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.

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