Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Three Years - Just As We Are...

*If you've never read Isaiah's Story and would like to, start HERE.

It is difficult to know how to share one’s heart.  Should one be open and honest or keep deep thoughts and feelings close?  As Isaiah’s third birthday in heaven approaches, I hesitate to share only because over the past 6 months, I’ve questioned if bearing the heart is good.  The heart is sinful and imperfect.  There is risk involved in sharing.

I heard one person say that many draw and show strength in the beginning of a crisis because Christ supernaturally gives them strength in this time of need.  Praise God for this!  

But it is over time - when the focus has shifted away – that people finally allow themselves to be weak.  Maybe this is why I don’t share my true feelings as much anymore.  My heart is weak and often in need of redirection from God’s word.  It was easier to share when I knew God was my only source of strength in the trenches of loss.  Now I have to work harder to sort out what is from me and what is from Him.  Is it helpful or hurtful to share from a weak heart?  This is what I ask myself – and I guess lately I’ve chosen silence.

As I consider how we are doing, I could explain in detail the days that are harder or easier and why, but I’m unsure who that is helping.  I just want to make sure I’m living in a way that honors Isaiah’s memory and Christ.  It’s hard to know how that looks.  The burden of grief is always present in some shape or form – even if not fully felt each day – and I want to be honest with myself and others about that.  Yet it seems that ongoing, longer term grief is a thing most people hold close to themselves.  Maybe this is because others just aren’t comfortable with sadness that one should definitely be “over” by now.  So these days I usually choose not to share - though I have been trying to gather some words to share around Isaiah’s birthday. 

So here are a few thoughts.  They may be focused more on grief than on the many wonderful things about our daily lives – so please don’t be deceived that life is only sad for us.  Thanks be to God - it’s not!  But since it is “that” time of year for us, I will share from that place.  I’m not sharing for attention, but because sharing has been a source of clarity and healing for me in the past, and maybe that is a reason to continue sharing.  I guess it’s hard to know.

Three Years – Just As We Are….

I’ve come so far, but I’m still right there.  Some days I still want to tell the world about the precious boy we long to have here, but these days I usually choose silence.  Is there really anything more or new to say?  I relive the memories when they come.  I accept happy, joyful days as they come.  I usually deal with sadness quietly and alone.  I laugh freely.  It is hard that most around me never “knew” Isaiah or knew us when we lost him.  I love seeing my children grow, but hate not seeing Isaiah grow.  I still sometimes wonder if I will ever be myself again.  I try hard to cherish love and life.  I still yearn and work hard to try to understand the big picture.  I study my outbursts of anger or impatience and wonder if they’re still partly caused by grief that I don’t give due attention to anymore – or are they just from fatigue, etc.?  Regardless – they are sin.  

Important dates often cause sadness for grieving families - but I’m so thankful that many in my life recognize this.  What some may not realize is that many other things also trigger memories and grief.  For instance, April 2 – the day Isaiah was born – will always be “his” day that we remember and celebrate the short life he had.  But like I discussed here, Easter week has been rough for me the past couple of years.  Palm Sunday was the day he most likely died.  The days between Palm Sunday and Easter were filled with planning a funeral.  The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter was the day of his funeral.

Other things – like an unusually warm spring - bring flashes of 2012 and that Palm Sunday when our family took a walk in the sunshine…installed a car seat…all while he was losing life.  I purposely didn’t take a nap last Sunday (Palm Sunday).  When I awoke from a nap on that day in 2012, that is when I realized he wasn’t moving.  This year having Easter the same week as his birthday -- again – it is hard.  Isaiah died at 36 weeks 5 days.  Carrying a child with the exact same due date means that  36 week 5 day mark that I hold my breath on during pregnancies since is ON Isaiah’s birthdate.  It’s hard not to consider the irony of the possibility of this baby dying at that time again…and of course that is complicated by the fact that it is also Isaiah’s birthday. 

I’m not a superstitious person, so what can explain all of these irrational thoughts and behaviors?  One thing…the fact that I know that death can happen again.  As much as people want to pat your back and say it will all be fine and say that monitoring will shield you from more loss, the reality is that it can and has happened again.  In the moments I stop to make sure I’ve felt the baby lately, I oddly don’t have anxiety attacks or tons of fear.  Instead my mind calmly goes to trying to figure out how I will tell people that my baby has died again…how I will endure another silent delivery or plan another funeral.  I can’t explain why this is my response.  I’m sure the psyche does these things to somehow prepare for the worst.  Thankfully my mind does not sit here all the time.  These thoughts mostly come in flashes that I can redirect.  It is just my reality.  Honest and not pretty.  I will risk sharing it with you.

Maybe the complicated nature of April 2nd this year is part of why I haven’t been able to organize asking others to be part of celebrating and remember Isaiah’s birthday this year.  It’s a complicated day.  I will always love hearing about people doing acts of kindness in honor of Isaiah and hope they will continue to do so at any time of year.  But for this year I’ve only had enough energy to plan a few small things we will do as a family.  I’ve told myself that’s OK, but part of me still feels guilty for not working harder to help him be honored and remembered.  Some of you have already remembered, and that warms my heart.  Thank you!  Of course our family remembers him every day.  For this I am thankful. 

On the complete other side of all of these things, I want to honestly and joyfully share that most of our days are normal and fine…filled with love and joy and the crazy frustrations of a young family…not having anything to do with Isaiah other than his pictures being around our house, his name heard in passing here or there, or wondering what he’d be like right now.  

(This picture is almost a year old, but still a good shot 
representing my 4 kiddos.  One more to add soon!)

Overall life is good – and I know people are probably relieved to hear that.  Yet life will never be as it should be for us until we are in heaven.  I guess heaven is the reality we should all be yearning for.

So those are the thoughts I could muster to share today.  Though they may sound sad, I hope you can see around the edges that life is not all bad or all good…it is messy and wonderful all at once.  Maybe that is the definition of real life we must all embrace.

I can only imagine what an energetic boy you’d be, Isaiah, as you turn three(!).  We miss you.  I praise God and rejoice that you are celebrating your birthday and Easter in heaven this week – yet there is always pain in the offering of that rejoicing.  Loving and missing you always and forever, sweet boy.  Always. <3