Saturday, November 21, 2015

Doubly Clothed.


The first snow of winter fell this morning.  As I opened my eyes I could tell by the light in our room that the ground was white.  I prepared myself all week, watching the forecast, knowing it was coming.  I thought my heart was ready.  
But when my feet hit the floor and as I made my way to the kitchen all mental preparations were squandered by the familiar feeling in my stomach; the aching one.  It caught me off guard, stopped me dead in my tracks.  Memories flooded my mind quickly and my tears fell quietly, more meek than usual.  This was a somber missing of my girl, not the violent type that I usually feel. 


We moved to this house, our "Mabel house," in the snow.  Feet of it, actually. 
While the kids were in school and while Chris worked, Mabel & I made so many little trips across town in so much snow just so that we could finally have our little family under one roof.  And I remember feeling so much necessity in doing it; an urgency. 
 My soul knew we needed to quickly get her here, to the home where she would meet Jesus.  

Anyone who knows me knows my heart is wrapped up in the winter air. I pray every year that I would wake on my birthday to a fresh blanket of perfectly untouched snow.  The sunshine of summer refreshes my spirit and then I hush, quiet, silence myself in the winter. 
 I am internal and it is soul-reviving.  Mabel and I, especially, would tuck ourselves away for many winter months and do nothing but devour each other's time. 

This morning my mom sent me a text that said, "the first snow brought us you!" which is pretty special to know that I was born in the middle of the thing that I love most. 

I wasn't prepared this morning for this first snow. 
Not for the beauty and not for the excruciating pain atop it.  I wanted so badly to wake and feel nothing but gratefulness for the white; the new.  But it's never how I expect it to be.  Instead I looked across the living room and all I could see was the same winter light that filled the house the first few days we were in it, all together. 

I knew then what is true now-that my baby would not live through another winter, but she was with me then and I remember feeling so elated.  The house was open, but cozy, clean and crisp.  Many days I spent painting the walls with the music up loud and my girl tapping in her seat beside me.  She would giggle when I baby-talked to her and when she recognized a familiar song.  Sometimes, more than anything, I just miss talking to her through my day.  

Facing another season without her is unbearable. 
And I know it's likely never going to get easier.  The finality of death is always the thing that shifts my grief from passive to aggressive.  It's the moment in my day or week or month when the truth wakes me up and claws at me from the inside. 

"My baby is not here.  She won't ever be here again.  Winter has come, time has gone.  She went away with time.  I'm still here and I still have to be alive; moving along in this life with time as it passes.  Holy God.  I can't.  How can I.  I have to.  Oh my God, my baby is not here."

Tears that fell silent this morning were actually very sweet. 
Restrained, but not by me.  Just gentle and earnest. 
I thanked grief & God together out loud. 
"Thank you for letting me miss her without the thrashing today.  I needed the solitude of this snow to be a gentle missing, a thankful reminder of all she was and is."
Chris held me when he woke and I couldn't help but smile and laugh through the heartache. 
There was never a first snow that she wasn't a part of.  She was never thrilled to be getting dressed but always enjoyed the cold on her face once outside. 
  Mabel was part of everything. That's what makes every single thing so unbelievably hard. 

  Having a terminal disease didn't make Mabel sick.  In fact, for the most part, she was healthy.  So I made sure she did life with us. 
And though that sometimes meant we lived somewhat restricted, it never felt that way.  Looking back it doesn't seem that way.  She just went where we went and did what we did.  In her own Mabel way. 

Two winter's ago she went down the sledding hill with her brother, Shawn and Wes; just one of the boys!  Oh how we laughed.  Then she and I ended up in a heated vehicle smiling and telling snow stories in secret.   
Last year she was pulled around the yard by Nora on a saucer sled that she was way too long for in a snowsuit that she had also outgrown.  We all laughed then too!  Oh how we laughed at this little girl. 


I don't know how she isn't here.  It doesn't make practical sense in my mind. 
I can't wrap my head around the days that have passed or how we ended up here without her.  They swarmed by so quickly as if stolen from me. 
{Shock is a beautiful and terrible thing; much like grief itself.}

Some days I wish to stay wrapped in the blanket of the literal, physical shock that takes over after loss.  I don't want to ever come out of the fog and re-enter reality.  Like now, for instance.  I wish more than anything that I could stay snuggled beneath it like the warmest winter quilt and burrow there safely through the holidays (like I used to do with her). 
My birthday, thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years.  All of these things are compounded into two months of moments that I'm trying desperately to turn from traumatic into very hard thankfulness. 

But I don't want to live in denial. 
I have felt such an evident peace over the last 6 months, even on my hardest days.  There is always this small voice of God that is yet louder than any other thing, reminding me that He is here and He has her.  He always has and He always will.  He has not left me. 

There's also joy. 
There has always been joy.  Even in the moment that she took her last breath on my chest-I felt total, consuming joy as she entered eternity and left me behind. 
Joy for her, joy that we had this journey together, joy that one day I will see her again. 
And there is still joy today.  In the saddest, most caught-off-guard moments, I can still see the whole picture here.  I can still see the goodness that our God has in store and all that He has done. 

The joy, the hope, the treasure in Him. 
That is how these snowy days and sunny days and hard days and normal days don't just swallow me up and fully consume me.  But I can say for certain that winter is going to be brutal for my heart.  I can tell now and I know I'm not really ready.  Though, as ready as I thought I was for any this, I could never fully have been.  She was my baby, after all. 

I am thankful that she went to Heaven in the middle of sunshine and summer heat.  I hope that when I feel the familiarity of that season once again I will know that I have walked through the worst pain imaginable and survived it.  I pray that it serves as a reminder that I can live through anything. 

And next year, when the first snow falls, I pray that it will naturally remind me that even these moments are survivable. 
I pray that the sting will be from the unmatched beauty of it all: 
The joy, sorrow, life and death-because it is all grace. 


"She is not afraid for her household when it snows, for all in her household are doubly clothed"
Proverbs 21:31

Let us be doubly clothed in you, Lord, all winter and always.  

1 comment:

Lauren Stevens said...

Praying for you this winter! xoxo...