Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Perfect Storm

I stumbled across this song this morning on David Wilcox's website. The words so perfectly embrace what I wrote about in my "Deep joy in the midst of sadness" post.

"...A lightning bolt struck my heart and ignited a flame within it. Sometimes it burns angrily, other times it burns with love. The point is it's burning."

It also illustrates the desire Tim and I have to change our lives. We are currently discussing some of these changes, and they are scary. But we can't continue to live the safe life we were living before. It's time to get messy.

From David Wilcox's website: ...this song is about looking up from the yearning we feel, that voltage between heaven and earth that arcs in the human heart. When I was making my way home down a path in the dark as the storm was blowing in, it was the brief flashes of lightning that showed me where I was and where I was going. I am very grateful for those times when my heart is full to bursting with a flash of inspiration that feels like the purpose of my being here. I get quite a charge out of knowing that we are given the task of being a conduit for illumination in this world; we put our lives across that distance where this longing turns to light.

Perfect Storm
David Wilcox

Lightning cracks the darkness
And for a moment I can see
It’s just a spark to start with
But I follow where it leads
I won’t spend my whole life hiding
Where no soul could ever thrive
I can’t live with just surviving
My heart wants to feel alive

Life is change, and change looks frightening
Watch that wind I’ve been warned
But I live to feel this lightning
In this perfect storm

I see the twisting cloud that’s turning
Where the earth and the heavens meet
I feel the voltage of that yearning
For the circuit to complete
So I will feel no resistance
To the current that will strike
I’ll put my life across the distance
Where this longing turns to light


It washes me down to my soul
When a storm of these tears pours
It carries me into the flow
That’s what it’s here for


You can listen to it online here.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Deep joy in the midst of sadness

"I know you are hurting deeply, but I have never seen you this happy either. You seem so alive."

B said this to me Friday during my time with her and C. And what B reflected to me is what has been stirring deep within me. The moment that we learned Cara had died, the veil through which I was viewing the world ripped in half, much like the curtain in the temple tore the day Christ died. A lightning bolt struck my heart and ignited a flame within it. Sometimes it burns angrily, other times it burns with love. The point is it's burning.

I am not a snuggler by nature, but Tim and I have cleaved to each other during this time. The night after I gave birth to Cara, after we had said good-bye, we both attempted to sleep as best we could. At one point, I had Tim crawl in the hospital bed and just hold me in the hopes that I would fall back asleep. The rest of the week, I awoke in the middle of the night and made my way into his arms. I needed my husband in a way I had never needed him before and he likewise.

The day after we returned from the hospital, Tim and I met with our counselor for the first time. Our initial intent was to process grieving Cara. However I said to him in our first meeting, we also want to strengthen our marriage and deal some of the junk that has found its way into our daily lives. The past two weeks we have finally be able to do that and what a blessing! Tim and I are learning how to communicate better and are in the process of discovering more about ourselves and each other. We have grown intimately in our love and appreciation for each other.

I am also not a crier by nature, but losing Cara struck a cord so deep within me, that I have cried every day for the last six weeks. My ability to feel happiness, sadness, excitement, grief have all been magnified. While I grieve life without Cara, I rejoice that I now have this richness only her death could have brought. We can not remain the same people that we were before.

We now embrace the beauty of everything around us. We desire to know more about everything. We are hoping to take classes to learn the things we always wanted to learn - photography, flower arranging, dance (ok, so that's mostly my list!). We got a book on birds from the library and can now identify all the birds who frequent our backyard (and entertain the cats.) There are cardinals, doves, robins, House finches, American gold finches, Brown headed cow birds, and White Crown Sparrows. We also have the garden to remind us of Cara, and we marvel at its beauty. All this to say, we desire to embrace the fullness of creation and enjoy it as much as possible.

So yes, B is absolutely right. I can now appreciate everything in my life that I did not fully embrace. I thought I was living my life to the fullest but come to find out there is so much more.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

She died.

"She died."

I hate saying it. I hate thinking it.

I have fully come to accept its truth, but I hate the thought that it was something she did. By saying she died, I feel like it implies that she gave up, that she wasn't a fighter. And I have to believe if she was her mother's daughter, that she had quite a tenacious nature.

One day over the past few weeks, I actually got mad at her (don't worry baby grief loss books say other moms have felt this.) I had said 'she died' so many times that I came to believe it was true, that she had given up.

But I know she was strong. I felt her kicks. You may have even saw them from time to time. My stomach would appear as a freak of nature, as though some alien life form would burst forth from it at any minute.

So yes, she died, but she was a fighter. I just wish there was another way I could say it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

To my girl...

Dear Cara,
On today your one month birthday, I want to remember your life. I want to remember the 38 weeks, 258 days of joy you brought to your Mommy and me.

I remember the first time I felt you kick. Mom and I were laying in bed. When I felt your big kick, I jumped back and couldn't believe it. Mom laughed at the look on my face and I was so proud of you.

Most nights before I fell asleep I would lean over and talk to you. I would call your name and feel you wiggle. I'd sing you a goofy song that was in my head and picture you smiling and laughing.

After being with the choir Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings, I would always sing the church songs to you. "Ride on Jesus Ride, Ride" "This is where children belong..." I wanted you to know the songs at church before you even came out. I also would teach you different pitches by singing "Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol" or "Do-Mi-Sol-Mi-Do." I pictured us singing together one day.

I want to remember our family trip for Thanksgiving. Cookie day with Grandma. The Christmas Eve Service at the farm. I want to remember you.

You lived a good life, Cara. While we all feel robbed by losing you too early, in some ways you lived a fuller life than most. In your short life and entrance to this world, you brought so much to us.

You brought love; you showed Mom and me what true, deep love is. When I held you shortly before we said goodbye, I would have given anything to trade places, to give my life and my heart for yours. I've never truly felt that way for someone else, but now you've taught us to love everyone, our friend, our enemy, in this way.

You brought beauty. The minute I first saw you, I was even more in love with you. Your dark hair, your nose, your Mom's eyes, mouth and hands, your tender cheeks. Even though you were lifeless and broken, there was something so beautiful and divine about you. But even more of your beauty flowed from your heart and soul. You had your Mother's strength and dignity and I think my jolly demeanor.

I'm starting to realize that my dreams for you living here on earth, seeing you grow up, running up for the children's message at church, learning to read and write, playing outside, all fall way too short.

Because now you are living the most wonderful life that could ever be imagined or wished for you. You are in perfect peace. You are complete through Christ's resurrection.

I love you, Cara. I'm remembering your legacy on this special day.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Longing for Home

I’ll always miss you Cara, but today as the week starts I miss you even more. I’m reminded that life has to go on without you physically here with us. I’ll be able to share you through pictures with family & friends, but I’ll never be able let them hold you, touch you or make baby faces at you.

I’ve been listening to this song on my way to and from work lately, and it reminds me of the day your Mom and I had to say goodbye to you. In every way, we didn’t want to leave you but we knew we had to. Your body was getting colder and your soul was already in heaven - and even with us in our hearts at that most difficult time.

And one day, we’ll be home with you. But for now, you’re smiling down at us living a peaceful life in heaven. I love you Cara, you’ll always be my little girl.

Foo Fighters

Wish I were with you but I couldn't stay
Every direction leads me away
Pray for tomorrow but for today
All I want is to be home

Stand in the mirror you look the same
Just looking for shelter from the cold and the pain
Someone to cover, safe from the rain
All I want is to be home

Echoes and silence, patience and grace,
All of these moments I'll never replace
No fear of my heart, no absence of faith
All I want is to be home

People I've loved, I have no regrets
Some I remember some I forget
Some of them living some of them dead
All I want is to be home

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Letter from C

March 19, 2008

Dearest Cara Grace,
Words cannot express the way I feel right now. Instead of attempting to describe it, I’m going to talk about you. What I saw, what I experienced, and what I’ll always remember.

You were born yesterday morning at 8:52 am. Your mom wrote me and told me your birth time and that you look like Tim. When I heard this, I was not surprised—I remember looking at you in the ultrasound and seeing how much you resembled your father.

So, after I heard of your arrival, I was faced with the question of “what to do.” Luckily, B’s mom gently prodded us to go to the hospital (as we were adamant to do something, but unsure that we were wanted there). I remember my sadness of the past hours being immediately replaced with nervousness—nervousness that your parents may not want us there, or even worse, may be angry that we came. The truth is, I was so desperate to see your mom and dad—to put my arms around them, cry with them, grieve with them. But in times like this, it’s hard to know what the “right” thing to do is (if there is even a right thing…).

When we arrived at the hospital, our plan was to let your mom and dad know we were there, and then attempt to see your extended family—to offer them condolences and show them that we cared about them, too, and were here to be helpful. We were surprised to discover that you were still with your parents, and that they invited us to come be with them. It worked out well that Cynthia’s family could watch Baby A and Baby O so we could go and be with your parents and meet you.

Meeting you was a precious, precious gift. I walked into the room, and faint sunlight filtered into the room through a large window. Bathed in a gentle glow, I saw your mom sitting on the bed—holding you—with your dad sitting in a chair at the foot of your bed. I walked straight over to your mom to put my arms around her (an act I had been longing for since I first heard of your passing), and the tears began to flow freely. After our embrace, I looked down at you.

You were wrapped in a soft, pink blanket and were wearing a hand-knit gown given to you by the hospital. Cara, you are absolutely beautiful. Your mom tenderly pulled back the blanket, proudly displaying your beautiful little fingers and toes. There were tears in her eyes, and she didn’t say much, but her pride and love for you were almost tangible—it was evident that this little person in her lap meant everything to her and that this moment was precious to her, as well.

Cara, you are perfect. You have a head full of dark, straight hair. It was clearly a trait you gained from your daddy. That, and your nose! I held you for quite some time. I spent time talking with your parents, and would look down at this baby in my lap and study you. Your face was reminiscent of both of your parents. Your daddy’s features were most obvious, but you reminded me of your mom, too.

Holding you in my arms, I could feel the space you took up. I could gauge how tiny you were, how light you were, how you fit perfectly into the crook of my arm. Even now, I miss that weight. That space feels empty. It’s strange, but even as I hold A, I’m aware that I have this space in my arms that only you can occupy. She’ll never fit there, and only you will. I can imagine that’s how your parents feel. That no matter how many other children they hold—even their own—there will always be this empty space in their arms that only you fit in.

I spent time studying your features, and cuddling you in my arms, I remember thinking “Sometimes it seems as if you are just sleeping.” But Cara, this wave of reality would hit me and I’d realize there was no breath leaving your body, and my heart would hurt.

I’ll always remember the time I had with you. I have told your mom this--it is among my most precious memories. I have written down my memories of that time, but I feel that was an unnecessary action—I’ll remember anyway.

Cara Grace, I’m distraught over losing you. I remember the first moment I knew of your existence. My excitement was uncontained, and throughout your mom’s pregnancy, I would delight in hearing about you. I cherished the images of your acrobatics in utero (as seen in your ultrasound). I relished the times I saw you move in your mommy’s tummy. I was so, so excited to meet you.

Just last week, I was telling your mom how I couldn’t wait until they brought you home, and how a baby changes the feeling in a home. I had so many expectations of getting to hold you, play with you, even babysit you. Those dreams have been stolen from me.

Looking at you in the hospital, I realized how generous your parents were to recognize that we were grieving, too. Your parents are incredible people… While their own grief is unimaginable to me, they gave us the chance to share it with them, to add our own to their burdens.

Cara, I love you. You aren’t my child, but I love you anyway. I’ll miss you forever. You presence has changed me forever. Your life has touched so many, and has rendered your parents different people. It boggles the mind how one little baby can affect so much.

Although I won’t get to see you grow up, to see you change, to see you live, I got to meet you. I got to hold you, to touch you, to study you. I feel blessed to have known you for 9 months. I feel blessed to have been a part of such a profoundly moving experience—to have been part of your story.

I look forward to sharing you with others—particularly, with A and my other children. I want them to know about you, to know the story of how you changed so many lives.

I’ll do my best to reassure your parents of your importance to me, to my family. I’ll show them how you affected me, how I miss you, and how I remember you. You have taught me the importance of thankfulness. You have revived in me gratitude, brokenness, and a sorrow that brings me closer to God and my own family.

Thank you for these gifts. I celebrate your life and will commemorate your death. Thank you, Cara. Your parents named you well: you are loved, and are full of grace. And you have revealed those things to those of us who love and miss you…