“12 years ago this Christmas eve, my wife’s brother went into the hospital. January 16th, he went home. But not his earthly home. For months, my wife cried herself to sleep. Their incredible parents experienced something no parent ever should. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, time with God’s presence heals all wounds. So many lives were impacted by this man, his life and his passing. I’ve never known another death to make more of an impact…
…I asked my wife now, 12 years later, ‘If you had to lose all the good, but you had your brother back, would you have him back?”
The entire congregation sat in silence as we awaited the answer she gave our pastor.
“Without hesitation, she says, ‘I’d never want to go through that again, I’d never choose it again. But under no circumstances would I want him back after all the good that I saw God do through it.’ The very worst nightmare in her life, she wouldn’t change because she saw how God used it.”
This was the Sunday before Christmas, one I won’t soon forget. It knocked me off balance. It caught me off guard. The title of the sermon was actually called “When God Seems Uncooperative”. (Click to watch)
You see, I was recovering from an apparent sinus infection, it was tempting to skip church that morning and opt for my cozy, warm bed. But something was tugging at me to pull it together and be there.
By the end, I could hardly hold it together. For some reason, on this day, each point he made hit incredibly close to my heart.
I felt overwhelmed and understood. This wise man literally put into words so many of the things we felt and thought throughout Audrey’s short life. I have learned to seek the joy in her life…her story. I wouldn’t choose it again, but He used her in such beautiful ways.
I wept in the church lobby, completely embraced by my loving husband. We didn’t even have to speak. And then, I just couldn’t turn it off. It had been so long since I cried for her…I didn’t think that was still in me. I have felt so balanced and have moved into a place of peace, but this day reminded me that it never, ever goes away. Nor would I want it to. She was real, she was alive in my belly and, miraculously, in my arms. She will always be our daughter.
I couldn’t stay in the house, I would have crawled into bed with my Audrey Bunny and just cried. So, I decided to be productive and left for Target. I should have known this trip would be different. It was everything I never expected and everything I absolutely needed. I started in by filling my cart with produce, moving to the inside aisles that the Devil himself put there. The bread, cereal, crackers…the most delicious of the groceries! Not two aisles in, I turned and my dear Amy met my eyes and once again, I found myself in the loving embrace of someone I love while tears fell. Of course, she just got it…because she misses Audrey too. While I was a complete mess, Audrey’s nurse and someone who has become precious to me, Kim, turned the corner with her husband and brand new baby boy! We chatted, I met these two important gentlemen in her life, hugged and went about our shopping trips. I nearly entered the baking aisle (judge not, I beg you) when I looked to my left and Sarah was strolling toward me. I told her about this day and she listened to each messy detail and helped bring such a calm over me, in a way that only she can.
It was no accident that these women were there at such a time, perfectly placed. The sermon, seeing the girls, talking to Chris, to my parents and to Carrie…it all just beautifully reminded me that she still lives in all of us. These moments may not come as often as the years pass, but just like the scar where they separated her from me, she is always there.
And I know my emotions were heightened for one reason in particular.
An itty bitty baby girl is blooming within me.
A new life has begun…her own story is unfolding. As we wait, hope and expect this baby, I find myself trying to balance out…well, everything.
We wait to learn more about her as her body grows and reveals itself to us and to doctors.
We hope that she will develop in a healthy manner, and thus far, she has.
We expect her to arrive in June.
Sometimes it is hard to think of Audrey and her baby sister at the same time. Sometimes I feel undeserving. Sometimes I feel guilty. Sometimes I feel scared. Sometimes I feel elated. Sometimes I feel hopeful. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with joy.
But I always feel blessed. I always feel love.
I want so badly to shout out that having this baby doesn’t mean that Audrey wasn’t enough. Or when people ask if I have any other kids other than the one I’m growing, I want them to know that this is my third child.
When Cooper asked innocently and logically, “Mama, will we get to keep this one?” You can imagine…I felt all the feels.
“I hope so buddy. Can you help us pray that this baby is healthy and will come home with us?”
Because how do you reassure a boy who had a baby sister die that this one won’t? He’ll be almost six when she arrives and I just know he will be incredibly helpful, independent and protective.
Each of my three children has a story written of their own. No matter how long each one is, it is important. It is valuable. From my healthy, happy five-year-old, and my princess in Heaven, to the rainbow baby taking up residence in my womb…I’m so adoringly in love with them all. I get to tell Cooper this every day, perhaps I should say it more. I don’t get to show or tell Audrey how deep my love is for her anymore. And I’m desperately begging God that the new baby will grow up to know my love.
So we begin 2016 in bloom.
In other news, I wanted to take a moment to share an incredible update about Wings for Audrey.
In January of 2015, the fund was at $45,672.
Today, exactly one year later…I am humbled to type this number…
Wrap your brain around that for a moment. Think of how many people have made this a priority in their lives to be so close to the finish line in just 16 short months.
It’s close. It’s so close, the Foundation is ready to start finalizing the paperwork and solidify how exactly the program will work. We are thinking and praying about this often. Ultimately, we want this to make a difference and an impact all in honor of Audrey. And it will. We need just over $10,000 to make it a reality. And it’s coming…I just know it.
Thank you, from the very depths of my heart, for reading this. It means you care, and for that, I’m humbled and grateful. You’ve been there, on the other side of your screen, through so much. You are helping keep Audrey’s story alive, and this is priceless.
Until I write again…love + hugs,