My Double-Portion

I’m having a hard time “getting going” this morning. I woke up like normal, made breakfast, spent time praying, reading, journaling etc. But that didn’t feel satisfying for some reason. I started a new grief book I just got in the mail. And, even though line after line was describing bits and pieces of what my heart has felt over the past few months, I didn’t have that sucked-in feeling. I kept wanting to put it down and go to something else. Emails distracted me for a bit, but now I’m here. Still searching in a way.

I should have already been for a run by now.

I just feel unsettled. Even though I have cried a few times today, I don’t really feel sad. Thinking about her is even making me feel a little happy, actually. It’s still mixed with longing, but the sadness isn’t taking over as much.

This is, actually, a certain part of things I feel robbed of. People enjoying her. People letting themselves enjoy her. And, even now, people remembering her with joy. I know if I had a healthy baby, my conversations would be sprinkled with stories of what she did yesterday, or a week ago, or remembering how cute it was when she did this or that, or how tiny she was when she was first born, or how cute the noises were that she made. But, everyone – including Adam & I – are afraid to talk about those happy moments we remember. And, I just hate that. I hate that it feels hard to just say, “Remember how she would sleep with one arm up and one arm down…that was so cute.” I wish we could say that without sadness being attached. If she were here, playing on the carpet right now I could say that and it would bring all these warm fuzzy’s of remembering her as a teeny-tiny baby. I feel robbed of getting to remember with joy and fondness, because it seems to always be attached to grief. That doesn’t feel fair.

Well, shoot, now I’m sad.

It doesn’t feel fair to have a 6 inch scar on my abdomen and no baby to hold. And what feels even less fair is that it is all keloid-ed, so it looks like I have an earth worm crawling towards my belly button!

Ok, not crying anymore – that’s a little funny. Still gross though.

Now, I’m feeling ridiculous – because of course none of it is “fair”. That’s not what it’s really about, even though it feels so strongly like I’m owed something.

C.S. Lewis says something clever, “Die before you die. There is no chance after.”

I feel like after typing that I can hear him say, “Really? That’s what you’re going to quote me saying? I had a lot more clever moments than that!”

But, it’s true. A lot of  this pain is fueled by my self-entitlement. Would the pain still feel so great if I had already “died” and truly released my rights to my life? It’s like a double portion of pain. I hurt because of what happened and I hurt because I wish what happened, didn’t happen! That sounds insane, but kind of how it feels.

It’s really very tiring, because I feel at times, not only do I just feel a lot of pain, but I’m also having to sift through what is pain that is a result of losing Brooklyn and what is the pain that is a result of my sin? It feels like there is an anti-dote of sorts for the later type of pain, but maybe feeling that pain is the only way the self is truly crushed?

Ok, my brain hurts. But I do feel more settled. Maybe this is what I was being led to process through. The depths of what’s going on in the human heart is unbelievable. And, to think we all drive cars and function at jobs (well, not me – but some) and remember to eat (also, sometimes not me – but most) and shower (well…you know where this parenthesis is going…) It’s all pretty fascinating. It’s all of us, without exception. Whether you would consider yourself an ‘introspective’ person who draws this stuff out or not, it’s there. Whether you journal because it’s your medicine or you don’t because it feels like poison, there’s so much swimming in the depths of our hearts. And, now you’re all thinking…maybe she succumbed to the drugs? Nope, just feeling philosophical I guess. But, I’m going to allow myself to be done now.

The logic distracts me from the feeling. But the undercurrent is always there. Missing and longing roll in with the tide. Sometimes it almost sounds pleasant.

-Brooklyn’s Mommy

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Mountain Pose

I’ve felt drawn to come write for a few days now, but I haven’t really known what to write about? After my birthday, I felt kind of comatose for a few days. My body tends to do that after a few days of really emotional days. Everything just goes numb for a while. I like to think it’s God keeping me from taking drugs.

This morning, my thoughts are swirling around in my head. I start typing, then delete, stare at the blinking cursor on the white page in front of me, type something else, and delete it again. Why does the cursor have to be so stress-inducing? The name of that little vertical 1/2 inch line is becoming quite fitting actually. Blerg.

Ok, well, here’s the deal. The cursor is probably not the source of my frustration this morning. It  probably has a lot more to do with, I don’t get a break. It feels like the fire is cranking up a little hotter. And, all because of that silly poetic, communal, chameleon command to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. It no longer creates this warm, fuzzy emotion for me of living life with others, now it makes me want to curse(r). There are so many implications to this verse. If I was a mathematician I would come up with some statistic about what a small fraction of the Bible that command is, relative to its transforming implications on your life, and your mind would be blown. Thankfully for you, I can barely add. (If I taught your child in first grade, just kidding!).

So, why is that getting under my skin? Because I never thought about what it must feel like to mourn with others when your living a rock star life, and it feels like God is just pouring blessing out on you. Who wants to go spend time crying with people and let their sadness affect you when life is good for you, for once? That’s hard. And, what if considering your sad, frustrated, or grieving friend’s view on God starts to shift yours? I mean, life is like, my arms get sore after church cuz I’m so enthusiastically stoked about my life, I mean God, kind of good.

Ok, sorry, that was low.

Or, what seems worse, I never thought about what it would be like to rejoice with others when you are in pain. Surely grieving gives us a free pass, right? It’s hard enough to believe in God’s goodness right now, but do I really have to go be with someone when God is pouring out blessing on them, and not to mention, it may (or may not) be the very thing my heart is pleading for? That’s tough. This is tough. And, what I find myself considering right now. What do we learn when we rejoice with those who rejoice, when everything in us wants to crawl into a cave and come out when things feel better? What do we learn about Him when we engage this command in such a fragile place? What does it take to walk this command out?

It’s times like this when I am so thankful for the Spirit. I am so glad that I don’t have to be in the desert watching some mangy sheep and be horrified by a bush being set on fire to hear from the Lord. Most days all I need is a pen and my journal and a cup of tea. Sorry, Moses, mine sounds better right now. Anyway, He gave me a few words this morning.

Openness. Belief. Faith.

That’s all for now! Until next time!

Just kidding.

I’ve been doing yoga pretty regularly for the past few weeks. We’ve been working on mountain pose. Which if you walk into a yoga class and everyone is in mountain pose, you might think, #1 I could that.  #2 I thought this was supposed to be a work out? #3 How is everyone here so buff? I still don’t have the answer to #3. I say all this because if you’re not familiar with yoga, mountain pose is more or less standing. But, as I’ve been learning week after week, there’s A LOT more going on in your body for you to be doing mountain pose correctly. First of all, your feet have to planted on all 4 corners of your foot on the ground, and when I say planted, I mean like strong energy radiating from your foot to the ground! This sounds easy, but is actually one of the harder parts for me to do. Thighs are inwardly rotated. Tale bone tucked under. Belly pulled into you spine. Shoulders open and back. Top of your head reaches to the ceiling and arms strong at your sides, palms facing out.

When I got the word, open. This is what I thought of. When you’re in mountain pose, no part of your body is braced to protect itself. You are strong. But you are, open. I especially thought of my chest lifted high and lengthening from shoulder to shoulder opening up the areas around my heart. If you did this right now without the other elements considered, your spine would curve automatically and your tale bone would be sticking way out. Next, you have to tuck that tale bone and suck in that belly. And it’s a constant and slight push and pull sort of action. You have to constantly adjust yourself to maintain openness in your chest and strength in your core. I kind of thought, this is what it feels like to be open – yet believe. To just be open would be void of strength and belief brings you strength. Belief that God is good. The strength we need to be open at all. To let ourselves be impacted by those around us. To let ourselves believe in whichever place you find yourselves, whether mourning our rejoicing with others, that God’s purposes are good. It is not a battle of blessing vs. suffering and who gets more of one or the other. It is all for His good purpose and we have to let ourselves be impacted by both, and yet still believe with conviction. The tension gives us strength.

So now for faith. I wonder if He gave me this word too because when we exercise openness and belief, we get tired. The tension is hard to bear sometimes. And, we need something to root us. I think this is the feet part, that I’m not so hot at yet. Go ahead, try it. Try digging into all 4 corners of your feet, while maintaing open chest, tucked tale bone, etc. It’s hard! And, that’s how I feel about faith sometimes. Faith is hard. It’s hard to look forward and have faith that blessing will come, that longings will be satisfied, that desires will be fulfilled, that rescuing will come. I know I want to drop my shoulders and protect my heart in case I was the exception to the promise that He will give me the desires of my heart. I know I want to let my belly release and not fight to believe something I have little evidence of right now. And, I want my feet to support me in a way that feels comfortable, not one that feels hard and takes effort and concentration. But, if I stay in the tension and I choose to have faith and KNOW that God will satisfy my desires, then that’s how I can rejoice with people when I am mourning. In faith, I am not limited to my perspective. I’m not limited to  my response right now. It opens me up to rejoice about what is to come in my life (and after)! In  rejoicing with others, I am rejoicing even for that that has not yet been fulfilled in my life and God’s kingdom.

This feels like freedom. Fo sho.

-Brooklyn’s Mommy

6 Months Closer

It’s 10:29am. 

At this time 6 months ago, I was sitting on our old green couch. 

Adam was sitting to my right, my best friend J was sitting to my left. 

She was in my arms. 

The hospice nurse had arrived a few minutes earlier and had confirmed, it was time

The medicine wasn’t easing her symptoms of labored breathing anymore. It was time to let her go home. 

Adam had put on some worship music, playing on his phone, as we took in every last bit of her. I remember not wanting to blink and quickly trying to clear the tears away from my eyes so my vision of her wouldn’t be blurred. We told her how proud of her we were and how much we loved her. And told her she would be home with Jesus soon. 

It’s 10:40am now. The time she got to see Jesus and be wrapped up in His arms. The time she was free of her broken body. The time my heart broke, again. 

I haven’t stopped to remember during the time in a while. I think I’ve kept myself busy subconsciously, but today I came at a stand still where I wasn’t sure what to do next. And, I noticed the time. 

I think Jesus brought me here to this place in time to remember on purpose today. I don’t really know why? They’re really hard memories. And sometimes I feel mad at God that I have to live with this kind of a memory. But, I find some comfort in that -like I mentioned before-it’s agony He knows. He watched his child take his last breath too. 

It’s 10:46am now. J reminded me to hold her my favorite way. So I lifted her body up to my chest and let her head fall on my shoulder one last time. It didn’t feel the same though. 

I can’t wait to hold her that way again. 

I don’t remember how much time had passed, but next they came to take her body away. This part was excruciating. My whole body was weak when I handed her to Adam to give to the strange man in the black suit. J held me up. It felt like someone had cut out my heart and given it away to a stranger. I know that sounds dramatic, but it was dramatic. I think its moments like this that word was made for. 

I might regret posting this one day, or maybe in a week, or an hour, or a minute. We’ll see. I resisted coming here for a good 20 minutes as I was watching the clock tick closer to 10:40. But, I thought I could cry alone with my memories or I could cry and make something from my pain this morning. 

May it never ever be wasted. 

6 months closer to you, Brooklyn Bear.

-Brooklyn’s Mommy

 

 

 

It’s That Time of the Year/Month

I call it the triple whammy. Why? Well, the 13th of every month is the anniversary of the day Brooklyn left to be with Jesus, or as my friend Sandy calls it, her “Heavenly Birthday”. The 14th of the month is the anniversary of her birth. And, the 3rd component to this middle of the month trifecta is that it just so happens this is the time where I find out whether I’m pregnant, or not. Which has obviously been- not. And, if you’ve ever “tried” for pregnancy, you know how devastatingly frustrating these moments can be.

But, this month it’s more of a quadruple whammy. Because, not only will I have the elevated hormones and her anniversary days, but I also have my birthday on the 15th. And, this year I wish we could just erase that day on the calendar and move on to the 16th.
Last year leading up to my birthday I remember talking with Adam about how I really wanted this birthday to be a special celebration. After all, it was a great time in life. I was 6 months pregnant with Brooklyn, finally over with my morning (all day) sickness, we had new and old friends that we were looking forward to celebrating with and it was my last birthday without kids. Or so I thought.
Adam planned a really, really fun day of good decaf coffee, kayaking on town lake, hot dogs at Frank, playing with Maggie (our insanely cute but semi-out-of-control mutt) in the back yard, and meeting up with friends that evening for Vietnamese food and a super fun show at The Mohawk. It was probably one of my favorite days – ever. To top it all off my little brother – unbeknownst to any of us – contacted the band we were going to see to wish me a happy birthday in the middle of their set. It was a great surprise! And after that I thought, “Ok well, that was awesome and next year will be a quiet day at the house playing with my 10 month old and Adam will probably make dinner or buy a cupcake.” And that sounded like bliss too.
I’m sure you all get the less than subtle implications I’m trying to make about why I wish the 15th would just skip by us. But, it won’t and I know I have a loving husband, family and friends that don’t want that day to go by uncelebrated. But, they just may be celebrating for a different reason than me. Right now, sometimes it’s hard to be happy about my life and, quite frankly, that I have it. It seems far better to be with the Lord, like that Paul guy said thousands of years ago. I am thankful for my Mom and for her laboring to have me and for my parents loving me really well my whole life. I’m incredibly thankful to have been born into their family. So, I can celebrate that. Even still the only thing that really feels worth celebrating, any day – not just on my birthday, is His nearness. And, that He made a way for us to never be separated.
He came as an angel to be with his people, like when he came to Abraham, Hagar, Moses and Jacob. Then He came as a human, because He couldn’t bare the thought of us not being with him forever. And then, he left us His very Spirit. Sometimes when I really need Him, I imagine his Spirit pumping through my blood reaching to all parts of my body and no part of my mind, body or soul is left unaffected by it.
He made a way. In my case, He made a way for me to know that I will see my baby girl again. And, not just see her. I believe he will some how make it so that my whole being will be enveloped by her. Some how I will feel the satisfaction of knowing her as deeply as possible, but still get to have eternity to experience her fully forever. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be even more beautiful and more satisfying than that, cause my brain can’t hold His plan for forever with Himself and her.
So, whether it’s His nearness now or His promise of never being separated again, I have a reason to celebrate this Sunday.
 -Brooklyn’s Mommy
P.S. I find it all kinds of non-coincidence-symbolic-craziness that my birthday is on a Sunday this year.

The Whispers of Grief : Kleenex optional, but recommended

I should be in bed. But instead I’m awake and missing her so much it feels a little hard to breathe.

Today was a pretty normal day. But it was one of those days where my grief seems to whisper to me. The only thing I can possibly think to compare it to is when you hear a noise so quick and so faint, by the time you lift your head you’re not even sure which direction to position yourself to hear it again. And, you resort to feeling a little crazy, but moving on thinking it was all your imagination. Well, this happens all throughout my day but it’s the pang of something missing. It gets a little stronger sometimes as the day goes on and I can even pin point where the emptiness is coming from, but the TV or a good book overpower it and trick me into thinking it was never there at all. Inevitably though, I go to bed. No TV or music to distract me. Just still, quiet darkness and the whispers turn to shouts and my pillow ends up being too wet to sleep on.

So, tonight, instead of turning over my pillow and starting again, I decided to come here and write.

I miss her soft skin. I used to trace the sides of her feet and legs with my fingers as she slept in my arms.

I miss her cheeks and the nape of her neck. They were probably my favorite places to kiss her so much she would squirm or lift an arm in protest.

I miss her bright eyes.

I miss her little fingers, her tiny ears. I heard once your ears are the only thing that is passed directly from one parent. She had my ears.

Most of all right now, I miss the weight of her. I remember pretty early on stopping and feeling the sensation of putting my hands underneath her body and lifting her up to mine. To feel her on my chest or in one arm as it fell asleep from the still weight. I knew I would miss that most. And, I do. I remember joking- to try and cover up how afraid I was of feeling this specific sadness- that i might have to walk around with a big bag of flour every once in awhile.

I haven’t done that.

I wish I could say these things were the only reason I cry, but there are a million more.

Some of them are memories from the first few days in the hospital. I remember knowing too little not to welcome sleep. Sleep provided me rest from the extreme worry and I didn’t know enough. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to leave her side. That was probably a blessing in its own way.

Then there’s memories from the NICU and the hopelessness we felt after we heard her diagnosis. I remember feeling like I was living in a nightmare and I just wanted to wake up with an incorrect diagnosis and healthy baby in my arms. Those twilight-feeling memories haunt me the most.

Some of them are from when we brought her home and I couldn’t sleep because I was too afraid she would stop breathing.

Some were the night before she passed and feeling like I was going to have a nervous break down, knowing my baby was going to die soon and I could do absolutely nothing to stop it. Agony. God knows.

And, of course many are remembering her face pass from this life to the next. The involuntary breaths at the end. And holding her in my arms, even though I knew she was already in the Lord’s.

Sometimes I don’t know how to live with these memories. But I also don’t know how to live without them. Because all the memories of sweet cuddles, kicking legs and waving arms, baby noises, bath times, untimely toots (Brooklyn-not me…Ok sometimes me), dress-up, walks to the park, laying together in the sun….they were all woven in between the anxiety, stress, and fear. The suffering was not far from the joy and often times inseparable.

And, here’s where some beautiful statement(s) tie it all together and I put a little bow on this mess I’ve just laid out for everyone to read. But, I don’t have a bow tonight. And, I might not tomorrow.

Now for a snack and some sleep and another day.

-Brooklyn’s Mommy

Bad Wigs

Well, we are back from our trip and I brought back a lovely souvenir, a nasty old cold. So, as I’m surrendering to the idea that I will most likely spend most of my day in bed, I thought this would be as good a time as ever to write.

The trip was….good. Certainly a mixture of things. I would say mostly due to the nature of the vacation itself. Adam and I had about two and a half days of travel and sight seeing in London on our own, and most days on the cruise ship, but the rest of the time we were on a boat with 400 other people. Since it was kind of a business trip, there were lots of social obligations – happy hours and dinners to attend, on or off the ship. This part really wore on us; especially me. I was thankful that Adam’s boss’ wife was on the trip so we could go sit in a corner and talk, avoiding the typical mingle conversations. Alcohol was free, which served to be a blessing when I was trapped in a couple of painful conversations.

But, I’ll skip to the good parts now. Almost every day we woke up in a new place! Day 1 was kayaking on Guernsey Island. Day 2 was Cork-where of course we kissed the Blarney Stone. Day 3 was Dublin where we did a Jameson and Guinness Tour, then spent the rest of the day exploring the city-which we really loved! Day 4 was Belfast where we got out as fast as we could to hit up the less dangerous and breath-taking countryside. This was probably my most favorite day. Day 5 we were “at sea” where I got a massage, competed in a Chopped competition with 5 other teammates, and Adam lost some money playing Black Jack 😉 Day 6 we were in Edinburgh, which was definitely another favorite for both of us. Everything was so old! Cobblestone streets, 18th century buildings, the castle on the top of the city. It was gorgeous. And, to top it all off the Gala on the last night was in a 17th century manor!

When I look back on this trip I really hope it’s the adventures we had together off the ship that I remember the most. I felt so insecure and out of place on the ship. We were the youngest people on the ship, FOR SURE! And, by like 20-30 years for the most part. I spent a lot of the time letting this affect me instead of seeing what a gift it was that we were even getting to experience this at our age!

It really hit me during karaoke one night. And, no, I was not participating. If you’ve never had the opportunity to experience a cruise ship karaoke session, just imagine regular karaoke but the people are much whiter and have no sense of rhythm or ability to match pitch. Anyway, it wasn’t until a 60-something was up there singing (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones that it settled for me. Adam and I had not only been given the gift of being wined and dined, but we have been given the gift of seeing what most people see as the ultimate joy. The ultimate experience of being treated like kings and queens and their hearts are probably still singing The Rolling Stones. These men and women have already begun to experience that life doesn’t last forever in the slow decaying of their bodies. Botox and breast implants abounded! Bad wigs and fancy clothes try to conceal the reality that they are headed for the grave. And, we are too.

But what I felt Jesus saying to me was that He has given Adam and I the opportunity to face death through our loss, to consider and learn to live in the reality and hope of eternity every single day. He gave us the gift of letting us go through that pain now and not wait until we had missed connecting with our family or friends because of a successful career, or trying to maintain a perfect image. Can you imagine how hard it would be to realize what’s really important after years and years of relational patterns have been set in place? How hopeless that must feel. And, even though I still have my youth (though I realize not for much longer) I see my desperate desire to maintain a clean and managed house or manicured lawn, and I see all the games of hide and seek I might miss out on one day, or the conversations about school, or simply the chance to watch and relish in the miracle of an eternal soul beside me.

May this never ever ever ever ever be.

-Brooklyn’s Mommy

Adam & Corrie with Adam's boss & his wife in Scotland.

Adam & Corrie with Adam’s boss & his wife in Scotland.