Monday, July 8, 2013

You Are Never Alone

Great is the sorrow and heartache which accompany a loss.  Most of us have experienced loss in one form or another - a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, a friend, a co-worker.  Perhaps even a parent or a child.  I have experienced many such losses in my life.  Three of my four grandparents are gone.  Several great aunts and uncles.  A few aunts.  My mother.  My six year old daughter, just eleven days shy of her seventh birthday.

I have walked some difficult journeys in my life, but I have experienced nothing that compares to the loss of a child.  We knew when Peyton was born that her time with us would be short, though did did not know how short.  Each of those nearly seven years were precious to me because I lived with the expectation that each passing year could be her last.  That expectation, however, did nothing to ease the feelings of grief and loss when the time came a little more than nine weeks ago.

Loss can be very isolating.  If you've been through a loss, you may understand that there comes a point fairly early on in your grieving where most of the people around you will begin to go about their normal routines while you remain stuck in your grief.  It hardly seems fair that life can go on as usual for people when you're life as you knew it ended on that day.

Having previously lost a child through stillbirth and having had an early miscarriage, I've learned that there are more people out there than I realized who have been through such experiences.  Now having lost a young child, I've learned that you have to look pretty hard to find someone who can relate.  There are other people.  I just don't happen to know many.  If you look at Peyton in general, we experienced that feeling her whole life.  She had multiple special needs at birth and eventually several life-threatening health issues.  To this day, we have no formal diagnosis for her condition.  She left this world leaving a family and medical community stumped.  If we were to look for a support group for people in exactly {or nearly} our situation, we'd be sitting in a room talking to ourselves.  She was unique.  If there exists the possibility that other people have whatever she had, we're probably talking single {maybe double} digits.

If there is a bright side to this story it is that through our experiences with Peyton, our family came to Christ.  If it weren't for that, I cannot imagine being on this journey right now.  I am grieving.  I have some pretty "down" days.  It is because of Him that I am handling this loss as "well" as I am.  It is because I know that my strength lies in Him.  I know that this life, no matter how long or short it is here on earth, is just a fraction of the time that will be spent with Him.  I believe that Peyton has been fully and completely healed.  I believe that she is with Him in heaven and that she is able to do all the things she could never do here.  I am comforted greatly by the fact that I know for a fact that she is in a better place.  I know sometimes meaningful people might say something like that because they don't know what else to say, but I truly believe she is in a better place.

Here's the tricky part for me.  Perhaps for some of you as well.  No matter how strong my faith, I'm still here on earth and my daughter is still gone.  It is still an incredibly painful loss.  A great void in my life.  I am human, after all.  I have drawn great encouragement, strength and support from various places - family, friends, my church, and through worship music.

And still there's days of sadness and, yes, isolation.  In the sadness, I try my best to cling to God's promises. I try to draw as much strength from Him as I can.  I am human, though.  I have moments of weakness where I am not so quick to remember these things.  I'm not talking about moments of anger or blaming God - I have not and I will not do that.  Just moments of that all-consuming grief where I feel empty.  Fortunately those waves of grief are not frequent.  I have been having those moments more in the past few weeks though.  The past day or two, the feelings have been intensified by the fact that I have been physically alone while Ron and Moira are in Texas.

In those moments of sadness and isolation, God has not left me.  He has not abandoned me.  I encourage you that if you are finding yourself in such a place that you are not alone either.  There is not a moment that passes where you are ever alone.  He is with you, never abandoning you in your grief, your trials, your challenges or any situation you may find yourself in, good or bad.  There is nothing like proof of this to lift you up from your sorrow.  The past few days in particular have held some moments where I have felt alone in my loss.  But God has a way of orchestrating things.  If you pay attention, you can see His hand at work.  I wasn't seeing clearly, but I am now.  A planned outing on the weekend did wonders for me and I am so grateful to my friend for that time.  In the past 24-48 hours, there have been many "God moments".  Between First Wednesday and our Sunday service, there were a couple songs which were sung at Peyton's funeral which I haven't heard sung at church since that day in May.  Songs which are so meaningful to me - hard to hear and to sing, but meaningful all the same.  I have had several "encounters" with people who cared for Peyton.  An email from a former home nurse.  A text from her last home nurse, who was working the day we brought Peyton to the ER in March.  An email from one of her doctors.  Another from a nurse from the hospital who did so much for Peyton and for our family.

And then there was today.  I went for a follow up visit with the sleep specialist.  The nurse who took me back to the exam room looked familiar to me and she made a comment suggesting I looked familiar to her as well.  When we got to the exam room I asked her if she goes to my church.  That was the connection.  I've seen her at church.  I was explaining to her some of the source of my sleep issues {Peyton}.  How do you even begin to explain her story in a condensed way??  She asked some questions.  She spoke to me.  She genuinely cared about my situation - she wasn't just taking down information.  Then she paused.  She took my hand and right then and there between taking my blood pressure and taking my history prayed over me.  If that wasn't a God-orchestrated moment, I don't know what is.  He knew what I needed today.  He knew exactly who to place in my path.  He knew what I needed to hear and used her for that purpose today.

Friends, if you are finding yourself down or downright depressed and not sure where to turn or who to go to, be assured that He is with you.  He will be with you through everything.  No matter who you are, though, God wants to use you.  Every word that comes out of your mouth and every one of your actions is an opportunity to minister to someone who may be desperately in need of hearing and seeing Him.

May you be blessed and encouraged in your trials just as I have been.

* also posted at The Fontenot Four.

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