Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Eighteen Months

It's been eighteen months.  How my life has changed in a year and a half!
As I mentioned before, I have been doing a Bible study with Emily over the last few months. On September 29th I was finishing up the next to last day of the study and this was the first question: "Subtract 18 months from the present date and write your calculation here: _____.  Between then and now, what kinds of things have come your way? "  
I looked it up and it was March 29th, 2013.  It was Amy's first full day home from the large hospital where she had spent a month.  Home health had come in and I was overwhelmed, but we were all so happy to be home. It was a good day, I wrote in my journal. I still didn't realize that she was so very sick. I had no idea that in a little over a week she would be gone. 
I answered the question with these words:  "My whole life has changed. Amy died and so much of me died with her. Will was just born and so much of life lies ahead of me."

Bill and I got "the call" around 4 a.m. Laura was in labor and at the hospital. I tried to go back to sleep, but knew I would just lay there and fret so I got up and started getting ready to go. Bill soon joined me. I don't know if he was concerned about me driving in the dark by myself over the mountain, or if he truly wanted to be there also. He is the strong silent type and even after 37 years of marriage, I still can't always read him. We sat for about two hours in the waiting room, trying to ignore the infomercials blasting on the tv that we couldn't turn off, dozing off and on, before James came out and told us that William David was here. They kept the name a secret, so I was moved to tears that they chose to name him after his grandpa. We were able to see him for a few minutes and hold him.  I couldn't hold back the tears. I was so relieved that he was ok, that Laura was ok and that all seemed well.
According to the clock on the wall, he wasn't even two hours old yet!

In the days that followed I somehow thought that little Will would change me, make my grief subside. But it intensified instead. His first night home, Laura asked me to put a little gown on him. As I was pulling his arm through, holding on to his little hand, I was hit in the gut with grief. This is how I dressed Amy for 31 years. I held on to each of her hands as I guided them through her sleeves. More tears. 
A day or so later, I was holding Will and I touched his nose with the tip of my finger and kissed him. Again, just as I had with Amy thousands of times. More sadness and tears.  
I caught myself calling him "Munchkin," Amy's pet name. But this time no tears. He is such a little munchkin!

I hauled the fall decorations down from the attic.  I have not decorated for any special holiday for the last 18 months. It was very difficult to see the special decorations that I put in Amy's room. Also the wooden pumpkins that she made one year in school and  the little Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim that I've put out for the last 25 years or so!  I got up the courage to replace the butterfly welcome flag that has flown on the lamppost since Amy died with one of pumpkins and fall leaves. I visited the cemetery and talked to Amy as I cleaned off the spring flowering butterfly vine from Tess's wedding and replaced it with a fall one of brightly colored leaves.  I told her about Will and how much I missed her. I've said before that it isn't fair that she isn't here to be an aunt.  But I realized that it isn't what Amy is missing, but what I am missing by seeing her face as she reacts to her nephew. It is my pain, not hers. I will keep Amy's memory alive to my grandchildren so they can know what a special person she was and still is, living in our hearts.

Yesterday, I went with Tess to her dr.s appointment. She is 14 weeks along and hasn't been sick much at all. What a blessing that has been for her as she has continued to work full time. I heard the  baby's heartbeat and it sounds strong. We went shopping for maternity clothes and birthday shopping as her daddy and  her husband's birthdays are only a day apart. We had such a great day. As I thanked her I told her that it will take some of the pain away from today. And it has.

A few days ago, I walked down from seeing Will and snapped this picture of our tree.
Fall is my favorite season, winter will be here soon, but I am enjoying the life God has given me right now.

The last verse of Thessalonians is: 
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all."
Grace. God's Riches At Christ's Expense.
God's Riches.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Death and New Life

We've always had a dog. 
One was given to us as a wedding present, before the wedding. So our married life started with a dog in our family. His name was Rusty. He was a long red haired German Dachshund.   We had him for nine years. He was killed when Amy was about 5. 
A few years later, when James was 3 we bought him a Dalmatian for his birthday. He loved Dalmatians and so we coughed up  $75.00 (that was a lot back then) and bought him a pure-bred puppy. We called her Spots. We're not really creative when it comes to names. We tried to breed her but each time it wouldn't work so we gave up. When she was 9 she got pregnant! We never saw the male dog that must have been hanging around our farm, and we were very worried as to what the puppies would look like. In January of 2001, Spots had her puppies. She must have been with a black lab, because that's what all those little balls of fur resembled. As we had no papers, we just put an add in the paper for free puppies when they were older and within a week they were all gone. 
Except the one James decided to keep. She was all black with only tips of white on her tail and her feet. We named her Tipps. That was almost 14 years ago. Last week she joined Amy in heaven. She had been failing for about a year and so she became an inside dog this past winter. And she continued to sleep in the house and come in when it rained or if it was too chilly to be outside. I prayed that she would just die in her sleep.  She slept a lot the past couple of months and many times I would look at her in the morning to see if she was still breathing.  When I came home from my trip with my sisters, I could tell she had lost a lot of weight and didn't have much longer to live. The first thing I did was to hold her and cry and continue to ask the Lord to take her home. Last Wednesday He chose to do that. But not the way I asked. Not the way I wanted, that I thought was best.
It was around 8:30 in the morning, Bill and James were getting the truck ready for work and Tipps was outside soaking up the sun in the driveway. Emily was leaving for work and backed over her. We knew it was bad. We all held her and cried. We had to make the decision to "put her down." In our family that means that one of the men has to shoot the animal that needs "put down." I'm sure many farm families do the same. Even though Tipps was James' dog, she really had become Bill's dog once James went to college and moved to his own home. Then the last year having Tipps sleep in the house right beside Bill's chair, made for an even closer bond. 
James said he would do it.

Why didn't God answer my prayer the way I wanted Him to?  I didn't want one of the men to have to shoot her. I didn't even want us to have to make the decision.  We had to make the decision to let Amy die! Wasn't that enough for all time?   I just wanted God to let Tipps die in her sleep.  Was that too much to ask?  Why didn't He?  I became angry at God and all the grief over Amy's death flooded my soul again for days. 

I came upon this poem in an email  I got from someone.

He Maketh No Mistake
by A.M. Overton

My Father's way may twist and turn,
My heart may throb and ache,
But in my soul I'm glad I know,
He maketh no mistake.

My cherished plans may go astray,
My hopes may fade away,
But still I'll trust my Lord to lead
For He doth know the way.

Tho' night be dark and it may seem
That day will never break;
I'll pin my faith, my all in Him,
He maketh no mistake.

There's so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight's far too dim;
But come what may, I'll simply trust
And leave it all to Him.

For by and by the mist will lift
And plain it all He'll make.
Through all the way, tho' dark to me,
He made not one mistake.

I know that God does not make mistakes. He chose the time and the way for Tipps to die. We did not choose. He did. He knew that Emily was going to back over her. He knew that we would put her down. He knew all of this and He loves us so much. His ways are best.  
The next day I was coming in from getting the mail and lamenting over the serious weed situation by my fairy garden in the front. And then my eyes spotted a glimpse of color. What was that? A snapdragon growing  in the tangle of weeds!  I had not planted a snapdragon there.  In fact I had weeded that whole area when I planted my fairy garden and there were no little plants then. 
God gave me a glimpse of joy. Of His power and His love. 

Four days after Tipps died we became grandparents. 
William David was born. 
A beautiful, new little one to hold and love.