notice in my life that once I have something my awareness of that thing goes through the roof.  As a kid, I remember riding around in my parents’ newly purchased minivan and feeling like I saw that same car everywhere.  I had a special connection with those people – we were all a part of the “Ford Windstar” club.  Thankfully, my parents got rid of that poorly made car a long time ago, and I haven’t seen a Ford Windstar in a year or two.  I’m completely ok with not being in that club anymore.  Now, I just see babies everywhere.  Instead of the typical camaraderie felt between fellow parents of newborns, I feel bitterness and jealousy.  Why do they still have their child and we don’t?  Why did they get a healthy baby and we didn’t?  This is nasty collateral damage that I’m not proud of.  I’ll probably address this and how I’ve dealt with it in a future post.

We didn’t leave the house that much for the first month for this and many other reasons.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t even find refuge in our house.  We have a nursery filled with cute dresses and tons of baby stuff, so we closed the nursery door and rarely go in there.  Everything in our house seems to have a beautiful or difficult memory attached to it:

-Bathroom sink & bathtub:  where we bathed Brooklyn
-Kitchen: where I prepped all of her meds and feedings, sharing memorable meals with friends and family
-Living Room chair:  where I spent the majority of my time holding Brooklyn, spilt lots of formula on this chair while feeding her through her gravity fed syringe
-Couch:  late nights laying here & watching Brooklyn sleep in her pack ‘n play, family & friends picture location, where we were holding her when she passed away

We tried to distract and cope by watching comedy TV shows, but the commercials seemed to be filled with babies and families.  More recently when we’ve ventured out of our house, we have found ourselves abandoning our plans at times to get away from babies, awkward & stupid comments/questions from others, or all of the above.  We really wish we could resume our ‘normal’ social lives and be around all of our friends.  The pain and reality that we aren’t pushing Brooklyn in a stroller and talking about sleep training with other parents sucks.  Before becoming a dad I never wanted to talk about this kind of stuff.  I would do anything to have that conversation right now because it would mean Brooklyn was with us.

Thankfully, we have seen some progress towards hope and joy.  We took a spontaneous road trip to Denver, CO with some of our best friends over Mother’s Day weekend.  What could have been another hopeless weekend turned out to be a beautiful one.  Corrie and I took a day trip to Boulder, by ourselves, on Mother’s Day and had lunch in one of our favorite places – the Rocky Mountains.  We connected over a good meal with beautiful mountain views, stories, and prayer.  My favorite quote came from Corrie, “I’ve never cried in a prettier place.  This is way better than my typical view of our bedroom ceiling”.  I love her honesty.  She’s really cute.

All-in-all we’re still trying to navigate how life looks for us.  I want so badly to be out of this craziness but in reality, it is what it is.  We can’t control life.  This has become abundantly clear to us.  We can engage the Lord and fully participate.  This is our commitment.