Friday, February 11, 2022
Monday, February 11, 2019
He's been out of my sight and my arms and my grip for seven years. Eighty-four months. Two-thousand, five-hundred and fifty-seven days.
But he's never been out of my heart or my mind or my memory. No, he's firmly, gently, irrevocably nestled in those special places, and though years ago I feared that the passage of time would dull our connection, it hasn't. It's true that some of the finer details have grown dim, but the essence of who he is -- that's still with me because I carry it around in the back pocket of my heart.
The connection has changed, of course, because although Logan will be frozen in time as that effervescent, car-loving, dancing little boy I adored when he was with me, I've changed. Because that --aside from the ever-present, ever-real, ever-existing love of God-- is life's biggest guarantee: regardless of whether we want to be different, we will change. Our experiences --good, bad, joyful, tragic-- will transform us over time. And although it's easy to allow the heartbreaking moments to define who we are and to let bitterness take root in our hearts, in my case, doing so would be a disservice to my Sunshine's memory, because "sadness" doesn't define him. No, Logan is joy and humor and silliness. And perseverance and patience and determination. And bravery and light, even in the midst of disaster.
And love. Definitely love.
And since he lived with such love, I must as well. I must live and love and forgive and press onward, even when life feels heavier than I'd like and it would be easier to just... stop.
So as I look back on the seven years that have passed since I held him into Life on that rainy Saturday, I'm keenly aware of that love and am thankful that it is and was --and will be again in a bigger, brighter, bolder way than I can even imagine-- whenever Someday arrives.
And until that day, I will live out his example by living this human life as fully as I can.
Monday, May 28, 2018
How do you learn to breathe again?
I cried while I typed a response. I cried because I was sad for her and because I know exactly where she is in the process and how she probably feels like she will never be happy again and can't imagine living with the pox of such a deep, dark, pervasive brand of pain and because there are no easy solutions and there is no fast forward button that lets you speed through the gut-wrenching parts. I remember screaming in the darkness and punching my pillow so hard that the stuffing came out and then doubling over in so much pain that I wasn't sure if I'd ever be able to get up and face the world again. I remember what those first few months are like, after the shock wears off and reality becomes stark and cold and unforgiving and far too real.
And I also cried because I wish I didn't have sage words to share with her. I wish that I didn't understand and couldn't relate and could sit with my fingers hovering over the keyboard, unable to formulate sentences that might bring an ounce of comfort or hope.
But I do understand and I do know the pain. And though I don't want to be in this position, I'm blessed if I can use this experience --this knowledge I so desperately wish I didn't have-- to bring even a moment of peace or a sense of hope for the future to someone who's suffering. Because though my life is far from perfect, I'm still here. And I'm still trying. And anyone can do what I'm doing because I, like everyone else on the planet, am merely mortal.
So my friend --you know who you are and I'm giving you every bit of the privacy you deserve-- know that I'm praying for you and willing you as much strength and fortitude as I can. And as for breathing? Inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale. I know you can do it.
Saturday, March 31, 2018
"How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great."
I'll be totally honest about something: it can be hard and frustrating and painful to love broken people. It's hard to care for someone who exudes negativity. It's challenging to deliberately pursue a person who pushes others away in the name of survival. It's painful to know that even when you do all you can to love a broken person, that person could still reject you.
And it breaks my heart and embarrasses me to write all of that because I've most definitely been the person who's excruciatingly hard to love. I've done the rejecting and the pushing away and the negativity. And I've wound up mostly alone, which, ironically, was the last thing I wanted. It's easy to wind up alone when you're broken, because sometimes it simply takes too much energy, too much heartache, too much everything to love someone who's hurting. I know that. I've been that difficult, difficult person.
But as the meme suggests --and as the message of Easter teaches-- love is always worth the risk.
So show up. Be present. Listen. Pray. And love, even when it's the last thing you want to do, and even when you think the recipient doesn't notice or care about what you're doing. (And if you're the one who's hurting, try really hard to let yourself be loved. I know that's far easier said than done.) What I remind myself when it feels like I'm spinning my wheels to no avail is that He sees all. And if He could die for ME, the least I can do is sacrifice a little of myself for someone else.
Sunday, January 7, 2018
I've been trying to figure out how I feel about it for a while now, which is funny because I'm not really one who's ever cared much about age. My friends range in age from twentysomething to fiftysomething, and age means absolutely nothing within the context of those relationships. So the rational part of me says "it's just a number. It's really no different than any other birthday and besides, most of your friends are already 40-plus so get over it. Boo yah, 40. Woohoo."
But... 40. It's hard to fully wrap my brain around that number.
Don't misunderstand me: my thirties have been hard. Actually, hard isn't a powerful enough word. A more appropriate one would be "torturous." I began the decade on bed rest with Isaac after suffering a potentially disastrous subchorionic bleed. (So you don't have to look it up, that means that a small corner of the placenta tore, which resulted in gushing blood and, eventually, a very large blood clot that could have killed him. Fortunately, of course, that did not happen, but I spent months agonizing over the possibility that it could.) After he was finally born, we had a calm expanse of months before I got pregnant with Brady at 32, and then 20 weeks later, well, you know what happened then. My life, my outlook, my everything was forever changed when I found out Logan could very well die.
Then there were the endless trips to and from the hospital, the loneliness, the exhaustion that goes along with having three very young children at home by myself and the ongoing fear that God would not respond the way I desperately wanted Him to respond to the biggest prayer I'd ever prayed.
And then, when I was 34, horror became my reality as my innocent, sweet, long-suffering little boy drifted from my arms and into God's on that rain-soaked February morning. At first I was numb, but then the sadness, the anger, the fury besieged my heart in a way I didn't see coming. It broke me into more pieces that I could ever count and I couldn't fathom ever feeling like myself ever again. And I wasn't sure I wanted to.
Fortunately, very slowly and with no small of resistance from me (because, well, anger), God knit the pieces back together again. I think sometimes those pieces were re-fused in different places, because when I think of my heart, I don't see it as a smooth piece of fabric, rather as a patchwork quilt comprised of numerous kinds of material and many converging threads of varying color and strength. Although it's been re-constructed with care, it has weak spots, and if those spots are pulled or pushed too aggressively, I can feel the stitches tear away all over again.
So given that history, you'd think I'd be eager to leave my thirties far behind me in the rearview mirror. But I'm not. The thing is, Logan won't exist in my forties. He won't be there to help blow out the candles or to tease me about my advancing age. Of course, none of that is new: he's been gone for nearly six years and his absence is a painful daily reality. And my birthdays are among the most acutely painful of those days.
But in my mind, when 39 melts into 40 on Thursday afternoon, I'll be leaving him behind. And I don't know what to do with that. I know that I can't stop aging; I'll turn 40 and then, God willing, 41 and 42 and 43. Time will keep passing and the wrinkles will keep forming and I'll keep missing him.
And no matter how fervent my prayers become, he'll keep not being here and I'll keep having to cope with the reality that one of my biggest fans is absent.
But you know something? I bet he'd want me to celebrate anyway. He'd want me to dance and talk and eat cake and smile. So though I so wish that he could be part of my forties memory bank in a tangible way, I know that he cannot. And I pray that though he won't be here for number 40, he'll be dancing with me anyway, in whatever way he can, and that though I won't be able to touch him with my fingertips, I'll feel him within my heart.
Sunday, August 6, 2017
Our food came. Everyone else dug in but I just looked down at mine, suddenly disintereted in the sandwich that had seemed so appealing before I saw her. More than once, I felt my eyes fill with tears and more than once, Adam asked if I was okay. I didn't really respond and I think he knew that I wasn't because he saw her, too. I was watching him the moment he saw the hair and the mask and the too-full plate and I saw his expression change. He and I, we're alike in that way. In the way that our expression changes when we see certain things.
After a minute or two, I realized Abby was looking at me, her eyes wide with concern and confusion. She saw her, I think, but somehow it didn't register. I patted her hand and I told her I was fine, though I think she knew I was lying. I ate my food and picked at my fries. And I watched the girl and her family; how her brother sat patiently as she smiled and skimmed her fingers through his shock of light brown hair. How they all pressed her to eat and how she held up her placemat to show off her crayon-aided handiwork.
They got up to go and I felt a sense of panic. A sense of urgency. I stood up as they passed by and spoke to the mother.
I've been where you are. I pray everything will go perfectly for you from here on out. God bless you, I said.
She looked startled. One of your kids had cancer? she probed. Then her gaze shifted to focus on the table behind me, where most of my family sat, still eating and talking and being together. She was looking for a survivor.
I knew I had to tell her and my heart lurched in my chest. I hate being the one who scares people; the one who represents the worst case scenario coming to pass. Yes, I replied. Then, rather than looking away as I so often do, I caught her gaze again. But he didn't make it. But you... for you, I'm praying for a very different outcome.
She stopped and just looked at me. And hugged me. And thanked me. And said she was so very sorry for my loss.
And then she was gone. And I sat down to once again pick at my fries while the others finished their meals.
It never goes away. Peach fuzz hair and a mask and a puffy face still take my breath away and make my heart race and I suspect they always will. They represent trauma and my body just... reacts. The cracks in my heart split open and bleed all over again. But if I can make a connection, offer up a word of hope, be a voice who understands in the midst of so many who simply don't --can't--, I'll take on the task.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
But tonight I'm letting myself remember, because Friday will mark another milestone that's not happening: the completion of elementary school. It seems weird to think about him moving on to middle school since he never even got the chance to begin kindergarten. It breaks me to realize that though I will keenly feel his absence, almost none of his would've-been classmates will know a thing about him. They won't know how funny he was or how he danced or how he was obsessed with all-things automotive or how his big sister was his best friend in the world. I can say "well, it's their loss" but the reality is that it's my loss. It's our loss. No one else knows what they missed.
So I'll stay far away from that ceremony on Friday. I'll look away when I see the giggling girls in their dresses and the boys looking uncomfortable in their quasi-formal mom-made-me-wear-this-stuff finery. I won't cry where anyone can see me. That day will be hard. But like I got through the littlest graduation ceremony, I'll get through this one, too.