This has been a hard week.
Just six words, but they pretty much sum it up.
After crying through basically every human interaction I have had for the last several days, I realized that there was something in me that needed to be broken. Something that I hadn’t felt completely yet. Todd left to go on the road on Wednesday night, and I sobbed like a baby. Shaking, gasping, “why can’t you be an accountant and work 9-5?” tears. I was not ready to be alone with my thoughts yet. I wasn’t ready to be in charge of the kids, of the house, of anything that did not involve Kleenex. As he left the house around 11:30 p.m., I curled up in my bed and I invited the sorrow in. She came swiftly, deeply, consumingly. And she whispered to me in the dark of night.
I am here to stay.
We had a rainstorm yesterday (go figure), and I made up my mind that I needed to be with my daughter for awhile. As soon as it started to let up, I called my dad and he came to watch the kids so that I could go to the cemetery. I have wanted to go to her many times before, but I haven’t had the strength to be weak.
As I walked through the tombstones in the direction of Audrey’s grave, I started to panic. I was alone, and the grass was wet on my toes. What is this new life? I realized as I wandered that it all looked so different from the day she was buried. There was no white tent. There were no benches. No landmark to find my child. I wandered in and out of headstones, searching and crying. I got myself together enough to try and remember the little map that they had given us when we chose her burial spot, and I walked in that direction. I had taken no more than a few steps when I saw the red clay in front of me. New earth, carving out a spot no more than a foot and a half by two feet.
There was a brief moment where I regretted my decision. It was too soon. The grass was still wet from the storm.
The clay was still fresh.
I sat down, not minding that my pants became soaked through or that someone might see me sobbing hysterically. I sat next to her, and I cried until my bones ached and goosebumps covered my legs. I have never in my life felt so lonely. I remembered one of the first things that Abby said after she met Audrey. She took a long look at her and then she asked me quietly, “Do we have to dig now, mommy?” Just a little girl trying to understand what comes next, and here I was, touching the other side of it already.
I had brought my Bible with me, and I read her a few Psalms. All of the ones that God directed me to were about praising the Lord with every breath. I told Him I was pretty sure I had just missed a couple. As I read out loud, the sound of my voice started to fill the void. I stayed that way for about an hour, reading and praying over my baby. I know that she isn’t really in there, it’s just that her knees are, and I would have loved to kiss them after she fell. I need to mourn the loss of the arms that cannot wrap around me here. Braided hair, a wedding dress, her first wiggly tooth. They are deep within the ground, never to be mine. I needed to feel that loss, and I did. I do.
I went upstairs to change clothes when I got home, and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Mascara smudged under my eyes, messy hair, wet clothes. But that wasn’t what I saw first. What I saw was the unmistakable patch of rust on my forehead. Clay. I must have gotten it on myself somehow while I sat with her. I reached for the towel, and just as I began to wipe it away, a voice reminded me of what I know to be true.
I am here to stay.
I will permanently bear the mark of a woman who has lost her child. There are many of us walking here…in the grocery store, at the neighborhood barbeque, at the movies. We walk without necessarily recognizing each other, side by side and a million miles apart. If you are one of these women, I want you to know that as I write these words, I am praying for you. I am mourning what you have lost in this life. I am praying that God will fill you as only He can, and that in time, you (and I) will be with our daughters and our sons again. Know that I hurt with you tonight.
I want to include (with permission…thank you, sweet Sara) a picture of the Skaggs family, whom I referenced in my last post. I want you to meet them and to have faces to put with the names…this is Sara, her husband Brandon, their daughter Sydney and their son Elliot.
I know how much your words have meant to me over the last months-your prayers, suggestions, and stories. If you feel so led, I would like to ask you to write to Sara. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. She is a fellow believer, and a woman who appreciates the power of prayer…I just know how much your words would mean to her right now.
As you look at these pictures, I want you to notice the most amazing part of what God does for us…it is the beauty in the midst of suffering that only He can create.
It is the mark of a woman who mourns the new earth, and yet, hopes in spite of it.