Friday, February 10, 2012

Beyond Memories

Grief is a messy thing. It’s unpredictable, uncontainable and has it’s own unique timeline. I gave up on wearing mascara a long time ago. :)

It’s been 14 months since Malia was in my arms. It feels like a lifetime ago. I swear it was yesterday. Time is a tangle as I realize she has been gone as long as she was sick. A few months ago I started having frequent and very realistic flashbacks to difficult times during Malia’s illness and death. They were beyond memories; it was like I was actually there in her hospital room again watching the chemo drip in while she wretched, or sitting with sweating palms while talking with a doctor about the latest complication, or the sight of her blood mixed with the strong smell of alcohol antiseptic. Even though there was evidence of God’s presence and comfort during those times, it was still traumatic to have to bear witness to. To watch my little girl go through so much and then to have to let her go was the most difficult thing I hope to ever endure. My councling sessions have helped some, and the flashbacks are more like memories now... less overwhelming and easier to redirect.

Joe and I also joined a grief group which has been very helpful. Truth is I really didn’t want to do the group thing, but it’s been good. It’s helping me to understand my grieving is “normal” even if at times I feel like I must be going crazy.

In this last session we looked at the “Why’s” of grief. Why did Malia have to die? Why did God allow it to happen? Why did she have to suffer? Why not me instead of her? There are so many questions in grief we will likely never have concrete answers to on this side of heaven, but I think by understanding a little about the character of God we can learn to have faith that what seems like a mess from our perspective, really has a sense of order and purpose beyond our human understanding.

There is an illustration that I think represents this so well. Anyone who has ever done needle work will get this. The person working on a cross stitch project works from the front. As they build on each stitch, a picture begins to form. It has order, design and if done right looks beautiful. But have you ever seen one of those things from the back? It’s a mess! There are knots and loose strings, and nothing seems to make any sense. God is creating our picture. He sees the front side of our existence, and what he sees is beautiful. Our problem is that often we only get a view from the back. We look at our life and tell God he doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing. That he couldn’t possibly be in control of such disorder. We need to have faith that there is another side. That God, in his great love for us, is designing a far more intricate and beautiful life than we can even imagine.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

I still wonder why, but knowing that God’s plan is beyond my ability to understand, my faith says I can trust him anyway. God sent Jesus to die for me. Since He himself experienced the separation I now feel, I can be assured He knows the pain I feel in missing her. He gets it, and he’s helping me through it. I am trying to move my question of “Why” to “How”? God, How can you use this to help people see your love for them? How can I take the pain and turn it into something positive? How can I grow from this and help others in the process?

Thank you to all of you who read this blog and listen to my heart. Here's praying that God allows you to see a glimpse of the other side of your picture today.