every day with grief and gladness

This is what every morning looks like these days.  Lena begins to rustle around in her crib around 7:30 or so.  I slip out of bed, gather her up into my arms, and plop her into my pillows in my bed.  I grab a big stack of books from the basket underneath my bedside table and snuggle under the covers with her.  Then we read books and talk about how we slept and what we’re going to do today, until eventually she says, “Mmm!”

And I say, “Are you hungry?  Do you want some breakfast?”

And she says, “Mmm!  Mmmm!”

And then we change her diaper, put on clothes, I put on clothes, and we go downstairs, where she eats approximately 10 bowls of Raisin Bran (her favorite) and I sip half-caff coffee and munch on Grape Nuts and bananas (my favorite).

These are peaceful days here in my parents’ house, and I am so grateful for this chance to spend extended time with family.  I have found, though, that being here at home has meant that I have begun missing Julia all over again.  Every time I come upstairs, I see her smiling at me from her high school senior portrait, glowing with fresh young beauty.  Her picture is on the wall in the entry way, above the trunk on the landing, in the photo collages in the basement.  Even now as I sit in bed writing this I can look up and see through the door into her room.  We still have barely touched her room, and I’m fine with that for now.  It’s a good place to go and miss her, and cry a bit, and think about what you have lost and what will never be.

I had lunch today with my dear friend Kim.  I told her I feel angry about Julia’s death, which is an emotion I really haven’t felt until this visit.  I had a hard time expressing my anger to Kim because it was so wrapped up in trust in and need for God at the same time.  Kim suggested that perhaps I wasn’t angry at God, I was angry along with God.  Together, God and me, we are angry.  We are angry at the presence of death in this world, we are angry that this world isn’t fair and good, we are angry at the hole Julia has left in family and friends’ lives.  Something clicked for me when she expressed the idea of being angry along with God (an idea which, coincidentally, she got from our mutual friend Sarah, another grieving friend in this sad world).  Does it make sense to you?  I love, believe, and need God in the midst of this aching, bleeding, angry loss.

I catch myself thinking, “If only Booie would come home and make us all laugh again!  We’re so sad and serious these days!” and then I remember she can’t and never will.  But then I try also to remember that she is so very happy and that we have so much to be thankful for

And I get up and face another day.  And I am thankful that each morning in this house starts so sweetly, with baby snuggles and board books, with physical presence in the momentary absence.  Until Paradise.

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14 Responses to every day with grief and gladness

  1. becomingjolie.com September 26, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    I’m new around here. I love the name Lena (it’s always been on my ‘list’). I’m new enough that I don’t know who Julia is – so sorry for your grief. I recently lost a close family friend, like a grandfather, in April and understand how the grief can come on so quickly and unexpectedly. xo

  2. Stacie September 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    I’ve been thinking about some profound pearl of wisdom I could share to let you know how my heart hurts for you (my daughter’s name is Julia, so I have a special place in my heart about this). Unfortunately, I can only tell you that it was you who taught me something profound instead. The statement that God is angry with me stirred me more than I can say.

    But a friend of mine just posted a devotion by Charles Swindoll that I thought was timely. I’ve copied the jist of it here:

    Here is the first truth to claim when enduring the consequences of suffering: nothing touches me that has not passed through the hands of my heavenly Father. Nothing. Whatever occurs, God has sovereignly surveyed and approved (Job 2:3–6). We may not know why (we may never know why), but we do know our pain is no accident to Him who guides our lives. He is, in no way, surprised by it all. Before it ever touches us, it passes through Him.

    The second truth to claim is this: everything I endure is designed to prepare me for serving others more effectively. Everything. Because my heavenly Father is committed to shaping me into the image of His Son, He knows the ultimate value of this painful experience (2 Corinthians 1:3–7). It is a necessary part of the preparation process. It is being used to empty our hands of our own resources, our own sufficiency, and turn us back to Him—the faithful Provider.

  3. Becca September 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Stacie, this is so encouraging and his words speak right to my heart. I’m going to copy this and send it to my family. Such truth and hope in Swindoll’s words!

  4. Emily Amundson September 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    Becca, I think of you so often. Usually what comes to mind though is not how sorry I feel for you (though I am, terribly), but how you have been such an example of faith and love. I don’t know what it is to feel the grief that you and your family are feeling, and selfishly, I hope that I don’t for a long time. I do know that when I do I hope to be half as faithful and encouraging as you are.

  5. Tiffany Norris September 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    I’m so sorry for your loss! Grief has been sneaking back on me this year as we’re getting close to the 10th anniversary of my mother passing. I really appreciate what you said about being angry along with God. That’s going to be something to meditate on for a bit. Thank you!

  6. Krystal September 26, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    aw, that is such a beautiful way of looking at grieving and anger, that you are doing it with God because its so true.

  7. Jess September 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

    It seems that God makes himself so much more prevalent and available when we so desperately NEED Him. Or, is it that we are more accepting of His presence because of the dark days we find ourselves in?

    Your posts about your sister are absolutely beautiful.

    God is kind and perfect and just in all His ways.

    I have to remind myself of this often. :)

  8. Becca September 26, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    Jess, your question is one that I am wondering myself these days. Honestly, I think both are true. God takes the initiative and reveals Himself as we seek Him, and as we take the initiative to seek Him we see more of God. I have seen both to be true as He has drawn closer and become more real to me even as I have sought Him with more need and more earnestness over these months. Thank you, Jess (and Emily, Tiffany, and Krystal) for your encouragement!

  9. Erica September 27, 2012 at 12:41 am #

    Oh dear, I am so sorry. I am thinking of you and your family.

  10. Maggy September 27, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    This is beautiful Becca and for what it’s worth – really normal. I lost my Mom when I was 22, anger came not long after sorrow. In a small way, I didn’t mind it…felt justified in a way? The one thing that that also comes is an extreme sense of empathy for those who hurt and are angry as well…my prayers for you.

  11. Jenna Secrist September 27, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    oh my, your words touch my heart. i love that your friend shared with you being angry WITH God instead of at him. it makes so much sense, how have i never heard of that explanation before? really, thanks so much for sharing. i’m new to your blog (thank you for stopping by mine, so i could find you!)so i don’t know what happened to your sister. what i do know is that it must be excruciating. i came close to losing mine this past summer. the thought of losing her drove me crazy. my heart aches for you and your family. please know, i just said a prayer for your family. prayers for peace and joy in the coming months.

    be blessed!

  12. The Amazing Trips September 28, 2012 at 3:26 am #

    Dear Becca:

    As always, you’re in my thoughts. Today, as I was driving in to the office, I was actually thinking of your parents and hoping that they are continuing to feel the love and prayers of so many. Your family continues to be in our hearts and nightly reflections.

    Reading your post reminded me of the Kubler-Ross model of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Your feelings are so normal and so warranted. But your circumstances are so not normal – the loss of such a beautiful young person. So we have to open our eyes a bit wider and strive to see God’s Fingerprints. They’re always there…. even in the most seemingly unholy of situations.

    PS: I love, love, LOVE Chuck Swindoll. Did you ever read his “Attitude” piece? One of my all-time favorites. (I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. Says the mother as she tries to wake up her young son who has slept walked in to the bathroom and is trying to go potty in the SINK.)

  13. Becca September 28, 2012 at 4:20 am #

    Oh your comments always make me laugh out loud! Thank you for your perspective, your insight, and your prayers.

    I just searched for and enjoyed the Attitude piece, which I have heard of before and don’t think I’ve ever read. (It’s here if other readers are curious and is literally 4 paragraphs long: http://www.bigeye.com/attitude.htm). Excellent perspective for my life right now as I face grief and parenting challenges and, of course, a host of other life issues that didn’t make it into this post!

  14. Di October 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    I love that you can write so openly and honestly about your lives. I hope for future peace but can fully understand the anger…..and as many have said so totally normal. I think that it is great that you are being able to spend time with your family…..hugs from Scotland.

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