April 2007 (Traci)
I’ve been thinking lately about how amazing it is that we were chosen to be Grace and Olivia’s mom and dad. I am often filled with love as I allow myself to really take in what it means to be granted a share of Christ’s suffering.
I am not glad our babies died. It’s been a very long and a very hard process. We were (are) faced with a daily choice. We can focus on the bitterness of it all, or we can choose to think about what an amazing gift we’ve had in the ability to hand our children over to our Father. It’s so simple to think about empty arms and ‘should have been’s’. It seems all too easy to jump on the ‘who’s to blame’ train and to try to figure out why God allows things to happen. It doesn’t matter, really. I am not called to try to figure Him out – we must learn to let the questions remain unanswered. In the end, the answers don’t matter anyway.
We weren’t made for this earth. We are out of town guests thrown into a culture and atmosphere that goes against everything we were made for. We are visiting, and while the trip may be a fun, wonderful adventure – we won’t feel completely at home until we’re HOME! I fear death – I do. Death of my husband, my family, death of my babies, but Oh, how God must have rejoiced when they entered his heavens! He welcomes His children, no matter how old or young, or tiny! What an indescribable peace to think of your children at the feet of our King!
How blessed are we that Drew, Jay and I were chosen to be Olivia & Grace’s family! What lessons we’ve been taught and what growth we’ve had to encounter. We often spend a Sunday picking out flowers for the cemetery – we clean the gravesite, and then we stop for cookies & cokes at McDonalds on the way home (really, we do). Drew has been asking to have a picnic there. This might sound morbid to you – but it’s our reality. We’ve been dealt the hand and now we will mightily play it out. We’re all living in our own circumstances.
More then anything this has been a reminder at how very weak we are. We have so much to learn and can be so silly and so stupid worrying about little details that don’t really matter. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a constant battle – but by God’s sheer grace we’re able to seek and plead for the grief that can overwhelm to be used to chisel away at our rough spots and create something new within us.
We’ve been able to meet some incredible people and our hearts have been opened to a whole world of hurting couples. We’ve tried to stand up for them and do our small minute part in promoting awareness. We’ve been criticized and shot down – we’ve been judged. But I suppose that’s all part of the learning & growth.
I recently completed a survey of stillbirth mothers. Below are the some of the questions asked, with my honest answers:
How do you hope people will treat you?
Well, I certainly don’t want to be known as the girl who’s baby(s) died – that doesn’t define who I am AT ALL. That said I do want people to remember my girls on b-days and such, as they would if they were living and I do want people to be sensitive in certain situations. I think I am probably hard to please!
What gifts have touched your heart?
A friend hand made me Christmas ornaments (6 months after the girls died), that meant a lot that she was still thinking of my babies with me, even after so much time had passed. We had friends who were with us non-stop that weekend, standing guard at the hospital. Their gift was their time, and that’s more precious then anything. It’s nice to have someone take care of you when you don’t have the energy to formulate thoughts. Also, I have every card that was sent to us after they died, it’s a pile about 5 inches tall, I’ve tied them together with a pink ribbon and for the longest time they sat on my coffee table as a reminder that I had people all over praying for us. We weren’t alone – others grieved.
What moments have brought you healing?
I can’t answer this. I don’t know. Healing comes little by little; each morning it became a little easier to breathe until one day I realized I was OKAY. Specific things that have helped are the memorial service I suppose, being able to hold them/kiss my babies sweet faces, support groups, books, the support of friends, outreach of our church community, having them buried and having a grave that I can go visit when needed (and there are times I NEEDED to visit), etc.
What moments have been set backs in your healing?
Other’s joyful pregnancies (but it is my obsession with the situation that sets me back, no one else’s), disappointing comments from those in the medical community, my doubts, my insecurities … it’s all me.
What do you see as the purpose your child held?
They taught me things about myself, about Christ, about life … that I would have never known. When your heart is ripped open you take much care in putting it back together piece by piece, and it’s not something that one can do alone. You will never find it complete again unless you seek help from our Father, and in doing so, so much is revealed. I have learned how important each moment is, I have had my heart & eyes sensitized to the world (painfully so), and I can understand the joy Paul speaks of in sharing in Christ’s suffering. There is so MUCH I have learned. When they died, I died and THANK GOD for that. My babies weren’t lost, WE WERE. That day my whole world was changed and I was forced to really look at life (eternal life). It is an amazing gift. There are incredible things that my husband and I are now facing. We’ve been given SUCH opportunity – an opportunity I am not so sure we would be jumping into had this not happened. Things are always different when you’re at the finish line looking back.
So, here we are. 2 years later. Though I wonder where we’d be had we not had to endure the past several years, I can say with a smile that I think we’re right where God wants us. We are stronger, inspired, full of a compassion that was once greatly lacking and we have created bonds that will last a lifetime. There is such hope in loss, and such a joy in being granted a share of Christ’s suffering. These are things we would have never known. This is what our children have given us.
Where are we going from here? Who knows? He knows! And that is enough. We understand that we only see a mere fragment of this story and how it all ends only the Lord knows … but I imagine it’s going to be pretty great. Each day, each moment is a gift. We can either chose to unwrap the gift and trust in God for our strength and wisdom or we can sit here staring at it in bitter agony. It’s all our choice. And I pray that God will use all this junk that’s happened to mold us and train us and touch others. Because only then is it worth anything. Only then is it beautiful.