“Maybe our stories aren’t simply about suffering. And maybe life isn’t separated neatly into chapters. Maybe joy and heartache bleed together, spilling out into the binding of each page.
Because even when heartache doesn’t have a clear beginning and end, we can be certain that neither does love, goodness, and joy.
And maybe that is life and the truth of our stories; they aren’t one thing or another. They are a glorious mess of it all.” – Lexi Behrndt
This quote describes my life everyday……but more especially on holidays like Mother’s Day when joy and heartache bleed together. Part of this day is a stark reminder of what you have lost and the joy that remains. There is the grief of Lizz and the boys, and yet, there is the joy of Jennifer, Lauren, Ava, Eli, Marshall and Camryn. It truly is a messy life, with these two truths coexisting simultaneously in my heart….in this messy life of mine. That being said, it is that messiness and sharp edges of grief and tenderness of joy that keeps me anchored to the One who redeems….to His love and His amazing grace.
So, I started this Mother’s Day at the cemetery. I want to spend time at the place that marks their life and their death. It screams to the world through the words on their headstones, that they existed, they were loved and they are still important. I lay a wreath to honor Lizz and the amazing boymom that she was here on earth and remains in heaven today.
I then attended church to watch Elizabeth’s namesake be dedicated and blessed by the church. Camryn Elizabeth….you carry an amazing name with you. Your family will make sure that you know her through pictures and stories….that amazing aunt whose name you carry. You already are the center of attention as evidenced by your dedication. As Jennifer said, we are confident that Camryn got to meet Elizabeth before God entrusted her to us.
After church, I met Lauren for lunch and we shopped and shopped and had the best time. Just us. Something we hadn’t done in a long time. It’s hard to carve out these moments with the demands of life, three children, work, etc., etc. So this is why this was so very special. You chose to spend those precious hours with me.
I will store both of these events in my heart forever.
So what has God taught me thus far? There is beauty in the mess….and that my mess allows me to have a heart for other’s that are experiencing child loss. And I am a work in progress…..even now at 59. And He is restoring me piece by piece, like a broken pot, or an old painting. The restoration is hard, painstaking work. But this I know. I wouldn’t trade a thing. For the two daughters I still have here and the amazing grandchildren, or for the 25 years I had Lizz and the few short years we had with Fischer and Ben, I am blessed beyond measure. I am grateful. Some would say grateful? Yes. I am grateful. I am who I am because of my children and grandchildren. I can’t imagine my life without every single one of them in mine. No matter how long I was blessed to have them. Even though this is surely not the path I would have chosen for us, it is one I have been asked to travel. And so, I carry them with me…..always.
As Lauren and I were reflecting that Ben would be 7 this year and finishing up 1st grade if he were still here with us and Fischer would be turning 9 this October and completing 2nd grade, she said: “We have lived several lifetimes in the last 5 years Mom”……yes, Lar oh my we sure have. And even through the bumps in the road when things were so washed in the early overwhelming pain of grief, we can now see much clearer. Our eyes see what’s important. What’s not. To love hard. To be intentional with those in our lives that are most important. And you know what? It’s okay to have “messy” bleed over into everything else.
To other Mom’s that this day is emotional and difficult, I hope my words and ramblings help it become a “hopeful” day. Here’s to embracing our glorious and messy lives!