Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Happy birthday St. Leo

It truly is amazing to me when I look back and see how God was preparing me for Lily. Different moms who have all experienced the loss of a child have been interwoven in my life since I moved here. In the past five years I have attended the funeral of a 19 year old, a five year old, a one year old, and a young mother

I have been in awe of each of these mothers who have experienced these losses. I admired their strength, their courage, mostly their faith. From my eyes, they completely abandoned their selves to God. They put their families right in God's hands. They didn't understand, but they trusted. They believed. 

But there was one mom in particular that really tugged at my heart. I was and still am in complete awe of her. Her sweet son Leo prepared me for Lily before I even knew I needed to prepare. I had never met his mom, but to me, she was the kind of mother I aspired to be. 

I had just learned that I was pregnant again...excited and scared, nervous and full of joy to be doing it all over again. My dear friend shared in our Women's group about another mom from our church that knew already her child would not survive. Her child had anencephaly and his brain and skull had not formed properly. He was not expected to live for long, if he survived birth at all. I honestly think I gasped in disbelief that anyone would have to go through this. 

I have been Pro-Life my whole life, but that belief had never been tested. I observed from afar what it truly meant to respect the dignity of all life. 

My dear friend shared on her blog about the shower she hosted for Leo's mom. Again, I was in awe of this woman. How was she doing this? How would she get through pregnancy and labor knowing she did not get to keep her son? I was mesmerized by her strength and courage, all the time oblivious to what I was about to face.

This is the comment I posted on my friend's blog post, just six weeks before Lily's diagnosis:

"Such a beautiful testament of her courage and faith and of your servant hood. Thank you for sharing this. I'm in complete awe of a mother willing to love her child so selflessly. I know it's all of our goals, but we fall short so often. She is truly living up to self-sacrificing love. Continuing to pray for mom and baby."

Leo was born sleeping just a few weeks later. I didn't know him, but he forever left an imprint on my heart. Because of Leo, my doctor didn't have to be a "doctor" and explain what was happening, she could just hold my hand and let me cry. 

Shortly after Lily's diagnosis, I met Leo's mom for the first time. If you know me, you know I'm not much of a hugger, but the moment I met Leo's mom we hugged and both cried. She knew my aching heart better than anyone. She told me that the morning before she learned of Lily, she had a dream about Leo. It's been almost a year and she still says it was her only dream of him. She said Leo woke her up in her dream and told her she needs to pray for Lily. Just one month after she lost her sweet Leo, she offered to walk with us on this journey. That alone gave me hope, and I was able to start picking myself up from the despair. I am still in awe of this woman and I am eternally grateful for her "yes" to Leo and her "yes" to me. 

Today is Leo's feast day. I think of Leo and Lily every day, but especially today. I can see  them perfectly...dancing together, forever in the Resurrection. Happy feast day, sweet Leo, give your momma an extra kiss and whisper from Heaven today.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Five months

I pretty much summed up where I am at in my last post, so I won't delve into that too much. Life without Lily is hard, harder than I ever imagined. Lent was hard. It seems pointless and stupid to me...making a "sacrifice" of giving up chocolate or Facebook or something else that is so insignificant now? Dumb.

My parents did come to visit in March and it was wonderful to have them here. Ted and I have seen my family every month since October and it's been such a needed blessing. I have really needed to have that time with them. I think they need it too. I think they need to see that even though we are hurting, we are ok. We went to a few baseball games and took Ted to the zoo and really, just spent time together. Lily has brought my whole family closer and that is something I am truly grateful for.

Easter finally arrived after a really tough Holy Week. I cried. Every. Single. Day. I cried because I missed her. I cried because I feel so guilty that I can't pray. I cried because there are no more pictures. I cried because Ted says, "baby" and it's not his sister. I cried because she never opened her eyes or made a sound. I cried because Ted looks at her picture in our room and says, "bye bye baby". I cried because she was strong and dancing in my belly until she wasn't. I cried because I see toddlers with their baby siblings. I cried because Ted wanted to wear his "Brother of the Year" shirt two days in a row. I cried simply because I miss her. Every. Single. Day.

But friends, there is hope. Hope in the Resurrection. Hope in knowing that my beautiful daughter is dancing in the Resurrection. On Easter, I woke up a little bit refreshed, a little lighter...because He lives.

"Because He lives
I can face tomorrow
Because He lives 
Every fear is gone
I know He holds my life 
my future in His hands"

Because He daughter is dancing in Heaven. Amen.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

This road to Calvary

Friends, Palm Sunday rocked me

Ted's been sick the past week, so I found myself sitting in a pew by myself, sitting between strangers. I hate going to Mass alone...especially now. I welcome the distraction of my almost two-year old and find so much comfort and protection with my husband by my side. 

But instead of the comfort and distraction, I found myself facing the start of Holy Week all by distraction, nothing to comfort or protect me. Nothing to shield me from the full range of emotions I have not wanted to feel. And then the Psalm, that Psalm that I used to love because the reality of it had never sunk in...until now. "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" The wave of emotions washed over me like a tidal wave.

Despair. Anger. Guilt.

I never thought I would be angry. I guess there really are stages of grief. I am angry at everything. I am angry that Ted doesn't have his sister. I'm angry that my prayer wasn't answered. Angry that there won't be anymore pictures. I'm angry that I don't feel any peace right now. Angry that "joy in suffering" makes me laugh right now. I am angry that we had to pick out a grave marker. I am angry that Ted's two-year old pictures will be with a stupid bear instead of his sister. Angry that I still haven't lost my baby weight. I am angry that I don't get to boycott the stupid frilly and fluffy Easter dresses and put Lily in something simple and sweet. I'm angry that the world moves forward and I still miss my daughter.

And then the guilt comes. And friends, the guilt is so much worse than the anger. Guilt is what reduces you to sobbing, ugly tears when you are sitting amongst strangers in a pew (I can only imagine what they were thinking). It leaves you walking up the aisle towards the Eucharist with tears streaming down your face, barely able to mumble "Amen". It finds you kneeling in the pew, blinded by the tears, sobbing and telling your daughter, once again, "I'm so so sorry." Over and over, "I'm so sorry Lily."

Your brain knows that there was nothing you could do, but that doesn't help your mama heart. 

My heart is heavy and weary, friends. I miss her so much I can barely breathe. So while the me I used to be loves this season, this Holy Week, the me I am now dreads it. I've been walking this road to Calvary for 10 months and I don't see it ending on Sunday.

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