So how are we? That depends on what moment it is and what thoughts and memories are coming to mind.
In the big picture of everything, we are doing OK. God is so good and so faithful and continues to carry us as we can't carry ourselves. I spoke with a mentor the other day who told me (as a professional psychologist looking from the outside in) that we're doing pretty well, all things considered. Others have echoed the same sentiment, almost in amazement. Some have been inspired by our endurance, others by our overwhelming sense of peace in the trial. Some have told us that, through the rumor mill, they've heard that we're doing just fine.
To be truthful, we're not fine. We may have peace, and we may understand God's love and faithfulness in a whole new way, but we're not fine. We hurt, and hurt deeply. It's the feeling of almost always having a lump at the bottom of your throat. It's the feeling in the deepest depth that you have been completely emptied, and not emptied slowly, but having something in the deepest depth completely ripped out of you. It's brokenness, and it hurts.
I just came down stairs from standing over Elyse's crib in tears. I picture her there and I just miss her so much. I can't be in her room more than a minute without breaking down. Everywhere we go we're haunted by the desire to have her there with us. And we frequently return to the question, "What could we have done differently?" No, we're not fine.
But alas, we are forced to return to the truth. The truth is that we serve an almighty God that loves and cares for us deeply. He is good. He is faithful. He is sovereign. And He is Lord. His mercies are new every morning. We cling to these truths, and repeat them often. In the midst of despair, we are learning to sing praises, quote scripture, and remind each other of the truth that we know in our minds, even when we don't believe it in our emotions.
So how do we want you to respond to us? Many people are obviously nervous in approaching us, and uncomfortable at best in making conversation. We get that. We want you to know that we understand. This is strange territory for all of us. But please know that we love to talk about our little girl. We miss her so very much, but we love to talk about her and remember her. This is healthy. As I've said before, we don't have any desire to "move on" but know we are to "move forward." As we do that, we cling to the most amazing memories that we have of Elyse; and we treasure it when others share their memories of her. Sometimes we're brought to tears, sometimes laughter, but we love the memories.
For those of you not in our daily world, I can't even begin to tell you how much your prayers, cards, scripture, calls and so much more have meant to us. Please don't forget. Please don't forget to pray for the three of us, as well as our extended family and friends. Please don't forget to drop us a note every once in awhile reminding us of truth. Please don't forget our little girl. We aren't going to... ever.
Thanks for view through the open window, Cliff.
Praying for you guys every day.
Powerful Cliff! My favorite is, "if we can do anything, let us know." What are they going to do to make this change? Nothing. I get the same comments from well meaning people and I just want to say after a while, "Find me a job! That's what you can do!" It almost sounds trite, but we all say what we think will help and our intentions are pure. Words in times like these are never enough. I guess that's why the Bible says that God's peace surpasses all understanding. But this comes and goes with our moods as if to complicate things even more.
Praying for you.
Abraham and Molly Piper lost their little girl about a year and half ago, and Molly has a set of posts on her blog on How To Help Your Grieving Friend - very encouraging to have another who's walking this path describe it and know that the feelings you're wading through are normal. And I think its very helpful for friends to be able to understand you and love you in a helpful way!
I'm praying Is.41:10 for you!
Do not fear, for He is with you!
Do not be dismayed, for He is your God. He will strengthen you and help you and uphold you!
~ Rachel Pearsey
April has been consistently following Molly's blog and it has been a huge encouragement through all of this. And would you know... someone else quoted Isaiah 41 earlier this evening. God is good!
Cliff - You will be in my prayers. Thanks for the update.
It was good to see you guys on Monday. I hope that you can find a little peace as you read the book that Scott found solace in. April and I got to speak for a moment about small talk and how right now it is difficult. I still have a hard time with the polite, politically correct conversations. I want to get to the gut level with people, but most are really not comfortable with that. it is certainly not ever my desire to push people, I just, like you, live in the super harsh reality of every moment counts. Who cares about the weather, right? The loaded question of "How are you?" is tricky. I didn't always want to make people cry or deny my daily struggle. Peace is there, but brokenness is as well. Now the question that has been a hard one for a long time is, "How many kids do you have?" or "Just the 3 girls?" Those always bring tears. I will NOT deny my little dude. He counts and I do have a son. He is just with Jesus. Okay, I am sounding rough around the edges. I guess I am, since Feb. 05. Nothing is normal, it is just made new. We want to come up and have lunch with you guys when Scott has a day off, soon. Lots of love to your sweet family!
I have been following your blog for the last few weeks. I just now realized I had a Blogger account thru my business website and could leave comments...
Anyway, sorry for the delay. I hope you got the card I sent. (to Hume Lake)...
You've been in my thoughts and prayers... Even with suffering loss in the past...it doesn't get any easier to experience loss now...or respond to it...
I know better than to ask how you're doing...you're not fine, you're not supposed to be...I appreciate your honesty...
I remember my mind being like a vending machine that spits out a dollar bill... it would not accept the reality... the mind reaches out for what's not there to be reached...and the thoughts have nowhere to land...they come bouncing back...it makes no sense...
I'm praying especially hard for your son...one of the hardest things was watching Brittany trying to process Brad's loss...(it still upsets me to think about that part of it... even ten years later)...you know what I mean....
May we ALL hold true in the dark valleys we walk through...may we keep the faith and endure to see all our pain turned to glory...our mourning turned to dancing...our tears wiped away...
Me, my family, & Highlands Church in Paso Robles (people you don't even know) are praying for you...
Best wishes, love, and everything good...
Cliff and April,
Such a powerful post! We are in constant prayer for you. We go to a small church here in Bakersfield. One of our families lost their 3 year old 2 years ago. It was hard for all of us and our dear friends had the same sentiments as you. they were "not fine" and it was hard when everyone kept asking them "how are you doing?" But one thing Jacki would always say is "God is good, ALL the time". We love you and even though I never met your precious daughter I can see through the pictures what a joy she was and is. I would love to hear all about her someday! love you friends and still praying
Staci (Smith) Woodward
Thank you, Cliff, for letting us enter your grief.
I love you both very much.
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