To Harlynn, With Love

Harlynn love

A week ago would have been Harlynn’s fifth birthday. For months, the weight of the number five loomed above my head, and I felt burdened with an awkward responsibility of having been a bereaved parent for that amount of time.

Five years ago, our lives were forever changed. Five years ago, we said goodbye before we ever had the opportunity to say hello. Five. Years. Continue reading “To Harlynn, With Love”

The Emotional Dangers Of Decorating: Grief & Holidays

I walked into her room and asked if I could talk to her. It was one of my [many] humbled-mother moments.

Earlier, I had been getting the Christmas decorations out and situated, and in her excitement, she wanted to hand-make, and display, her own decorations throughout the house.

I drew the line firmly – maybe a little too firmly – when she brought out a string with pink, purple, and white ribbons stranded across it. Continue reading “The Emotional Dangers Of Decorating: Grief & Holidays”

What If I’m Not Thankful?

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It’s the time of year when everyone is preparing to gather ’round a home cooked meal and tell, one by one, everything they’re thankful for.

For some folks, the thought of having to share thanks stirs more angst and anxiety than thankfulness.

You’ve lost a loved one. You had to bury your child. You’ve received a terminal diagnosis. You’re going through a divorce. You lost your job. Your car stopped working. Someone stole your wallet. You’re immersed in negativity. You’re stuck. Your past haunts you.

“I’m not thankful. I’m hurt. Angry. Sad. Grieving.”

What if I’m not thankful?

I resonate with those feelings. That despair. Resenting the holidays because while some were skipping around in “the most wonderful time of the year”, I was realizing more and more what wasn’t, and what would never be.

In the same breath people were telling me they were sorry for our circumstances, and either quoting scripture (to try to pipe me out of being sad) or another cliche phrase they assumed would magically make everything better.

It is true, scriptures says, “In all things, give thanks.” (1 Thess 5:18) There is an important clarification to make note of here, however.

The verse says IN all things, not FOR all things. Even when you’ve been dealt the worst possible hand in life, while you don’t have to be thankful for that circumstance or situation, the premise is – though you may have to dig really deep to find it – there is still thanksgiving to be found. No matter what situation you’re facing, there is always appreciation or joy in something else.

There are things I will never be thankful for. That doesn’t mean, however, I can’t find something else to appreciate.

If you find yourself in the throes of thanklessness and if you find yourself resenting this holiday season, I want to encourage you to take baby steps.

Maybe you’re not thankful – for so many things! – but your breakfast tasted good. Start there.

Try to find one thing, one day. Two things the second day. And don’t confuse being thankful with being happy! You don’t have to be giddy about anything to be thankful. One little step at a time.

I’m thankful potatoes were on sale.

I’m thankful for cashews.

I’m thankful I choose my own holiday traditions.

I’m thankful the sun is shining.

I’m thankful for indoor plumbing.

I’m thankful it’s almost January.

Wherever you have to start, start there.

If anyone is trying to force you to be bubbly, or over-the-top enthusiastic because they somehow deem this is what this period of life is about, be thankful you’ve got more depth than they do.

I know this time of year is challenging, to say the least, for so many people. I know while the hustle and bustle of gatherings and food and decorations has everyone else occupied, you’re trying to figure out why you have to get out of bed in the morning. No matter what you’ve been through or are wrestling through still, others have decided it’s time for you to “buck up and be thankful.”

They’ll never get it. Don’t expect them to understand. They can’t, and a lot of them won’t allow themselves to.

Be thankful for the people who do, and who are, supporting you right now, where you are. For those along for the journey while you grow, taking one step at a time.

As we head into Thanksgiving, and then into Christmas, I want you to take the pressure off yourself. If you’re not thankful for what you’ve suffered through, no one can blame you for that. And if they do – find new people.

Try, though, to find one little thing – anything – you can be thankful in. I promise you, there will be things that present themselves that may surprise you. You’ll be thankful for things no one else will realize or notice for themselves.

Work through your feelings. Work through your issues. And simultaneously, look outside of those feelings and issues to find what you can appreciate. It will bless you. Somehow. His way.

I’m pulling for you. You can count on that.

Breaking the Curse of Autumn

autumn

autumn

I’m a sunshine girl. I love sunshine, I need sunshine, I bask in sunshine, and I feel better when the sun shines.

The sun is not shining today.

However, every now and again, the cloud cover (and in today’s case, the rain), make for a sense of renewal, fresh opportunity, and even some motivation.

I can say today is one of those good gray days. I think it helped (tremendously) I was able to witness an incredible sunrise, turning the sky a beautiful purple, orange, and pink. As the clouds were moving in and before they could block the sun entirely, the sky danced with color as we started getting ready for our day.

I’ve got my curly-hair-rain-gear on (my kerchief), and after a long meeting, I’ll scurry to the kitchen to get to work on some applesauce and apple pie making. It’s September, after all, and apples are the fruit-of-the-month. It’s quite rewarding to pick them yourself, peel them, and turn them into even more deliciousness than they already are naturally. Cooking is like doing magic in the kitchen. You take ingredients and turn them into something completely different, to satisfy those greedy little bumps on your tongue and rumble in your belly. It’s a pretty amazing process.

Sometimes the autumn season is difficult for me. It’s always been my favorite. I love the smells. I love the crisp air. I love the colors. I love the decorations. I love pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie and apple everything.

But autumn and its drastic change of season carries a weight I can’t aptly describe.  School starts. The wind shifts. The cemetery closes earlier.

Autumn also means winter is coming. I struggle with winter. I struggle with barrenness. Cold. Desolation. Grief.

We had a bizarre spring blizzard that forced us to postpone Harlynn’s funeral a day. It snowed the day she was born and every Wednesday after for a month. Snow is sometimes peaceful and comforting, but it also reminds me, so tangibly, of the worst day of our lives. And it’s about to show up and hang around for months on end.

Winter is coming.

I feel like maybe – just maybe – this year will be different. Since I finally got to process through Harlynn’s birthday in a way I needed to this spring, maybe I can handle this winter better. Maybe it won’t be as gloomy as years past. Maybe it won’t be as bitter. Maybe it won’t be as soul-chilling as I’ve known it to be.

I’m making a determination.

Right now, I’m going to enjoy autumn. I’m going to enjoy everything I can about it. The pumpkin patch. The harvest. The cinnamon. The cider. The apples coming out our ears. The colors, the football, the pies, and the turkey. Rust orange, cranberry red, and the fading green of grass. Whatever this season has to offer me, I’m going to enjoy it, and store that joy away for the months to come.

When winter hits, and there’s no avoiding it, I’m going to retreat to the storehouses where I’ve tucked away the pleasantries I need to draw upon. I’ll warm myself with memories, food, friends, and my favorite sights and smells. I’ll stress-eat on pie and roasted pumpkin seeds. I’ll knit. This year, when winter hits, I won’t have wasted my autumn dreading it’s arrival.

The sun may not be shining today, but the clouds can’t squelch the new dawn coming. Winter may be on it’s way, but it won’t dampen today.

Every season – in nature and in life – serves a purpose. I don’t like it. I don’t have to. It’s going to happen anyway. But this year…. this year will be different. I’m going to will it so.

Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.

~Joel 2:23

Healing: The Misconception

Healing

Healing

“I just want you to reach total healing.”

His words were dripping with cautious pity. My eyes closed and I let out a heavy sigh. He doesn’t get it. He couldn’t, because he’s never experienced it.

I grow so tired of defending myself. I grow so tired of fighting for my right to feel, experience, or walk in any realm of grief.

I did my best, and gave the most considerate lashing I could conjure. He didn’t understand why I – or anyone – would show pictures of my dead baby. He didn’t understand why after three years, I still incorporate Harlynn into as many areas of our lives as I can.

Honestly, he didn’t understand “total healing”, even though he spoke his desire for me to achieve it.

I know why other loss parents struggle to speak about their experience and struggle to give voice to their children who have died. It’s exhausting to defend the heart’s right to be damaged, let alone broken. Standards and expectations, all of which are completely different depending on who harbors them, are impossible to meet or maintain by those actually walking through the grief journey.

We don’t fit in your box. We can’t. We understand life – and death – on a level we pray you never have to. And we are all but condemned for it.

For three years I’ve come alongside grieving families as they bury their children and watch the futures they dreamed about shatter before their eyes. For three years I’ve been on the receiving end of phone calls, emails, text messages, and outreaches of complete strangers looking for help. For understanding. For validation.

And I’m happy to give it. I know how hard it can be to find any in a world that expects you to dust off and forget.

There is no forgetting.

For three years I’ve leaned into a God I don’t understand, pleaded with a Father I believed would spare us from this, and for three years I’ve allowed Him to walk us through a valley I’d previously pretended never existed.

I had to learn to pray again. To sing. To trust.

And my journey is viewed as my weakness. But I’m here to tell you, there is nothing but strength and conviction in my veins. Even when I fall apart.

You see, friends, there is no healing in denial. There is no healing in avoidance. There is no healing in disallowing myself to experience every step of the journey I’ve been called to walk. I can blaze new trails if I run away and pretend this road is not part of who I am.

But that would be the opposite of healing. That would be adopting a false identity.

I am a bereaved parent. We buried our daughter after her life ended. Every day I wake up, pray up, and hold up another broken heart of another fellow bereaved parent.

And I’m still able to praise God in the storm.

That is healing. And that is a concept those who haven’t lost a child will never understand.

My ultimate healing will come the day I’m called home. The day my heart stops beating and my spirit transcends life as I know it, I will be healed by the standards of the world today. I will not cry anymore. I will not ache. I will not feel sadness.

Until that day, I will continue to trust His leading. I will continue to acknowledge sometimes I still hurt. I will continue to experience exactly what I need to at the exact moment it’s supposed to happen. I will continue to depend on the God who has carried me through every step in this path of life – no matter how small or significant.

And I will continue to defend my right to grieve messy. Three years or 30 or 300 – no matter how much time I have remaining to open my eyes this side of heaven – I will have to remind myself my healing is no one else’s declaration. No one gets to decide for me how well I’m doing.

When I was five, I got the chickenpox. When I “healed”, my scalp, back, and left eyelid were covered with scars. Thirty years later I bear the physical proof of one of the most miserable illnesses I’ve ever recovered from. I’ve got all kinds of scars from all kinds of incidents, and not one single person has ever held it against me. Until now.

I’m not ashamed of scars. In fact, they show just how hard I’ve fought.

Three years later, I’ve figured out how to keep a broken heart beating. It healed. You might not believe me, but I’ve got the scar to prove it.

April Showers: Tears

I didn’t start off on the greatest foot this morning. I somehow managed to hairspray my left eye instead of my hair. It stung a little, but my eyelashes looked amazing the rest of the day.

It’s little, absentminded things I find creeping into my days making me wonder if it’s a subconscious level of emotional protection. April is just around the corner and I still haven’t quite decided how I feel about it. Or if I want to.

When we lost Harlynn, I developed a love/hate relationship with April. That relationship never resolved. I loved and hated how every Wednesday for the remainder of the month, it would snow, just like the Wednesday I delivered her in the hospital room. The white, fluffy flakes silently falling and covering the ground were delicate, yet painful reminders of the life that was supposed to be, but had silently slipped away.

The hope of spring and of new life was met with tumultuous grief and mourning. New life, new growth, and the robin’s songs were traded for death, continuous tears, and sounds of a mother’s and father’s wailing.

On what would have been Harlynn’s first birthday, we had arranged to spread love and kindness in her memory. We also planned a cake-smash photo shoot as a family, since she never had the chance to do one herself. Instead, I was in the hospital again, drugged up on magnesium trying to stop the premature delivery of Little Man.

I don’t remember much of that hospital stay, other than the look on my doctor’s face when she realized his premature labor was coinciding with Harlynn’s day, and the incredible placement (by God) of our incredible nurse, who was also a loss mom. I couldn’t have made it through those days – or even the weeks ahead – without her care and empathy.

Since Harlynn’s first birthday went nothing like we had planned, and since I was moaning in pain and incoherent for most of it, I didn’t have a chance to experience it, grieve through it, or process it, even. My focus only intensified on getting Little Man into this world safely, and alive.

He was born, two weeks later, on the two-year anniversary of Grandma Lena’s passing. Grandma Lena was Brent’s grandma by blood, and my grandma by every other measure. We both loved her so much, and to have Little Man born on the day that marked her passing was bittersweet.

Last year was especially hard on me. With not having the ability or opportunity to process or cope with the first anniversary of Harlynn’s death, last year was two year’s worth of processing rolled into a matter of a few hours. I stayed up until (and then well past) 12:16 a.m., the time of her delivery. I remembered every single detail as best I could. Her weight upon my chest. Her head of hair. Her daddy holding her, longing and outright willing life back into her lungs.

April Showers- Tears

All of the images, the memories, the emotions – joy, pain, sorrow, hope, ache, despair, redemption – flooded over me. I walked into the hallway in the middle of the night, put my hand on her picture on the wall, and wept. I rested my head against the frame and let my tears salt my cheeks as my shoulders shook against the wall. I was a wreck for a few days, holed up in grief and solitude while I tried to work through how any mother is supposed to function as normal when all of her children aren’t with her.

This year, I’m still not sure how I feel about April. For that matter, I’m still not sure how I feel about bereavement. I still, three years later, don’t understand how to be a mother in two different places at once. Here on earth for my living children, and with Harlynn in spirit.

There are some moments – some triggers – that take me right back to a particular feeling or experience in those first few moments and days after she died. There are other times I feel too far removed from those moments. I don’t live in the past, but I don’t reject any opportunity to remember as much as I can about those too few precious moments we got to spend with her.

I miss her intensely. Every moment of every day. My heart flutters every time her big sister mentions her name. I wonder how her little brother will know her as part of our family as he grows older and understands more.

I wonder if I’m changed for the better, or if the changes I’ve experienced since losing her are simply scars of my suffering. Have I grown at all? Has beauty risen from ashes with anything I’ve done since losing her?

When people see me, do they see any semblance of Val? Or do they only see the woman whose baby died?

I don’t have any answers. Three years later, I’m no more knowledgeable of my circumstance or my situation than I was the moment we learned what had happened. I do have more questions. I’m always asking questions.

But through asking the questions I find I’m piecing together a new picture. I’m using the same puzzle pieces, but they fit together entirely differently now. The picture has changed. It’s not better. It’s not worse. It’s simply a different picture.

I still don’t know how I feel about April. Regardless, however, I can’t seem to stop these April showers of my tears.

Why August is Hard For Me

I thought Sunday was going to be pretty typical. I wrote the date on our church’s keeping-in-touch form and paused. I happened to glance to my left, and at the other end of the same pew we were sitting in was a good friend I hadn’t talked to in a while. I caught a lump in my throat. The date I wrote made me realize the next day, Monday, would be three years to the day I found out I was pregnant with Harlynn. That same Friday, the friend who was now sitting at the other end of the pew, would find out she was miscarrying.

Without knowing I was pregnant, she called me that afternoon and asked me if I would just come sit with her. I did. It was a rough day for her in so many ways, and all the while I was sitting there thinking to myself, “I cannot imagine losing a baby. I cannot imagine the hopes and dreams you have for your child, suddenly gone. I cannot believe babies die.”

I had no idea those thoughts would be my reality less than eight months later.

After church, I went and hugged her, talked to her, but I couldn’t bring myself to say “I remember what tomorrow is.”

Monday morning, I woke up, feeling entirely different than I felt that Friday morning three years prior. I was in an early morning Bible study back then. That Friday, I woke up shortly after 5 a.m. to be ready for work and at study by 6:30. I went to the bathroom, took a test, and immediately saw positive. I walked back into the bedroom, grabbed my sleeping husband’s hand and said, “Brent….I’m pregnant.”
“No you’re not. Really?”
“Yes, really!”
“Wow……..Let’s pray.”

Even in his sleepy state, he led a prayer for our baby, for our family, and for the road we had ahead of us. I beamed, ear to ear, in that dark room. Little Miss was going to be a big sister. We were going to be a family of four.

I was elated. Ecstatic. August 24th, 2012, started out as a most incredible Friday for me.

Three years later, it chokes me up. I made a choice this year, to hold on to remembering how very happy I was that morning. How very loved Harlynn was from the first moment we found out about her. How the first thing her daddy did for her was pray out loud. It still chokes me up, yes, but what testimony to how we loved her from the start.

The last several days have been emotional. Remembering the date has only been part of it. Schools are starting everywhere, and though she would only be two years old right now, I’m left thinking of our child other classmates will never know. Our oldest is starting Kindergarten, and that brings enough emotional weight of its own.

Since losing Harlynn, fall has been especially difficult for me. It’s still my favorite season, but the transition it represents, the anniversary it holds, the new tradition of the balloon release we honor each year, the omen of the weather waiting for us ahead – all of it comes together and puts a physical weight upon my grief. I can’t get out from under it. While I love fall, I struggle when it arrives. It signifies a closing – an end. The green grass will wither away, the leaves will disappear from trees, the ground will be masked by walls of white. An end to summer. An end.

Last Friday evening, I took the kids to the cemetery so we could visit Harlynn’s site and browse the grounds for deer. Not only did we see mule deer and whitetail roaming around, but just as in a similar moment in 2013, I had a leaf fly awkwardly up to my window, rest upon it long enough for me to get a picture, and then flutter quietly away. In a way, I hoped it meant a new beginning. A new season of memories I’ll capture, moments I think about our baby girl, and more moments to feel like I’m connecting with her, some way, from this side of heaven.

mindmumbles.com

I contemplated whether or not I should write this post at all. Does everyone need to know why this time of year is so hard for me? The fact is, no, not everyone needs to know. But maybe one person does. Maybe one person needs to know it’s okay, three years on, 30 years on, to remember that day she found out she was pregnant and live out those mixed emotions.

It will never be easy. I will never be able to predict what will affect me or to what degree. But for now, I’ll remember that morning of August 24th, the prayer my husband led for our second child, and the hopes and dreams we started building in that very moment.

3 Ways Hurting Has Helped Me Heal

Call me stubborn, but I’ve never quite bought into the whole “pick yourself up and dust yourself off” mentality. If I’m going to feel something, I’m going to feel it until it’s all feeled-out. I’m going to be mad until I can’t be mad anymore. I’m going to laugh until my sides ache. I’m going to cry until I have no energy left to shed more tears.

I don’t pick myself up. I don’t dust myself off. I allow myself the freedom to roll or wallow, barge or bolt through, or whatever I need to do to make sure I understand what I’m feeling, and why. Usually, I end up learning from it.

After we lost Harlynn, my entire perspective shifted. I was forever changed. I realized I didn’t want to be stifled in my grief. I wanted, more than anything, to be allowed to grieve messy. And whether I was “allowed” to or not, it’s what I did.

With another Mother’s Day recently past, I once again waddled through grief in different stages. And I was okay with that.

3 Ways

So how has hurting helped me heal? Oh, let me count the ways! I’m by no means “healed” or restored to what – or who – I once was. But I know allowing myself to feel the hurt has been more of a healing journey than a hindered one. Here are three of the many ways I can share with you.

1. Doing What Matters

Before Harlynn died, we did what we had to. We went to our jobs, dropped Little Miss off every day of the week, went home, fulfilled social obligations, and hoped one day it would all pay off. When I returned to work from “maternity leave” – which totally sucked because I didn’t have a baby with me during those weeks – I found so many things about my life pointless.

Why was I advancing this person’s distribution so they can make a boat payment? Not important to me. Why was I letting someone else play with and tickle Little Miss instead of being the one to do that myself? Why was I driving through fast food every night because I was too tired to stand over a stove and cook a vegetable or two for my family?

No. When I was able to allow myself to feel the hurt of what I was missing out on, I began to have clarity and focus on everything that actually mattered to me. I took a job working from home. I stayed with Little Miss and watched her sing Frozen songs to her own reflection. I have been able to witness every single moment of every single day of Little Man’s life. I cook for my family. We go shopping during the daytime because we can. We spend time together doing things that pull us together as a family. We know what we can lose in an instant, so we make sure we spend our time doing what matters most. And it’s absolutely liberating.

2. Totally In Tune

I am more in tune with who I am as a person than I have ever been. I know my likes, I know my dislikes. I know my preferences and my purposes. I know things I can do to fill my family’s emotional tanks, and fill my own.

I am not afraid to put my foot down for my own desires. If I don’t want to go somewhere, I don’t go. If I want to invite someone over, I invite them over. I don’t have to have every crumb picked up from the floor or every dust speck wiped from the shelves – I am totally in tune with who I need to be with in certain seasons and times, and I can assure you they don’t care about crumbs or dust.

I know when I need to step back and have some alone time. I can sense things in my environment that build me up or detract from what I need it to be, and I address it right then. I have nothing to hide, and no reason to pretend. It took me more than 30 years to get to know the real me, but I’ve got to tell you, I like this gal. She’s sassy, she’s smart, and she adds a lot of value.

3. Firmer Faith

Allowing myself to hurt whenever the feelings of grief crop up has not distanced me from God. Rather, it has drawn me closer. I was so tender at first, and I remember not even being able to pray. I felt far too vulnerable. I was a gaping, gushing wound, and my spiritual journey seemed too intense to bring into the fold of what was happening in my life. Yet, the more I allowed myself to live in the raw moments, the more I was able to trust the One who would get me through each one.

I used to think David, the Psalmist, was a bit bipolar. But you know what? His baby died. He lost more than one child. He grieved. He also ruled a nation and had the stress of a kingdom on his shoulders. Do you know how he handled it, though? By being raw in the moment, and praising God anyway. I can attest as time has gone on, the more I give in to the rawness of the moment, the closer He draws me to Him.

God has never once left my side in all of this. It wasn’t a side I was comfortable standing next to for a time. So I withdrew. But being genuine and authentic in my pain and grief in the very presence of God, has shown me that He’s authentic and genuine in His love for me – no matter how I’m feeling. I can’t even get over it. My grief in losing my daughter has given me firmer faith. It doesn’t make sense. But I love it.


Whatever season you’re walking through right now, I pray you give yourself the freedom to walk through it in whatever way you need to. Take the long way. Take your shoes off. Sit down right in the middle of your journey’s road. Just allow yourself to hurt when you’re hurting.

Work through the pain, learn from the experience, and let it grow you personally. It won’t be the same for everybody. It probably won’t be easy. But I promise, giving yourself the freedom to process through things the way you need to, will be totally worth it.

 

The Aftermath

Last week was a tough one. In anticipation of two years since we lost Harlynn, my emotions were running high. Thursday night was the hardest on me. I cried relentlessly that night, not allowing myself a hint of sleep until well after the 12:16 a.m. delivery time. Friday morning when I woke up, my eyes were sore, puffy, and longing to see the precious face of a little girl who isn’t here.

The weekend itself was hard. Living without your child is hard. There is no word, really, to explain it. “Hard” seems like something you’d say about a test you weren’t prepared for. Or trying to change a tire without a torque wrench. Those things are hard. But to live without your child? To know my living children are without their sister? To know Little Miss won’t have those tea parties, or yell at her sister for borrowing her clothes, or keep secrets with her sister from their little brother…. I still can’t fathom it. I still can’t believe, or understand, how this is our life.

a little bit swirly

Today is difficult as well. Even though the anniversary of her death was last week, I’m struggling today. Tomorrow will be two years since we buried her. I remember the 15th two years ago – how I was thankful for the snow storm the night before that made us reschedule her funeral, because it meant she was above ground for one more day. One more day. What I would give now for one more day…

The difficulty in the days since the 10th has been surprising to me. I spent so much energy preparing myself for the 10th, and was quite drained afterward. The fact is the 11th was no better than the 10th. The day after the anniversary of her silent entry into this world was no easier. Every day is spent without her. Every day there are reminders of what “should” have been.

It’s all part of the tide that is grief. I’ve said before, as I stand on the shore of life, the waves gently tickle at my toes. I stand stationary, enjoying the relaxing, harmless lap of the water. Whether it creeps in slowly, or rushes in, the tide changes without any concern for my well-being. Where I once stood in calm and peaceful reflection, I’m now flailing in the sand, gasping for air, and wondering if this will be wave that does me in. Just as it comes in, the tide eventually leaves, though it takes me a while to recover from being thrashed around. I sit up, weakened from the beatings of the waves. Eventually, I stand again, embraced by calm and peace. I know what will come, eventually, yet it always takes me by surprise. I always struggle just the same. I always wrestle my strength completely away, and have to spend time recovering.

It’s not unique to my situation. This is how grief works. There is no getting over it. There is only getting through – each time it rears itself.

This morning, I went to get Little Man from his crib, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him so happy to see me. His smile, excited waving, and giggles are all the jump start I need to have a blessed morning. Little Miss loves to say “Good morning, mama!” and snuggle before starting her day. I have a wonderful life. I have a blessed life. I have so much I’m thankful for, and appreciative of.

And I still suffer.

It’s the price of being human. It’s the price of being mortal, and imperfect. And in the aftermath of this past week, I’m once again picking up the pieces of myself that seem scattered across so many emotions and moments and responsibilities.

I suppose this is why our verse for Harlynn resonated so profoundly with my husband when he suggested we adopt it to use for her brief life.

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

We suffer. We grieve. We ache. We get pounded by the waves of grief and sadness. Then, we stand. We faithfully plant our feet once again. We hold fast to the promise that no matter what we endure, He has overcome. All of it. Pain. Sadness. Evil. Death. He has overcome. And no matter the weight of the aching we carry in our hearts, it also fills with hope and anticipation. One day, (soon, I pray) everything we suffer or endure will be no more.

We will no longer be separated from Harlynn. We will no longer know her in death. We will no longer feel defeated or desperate. He has overcome. And we will be lifted up. Carried. Embraced. Renewed.

That is the aftermath I live for. That is the aftermath I long to experience.