Thursday, September 8, 2016
Yesterday marked seven years since the fateful day that Laynee drew her last breath on this earth.
The worst day of our lives. The best day of her life.
Labor Day weekend….September 7th…… It’s all tied up into one long week of remembering every detail of the days leading up to and then after her death. I never cease to be amazed by the startling clarity of the memories, even now, 7 years later. It’s as if there’s a movie projector in my mind and the Friday of Labor Day weekend, prompted by some unseen force, the reel begins to rewind and plays back all of the beauty of her last weekend and the horror of our first days without her.
The farther away I get from that day, the more it takes my breath away. Not in an I-can’t-bear-the-heaviness sort of way. But in an I-am-so-in-awe-of-God sort of way. I grow increasingly frustrated by own inability to articulate the emotions and the ever deepening sacredness linked to my little girl……her life, her impact, her presence with the One who created her.
Not long after Laynee was buried- the exact timing is lost in the haze of numbness that protected me in those days- a couple whose son was tragically taken from them many years ago came to visit Jim and I. They shared their own experience, their grief, their sorrow, how they navigated through the trauma and pain, how it forever changed them. This couple’s faith was deep then and even deeper now. I vividly recall sitting on the sofa with this older lady, my hand in hers and asking “how long?” How long until the pain subsides? How long until the fog retreats? How long until I can function again? How long until it no longer consumes me? How long until I am me again? How long must I bear this? I clung desperately to her words. She, this one who’d borne this pain and survived, felt like my one link to brighter days. She could fix this because she knew, really knew what I was going through.
She looked at me with deep, soulful eyes and said “You’ll never be you again. But the answer is no less than 5 years.”
I felt like she had punched me in the stomach as the air whooshed from my lungs. “5 YEARS?!?!?” “I can’t do this for 5 years! No way can I feel this, bear this, live like this for 5 years! I can’t!”
Her response, filled with so much wisdom, was simply, “You can and you will. You have to.”
Her words have come back to me time and time again. She was right. I could. I did. I had to. Slowly but surely, somewhere between 5 and 7 years the fog has retreated, the numbness has faded away. Joy has stepped up and become greater and more prevalent than sorrow. Social settings no longer debilitate me. I have become less selfish in that her peace in heaven has become more meaningful than my own desire to hold her again. My longing to have my baby back on earth with me has been completely replaced by longing to join her in heaven one day. The two are astoundingly different.
She was right also in that I’ll never be “me” again. I don’t want to be that “me” again. There were so many things that “me” didn’t know. A depth of spirituality that I never knew existed.
I am also keenly aware that, though I can’t say exactly when, I have ceased asking questions that only God has answers to. All of the “whys” and “what if’s” and “hows” are meaningless. They zap us of energy, causing anger and frustration because they are answer-less. I don’t know why God took Laynee from this earth any more than I know why the season’s change or the sun comes up in the morning. I can’t make sense of her death anymore than the fact that he created her in another woman’s womb but brought her to my arms. I don’t know why some people’s lives seem to go smoothly while other’s run topsy turvy. Life and death and living……it’s all unfathomable, too big for the human mind to comprehend.
In all the years of agonizing and wondering and pleading with the God of the universe for understanding, I have come full circle. I don't need understanding. My faith has returned to it’s purest, simplest form. The only things that I know with absolute assurance are that there is a God, there is a heaven, and my baby girl is wherever heaven is. The anwer, “because He is God,” is enough and it brings peace and freedom.
The farther away I get from my last glimpse of her beautiful face, the deeper my desire to know the God who created her, the God who holds her, the God who has carried this family through unspeakable heartache. And the more I come to know Him, the bigger He becomes and the smaller I become. The bigger he becomes the more I cannot, I simply cannot, wrap my heart, my mind, my soul around Him.
This one thing I know. He is GOD and God is good, all the time.