Wednesday, December 15, 2010
It has been too long. Each day without you brings us agony. We find the joy in the life that we have here with each other, but you are never more than a thought away.
We have been so very, very busy this month. Running around from here to there...watching your sisters in their programs and concerts...but nothing that we do feels right without you here with us. The daily reminders of your absence are painful and everywhere. Daddy saw a toy tractor that he would have bought for you this year and as I wrote out tags for your sisters' presents...I saw the indentions from the pen where I had written your tags the last Christmas you were here. "To: Mark, From: Mommy and Daddy". You should be here shaking the presents under the tree...begging me to tell you what is in them. All I see in the stores are things that I know you would have enjoyed.
Being the imperfect person that I am, I miss you in all of these worldly things. Christmas pageants, shopping and baking cookies. It may be that I feel that you should be here for all of this, but I know the truth full well. There would never be anything here on this earth that could make you want to leave the arms of Jesus. Knowing that we will be with you after the toils of this life keeps us going...it gives us hope for our future, but it doesn't take away the sorrow. We can only focus on the reason we celebrate Christmas, remembering to be forever thankful that Jesus was born to save us all.
I haven't been to visit your sweet grave lately even though I know that the flowers must be so faded by now. I thought about bringing some poinsettias to replace the blue ones, but I can't make myself go. It doesn't help. I don't know if it ever will.
I cleaned out the coat closet the other day and I took your coat out and put it in the garage. Leaving it hanging for the last two years has been a strange comfort of some kind, but it seems as time goes on, some things just get harder...I couldn't stand to see it in there anymore without you here to wear it. There was also the jacket that I bought a few sizes to big for you to grow into. Gone...into the boxes of your things.
My mind held better aspirations for this letter to you...I had so many things that I wanted to say, but my thoughts are a mess. After more than two years of missing you every minute of the day, I can't explain nor describe the pain any better than I could in the beginning. The shock of your death and the grief of losing you are as present as they ever have been. It is easier to hide it, but I still wake up every day, longing to see your face and kiss your cheeks...crying most every morning on the way to work...seeing you in almost every little boy...mourning the loss of all of the dreams that we had for you each time I think of you...and not wanting to take a picture of the family because you are missing.
Merry Christmas son...wish I was there.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Three years ago, I was completely at peace with our decision to not have any more children. The four that God so richly blessed us with absolutely filled our lives with happiness and joy. We would often catch ourselves just basking, if you will, in their innocence and love. I can even remember telling Joe that I wish that we could just freeze them all at that moment so that the goodness would last forever. Then, Mark died.
We have learned that God is, indeed, sovereign. He will do what He must for the good of those He loves. For me. For Mark. For my other children. I don't understand how Mark's death was good, but I trust. There isn't any part of me that is really at peace with it and there isn't a minute that goes by that I don't long to hold him again. However, everything in me is going to continue to trust in the God that gave me my children in the first place. The God that has Mark in His arms while I wait to get there. Even when I don't feel like it. It has continued to be a choice that I make while I grope through the darkness of grief...based only on faith and not my feelings.
While I don't consider any part of Mark's death to be good, I have to consider that if he had not died, we wouldn't have Maegan. I would give anything to be able to go back in time and have life the way it was...with Mark. At the same time, if it meant not having Maegan, I couldn't make that choice. I'm glad that I don't have the option one way or the other. God is God and I am not.
I praise God that we changed our mind about having more children and that God chose to bless us with another child despite our feelings of inadequacy and imperfection that come from not being able to protect our son from death. Maegan fills my broken heart with joy and she reminds me how much I loved Mark. Even as I struggle with the guilt of how we lost our precious child, I know that with each cuddle, each tickle, each lullaby and each kiss that we give Maegan...I can remember how we did all of those things with Mark...and with all of our children, as we still do. I remember that we loved him well and that we couldn't have loved him any more than we already did.
And, certainly, I cannot forget our three oldest girls...daughters that continue to hold strong in their own storm of sadness over losing their brother. Daughters that are patient as their parents, especially their mother, try to find joy and purpose each day...daughters that are loved beyond measure. More than they know. Here are the most recent pictures...Halloween, of course! The girls and I were trying to decide what costume Mark would have worn this year.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
As my heart constantly wrestles with my mind for control, I focus on letting this truth make it's way deep inside my soul.
"I would prefer to take my chances living in a universe in which I get what I do not deserve-again, either way. That means that I will suffer loss, as I already have, but it also means I will receive mercy. Life will end up being far worse than it would have otherwise been; it will also end up being far better. I will have to endure the bad I do not deserve; I will also get the good I do not deserve. I dread experiencing undeserved pain, but it is worth it to me if I can also experience undeserved grace." (pg. 128)
"So, God spare us from a life of fairness! To live in a world with grace is better by far than to live in a world of absolute fairness. A fair world may make life nice for us, but only as nice as we are. We may get what we deserve, but I wonder how much that is and whether or not we would really be satisfied. A world with grace will give us more than we deserve. It will give us life, even in our suffering." (pg. 130)
Monday, September 13, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
(wish that the sand on Texas beaches was that pretty)
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
There have probably been other posts that I have written regarding how grief sneaks up on me every day...several times a day in fact. It happens still...often...without warning. One minute I can actually be having an "okay" day. Not really dwelling on Mark being gone, but just living my day and feeling a little smile creep across my face. And then, WHAM! Something. Anything. Everything seems to remind me of how Mark is gone. There are many, many times each day that something gets to me, but they are usually the same things every day. Seeing his pictures or his toys...talking about him with the girls and with Joe. They are still so difficult, but I am learning how to get through the "expected" surprises. Then, there are those ugly, uninvited and unexpected surprises.
Day before yesterday it wasn't even having to drive past the cemetery where his little body is buried. We don't visit it often because it just never helps. So, driving by is almost as painful, but we do it frequently and it is starting to lose its sting...ever so slowly. No, it was pulling over on the side of the road for a funeral procession. That was it and I was done for. All that I could think about was our procession for Mark. Remembering his uncles carrying the casket down the sidewalk and putting my only son into the back of the hearse. The hundreds of cars driving to the cemetery and remembering looking out of my window and being in absolute awe at the sight of so many people that loved him...that love us. I began to think of the burial, the sadness, the shock and the raw pain that is so unbelievably real. It never really does go away, but there are many times that all of the emotion can be kept just below the surface, just waiting for any little reminder to cause it to erupt. That's just the way it is.
This morning it was the purse that I haven't used for a couple of years now. I pulled it down yesterday to use since I was leaving my normal purse (aka "the diaper bag") with Grandma. No big surprises yesterday while I was actually using it, but as I was picking it up off of the coffee table this morning, I just happened to see a receipt at the bottom. It turns out that it was a receipt from Wal-Mart from the end of June of 2008...just a little over a month before Mark died. As if that wasn't enough already, I realized that this was the receipt for Mark's birthday present. His Little Tikes basketball hoop. A gift that I couldn't wait to buy because I knew how much fun he would have with it. Caught off guard, again. Bawling like a baby...again. How I would love to be outside with him right now playing basketball.
That's just the way it is.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Each picture gives me a measure of peace as I see Mark's name. My deepest gratitude and thanks to all of you who have taken the time to send me one.
Monday, August 9, 2010
There are so many "dreaded" days for us now. Mark's birthday, the day of the accident, the day that we took him off of life support, the day of his funeral, each and every holiday and special occasion...and well, every day in between. They cloud all of the happy memories that we had with him. And when I search through more and more pictures and see how happy we were...how happy he was...it just hurts more.
I feel like I am trying so hard. SO HARD! To survive, to thrive and to have peace in my heart and live my life in a way that is pleasing to God. It just isn't easy. It takes every ounce of energy that I have to get through the day without throwing in the towel. And, I'm not quite sure that I am any further along in letting go of my anger and bitterness than I was at this time last year. I have become a broken record that continues to play the same old sad song. Feeling sorry for myself because my son is dead and there isn't anything that I can do about it.
There are reasons that God puts us through the fire...I wish I knew why but it is safe to say that I wouldn't understand anyway. When I ponder the fact that God has a purpose in all of this...I have to try and imagine what a different person I will be in 10 or 20 years. I most likely won't even remember the person that I am now. Albeit a small encouragement in this vastness of grief. If I trust God, I have to trust that somehow, He will bring me through it for His glory. I will always suffer the loss...there is no other choice since Mark is not coming back to me. God may restore my joy fully in the years to come and He may not...He may grant me true peace, but He may not. Regardless of what He does with my life in the years that I have left...they will be for Him.
For now...two years after we watched our Marco Polo take his last breath when God did not perform the miracle that we all knew that He would...as his daddy held him and rocked him while I screamed and cried and beat the hospital bed with my fists...after I held my son's lifeless body for hours before they took him from me...and after the world turned upside down...I still miss him. Every second of every day. My heart still feels as though it will explode at any moment...it is hard to cope.
I will keep putting one foot in front of the other...breathe in...breathe out. I have no other choice. God, I trust you.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
the last day that he held my hand...
the last day that I saw his beautiful brown eyes looking up at me...
the last day that I heard him laugh...
the last day that he called me "mama"...
the last day that he played with his sisters...
the last day that my heart wasn't shattered.
Joe and I believe that Mark went to heaven on this day...at the time of his drowning, even though his body remained here with us for another week. We are thankful that we had the chance to cuddle with him and hold him for the last time and that family and friends were able to say goodbye.
The hole in my heart grows bigger every day and I, too, am drowning...in sorrow...in pain and in grief. Such small words to try and describe the biggest pain that anyone can experience in this life.
It is time for him to come home. Please Lord, send him back to me.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Thank you for the insightful and loving comments that you left on my previous post. I clicked on your username in order to find a link to email you, but it wouldn't allow it. So, I am glad to just respond to you here and hope that you read this post. Maybe it will help someone else as well.
There is so much wisdom and truth in the excerpt that you included in your first comment...from the book, "Seven choices...". After I read it, I felt such a rush of relief and peace. It sums up what I would love to say, but feel that I lack when I try to put it into words. For this reason I read, read, read and read about others who have suffered such a great loss. I gain the connection that I need to get me through the day. When I read that someone is feeling the exact same way that I am, I can reclaim a small bit of my sanity. Thank you for including that paragraph...it means more to me than you know. Because it is so true...there is nothing that will ever make the death of a child okay. Ever.
As for your second comment...this has been an area that I struggle with constantly. I would expect that most people who are dealing with such sorrow are feeling the same way as well. How do we deal with those who are not suffering as we are? I have to say that, even though it is a living nightmare to be where we are...it is no easy task to be on the other side either.
The fact is that it is a lose-lose situation. I spend almost every minute of every day thinking about my precious Mark...about how I found him in the water...about how I miss his smell and his laugh and his mischievous nature...about how he looked lying in the casket...about him being buried...about how I should have a little 4 year old son running around the house and giving me hugs and kisses. I could go on and on. And, it isn't as though I just think about these things. They all evoke the same pain as when it all first happened. It is torture and it doesn't seem to be alleviated by any of my pleads and prayers to God. That isn't to say that He doesn't hear me or that He doesn't care...it may just be that the pain is all a part of the refining process that I am in. The fact is, there is absolutely no possible way that anyone who hasn't been in this situation could even begin to understand how all-consuming it is. Every minute of every day. Emotionally draining with no end in sight. Just a lifetime of the same.
So, what am I to actually expect of others? I can't expect them to actually understand how awful this all is. Only to be in the situation itself would one understand. However, almost everyone that I have talked to since Mark died has the absolute best intentions possible. In fact, I can't think of anyone yet who has intentionally tried to say or do anything hurtful to me. Have people said things that hurt? Yes! But, as much as it hurts, it was coming from a pure heart...I truly believe that. I believe that most people know that there really isn't anything to say that will make it better, but their words are an attempt to convey the love that they feel for me. Even when someone makes a comment about how it will all be okay and that Mark is in heaven and everything is wonderful and we should be so happy to think about seeing him again one day...well, that is all fine and good except that they didn't lose their child. I try to deal with them by telling myself that they wouldn't say those things if they were in my shoes, but that they are still trying to help. It also helps for me to try and remember what I used to "believe" before Mark died. There are times that I know I would be thinking some of the same things that others think of me...however misguided and ignorant. It is like someone trying to tell you how to take care of your pet fish by telling you what they do for their pet hamster. (I know, terrible analogy...I couldn't think of anything else.)
It is normal for people to want to move on and for them to want us to "get over it" and live again. They do, essentially, want to "fix" us so that they can have their old friend or relative back. The person that they used to know. Most days, I try to function as everyone expects because I have 4 other children who need that as well. Truthfully, I could sit and cry all day, every day because it just hurts that badly, but I wouldn't be a mother to my girls that way. I suppose it is all a big act...just pretending as though everything is okay and that time is healing, even though it isn't. There just isn't a good alternative since the world didn't stop for everyone else like it did for us. My husband still has to go to work and I still have to do all of the "mom" things that need to be done. I love my girls every ounce as much as I love Mark and they deserve all that we can give. Some days it is more than others.
To be completely honest, before my son died, I was probably one of the worst comforters ever! I felt such hurt for someone who lost their loved one, but I never knew the right words to say. In fact, I probably said some extremely stupid things to several people who were hurting. I wish that I could change that. I have learned that listening is the best that anyone can do. I have been blessed with several friends and family members that are willing to listen anytime I need to let it all out. I call on them less and less because it is just the same old pain, just a different day and I don't want to continue to burden them...but I know that they are there nonetheless.
From your comment, I do get the idea that maybe there has been someone who has said hurtful things to you regarding your faith...thinking that you are lacking faith because of sorrow. Absolutely ridiculous! And, I don't know exactly what I would say to someone if they said that to me, but I hope that if they ever do, that they say it on one of my "better" days so that I can say something that I don't regret later. For me, the knowledge that I will see my Mark again doesn't alleviate the suffering, the emptiness and the sorrow...but it is the absolute only comfort that I have. It is the only truth that I can hold on to that will get me through the day. Everything else is lost...he is not here...he never will be here again and I still can't believe that it is true...that a loss so great and an emptiness so overwhelming has overtaken my life and yet, I am still supposed to carry on. It really is absurd. My other alternative would be to check myself in to the psych ward in the hospital and live out my days. At times, I have considered it seriously, but I am confident in the fact that God wants more from me than that. Otherwise, He wouldn't have allowed this all to happen. I don't know how I am going to get through tomorrow, or the next day, or the next...but I know that even if I live for another 60 years with this pain in my heart, God has a plan. It may just not be the life that I would have chosen for myself. I have accepted that a life full of suffering may be the life God wants for me. I try and remind myself that I have so much to be thankful for as well.
I don't know if any of my ranting helped at all. The bottom line is that there are no answers. We can only do the best that we know how from moment to moment and believe that everyone that loves us is trying their best too. We are all imperfect people living in an imperfect and sinful world. Come quickly Lord Jesus.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
I would love to see your precious 4 year old face coming around the corner this morning...greeting me with a grin. You were such a happy guy when you woke up. If you were here, I would give you the biggest birthday hug and kiss and fix you your favorite breakfast.
It was difficult to get out of bed, knowing that there will be no birthday party to go to and no cake to eat. No presents and no pictures of you opening them.
Instead, we will go to your grave. We know you aren't really there, but it is as close as we can get to you...the son and brother that we love so much. Your flowers are fading and so I bought you new ones...blue again. It won't bring us any peace, but nothing really does. We just want you back.
There are no words to describe the hurt that we still feel. The pain isn't any less that it was the day you left...just different. I ache for you with every breath. I wait for the day that I can hold you again. Until then...I love you...Happy Birthday.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
These two are from my sweet friend, Daphne.
That color red reminds me of the red Farmall tractors that he (well, his daddy) liked
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
There is so much that goes through my mind each minute, each second of the day. The emptiness that I feel inside and the pain that has become my closest friend...hasn't gone away. In some ways, it has just changed in little ways, but still manages to take my breath away each and every day. Like a punch in the gut and a slap in the face over and over and over.
Mostly, I have started to feel that no matter how I try to describe the nightmare that I am living, it might just be that nobody will ever really "get" it. And, make no mistake...I don't want anyone to actually experience the loss of a child. But, the more time that passes, the more I realize that people in general just expect us (those who have suffered such a terrible loss), to just move on...to drop the sorrow and the pain and leave the mourning behind.
If that were possible, I might need another 20 years or so to work through this grief. The fact that I trust God with my pain...that I know He has a plan for our family...that Mark is in heaven in perfect peace and joy and that somehow, his death was all for the best in God's plan is necessary to get me through each day, but it doesn't take an ounce of the pain away. For now, I will tell anyone who really wants to know "How are you?". Otherwise, I will smile and carry on as usual since it is what makes everyone else more comfortable.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
We had Maryanna, Madison and Macy. So, when I was pregnant for the fourth time...there was no doubt in our mind that we would be having another "M". When we found out that we would be having a boy, we were so excited at all of the possibilities!
After a while, we narrowed it down to "Mark" or "Major". I'm not exactly sure where "Major" came from. We know of two "Major"s that I can think of, but otherwise, we just thought it was kind of cute. When people would ask us what we were going to name this baby and we would say, "Either Mark or Major"...you should have seen the looks. "Major???...I like Mark". This went on for quite some time until it was final...100 votes for "Mark", 1 for "Major". It didn't matter much anyway because we truly did like the name "Mark" every bit as much as "Major". And, looking back, I can't imagine him being named anything else.
I also can't write about the names of our children without mentioning the following... my husband loved the fact that "Maryanna" has 4 syllables..."Madison" has 3 syllables..."Macy" has 2 syllables and "Mark" has one. Neat, huh? Or, strange...however you want to look at it. :) It all just seemed to fit so perfectly together...the six of us. We felt complete.
I have decided to officially start a name gallery for Mark. If you have never heard of a name gallery...it is just a collection of pictures that have the name written in a creative way. It could be spelled in jellybeans or sticks...written in the sand or snow...or, in Mark's case, since he has a pretty common name, photographed from a sign, etc.
Here are the first two pictures. Maryanna wrote his name in the sand on our most recent trip to the beach and I snapped a picture of Mark's name written on the side of the ferry.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Since we have church tonight, I like for Macy to take a nap. After all of my gardening, I thought that it wouldn't be a bad idea to take a nap myself since baby Maegan was sleeping as well. No sooner do I close my eyes but the images of Mark in the hospital flood my mind. The morning that we turned off his ventilator...my husband holding our sweet little boy in his arms...rocking him back and forth...praying for a miracle. Me, literally screaming where the whole hospital could hear me, sobbing, feeling that I was going to die of a broken heart any second...in utter disbelief that this could all be happening. Our family, surrounding us in silence and tears, losing their nephew and grandson as they watched. The most wonderful and sweetest doctor ever, using her stethoscope to listen to Mark's chest for a heartbeat...pronouncing him dead after 12 minutes. Mark, my sweet Mark...gone...losing the pink color from his skin...growing cold...being placed next to me so that I could hold him one last time. I feel it all. Like it is happening all over again. Regardless of the joy that I try to imagine in my son beholding Heaven and all of it's splendor, of him being swept up in the arms of Jesus and being loved with a love that even his own mother couldn't give him...it hurts...with every deep part of my soul...it hurts.
These thoughts, these memories, come often. The horrible images of Mark in the water, the imagined images of him struggling and him wondering where his mommy and daddy were, the screaming, the helicopter, the ride to the hospital, seeing him hooked up to tubes and machines, not being able to look into his beautiful brown eyes, holding his hands and praying that he would squeeze me back...removing the life support. Even when a couple of days have passed without them...WHAM!...there they are again. I have no control over them and I have yet to figure out how to deal with them. I try to focus on the happy memories and everything that was wonderful about Mark's short 2 years here. But even thinking about all of the love that Mark was surrounded with and how he enjoyed each moment of his life...the bad memories still come. There are times that I wonder why God hasn't taken them from me despite my pleading. Why he hasn't eased the torture of it all. I have prayed and prayed for just that. Then, I wonder if the pain is for His purposes. This physical agony that I find myself in over and over and over must be part of His will for my life. Grief itself must be a refining fire of some kind.
I have no speculation of what our future lives will be like here on earth. I can only wake up each morning and surrender my life to God and His purposes. There are days that I don't think that I will make it another step...then I just take another...and another. I have set my course to follow His will, even now, when I don't feel like it. I will stand firm in the fact that God loves me and my family...that He will guide us until we make it home and find the face of Jesus and my son...arms open wide, running to greet me...just like he did here.
Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him. Job 13:15
Friday, May 7, 2010
I miss you more with each passing day. The fact that you are no longer here still surprises me...each time I see your picture or think of your sweet hugs...I lose my breath. My heart seems to stop and all the world goes dark. There is a part of me that just can't accept your death, no matter how hard I have tried. And I have tried...how I have tried.
Why do I struggle daily to convince myself of the truth? The truth that you are in Heaven...in perfect peace and happiness with Jesus Himself. Why can't I put aside the sadness and move on by just anticipating the day that I will hold you again? Why can't I just be glad for the two years that I had you here with me and not grieve for the years that will never be. The pain is so twisted and complex. Like trying to count the grains of sand on a beach...there is no end.
I'm not sure why writing a letter to you helps. I'm not entirely sure that you are even aware of what is happening with us now. I hope that your time in Heaven is but an instant before I am there. Not that I am fooling myself into thinking that you could possibly need me somehow...but I need you. Somehow, I have to be your mother, even in your absence. My heart just can't let go.
Lately, I have asked God for assurance...assurance that you are okay. Any little "sign" that would give me a measure of peace and get me through the day. Something that will blindside me and leave me with one less question. So far...nothing. Maybe it is wrong to ask. Maybe I should be reading my Bible more and trusting everything on faith. Before you died, I would have believed that. Now, I cry out for God to just appear to me and tell me that it will all be okay...that God has a plan, that Heaven is real, that you are there, that I will be there soon and that this earthly life is fleeting . I need a divine revelation...a dream...anything! I am having to test and re-prove everything that I have ever accepted in faith. Of course, I am always led back to God's truth. Without it, there would be no hope...no reason to live at all.
Each day, there is at least one moment where I want to give up. This level of emotional distress is no kind of life. Will I even be able to make it through the rest of my life like this? I outwardly celebrate each day with your daddy and your sisters...playing, laughing and honestly loving the time with them. Inwardly, the pain of losing you eats away at me...like a battle raging inside. A fight for my sanity. However, no matter how difficult it is to go on, I will continue to function. I will continue to fight through the tears so that your sisters will not suffer any more than they already have. They need me.
I'm not sure how others view my grief...your daddy's grief. Do people think that it is time that we just moved on? Do they want us to "just be happy already!"? I don't know. There is no way to explain what missing you feels like...no words, no description. It almost seems that we are destined to live a life of seclusion because we are different, changed. We are living every parent's worst nightmare and not sure what tomorrow holds.
What I do know is that we miss you...with each beat of our heart and each second that ticks away we long to hold you again. We will always be your mommy and daddy and you will always be our Marco Polo, our Marky Poo...our son.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010