"Dear Lord, I would have loved to have held my baby on my lap and tell her about you, but since I didn't get the chance, would you please hold Caroline on your lap and tell her about me?"
This morning as Josh and I were getting into our car for church, I looked up at the dark sky above me. The rain pounded onto my face, physically reminding me that I am still alive. Yet somehow the rain and the darkness of the morning just seemed fitting. While I was getting ready for church, I had a moment of sadness. As I gazed out across our backyard, I noticed all of the leaves that had fallen off the trees. Already it looks like fall has arrived in our backyard. No longer does the grass look vibrantly green, and there is definitely a chill in the air. The deck that I once sat on for so many afternoons with sweet Caroline inside, now looked cold and wet. I remembered all those moments that I spent outside with Caroline. We would sit for hours talking about the birds, and the leaves, and the squirrels, and the flowers. I would sit in awe as her little body squirmed around inside. She loved being outside with me, I could just feel it. Whenever we felt that warm sunshine, she would start moving and kicking. It brought such joy to my heart to share those amazing moments together.
This summer, while I was recovering from her birth, I spent hours outside on my deck. When I felt completely helpless, and did not know what else to do, I would go outside and sit on the deck. There I would feel so close to her. As I watched the butterflies flutter and play, it brought tears to my eyes. Those butterflies were such a beautiful reminder. I could just picture her smiling and playing up in heaven. As I felt the sunshine warm my face and my body, I felt renewed. The sun brought light into my darkness, and I could feel my hope being restored. As I watched the flowers bloom into their brilliant colors, I was amazed. Caroline and I had spent time watering the flowers together during the early months of spring, and now I was able to see the beautiful fruits of our labor. The flowers reminded me of how fragile and delicate life can be.
During those summer months I enjoyed the peace and the quiet. I enjoyed the stillness, and the beauty, and the simple pleasures. It was a time for me to think, to feel, to reflect, and to grieve. There were many tears shed on that deck throughout the summer. Tears of joy and tears of hope, but also many tears of sorrow, pain, and sadness. How much I longed to have her back. To know that we could enjoy those tiny miracles together once again. I wanted to teach her more about the flowers, and have her feel the warmth of the sunshine on her face. I wanted her to feel the cold water on her tiny toes, and to watch as the squirrels climbed high into the trees. I wanted to show her the puffy white clouds, and to hear the sounds of an airplane flying overhead. But this summer, it was only me.
This morning as I looked out at the deck, I realized how many memories it holds. It not only reminds me of the happy times, when Caroline and I enjoyed many special moments together, but it also reminds me of the sad times, when I was grieving the loss of my daughter. Now as I see the changing of the seasons, I realize that I am again stepping into a new season of my own life. Soon the deck will be covered in leaves, and it will be too cold to sit outside in my chair. It brought tears to my eyes as I realized that this will now be another step away from those joy filled memories. I will forever hold them in my heart, but it will just never be the same.
The days of my recovery from surgery are now over, and the reality of life has quickly taken hold. I find myself struggling to find time to accomplish even the most basic tasks, because of how busy life can be. No longer do I have time to just sit and smile as the butterflies play, nor do I have time to observe the delicate beauty of the roses. I do not have the time to just sit and wait for the hummingbird to make its brief appearance at my feeder. I even struggle to find the time to just sit in the silence. Instead I am rushing from one activity the next, with a whole list of "to dos" inside my head. It is not where I want to be, and yet it is the reality of life. It is so easy to fill my plate full of activities, and work, and tasks, that I forget to take the time to reflect and enjoy the little miracles.
In the midst of the craziness of life, I have to remind myself to slow down. I have to remind myself that it is okay if the laundry does not get done tonight, or if the house is still messy from the day before. I have to remind myself that I do not have to go to the store right this minute, and that it is going to be okay if the dishwasher has not been emptied yet. These things can wait. Sometimes I need to just give myself permission to stop, and to relax, and to enjoy the beauty that is all around me. Because it is in those moments, that I can truly feel the presence of God. There are so many days where I am struggling, and I do not know how I am going to keep moving forward. I feel so overcome with sadness and darkness and pain. Those days I just cry out to God, asking him to take it away. But there are so many times when I just can't feel his presence. Even after I call out to him, I am still in such an awful place. But it is not until I take the time to stop, and to actually breathe and reflect, that I can truly feel him surrounding me with his incredible love. I believe he is reaching out to me in those moments, but sometimes I am just too busy to realize it.
This morning as I looked out at the deck, it was a powerful reminder to not get so caught up in the busyness of life. It is so easy to make myself busy so that I forget, and so that I do not have time to feel. But the reality is that I need to take those moments, even if they are incredibly painful and sad, and I need to embrace them. I need to be looking for the little miracles, that can so easily pass me by, because they bring joy to my aching heart. I need to find time to be silent, because that is when I can hear God's voice. I need to allow myself time to feel sad, because that is when I can feel the comfort of God overwhelm me. I need to take the time to remember, because that is how I am going to heal.
This morning as the rain fell upon my face, I imagined what it would be like to be carrying my Caroline into church. I imagined myself covering up her car seat, to protect her from the wind and the rain. I imagined holding her close as we sang the songs together in worship. But most of all, I imagined what it would be like to be able to teach her about Jesus. You see, every night when I was pregnant, Josh and I would read her a Bible story. It was a very special time for all of us. As I was sitting in church this morning, I realized that I will not be given the opportunity to teach her about Jesus as she grows up. However, it brought tears to my eyes as I pictured her now, sitting in the lap of Jesus. I do not need to teach her about him, because she already knows more than I could ever teach her. She does not have to learn about Jesus, because she already KNOWS Jesus!
Each night as I go to bed, I pray that God would tell her just how much I love her. It is so hard to not be able to say it to my sweet girl each day. Oh how it hurts to not have the opportunity to tell her how much I love her, and how much I wanted her. There is nothing more painful than having those words so deeply ingrained on your heart, but not being able to share them. I am not able to wake up each morning and say it to her sweet face, as I kiss her tiny cheeks. I am not able to hold her in a tight embrace and whisper it in her ear as she sleeps. I am not able to show her my love each moment of the day. It hurts that I only had 35 short weeks to give her a lifetime of my love.
It scares me so much to think that she might not know now just how much I love her. It scares me so much to think that she might not know just how much I miss her. It scares me so much to think that she might not know just how much I wanted to hold her close forever. It scares me so much to think that she might not know how proud I am to be her mom. It scares me so much to think that she might now know just how much I love her with every breath that I take.
But yet deep in my heart, I know that she is being held tight in the loving arms of Jesus. I pray that he can whisper in her little ear just how much her mommy loves her every moment of the day, and how much she is missed here on earth. I pray that Caroline will know how much we wanted to have her here with us, but that we had to let her go. I pray that she knows what a beautiful gift she was to her family, and that we are all so incredibly proud of her. I pray that tonight and every night, that she will not only feel the deep deep love that I hold for her in my heart, but that she will also feel the love of her Heavenly Father, who has loved her since the very beginning of time. As much as it kills me each day to have empty arms, I know that tonight and always she is safely in the loving arms of her Maker.