It’s been almost a month since Helen arrived. A month that has felt like a lifetime and yet has passed in the blink of an eye. Today is her due date, one month exactly from the day she died. Thursday, a month from the day we found out, and Friday, one month from her birth. In some ways the first two weeks after she died were easy. We were in shock but immediately everyone we know and love (and then some) rallied around us. We’ve been surrounded by countless prayers and support. Prayers for her birth, prayers for coming home, prayers while we planned her service, and prayers as we walked into the barn to celebrate her little life. Emails, meals, text messages, cards, flowers, phone calls, so much love you don’t know what to do with it all. We’ve been grateful for every drop, every ounce, every gallon sized bottle of love that’s been poured out on us.
But soon after her memorial service on Friday, the 25th of January, it felt like all the love and support had drifted away. That Friday came and went beautifully, full of blessings might I add, but now we’re here, standing, sometimes sitting, and sometimes laying face down on the floor at the threshold of the rest of our lives. The cards stopped filling our mailbox. My phone doesn’t light up nearly as much as it did; most days its almost silent. The food is still coming, but the question “What can I do?” has floated to the distance occasionally finding its way to us. So, we are left with our “new normal”.
The Sunday after Helen’s service was really hard. As the company from the weekend had left and our lives approached Monday, it was unbelievably evident that the world had kept spinning even though ours was standing still. That morning, light brought a new day and those around us were waking up to start their Sunday just as they always do. They made their coffee and ate their breakfast. They headed to church, to lunch, and then home for a nap. Kids did their homework and parents did their Sunday chores. That night they all climbed into bed surveying the week ahead: Monday’s staff meeting, Tuesday’s basketball practice, Wednesday night small group, the gym each morning, and a dentist appointment on Thursday.
I was suddenly very aware, that to the rest of the world, January 27th was just another ordinary Sunday.
But to us, there was no normal.
There is no thinking about my week, let alone my tomorrow. There’s just the wonderment of what my next moment will hold. Will the waves of grief crash around me before I even put my feet on the floor or will I make it to breakfast? Will this wave last all day or pass quickly and suddenly? I never know when the wave will come, or how high or how strong. I may float on top or be swept underneath tumbling through the ocean believing I will never come up for breath.
While Helen was inside me I would often think about our future. I’d think about how different our lives would be once she got here. How we’d have two beautiful little girls demanding our attention. I thought a lot about the practical day to day difference we’d see in our lives. I thought about family dynamics and relationships. I was very aware that our lives would never be the same and I began to cherish our time as a family of three.
It’s funny, though I’m sure there is a better word, the change I was preparing for hasn’t changed at all. Since Helen was born, there’s been a lot that stayed the same. We still have one little girl demanding our attention. We sleep through the night and rest during naptime. AB wants to play with us, not hold the baby. We have one mouth to feed, not two. One diaper to change. One daughter to care for.
Nothing is different, yet everything has changed.
It’s easy to think that this is our story to suffer through. It’s easy to believe that our “cloud of witnesses” has grieved their grief and moved on. After all, that’s what my mailbox tells me right? It’s easy to think that nothing has changed for anyone else, except us. It’s easy to believe that we’re alone and the rest of the world has moved on.
But what is easy, isn’t always right.
God is grieving with us. Our people are very much grieving. They’re still praying. They still love us and their hearts are still broken. We’ve all changed. I knew the dust would settle and the outward evidence of love would slowly tamper, but it doesn’t mean it’s gone. I’ve seen it. A text message here, a kind word there, hugs, lunch dates, LISTENING. It’s all there. We just have to look a little harder.
In those early days, God gave me a very tangible gift. Every morning, I’d wake up with a song in my head that I just couldn’t stop singing. It should surprise no one, that the words were always just the comfort I needed. This song has been on repeat in my mind for weeks.
I’m thankful for a God who knows just what we need for each day and provides it.