Thursday, May 31, 2012


I took two of my boys to soccer today. Eva watched them play soccer last year. She watched them a couple of times in the spring...and she watched them once in August. Once in August. Then she died. There was a little girl we know on the field today. She had pink soccer socks on. Her hair was in braids. She was a little smaller than the other kids on the field with her. I don't know why it hurt to look at her. Hurt to see yet another thing my Eva won't do. Another loss. No first steps, No first words, No soccer. Last time I sat on the side of that soccer field, Eva was on my lap. However, lest I forget, Eva can FLY.

So many wishes.

My little Theodore turned 3 on Monday the 21st. It was a sweet day. We had a little party with a few friends over. A hotdog roast and pass the parcel and cupcakes! We started something new for our kids this year. No presents from friends. Theodore still got a gift from us and Oma and Uncle Dave and Auntie Sabine and Grandpa and Grandma so, believe me, he didn't miss out but it made the party so much more relaxed and the focus was on celebrating Theodore, not on the gifts.

Anyway, the day was beautiful. We had 2 families over. One of them had a little 10 month old baby girl and it was so hard to look at her and know that when my baby girl was 10 months she died. I did not get anything with her beyond 10 months, except for tears. Another family had a little boy about the same age Eva should have been. I need not explain more and, still, it was a nice day. But when I wished my big three-year-old son a happy birthday I also wished he wasn't our youngest living child. He is supposed to have a little sister too, learning to walk in the grass.

I lit a beautiful pink candle inside for Eva. It kinda cut me up that we were all outside partying and her candle was alone inside (but it was too windy outside). When we served the cupcakes, it hit me that here we are again. Another celebration without our Eva. Another party, another day. And it is not going to end...there will be more. More parties, more days without her..she should have been there, walking in the grass, oh honey, we miss you.

A few days ago I planted a tiny little memorial garden for our tiny little girl. A gorgeous rock with her name on it (thank you Renee), Sunflowers and sweetpeas...and other things. Sunflowers and sweetpeas were in full bloom when our little flower died and there were loads of them at her funeral. She was always such a smiley little sunflower. Who are you giving your smiles to now, my sweet?

I have also been dealing with some news a friend has given me. It is hard to process joy in others when my world is so not there. I feel like God has decided that we are just not good enough. He will bless others, but not us. Miracles are for everyone else now, but not us. I feel like I have fallen out of favour with God. I know this is not how it works and I am thankful my belief in God is based in the Word and not in how I feel because I sure feel so alone now. On Sunday, I received a reminder to not forget in the darkness what I know to be true in the Light. This really resonated with me as I am trying to navigate in the darkness. A darkness many people think I should have left behind already. I have not forgotten the Truth, but it is hard to see. It is just so dark. I wish I had a flashlight or a wisp of a candle...

And then I know 2 people with cancer. One has tumors in her brain and one has thyroid cancer. I want to pray for them but I have no faith in healing right now. All I can do is remind them that God has them in the palm of His hand. But I am worried...because the palm of God can crush too. I know. I have been there. I want to pray for them but I am afraid to pray for them. Last time I prayed for healing and for life I got the exact opposite of what I wanted. I am praying again for Life and I am left bereft. This is why I am afraid to pray for my friends...because it feels like it may do them more harm than good.

I am kinda low as I write today but, truth be told, I am often doing better. The hole in my heart will always be there but sometimes the edges feel less jagged once in awhile. I am coming into the season of Evas sickness and the weeks of hospitalization and then the days leading up to her death. I know this summer will be hard as I enjoy things like soccer with my boys and campfires and the smells of summer in the country...things that were absent last year in the hospital and in the city....but...we are not there yet. This time last year I still held Eva in my arms and, while we were worried, she was not full blown sick yet. God, how I miss her. My heart wrenches and squeezes as I remember her sweet little warm body snuggled up with me. I wish I had enjoyed every second with her more. I wish I could go back in time and hold her little warm body again. I wish I wish I wish. So many damn wishes.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Beauty in the Mess

My dear friend and neighbour, Arlene, sends me tidbits by email every now and again. I usually read the things she sends because it's infrequent and usually vividly pertains to my life. Thank you Arlene.

Below is a 'slice' that she sent me. It perfectly encapsulates why I blog. Why I let you, dear readers, into my life, into my mess. The mess that is my life. The mess of missing Eva. The mess of trying to put myself back together in a shape I never was.

I've always loved writing. It is both cathartic and painful. There is hardly a post I write that does not leave me weeping before I share it with you. Yet, there is beauty in it too. Beauty in the mess of words that leave me humbled and incoherent. The re-arranging, re-organizing, deleting and re-wording, that, ultimately, becomes a thing worthy of sharing with you, dear ones.

Oft misunderstood, I can share my heart in the written word so much more simply and comprehensively than when spoken.

Beauty in the Mess

For the past decade, doctors and psychologists have been taking notice of the health benefits of reflective writing. They note that wrestling with words to put your deepest thoughts into writing can lift your mind from depression, uncover wisdom within your experiences, provide insight and foster self-awareness. Similarly, a recent news article discussed the benefits of confessional writing, where one is freed to "explore the depths of the emotional junkyard." In my own experience, writing has no doubt been a helpful way to sift through the junkyard, though perhaps most effectively when open to being surprised by beauty and not merely reveling in the messes.

Writing is helpful because the eye of a writer seeks the transcendent—moments where the extraordinary is beheld in the ordinary, glimpses of clarity within the junkyard, beauty in a world of contrasts. When Jesus stooped over the crumbled girl at his feet and wrote something in the sand, the written word spoke more powerfully than the anger of the Pharisees and well beyond the sins of the prostitute. As singer songwriter Michael Card writes of Jesus's scribbling, "It was a cup of cold water for a thirsty adulteress and an ice-cold drenching in the face to a group of angry Pharisees."  Writing is a tool with which we learn to see ourselves more clearly, a catalyst for which we can learn to see thankfully beyond ourselves.

In the C.S. Lewis novel, Til We Have Faces, the main character, Orual, has taken mental notes throughout her life, carefully building what she refers to as her "case" against the gods. Finally choosing to put her case in writing, she describes each instance where she has been wronged. It is only after Orual has finished writing that she soberly recognizes her great mistake. To have heard herself making the complaint was to be answered, for she now sees the importance of uttering the speech at the center of one's soul. She profoundly then observes that the gods used her own pen to probe the wounds. With sharpened insight Orual explains, "Til the words can be dug out of us, why should [the gods] hear the babble that we think we mean?  How can they meet us face to face til we have faces?"

There is something about writing that can introduce us to ourselves and to the image of another. Daring to utter the words at the center of our souls we may find the words leading us to truer selves. What if God could use your own pen to probe the wounds of your life? In the intimate descriptions of life recorded in the Psalms, the writers of the Psalms express loneliness, joy, even frustration with God. "What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?" (Psalm 30:9). Yet the psalmists walk away from their words with a clearer sense of reality. And, I would add, their words have been a source of encouragement to countless lives, pointing many to wisdom, to beauty and depth, to a God enthroned on high.

As Jesus stood with the girl at his feet in the middle of a group armed with stones and hatred, the Word that brought life into existence and worked the heavens with his fingers, crouched down in the sand and with his finger changed a life. Might this Word so move us also such that our own words bring us to know ourselves, the beauty and the mess, each other, and God.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

9 months

9 months I carried Eva in my belly. Actually over 9 months. Our little princess was 12 days over her due date. All my babies, except Theodore who arrived right on his due date, were late. 10 days on average.

Now it's been 9 months since I held her living, breathing body in my arms. 9 months since she breathed here on earth. Women are giving birth today to babies that were balls of cells or blastocysts or zygotes when Eva was alive. There is something about passing this milestone that I have known was coming for 9 months now. This milestone that defines babies from Eva's 'generation' to babies beyond.

If I had gotten pregnant when Eva died I would be close to giving birth right now. Obviously I haven`t. We were done, so happily done with having babies when we had Eva. Four was enough. Four was amazing. Four was alot, to me, an only child. We also had a little bonus girl living with us. We had 5 children 5 and under in our house. We were busy. We were done. So happily done.

When Eva died we gained a new perspective on life. We came to realize the value, sanctity, and eternity of Life. We suddenly realized the Truth. Although Eva was dead, she was alive. She is still our daughter. She is in Heaven. She is alive. Life is eternal. Before Eva died I knew this truth with my head but since her death I have claimed this Truth with my heart. How sad that Eva died. How we miss our darling girl. But how much sadder if she had never lived at all.

9 months is such a huge milestone. It marks us getting farther and farther away from her. Now there will be babies conceived and born that never overlapped with the zygotes that overlapped with Eva. I know this doesn`t make much sense but it`s just such a weird sensation. 9 months has so much meaning, so many twists and turns and punches in the gut.

When Eva turned 9 months old we took her in for her 9 month pictures. I never thought we`d get those 9 month pictures back when she was in the PICU with tubes down her throat. Laying there so connected to wires that I couldn`t hold her without a nurse helping to lift her into my arms. So connected that I stayed seated in those horrible chairs for hours. Holding my pee for hours and hours because getting up and giving up my daughter was an ordeal that involved 3 people. So connected but so disconnected. Oh, my sweet girl. When I got those pictures I thought she would make it. I really did. I thought I had my girl back. I thought we had gone through the darkness. I thought we had gotten our miracle. I thought the worst was over. So little I knew.

I hoped and prayed that I would be expecting by this 9 month milestone. This milestone that marks so much more separation from Eva, somehow. That we could have a zygote or a blastocyst or an embryo giving us just a little hope. A little one that overlapped with the babies that overlapped with our breathing daughter. Alas, we are still waiting for Hope. I hesitated to share this with you because now you know. Now you know another one of my secrets.

On the other hand, I have learned alot about grief this month and I am absolutely certain I would not have learned what I did had I had the joy of hope.

In His timing, all will be made clear.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Grief is Sad.

Grief is Sad. Sounds like a no-brainer doesn't it?

Well, I've come to a realization tonight. I've come to realize that there are people in my very close community who think that I'm going off the deep end. Who think I'm in some kind of downward death spiral. But I'm not. I'm bereaved. I'm grieving. And grief is sad.

I've also come to realize that people don't really know what a grieving mama looks like. Because, well, even I am getting put into a box. A box that's labelled too sad, downward spiral, shaking my fist at God, bitter, prickly, unpleasant, unloving...

And what I'm coming to see is actually how upsetting it is to me to be labelled that way because then I want to start pretending that I'm not as sad as I really am. Then, even I, as forthright as I am, want to start squirrelling my grief away into a safe corner where no one can see it. Where I can go and give it succour in private. Where I can let the tears come in the dark and in the quiet and alone. And then if I do these things...if I hide away in my corner to nurse my grief...then the rest of the world who only sees the public me will think that that is what grief looks like.

But that wouldn't be true. That is not how grief looks. Grief is sad. Grief is hard work. Grief is exhausting. Grief is uncomfortable. Grief is unpleasant. Grief is selfish. Grief is scary. Grief is lonely. And the only way to make amends with Grief. The only way to take Grief by the hand and learn to walk with this uninvited and undesirable companion is to give Grief it's due. To be sad. To work hard. To be exhausted. To be uncomfortable. To be unpleasant. To be selfish. To be scared.To be lonely. Only then can you and Grief be companions. And when you've learned to be a companion to Grief, then you can start to look outside yourself and begin to see others. Only then can you start to be comfortable with Grief. Only then can you sometimes put your feet up and have a cup of coffee with Grief. Only then can you start being generous again...with your time, with your abilities, with your emotions, with yourself.

I am learning that right now Grief and I are still getting to know each other. Sometimes I am so sick of Grief. I wish I could kick Grief to the curb and have it get picked up with the trash. Unfortunately Grief doesn't give in that easily. The only way to become companions with Grief is to go through it all until Grief is no longer an enemy but more of a friend. A friend who is always there but not sitting right on top of me. Grief is not my friend yet. Grief and I are still working alot of things out. And if you think that I (or anyone) can work through all the crap I've just talked about in 9 short months, you have no idea. And I'm not going to hide it away. Because if I start giving Grief suck in the dark and alone, then Grief is going to become a ravenous monster that will eat me up.

And, when, inevitably, one day there is another grieving mama, she won't be given liscense to grieve her child the way she needs to because at some point people will start labelling her. They will start whispering that she should be doing better...they will start nudging each other because well, they know another mama who lost her baby. And, well, Em started to be okay after awhile and this new mama....she's still crying...what's wrong with her? She should be getting over it by now...

There are people whom I love dearly and who love me too but who pretty much only see me on Sunday mornings. These people see me cry through Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. But what they don't realize is that there are six other days of the week and those six other days are not nearly as bad as Sunday is. Sunday I am surrounded surrounded by families who have all their children with them. Sunday I am surrounded by people who love me but who are also a little scared of me. Sunday I feel more alone than any other day of the week. Sunday I feel observed. Sunday I feel judged.

But still, I want to go to church on Sundays. I want to be there and be with God because my relationship with God is bigger than singing songs that choke me. God can handle my pain. God can handle my mourning. God can handle my tears. God can handle my anger. God has big shoulders and He can handle it even if people can't. So, I'm still going to go to church on Sunday. I'm still going to sit there and cry Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. I'm still going to go and feel misunderstood and alone on Sunday. I'm still going to go home on Sunday afternoon utterly spent and exhausted.

And if I'm a little prickly towards you. If I get my back up. If I'm aloof or withdrawn or not pleasant. Well, please, give me a little grace. Grief and I are still duking it out. And it's hard work. The hardest I've ever done in my life. But if I don't do the work I will get eaten up and that's not what I want. I want to come out on the other side of this. I want to be able to help others get through this kind of searing pain. But it's not going to happen if I give Grief succour in the dark. It will only happen if Grief and I become companions. And that is still going to be awhile. A long while. And Grief will always be in the room with me. And Grief is sad.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Eva's Grandma.

I sit at a table with Eva's Grandma and Grandpa. 

Eva's Grandma was a formidable woman in her day. One of four children. She raised five of her own children to adulthood, one of whom is my dear husband. She taught school. She was a great cook and a truly amazing mother to her children. She is a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a teacher, a grandmother.

She is so many things my Eva never will be. As Mother's Day approaches it makes me so sad that my Eva will never be a mother. I will never cuddle her children.

 I sit here and I watch Eva's Grandma and I love her and I wish to be at her funeral. I know Eva's Grandma yearsn for Heaven. I watch her struggle so hard to put a piece of muffin in her mouth. Her bib is already stained with food. Her hand trembles as she reaches for her cup. She wonders aloud to me if today is the day that Hannah is coming. Coming to play the harp for a private audience. No, not today Grandma. Monday. Oh, okay, Monday.

The tears well up in my eyes and I whisper that I better go. I have a lot to do today. But the truth is that I'm just so sad to see Eva's Grandma struggling to eat while I wish I could feed my daughter. My eyes blur over and I think about Eva's Grandma's funeral and I know there will be a party in Heaven when Eva's grandma joins Eva there. I can't wait till I know that Eva will have her Grandma with her. Her Grandma who loves her and who will hold her in her lap and rock her in a rocking chair. Who will caress her hair and rub her face in the downy softness. Her Grandma that could barely hold her in this world but who will be able to swing her high in Heaven. Swing her around and then they can dance together. Something neither Eva nor Eva's grandma could do in this world.

How I long to see them there together, whole and complete. Neither one of them broken or in pain. Just joy. Pure joy. I long for Eva to have someone in Heaven who loved her here on earth.  Someone to take a little bit of my love for Eva with her.
 I love Eva's Grandma and I know that Eva's Grandma loves Eva. I know she will take good care of Eva while I do my work here and anticipate the day I will get to join them there...although, funny thing, maybe Eva will have the priviledge of showing Grandma around Heaven when she gets there.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Intense...and that's okay.

This blog is intense.

It is not how I feel or how I am every moment of every day.

It is where I come to talk about Eva (and sometimes, but rarely, other stuff too)

This blog has intense grief embedded in it. There is no way it cannot.

At first I wanted people to read this blog because I thought people might understand (sort of) how it might feel to lose a child. Now I know this can never happen. And that's okay.

I like my blog. It helps me put my emotions into words.

As time has passed, however, I realize there are things that feel normal to me now that are totally out of the realm of comprehension for many. And that's okay.

However, I am not crazy or depressed. I am bereaved. Sometimes they may look the same.

I am sure that sometimes my blog bothers and upsets some people. That's okay. Sometimes, it bothers and upsets me, too.

However, I have also been told that my blog has helped people understand their feelings regarding intense pain and grief in their own lives.

If my blog is too intense for you. Please take a break and stop reading for awhile. That's okay.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Shoes.

An Ugly Pair of Shoes
Author Unknown

I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable Shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in the world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don’t hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by
before they think of how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of the shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

Monday, May 7, 2012


I had coffee with someone sort of new today. Someone who has often posted on my facebook page just to say she's thinking of me or praying for me. Someone I didn't always respond to but it meant alot to me that she was praying for me both when Eva was sick and now, when she isn't sick anymore.

When I left I said thanks for the coffee that was nice. It was nice. This someone said to me that she was a little scared inviting me over. She didn't really know how it would go. I really appreciated her honesty and her willingness to go out on a limb and invite me over. Just jump in and invite the mom with the dead baby over for a cup of coffee. We just had a normal time. We talked about her kids. We talked about my kids. We talked about Eva some too, but not all the time. Not more than the other kids, I don't think. She is one of my kids, after all. Always will be. As I left I joked that I would blog about our visit. I didn't really mean it, but here I am, blogging about it.

It was nice. It felt normal and good.

This much I know is true: With God, life often doesn`t make sense. Without God, life makes even less sense.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Like dry bones

A cheerful heart is like good medicine. A crushed spirit is like dry bones. (Proverbs 17:22)

Pastor Brian brought a mouse skeleton to church for children's story today and talked about this verse. (For you city readers, may I clarify that we go to a very rural church and there's not a kid in the congregation who has not seen a dead mouse, deer, chicken, cow etc... and every single kid was completely fascinated by these mouse bones)
A cheerful heart. Nope, don't have one of those.

Is like good medicine. Guess I'm pretty sick, and tired, and sad, and angry.

A crushed spirit. This is an excellent analogy for exactly how I feel. Run over by a tractor. Crushed. Empty. Weak. Sad. Crushed.

Is like dry bones. Like death. There is not much useful in me it seems. I am like dry bones. Why am I even here sometimes I wonder? I am like dry bones. No nourishment or succour to anyone. Dry bones. Dry Dry Dry bones.

I don't feel like it is my choice to have a crushed spirit. I feel like it has been crushed for me. I feel like the mighty hand of God reached down and scooped me up then closed his fist and crushed me. Crushed my flesh, my bones, my organs. Crushed. Yes this is exactly right.

And now I know. A crushed spirit is like dry bones. Why am I crushed? Why am I crushed when I know of others who have gone through far worse and lost so much more but who still manage to stand firmly on the Rock, while all I can do is struggle to hang on as I slog through yet another day without my daughter.

As unencouraging as it is, this verse fits so well for me. Can I actually choose to have a cheerful heart. I know some of you dear readers, and some of you will say, yes, absolutely. Choose it now, Em. Claim it. But the reality is that even when I try to choose to be joyful the sadness and the tears come sneaking back in. How did Job praise God when all his children died? I do not know. His faith is stronger than mine.

My  faith seems like a weak shell of what it once was but, if I am honest ,it also feels alot more like a rock. Albeit a rock that has been crushed and powdered. Some days the only thing that keeps me believing in God is the hope of seeing Eva again. Just slogging through this life to get to the end of it so I can hold my darling again.

Someone asked me today if I'm enjoying the sunshine. The answer is yes. Yes ,the sun feels good on my living skin. The answer is also no. No, no, no. How can it be spring with the promise of new life when my darling, sweet baby is ashes. Ashes, ashes, ashes. How can I enjoy anything ever again? The sweetness of life is like dry bones in my mouth. Like ashes. Like death.

Someone else today asked me if there is something wrong with my eyes because I'm always wearing sunglasses in church. The answer to that is again: yes, and no. No, my eyes are healthy. Yes, there is something wrong, they are always red and leaking when I'm in church and, to be honest, as wonderful as my church family is, do I really want to be the one sitting there crying in church every.single.Sunday. I'm also tired of looking at my red eyes. They do nothing for me. My cheeks are chapped from the tears running down them all the time. I have aged 10 years since Eva died. I'm just plain tired, lonely, sad, empty, crushed, like dry bones. There simply feels like there is nothing left.

We are coming up on 9 months. 9 months of hell. With no end in sight. Sometimes I long for death to take me. Take me to Eva. But no, I don't think I'll be granted that reprieve. That fast-forward to the end. Also, I know it wouldn't be fair to all of my boys. They need a wife and mama. And, as long as I am here on earth I need them. Oh, I need them. I need their laughter, their joy, their hugs, their cuddles, their earthiness, their little bodies filled with potential and with mischief. Oh, I need them.

I usually try to wrap up my post somehow, and bring it together, but today this is all there is. A crushed spirit like dry bones.