Sunday May 30, 2010

Excerpts from

I Will Carry You

By Angie Smith (& husband Todd)

Our biggest problem in life during the girls’ younger years were things like finding the sixth shoe. I miss those days. We made plans for forever, like you’re supposed to do when you’re a family. (p. 7)

I stared in the mirror as I got ready to go out that day, looking at my reflection and imagining what it was going to look like in the coming days. I never got the chance to see that. (p. 7)

I would stay awake at night and wonder if I would ever have children… I couldn’t help but wonder if motherhood wasn’t going to happen the way I had always dreamed it would. (p. 8)

Faith is to believe what we do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what we believe. –Saint Augustine (p. 17)

It really didn’t feel like this could be happening to us; after all, we were such a normal family. Things like this just don’t happen to people like us, right? (p. 17)

I feel into Todd’s lap and begged him to tell me it wasn’t happening. Not again. (p. 17)

It is the look a doctor has when he is about to tell a tearful mommy that her baby is going to die and nothing can be done about it. (p. 17)

My mind is a little fuzzy on the next few minutes because I was making a conscious effort not to pass out. It was too much to process, too much to try and incorporate into reality. (p. 18)

The room was silent in a way I have never experienced silence. (p. 18)

We spoke a thousand words that were never heard in this world as we both started to come to terms with what was happening. He put my head on his chest, and as much as I’m sure he wanted to tell me everything was going to be OK, there was really no point. (p. 18)

I looked out the window at the people below and thought it was so strange that life looked normal. (p. 18)

Even in that desperate place, I felt the Lord urging me not to succumb to my fears. (p. 19)

I burst into tears—sobbing, shaking, screaming, unintelligibly crying. (p. 19)

We collapsed into each other’s arms and wailed, thinking of all we didn’t know on the night we had said those precious words: For better or for worse… in sickness and in health… (p. 21)

I am pretty comfortable saying He is in complete control until the ground grows weak beneath me. At that point I tell Him what He should do to fix it. (p. 23)

People shuffled past us, lost in their normal lives. (p. 24)

He may give us today with her, or He may give us the rest of our lives. Either way, we are going to be purposeful, and we are going to live it to the fullest.” (p. 24)

She needed permission to hope. We all did actually. (p. 26)

I would wake up in the morning, and it would hit me over and over again that it was real. It seemed that every encounter with other people was so weighed down by the reality of my hurt that I could barely stand it. (p. 27)

I simply couldn’t talk about it anymore. (p. 27)

I decided to start writing a blog… It was good therapy… I didn’t have to see the look in people’s eyes or watch them uncomfortably search for the right words when we both knew there just weren’t any. (p. 27)

I sat, fully humbled, as many I love spoke wisdom over me, and I admitted to myself that I was going to need help to get through this season of life. (p. 27)

I just buried my head in her shoulder and let it out, grasping for sanity in the chaos. (p. 28)

As I drove, I began to pound the steering wheel and scream. I literally beat it with my fists and wailed as I begged the Lord… (p. 28)

What I needed to learn about myself was clear in that moment. I did believe in Him enough to call out. I trusted Him enough to share the brokenness, even though He already knew it all. (p. 29)

It is hard to accept that anyone, even the God of the universe, could love your child the way that you do. (p. 30)

There was no room to consider the cost of investing my heart; I was already head over heels in love with her. (p. 30)

At the end of every day, regardless of what it had held, we knew that she had been given to us for a purpose, and we were seeking wisdom as we embraced that. (p. 30)

Sharing my story opened so many doors to conversation that would never have taken place. (p. 32)

They were the tears of a mother who was just beginning to understand how much she had taken for granted in this life. (p. 36)

We saw each other for what we were—women who were often just going through the motions of normalcy, partly for our children and partly for ourselves. I began to realize that this was going to be a part of my new life because the world has a way of going on all around you even when you are in the depths of sorrow that belie its pace and fervor. (p. 40)

Here is a woman [Mary] who watched her beloved brother [Lazarus] die. Yet, as soon as she hears that Jesus is near, she cannot help but gather up her dress around her and run to Him. Do you? I am speaking from experience when I say it doesn’t always come naturally. But I also know that every time her feet hit the ground and people turned to see her scurrying past them, her Father was glorified. (p. 47)

I was not present to care for the girls because I hurt so much in so many ways. This is the hardest part to bear. (p. 51)

We can’t begin to imagine the road that lies ahead of us, but I know that I will remember today as being a day that I trusted Him despite the hurt. (p. 58)

All the months, all the dreams, all the hopes for a miracle. Gone. (p. 60)

Joy is not the absence of trouble but the presence of Christ. (p. 62)

I closed my eyes and prayed for the Lord to sustain me. For the strength to accept that the cup had not passed. For trust in Him despite that I felt horribly, maddeningly betrayed. (p. 63)

I knew she wasn’t there anymore, but the mother’s heart doesn’t know how to stop loving, even in the wake of death. (p. 65)

I caught myself moving gently as if I was rocking my own daughter, but my arms were empty. My body couldn’t accept it any more than my heart could. (p. 68)

“I thought that prattling boys and girls would fill this empty room. That my rich heart would gather flowers from childhood’s opening bloom. One child and two graves are mine, this is God’s gift to me; a bleeding, fainting, broken heart, this if my gift to Thee.” –Elizabeth Prentiss, 101 More Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck, 185 (p. 71)

People constantly ask how it is that I am not angry with the Lord. My honest answer is that I have been angry, and I have been disappointed. What I have not been, and what I refuse to be, is disbelieving. (p. 72)

Do you believe that the Lord is who He says He is and that He has accomplished what He says He has accomplished? If you do, then know that you are walking a road that leads to Him and to your precious lost children. No, they will not return to us. But one day, not so far from now, we will go to them. (p. 75)

I know she isn’t really in there; it’s just that her knees are, and I would have loved to kiss them after she fell. I need to mourn the loss of the arms that cannot wrap around me here. Braided hair, a wedding dress, her first wiggly tooth. They are deep within the ground, never to be mine. I needed to feel that loss, and I did. I do. (p. 79)

We have done very bit of what we felt we could. We trusted Him. We called on Him. We awaited His appearance and even fought doubt as the days passed because above all else, He is good… right? (p. 80)

His power is never too small for everyone else, it seems; but when it’s me, it feels intangible and unlikely. (p. 81)

Instead of spending your days focusing on your sense of hurt or loss, allow the Lord to bless you with the grace to believe that what lies ahead will glorify Him. It is the closest thing to true worship that we have in this life, and so often we miss it. (p. 81)

As a Christian, I know that I am called to glorify the Lord no matter the circumstance, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to make sense. (p. 84)

I just felt like the wind had whipped through and knocked me down, deep down into a place I didn’t want to be. A place where the answers are fewer than the questions. A place where God seems hidden, just slightly, by the shadows of this broken life. It is an easy place to get comfortable because all of your hurts are justified and the tears give way to doubt while you meant to pick yourself right back up. (p. 90)

I don’t know where you are tonight, or what hurts you are holding up to God, but I will promise you this. If you can just trust Him enough to bring it to Him, He will rejoice in your masterpiece. And if you need to scream a little, know that you have a God who can take that too, as long as your face is tilted (even slightly) toward Him. (p. 92)

The process of healing has been winding and unpredictable to me. One day I’m starting to feel like myself again, and even that can make me feel guilty sometimes. I feel like I don’t have a right to be normal. (p. 92)

Life in pieces, never to be put back together. (p. 96)

This marked the beginning of a season of questioning for me… I couldn’t help but feel like we were being targeted. (p. 96)

Seeing someone you love suffer so desperately with no relief in sight is a dreadful feeling. We tried everything we could, always aware that the break would be momentary, and then we would dig into the hurt again. (p. 98)

I cannot seem to find my way these past few days. I have bruises on my legs from bumping into furniture that has not moved in years. I got lost driving home the other night from a familiar place and didn’t even realize I was lost until I had been driving in the wrong direction for almost fifteen minutes. All day long I forget the most simple words, the most familiar faces, the words to a song I know by heart. Sometimes I just stand in the shower with the water scalding my skin so that I can feel something that registers. My brain just doesn’t know its way around the sorrow. (p. 100)

I know the steps of grief. They look great on paper along with all the other multiple-choice questions, but in reality they aren’t that simple. They jump back and forth at a pace that is completely unpredictable. (p. 102)

It’s really a delicate balance between letting yourself grieve the way you need to and functioning in a world that keeps reminding you of what you have lost. (p. 102)

The truth is that to some degree, every day I have here is another day without her. I don’t know when I will be able to see life any differently. (p. 102)

None of us grieves the same way, and one of the best things we can do is to give ourselves permission to live that out. (p. 103)

You may need to reprioritize your relationships in order to grieve in an authentic way. This can be a challenge, but it is worth it. (p. 105)

Part of trying to cultivate a grateful heart is looking for opportunities to share the gospel through my loss and seeking ways to bring God glory through the loss. (p. 105)

One of the things that meant the world to me was that people acknowledged that we had lost her. (p. 111)

There is no normal. There is the loss, and there is the Lord. That balance dictates the season, not the changing leaves or the anniversaries of death. (p. 112)

People are uncomfortable swimming in another’s grief. The way they respond to it is, naturally, to try and fix the situation. Of course, they can’t…Yet sometimes the right thing is to say nothing at all. It’s just to be there, available, willing, authentic. (p. 114)

People’s natural instincts are to rush us through our grieving because they love us so much. A time will come when we are ready to take the next step, but that is between the Lord and ourselves. In the meantime, please be sensitive to those who are grieving, aware that they may not be able to do “normal” things for a while. (p. 114)

We had friends come over and play with the girls, do laundry, sweep the floors, mow the lawn, and drop off thoughtful gifts. I felt more gratitude than I knew how to express because grief made me not want to do anything other than survive. (p. 116)

Be on your knees for your friends and commit to seeing it through, however long that takes. Believe that the Lord can use you, because He can. (p. 117)

We aren’t going to feel whole in this life, and we will long for something we don’t have. Something that will fill the nagging void that intermittently stings and knocks us to our knees. And all the while, Satan taunts us, telling us our faith is small. To hurt so deeply is a sign that we live in a fallen world, not that we serve a small God. (p. 118)

Daily I must remind myself that He is not threatened by my doubt nearly as much as He is glorified by my faith. (p. 118)

I didn’t feel like I lost a baby; I felt like I said goodbye to someone I had always known, who had been my daughter for years and years. (p. 123)

I have learned that grief is a dance. I do it rather clumsily much of the time, but as it turns out, I am in good company. Others who have lost children have shared the inability to separate the sorrow from the joy in life. (p. 126)

Our Lord is bigger than any of the trials He asks us to walk through, yet I also recognize the hurt that threatens to steal our joy at any moment. It is a decision we must make, many times even in a day, to choose to believe that our Father is good. (p. 127)

We miss them, Lord. We trust You to love them well, every day strengthening us to press on without them. (p. 127)

Angie and I grieved differently. For Angie it was a constant process… for me it comes in cycles. Angie was constantly reminded of Audrey and was so connected with her because she was carrying her. She was always mourning for her… It hurt her because I didn’t grieve as intensely as she did. I think sometimes she felt alone… I was frustrated and angry with myself because I didn’t grieve like she did. I felt guilty and in turn angry… Whereas so many nights Angie was heartbroken, I would be OK and was able to move forward. I went into survival mode… Part of me didn’t want to deal with the whole thing. It is so overwhelming. (p. 132)

Your family is hurting, and you are bearing burdens you don’t know how you’re going to overcome. (p. 133)

Don’t try to be tough, or have all the answers, or act like it’s not affecting you. Please don’t harden your heart to safeguard yourself from the child you are losing. I continue to grieve in my own way. It may come several times a week, or it may be several times a month; but when it hits, it hits hard. (p. 133)

If He is good, then we need to praise Him no matter what comes our way, even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when we come away not having answers. As a man it is so important that as you lead, you have one foot on Earth and one in heaven… Lean on other men. Don’t run away from God… Pray for God’s help, for His wisdom, for Him to give you faith and hope, even when it feels pointless and hollow. (p. 135)

If you are running from God, run to Him. Stay close to Him as you lead your family. You can be angry with Him the whole time, but go to Him. I believe God would prefer we yell and scream at Him but be in constant communication with Him than be silent and turn our backs on Him. (p. 135)

It’s horrible. It’s devastating. We will never be the same. It will never be fixed in this life. We are completely powerless to do anything. There are no answers… Death is awful. It hurts you to your core. Don’t sugarcoat death. It is what it is. (p. 137)

The shift if our home’s atmosphere was palpable, and children even younger than Kate can sense that. Infants who are living in the wake of loss do not understand death, but they understand that Mommy is sad or that Daddy seems to be distant. They need to be held and comforted, reassured that you aren’t abandoning them to your grief. (p. 140)

The one thing I will say about grieving in the presence of your children is that you should. Don’t hide away and wear a perfect smile, pretending that everything is OK; because whether or not you say it, they know it isn’t. Your children know the way you make their beds, the way you cut their sandwiches, the way you kiss them goodnight. (p. 141)

5 Replies to “Sunday May 30, 2010”

  1. Thank you Melissa!  This sounds like a good book.  This is a powerful truth – “Joy is not the absence of trouble but the presence of Christ.”

  2. I wasn’t able to read all of these but the one I copied below is something my Mom told me she felt like the day (and days following) that her Mom died 🙁

    I looked out the window at the people below and thought it was so strange that life looked normal. (p. 18)

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