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.
Six years ago she came into this world. We weren't there, We didn't even know yet that we would have another child. In fact, it wasn't even on our radar. But she was here, born to be our sweet angel girl, to touch lives and teach lessons and bring joy....so very much joy. She became ours to love forever..... our daughter, sister. We thought we would have her for a lifetime. And I guess, in essence, we did have her for a lifetime, a tragically short lifetime.
In my heart this day of the year will be forever set apart from other days. It's her birthday. There will be no party, no one to blow out candles or make a wish. Still, it is a day set apart, a day to honor the beautiful life that graced our home for so short a time. I love and hate this day. Hate that she is not here, but love that on this day I feel a sense of freedom to experience all that is tucked away inside my heart. I can open, for just one day, that compartment that, on ordinary days, must be pushed aside to allow for life to go on. Today, on her birthday I can sit quietly with all that is.....the sorrow, the tears, the joy that her memory brings.
I can no longer pretend to know what she would be like. She would be very different from the child we remember. Life experiences, school, friendships....all of these would certainly have changed her. Yet in my heart of hearts I know that Laynee would still be full of joy, that she would be the epitome of unconditional love. I know that she is still my daughter, that she is loved beyond measure, that I will hold her again one day. And to know this is enough.
Yesterday heaven gained another saint. A beautiful woman, a long time resident of our community, entered heaven after a lengthy battle with cancer. I've known her, as an acquaintance, for about as long as I can remember, but since her diagnosis 18 months ago, I have come to know her on a much deeper level. She had a gentle spirit, a woman of great dignity and love for all.
Before I took my full time position at Labcorp, I kept myself busy with cleaning houses for others. It is through this that I came to know Carol more intimately. With her diagnosis, and the pain and fatigue that came with it, I was asked to come to her house on a regular basis to clean for her. When I took the job at Labcorp I gave up all of my cleaning jobs except Carol's. She inspired me with her determination and ever peaceful attitude and so I continued to work her into my schedule. From the very beginning, she would sit and talk to me as I cleaned. She encouraged me as I sent two of my children off to college. She gave me regular updates of her own condition. She was interested in my life and I was interested in hers. Though cancer was eating away at her body, it never destroyed her beautiful spirit and I never heard her utter a single word of complaint. She loved her family, her community, her life and knew that she was a blessed woman.
The last time I cleaned for her, my heart lurched as I walked in and found her on the sofa, unable to get up. Still, she was interested in what was going on in my life. She asked about my children and about the baby. She whispered words of encouragement to me. As I prepared to leave that day, I knew in my soul, that I would not see her again on this earth and she knew it too. We shared a tearful goodbye and then she grabbed my hand and said "I would really like to see your baby once. Please bring him to see me." And so I did. I left, went to pick up Kruz at my friend's house and returned with him in my arms. As weak and frail as Carol's body was, she was determined to hold him. She sat up, I placed him in her arms with my own arms under hers and she whispered beautiful words to him. As I took him from her arms, she told me, with tear filled eyes, that when she sees my little girl she would be sure to tell her that she has a beautiful baby brother. Tears ran from my own eyes as I asked her to also tell her that "we love and miss her so much." Carol smiled at me and said "Oh I'm sure she already knows that but I will tell her again." I left tearfully then, Kruz in my arms, my heart wrapped around this priceless gift that Carol had given to me.
When word came to yesterday that Carol and left this world. My heart filled with myriad emotions: Sorrow--from knowing I will not see her again on earth. Pain--for the family that loves her desperately and the grief journey that has been thrust upon them. Joy--Because I know that my message has been delivered to my baby girl. Comfort and Peace---From knowing her suffering is finished and that she won her race. And a touch of envy-- because I know that she is with her Lord, in the same place as the beautiful child my heart aches for.
Since Laynee died, most of the people I know have the same confindence that I have. That heaven is real. That, because of the great sacrifice at the cross, we have hope of life eternal. But there a few who scoff at this hope that I have. There are those who have said "fine, if that's what you want to believe" or "if it makes you feel better to think your daughter is in some imaginary heaven...." Those people have clearly never had an oppurtunity such as this one that I have had. They cannot possibly have witnessed someone so full of hope and joy as they knowingly live their last days on earth.
There is one, and only one, explanation for such great hope. It is the "Peace of God, which passes all understanding" Philippians 4:7