This morning our sweet kindergartener headed to school wearing a tomato red sweater, over a bell pepper red polo. To say it was a fashion disaster would be an understatement. Normally, we would never have allowed such a fashion fax pau to go uncorrected, but we just don’t care anymore. I’m thinking that this is what those grief books would call embracing “the new normal.” Last night I walked in on Fred taking pictures of Emma with our new Polaroid camera. Just snapping away like he was at a Paris photo shoot…so goes life with less parental supervision I guess. These things just didn’t happen before our “new normal.” Our lives were very clean, very organized, very fun, very happy, and very well, shall we say, very almost perfect for a very long while.
I keep thinking about that quote in Sleepless in Seattle. Sam’s wife has died and someone asks him, “What are you going to do now Sam?” And Sam says…
“Well, I’m gonna get out of bed every morning… breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out… and, then after a while, I won’t have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while.”
It is very easy to feel that way right now. To look back on pictures of our lives three weeks ago and think, “We had it so very very good.” We were just so innocent. We didn’t realize the depths of pain and suffering you have to feel when you have to bury a child. We didn’t realize what life is really like when you have to live the rest of your life without one of the people you love most.
And now we do. Now we feel exactly what Sam felt. We get out of bed every morning. Major victory #1. Then we breathe in and out all day long. Major victory #2. And then we go to bed each night praying that God will give us the grace to have these “big victories” all over again tomorrow. I never realized how much grief feels like an abduction. One moment you are in your own familiar, beautiful, perfect life…and the very next moment you’ve been abducted and placed into someone else’s life. People keep calling you by your name, and loving on you and caring for you, and God keeps carrying you and meeting you in ways that only He can…but for the most part…you feel like you have been abducted and brought into a brand new life you do not want…and you can never go back to the “old normal.”
What Sam said is true. We did have it perfect for a while. Not everything was perfect, but it was so very very good. But there is something that I am still clinging to, even as I grieve the loss of not only baby Charlie, but the loss of what life was like before we were hit by this incomprehensible sorrow.
I am clinging to the fact that there are still some very sweet, very “good and perfect” gifts to praise our Father for.
Tomorrow is Valentines Day…and I am quite certain that I love my husband more than I have at any moment in our love story together. In fact, we’ve had moments since the Lord took Charlie Home where we have said to one another, “Did we even love each other before?” Because we love one another so much more now. I love Reid so much and am so indescribably thankful for the amazing husband and tender dad that he is to all four of our precious kids. The fact that we love each other today even more than yesterday is a good and perfect gift from God which I am so very thankful for. And I pray desperately and daily that the Lord would lovingly protect it.
Valentines Day is a very big deal in our house. Every year I do a big Valentines Scavenger Hunt extravaganza for the fam. I can’t wait to tell my three little glories all the things I love about them tomorrow. Yet another “good and perfect gift” from God in our lives that are not “perfect” any more. I am now so very grateful for every precious moment with Sophie, Fred, and Emma. I cry as I watch them breathe in and out while they sleep at night. This is something I never had the joy of seeing Charlie do. Thank you Jesus, for the gift of watching them breathe. Of watching their little hearts beat. Of watching their tiny chests move up and down. Thank you Jesus that I get to squeeze Freddo’s chubby cheeks, and look into Sophie’s sea green eyes, and kiss Emma’s freckled nose. These are good and perfect gifts that I don’t deserve, and am not promised for tomorrow. Ones that I never got to have with my fourth little lamb. Ones that mean so much more to me now.
I am so much more convinced now that the body of Christ really is Christ’s Body here on earth. We have been loved in such real and specific ways by the Lord Jesus, through those who are His…and it has been one of His many good and perfect gifts. Even as you read this, you are loving us by thinking of our precious son and praising God for Charlie’s life. And you are loving us by praying for us as we walk this painful road of learning to live without him. Of learning to live with broken hearts. We are so very thankful for you and your prayers.
I hope this blog doesn’t give you the impression that we are doing “well.” We are not doing well. We are not even doing almost well. We are broken and grieving, and staggering and reeling, and sorrowful and suffering, and honestly just trying to keep breathing in and out, in and out.
But I do want to testify to what is true. To the words of James 1:17 that are so very true even though our “perfect life” is gone forever. I am not trying to be dramatic. It really is gone forever, even though I am truly hopeful that seasons of joy and dancing will come again. But while sadness and suffering and sorrow are the season, of this I am certain:
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
He does not change…even in my “new normal.” He does not change…even when things feel broken in a way that can never be put back together. He does not change…He still gives so many gifts that feel so good and perfect and so perfectly reflect His goodness and love.
And so, we go on. Breathing in and out. Wearing clothes that don’t entirely match. Eating too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And letting go of the longing for “perfection” that we once had when perfection felt almost attainable.
I’m realizing that no one from Vogue will be stopping by Emma’s school today or tomorrow. And I actually think she looks kind of cute in bell pepper and tomato red after all…