Yesterday I had the beautiful oppurtunity to spend the day with one of my dearest friends. Rachel and I became friends years ago when we were first married. Jim and I, Rachel and her husband, Glenn, and 4 other couples that attended church together formed a group that we referred to as our "Potluck Group." On a regular basis we would take turns hosting the other couple at our homes for a potluck dinner. The frequency with which we were together built lasting friendships. Together we learned the art of cooking, often among some rather comical "flops." Given the personilities of the men in our group, one thing was always a guarantee......laughter. We shared countless hilarious moments and made priceless memories.
This group is and always will be special as they are a very important part of the early years of our marriage. All 6 couples were married around the same time and are close in age. We were there for each other during job changes, home relocation, pregnancies and raising of our children. Most of all, we shared a deep faith in our Lord Jesus.
In addition to much fun, laughter and faith, we shared in each others struggles. As I look back, I stand in awe of the depth of struggles that we shared in a few short years, all before any of us ever reached our thirties. We rallied around Tim and Ruth when 2 year old, Levi, suffered a heart attack and was diagnosed with Kawasakis Disease. We wept with Doug and Jill as they experienced multiple miscarriages and then rejoiced when they carried and delivered healthy twin boys. We cheered Kevin and Jody through months of bed rest to deliver their own healthy twin girls. Though at a loss for words, we quietly lifted up Glenn and Rachel, with love and prayers when they said good bye to their beautiful Clark at just 3 days old. Jim and I felt the love and support of all these dear friends when Moise came into our lives, through his illness and later his devastating diagnosis of Cytomegalovirus. As a whole, we took some mighty bumps and bruises together. We weathered some of lifes greatest storm being lifted up by each other's prayers.
Our special little group began to break up as first, Glenn and Rachel took a job and moved to Minnesota. Soon after, Doug and Jill found employment and moved to Arizona. The marriage of the sixth couple in our group, sadly, ended in divorce. Life happened and our little group was no longer a group, but the love and memories and fondness that we feel for one another remains.
Every time I was pregnant, Rachel was pregnant also and we waddled through it together. Her Clark was born weeks after Brock and my heart could not imagine the pain of losing a child. We sent our children to kindergarten together and now we are sending them to college. On Saturday, together, we walked through the cemetary which holds the bodies of both of our babies. Together we stood there looking at the names on the markers....Clark Eward Steiner would be 13 and Jalayne Grace Holmes would be 4.
I have other friends who have lost children, but with Rachel it is different. I was there when Rachel's baby died. I saw her grief and sorrow and sadness. I remember feeling sad when we were together and Brock was growing, healthy and happy, while her heart was broken. I remember her telling me how her arms ached to hold her baby. I was a part of her history and she is a part of mine. Though I do not remember much of the days after Laynee's accident, I do know that Rachel called me from her home in Minnesota. I have no idea what was said, only that I heard her voice. The next day, all the way from Minnesota, Rachel was here.
Rachel and I do not pretend to know exactly what the other has experienced. I have no clue what it's like to never bring my newborn home from the hospital, she has no idea what it's like to have a 2 year old taken. However, both of us know the true meaning of the word devastation. We know what it is to have God say "no" to the greatest pleading of our souls. We both feel deep longing for heaven and that day we will hold our babies again. Rachel did not flinch as I shared my heart with her, telling of the areas in which my faith has faltered in this current storm.
I only have the pleasure of seeing Rachel about once a year. When I see her, the time and distance between us melts away in one single heartbeat. I have many dear friends whom I love and cherish but there is something different and irreplacable about a friend with whom history is made.
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.