Yesterday was over the top emotional for me. I spent some time in the morning with the funeral home finalizing Grace's gravestone. It is sparkly blue and has her name, birth date, heaven date, and the inscription "Dancing with Jesus". I smile through streams of tears when I think of her dancing in heaven. Lets just say Grace had a style all her own, and you can not see her dance in your head without giggling a little. But even joyful thoughts are painful right now. Another reminder that she is beyond the reach of our arms to pull her into a hug. The stone also has an angel casting a rainbow to the world... helping us to never forget God's love through our journey here with Grace. On the opposite side is a butterfly... a symbol of the hope of eternity and our future with her. There's something about seeing her name on a gravestone that hurts more deeply than anything before this. The finality of her being gone from this life makes me weep. I just don't understand.
Shortly after that my mom called to say my sister had been sent to the hospital by the clinic to have her baby. She had asked me to be there when the time came and I had been looking forward to the day with mixed emotions. What if I broke down and had to leave her during labor? I wanted to be helpful, but with my bum arm knew I would be limited. I also didn't want to be a distraction from what was her joy, and certainly didn't want to divide the attentions of anyone else there. My mom picked me up and we were there for the delivery. It was incredibly hard, but I did manage to hold it together for the most part until after it was all done. During labor scriptures were read that had been prayed over Grace, verses we had claimed for her were now being used to focus my sister through her pain. Songs were playing that we sang over Grace, now being sung in preparation of new life entering the world. The baby was born and all was well. Her dark hair and the shape of her nose reminded me so much of Grace in her own delivery room 10 years ago this month. My sister was a rock, and did such an amazing job! I wanted to purely celebrate in the moment of joy with her. The baby is such a beautifully perfect gift from heaven, but my heart was bleeding and I had to bolt. My poor mom. I was weeping in one room while my sister was rejoicing in the next. I was mourning a loss while she was celebrating new life. My mom and other sister went back and forth between us. After asking if it was OK, the baby was given Grace's middle name. I probably shouldn't have been there. I knew it would be difficult for me, but it was harder than I thought it would be and it wasn't very fair to be a distraction to everyone else. I did pull it together long enough to go congratulate my sister and her husband, and kiss the baby's sweet head. I don't understand.
I went from the hospital home, then immediately on to help at a benefit for "Jon" a friend of ours in the midst of his difficult fight against cancer. He is a dad with 5 little kids and a beautiful wife. There was a great turnout and it warmed my heart to see many of my friends who didn't even know "Jon" except through us there to support the family. Many of them were even helping directly with the benefit... including my mom and dad, a friend who's daughter is also in a fight to win her battle against cancer, several friends from church, and a friend who's daughter was Grace's classmate in school. Thanks to all of you! It was an amazing night, and I know the family feels so blessed by it all. So many families.... so many struggles. I don't understand.
I'm trying to pull out a teachable moment here, but am not sure where I am left today. I don't understand the whys of this life. I know I never will. How such contrasting things can exist together... life, death, joy, confusion... but they do. We're each left to sort it out in our own ways, each through the lens of our own experiences. Day's like today I am thankful for my family, friends and faith. To have a rock to stand on when things don't feel secure. To know God understands beyond my understanding.