Finish Line

Every year about this time I get an email asking if I want to purchase my Hippie Chick Run photos from previous years. The Hippie Chick was a run that Anna and I did together. I would run the 10k and she would meet me just before the finish line ~ it was our thing. The photos taken at the run are usually really expensive so I never wanted to purchase them.

This year when the email came it said that this was the last chance to purchase photos from 2013 so I decided to look at them once again, just in case. As I was flipping through the five that were taken of me this one appeared. I swear it’s the first time I had seen it. I cried remembering what it felt like to cross the finish line with my girls on each side. Every other year it was just Anna crossing the finish line but this year, our last Hippie Chick together, Abigail joined us.

holding hands finish line

I ordered some prints. This is my new favorite photo of the three of us. It speaks to my heart and when it arrived yesterday it was so clear to me why I love it so much. This is how I get through each day. Abigail holding my right hand and Anna holding my left, both gripping tight till I get to the finish line. The gold tons in the photo (that is how it came) represent Christ, He’s all around us wrapping us in His love and kindness ~ we are surrounded by His Grace.

The last couple of months have been tough. Fall lasted so long, there are still leaves piled up on our streets, and my PTSD has become something that is just with me instead of the usual waves that come every so often. Watching Alice grow, discover, learn and become a toddler has been wonderful and very emotional. There is so much I can say about mothering this beautiful little one in the midst of grief, but I will leave that for another time.

I have signed up for the Hippie Chick one time since the girls have been in Heaven but my heart wouldn’t allow me to go. After seeing this photo I think it is time to get in shape and prepare once again for “our thing” this Mother’s Day weekend. I know Anna would be super excited to have Alice run across the finish line with us.

This photo is what my heart needed the week before Christmas and our double birthday celebration on 27th ~ Abigail will be 16 (I can’t believe it) and Alice will be turning 2.

Anna and Abigail are holding my hands always and I am ALWAYS surrounded by His Love and Grace!

Lifeline

In the weeks following Anna and Abby going to Heaven hundreds of cards and letters flooded our mailbox. I remember sitting with them, unopened, wondering how I was ever going to get through them all. I would sit each night opening just a few, because that was all my heart could bare.

We were the family receiving the dreaded sympathy card. I remember sitting amongst them in total disbelief that we were on the receiving end and these written words were intended for us.

“I’m so sorry for your loss.” People shared their memories, thoughts and condolences.

These cards were from friends, family, old classmates, parents, children and complete strangers – all wanting to take just an ounce of our pain away. I remember feeling so loved and cared for as I read each one, still in complete shock of my reality.

One letter that we received has come to my thoughts many times over the past 4 years. I remember standing in the kitchen the first time I read it and remember exactly how it made my heart feel.

The sender, someone that we did not know, shared of her own loss. Two children, first her son (9) then her daugther (16), many years ago. It was the next line in the letter that I remember most.

“My son would be 54 and my daughter 53.”

I remember my heart sinking ~ 45 years. I remember thinking that there was no way I could survive all those years without my girls. No way!

She included a poem that was given to her by her son’s teacher and also her phone number in case I needed someone to talk to. I never called but have thought of her many times as each day without passes.

Today, while chatting with a girlfriend at the grocery store, a woman approached us and asked if she could give me a hug. She said that I didn’t know her but she knew who I was. She told me that after my girls went to Heaven she sent me a letter with a poem.

Immediately I knew it was her, still surviving.

She told me she included her phone number because she had no one to talk to when her children went to Heaven. She wanted to make sure that I knew I wasn’t alone. Her number was a lifeline for me if I needed it. Immediately my heart was full of gratitude and connection.

I needed her lifeline today.

Tonight I found her letter and there it was, the poem and the number that I know I will call soon.

I’ll Lend You a Child

By Edgar A. Guest

“I’ll lend you for a little time a child of mine,”  He said.
For you to love – while she lives
And mourn for when she’s dead.

It may be six or seven years
Or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call her back,
Take care of her for Me?

She’ll bring her smiles to gladden you,
And should this stay be brief
You’ll have her lovely memories as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise she will stay,
Since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this child to learn.

I’ve looked this world over
In search for teachers true,
And from the throngs that crowd
Life’s lanes, I have selected you.

Now will you give her all your love,
Nor count the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call to
Take her back again?”

I fancied that I heard them say,
“Dear Lord, Thy will be done,
For all the joy Thy child shall bring,

The risk of grief we’ll run.
We’ll shelter her with tenderness,
We’ll love her while we may,
And for the happiness we’ve known
Forever grateful stay.

But should the angels call for her
Much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that come
And try to understand.”

 

I’m not going to lie…

I’m not going to lie, I’m struggling. My heart hurts so bad. I hold on and find joy in my days for Alice and Tom but in the quiet moments, like nap time and in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep, I sit paralyzed with my reality.

I miss Anna and Abigail so much.

No sugar-coating or telling you that time heals ~ my heart hurts the same today as it did on Oct. 21, 2013 when the sun came up and my girls were gone. Actually, I think my heart hurts worse today ~ it’s been so long since I’ve held them.

This is a very long road.

I’m working through it all, taking care of myself and trying to balance my life so that Alice and Tom get the best of me. I won’t lie though, it’s hard, very hard.

I sat down to share that I wrote another post for Portland Moms Blog today. This is what came out instead.

I miss my girls.

summer 2013

Crossroads

crossroads.jpg

Two weeks ago I sat here staring at a blank post, wanting desperately for the time I needed to write. I didn’t want to think about how long my little one would be napping or whether I should be checking things off my to-do list. What I wanted more than anything was to connect with my grief and longing in the way I used to. I wanted to sit and wait for the words to come without trying to force the words out because I was pressed for time. My heartfelt extremely overwhelmed.

Since the girls went to Heaven I have used this space as a way to connect with our memories as a family, share my heart through my grief and also share how, even in the deepest of suffering, my faith in God has allowed me to have joy. Through this space, I have connected with so many people who have broken hearts just like mine, and I have always felt that sharing our story of love, hope and faith is something I should do for the rest of my days. God gives me peace each morning and I feel compelled to share that peace with others.

In the past couple of months I have also been feeling a nudge to share more of myself and my journey as a mom of a little one. Again, I have struggled to find the time to write and figure out how to merge both my present and my past together in words.

Two weeks ago as I sat staring at a blank post I came to a crossroads: do I stop writing in this space and ask God for peace in that decision or ask God to show me what I need to do to continue to write and share our journey, which now includes life with a little one?

I sat and prayed.

Later that same day, not expecting an answer so quickly, I saw a post by a friend of mine. She is a managing editor of a blog that is looking for new contributors.  Portland Moms Blog is a space to foster and support the community by connecting Portland-area moms to information and parenting perspectives unique to the city and region. Basically, it is a collection of moms writing about mothering from their own unique and diverse perspectives, all living in the Portland metro area.

I sent a message to my friend asking if she felt it was something I could do. Her response was, “OMG, you SHOULD!!!”

Later that night the fear and anxiety of not being a good enough writer started to take space in my thoughts. I started to question how I would have time as a scheduled contributor when I didn’t have time to write on my own time for my own blog. I started to doubt and let that fear of the unknown make my decision for me.

Then it hit me. This wasn’t my decision at all. I had asked God for guidance and He was giving it to me. I just needed to trust that the door He was opening and be obedient. That is when the peace came and I thought about the mom that is out there suffering in the same way that I suffer. The mom, like me, that couldn’t relate to a mom’s blog because “those moms” still had all their babies. It became so clear to me that our story of grief is not the only story of grief in this area and that in writing in this new space I can give grieving moms a voice.

In trusting Him I know that I will also be able to find the time, find the words and share my story in a way that honors, not only my mothering but the many other women that mother through a broken heart as well.

Today I am honored to say that I am now a contributor to the Portland Moms Blog. I have no idea where this new venture will lead me but I do know that it is an answer to prayer.

Last Sunday there was a gathering of the contributors and leadership team of PMB. As I sat amongst these women I couldn’t help but be grateful for the opportunity to not only meet them but also share stories of mothering with them <3.