Monday, July 30, 2012

Home from Sunnybrae!

We are back from holidays by the beautiful Shuswap lake. It was marvellous and we had an unexpected person join us too, so that was even better!

We went to Sunnybrae bible camp for 1 glorious week of no cooking and other activities. It was so much fun we definitely want to go back again next year if we can swing it. The kids had a blast making crafts and discovering through science experiments. 

We are so thankful we were able to have this little getaway from real life, although so much real life still travels in our hearts. There was a talent show on Thursday night. I wanted to include Eva in our vacation so I read the poem I read at her funeral. It went well and I felt like I honoured our little Eva girl who we miss so much.

A Child Of Mine
 by Edgar Albert Guest, 1930
(some modifications are mine, I hope you don't mind Mr. Guest)

I will lend you, for a little time,
A child of mine, He said.
For you to love the while she lives,
And mourn for when she's dead.
It may be ten or 'leven months
Or twenty-two or three.
But will you, till I call her back,
Take care of her for Me?
She'll bring her charms to gladden you,
And should her stay be brief.
You'll have her lovely memories,
As solace for your grief.
I cannot promise she will stay,
Since all from earth return.
But there are lessons taught down there,
I want this child to learn.
I've looked the wide world over,
In search for teachers true.
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes,
I have selected you.
Now will you give her all your love,
Nor think the labour vain.
Nor hate me when I come
To take her home again?
I fancied that I heard them say,
'Dear Lord, Thy will be done!'
For all the joys Thy child shall bring,
The risk of grief we'll run.
We'll shelter her with tenderness,
We'll love her while we may,
And for the happiness we've known,
Forever grateful stay.
But should the angels call for her,
Much sooner than we've planned.
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes,
And try to understand.

While we were there I also met a mom whose daughter, Hilda, died at 23 days old. 50 years ago. Rena only got to hold her little girl once. She has no pictures of her except the ones she holds in her mind and in her heart. My heart aches to give Rena a photograph of little Hilda, but that is never to be. And she will not lay eyes on Hilda's face again, until they meet in Heaven.

Things were so different back then, yet also similar. Hilda was a twin and I was honoured to meet Hilda's twin sister, Irene, at camp. People told Rena that she was lucky she still had one child left. And she was lucky, but also so incredibly unlucky. It echoes some of the stupid things people have said to us, over 50 years later "well, at least you have the boys". Yes, we are lucky, darn lucky to have the boys, but there isn't a day that goes by when I wonder if the boys are going to be taken from us too. We are lucky, but also so incredibly unlucky.

She encouraged me to keep Eva alive in our hearts and in our minds by having a birthday party for her every year, which we had planned to do already but it was encouraging to hear this from someone whose daughter died 50 years ago.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Ray of Light

Yesterday a little ray of light entered our lives...the walls in my heart came down.  They are utterly destroyed, and now my heart is soft and vulnerable again. That is a scary feeling because my heart is very fragile right now. I wish I could, but I just can't share details with you now.  In 30 days I will tell you more, dear readers.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Vincent cried out tonight. He does this multiple times a night. I was annoyed. He asked me to snuggle with him. I didn't really want to. I wanted to read and do some other stuff. I looked at his sweet little mischievous face and I thought how if Eva were to appear and ask me to snuggle with her I would drop everything and run to scoop her up. I would snuggle her as long as God let me. So I lay down with Vincent and snuggled him, cause you never know what tomorrow will bring...or if this is your last snuggle. I never want to regret not snuggling.

If you are lucky enough to have living children, give them a little extra snuggle tonight.

If you only have children in Heaven, I pray for dream snuggles for you.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Eva's hopeful yellow dress.

One of the ways I 'mother' my Eva is by writing on this blog. I have a little flower garden too, and a shelf that I can dust. But writing is my thing, has always been my thing and is more alive than dusting a shelf. And when winter comes again, as it inevitably must...then my writing will continue while the flowers are dead beneath a blanket of snow.

So when I say that writing is my way to mother Eva but I don't write on the 15th, well, it kinda catches and squeezes my heart in a way I cannot describe. I'm not even mothering her in the small way that I can. Oh, I thought all day yesterday about what I would write but it was a busy day. We went to Cowboy Church in the morning and in the afternoon an exhaustion that seems to have lain dormant in my body overtook me and I slept the merciful sleep of the grief-struck. My impotent rage laid quietly on the sofa as the hours passed in a dreamless oblivion.

In the evening we took the boys to the chuckwagons at the rodeo. When we got home it was 10pm and I was, once again, exhausted. I thought about her at the rodeo you know, cause last year we didn't go to the rodeo. The rodeo is a family tradition for us and Eva never went to the rodeo.

So here I am today. The day after another 15th. The 16th. And you know, the pain is the same all the days of the month. I miss her every single day. Not just on the 15th...although there is a little more twisty hurt on the 15th that doesn't appear on the other days.

When we were in PICU someone we did not know at the time but whose daughter turned into the only little friend Eva ever had or ever will have on earth stopped in and brought a box of treats for the boys and some little things for Eva. One of which was a little yellow dress. When I saw that little dress come out of the box I thought for sure she would never have the chance to wear it. I called it her hopeful yellow dress. Eva was 8 months old in PICU. We had her 6 month photo hanging up over her bed and I never thought I would get a 9 month photo of her. No one was very optimistic about us getting a 9 month photo.

Fast forward to July 15th 2011, Eva was out of the hospital but we were still living in Ronald McDonald House in the city. Amazing! I drove to a photo studio and got a 9 month photo of her. She was guessed it...her hopeful yellow dress. Once I had those photos I was so sure she would live. I thought that those photos were it, you know. I had those 9 month photos and my baby was going to live, live, live. She looks like the picture of health and happiness in those photos. And who knew that under that yellow dress and under that beautiful baby flesh, her heart was already breaking. I was so happy that day. You have no idea.  An innocent, pure joy I`ll never have again.

Last Christmas I found a website that makes amazing necklaces. They`re not cheap. But we won`t be sending Eva to college so dropping $125 on a necklace feels like nothing. This necklace is gold and it has Eva`s photo on it...and she`s wearing, of course, her hopeful yellow dress...that yellow dress now lies peacefully in the same pink box, with butterflies, that it came in. No stains or spit up on this dress. That hopeful yellow dress was also displayed at her funeral but all the hope it once held for me is gone.

So this July 15th was hard because now I know the outcome. There was to be no happy ending for me. No Eva to take to the rodeo this summer, except as a photo on my necklace...and a heart shaped pendant hanging from my rear view mirror, with a butterfly hairclip attached to the cord.

Eva, on July 15th 2011. 9 months old, in her hopeful yellow dress.

And we still live because we have the hope of Jesus and a future with our darling in Heaven.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Give me a wave here...

I post on here alot. I bare pieces of my heart and soul to you, my dear readers.

I have 28 followers but there are more hits than that on my page when I post. I'd love to hear a little bit from if you're reading or following or I know you in real life or you're just stopping in from somewhere in cyberspace...give me a little wave will ya...I could use the little pick me up right about now.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The shape of peace.

Gone are the days of lying on the kitchen floor with tears and snot mixed together and smeared across my face while I can barely breathe between wailing and crying for my dear baby girl.

Gone are the sounds that emitted from my mouth as it stretched into a shape I couldn't recognize.

I am beginning to realize that no matter how much I have 'good grief'. No matter how much I 'heal' from losing Eva. No matter how much I talk about her or help someone else with their grief I will never get her back, this side of Heaven. There will be no miraculous puff of smoke and she will never, somehow, magically re-appear.

I guess I'm at the 'stage' of grief that is called acceptance. Acceptance is such a crap word. How can I accept that she is dead?  How can I accept that my daughter is ashes on my bookshelf? No, not acceptance of her death but knowing in my bones that she will never come to me again, until my dying day. Acceptance of the permanency of death.

I am beginning to realize that this is just the shape our family is now. It sucks but this is the shape it is. I wish it were another shape. A shape that included a living Eva, but it's not. And it sucks, but this is the shape it is. If I could draw the shape of our family it would be a heart with a big crack in it. The main part of the heart would be red and the crack would be black. In the shape of lightning. The crack would be filled in black and the wound would be jagged but it would be filled. In the dark,dark days after Eva died when I was in my darkest moments that crack would have been a sucking hole that was razor sharp. If you went too close to it you would get severely wounded. Now the crack is filled but it's still there, you know, a huge crack in the shape our family was meant to be. Our family was not meant to have such a huge crack in it. But our family is not completely broken after 10 months and 25 days of grieving. It is cracked but not broken. Hooray for us.

I have been walking this hard road of grief intensely for the past 10 months and 25 days. I have been criticized and rebuked for mourning my daughter in the way that I need to. I have been amazed how some people have come out of the woodwork just to tell me how I was doing it wrong and also amazed by some people who 'get it'. Those people who 'get it' have given me the gift of understanding and compassion. Without them, the road would have been much, much darker, and the light much harder to find. And, honestly, I could have done without the criticism, but whatever, one day those other people might understand. I digress...

These past few days I went to acupuncture for my emotions. It really calmed and centered me and when I left, I felt strange. I felt peaceful. It was such a weird feeling. A feeling I haven't felt in many many moons. This goodish, peaceful, non-angry feeling has followed me since Thursday (with one minor setback at soccer).

I was in church on Sunday and I actually looked people in the eye and smiled at them. I felt like a huge faker, but I did it.  My companion, grief, was right below the surface and I felt very much like I was one of those dipped cones from Dairy Queen. The chocolate exterior was very thin and it would take only the slightest pressure for the chocolate to crack and all the messy goop to come oozing out, but still. I surprised myself, I must say.

I realized that I haven't looked at much other than the carpet at church for the past almost 11 months. The carpet is not very pretty in our church. An odd grey colour with specks.  Last Sunday I looked up. And the view wasn't too bad.

 Our Christmas prayer last year was for a peace that surpasses all understanding. This week I  have had some insight into this verse:
...and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

The peace of God is not having an amazing peaceful feeling about life or decisions, but rather, it's having even a little bit of peace in a situation that seems unacceptable and completely unfathomable to be able to have any peace about.

Thank you God for a a little peace that surpasses all understanding.

Even if the peace lasts only a little while, it is good to have this feeling to remember when the darkness comes swirling back in grasping at my ankles and my heart.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Wedding.

We went to a wedding today. A fun, sweet wedding. The groom`s name was Samuel.

I sat in the church pew watching as vows were said and rings exchanged...while my mind and heart spun dizzily in gazillions of directions.

My mind spun forward in time and I saw my own Samuel up there...exchanging rings with his future bride. My mind spun backwards too as I remembered the vows Mike and I exchanged and had no idea how hard the worse of `for better or for worse`would be. But my heart and mind also spun sideways into the alternate universe where I could imagine Eva as a beautiful bride too.  My heart galloped away with me, and, as today's bride and her mother teared up, and the bride and groom promised to be faithful in the best times and in the worst times I thought about how when we start down this path of marriage we really have no idea how good the best times will be nor how bad the worst times will be.  It is true faith to promise yourself for the best and for the worst. My own tears joined theirs in crying again for my little girl that will never get married and never have children. Never have a `for better or for worse`. Never have a best friend toast her at her wedding. Eva lives only in our hearts here on earth. It's so hard to twist my mind around my knowledge that in Heaven she is more alive than the bride was today.

And later...

Outside there was one of the cutest girls I've seen in a long time running around in her wedding attire. I asked her mom how old she was. Almost 21 months. Oh so she's an October baby? Yes, on the 11th. 4 days older than our Eva. It's so hard to imagine my little princess that big. Running around in a sundress. It's pointless to draw comparisons, I know, but sometimes it's hard to ignore them as they run around you in a sundress.

After a few minutes I asked the mom if I could torture myself hold her daughter for a minute. She said yes and I picked her up and the little girl squirmed away from me, wanting her mommy. Of course she wanted her mommy. Who was this stranger anyway who was holding her with tears leaking out of her eyes. I didn't resent her for wanting her mommy but I remembered how much Eva loved her mommy. How much she wanted to be with me all the time...she would have squirmed away from a stranger too and wanted to be with me. The mom was strangely compassionate when I told her our daughter would have been the same age. She asked me how long we had with her. She asked me her name. She didn't cry or looked shocked or back away from me as if I had some contagious disease. She told me they had lost a baby at 13 weeks pregnancy, before this little girl. 

It's amazing how there is this strange sub-culture of bereaved parents walking around with invisible holes in their hearts. Invisible children clinging to their skirts and their hearts. Invisible children in family portraits. Invisible children playing in the grass and running around in sundresses. Invisible children to everyone else but taking up so much space in our hearts.

I love you and miss you here sweet Eva but I anticipate the day I see you again.

And on a different note...

In between the wedding and the reception we came home and I cleaned up the books that were spread around the living room by my own ardent readers. I picked up Dear Mili which is a fairy tale by Grimm that was found over 100 years after his death and published with artwork by Maurice Sendak. I remembered buying it at the library book sale several years ago and wondering why this hardcover picture book in perfect condition was in the sale. Until I read it. Of course no one would want to read that story of death to their young children...but today I picked it up and read it again, with new eyes.

The young girl and her mother live together in a cottage. There is a war and the mother sends the girl away into the forest for three days and then she should return to her mother. The child lives for three joyful days with an old man in the forest and after that time returns to her mother only to find that her mother is a very old woman. The young girl`s life had been but a joyful moment while her mother aged 30 years on earth and endured the hardships of war.  As the old mother embraces her daughter she exclaims that this has been her wish to see her daughter again in the same way as she was when she last laid eyes on her...and here she has come back and is even wearing the same dress. They lay down together and go to sleep. In the morning they are both dead.

This story has certainly changed for me. I once shunned that book as being too morbid but now I cherish it. I think of how time is different in Heaven than it is here, and how for God a thousand years is like a day and a day is like a thousand years...maybe when I die my little princess will come to me looking the same as she did when I last held her in my arms. What a glorious day that will be.