Thursday, August 19, 2010

It is Well with My Soul...

Wanted to show you one of my favorite pictures...this munchkin always had his fist in his mouth. And I love that you can see his big, bright eyes....miss this precious boy so much! I can see
his slobber marks on his shirt and just ache to put a new, dry one on him.

We sang It is Well with My Soul at church on Sunday...I cried the entire time. Luke and I had this sung at our wedding and debated on having it at Graham's memorial service. It has always been a special song to us although it holds such a different meaning than it did 8 years ago as I got ready to walk down the aisle. I have begged God over and over to make this song real in my life. When I think of the phrase...when sorrow like sea billows roll...I realize it is the perfect picture of my pain. And yet I want to say and believe, it is well with my soul. I pray this will
be more real in my life than we could have ever imagined. We are trying to
see God in the midst of the pain...knowing beauty will rise from the ashes...

Our grief is hanging on. Most days I wonder if I will ever creep out from underneath its shadow. Although the shadow is most definitely there, lately, I have been able to at least see where I'm walking. The last week and a half have been the "best" weeks I have had up to this point....this is the longest stretch I have gone without falling into a deep, dark slump. It is the first time I have had several days in a row when I felt as though I could actually breathe...that I didn't have a cement block on my chest. I am so grateful for that and yet in this time I find myself once again feeling like a stranger in a foreign land. I've grown so accustomed to the unbearable pain that having 10 days of it easing up is almost uncomfortable. There also comes a level of guilt even though I know those are just lies, for me they are a reality.
Grief has so many complex emotions and working through them all remains exhausting.

I still think of Graham every minute, miss him, cry for him, long for him, talk to him but the hope of seeing him again someday has been more real to me right now than it has in 7 1/2 months. I hope reading this line brought a smile to your face because several months ago I couldn't fathom finding peace...ever...this is because of your prayers. I remember
walking past his crib a few weeks ago (which is in our room so I pass it frequently)
and for the first time I didn't feel like I was going to throw up or pass out. I felt
almost an inner calm. It was in that moment that I knew healing IS taking place. Often
times I don't feel as though I'm moving forward at all, so it was nice to be able
to see "evidence" of some gains. I'm sure it won't be that way every time, but it happened...
I felt it...
Everyone continues to tell me it does get better. So it must, right? I hope so...I must
believe that it does. And yet, there is something strangely reassuring
knowing that I will always have this empty space in my heart because it means I will never, ever forget Graham. Nothing and no one will ever be able to fill that
very special place I hold for him.
He's my son, my precious baby boy... he will be that forever and ever.
It feels as though I've been grieving forever. I'm still encountering so many firsts...One thing about grief that I never understood is that it's so encompassing. It's not just the ache and the tears that come on holidays or the 6th or 23rd of each month. It's the everyday life
experiences that are constant reminders of what we have lost...what we are missing...I know
that for the rest of my earthly life I will encounter things that will make me long for my son. I'm
continuing to pray that eventually they will not paralyze me like they do now.

I was watching James at the pool several weeks ago and he went to jump off the
diving board for the first time. Exciting right? Absolutely! But after beaming ear to ear I began joy immediately turned to sorrow because I realized I will never see
Graham jump off the diving board. Those types of experiences
while seeming trivial, continue to fuel my grief. I feel as though my entire
life will be full watching James and Lauren "do" life without Graham.

I often times find myself overwhelmed with how I will make it through life with this gaping hole in my heart. Yes, I know the pain will lessen and the emotions will not be so
raw, but the reality is I will ALWAYS, always miss, love, long for, and ache for Graham. I have to constantly remind myself to take it a day at a stay focused on today... otherwise
I get too overwhelmed.

I'm learning and trying to incorporate my grief into my everyday life so that it doesn't
dominate my life. Right now it is still the first thing I think about when I wake up in
the morning and the last thing I think about when I fall asleep at night. I have felt a sense of renewal over the last few weeks of my body and spirit. I haven't felt so exhausted.
I'm so grateful for this breath of fresh air although wondering when it will end offers a great deal of anxiety. I'm trying to embrace this time knowing that possibly soon
I will be faced with those days and moments again when the tears won't stop,
when my prayers seem unheard, when God seems so far away,
when breathing is work, when I feel alone and hopeless,
when I wonder how I can go on.

Many of you have asked for specific prayer requests so here are a few:
September is right around the corner. Graham's first birthday would've
been on the 23rd. My emotions are already quite fragile as the anticipation
of this date draws near It's going to be really hard.
Please just say extra prayers for me during the next several weeks. Pray for
comfort and a sense of peace that we know can only come from the Lord. But also pray
for extra patience, extra laughs, and energy.
His headstone is also due to be completed by the beginning of September as
well as his memory trunk. We are so grateful to have these things completed
as we want to continue to memorialize Graham, but again it's the brutal reminder
of his absence...of the finality of his life on earth.
Finally, please talk to me... Please ask me how I am doing with my journey through grief
but also what's new in my life. Ask me about James and Lauren and how tutoring
is going. Ask me how many McDonald's cokes I've had that week (okay, maybe don't ) ;)
Tell me things you remember about he looked, when you remember
seeing him last...don't be afraid of making me cry. Sometimes I will, but that's okay.
Don't feel badly about it. I don't mind offers a great sense of continued
healing. Some my greatest moments of encouragement have been when
people have told me what they remember about Graham or that they
think of him often. It makes my heart swell and my spirit soften knowing that others
still think of him and remember him. And I want to hear what's going
on in YOUR lives....I don't want it to be all about me and my sorrow. You are
important to me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you...for your prayers, your notes, and your continued
thoughtful gifts. ...THANK YOU! We are humbled and amazed by the prayers and
support we have received. I would love to do a blog post
sometime on the amazing, thoughtful things people have done for us...for me. It's
really quite amazing. You are all really Jesus-with-skin-on friends.
We love you all...more than you will ever know and you hold such a special,
special place in our hearts.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Living....'s been 2 whole months since I've updated the blog. A lot has happened since then and yet a lot has stayed the same. We have been keeping very busy doing fun, summery things and I am grateful for that. I am also grateful for summer time for two other reasons: water and sunglasses. They are the two perfect ways to disguise tears and for that, I am very grateful. When James suspects I may be teary eyed he makes me pull down my sunglasses and says, "Mom, let me see your eyes." It is sweet and sad all at the same time.
Here are some things that have kept us busy....water balloons, many trips to the park and pool,
lots of time outside pretending to fight fires, maintain farms, play baseball, soccer,
basketball, tennis, sidewalk chalk, bike riding, garden maintenance, fishing, playing with cousins and friends, soccer camp, the 4-H fair...
James and Lauren are doing so well. They are just fantastic kids...not only do I love them with all my heart, but I thoroughly enjoy them. They make me laugh and they make me
smile with their funny comments, their snuggles, their hugs and kisses, and their love for us, for each other, and for Graham. James is starting Pre-K next Wednesday
and I can hardly believe it! I'm even more emotional about it than I anticipated I would be. I am so excited for him to go and learn and meet new friends, but it's one more
step toward growing up, toward not needing me the way he always has....

I'm looking forward to spending some special time with Lauren while James is at school. She so thoroughly enjoys one-on-one time with us. I plan to do lots of fun things with her. I also get scared about staying busy and keeping myself occupied. When I have just one of the kids with me it seems to be an even larger reminder of what is missing...
our Graham. I'm nervous about this transition stage, but am going to do my best to use my time to invest purposefully in Lauren.
Here are several pictures that show bits and pieces of what we have been doing this summer...
I will try and start doing a better job updating the blog so you don't have to read an entire
BOOK when I do update ;)

We took James to the rodeo! What a treat that was for him! And, we had "special" seats which
made it even more spectacular! We had such a great time with him
Riding a pony at the fair...

Sitting on tractors while waiting for the rodeo...

Riding rides at the fair in the fun....

James "teaching" me how to fish...hilarious! :)

A lot of snuggle time with the 3 of us...

Dress up...

James going off the diving board without floaties. He is SO big!

Swim lessons...

Soccer camp...

Swimming at Grandma & Grandpas....

Fishing at the pond....we caught a fish almost every time we cast the line.

Beach fun...

I will update soon on how I'm doing with life...with my grief journey...
I hope you are all doing well and enjoying your summer!