One night a week we pack in the car and head to gymnastics. The smell of feet looms as we enter the gymnastics center, we usually scramble to get our kids to class and find a seat. Dennis, Amelia and I settled into a seat and couldn’t help to watch a little 18 month old baby play in the corner with her parents. She had blonde hair and blue eyes. As I glanced over at Dennis we both knew what the other was thinking without saying a word, he was watching her too. Amelia was coloring her picture and looked up.
“Mommy.” Amelia called for me. I answered yes, “I really miss my sister Angelina.” I replied, “ I really miss her too Amelia.”
I stopped hugged her and moved onto getting her ready to head to her class.
This whole post circled in my mind……
(I feel like I have a lot to share today and please let me tell you I am no grief expert. That what I have found is that everyone processes and is affected by grief differently. That you should never compare one loss to another because all are considered such huge losses no matter what the circumstances. Dennis and I keep our family life very private. What I share with you here in this space is how I have seen God actively move in my family’s life. God has called me to share, it’s uncomfortable and most importantly my hope is that our story can bring you some comfort and offer you a ray of light if you are feeling that you are in the dark).
Today Angelina would be three. Three years old. It’s such a fun age. Reflecting back to my two older girls….. It’s an age where you can laugh and giggle for no reason, the kids don’t just waddle around like they do when they first start walking they run, they get into everything, and I MEAN EVERYTHING! They learn how to pick out clothes and dress themselves. Dinner is fun because they finally can hold little silly conversations. Oh how I loved tea parties, letting my girls help me bake, and they started to show interest in digging around in the garden. I would take the girls to the track at three and they would run with me while I did intervals. Daddy time was always the best moment of the day. The pitter patter on the hard wood floors as Dennis arrived home. Squeals of excitement as the girls would hear his truck and come running directly at him as he came through the door.
I wish she was here. I miss her just like Amelia. I wish I had a cake and three tiny candles to blow out with Angelina today.
When I look back over these last three years and the past two and a half years since Angelina has been gone. I come to this place of knowing during year one, I was completely numb. Year two, I started to bring myself to a place where I knew I needed healing and during the last six months I have really just wanted to find joy again.
Grief sucks. Loss sucks. I prayed this prayer this morning. “God I really miss my daughter, help me have a joyful heart. Help me in spite of the everyday sorrow I feel to find joy amidst the pain of her absence in our family.
Grief changes you. I really can’t explain it but it does. The things that once were really important are no longer that important. Grief teaches you to come alongside of other people without any judgement, to show compassion in ways you never might think you could, and it has just taught us to love the way Jesus loves.
Last year, I typed this post and I felt like God was saying for me to bloom where I had been planted. It seemed really silly to me. How in the world could I live life among grief when I just wanted to curl up in a ball and never leave my bedroom.
You see we allow grief to be this uncomfortable thing. We run from others experiencing loss because we might not have the perfect words or never experienced what they have. Grief has taught us while we might have not experienced tough situations others may have experienced we still can listen and be a source of support.
To our family this is a part of our reality. It’s not uncomfortable because we live a life that involves a tragic loss and absence in our family every single day. Not only do we have to process grief in order to heal. We have to be present for our children while they try to process and make sense of the loss of their sister.
The thought of the future over the last three years has been foggy. To dream and hope after the loss of our child has seemed like the last thought on our mind. Trying to pick up the pieces and try to put them back together is at times very painful.
When you move through healing you are trying to figure out a new reality. Things will never be what they once were and we have accepted that.
If you ask us what we might be doing three or six months from now. Maybe we will tell you something different each time you ask. We are simply still processing. We are waiting on God’s perfect timing. For the first time ever we have learned how to be in a season of simply receiving God’s love.
Romans 5:2-5: “through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us”. (Translation: NKJV)
You see every part of our lives has been turned upside down and as we learn how to live right side up again it gives our lives an eternal perspective. The eternal is what we are preparing for and while we learn to live more for the hope of heaven and being reunited with our daughter we begin to worry less about the carnal here on earth.
As we try to have joy again I keep seeing this phrase: “Look-Up.”
“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:3
A little gift from Angelina from the heavens. She’s telling us to look up for our help and strength. It’s certain when we look down we are missing out on life and that she would want us to keep our head up. When you have hit the bottom, been through tragedy and the toughest parts of life what is there left to do but, look up.
I have taken this two word term to the heart. My friends this life is but a vapor. So, stop wasting it on the things that simply don’t matter. I’m going to say this again. Let’s stop wasting our life on moment’s that don’t matter.
“ Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your Life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” -James 4:14 (Translation NKJV)
Angelina has taught us how to cling to Jesus and to make our moments count. This is still hard to do on those rocky days grief throws our way but we are trying with all our might.
On Angelina’s Third birthday we are going to make our moments count. Even the ones that involve tears because tears are the truest sign of the love we hold for our loved ones that have gone to soon.
Over this last year I finally realized that when a flower comes to bloom it looks up toward the sun. God is the light that shines ever so bright in the darkness and it’s his light that helps us bloom. When we try with all our might to love the way he loves us we give off a sweet smelling aroma wherever we go.
“In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse”. -2 Corinthians 2:14 (Translation: The Message)
As we learn to receive his love and we are able to love like him it enables us to be Jesus to those who desperately need him.
We are going to live with an eternal perspective, Angelina, and in honor of you try our best to make our moment’s count.
I recently came across this quote. So don’t be discouraged. Never Give up. Bloom where your planted. What you do has eternal significance in God’s eyes. -DHR