I had planned to share another Christmas blog, but I feel that I need to share a message about something just as appropriate at this time.
I read a message on my Facebook feed from someone I don’t know. She is the mother of one of the little 1st grade boys who went to Heaven on Friday, December 14, 2012. She told of his personality, shared some of his likes and dislikes, described his “beaming smile,” told of his relationship with his brother, and how much he loved his teacher, who was also taken so young. She showed a photo of him, but I could have pictured him without it. She introduced me to her child in as she shared his legacy.
Something she said at the end was that theirs will always be a family of four. Because of our daughter, Rachel, who lives in Heaven now, our family number will always include her. She had serious chromosome defects with which she could not live. Even though I didn’t get to “mother” her for more than 8 ½ months of pregnancy, I felt like there were many facets of her personality that I was blessed to know.
I would like to share some things I found to help me cope. The number one thing is that I depended on the one and only true Living God, Jesus my Lord and Savior. My days were saturated with prayer and Bible reading. We could not have gotten through the hurt, disappointment, and anguish of heart if not for our Heavenly Father. He was with us every step of the way just as He promises in the Bible. He kept us stable, and drew Roy’s and my marriage closer than ever.
Keeping a journal was another really important thing to do for me. Most of us have heard of that, but at that point I understood its value. I wrote everything; fears, disappointments, discouragement, confusion, hurt, joy, relief, praises on the summits, our spiritual ups and downs, missing Rachel after she was gone, and our healing from a tremendous battle. Most everything I felt, thought, and even discussed with those around me was written in my journal; a permanent record of Rachel’s short life. Over time, my entries were smaller and further between as we learned to live life in our new normal. We learned to live life to the fullest again. After a little while, I felt there was another purpose for the journal; to hopefully help others going through what we had been through. The manuscript of the journal is now being edited to be published at some point, if that is truly what God’s purpose is.
I found another coping tool that stays with me all the time. It was so important for Rachel to “count.” I had the hardest time answering when someone asked me how many kids I have. If I answered that we had a son, it felt like to me that I was denying that Rachel ever lived. If I gave an answer that we have a son, Jonathan, and a daughter, Rachel, who now lives in Heaven, it might seem like I was giving too much information, and making people feel uncomfortable. After giving this a lot of thought and prayer, I asked for a family ring which included her birthstone. Having the ring felt like this was a way to validate her life, and keep it real to me. This way if someone asked about the stone, I could explain; if they didn’t, this small monument of her existence was still there. The ring I chose is one we could add another stone to for future children. God did graciously bless us with another daughter, who our son named.
Because we did not get to spend her childhood with her, we don’t have pictures of milestones, special days, crafts made by her little hands, and other keepsakes. The mementos we have are the sweet cards people sent to us during that time, the graveside service guest book, and pictures of her flower covered grave site. Those are precious to me. I still feel the love from the ones who communicated to us in any way during that time. It helps when that birthday comes around every year. Yes, I still think of it every year; Rachel would be 23 years old now. Instead, she is eternally young, strong, happy, and healthy.
I hope this message has helped someone. Please know that time alone does not heal. However, God does use time to gradually bring about the healing all of us need, if we allow Him to. I know this is a long blog, but this is what I felt God placed on my heart to share. As the saying goes, if this helps just one person then this is well worth it.
God bless you, my friends.