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Glimpses From God and Subtle Reassurance

And there she appeared. Adorably dressed in a pale pink jumper with white tights-embroidered on the front pocket was a hot pink and blue birthday present. Her golden locks framed her round rosy cheeks amplifying that mischievous yet loving smile. It was Lydia!
The elation I felt when I picked her up and held her in my arms, squeezing her tightly, I cannot put into words. Overcome with warmth and happiness, I could feel my soul slowly being filled with joy, providing that elusive sense of wholeness.  It was absolutely indescribable yet complete bliss!

I tried to get her some drink water from the fountain.  She took a couple of sips. Somehow in my mind I believed if she drank, she would stay with me. Not wanting to let go, I ran my fingers through her beautiful hair, taking note of her sweet scent. Oh how I loved her so much.
Lydia grinned back at me so sweetly, saying “I love you,” and then, just like that she was gone.
Tossing and turning, I was slowly waking up trying to process my current reality from my perfect dream world.  I tried unsuccessfully for minutes to fall back asleep, desperate to grasp more time with my girl.  Hot tears fell down my face.  How could it have been ten years since my five year old left for heaven?

The wholeness I felt was incredible, even if only for a few minutes. To experience this sensation was a wonderful blessing.    And then I woke up to navigate this earthly world without my girl. Again. Another day, wondering why me?  The most difficult thing any of us grieving, do.

However, if my dream was any indication of what it will be like when we are reunited again it will be so worth it.  I was given a reminder that this world we are in is only temporary and that a life of eternity awaits.  A place where there is no sorrow or pain, only pure joy and happiness.  It’s really there waiting for us. There’s salve for our hearts, relief from this pain we endure.
Dreams and moments like these bring perspective. Little pieces of the puzzle are gradually coming together, yet that doesn’t diminish the pain. We still carry it. However, I’ve learned that no matter our temporary physical separation, Lydia was there, waiting for me. Talk about comforting! I am reminded of the horrific suffering Christ endured for us, so that one day we can all live in eternal glory together.

momentsof youquote
Rubbing my eyes, I awakened to the singing of birds outside my window and the glimmer of sunshine on the snow. The beauty of life surrounded me inside and out.  Inhaling deeply, I whispered, “Yes, I can do this.  One day at a time. “

Pulling back the covers, I heard little voices coming from the living room. It was early and surely they were not awake already on a Saturday.  A peek down the hall revealed six young eyes glued to the television, watching the movie Annie.  Ahhh… Lydia’s favorite.  A movie they haven’t watched in years. Oh my heart.  And there it came.  High pitched off tune adorable voices singing Tomorrow.

“Just thinkin’ about
Tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
‘Til there’s none

 The sun’ll come out
Tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on
‘Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow, tomorrow
I love ya tomorrow
You’re always
A day
Away”

Songwriters: Charles Strouse / Martin Charnin

 

Remembering how Lydia used to sing this very song while brushing our beloved dog, my spirit was lifted refueling me with the strength to conquer whatever was to come my way.   I’m here to tell you, hang on until tomorrow.  Never forget that our hope is renewed every day, come what may. There is nothing we can’t handle when Christ is on our side.

 

10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  1 Peter 5:10
Because maybe someone else needs to hear this. Maybe you are craving reassurance or are seeking a  flicker of hope for whatever difficult season you are traveling through. When things seem hopeless and the pain seems unbearable, remember He died for you. For me. For all of us. His love is never ending. His promises are worth more than any gold, possession, or social media following. At times of sorrow and pain, stand on His promises. Cling to them with all your might. You can do it.

 

 

 

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How I Survived The First Christmas Without My Daughter

It had been five months since Lydia passed away and that dreaded first Christmas had snuck up on me. A festive holiday when it seemed there was nothing to celebrate, and it was here whether I liked it or not.  Had I forgotten about the real meaning of Christmas? Absolutely. Completely focused on myself and my pain, I hated to see this holiday come.

            With Santa filling every store shelf, every movie, and every enticing commercial, the broadcasting the coming of Christmas and all of its festivities was horrifying. But what does a mother do? She somehow endures the pain, with another mask to wear, another façade to play out, while attempting to put a smile on her only child’s face.  The excitement, fun, and anticipation waned as the first holiday came around without my girl.  Taking my son to see Santa proved to be a traumatic experience that I never wanted to do again. While parents were proudly snapping pictures of their children grinning with excitement sitting on Santa’s lap, all I could see was the last photo of my kids together on Santa’s lap, one year ago. Once again, regret consumed me and the mask, and the act became too difficult to continue. Seeing only my son with Santa, his other knee vacant, crumbled me and brought me to my knees in tears. How I hated life, hated myself.

The Santa photos used to be my traditional Christmas card, and now I wouldn’t send another one out for years. I became bitter towards those family photo cards, you know, the ones with all the smiles, milestones and happy times. For the next two years when we received them in the mail, one by one they all went straight to the garbage, sight unseen. Absorbed by jealousy, I wanted to rip them to shreds, and never wanted to see those joyful faces again. Sorry friends.  It became too painful, like a slap in the face, bringing to the forefront that pain I had worked so hard to hide. And I didn’t feel bad about it one bit.

Being the first Christmas without our baby girl, I hadn’t the drive or love in my heart to get a tree and decorate it.  Just the thought of the holidays without Lydia would make me fall apart and retreat to a solitary hiding place, just me and my tears. There was no tree, no Christmas cookies baking or decorations or laughter in the kitchen. This year was different.  Yet, because of our son Hunter, I knew we had to try to do something.  We opted for a live tree that we could plant after the holiday season. Jake went to Wal-Mart and bought a new box of lights to put on the tree.  I wanted nothing to do with those totes full of memories, so in their box they stayed and our tree without decorations.  I counted the days and “faked it ’til I made it.”  This holiday couldn’t be over soon enough.

It had been five months since Lydia died. How could that possibly be? Christmas was just hours away when my heart was warmed by an amazing gift.  In the car, where much time was spent, was a place where Lydia would compose her masterpieces – beautiful, one-of-a-kind, spectacular illustrations of creativity.  One rainy, winter day, I happened to put my hand in the back pocket of the driver’s seat, the one in front of where she used to sit.  As I pulled out multiple hair accessories, ponytail holders, and nail polish bottles, I was caught off guard and choked up with tears at what I saw.  Between my fingers came a neat white envelope and on the outside, carefully written it said, “To Hunter, From Lydia.”   Without hesitation, I gingerly opened up the top and peeked inside.  My hands trembling with anticipation as I pulled out this precious gift at just the right moment.

Christmas would arrive in a number of hours and I had found the perfect present for our son. Something to bring warmth to his tattered and torn heart, something that would provide him with the hope and love he desperately needed from his big sister.  It was a drawing of a Christmas tree, complete with ornaments and a star!

lydia tree hunter

Drops of love poured down my cheeks, what a gift! The pain my heart felt was indescribable, yet this little blessing provided a glimmer of hope and I couldn’t help but smile amidst the tears.

Friends, I know that deep pain of the first Christmas without your child. It’s the most heart-wrenching feeling ever. The blanket of hopelessness and fear is smothering, allowing no light to seep through. I wore those exact shoes once. Take care of you. Do what feels right. Cry, laugh, hide, embrace whatever feelings come. Hang on. One day at a time. Most importantly, remember the real meaning of the season.  Jesus. Focus on Him. Equip yourselves with the truth. You can do this.

Romans 8:18 “The pain that you’ve been feeling, can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.”

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Matthew 19:26   Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

 

ps theres hope

~On the journey with you,

Daphne

A Day in the Life of a Grieving Mother

I woke up this morning and sat up on my bed, legs dangling towards the floor.  The heaviness of my eyes was overwhelming. I was exhausted, yet weirdly refreshed and thankful to find that the stinging of my bloodshot eyes had subsided after a few hours sleep.

My mind didn’t waste any time reminding me of how I felt when I laid down those short few hours ago.

Sad. Heartbroken.

As I got up, the corner of my eye caught a glimpse of my heart that laid conspicuously on the pink flannel pillowcase. Black mascara decorated the top, providing me proof of the love that was shed. The fragile threads that mended my broken heart had torn apart, the years of love and sorrow finally freed. Again.

It had been a while, months since I had succumb to those persistent and pesky dog pile of emotions.

Yet they come, sure as the morning sun.  Learning to accept and live with them is difficult, yet over the years, I have learned to embrace these precious moments.

The ten years have passed by so fast. How can that be? Ten long years without my little girl.  Without hearing her giggle, tucking her in, and watching her grow.

What would she be doing today? Lounging around like most 16 year olds, getting her driver’s license, sleeping in on a warm summer morning? Arguing with her brother, or would she be tending to her lamb or eager to get to volleyball practice?

The pain is indescribable. But when I try, I can tell you that it feels so heavy and it’s difficult to breathe. When you want to talk with her, hold her, tell her you love her and all you can do is mutter the words and fall into your pillow sobbing in disbelief.

What triggered it this time? Was it that her birthday is tomorrow? Was it while we were out on a Saturday night and I overheard a mom say, “would you like this sis? Come sit down sissy.”

Ahhhh.

My sweet sissy.  I haven’t said that word in ten years.  The name that is etched in her headstone, Lydia’s nickname, “Sissy.”

Instantly, she flashed before me and I could see her strawberry blonde hair blowing in the wind as she twirled joyfully in her purple sundress giggling, looking like the picturesque poster of childhood.  So innocent and happy.

Holding my breath as my eyes welled up, I shook my head, turned and walked away.

How did this happen? Why did this happen to me?

I cry and cry. Why do we feel so much pain after all these years?

I just want to wrap my arms around her tightly, see her smile and tell her I love her.

One more time.

Five years, seven months, and 19 days just wasn’t long enough.

My mind finds it hard to fathom life without her now, attempting to piece together the two worlds in which I remain a permanent resident.

When I’m alone for the night while on a work trip or at home, what do I do?  I try to make sense of my life before and after and it’s almost predictable that tears will fall.

Silence and solidarity brings me to a place of reality.

My emotions overwhelm me. Being alone forces me to engage those pent up feelings, letting them run rampant without interruption, allowing me to be present in the moment.  So I weep and sob some more.

I talk to her and tell her I love her and how much I miss her.  How I miss her messy bedroom, boogers she left above her headboard, and her beautiful artwork that decorated the house.

I am immensely grateful current life yet still quietly yearn for my old life. I miss her being here, when life was simple, happy and free of heartbreak.  When I didn’t have to worry about grief, or her grave, or about all the years of events and triggers that seek to ravage my soul reminding me of what used to be.

Am I weak? No.

Shouldn’t I be over this by now, after all it’s been ten years?  Absolutely some would think so, but the real answer is no.  I will never get over it.

Am I strange? No.

Weird?  No.

When my faucet runs dry, I lay my head on the pillow, taking a deep breath and exhaling while clutching my bible.

Strangely I feel a bit better.  Over the years, I’ve learned that nothing or no one can comfort me like Jesus.

I am silently reminded that we are meant for so much more in this world that to hold onto heartbreak and pain.  Could I sit and wallow in my pain and loss for the distant future? Without a doubt. However, I know my sweet girl would not want this, nor does our amazing God.  Our time here is limited and our capacity to experience the complex feelings that come with deep love is a remarkable gift.

The hope we have been given shines light into those dark places of my soul.  I can rest in hope knowing that beauty will come from the tragedy of my daughter’s death and one day we will be reunited.  Until then, I wait faithfully with perseverance.

Romans 8:24-25: “In hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

 

 

 

Photo credit: Unsplash @davidwhitephotography