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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Seasons Change

     It is that time of year, when the weather gets cooler, the leaves change into brilliant colors, and glittery frost begins to appear on the grass and the rooftops in the early mornings. Fall has arrived in Michigan! To be perfectly honest with you, I am not a huge fan of cold weather, and I truly get so sad at the thought of winter arriving in just a few short months. If I could have summer all year long, I would be a very happy camper. But we live in a place where the season change. We go from hot to cold, to really really cold, to cold and then hot again. Living in Michigan for my whole life, has taught me that there is so much to learn from each season. There is a beauty that comes along with each change in the weather.
     This morning as I was drinking a cup of tea on the couch, I glanced out my window. Looming above the tops of the houses, I saw the beauty of the trees. They are no longer just different shades of green, now they are filled with leaves of many colors. The reds, oranges, yellows, and browns all blend together to create a beautiful picture. A picture that makes even me, start to love this season. If you just take a minute to stop and admire the beautiful trees all around you, it is nearly impossible to not find yourself loving the change.
     As I sat there, gazing at God's masterpiece outside my window, it hit me with a sudden rush. Oh how much changes within me during each season as well. I reflect back on how far I have come since I began writing this blog over two years ago. In just six short days, I will have reached yet another day that has so much significance in my heart. The day that three years ago, I took a pregnancy test that changed our lives forever. The day that I discovered for the very first time, that we were going to be adding a little one to our family. It never ceases to amaze me at how those dates will forever remain imprinted in my heart, my mind. I will never forget that feeling, when I saw that positive sign slowly appear on that little screen. So many emotions. So many thoughts. So many prayers of thanks. We had waited so long for it to finally happen, and then it did.
     But now, reflecting back on that day, three years later, oh how much has changed. How many seasons have gone by, with that missing piece of my heart still gone. Sometimes I just long to go back to that one innocent moment, when I stood barefoot on that cold tile floor, gazing intently to be sure that I wasn't just seeing a positive sign, because I wanted it so badly. Back to that season of my life when innocence was "normal". Back when I didn't know that anything could go wrong. When everything finally just felt right. When after months of trying to get pregnant, we finally were!
     Yet here I am, in 2016. This morning I had to flip my calendar into the month of November. That day, the 8th day of November will come and it will go, with nothing visibly changing. It will be just another day. But so much in my heart will change, just as it has during the course of the past three years. I know that I will experience thoughts of what could have been, what should have been. I know that I will experience sadness, and the longing to hold my sweet girl just one more time. I know that I will experience joy, at the thought of the 35 weeks I had with her. I know that I will reflect back on all the ways that my life has changed since that day.
     In the months following that cool November afternoon, we experienced excitement, disbelief, eager anticipation, and even a little bit of fear, all the normal feelings that most everyone faces at the thought of becoming parents for the first time. But then we entered into anxious worry, as the snow and cold of the winter months bit sharply at our faces, at the initial news of something not being right with our much loved, much wanted little baby. Our hearts were stunned, shocked, and completely numb at the news that our baby was not going to survive outside of my body. News we NEVER EVER NEVER expected to hear. The months following, as we watched the winter unfold into the blooming of spring, we walked down the journey of the shadow of death. Knowing fully that our chances of holding our baby alive were slim, and that our time as a whole family was going to be very short. We felt the bitter cold turn into the warmth of the spring sunshine, as we grieved each day at the anticipation of having to say hello and goodbye. Each day was torture, as my heart so desperately begged me to do something, anything, to save our beloved baby. Yet even with the greatest technological advances of our day, there was nothing that we could do. My heart pleaded with God to save our baby, to heal her, to fix her. All the while we waited, unsure of the unknown future. Somehow, in the midst of the chaos surrounding the changing of the seasons, I felt joy, deep down in my heart. I felt joy as I watched my belly grow and expand. I felt joy as I felt those first fluttering kicks. I felt joy as my sweet baby grew and moved around inside of me. I felt joy as I sang to her each morning, and before bed each night. I felt joy as I read to her, all the many books that I had been so eagerly collecting for my first baby. I felt joy as I talked to her about her daddy, and shared the depth of my love for her through stories and whispered words. I felt joy each time I got to experience all the fullness of this life, and knew that she was right there inside of me. I felt joy in knowing that she was safe, and cozy, and alive right below my steadily beating heart.
     Then the seasons began to change again, the clock continued to tick, and the calendar continued to flip. As we entered into the month of June, I knew that we only had one month left. One month left of her knowing the safety and security of my body. Each day the sun began to get warmer, the sky turned a more brilliant shade of blue, and the smallest buds began to poke out on the rose bushes. Summer had now arrived. Just 17 days later, the time had come. Nothing could have prepared me for that moment. I wanted more time. Needed more time. This was not suppose to happen yet. My body was failing me. Failing my daughter. It was not July 22 yet. But somewhere in the midst of the pain, as I lay in bed late that Monday night, wishing, hoping, praying that the contractions would stop, I felt God's peace surrounding me. I felt God's hand lifting mine as I made that emergency phone call to the doctors office. I felt God's strength filling me as I whispered "okay" when I was told it was time to go to the hospital. I felt God nudging my heart as Josh and I sat on the cold floor of our laundry room, holding hands, and pleading with God for the life of our baby. In that moment, we once again committed the life of our sweet baby into God's hands. The peace that surrounded us throughout that night was beyond anything we could have asked for. As I lay in that hospital bed, listening to the incredible sound of our baby's heartbeat, laughing with Josh about the  ugly hospital slippers on my feet, we knew that God was there. Throughout all the season changes that had occurred during my pregnancy, never once had our God changed. He always and forever remained constant. He was there with us that Fall afternoon when I took that pregnancy test, He was there with us that freezing snowy morning when we first heard the diagnosis of our baby, He was there with us each windy spring day as we grieved, hoped, and loved our precious baby that was growing inside, and He was there that early summer morning, on June 17, at 5:16am, when they pulled our beautiful, oh so loved, first daughter out of my body. He was there beside us as we said hello, as we admired and loved on her, and He was there as we whispered goodbye 19 minutes later. He was there as we held her in the hospital, soaking up every moment. He was there when I kissed her perfect little cheek for the very last time, and stroked her baby soft hair. He was there holding up my arms as I handed her over, the very last time I would ever hold my baby on this earth. He was there as Josh and I drove the streets of Grand Rapids, making our way back home, alone. He was there as I walked into my house, fully feeling the weight of what was missing. He was there in the long, sleepless nights. He was there through the shuddering tears, and the desperate pleas. He was there as we lifted that tiny white casket, and placed it in the ground. He was there as we kneeled in the cold wet grass, and said our goodbyes. He was there in the days that followed, as we tried to continue moving forward with our life. He was there. He was there. He was there.
      He was always there.
     Now today, as I once again embrace the changing of the seasons, I find that there is hope rising inside of my heart. This hope that I had lost, and often wondered if I would ever find again. The hope that had been dimmed the day I heard those life changing words. I remember wondering so often during those long days after saying goodbye, if I would ever feel like myself again. I wanted to hope, desperately wanted to hope, but it was so hard to see around my pain, my heartbreak. Yet I smile today when I think about the hope that is now much more clear. It is a hope that has far greater meaning to me than ever before. As I watch my little boy eating, with a sparkle in his eye, I see that hope. Even though nothing will ever be the same, and we will forever have that missing piece of our family, I can start to see the shadows clearing when I watch to see how our story continues to unfold. God has given me a reason to smile again, a reason to sing, and a reason to laugh. God has restored hope into my heart. I am ever so thankful!
     The changing of the seasons brings so many memories to my heart. So many happy memories, ones that I will cherish and smile over forever. But it also brings about sad memories as well. Memories that bring tears to my eyes, memories that hurt my heart, and some that I wish I could forget forever. Yet they are all a part of me. They are all a part of who I am, as a wife, as a mother, and as a child of God. They are proof that through the storms and through the calm, God is there. Although our lives change so much, and we go through the good times, and the really hard times, God's love never fails. And that my dear friends, is something that we can rejoice in, and something that we can cling to. My hope for you today is that no matter where you are at right now in your life, whether you are experiencing the chaos of a raging storm, or enjoying the peace of a calm of a quiet day, that you can rest safely in the arms of our Father, who promises that He will love YOU always.

1 comment:

  1. Amalia, thanks for sharing your heart and memories of sweet Caroline. My heart grieves with you and rejoices with you at the same time. To have walked/crawled thru the valley and come out to sunshine and hope again is a wonderful gift from God! Enjoy this season and your precious family! Blessings, Joanne