Saturday, February 7, 2015

Children and Death

Tomorrow we will go to Sunday School and Morning Worship like we always do. We have a ladies class with a time of sharing. Emily is singing a solo during the worship. I will put on my smile. I will pretend that life is fine. I will try not to cry. 
I will not succeed. 
Tomorrow it will have been 22 months since Amy was in my arms, since I held her sweet hand in mine, since I sang to her one last time, since I kissed her face and gave her to the Lord Jesus Christ to be His forever. 
Why is missing her still so hard? Did I love her too much? 

I have been thinking a lot about children and about death this last month. For two weeks we had six extra people in our house, four of them age 9 and under. I forgot about the noise and the turmoil that having four children can bring!  It has been quite a few years since I had my 4 children in the home. The youngest, James, came along when Tess was 9 and so for only nine years (until she left for college) did I have four children in the house. Only nine years?  Why did it seem so much longer?  Tess was a quiet girl, Amy couldn't speak, then I had two very vocal kids, Emily and James! So I never really experienced life with four exuberant children, only two.

We had a lot of fun times together. One of the special things we did was to take a walk to the cemetery. On another day, their oldest wanted to put some flowers on Amy's grave and I remembered to take my camera. Their oldest daughter is the only one who can remember Amy since it has been four years since they were here last.

Amy loved her cousin, Carrie.  She was the only cousin she had that was her age. Amy was able to see her almost every Christmas and then about every four years once Carrie married. Carrie was able to come back to Pennsylvania  for Grandpa's funeral in January of 2013. So Carrie and Amy were able to visit with each other for the last time just a few months before she died. Her precious family will always be special to me. 

A few weeks ago the ladies in our Sunday School class decided to do "Secret Sisters." We were each given a form to fill out. The form wanted us to list our children's names and ages. I was glancing over this and instantly tears sprang to my eyes and pain clutched at my heart. I haven't had to fill out a form asking that since Amy has been gone. I finally filled it out last week and I listed Amy and put "with Jesus" after her name. I couldn't just leave her off and make no mention of her at all as if she didn't ever exist. 
I'm sure the widows in our class felt the same way when it asked for their husband's name and anniversary date. 

That same Sunday we were to attend the afternoon funeral of the dear lady that Emily has been helping take care of for the last few years. While still in church, Emily got the call that the husband had also passed away. This dear couple were in their 90's and I had know them for the last 37 years, since we were married and moved here. Emily writes about her experiences here:

A week later, the father of the lady who cared for Amy at her school also passed away.  We attended yet another viewing. The first for me at the funeral home where Amy had been. 
I knew what was behind the closed doors; the room where the caskets are chosen,  the room where the family sits for the consultation with the funeral director, even the room where you go to pay your bill.  
On the way home I was thinking how hard it was for Emily, for the families of those who had died. I was thinking that there was some consolation in the fact that they had lived a good long life and had family that loved them. But I started feeling sorry for myself again, by thinking that Amy only lived for 31 years. Do I dare say that God "spoke" to me then?  He told me that Amy did have a good long life for her tiny body. He appointed the day of her death and her life was as long as He allowed.  And she also had family and many friends that loved her. 

The following morning I woke up thinking of my children when they were Carrie's childrens ages. How they acted and what all we did. The scene came to my mind that was put on the end of  Amy's memorial video; she had just gotten her back brace and she could walk upright again. I called to her, "Come to Mommy. Amy. Come to Mommy."  She came to me and gave me her beautiful smile.

Two other things stick out in my mind from the last two weeks. 

I was able to see an ultrasound for the very first time. Tess allowed me to be with her and I was able to see my granddaughter's face and hands and tiny little fingers. It brought tears to my eyes. In just a few months I will be able to hold that little girl in my arms. 

I also babysat Will for a couple of hours and he is growing so fast! He is now 4 1/2 months old. He talks to me with cooing and smiles. He got fussy so I rocked him to sleep and I just held him in my arms the whole time he slept. I dozed on and off myself, but was so thankful that I had time, with no responsibilities and that I was able to just hold him while he slept, to glory in his little nose and eyes and lips.  Was it really 25 years ago I held his Daddy like this? But then I don't remember taking the time to just "be." I was always in a hurry. I was always looking to the next stage... until they were grown and gone. 

God has given me the gift of time right now. He has given me a gift of not having the responsibility of caring for Amy.  I have time to enjoy my children and grandchildren.  Would I want Amy back? Yes. But I can't have her back. Nor would she want to be back in this life, now that she knows what true freedom from her physical body is like in heaven with Jesus. I'm trying to be thankful for what God has given me each day. 

Children and even death. It is all in God's plan. 
So tomorrow I will try to smile and when the tears come, I will let them, but I will continue to try to smile. God has given me a gift.  I will treasure my memories and look forward to the future and enjoy the time of right now.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Time as We Know It 21 Months

It has been 21 months since I looked on the sweet living face of my dear daughter. Almost 2 years.
I have been thinking a lot about time lately. 
On New Years Eve day I started getting our old bedroom ready for our company who are due to arrive on the 12th. It had become the dumping ground for all of Amy's stuff and anything I didn't know what to do with! I spent most of the day piling up stuff that didn't belong in that room and also putting Amy's things in the dresser drawers and in a box in the closet. I thought I was ready to sort through  her things but I just can't yet.  Maybe if I hadn't waited until less than two weeks before I needed the room ready, I could have done it. I don't know. I do know that I cried buckets of tears that day, just being around the things that Amy held dear or that I held dear because they were hers. I found her baby book in a box of mementos, cards and small items.  I searched through the pages like a crazy woman looking for an envelope and thought my heart would break with thanksgiving and joy when I found it. It was Amy's hair from her first hair cut.  I so regret not keeping some of her hair when she died. I know that probably sounds weird, but they did it all the time in the Civil War days. I was just so thankful to have it. I tucked it carefully back into the envelope and put it back in the baby book and closed the cover. I could not spend anymore time looking through so many memories. 
The last few days I have continued to get the rooms upstairs ready for Bill's niece, her husband, and their four children.
We have the baby crib set up in our old bedroom. I have saved it for 35 years with the thought that my grandchildren would use it. It has a drop down side and I guess those cribs are not safe anymore. So it has become a place to put all the stuffed animals that were Amys. More tears came as I realized the bag holding some of the stuffed animals was a hospital bag that said "Patient's Belongings" on it. Actually I could have screamed but I didn't want to alarm my husband. Patients belongings, yes they were. Why I chose to save that bag and put some of  her stuffed animals in it, I will never know. 
We also have a cradle that I brought downstairs to use before Will was born. It was never used. We now have a "pack and play" set up in our bedroom for Will and the new baby to come. The 35 year old cradle is outdated and too big to be used by my daughter and husband in their small bedroom. I guess it will go back up to the attic. 
Time. Thirty-five years have flown by. I thought I would pass on stuff to my kids that I have held dear, but in reality, they don't really want it. It doesn't have the meaning to them that it does to me. I have come to realize that time is not at all like I have looked at it for my 56 years. Our bodies were made for this time, but our souls, our thoughts, our feelings, are made for all eternity time.  That is why I feel like it was just yesterday that I was bringing my firstborn home from the hospital and laying her in that cradle, but my back kills me if I stand up and hold Will for more than 5 minutes! It seems to me like it has been forever since I have had Amy with me to take care of her and love on her, but in eternity time those 21 months are just a moment.
I have to keep my thoughts on eternity time and not on these past few years. God is in control of my life. My children and my grandchildren, too. I need to think of how I am going to live the next years of my life. If I live for 30 more years, I will be 86.

Here is something I saw on Facebook today that is really interesting. 

Time. Think about time. Time as we know it and time as God sees it. 

In God's time I will see Amy very, very soon, even if I live to be 86!