As we vacation in North Carolina, my mind keeps going back to this time last year. As a general rule, I have never been one to travel without my children. However, the age span between our biological children and adopted children, coupled with the challeges of special needs, has made traveling interesting, to say the least. While we do travel a great deal with Moise, there are some adventures that our teenaged children like to do that are impossible with wheelchairs and strollers. Such activities include, hiking, mountain biking and white water rafting. In the past several years we have taken one trip each summer without Moise. In addition to allowing us to do more strenuous activities, this trip also gives all of us a necessary respite from the 24/7, round the clock roll as caregivers which is physically and emotionally draining.
Last year at this time we took a trip to Colorado and left both, Moise and Laynee, in the care of people that we trusted to give them quality care while we were away. We had taken both of them with us to Florida in the fall, almost a year before the accident, and found that Laynee was actually a very good little traveler. While I am fully aware that activity packed trips such as the ones we take in the summers will never be possible with Moise, I spent that entire trip regretting that we did not have Laynee with us. I missed her desperately and knew that while Moise would not enjoy the activities due to the severity of his disabilities, Laynee would. On the way home from Colorado, Jim and I and the kids discussed how we would never take another trip without her. When I returned home I told Karen, who had watched her for our trip, that Laynee would always travel with us from that point on. Never again would we take a trip without her. Never say never!!
We did not have an oppurtunity to make good on that promise. Six weeks after that trip, Laynee was taken from us. The thing that I said I would "never" do was taken completely and irrevocably out of my control. Now, reality is that "never again" will we take a trip with her.
This is our fourth trip since the accident and each time it feels a little more painful to leave home without her. This time feels especially difficult as I reflect on the promises I made a year ago. Just before leaving home, I visited her grave and as always, I felt the need to say, "I'm sorry, Laynee, that we are leaving without you. I'm so sorry." As we travel, enjoying the sights and fun activities my soul aches for her. There are children everywhere we turn at this campground and I can imagine her wanting to make friends with all of them. I can see her standing and watching every move they make. I know that many would be treated to one of her famous Laynee hugs. I wish that I were chasing her up and down the rows of campers. As I opened my eyes to this morning's light my heart wept with longing to see her smile in the bed right next to mine.
We are enjoyinf the trip immensely despite missing her. This land in NC is powerful testimony of God's artistic majesty. He is splendid in all that he does. Today we visited caverns and hiked in the mountains. We walked across "Mile High Swinging Bridge" from which there was simply no denying that all of this was created by a mighty deity. I was reminded from a place which was seemingly "on the top of the world" that the God here at the mountain top is the same God that walks in the valleys with us, the same God that goes into the darkest pit with us.
Despite all of these things that I know, I cannot shake the feeling that she is supposed to be here with us. I promised never to leave her again. Soon after the accident, Jade tearfully exclaimed "I miss her so bad when we go on vacation without her, I don't know if I can stand never seeing her again" While I know that we will see her again in heaven, the remainder of our life here, on earth will be without her. Tonight as grief weighs heavily upon me, I echo Jade's words. I don't know if I can stand never seeing her again.
CS Lewis once said that "grief is like the sky, it covers everything." In recent weeks, our family has found that this is so very true. It seems that there is no right or wrong way to travel this path of grief. I have created this blog in hopes that some day we will be able to look back on our journey and see written proof that our great God never leaves us. God is good all the time.