December 28, 2015
Life is a gift.
Amidst chaos and heartache and sorrow in the real world, there is also beauty, blessings, mercies, and joy.
I'm no stranger to the opposition life is made up of -- pleasure and pain, happiness and disappointment, the good and the bad. I sometimes feel I have more than my fair share of both. But, we tend to only ask God why the pain, disappointment, and the bad come to our lives. "When God sends us blessings, we don't ask why they were sent". (There Can Be Miracles: The Prince of Egypt.) I'm no stranger to that either. I am guilty of the same. I count blessings in gratitude, but I also tend to count what I wish and plead (like crazy) that God would deliver me from.
Many like to say they are grateful for trials, for they help them to grow, to change, to become better. I tend to see their point, but can't quite pretend that far and prefer learning without pain. I love to grow, but I don't tend to love pain. Intellectually I know life is comprised of both -- it is truly a part of God's plan -- but emotionally, I am spent and wish to advise Him of the importance of Him seeing things my way. I've learned since childhood cancer stole its way into an otherwise perfect life that I am His most unnecessary advisor and am trying to resign the position. But, I still believe somewhere deep down inside that I may just be able to come up with the perfect way to align His grand eternal plan with less suffering for me and my family.
But, I don't tend to ask that God deliver me or heal me from the pain of losing a beautiful, bright, perfect daughter to cancer ... for while I would obliterate cancer if the grand eternal plan hinged on my perspective, the Great Creator of the Plan would have to remove my love for her, if He were to remove the pain of her illness, treatments, and death. Love makes us vulnerable to loss, to grief, to sorrow ... but what else would we choose -- to not experience the love so we wouldn't have to experience the pain!? Not for me. I choose the experience of deep, significant, life-altering, eternal love. It is a profound privilege to love so deeply that I also mourn equal to it -- even if I still wish I didn't understand the pain. God gave me love, He gave me her, and with that comes the 'privilege' of mourning her loss. One cannot happen without the other.
And, I find myself realizing yet again, that God's designs are greater than my ability to fathom, much less to tell Him how to write the script.
January 2009 -- 11 months before her passing
I've met an amazing group of people since Lauren took her place in Heaven with the God who gave her life. They just come at sporadic moments along my journey -- other parents who have had the grueling, heart-breaking, cruel experience of burying a child. They all have their own unique stories, but the sense of loss is similar enough that it is known as a "club" ... one that NO ONE wants to be part of and wouldn't wish on their worst enemies. The circle that influences me and my story is too large to be considered the least bit comfortable, but certainly rather meaningful and comforting. There is an enormous difference. I've met incredible people (or re-associated with some I knew before) who can step inside my story or include me into theirs that truly enlarges my perspective on a world filled with both love and pain. I am so grateful for their influence on my life and an enlarged perspective that blesses me on both the "good" and "bad" days of experiencing the Plan and missing Lauren.
I will mark the days of success and failure, victory and defeat, happiness and sadness, perhaps all the days of my life. While others may believe I should "get over it" or that it is not handling it well to still be remembering; I know differently. I know it is the unmistakable blessing of never getting over loving her. Grief is the price of a life lived in love --
I remember tonight (6 years ago) as the last night she voiced her love to each of us individually before she slipped through our fingers early the following morning. I remember that she expressed gratitude to her nurse for caring for her (how we LOVE Diane!) and was still making us laugh, even though she was in extreme pain and was deeply concerned it was time to leave us without her ... something she knew would be nearly impossible for us to do. She was far more concerned for us than for herself. She had not fought for herself, but for us ... and I remember.
I remember the embraces and the faces of my other children and my husband -- her two uncles and aunts who ran to our home to help pick up the pieces of our hearts ... at least those that were retrievable, and to help us take the next steps. (How we love Thayne and Deaun, Scott and Mary!)
I remember the light snow that fell as her daddy carried her body one more time to be taken to be prepared for burial. I remember the nightmares that followed and still happen on occasion. I remember the flowers, the words at the funeral, the little white flowers in her hair, the overflowing church chapel that I still can't attend for Stake Conference without losing my breath just a little. I remember days where she has felt very nearby and days where she felt horribly absent. Mainly, I just know a life that once was complete and is now, incomplete. We all miss her. Or, better said in the French language, she is missing from all of us.
I don't pass through these days without tears or a yearning that things could have been different. I don't pretend I'll ever be "over it" and still feel a profound sense that something significant is missing when I glance around the room, in family photos, in the holidays, in family gatherings, in the quiet dark hours when I long to hear her voice say "I love you, good night" as she did every night of her brief and beautiful life.
I also don't pass through these days without the profound reminder that I only feel such excruciating pain because I know such exquisite love. I don't pass through these days without the remembrance that God gave me a gift that will last eternally when He gave me her life and the overwhelmingly huge capacity to love that was packed into her tiny little frame and her way too brief for me mortal life. I don't pass through these days without the gratitude that He gave His Only Begotten Son not only so that my family would be a gift that would last forever, and that death and hell would be swallowed up in his sacrifice, but that he would understand specifically, intimately, and personally what it was and always will be like to have experienced the love, life, and loss of Lauren. He gave me hope, joy, and peace, and they can never be taken away. He has promised me dancing for mourning and beauty for ashes -- and I know he will be true to his word.
I also remember that life is not through showing me joys and disappointments. As long as I live, I believe I'll know more than my fair share of both, and they will be deep at both extremes. I cannot dwell in grief, for it feels to me to be ungrateful, but I also cannot feel gratitude without a sense of grief for the loss of what I was given. In other words, we don't journey through grief, we journey with it. And, I'll continue to give gratitude that this family, while incomplete for now, is an eternal one who will be able to keep our promise to "always stick with (her)."
There will always be a place for her as a part of who we are, and the joy we will feel now and eternally.
October 9, 2015 -- Cousin Jordan's wedding