If That's Where I Am

  {Dear Ann, words can't describe how much this means to me...how much your friendship means to me. Thank you for remembering Aliza with us on her first birthday.}

{Dear Ann, words can't describe how much this means to me...how much your friendship means to me. Thank you for remembering Aliza with us on her first birthday.}

I was confused when my friend handed me the cupcakes.

“These are for you,” she said, “for tomorrow.”

Um…tomorrow…tomorrow…what did I forget to put down on my calendar for tomorrow that requires cupcakes? I thought Levi’s baby shower was in two days?

“For Aliza’s birthday,” she said.

I felt embarrassed. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of our second baby dying, of the day our sweet daughter Aliza Joyce was delivered into this world and just as quickly taken out of it.

Of course I knew that it's her birthday tomorrow. I had been thinking about it all week, mulling over what kind of words I wanted to share to remember her life. But for a brief moment, the cupcakes had me stumped.

People mentioned stuff like this.

They said stuff like, “It gets easier” and “You will eventually have days where you think about her and smile instead of cry” and simply, “Grief changes.”

But I didn’t want to hear those words one year ago. I wanted to mourn. I wanted to pile up all the horribly cliché things people like to say when you are grieving and burn them in a big bonfire of rage.

Part of me was right. Those aren’t the things to say to someone newly thrown into the deep pit of grief. I wanted to mourn, and I needed to mourn. The ugly, black-mascara-tears kind of mourning.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. {Matthew 5:4}

But the other part of me is here now too.

Now I am here, slightly confused when my friend hands me a dozen Funfetti cupcakes the day before the one-year anniversary of our daughter passing away.

Maybe life is just tired and foggy right now, learning to be the mother of a newborn and toddler. Or maybe, like people said, my grief is actually changing. Maybe, the stinging grief that used to consume my every waking thought and tearful dream and all the energy in between has found even the slightest bit of healing.

I’m not crying. Why am I not crying?

I almost felt guilty as I took the cupcakes. I have rehearsed all the rules of grief, as in “There are no rules for how to grieve.” But still, it’s expected, right?

But then I felt glad.

I felt relieved as I recognized how God carried us through something horrible. As I recognized how He held us as we mourned, but also comforted us.

I felt relieved, because I don’t want to feel stuck in that pit forever. I don’t want to wonder if I will ever go a day without crying myself to sleep. I don’t want to be trapped on my knees, begging God to keep my anger from turning to bitterness. I don’t want to feel empty.

I don’t want to go back to how I felt one year ago tomorrow, and for so long after that.

But there are plenty of things that I do want, the day before her first birthday.

I want to feel peace that she is in a place free from the unnatural pain and sickness and death and "Chromosome Abnormalities" of this broken world.

I want to appreciate that through my greatest fears and doubt and heartache, God drew me closer to Him and said, “I Am with you.”

I want to let myself cry when missing her is too much, and let myself feel okay otherwise.

I want to celebrate the child whose short life impacted my own more than anyone else could in a hundred years.

I want to honor our daughter and her Creator by living intentionally.

Even in the fog and exhaustion and frustration of life as a mom of a toddler and newborn, I want to hold our babies close - so close - understanding the miraculous gift they truly are.

Tomorrow, I want to eat a cupcake through all the ugly black mascara tears that may come. Or maybe even through a bit of a smile, if that’s where I am.

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. {Psalm 126:5-6}


Grace and Peace, and tomorrow, a Happy Heavenly Birthday to our precious Aliza,