Monday, January 25, 2016

Many Rooms.

It's almost been an entire year since we moved into "the Mabel house."
It has been 3/4 of a year since Mabel left our arms. 
---
One part of our life story that I absolutely love is God directing our family to this home. 
Chris and I had been seriously dating for 2 years when we decided to move in together, yet we never actually spoke those words out loud.  Somehow we just found ourselves in the middle of this house, Mabel draped over his shoulder screaming, and knowing that it was the home for us. 

First there was the privacy that this house provided.  It sits alone on two acres at the edge of town, on top of a perfect hill- one where we can vividly see the sun rise and set.  We can cross the railroad tracks and walk anywhere in town, while still feeling very much like we are in the country. 
 
Mostly though I think we knew this was the house because of her room. 
To us the space seemed senseless otherwise.  It is a room directly inside the house, off to one side.  When you walk through the front door, this is the first space that you see.  I suppose it could possibly be used as an oversized office or even a family area, but for us it was always just meant to be hers.  I remember leaving that night and both of us saying excitedly, "that random room in the front is perfect for Mabel!" 
The walls are a pale blue color that I would never have been fond of but the Victorian style trim around the edges quickly made sense to me. 
So without wanting to change it, I chose rather to embrace what was already there and give her a theme that was suitable. 
A huge room with a very big-girl bed for our very big girl and absolutely fit for the queen!
 
A few months before moving in, my mom sent me a photo that I just had to have.  I printed it and before doing anything else in the house, placed it directly over her new bed.
 
Speaking of her new bed, that was also a really special piece for me. 
She had never had an actual big-girl bed until we moved to this house.  She went from a crib to a futon (because it was close to the floor and it made me feel safer when she jerked and flailed around), to a mattress on the floor (for the same reasons).  But when we moved to this house she had practically stopped moving and jerking and had also gotten a new weighted blanket for Christmas so I knew she would be safe in an actual bed.  At this point, I also knew that a big bed was necessary in order to allow all of us to crawl up beside her long body and cuddle. 

It completely served it's purpose.   

Mabel's room is large. 
So large that it was able to fit many people at a time.  It was transformed on more than one occasion into a space where several people gathered around her.  There was singing, laughing, dancing, eating, crying, praying, resting, wailing, but mostly-loving so intensely. 
Some of us walked into that room knowing that our baby would soon die.
And when we walked in and out of that room through the months, days and hours leading up to that moment, it was like a spiritual experience.  We sat together in chairs, and on couches, wrapped in blankets, her covering us, Dr. Peppers in hand, music playing, sometimes nobody saying anything at all. 
 
My mom sat in granny's old rocking chair and rocked as Mabel cried the most horrific, life-changing cries in her final days.  It was this same rocking chair in the corner of her room that I sat up in alone on so many nights, crying over my very fragile and sick baby.  I would pray, "God, just be near."
And He always, always was.
 
And then one morning, as the sun broke through a brilliant cloud right outside of our front door, Jesus was more near than ever before.  Our baby took her final breath and all at once met Him face to face. 
And none of us left that big, little room the same. 
We were forever changed.
 
That one room held us all, in many different shapes and forms.  All the while, we were simply holding onto Him in His only true form--faithful. 
In the days after Mabel's death, we would often find the kids sitting together on her bed.  Sometimes they would make pallets of blankets and sleep beside her bed on the floor.  Every single day the cat would lay in what quickly became 'her spot' on the edge of the bed.  Seeing her room and her bed so full continued to keep my heart full and it wasn't as daunting as I initially anticipated. 
But, much like I expected, winter came and the room suddenly didn't feel as bright or full as it once did.  The kids are back in school which has made the days long and the blue walls feel extra cold.  In the last couple of weeks, the cat hasn't even gone in to lay on Mabel's bed.  The couch where we used to sit and lay together has been overtaken by our coats, hats, backpacks and winter gear. 
 
Quickly the view of  Mabel's room became so full and clustered that it was more practical, impersonal, and empty than ever before. 
I thought to myself, "I just don't think I can walk by this door and see this empty bed for one more day."
But I didn't want to be impulsive.  "Maybe it's too soon and this is irrational," I thought.  But then I remembered that there isn't a right or a wrong way to walk through any of this.  There isn't a specific timeline.  I've learned by experience and have told hundreds of other people to make it simple and always do what you feel is right.  "Do the best you can with how you feel at the time," I remind myself. 

So I talked it through with the kids and both of them liked the idea of having a sitting room/tv area where all of her things remained.  Nora didn't have a bed frame in her room so we all agreed that moving Mabel's bed where it could be used made sense.  Chris was at work but I texted to ask and reassured him that if he wasn't ready, of course we would wait. 
But everyone seemed ok and almost excited for the change. 
Honestly, it just felt like time. 
Even though it appears more empty now than ever before, it was needed. 
Her drawers are still full of some of her clothes.  Her scent still burns in the warmer. 
Her diapers were still in the bins but I needed to throw them away.  And I needed to do it right at the moment when I felt like I could.  No other time would do.
 
But, in doing so, I definitely realized that I still feel very disconnected, like most of me can't comprehended what has happened.  Maybe I will never fully be able to.  Sometimes I pray that God would continue to protect my heart so I don't feel all the pain. 
Sometimes I reject the thoughts completely just so I don't have to confront them. 
Honestly, I just can't. 
 
Today the kids played in her room and Nora read a book in the chair.  Maybe soon we'll watch a movie together as a family all cuddled on the floor.  Last night I caught my brother looking at her pictures as I walked by.  I apologized for not knowing he was coming and therefore not warning him that I had changed it.  He said it was ok and hugged me tight.  I showed our friends at dinner and they all seemed to like it and told me that it was good.  Some were a little taken back but all were supportive, as always. 
 
Last night Nora fell asleep in her baby sister's bed, now in her room.  She said "I'm feeling emotional but closer to her than ever."  I assured her that both are really great things to feel.  I'm proud of them for expressing those things to me, when even I am having a hard time. 
And today, while cleaning up her room, I found this on her white board.
 
I am thankful for all the gifts in this life.  They are all grace and I am diligently keeping track.  A new notebook of thankfulness goes where I go so I will never forget.   I want to thank God for all of it as I go about both the mundane and very important tasks of this life because He has been so good. 
 
In it all, His love remains. 
Yesterday as I was changing and cleaning and rearranging the rooms in our home, I thought about our Father's mansion, the Heavenly place He has prepared for us.  He promised that in that place there are many rooms.  And I thought about my girl dwelling there for eternity.  I remembered that this place is not our home.  My heart longs for somewhere altogether different than here. 
 
My family...their eyes and hands and hearts-where they dwell is my earthly home. 
But my true home, and hers forever?
With Jesus. 
What Joy!  What hope!  What truth!
 
Thank you God for all of this life.  I wouldn't want any of it without the rest.  It is altogether lovely. 


1 comment:

barb tomlinson said...

hello ramie..i have followed your blog for a couple of years and i had not see it for a while. then i realized mabel went to be with jesus. her precious little face and smile have brought many tears to my eyes. she is now whole forever. you are an amazing woman. my prayers are for you and your family. barb tomlinson decatur illinois