Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Other First Anniversary

Thomas died one year ago tonight.  November 28th, 2011 will always be the worst, most terrifying night of my life.

I have to be was hard.

It was nice, though, to have a day to plow through the memories and sadness, and to "honor my grief".  The weather was cold and dreary, which was fitting.  I went to the cemetery, looked at pictures, and looked at Thomas's box of things from the hospital.  I also read through the blog for the first time.  I enjoyed reading about the good days, but it was hard to relive the dark days.

It was a hard day, but a good day.  My tears were there, but not constant.  I am so glad that this year of firsts is over.  There are no more days to dread.  I can already tell I am feeling calmer.  November will always be a tough month, but at least I will know what to expect.

I am comforted by the fact that my worst night was Thomas's best night.....his first night in heaven.  God is so good, and I am truly amazed when I think about how much healing has occurred in my heart over the past year.  When people ask how we are doing, I can honestly say we are doing well.  God's grace is truly enough for each day.

"The minute I said 'I'm slipping, I'm falling,' your love, God, took hold and held me fast.  When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up."
Psalm 94:18-19 The Message

"This is what is compelling about the cross: its two aspects of suffering and glory.  Christ suffered in the extreme for us, and by his suffering he assured that two things will happen to our suffering: First, it will have meaning when linked through prayer to the cross.  Second, it will be over.  A better day is coming: new heavens and a new earth, new bodies, unbent, unbroken, unstained by tears.  This is our hope.  We are not meant for death and sorrow but for life and joy." A Grief Unveiled, Gregory Floyd

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

First Birthday

Thomas was born a year ago today!  It's crazy to think our sweet boy would have been one!

We have decided that even though we are sad he's not here, we are going to celebrate today.  We are going to celebrate the birth of our first child, our only son.  We are going to be grateful for that precious baby who made us parents.  His two weeks were a gift, and for that we are thankful.

While I have been anxious in anticipation of today, I have felt a peace that only God can give.   I have been overwhelmed by all of the emails, texts, cards, and thoughtful gifts.  Thank you for blessing us, and thank you for celebrating Thomas's sweet life with us.

I have been able to smile and laugh a little today too, which has been good.   And of course I have cried.  How could you tie birthday balloons to your child's gravestone without crying?   We were able to find humor in the awfulness of it all, though.  I was trying to take a picture, and TJ was trying to wrangle the balloons in the wind.  We were fussing trying to get things "just right," like we probably would at a real birthday party.   It was one of those "What on earth are we doing? Whose life is this, again?" moments.

But its ok. This is our family, and this is our story.  And we are so proud to have Thomas as a part of it!

"Our hearts ache, but we always have joy." 2 Corinthians 6:10, NLT

Thursday, November 1, 2012

(Bitter)Sweet November

How in the world has it almost been a YEAR?

Last year was focused on November as we faced Thomas's birth with excitement, hope, and fear.
This year I've been focusing on November, but with dread instead of excitement.

I think my biggest fear of November is the unknown.  I don't know how I'm going to feel.  I may be a basketcase or I may be fine.   Probably a little mix of both, fluctuating without warning. (I have a tendency to be "fragile," if you ask my husband!) I have come so far from those dark early days and weeks of grief.  I'm scared to "go there" again, because it really, really hurts.  Obviously some days will be harder than others.   So far the days leading up to a big day have been worse than the actual day, and I hope that holds true as we face the first anniversary of our two weeks with Thomas.

While I am nervous for myself  for November, I can say that I am at peace with Thomas's part in the story of our lives.  That sweet baby was the biggest blessing I have ever received in my life.  Even though I am a bit of a wreck now because of it all, it is ok.  November will always be a special month to me.

So for now, I would appreciate your prayers for me, and your patience with me.
Please pray for peace for our hearts and for continued healing.
Please be patient with me as we face this hard time of year.  I may be a wreck.  I may not return calls or emails in a timely manner.  I may update the blog, and I may not.  I'll probably be a bad friend.  I may want to talk about it, and I may not.  I'm not making any plans for November because the thought of anything extra (besides work) makes me feel overwhelmed and panicky. I'm going to need time to be by myself.

I love this passage from Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff:

"'Put your hand into my wounds,' said the risen Jesus to Thomas, 'and you will know who I am.' The wounds of Christ are his identity. They tell us who he is. He did not lose them. They went down into the grave with him and they came up with him- visible, tangible, palpable.  Rising did not remove them.  He, who broke the bonds of death kept his wounds.

To believe in Christ's rising from the grave is to accept it as a sign of our own rising from our graves.  If for each of us it was our destiny to be obliterated, and for all of us together it was our destiny to fade away without a trace, then not Christ's rising but my dear son's early dying would be the logo of our fate.

Slowly I begin to see that there is something more as well.  To believe in Christ's rising and death's dying is also to live with the power and the challenge to rise up now from all our dark graves of suffering love.  If sympathy for the world's wounds is not enlarged by our anguish, if love for those around us is not expanded, if gratitude for what is good does not flame up, if insight is not deepened, if commitment to what is important is not strengthened, if aching for a new day is not intensified, if hope is weakened and faith diminished, if from the experience of death comes nothing good, then death has won.  Then death, be proud.

So I shall struggle to live the reality of Christ's rising and death's dying.  In my living, my son's dying will not be the last word.  But as I rise up, I bear the wounds of his death.  My rising does not remove them. They mark me. If you want to know who I am, put your hand in."

Thank you all for grieving with me, and for not being afraid to "put your hands in."