It astounds me how I can go from feeling ok, even feeling good and ready to give to others into deep, overwhelming sorrow so intense I can hardly breathe in an instant. The past few weeks I’ve taken a lot of steps forward, in some ways forcing myself to do things that I need to and want to do but are hard. And for the most part this has been rewarding. I’ve found out that I can handle and even find some measure of joy in things that just seemed so painful. These have mostly been events. Going places where I planned to take Naomi and having to introduce her even thought she isn’t there.
Our Respite Retreat was a good, safe place to start that…introducing Naomi to 11 other couples who themselves had each lost children. I received a lot of healing and strength through that weekend and the wisdom, love and time with the Lord and my husband.
Then last week was our first MOPS meeting of the year and as we went around the room introducing ourselves and our children, I too introduced Naomi to those sweet ladies who will never get to meet her. It was hard but I’m glad I did.
This past Sunday our family went to the Hope PSHU annual heart picnic for children with heart defects and their parents. The hospital had sent us a very kind note along with the invitation, letting us know we were welcomed and that whether we felt able to attend or not that Naomi is always remembered by them and her life celebrated. My husband wanted to go and I trusted that if nothing else it would be good for the kids. As we drove in to the picnic area I was overcome with tears, but I gave it all over to the Lord and prayed that I could somehow encourage someone else instead of just being consumed with how hard it was for me. The kids had an absolute blast with face paint, fun music, pony rides, a petting zoo, ice cream and a visit from Ronald MacDonald. I had a chance to see a few moms of heart babies that I’d met while we were in the hospital and I shared with them the hope I have and celebrated their children’s progress since last we met. Sitting in the warm September sun watching my boys dancing their hearts out in their bright yellow “Hope” t-shirts that were given to each of the patients brought such joy to my heart. Because there was a lot of joy that day and because my beautiful boys have so much joy inside them. I know most people at the picnic looked at them and thought, wow, two boys with heart defects…since all the patients were wearing the t-shirts. But they were wearing their shirts for their baby sister who couldn’t. And the next day when Mr. G asked to wear his shirt again to school, it hurt yet brought joy at the same time. It takes my breath away how both intense joy and intense pain can be so very present at the same time.
Today I was planning on visiting a dear friend who I also met at the RMH (Ronald MacDonald House), whose little boy has been in the hospital off and on since we left RMH. I was looking forward to seeing her, to hugging her, to encouraging her. But after I hung up the phone from her telling me where to park, how to get into the hospital and get to her son’s room I started having flashbacks and the thought of entering into a hospital again sent me into a tailspin like I haven’t experienced. The intensity of emotion and my inability to control my emotions surprised me. It also showed me that even though I might be trying to think of my self as “ok” or “doing better”, I still have very deep wounds that are still healing. And the thing that is so hard for me to let go of is that I don’t have control over the timing of this healing process.
“Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?” (Jeremiah 8:22).
“‘But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD, ‘because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares'” (Jeremiah 30:17).
I need a balm to sooth my soul to lead me toward healing, whatever that looks like. I honestly can’t really conceptualize what healing means. Absence of pain? The ability to live with the pain? I don’t know. The only thing I know is that I have only one place to go…Jesus.