Some days are just hard. When those days hit, it seems that things tend to emotionally pile up. This week my hard days and my emotions seem to be piling high.
I am not sure when I will be okay driving past the cemetery. It is not something I have to drive by on a daily basis, but it is on a road we travel. I can't explain how difficult it is to drive one of my boys to soccer practice and look to see where another is buried. I crane my neck to look at where Koen rests for as long as I can all while maintaining conversation with Hackett about the goal he scored. It is not something that a mom, of any age, should have to endure. I am so thankful that he is buried just around the corner from us, I am so thankful for a place to visit, but it doesn't make it easy. What I wanted to do today when I took Koen a mum plant was lay curled up in ball with my head on his tombstone and cry until there are no more tears, but Tobin was waiting for me in the car. My heart is still so broken, but my two precious, beautiful boys demand my time, and I force myself to be present for them even when it is so hard. I have missed a lifetime with Koen, never a single minute with him while he was breathing, so I don't want to miss out on Hackett and Tobin's lives. So much easier said than done on these hard days.
My body is not returning to normal. This pregnancy, or perhaps the closeness of my last two pregnancies have exhausted my body. My blood pressure that remained normal through my pregnancy with Tobin until the last month is now struggling to lower itself back down. Drugs are now required, side effects included, and I am working with my doctors to find the right one. My muscles were so atrophied from the 5 months of bedrest that I still am going to physical therapy and not able to walk without a limp, still, almost 3 months after delivery. My cycle is also out of whack, so blood tests were ordered. Some levels were off, so today, more tests. I am no longer fighting for a life growing inside of me, so I feel like I should be able to handle these issues with greater ease. But my issue and fear now is that there are two lives in this world that need me to function as a normal healthy mom. I think my frustration is even greater because I have physically watched my body betray me. What could I have done differently to prevent my past health issues and current ones? There is guilt and shame that goes with this, as I feel responsible.
It seems when emotionally I am down, PTSD hits. I have been having haunting flashbacks this week. If you have experienced this, you know that it sneaks up and smacks you in the face without warning and can often be hard to shake.
Although this week has been hard, I am so thankful that I have not had post partum depression like I experienced, in a mild form, with Hackett. This was something I feared, because I did not think emotionally I could endure it. This week I am just a tired mom, who has a cold, whose body is tired and battered, who is watching one son growing up too fast, who is facing the constant battle of processing grief over the son I miss terribly, and in awe of my third son who is lighting up the room with his smiles,laughs, and farts.
These ideas have been floating in my head for weeks. I pray that God will guide my words as I type.
I am enough. As I stare at Tobin's healthy body I can't not see God's face, His love. I am far from perfect, but I am enough. The idea of being worthy of such a miracle overwhelms me. Knowing that Tobin had only a 50 percent chance of living when when I was admitted to the hospital, knowing that they were preparing for him to come, knowing that I could lose my second baby in a year, knowing now how the infection must have gotten to Koen and that my body was once again opening itself up to a silent killer, knowing that the same bacteria could not be fought off once again, and yet Tobin made it to 37 weeks. I am enough.
I feel that I fail to live up to standards set out for Christians. I fall short. I don't check all the boxes. I don't feel worthy. I don't pray as much as I should. I don't study the Word every day. I don't feel like my knowledge of the bible is vast enough to share and that often makes me question myself. I don't make it to church every Sunday. I don't, I don't, I don't. The list could go on and on. God is showing me that I am enough. I am enough, not because I have earned it by works, but I am enough because of His grace. I don't have to reach the overwhelming unattainable, to reach His feet. I am there just as I am. I am enough.
I was talking with a friend this week and sharing how I didn't pray after I lost Koen. I couldn't. For months, my only prayer was "help" or "I need you". That was all I could muster. I was so broken and shattered I didn't know what to say. I could only cry out a few words. I felt His presence all the time, but was unable to speak. Reading the bible hurt my heart, so I failed to even open it. Even then, I was enough.
Does God desire us to fellowship with Him, read His Word, praise Him, take care of His people, worship Him? Yes. But do we need to read the bible in its entirety in one year, volunteer for every opportunity that comes our way, and make sure we are perfect all of the time for Him to be there for us? No. His true desire is to have us at His feet. Coming as we are. We are enough. You are enough. I am living proof that this imperfect woman who laid at Jesus' feet was enough.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Are you going to have three, or is two enough for you? This is what I was innocently asked yesterday while getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist. The dentist, where I haven't been able to get x-rays, because I have been pregnant (or possibly pregnant) at every one of my cleanings the last two years. How do I answer these sorts of questions? It seems to change with every situation. Maybe it will always be that way? Maybe I'll get more secure and strong with answering and including Koen? Maybe as time goes on, Koen will slip further away from conversation? The thought of that brings me to tears. He will never slip away from me, but right now anyone who knows me, knows about Koen. That may not be the case in 30 years. I don't know what that will look like. I only know how I feel right now.
Kevin and I went out to dinner for our anniversary last night. For these sorts of occasions, Kevin often prepares some questions to spur on conversation that has us reflect on the past and look towards the future. So sweet and so encouraging to see all that we have done, enjoyed, and overcome together. It is amazing when you realize "if we wouldn't have done this, than that wouldn't have happened"; "if this, than not that". It applies to so many decisions we all make in our life. Our road is not straight, but a series of curves, dips, climbs, and sometimes u-turns. God has a plan for us, even when we don't fully understand it. Life isn't perfect, something I knew long before we lost Koen, but it's in those imperfections, pains, and hurts that force us to stretch, grow, and reach out to God. Had my road throughout life been straight I wouldn't have been able to endure the biggest dip in the road I ever experienced.
When I look back I see God's hand so very present in my life. He has already seen my movie, He knows how it is going to play out. I feel like my movie grieved Him and pulled at my Heavenly Fathers heart strings. He knew I needed the strength to face such a loss. He sent us to California, pulled me closer into His embrace, surrounded me with a network of support, deep and real friendships. He placed us in a community in Michigan when we moved back that threw their arms open wide and poured out love on us, in many instances before friendships had really been established. He built us a giant safety net to fall into. I fell hard and didn't move for a while, but that net remained strong and His embrace tight.
He's got us, even in the trials and darkness when it doesn't make sense. He's got us. I clung to that laying in my hospital bed after Koen's delivery. I clung to that laying in a hospital bed 24 weeks pregnant with Tobin. He's got me. He has you too.
Then you will call, The Lord will answer. "Yes, I am here," he will reply quickly. "Remove the heavy yoke of oppression." Then your light will shine out of the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.
Isaiah 58:9a, 10b-12
He's got us. When we trust Him we will shine bright. He will be there to guide us, strengthen us, and help us rebuild. I am living proof of this promise. He's had me. He's got me. He's got you too, my sweet friends.
Today Kevin and I celebrate 10 years of marriage. We joked about it being "10 years of wedded bliss" with sarcasm. I looked up "bliss" and it is defined as perfect happiness, serene joy. You know what Kev? It has been 10 years of bliss. Serene joy describes the mood we try achieve in our home, and most days days are successful at obtaining. Even in the months after Koen's death, we may have lacked joy, but our home was still filled with serene love. I soak in the calm and laughter that seems to be at your very core. My favorite place to be is by your side with our boys. Even in our darkest of days, you are my safe place. You have been my biggest source of comfort and joy for the last 17 years.
As we watched our wedding videos this last weekend, the songs we chose struck a chord with me. Their lyrics rang true 10 years ago, but even more so today. Even more after what we have endured and survived together.
We sang, "Come What May" from Moulin Rouge to each other during our wedding ceremony:
And there's no mountain too high, no river too wide
Come what may, come what may
Our first dance as husband and wife was to "You Raise Me Up" by Josh Groban:
When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary
You raise me up so I can stand on mountains
With our wedding party we danced to "My Best Friend" by Tim McGraw:
Oh we just get closer
Every time I look at you
I am Jackie.