I brought in the New Year the same way I bring in every new day.
Beautiful, dark haired child draped across my chest; heart full.
In this familiar position I feel her heart beating out against me. It's the kind of beating that is fine tuned to perfection; hers against mine, mine against hers. It pitters and patters in a synchronized fashion-a way that reassures and reminds me...
She is my soul mate.
The house is quiet while we all somberly await the arrival of snow and cold outside. Inside, it has never felt more warm, more comforting. There is a measure and a degree of solitude, almost meditative lately.
She cries, I comfort.
He questions, I answer.
She climbs the walls and I beg her to not to.
But over all, we are content and life is oh so easy.
I have settled into a deep place of knowing and a state of being present. I am focused and aware. And in looking back I realize what was lacking, [or maybe what was invading] that prevented this kind of essence to be possible all along.
I bounced through this holiday season with a clear purpose.
I was going to make it through and give my kids wonderful memories. I know that I did just that. And yet, in doing so, my heart was still consumed and heavy from the burden of knowing that my friend had just buried her baby and my sweet Val was approaching a full year without her son and approaching 2 years without her daughter. As Val stood in my kitchen last week, my heart quite literally trembled and shattered inside of me when I saw the hurt in her eyes as she explained that her purpose in this world feels void without being a mother.
Heartbreaking isn't even an accurate word for moments like that in my world [my kitchen.]
The truth is, she will always be a mother to her children.
And although she knows that, it can't possibly feel that way without being able to physically hold them, whisper to them, reach out and touch them, or in our case-take care of their every need. And in knowing (or trying to understand) how that must feel, I said nothing. I would give anything to take the pain from her just so she could, for a moment, breathe without ache again.
I had lunch with a good friend yesterday and we talked a lot about children, special needs and death. That is normal conversation for a lunch date around these parts, unfortunately.
She said it and I think it all the time:
When something happens to Mabel, and someone at some point asks me how many children I have, how do I go about explaining her in a compacted few second introduction? At some point I will only be a mother of two. And that is both unfair and disgusting.
This week also brought heavy news in our village. We could use extra prayers for one of my dearest friends. I am reminded that God promises to bring forth beauty from the ashes and He has always, consistently done so. He continues to walk before us and prepare us.
Ultimately I will forever be thankful for the heaviness that accompanies my holidays and my every day. I will forever be grateful for the pain that sears through my spirit at every turn. I will be thankful for hard dinner conversations and even harder moments alone, facing reality day after day when I look into the beautiful eyes of my girl and remembering the truth of this life.
I will be thankful because these tough moments, long days, hard obstacles and excruciatingly exhausting realities that accompany my life are not only part of me now, but they are continually shaping me.
I literally said out loud and very boldly just the other day that whatever I must endure in this life to help me from growing complacent, that is what I want to experience.
I do not want to look the same way, act the same way, think the same way, believe the same things as I once did. I want to forever change and grow.
I want my life to fully burn.
And in order for that to happen I believe that my heart must both fully hurt and fully love.
Thankfully, it does so almost every day and I have learned that it is quite a brilliant machine for being able to hold so much and be so resilient.
As the snow pours in and the little world around me prepares to shut down for a day, I hope that we can all just quiet ourselves and be still in the beautiful chill that our earth brings.
Maybe this will serve as a time of nothingness. A time of togetherness.
Maybe this is exactly what you need.
I, for one, welcome it. Whatever it brings.
The children's hospice chaplain asked me to write a piece about how I answer the "how many kids do you have?" question. I've gone through several drafts. Do you know how you'll answer? Will it be the same every time? Maybe I should send you the current draft to edit for me :) I do still owe you that email I promised...
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