Monday, October 28, 2013


Some of our biggest disappointments in life are unmet expectations. We expect something for Christmas. We expect our children to master reading easily. We expect to wake up in the morning. We all have different expectations. And when they are  unmet or broken we are met with disappointment instead.

Disappointment sounds like a minor emotion with sadness, anger and grief being much larger. But disappointment can also be huge. It can be minor like being disappointed you didn't get a ticket to a concert. But it can be HUGE too. I was devastated when Eva died. But I was also disappointed. Disappointed at not having my daughter to love and hold on earth. Disappointment goes hand in hand with sadness, anger and grief.

One of the biggest changes in me since Eva died is my change in expectations. I used to expect that my children would live.

Every time Nathan wakes up from a nap I consider it a miracle, and I am thrilled to see his smiling face again.

This morning he is napping, and for longer than usual. I went in to check on him, hoping to see his chest rising and falling. It was. Thank God.

But my expectation no longer is that my children will live. Nor is my expectation  that they will die. The biggest difference is that my hope is that they will live but I do not expect it as arrogantly as I once used to.

I don't think it's right to expect them to die but nor is it completely true to expect them to live. No matter how my society expects its children to live.

I have now joined the ranks of mothers around the world who hope and pray their children will live but who do not ,rather arrogantly, fully expect them to.

Can you tell the difference?

Even you, non-bereaved parent, who may read my blog?

Can you tell the difference?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

girls only

Little J was invited and attended her first girls-only birthday party. Another milestone without Eva and another dagger in my aching heart.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Third Birthday in Heaven

As the third birthday of my girl draws to a close I remember the days leading up to her birth and the joy of her birth. The sweetness of holding my only daughter. I remember how she changed my life. How I looked forward to shopping with her and finally, finally having some pink in our house.

Today was more sweet than the last two birthdays have been. Although I wish more than anything it was more of a day to enjoy than endure. The sadness that is always with me burns more brightly on these special days. How I would love to have my three year old girl blow out her candles rather than the rest of us as we sing "happy birthday" through our tears.

Today we adopted an as yet to be named cat from the SPCA. This cat was born on Eva's birthday last year and was brought into the SPCA on Nathan's birthday this year. She was just waiting to be adopted by us. It was something really nice and special to do on Eva's birthday. Cause we want to get her a gift...but what can we buy her that isn't just more stuff on a shelf. There's so much I wish I could get her and so little I actually can...

The as yet un named birthday cat!
We had a 'party' at home which consisted of a crappy store bought roast chicken with leftover mashed sweet potatoes and sliced kohlrabi. However...drum roll please...I also picked up some artichoke hearts to put on the table. I LOVE artichoke hearts and I always cook my kids' favourite meal on their birthday. However, Eva never had a favourite meal (other than breastmilk) so I have deemed artichoke hearts her favourite food. Get it, hearts...for our heart girl.
We had angel food birthday cake for the third year in a row for her. Angel food cake for our sweet little three year old who is flying with the angels.  We sang her Happy Birthday through our tears and blew out her candles.
And here is part of her cake with her third 'growing up girl' on it. Cause it's not just the Baby Eva that we miss so much, it's also the cute little three year old we wish for...

Happy third birthday in heaven my sweet Eva...miss you so much. Mama.

*for whatever reason I am not able to get the picture vertical and am too tired to keep trying but, well, you get the picture I'm sure...
A special thank you to Trisha for the sweet, sweet little book you sent. It brought tears to my eyes as I read it to the children at the table...and it was so nice to have a gift to unwrap for Eva...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Wind of Heaven...

There is a saying that goes the wind of heaven is that which blows between a horses ears...I had that on our Christmas card one year another lifetime ago...

Today is Thanksgiving Sunday here in Canada. We didn't host a Thanksgiving Dinner this year. It's the first time I haven't hosted Thanksgiving Dinner since we have lived in this house. It was immensely relieving and cowboy church had a Thanksgiving potluck that filled that Thanksgiving Dinner empty spot in our bellies.

The weather this afternoon was gorgeous. Crisp and fresh but warm enough for just a sweatshirt...I saddled up my horse and took her out. She was ornery and I had to work her quite a bit at the beginning. I thought the whole ride was going to be work, work, work. But then I decided to lope her up and down a fence line. That turned our ride around. At first I was a little hesitant. I hadn't loped her since before Eva was born. I had a hesitancy. Wondered if I could do it.

But I loped her and it was marvellous! Up and down and around that field. And the more she loped the bigger my smile got until I my whole face was a giant smile. A smile I know for one hundred percent sure hasn't been on my face for 2 years and 2 months. The feeling of being on a smooth running horse is the closest I have ever come to what I imagine it would feel to fly. Flying.

And then I thought of Eva. My littlest girl. My girl who flies. Who soars. So if it really is the wind of heaven that blows between a horses ears then I was there.

I rode down to Eva's trees and watered them then rode back to the house and gave Samuel and Vincent each a ride on Soula. They loved it...and so did I. Samuel is getting to be not so cuddly anymore but he snuggled right up in front of me as we squeezed into the saddle together and I put my arms around him and held him close. Breathing him in as I wish I could do with his little sister.

Good thing he's a skinny kid.

Thankful* is poking it's head through this Thanksgiving. Rather than just devastated.

*And for those of you wondering about the asterisk by thankful, well, that's my new made-up word. It' s that the loss of Eva permeates every emotion. Thankfulness, joyfulness...I can feel those emotions but they are not the same and she is still missing. So it's thankful* rather than thankful. Still thankful, but different.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A peace that surpasses all understanding

I've been at a loss for words the past few days.

With the death of my friend's daughter, Selah, it seems like Eva's death and the darkness afterwards have just caught up to me. And my words feel trivial.

Selah's funeral was yesterday in Uganda. Her parents posted pictures on facebook and her memorial video as well as the eulogy that her dad and mom read.

When I prayed for a peace beyond all understanding for them I had no idea what it would really look like. It appears that Dave and Janna have showed me a peace that surpasses all understanding in how they are grieving their precious Selah.

I did not have that peace when Eva died. Or did I? Maybe in the beginning I did. But as time progressed I struggled more and more with anger. I let that peace go.

The grace and strength that Dave and Janna have showed the world is truly extraordinary. Extraordinary because that grace and strength is God given, I know. I hated it when people called me strong after Eva died. Because I knew that I possessed no strength. And anything I did have was a straight gift from God.

I know that when Eva died my heart was shattered and I wept every single day for eleven months. I somehow skipped one day at 11 months and then wept every single day after that for the next several months.

A few things stuck out to me when Janna was remembering her Selah. One was that before her daughter died she thought that if one of her children should die she would sink in to a grief that rendered her insane and unable to care for her other children. It's amazing how God keeps us stepping one foot in front of the other when the unthinkable happens to us. Before Eva died I never imagined any of my children dying but if I had I would have been sure that I couldn't survive. Now I am equally as sure that I could survive the death of another one of my children. Survive. Barely. But, yes, survive. Because now I know God doesn't give you the grace to accomplish something until you are called to endure it.

The other thing that stuck out to me was something I had already been thinking about but Janna was able to articulate particularly well...that 34 days with Selah was enough. Not because that's all she wanted with Selah but because that's all God gave her. And that had to be enough. Because God knows what he is doing, even in the storm.

To quote Ann Voskamp Peace isn't the absence of the dark it is God's presence in the midst of the dark.

And that is what a peace that surpasses all understanding looks like. God. God's presence in the midst of the darkness.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Vincent is SIX!

My sweet super creative son is SIX!

He is the boy I am often fearful for. He is such a daredevil. SO thoughtfully creative but rarely thoughtful about safety.

I love you so much Vincent and cherish every moment I get to hold you tight here on earth.

Happy 6th Birthday my son!

Vincent enjoying time with his littlest bro!

Proud to be 'driving' at Sunnybrae!

Getting ready for Eva's Ride!

Asleep during evening chapel at Sunnybrae.

And, a classic Vincent...scooting in front of the camera when I'm trying to take a picture of someone else. Love that smile though and Theodore looks pretty happy anyway!

Walk to Remember 2013

On Sunday we went to the first Walk to Remember in our city. It sucked. It was nice. But it sucked. I hated having a reason to be there. But it was nice. Many people there that I knew, unfortunately.

My grief counsellor was there and gave a short little speech. It was weird you know. He probably knew piles of people there.

A long, sad, honouring walk to remember...

Our family with my friend, D and her daughter K. K was really Eva's only friend and it meant a lot to me that she came out with her mom.

And when we let the balloons go it felt a little like letting Eva go again. It always feels that way when we let balloons go. And, as I watch the balloons float away, the distance from me to her feels so vast. Heaven feels so, so, so far away.

And yet, when my time comes I will be there in an instant.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

All the pretty little babies...

When Eva died I felt like the only lonely person on the planet whose child had died. Sadly, that wasn't true and I have met and been blessed by some of the best people I wish I never knew since her death. However I am astounded by how many children I know of who have died in my life and in my small town...

Here they are...all the pretty little ones running through the fields of heaven that I have known and interacted with them or their parents in real life and knew them outside of the loss of Eva.

Graison Y (stillbirth), Eden C (stillbirth), Travis R (1 year), Kelly M (9 weeks), Danny M (stillbirth), Teagan B (1 year, cancer), Braedon F (3 years, hit by a vehicle), Emily P (11 days, heart defect), Wyatt A (3 years), Eric M (stillbirth), Thomas P (4 years, cancer), Faith P (stillbirth), Selah M (1 month, heart defect).

And there are more. I know there are. The unseen children we once carried under our hearts and now carry in our hearts forever. All the pretty little babies...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sweet baby Selah.

Another sweet baby has joined Eva this morning.

I prayed for sweet Selah all week as she went from seizures to infection to cardiac failure to respiratory failure to hope and then finally to her last cardiac failure and joined Eva in Jesus' arms.

My tears are falling heavily this morning as I know the darkest road her parents are walking right now. All while living on another continent from their family.

I never felt really hopeful about her outcome here on earth and never prayed for her healing but rather for a peace that surpasses all understanding for her family. I try to ignore the feelings of dread when I see a newborn. I look at all babies and wonder if they too, will die. And leave their parents bereaved and bereft. So when I had those feelings for Selah when she was born I avoided them because I feel dread and joy at the birth of every new baby.

But when Selah got sick I felt sick to my stomach with dread and pre-emptive grief for this family. I blogged yesterday about healing and I could not join in people's hope for her life (here on earth). But she is healed. She is healed and perfect and whole in heaven. And her parents are left to stumble blindly through life wondering how this can possibly be true. How can they have just held the most perfect girl only to not have her to hold anymore? And my breasts ache for Selah's mom as she works to dry up a milk supply she worked lovingly to get to feed her precious baby.

And still I am left here grieving, and trusting. Trusting God in the awfulness of life and in hope for the sweet day we see our children again.

Join me in praying for a peace that surpasses all understanding for the family of sweet baby Selah Shalom, whose very name means peace.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why bother praying anyway?

Throughout Eva's sickness people prayed for us. People prayed for her. Some well-meaning people prayed fervently and told us that she would be healed. That they were praying as if there were no other possible outcome.

Eva died.

But she lives.

We didn't hear much from those name it and claim it prayer warriors afterwards.

Were we not righteous enough for our daughter to live? Was God not listening to our prayers?

He was.

Now there is another sick baby in our lives. Prayers are being poured out for this child. People are praying 'unceasingly'. Some of those people are the same people who prayed for Eva.

This child's parents now feel that they have heard from God that their girl will be saved. That Jesus will be glorified through their daughter's healing. Hmmm. I want their daughter to live. I hope their daughter lives (here on earth). I don't want her parents to walk the darkest road of doubt and heartache and pain and anger. But I can't claim earthly healing. The only healing I can claim is heavenly healing. Where God will wipe away every tear and there will be no more pain. That is the only healing I can claim.

Eva died. But she lives. Hope has come from Eva's life. And her death.

Something that has stuck with me over the last couple of years are the words of Paige Beselt in her book 40 weeks. That when we pray for healing what we are actually saying is that heaven is our second choice. Shouldn't heaven be our first choice for our children?

Why is their daughter being sustained by the Father's hand? Was/Is my daughter not sustained by the Father's hand?

Is it only by his grace that their daughter lives? Where was his grace when Eva was sick?

The truth is that his grace is there for this precious child of God but it is and was also there for Eva.

The thing that gets me so much though is that if this girl is healed (on earth) then everyone will say 'oh, praise the lord, our prayers worked'.  Praise the Lord? Yes! Our prayers worked? No! God worked. But God worked in Eva's life too. He didn't hang her out to dry. He just didn't work in the way her mama wanted him to work. I wanted him to save her body for me. He took her home instead. If God takes their little one home it's not because he didn't work. It's not because prayers didn't work. It's because it was her time. Easy to say. Much, much harder to live. Trust me I'm living it every day. And it's practically impossible to live it.

And I hesitate to pray for healing. Rather I lift up this family in prayers for a peace that surpasses all understanding.. Because the road ahead is long for them. It is long regardless of the outcome.

I was given a book (thanks Maureen) a few weeks ago Alive and Well  is written by Diane Knight. Diane's son, Justin, died at the age of 17. When Justin was in ICU Diane prayed for God's will to be done but she didn't pray for healing for her son. Oh, she wanted him to be healed. But she prayed for God's will to be done because God's will is always best. Sometimes he relents and answers our prayers in the way that we want rather than in the best way but the outcome is always much worse. She uses an example from the bible where the people prayed for a king like the other nations had and he relented but the king was a tyrant. And the people suffered. How much better they were before the answer to their prayer. I sometimes wonder what Eva's life would have been like had she lived. Would it have been great or would it have been awful? I'm pretty sure that her life is way better in heaven than it ever could be here. It's me whose life sucks. It's me who grieves my precious daughter. It's me whose left with shards of glass and pain in my hands. Cutting my hands and my heart.

And that brings us round to the question that haunts me often. Why pray anyway? Why bother if God is going to do whatever he wants to do anyway? But I tell you I felt the prayers sustain me as I walked down the hallways of the hospital when Eva was so sick. And that memory comes back to me often as I struggle with 'why pray?' Also the bible tells us to pray. Prayer is good for the soul. Prayer is good for our relationship with God. Prayer more than just asking God to do stuff for us and expecting him to perform like a trick dog. Because he is bigger than that. And I cannot understand him. And I don't pretend to have all the answers. But I know God loves me. And knowing he loves me is enough.

Meanwhile I continue to pray for a peace that surpasses all understanding for this precious baby and her family so far away. Knowing God holds all of us in the palm of his hand.