Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Privilege of Pain

Always a part of us!
December 29, 2013

"There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve-even in pain-the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain."
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Thank you, Denise Walker!)

We've been told "time heals all wounds" or that we would experience less pain if we just exercised more faith.  With all due respect to anyone who has experienced deep loss and felt 'better' as time rolled on, or anyone who hasn't experienced loss and just means well with the phrases they offer in good intention, but without understanding, .... this has not been our experience.  Four years later, the hole of Lauren's absence has not dwindled, but rather has increased in intensity, in size, and in impact.  It remains very painful to be without her, and I anticipate no other future scenario.  Our lives have continued, but in our experience, there is no such thing as "getting over it."  We. Miss. Her.  And, that is such a gross understatement, it almost seems nonsensical to say it.  Our lives are forever different ... and our perspective is too.

It isn't that we don't experience joy or good things in this beautiful world we remain in ... I would be a complete fool to not experience the joy that is inherently a part of continued life with my husband, our loving son, our (three) beautiful angel daughters, and our remarkable daughter-in-law and grandson.  (Ahhh!  The inexpressible joy of being a grandparent!!)  It would be most ungrateful to not appreciate the beauty of a sunset, a rainbow, twinkling stars, or a breathtaking waterfall.  What a shame it would be to miss the beauty of family, of friendship, of laughter!!  We acknowledge and enjoy comforts, privileges, honors, and peace that we are blessed with in abundance.  

But, for anyone to assume / expect that we should be "healed" from the horrific ordeal of experiencing Lauren's illness, the treatments and accompanying side-effects, the 3 1/2 year battle for her life, and the debilitating sting and sorrow of her death simply because "sufficient time has passed" or we've been blessed as "people of great faith", is not only wrong, but can at times be unkind or even cruel.  It is requiring the impossible, and something we would never ask Heavenly Father to do.  You see, asking Him to heal us of hurting for her would be asking Him to heal us of loving her.  Praise God that He won't be removing our love for her and thus denying us the Privilege of this Pain.

No one in their right mind seeks after true physical and emotional pain, and most of us go well out of our way to avoid it.  No one asks for experiences that hurt, but rather pray for deliverance from them.  I hate (the word simply cannot describe the least little bit of what I feel) pain and cancer and life without my daughter happily pursuing her dreams . . . I wouldn't have asked for any of this torture and only God Himself knows how frantically, anxiously, and desperately I plead otherwise.   If I had been able or allowed, I would have removed all of the pain she endured and that which still lingers for her dad and siblings.  I wouldn't give the hell (the word simply cannot describe the least little bit of what I feel) of a child suffering with cancer to my worst enemy; yet I also wouldn't trade a moment of the blessings that are mine specifically because these particular warriors call me mom (or wife).  I love (the word simply cannot describe the least little bit of what I feel) these people, who suffer alongside me, with all of my heart, in the most significant, eternal ways.  I've simply come to realize (through the experience of having a child with cancer) that in loving deeply, you are simply more vulnerable to pain.  And, the deeper you love, the deeper the pain is going to be.  They are capable of being equivalent and there is no other way around it.  In other words, one couldn't know the pain if one didn't know the love.

Therefore, this particular kind of pain becomes a privilege ... a privilege we CANNOT anticipate deliverance from, and WOULD NOT want to be denied, no matter how genuinely we each miss her.

We choose the love, and therefore, inevitably, choose the pain that comes along with it.

So today on the 4th anniversary of Lauren departing this earth existence for eternal existence with the God who gave her life, know that we are not "healed" of the pain, "over" the sorrow that she is not here, nor anticipating an earth time when we are "through" the trial.  But know that we, in gratitude and Thanksgiving, give thanks to our Maker that we experience a love so deep, exquisite, sweet, and profound as to make pain a privilege.

Friday, December 21, 2012

12:21 on 12/21/12

(Claire G, Taylor, and Lauren on vacation in Canada 2007.)
Today is a pretty interesting day in history too ... it's a festive number (12/21/12) and the projected "end of the world" based on the Mayan calendar.  Funny that it was simply the end of a calendar cycle for the Mayans, not the projected end of the world.  I wouldn't have put it past the Mayan's to know it, however.  They're pretty brilliant.
For our family, it isn't the end of the world, or even a more important day because of the numbers (although we find both of them interesting.)  It is important to us because it is another birthday -- and since Lauren would have made a big celebratory deal out of the numbers and the birthday boy, I figured I would help her out.  (I loved to help her with her creations to "one up" her big brother in the "I love you MOST" game and thought I would seize the opportunity to update their competition.  She liked to win.)
So, Happy Birthday, big brother!!! ... In honor of your special day, 12 gifts of $21 dollars each in Christmas DOUGH were donated to Oncology families at PCMC in need of a little extra help this holiday season.  It's Lauren's way of saying ... I LOVE YOU MOST!!

(A special thanks to Juanita W. and Karen L. who donated the cash sufficient for Lauren's Foundation to give the last half of those gifts.)

A Happy 12/21/12, Happy Birthday, and a Merry, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the 
Living Lauren's Legacy Foundation!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wishing on recurring numbers!!

Living Lauren's Legacy
Hope you all had a great 12/12/12!!!
(This is a watercolor painting of Lauren playing in the ocean when she was 8 years old.  This painting and another pastel of the same image were donated to PCMC and Huntsman today as a completion of the 12 months of projects for Lauren's foundation and in celebration of Lauren's habit of making wishes on recurring numbers.)
The book about Lauren's wish (Happily Ever After: The Power of Perspective) is still available if you are interested in reading and/or purchasing it.  It has been intentionally removed from the website, but if you would like more information, please contact me.
May all of your wishes come true!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy 12/12/12


For the projects of November and December, two paintings will be donated to PCMC and Huntsman Cancer Center of Lauren playing in the ocean when she was just about 8 years old.  In addition, 12 simple gifts for Christmas are being donated to the Hem/Onc Clinic at PCMC.
The 12 months of projects aimed at honoring Lauren by helping to make others wishes come true has been small in scale, but large in intention.  All in all, it's been a sweet way to honor Lauren and try to give a little cheer in her beautiful memory.    We'll continue to give our best efforts to live her legacy.

October Tricks and Treats

Lauren's first Halloween.
(She was "Dino" and her siblings were
Fred, Wilma, and Pebbles from the Flintstones.)

For some Halloween cheer, Lauren's foundation donated big buckets of Halloween Candy to be distributed at PCMC and many $5.00 gifts to help families purchase prescription medication who were in need.

August and September

Just over two hundred items of electronics, clothing, toys and books were donated to the Humanitarian Aid projects of the LDS church for distribution to areas hit by natural disasters.
Three separate monetary donations were made to three charitable organizations aimed at helping with the medical bills for two men and one woman struggling with Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, and Cystic Fibrosis.

June and July projects

June and July found Lauren's Foundation traveling with humanitarians to Peru and Guatemala.  Each of the two trips were filled with great folks who like to "leave places a little better than they found them" and the donations they made to rural schools in each country were pretty significant.  They were great teams for Lauren's foundation to be part of.

Peru 2012

Guatemala 2012