Jack-in-the-Box

Have you ever thought about the comfort of seasons? They are consistent, expected even. We prepare for them. We know about how long each one lasts and when the crossover is nearing.

I’ve heard many describe grief as a season in one’s life. “This too shall pass…” 

The difference, it seems, is that this season is unexpected, I was unprepared. I don’t know how long it lasts. What I have read and learned about the grieving process is quite simple: There are no rules, there is no instruction booklet.

I’ve thought a lot about a line from Frozen after a recent conversation with my family:

“Conceal it, don’t feel it.”

That’s really bad advice. Terrible, unfortunate advice. Don’t get me wrong, it is a favorite around our house and I have a little guy who thinks Olaf is pretty cool (pun intended). But come on. One of the most helpful ways for me to deal with the loss of my daughter is being allowed to “feel” it. I choose not to conceal, I’m afraid it would eat me alive. Can I still be strong if I admit when it hurts?

Grief-in-the-Box?Grief feels a wee bit like a jack-in-the-box. I never know when to anticipate it or when it’s going to pop up. This past week since Audrey’s service, I have kept busy in ways like catching up with special friends, lunch with my Uncle Mike & Aunt Carol sharing tears, salads and memories, an entire-day-playdate, family time at the lake full of meaningful conversations and high-pitched squeals of laughter. Things will seem fine and I’m getting along great, then POP! Something will hit me out of nowhere, it snatches me from the moment and I’m overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed by what? Anything. Everything.  

I’m afraid I’m starting to forget things. One evening before her service, I was looking for a special outfit she wore many times and couldn’t find it. During the search, I happened upon a bag of her things from the hospital that I hadn’t yet found the strength to unpack. Nestled in the bottom the bag was a sack of her clothing that had been worn. Items that I needed to take home and wash. I knew the second I opened the sack, I would smell her. I knew it would hurt a little, but I wanted a real reminder of her. I thought to myself, “Make it quick, don’t let it all escape…this is all you have”. So I did, I took a quick but deep breath in.

Into my nose and down to the deepest part of my lungs, her scent filled me. It was better than any fine wine or freshly baked cake I have ever smelled. If a scent could be beautiful, it was. 

Quickly, I closed the sack completely as if keeping any more of her from escaping. I haven’t opened it since.

I can’t remember what her little body felt like in my arms. I can picture it, watch videos of it, but I can’t feel it. Sometimes I pray for dreams. I so badly want to dream a dream so vidid that I can still feel the weight of her in my arms when I wake.

My mind drifts to the second verse of You Are My Sunshine, which says:

“The other night dear, while I was sleeping

I dreamt I held you in my arms

And when I woke dear, I was mistaken

So I held my head and I cried…”

Such simple words to a children’s lullaby. Words I have sung sweetly to Cooper and to Audrey, but now they come coupled with a lump in my throat.

I thought recently about The Story of Audrey. The whole thing. From the moment I learned I was pregnant until the moment we watched her heart stop beating. I thought about all that I wanted for her and with her. What I have realized is that I got everything I ever wanted…and more.

We have a beautiful, healthy son and so badly, I wanted him to have a sister. I wanted a daughter.

I have one.

I wanted my daughter to know her family and friends, and for them to know her.

Audrey was visited, held, kissed, snuggled, sung to, talked to, read to, prayed over, cared for and loved by many.

We wanted Audrey to have a life free from suffering and pain.

During her life on Earth, medical teams kept her comfortable with as little stress as possible. When the suffering and pain became too much, she peacefully flew home. Home to a place where never again will she know discomfort.

We wanted her to be clear in her needs.

She was. Always.

We chose life for our Audrey and prayed that the decision would be blessed and that she would have purpose.

She has and will continue to bless our lives and her purpose will live on long beyond her Earthly body.

What more could we ask for? To wish her back is selfish. It isn’t what is best for her. While it might satisfy my own desires, my soul would know better. Nothing can ever replace her. I wouldn’t want that. My heart grew to make room for her and I want it to stay that big and this full forever. I believe it will. I believe in Heaven and I know she lives there. I have two children. Both have my heart, one is here with me and the other lives eternally in a perfect place where some day we will see her again.

So many times I wrote to Audrey, “We’re here for you, we’re waiting for you…we can’t wait for you to come home, baby girl”

Now it’s her turn. Now I think she says to us,

“I’m here for you, Daddy. I’m waiting for you, Mommy…I can’t wait for you to come home, Cooper.”

Wait for us, angel.

Love & Hugs,

R

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Jack-in-the-Box

  1. The world keeps turning, we go back to work, we eat, we breath. We go back to life like before. But it just isn’t like before. We made this place in our lives and hearts for Audrey and the void is overwhelming. We miss her. We cry. We feel the deep, penetrating sadness of her mommy and daddy unwinding the creation of her precious room filled with things to care for her when she came home. The grief that fills every fiber in a mommy’s body when she holds the little hats and headbands and onesies worn by baby Audrey. We well up and the tears fall as we see her mommy glance at little girls and know she feels yet another twinge of what might have been. Dreams shattered. Love that remains to be sure yet separated by our humanity and mortality. We as believers long for home. Eternal home. We hurt here. We rejoice for her there. As King David wrote:
    “I will go to him, but he will not return to me”. We will one day go to her. For now we mourn and we miss baby Audrey and we hurt for her earthbound parents and big brother. We keep breathing and praising God for eternity with Him.

  2. Beautiful and pure feelings and beautifully expressed Rachel! I pray that your days eventually get easier and less overwhelming even though a part of your heart will always remain with Audrey.

  3. Love, Pray, Grieve, Faith~ feel the feelings all the way through whenever, wherever they come~ take time to remember when the memory is upon you even if you have to step away for a moment~ then breathe. Hugs to each of you, C

  4. I feel your pain; your beautiful words describe so well what I have felt. I have lost two children; a 6 1/2 month baby boy 40 years ago and a 50 year old daughter 3 years ago. Death is death…… there is no easy way to just do it. Give yourself time and do it your way. People who have not been here have a lot of advice. For those of us who have, we know it takes TIME. There good days when it feels the pain is gone forever and then there are the days when it feels the pain is forever. I do know the only comfort lies in believing she is with a loving God in a very beautiful place we call Heaven and someday soon, we will be reunited forever. There will be no more loss and no more pain……….. and God did not give her forever; He just thinks we needed some sunshine and He sent her for a while. Love and Hugs to all of you, T

  5. THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HAS MADE; LET US REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT.
    PSALM 118:24

    ON THIS DAY, I GIVE THANKS TO OUR LOVING GOD FOR YOU, YES, YOU, FOR BEING SUCH COURAGEOUS PARENTS TO SHARE SUCH AN INTIMATE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. I HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING YOUR JOURNEY SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY OF AUDREY AND I BELIEVE WITH ALL MY HEART THAT GOD GAVE YOU HIS STRENGTH TO SHARE HIS GIFT FOR HIS PURPOSE. YOUR WORDS ARE AMAZING AND THROUGH YOUR WORDS I FEEL LIKE I KNOW YOU, ALTHOUGH WE HAVE NEVER MET ONE ANOTHER.I HAVE KNOWN YOUR PARENTS FOR YEARS THROUGH CHURCH AND YOUR BROTHER JUSTIN WAS IN CHILDRENS MINISTRY AND WENT TO SCHOOL WITH OUR SON CODY. THIS IS THE REASON THE STORY OF AUDREY IS SO VERY SPECIAL TO ME AND MY FAMILY AND WILL NEVER FADE AWAY. EACH OF YOU AND BABY AUDREY WILL ALWAYS HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE IN MY HEART. I WILL KEEP ALL OF YOU IN MY CONTINUED DAILY PRAYERS.

    SINCE YOU HAVE SHARED SUCH A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, IT HAS BEEN PLACED ON MY HEART TO SHARE WITH YOU. FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART, I FEEL YOUR HEARTACHE AND PAIN. OVER THE YEARS I HAVE EXPERIENCED DEATH………. LOOSING LOVED ONES, YES, LOOSING THOSE SPECIAL ONES THAT MENT THE WORLD TO ME INCLUDING MY DADDY WHEN I WAS ONLY THREE YEARS OLD, BUT THERE IS JUST SOMETHING ABOUT THIS YEAR 2014. IT HAS BEEN DEATH AFTER DEATH! I LOST MY STEP FATHER WHO HAD BEEN MY FATHER FIGURE SINCE I WAS ELEVEN YEARS OLD IN FEBRUARY. MY HUSBAND LOST HIS FATHER IN JUNE. WE LOST A VERY DEAR FRIEND WHO WAS LITERALLY LIKE OUR GRANDMA FOR TEN YEARS IN JULY AND TWO DAYS LATER ON JULY 21ST I RECEIVED THE NEWS THAT MY MOST PRECIOUS GRANDAD WAS BRUTALLY BEATEN TO DEATH! I COULD NOT EVEN BELIEVE WHAT I HAD HEARD ( MY GRANDAD BEATEN TO DEATH ) NO, THAT IS WHAT YOU HEAR AND SEE ON TV! ITS ONE THING TO BE PREPARED FOR A DEATH, BUT NOT TO BE PREPARED FOR ONE LIKE MY GRANDAD’S. I FELL TO PIECES AND CRIED OUT TO JESUS ASKING HIM, (” HOW MUCH MORE CAN I TAKE IN WITH THIS DEATH THING? “) I HAVE NEVER HAD SUCH MIXED EMOTIONS IN MY WHOLE LIFE. ANGER, SADDNESS, HURT, EVEN FELT HATE. TOWARDS THE EVIL ONE WHO TOOK MY GRANDAD’S LIFE.

    THROUGH THESE PAST SEVERAL WEEKS GOD HAS AMAZED ME IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE AND I HAVE FELT HIS CLOSENESS MORE THAN I HAVE EV ER FELT BEFORE! HE HAS HELPED ME WITH FORGIVENESS, ( FORGIVING THE EVIL ONE ). HE HAS REMINDED ME TO GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES FOR THIS IS HIS WILL IN CHRIST JESUS. HE HAS REMINDED ME THAT ALL THINGS WORK OUT FOR THE GOOD FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM. HE HAS REMINDED ME THAT HE WILL CARRY ME THROUGH THESE STORMS HERE ON THIS EARTH. HE HAS REMINDED ME TO LEAN AND TRUST HIM AT ALL TIMES. HE HAS REMINDED ME HOW MUCH HE LOVES ME. HE HAS REMINDED ME HOW HE IS MY EVERYTHING!

    MOST OF ALL, THROUGH THIS PAST SEVERAL SAD MONTHS, HE HAS REMINDED ME OF HIS COMFORT. HIS PEACE, HIS MERCY, HIS STRENGTH, HIS HOPE, HIS JOY, HIS GIFTS. HE BLESSED US WITH HIS GIFT ON AUGUST 21ST, OUR PRECIOUS GRANDDAUGHTER, ADDISON. HE KNEW WE NEEDED SOME JOY IN OUR LIFE AND OH, HOW HE GAVE IT TO US! THROUGH THESE DEATHS HE HAS GIVEN ME HOPE THAT I WILL SEE MY LOVED ONES IN HEAVEN SOMEDAY WHEN IT’S MY TURN TO SEE JESUS FACE TO FACE.

    FOR NOW, WE MOST BE STRONG AND CARRY ON TO FINISH OUR JOURNEY ON THIS EARTH.
    I WILL ALWAYS FOLLOW THE STORY OF AUDREY AND HOPEFULLY SOMEDAY I CAN GIVE YOU A HUG. YOU AND YOUR PRECIOUS FAMILY WILL ALWAYS HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE IN MY HEART FOR ETERNITY.

    THANK YOU FOR TRUSTING AND LOVING GOD THE WAY YOU DO!
    BECAUSE OF HIM
    KIMBERLY FOCHT

  6. Rachel, your words in this post are all to familiar. I know exactly the feeling of the pain of missing your sweet little one, the fear of forgetting their smell or touch, and the desire to dream of them in a way that you know they are there. I completely understand feeling like you are doing okay and then being brought to your knees in pain, tears and grief the next minute. It is amazing how strong you are. I have read every entry you have created on the journey of Audrey’s story. I can’t imagine the fear, feelings, and experiences of the not knowing from day to day what was going to happen. I think it is amazing and a testament to your strength and faith that you are feeling everything and not concealing your grief and even sharing it all with us. That is not an easy thing to do. I am 100% sure that there will be many moments in your life where you will be blessed with gifts and signs from Audrey letting you know she is with you. I wanted to have a sign from Banyan so badly that he was with me and he has shown me on many occasions. One way that I feel he shows me is through rainbows. That seems to be our special sign to one another. In the beginning I asked him to show me he was with me still and a rainbow appeared. Since then he has shown me something related to rainbows in times when I think he knew I needed it. On his birthday the girls and I turned the tv on to watch Dora and the episode on was about a little rainbow. On my birthday I heard the lyrics in a new song that said, “Lord make me a rainbow, I’ll shine down on my mother She’ll know I’m safe with you when she stands under my colors, oh,And life ain’t always what you think it ought to be, no Ain’t even grey, but she buries her baby.” There are many occasions where just at the time I really needed it a rainbow has appeared or something has been shown to me where I know he is with me still everyday. I know you will have something like that with Audrey that will provide you comfort, peace and love knowing she is with you and watching over you. I admire your strength and your faith and getting to be part of Audrey’s journey has helped me in many ways in my own journey and I hope to one day get to share with you how Audrey’s story has made a difference in my life. I love and admire your family and pray for peace for you during this most difficult time.

  7. Oh Rachel, this is so beautifully written. Your words and blog entries honor Audrey in such a sweet way. They also bring glory and honor to our Lord. I hurt so much for you and Chris as you are grieving. I can’t imagine the pain you are feeling. I pray that God will always keep your memories of her fresh on your mind. I pray that he meets your every need in the midst of your grieving. Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
    We love ya’ll.

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