Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Survival Not Strength


Every year we hang some very special ornaments.  This year is no exception.  This year we have three new ornaments for the year.  Hanging the ornaments on the tree is usually a fun thing.  Since we don't have any particular theme, but collect ornaments for all sorts of things from all sorts of places, the kids enjoy me telling them where we got each one and why.  As might be expect this year's are bittersweet.  They represent memories of death and of survival.

The first thing I bought after we lost Abigail was an ornament.  I knew there wouldn't be any baby's first Christmas ornaments, but I wanted something.  Something to acknowledge when we decorate the rest of the tree each year, that she was here.  I found a stacked metal ornament on Etsy, one that of course was intended as a baby's first Christmas.  It has a tiny hand print on the top disk.  Her full name on the second disk, and her birthday on the third, along with the words, "I held you in my hand a moment, in my heart forever."  In the move I didn't find it until Saturday, and was beginning to panic and worry it somehow had gotten left.

Then yesterday Britt opened up a package from my parents, he had left his Indiana Jones hat in Alabama, so they had mailed it back.  Inside Mother had also sent an ornament, one that I had remarked was cute when she was helping me look for an ornament for my Primitive Baptist Secret Sister.  It was really wonderful to open it up and see our whole family there together.  I had forgotten just how pretty it was.  And I especially like the stockings since I'm pretty sure that I won't be able to finish Abigail's stocking in time for Christmas.

The third new ornament for this year is one I got at Niagara Falls.  For some reason I'm not entirely sure off, seeing red leaves this fall has reminded me of Abigail.  Maybe it's because I first saw them there at the Falls just three weeks after her death, when she was continually on my mind.  Maybe it's because I like to imagine her as a red head.  The Falls were a beautiful and frightening in their power.  I can remember at one point standing on the observatory bridge being struck with two thoughts.  The amazing beauty of something so vast.  And the thought that leaping off the top would be a sure fire way to end the agony.  I mean from that height, with the rocks and sidewalk below along the river, there would be no surviving that.

Sometimes people have said that they have seen great strength in us, in the way that we are handling this loss.  But I don't see any strength, I'm in survival mode.  The truth is that I don't have the luxury of checking out early.  I don't even have the luxury of staying in bed all day with the covers over my head.  See Abigail's name isn't the only one on those stockings.  I have three other children whose needs are very demanding, regardless of how I feel.  The truth is that it's not about strength.  I'm simply doing what has to be done.  Just like I didn't have a choice when we lost her, I don't have a choice but to continue on.


1 comment:

MrsJOFCIII said...

I think I was one of the people who told you that you are strong. I'll correct myself now (sort of.) I'm sure you are full of weakness, just like I am, but I am also sure that Christ is strengthening you to carry on for His glory and for the rest of your family's good. The joy of the Lord is your strength. It's awful to think of the agony you're enduring that would make you even think about how you could end it all, but He is there with you, touched with the feeling of your infirmities. He has gone through an agony none of us can even begin to fathom to save our souls- and as if that isn't enough agony, He is with us, living in us, in each of our own agonies, feeling our pain and making intercession for us- not with pretty platitudes but with groanings which cannot be uttered. You are surviving. There are some that don't. We have a sister in our church whose brother died in an accident when she was young, and then within the year her father died of grief. She is a grandmother herself now but still lives with the question of why her brother was worth dying for but she wasn't worth living for. It takes strength to survive. I'm so thankful that the Lord has given you and Brother Gary the eyes to see the needs of your children who are still on this earth and the strength to meet them. I'm thankful that you're working out what He has worked within you. I'm thankful we have the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God Who raises the dead. I'm thankful that you do have three other children to help keep you motivated to keep going. I'm thankful you have the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort to lead you through this. I'm thankful that things have gotten easier than they were during your visit to Niagara Falls, and thankful that we can trust that they will continue to get better. I'm thankful that we are all together in eternity and that one day we will get to experience it. Oh, and I'm thankful your mom got you the perfect ornament. :-) still thinking of and praying for yall every day. Love in Christ to all your little family, from all our little family.