Saturday, August 23, 2008

After the Storm

We have been dealing with Tropical Storm Fay for the past few days and we have survived. There are several trees down and we lost power for a bit but all is well. We have been at home for three days in a row so I had to get out today and it seems like the whole city was a little stir crazy. The mall parking lot was like it is at Christmas time.

I am one of those people who love a storm so I spent as much time as I could out on the porch swing watching the wind and the rain. It is so amazing to see the power of one storm and the way it affects everything in its path. As I watched the storm go through I was reminded of the storms in my own life that have passed by in moments, but changed my life forever with the damage they left behind.

Some of my favorite songs have to do with storms. "I'll praise you in this storm", "Bring the rain", "It is well with my soul", and so on. These songs remind me that storms will come but I am not alone in the storm and God will work things out for good. That is how I have always thought of storms. Storms are more about the circumstances in my life. The things that are happening to me and around me.

This time was a little different. This time as I sat and watched the rain pouring down and the wind blowing the trees, I pictured the storm that happens not around me, but within me. There have been so many times in my life when the storm was raging in my mind, or heart, or soul. Sometimes the storm is a result of the things happening to me. Sometimes the storms are of my own making. It doesn't matter how it happens. It still shakes me to the core.

Over the past three years, especially, I have felt the storms around me but I have lived the storms within me. I have felt the rains of sorrow and grief and loneliness. I have been shaken by the winds of doubt, despair, guilt, and confusion. These are the storms that truly test you. These are the storms that rip through your life and leave a path of destruction across your very deepest parts.

I have to be honest and admit that I don't always handle these kind of storms in the best way. I have been known to hide away, to retreat within myself and build a wall of protection. I have tried to keep myself busy, to numb myself with food or medication, anything to ignore the storm raging within me.

In the end, I find that there is nothing I can do in my own strength to calm the winds or stop the rain. I have to eventually turn to the only One who has been known to stop a storm in its path. With one single word He can bring order back to my mind. He can comfort my hurting heart. He can bring peace to my soul.

I know this is true but I still try to ride the storm out on my own. I am human and insist on relying on my own strength. I am finding, though, that with each storm I run to Him a little sooner, a little faster. I am tired of dealing with things the way I always have and I want to run into His arms and rest there until the storm passes. I guess I am learning...
one storm at a time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Day of School

I woke up this morning with a feeling of overwhelming sadness and dread. I walked through the day with an awareness that something was wrong but I couldn't quite figure it out. I felt like I had forgotten to do something but I couldn't remember what it was.

At about noon I heard the kids from the elementary school behind us outside for recess. Some thing in my brain clicked and I realized the source of my anxiety. It was the first day of school. The first day of school shouldn't be that big of a deal for a forty year old woman but when you have lost a child the first day of school is one of those days that throws your grief right back at you. No matter how far you have come in the "process" seeing the yellow buses puts you right back where you started.

Allie is homeschooled so Emma was the one I would go school shopping for each year. We would get a new backpack and new clothes. The whole big deal. Now I walk by that section of Target and try not to look. It only makes it worse.

I wish I could say it gets easier but it doesn't. I wish I could say that I won't look at every school bus I pass this year to see if it is #625. I wish I could say that every day at 3:30 pm I won't go to the window to see if the bus is there yet. I wish it didn't hurt just to pass the exit where Emma's school is. I wish.

As I went through the day I felt the Emma-shaped hole in my heart, reminding me that there is nothing that can ever fill that space. It is there to stay. It is a part of me. I am missing part of myself. I am broken.

You may be thinking that I should allow God to fill that space. Maybe you think I am not spiritual enough if I admit I have an empty space or that I am broken. I do believe God will fill that space, but it won't be here on this earth. When I die I will spend my eternity with Him and with my Emma and I hope with you, whoever you are. There, I will be whole.

For now, I am broken. And I am okay with that because I have hope. I have hope that there will be good days, as well as bad. I have hope that I will feel joy, not just grief. I have hope that my family will be with me to cry with me and to make me smile. I have hope that Emma is waiting for me, watching to see me get off the "bus" so she can come to meet me and take me home. Forever.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Making Memories

We haven't disappeared from planet earth, only from the world of blogging. We have been in Pennsylvania visiting our family and friends. We went to our favorite place in the world, Whitehall Camp. This is the place where Dean and I met as kids and later found each other again. Each year there is campmeeting and many of our family and friends attend so it was a good chance to introduce Anna Grace to many, many people. Here are some of the highlights!!

This is Allison with her "twin", Allison:

This is Anna's first experience with real grass:
The weather was perfect for a campfire every night!
This is some of my family that was there:

This is Ben, who was adopted from Vietnam by a friend of ours two years ago. He loved Anna!

These are the blankets that Dean's dad has made for all of the cousins.
This is Anna's cousin who is one week older than her. They loved talking to each other already!

Princess Anna:


Anna had her own special golf cart in the golf cart parade and she won a prize!

While we were in Pennsylvania we had to stop at the cematery a couple of times to see Emma's grave. It may seem morbid to some but it is a place of peace for me. I know Emma is not there but I feel her presence when we are there. It was the first time since we got Anna Grace that I felt like we were all together.

My three girls... together...yet apart...but, not forever...