It seems as if this past year has hit me all at once, and I am exhausted by being on display. My Mom was right the other day when she pointed out that we must feel like we are wearing a scarlet letter every time we go out in public; as Grandma, she feels it too. After a year I don't know how to answer the "How are you doing?" question anymore, and honestly, I think people don't quite know what to do with how I am doing. I am tired of missing my son. I am tired of grieving. I am tired of the pain. I am tired of the tears. I am tired of making everybody else cry. So I smile at them, and I stay home, and I wander the woods with my kids and my goats.
I read the other day that in the second year of grief you enter a stage where you respond by either fight, flight or freeze. I have tried to avoid a whole lot of grief advice, but this resonated with where I am.
Grace has been praying for my joy to come back. It's been a tall order lately. I have overwhelmed myself with busyness these past few weeks rather than looking intently for the majestic God behind all of this. Her ten-year-old questions stirred in me some of my own again. She was so relieved to hear that we will have clothes to wear in heaven, and that we won't just be standing around singing for eternity. We wondered aloud together what Trent was doing right now without a body, we laughed about how he always did want to be first at everything, we talked about Jesus' horse and if He would let us ride it when we got there, and we tried to envision just what God would look like. We were pretty sure that He wouldn't even come close to resembling a squid, and were both glad for it. Probably no hairy arms either, but being I can't begin to fathom His glory, I had no further offer of how to explain Him in a way that would do justice.
Loving these kids this deep is so hard. My heart wants to protect itself from hurting anymore.
The loss of Trent threatens to crush me. I fight, flee, or freeze in various forms.
Watching Micah read this past week has amazed me. I wonder how my baby is nearly done with first grade. I wonder when he learned /sh/ and that periods mean to stop. Home school has been survival of the fittest around here this past year. It has also been a saving structure to fill our days. Somehow everybody is thriving, even though we haven't done many extra's. Everybody is reading', ritin', and doing 'rithmetic, and the Bible is a daily standard, as well as bedtime prayers and talking with Dad at night. What a legacy this man is leaving to his children: the son of alcoholic parents, saved by grace, raising his children for the glory of God.
Another twelve year old boy has me taking second glances. For an instant I want to replace him in my mind and pretend that he is his brother walking by as he grows into the same lanky form and wears the same shade of t-shirt. But I don't allow myself to go there. I force myself back to reality. I look again for God's good plans. I look forward to eternity. I pray that they'll all be there; all my kids, God. I pray that they'll all know Jesus as their Savior. A day doesn't go by that my heart isn't pleading for their souls; barely hours go by without the pleas being on my lips.
I have begun building again. It dawned on me the other day that Trent is enjoying heaven without us. I picked up my hammer and swung harder. Lord willing, by the time the mosquitoes come out in full force there will be a recycled screen porch in the flower garden. It's even fairly level, and it passed Rob's inspection. We've had many opportunities already to sit in it and giggle and fight over laps, even without a roof or screen, so I anticipate it will be well worth the effort.
Isaiah 30:15 says that in repentance and rest is my salvation, in quietness and trust is my strength. In this season of quietness I am learning to trust. In my weakness I am learning about God's strength. I continue to rest, and I realize that God already knows my heart; there is no need for forcing eloquent words. As much as I have never wanted to learn perseverance, I am coming to terms with the fact that I probably have a long, long way to go. And, like Steven Curtis Chapman has recently penned, it's just a long way home.