When I offered to write about my journey with grief, I thought for certain that it would be easy. I thought "I've lived this, I can definitely do this - and do it quickly, easily and unemotionally." I thought that after processing and healing and learning and growing and praying for over 11 years, that this would pour out of my mind freely. It hasn't been so. In fact, it has been quite the opposite.
No one wants to hear the gritty details of hospitals, sick babies, tests, needle sticks, deathly ill babies, crying and dark times that seemed like they would never end. No one wants to hear about a mother so desperate to keep her children well that she literally forgot to go to sleep - not for one night, but for months...cat napping when she could, sleeping enough to survive but barely enough to be functional. No one wants to hear of the depression and hopelessness from being told your children will never walk or talk or laugh at you. No one wants to hear about feeling completely disconnected from God... surely a loving God would never do this to a mother...not with one child... not with all three children. No one wants to hear about unanswered prayers and being angry at God. No one wants to hear about giving up all hope, not seeing a future with your children in the picture.
No one would believe that it could take so much effort to get out of bed, brush my teeth, cook dinner. No one would believe how the mundane daily tasks could be so physically painful because my heart hurt so badly that breathing hurt. It was nobody else's problem. My children, my duty, my cross to bear.
No one would believe the pain of all the excitement leading up to their arrival, just to have so many friends part ways, because they couldn't "handle" it. No one would believe the pain in a mother's heart, seeing her child have hundreds of seizures a day... and being told the problem is being treated in the only way they know how - a way that is, so obviously, not working. So sick... nothing else to try. So many medications, so many side effects, so many bad reactions.
No one would believe the hurt in my heart caused by having children who are not "normal". All of the things that were supposed to happen, but didn't. Or things that we waited for for months upon months to happen, the excitement and joy when milestones were reached. A glimmer of hope. Hidden hope. Hiding under the layers of pain, anger and resentment. A hope that is almost tangible, but always just out of reach. Hope that I was always so grateful for. Feeling hopeful or celebratory instead of angry. Feeling joy instead of pain. Feeling victorious instead of defeated.
No one would believe how completely one can be delivered by Jesus. Jesus doesn't want to hear from "that mom". The one who cursed Him when she was exhausted, the one who chastised Him when her children were all desperately ill all at the same time, the one who decided she could do this without Him. The one who was wrong.
Even now, when my oldest boys will be turning 11 years old, I sometimes get the (very annoying) "How do you do it?" I used to say something snarky like "I wasn't given a choice about it." My very wise pastor, back when the twins were very little, told me something that has stuck with me all this time. I just felt like I couldn't deal with it anymore and he said "Well, go ahead and leave." I looked at him like he was nuts. "I can't LEAVE, are you kidding me?" He said he wasn't kidding... I should just go... leave. Again, I reminded him that I couldn't just drop everything and leave. He asked "Why not?" I told him... I have babies, they need me.... and he said "So you want to stay?" I repeated myself (again...) "No, I HAVE TO stay." He continued along these same lines and basically it boiled down to me, in a sobbing mess, getting kind of angry with him for suggesting I leave. Of course, that wasn't his point...his point was that as difficult as life was, I was choosing to stay. That little detail, that slight change of perception made all the difference to me. From that point on, I could tell myself that this is my choice. Of course, I wasn't going to leave, but mentally telling myself that this is the continuation of my choices made a huge difference in how I was able to process and perceive the situation.
When people say that God doesn't give us more than we can handle, I am quick to correct them. I can't do this. This is God. God never gives me more than HE can handle. Perspective. In the scheme of eternity, this is but a blip on the radar screen. God has my children in His hands. I do the best I can to care for them and love them and guide them, but, indeed, God doesn't give me more than HE can handle. I've released my children to the Hands of God. They know they are where they belong, they know they're loved no matter what. They're happy, productive, loving, active boys and they know their hope is in the Lord. I'm choosing to stay, I'm choosing to be a positive force, choosing to be salt and light wherever we go. I don't walk away from things I "can't" handle. There is nothing I can't handle by the Grace of God Almighty. He promises that He is holding us in his hands. I believe Him. He has not left me or forsaken me. Just like He promised.
Sometimes, I feel as though I have declared victory over grief. I certainly have victory in Christ, but I get a little over-confident, my head gets large and then I do dumb things. Declaring victory over something when I'm not ready to is a bad idea. The truth is, I'm still working on it. There are still days when my guys have a rough go of things, but I've been prepared for everything that can happen. I can't declare victory when I still have a degree of sadness about my children. Most of the time, life is good, the kids are OK and I forget a little too completely about what I've been through. Forgetting, for me, has not only been impossible, but it has also reminded me that I have to get up and keep on living life, keep on fighting the good fight - for my children and for myself.
And I always keep in mind, this is my choice. I'm choosing to stay in a very stressful situation, choosing to make choices that are not always the easiest to make. I'm choosing to make the best out of a situation that could be so much worse. Choosing to see the positive. Choosing to share my story of deliverance, my story of salvation, shining my light on those around me. Life, friends, is most definitely not a destination. It is a journey. An intentional journey - one with road blocks along the way, never sure of when things will spring forth right into my path, but knowing I'm armed with the Holy Spirit and that I will be covered so fully, protected from harm, because I am doing the right thing for my family. Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride.