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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

True Joy

     The past few days I have been doing so much thinking and remembering. It is very bittersweet, and I often end up shedding a few tears. But I have to say, the greatest feeling in my heart has been Joy. I continue to go back to every memory, and every moment that we had with our precious daughter. I would never trade those moments for anything. As difficult as it is to not have her here in my arms today, I know that loving her, and having her in my life for those 35 weeks was the greatest gift I could have ever been given.
     In the brief moments that I had left with Caroline in my arms at the hospital, I spent some time alone with her to say goodbye. At that time we did not know that she was a girl. But in my heart, I knew. I told her that when we found out for sure, that her name was going to be Caroline. We had a different middle name picked out for her, and I remember that before she was born, I really liked it. Yet somehow, sitting in that hospital bed, with my daughter in my arms, it just didn't seem to fit. If she truly was a girl, then I knew, we would call her Caroline Joy. Because in the midst of the sadness, the tears streaming down my face, and the intense pounding of my heart, I still felt joy. I was so thankful that she was mine, and that I had been given the gift of time to spend with her. I was so thankful for all of the memories that I knew I would cherish forever. I was so thankful that even though I was sad and heartbroken, I knew that my daughter was now safely in the arms of Jesus. Therefore, in that moment, I decided that if I was truly holding a daughter in my arms, then her name would be Caroline Joy. The name fit perfectly.
     This morning I was sitting outside on the back porch, and in the middle of some dark and heavy clouds, there was an opening. It was a fluffy white cloud, clear blue sky opening. It was beautiful! There was just a small glimmer of the sunshine that was peeking through. In that moment, as I smiled at its beauty, I thought of Caroline. I feel such joy in my heart knowing that she is safely in the arms of Jesus. I know that here on earth she would have been in such pain, and likely facing a life of surgeries and complications. But I know that up there in Heaven, she has been made completely whole. She is living in a perfect body now, where she is not feeling any pain. The only thing she has ever known is love, and that is more than I could ever ask for my children. I know that she felt such incredible love during her short time here on this earth, and now she is experiencing the greatest of love in Heaven. It is a love that is so far beyond anything we could ever imagine. This morning I pictured our heavenly Father gathering Caroline's little body into His strong arms, and holding her close. It is such a beautiful picture of His great love for us, His children.

      Even now, as I miss her deeply here on this earth, I thank God that she is now in a place where there is no pain, no tears, no sadness, and no hurt. It does not mean that I will ever understand why it was in God's plan for her to be taken away from us so soon, and it does not mean that the pain and the sadness is any less, or that I don't miss her every second of each day. But it does mean that God, in His great love and mercy, choose to give my daughter the very best life. A life spent in Heaven for eternity, a life of wholeness, a life of perfection, a life of love, a life of praising our Creator, a life of truth, joy, and beauty. Though her tiny body failed her here on this earth, she is now perfect and whole through Jesus. And that truth brings such peace to my heart.
     I wrote before about the dance, between joy and grief. It is a very real reality each moment of the day. In grief, you have no way of knowing from one moment to the next what thoughts and emotions are going to fill your heart and your head. But through the past year, I can say with all honesty, "it is well with my soul". In no way does it take away from the anger, the pain, the questions, the tears, and the sadness that I still experience each day. But it does mean that I am thankful. I am thankful that my daughter is experiencing fullness and wholeness in Heaven. I am thankful for the joy that she has, and continues to bring into my life. I am thankful that God has chosen to give her a beautiful and perfect life, where she knows nothing of the pain and imperfection she would have faced here on this earth. I am thankful for the gift of joy, that continues to present itself in the most amazing, thought provoking, and surprising ways. And above all, I am thankful for my daughter, Caroline Joy, who has taught me so much about myself, about God, and about living a life surrounded by love, joy, and hope.

I would like to say a very big thank you to each and every one who has taken the time to pray for us throughout the past weeks. We cannot even begin to say how much it truly means to us. We find such strength in knowing that so many are still supporting us, and lifting us up to the Lord. Thank you!

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