I am sitting in Starbucks, sipping a non-fat, decaf paper cup of healing. My only regret is that I passed on the whip cream. Our babysitter is with the girls, and I am listening to a group of college students chat about what really matters in life. I am tempted to tell them that they don’t have a clue, but for now I am just enjoying the escape. If I didn’t know better, I would say that I was doing great. I have make-up on, I had a play-date with a group of amazing women today, and God has given me the strength to be a single parent while Todd is gone (he left Tuesday and will return Sunday).
From the outside looking in, I am just another girl with a hot drink.
This imitation of reality has become somewhat of a refuge for me. It feels really nice to slip into the rhythm of life and pretend that I am just like everybody else. Mostly, people don’t even notice that I am pregnant, which is a gift in such a time. Inevitably, if they ask, and I produce my “15 second version” of the story, they look at me like we have known each other for years. It just transcends whatever the moment was just before they knew. I am daily reminded that there are parts of life that we politely avoid with people we have just met (Who did you vote for? Who, in your life, has inflicted the deepest wound you carry? Why do you continue to shape your eyebrows as if you were constantly surprised?). And yet, in the few moments that follow an exchange of meaningless greeting, God has opened the door for Audrey’s name. Either that, or I just feel like they should know her. One way or another, I have felt an amazing strength in sharing that I would never have expected because I feel like she might not have a chance to use her own voice in this life. And every time I do, I feel like people minister to me in ways they probably will never know. You have no idea how many people respond with, “I have a friend who went through something very similar…” or “A few years ago, I lost a baby…”
Every single one of those stories has mattered more to me than I could ever explain. There is great camaraderie in suffering.
If you are reading this, I want you to know that if you shared your story with me, I was moved by your transparency and your pain. It mattered to me. If you have taken the time to comment on this blog, I want you to know that I have prayed for you. Every one of you. I have thanked God that you care about my little girl, and even about me.
I feel like I have included you on the spiritual highs of this journey (and there are many every day), but the truth is that right this minute, I just wish that God had picked someone else. I wish the cup had passed. I wish I cared about what the coolest songs on the radio are and what kind of purse I was carrying. Okay, that last one was me trying to sound deep. I actually carry a Coach purse that cost my husband more money than our winter electric bill. Let’s just get that out in the open. And while we are at it, I want you to know that I read People magazine. Quite frankly (brace yourself), I am a subscriber.
Wow. Still there?
I just want you to know that as much as I love the Lord, I am by no means the type of person who sails through life just smiling and toting my Bible from house to house while I spiritualize every moment. I wish you could be here with me, sipping coffee, so I could tell you the whole story from the beginning. I don’t even know why I am saying all of this except that there are people I have read about or connected with in my life, and I just stare at them with my mouth open, wondering how they have it so together. Todd and I have a running joke about a girl that he used to have a crush on, long before me, and after I met her, I was so blown away that in the car on the way home I told him he probably should have tried harder to win her over:) I am not one of those girls who have it all figured out. I am the other one. I guess I just want you to know that if there is something in my words or my actions that resonates with you, I pretty much have nothing to do with it. In fact, I am such an incredibly harsh critic of my own writing that I don’t allow myself to edit these posts for fear of the fact that I may draw a picture for you that looks more like a photograph than a work in progress. What you see, what you are drawn to feel for me and for my daughter is only, and completely, an act of God.
And so, I sit.
The college kids went to go see a movie and one of the employees just asked me what I was working on (which, I think, was a polite way of asking why my eyes were red and puffy). I am waiting on a dear friend to meet me here, and this post is actually a response to her (very kind) urging to update this site…thank you Jess. I guess all of these words are building up to a prayer request that I have been sitting on for a few days and not sure how to formulate into words. The most simple way, I suppose, is just to come out and say it.
I cannot believe how much this hurts.
I don’t know how to even get out of bed in the morning, or to answer phone calls, or explain to my children for the 100th time why baby Audrey will not sleep in the crib that we have had set up for months. I feel like I may not get through this pain in one piece. And all the while, I don’t want to burden people, I don’t want them to feel like they have to make it better because that is a losing battle. It won’t be better.
For years, I have been a part of Todd’s ministry. I have felt that way because people have told me their stories, how his music had helped them through the darkest times. And here is the truth. I have never ONCE taken those conversations for granted. I have been so incredibly moved that someone I love so much could have been a part of healing a stranger. Because of what we are going through, I feel so bittersweet about him being gone. I believe in him and his work as much as anyone could, but we all miss him desperately. The night he left, we stood at the window and sobbed while we waved at his headlights and faced an empty house. Ellie kept making up goofy jokes to make my face “not red,” and then informed me that it was time for bed because when we woke up, we wouldn’t be sad anymore. I waited until they were asleep, and then I fell apart. I haven’t completely put myself together again, and I think that is why I have hesitated to write.
It’s easier to let people feel the strength than it is to be in pieces, begging for mercy.
It’s easier to talk about the possibility of healing than it is to face the fact that she may not be healed.
It’s easier to say that you feel God than it is to say that you don’t.
Please join me, as you have in moments of inexplicable joy, in this moment of downright grief. I covet your prayers as I am trying to navigate these waters. As I plan for what may very well be the thorn that God has chosen for me to bear…I want to feel like I carried it well, that I honored my Audrey and my God.
I came across something tonight that speaks of the one and only Jesus. Even in the silence, He has reminded me that He is not absent.
About a week before Audrey’s diagnosis, I was shopping at a local maternity boutique that is going out of business. Everything in the store was drastically reduced, and I noticed some little vintage-inspired photo albums that were absolutely beautiful. They didn’t have many styles left, and I saw two that immediately reminded me of the three girls that I already have. One had two little babies asleep together, and another had a raven-haired little girl that looked a lot like Kate when she was a baby. I grabbed them, and then decided to get one for Audrey as well. They only had one other “girl” style, which was partially obscured by its case, so I grabbed it without really looking at it. After we found out that Audrey was sick, I wanted to put her ultrasound photos somewhere special, and I pulled out the albums. I literally gasped for air and sobbed while He reminded me that He is in control. The first picture is of the “Abby and Ellie” album and the “Kate” album. The second one is Audrey’s. You will notice that they are distinctly and painfully different, in a way that breaks my heart and draws me to the God who so ordained them to be. I am resting in that tonight as I weep for the baby I may not get to love in this world. She will be loved deeply, eternally, perfectly. Thank you for helping me to carry this hurt…I thank God for every one of you. Angie