What a terrible word. It carries a myriad of meanings. But I don't personally know of any meaning more heart wrenching than that referring to the loss of a baby. Most of us know someone who's lost a baby. I have had two miscarriages. My mother-in-law, some of my sisters-in-law, a few of my dearest friends and some women who I only loosely know on FB have experienced a miscarriage. For each of us, we have unique situations, but the loss is the same. It's a profound emptiness after being filled with such joy. I don't know that there is any feeling that compares with the knowledge that there is a baby growing inside you. The Creator of the universe has bestowed one of His greatest blessings on YOU. There is so much wonder and promise that comes with new life. I think the "pregnancy glow" is just that, those feelings radiating out of you for the world to see. I wonder if it's similar to what my Creator felt as He made me?
I was explaining to the kids how we wouldn't have Jenna or Jarod if i hadn't miscarried. How can I even imagine life without those two? Jenna brings a joy to the world like no one else I know. And Jarod, I'm smitten, absolutely smitten. There's nothing quite like praising my Lord knowing my son is playing the drums, my husband is beside me strumming and singing along. I can't help but radiate His love. And Jarod's dimples? Look out ladies.
Walking through this with Lucy has reminded me of my own experiences. I remember the roller coaster emotions. Anger, guilt, sadness, emptiness, but then, as time went on, faith, comfort, joy, compassion. I so vividly remember sitting in Bible study sometime before I had my first miscarriage. Someone asked for prayer because of a miscarriage and I could pray for them but, I didn't get it. I thought to myself how it couldn't be that bad, they weren't that far along after all. Little did I know how quickly that joy and excitement builds from the moment you find out. And how quickly it all comes crashing down around you when you realize that miscarriage now applies to you.
I sometimes felt silly for being so sad. After all, it wasn't like I was 18 weeks. I was about 7 weeks each time. But still, the literal and figurative emptiness that accompanied the word miscarriage blind sided me. With each miscarriage I had, I picked out a special Christmas ornament to remember them by. For John and I, we believe those two babies are waiting for us in Heaven. And, I didn't want life to go on as normal and forget about those two. Especially when I had Jenna and then Jarod to fill those voids. The last few Christmases, the kids have placed all the ornaments on the tree. I cried tonight when i realized I don't even know if those two special ornaments made it on the tree. This Christmas, I'll have to make sure they make it up.
There's a song that we sing in church. It's called "Blessed Be Your Name". One of the lines says, "He gives and takes away". It's one of our favorites. The song took on new meaning when a dear friend told how her sister and family sang this song in the hospital as they held their still born baby. What a testament to the faith we have in our Creator. And what a reminder to really think about the words we are singing.
I imagine Lucy is experiencing the roller coaster now. In her own way. I can only hope and pray that as she's surrounded by a sisterhood of women to love and encourage her, that she is comforted. That our stories of Gods sovereignty and His love, and His faithfulness will encourage her. That someday soon, she'll wake up realizing, joy really does come in the morning.
My daughter got married. Just over six months ago, when Lucy got engaged, I had no idea what a daughter getting married would entail. I cant fully verbalize the joy you feel when a daughter gets engaged. Especially when it's to a cute young man who loves Jesus, loves your daughter, and respects you as her parents. We were thrilled the day Lucy and Anthony got engaged! Shortly after their engagement, maybe even within a day or two, I downloaded some "checklists". I LOVE checklists. Or rather, I love checking off items on my checklist. I've even been known to add something to my list that I've already done, just to check it off. Lucy and I sat down and made notes of what she wanted for her wedding. We talked about flowers, favors, attire, cake, all the stuff you think of when thinking about a wedding. There were only a few things that changed from what she thought she wanted, to what she definitely wanted. I was there when she chose "THE dress", decided on the place, the food, the attire. Once she chose, I was charged with finding the best deal. I loved every moment of it. Then, a friend recommended we watch "Father of the Bride". I remembered the movie being hilarious so, we all sat down to watch it. Whoa. Something happened between when I watched it as a teenager and when I watched it as the mother of the bride. My heart had been softened, and tenderized more and more with the birth of each child. This hilarious movie that I remembered laughing through, was now a tear jerker. Every scene Steve Martin played out remembering his daughter as a little girl, played in my mind, except with Lucy as a little girl. I cried through most of the movie. The struggle of parent vs child intensified as the day drew near. Knowing that Lucy was soon to step out into the world all on her own, we knew we needed to give her space. But we still had rules. I wasn't prepared for this. I don't think she was either. With the next one, we'll be better prepared. I suppose each wedding will teach us and better prepare us for the following one. The learning curve must surely be highest with the first one! It only took us just up until a couple days before the wedding for us to settle into a pattern we could both appreciate. Just in time to let her go. I type those words, let her go, and I tear up. And I think how selfish I must seem. She's still around, they even come over for family dinners sometimes. It's not as though I've "let her go" to heaven, I know that. I've learned to let her go to Jesus alright, but here on earth, with a great guy! You parents out there, someday you'll understand what I'm saying. When Jessi went to San Diego for a year that was hard, but we knew she'd be coming back some day. When Lucy went to Sudan, that was hard, but in a different way. That was a different kind of test. We knew that the Lord wanted her there, but did we really mean it? No matter what happened? It's one thing to SAY you trust the Lord, it's another to actually TRUST HIM! Once again, a child that had left, came home. Same with Leah's trips this summer, she came home. But this, this wedding, this marriage, this extra SON I was gaining, this was different. Our home wouldn't be her home any longer. John and I both knew that the wedding would probably draw some tears. But better to draw tears than blood! The day finally arrived and we were all up by 6am. It was a beautiful day. And just like everyone said, the weather, the details, they all worked out. Beautifully! In the end, your wedding day isn't about the favors, the flowers, the dress, the makeup, the pictures, or even who made it or didn't make it. It's about a lifelong commitment to your best friend. Even when it doesn't feel like they're your best friend any more. Lucy and Anthony did a great job of keeping it all in perspective and not worrying about all the silly stuff. I loved how John cried when he prayed with Lucy and all the girls before the ceremony. Yes, it did start all the water works, but it's just such a beautiful thing to experience. We requested that John walk me down the aisle, and Lu agreed, it's another of my favorite moments. I couldn't look at John and Lucy as they walked down, I knew I'd cry. At the last second I stole a peek, knowing I'd regret it if I didn't look. So gorgeous. John did a great job during the ceremony. I felt so proud watching my strong, handsome, Godly husband marry OUR daughter. We, well he, decided it would be best to not run through the ceremony with me. I have a knack for details that can sometimes squash out the spontaneity of something. He was right. He often is. It was a perfect portrayal of our family. Serious, respectful, but mixed with love and laughter. It was was awesome. I'd say even perfect. Even the part where Anthony swallowed a fly during communion. For those that saw them giggling during communion, that's why. :-) The rest of the day went smoothly. There were a few hiccups here and there, but I don't think anything could have brought down Lu and Anthony. It was great to see all our friends and family surrounding us, sharing in this special day with our daughter. Our precious little Lucy. Everyone says when they are little that it goes fast. Cherish it, they say. But, in the midst of the sleepless nights, the diapers, the discipline, you just wanna smack them. You feel as though you're just going day to day doing all these mundane tasks. But when done right, these tasks make beautiful, God fearing children. Who will go out, and repeat the process, based on our example! What pressure! As your little girl is walking down the aisle with her Daddy, you realize, it's all worth it. Every moment, joyful and heart wrenching, it's all worth it. As they go off to college to be able to be a servant to the sick, it's worth it. As they go off to fold clothes at Old Navy and try to be the best employee there is, it's worth it. As they sew another dress, make another handbag and fix their sister's jeans, it's worth it. As they use their musical gift like nothing you've ever seen, it's all worth it. As they just begin to figure out who they are, it's worth it. You realize the time has flown by and that guy you wanted to smack, he was right. He's been right where you are and he was right, you should've enjoyed those moments more! At the end of Lucy's wedding day. I'll admit, I felt a little like Steve Martin. I felt like I spent a lot of my day with others, but not with my Lucy. Now it wasn't nearly as bad as the movie. I got to pray with her, hug her, kiss her goodbye. But it just felt like she was gone, and I didn't soak up those moments with her like I should have. We have a slideshow of pictures that plays on our tv downstairs. The reminiscing was too much for us, we had to turn it off. Talking about a family selfie and realizing Lucy wasn't a part of that any more, was enough to make me turn my head away. The first time Lucy stopped by after work, and then left to go "home", I cried. Now that some time has passed, I've pulled myself out of the "mother of the bride" funk, and even let the old pictures play on the tv. Things are adjusting well, there are far less tears over "losing" Lucy, and I speak for our whole family when I say that! And I can't even count the number of times Lu & Anthony have come for dinner. It's awesome to see her living out all the things we've shown her by example over the years. I'm sure she's learned what TO do and certainly what NOT to do. I can only pray that we've taught her to have a firm foundation. And trust that I haven't really lost her. I've said to people before that we have to "let our kids go" and trust the Lord. This is just an opportunity to DO what I've said. It's one thing to say that when they're living in your home, another when they go to school, another when they're in a foreign country, and another when they're living in their own home. I know it hasn't been that long since their wedding day but, I feel like it's such a great example of how we "let go" for Jesus, and gain so much more than we let go of. I "let go" of Lucy, and now I have a wonderful son-in-law! And, they come hang out, because they want to! I have that brother for Jarod I always wished Jarod had. It's truly almost comical how we can be so self absorbed that we miss all the beauty around us! I know it's SO cliche but, I truly didn't lose a daughter, I gained a son! And, as my wise mother-in-law said, "be thankful they only moved 20 minutes away, and not to another country"! The title, "Mother of the Bride" was a bit more difficult than I imagined it would be but, it's worth it.
We enjoyed a fabulous crepe and then took pictures.
The next morning we got up early to take Lu to the airport. We kept getting an error message when we tried to check her in online. Despite getting there 2.5 hours early, they weren't able to make it happen. In the end, obviously, God worked it all out. She had to spend the night alone in Frankfurt but flew out the next morning with no problems! She is know safely in Tonj, South Sudan settling in just fine. We are so blessed to have been able to take this trip with Lucy and see A&C. It's hard to be so far from family but it makes the few and far between visits that more special.