I lost my daughter to cancer.
This is a sentence that I never thought in a million years would be mine to proclaim. After all, I’m a good Christian girl who is married to a good Christian boy. I honestly try to do the right things. I studied hard in school. I tried to make choices to NOT get in trouble. I picked the right kind of friends (many of whom are reading this now—which makes you STILL the right kind of friends). I go to church. I work hard at my job. I try to be a good wife and a good mommy. I smile at people and try to let them know I care. I try not to be judgmental. I mean, I’m not perfect, but I try my best. Surely, God will grant me my biggest request, which is to protect my children. I mean, the way I want them protected. Safe, healthy, smart, and beautiful in my arms, smiling brightly, preparing in time to face the world with confidence—when I’m ready to release them. God will do that for me, RIGHT?
Well, I learned first-hand that God is not obligated to work out everything in my life the way I envision it to be. Or the way that I think is fair, right, and justifiable. No. I have never been more humbled than now. I have never before been brought to a place where I truly realize how little control I actually have than the events of the past four and a half months. Sure, my words, actions, love, support, and efforts can and do make a difference. But I don’t have the power to choose what kind of difference it makes. I only have partial control over the front end—my output. I don’t truly have control over the back end—the outcome. There are so many other factors that come into play when it comes to that.
Tim made a really good analogy last week (PS—Tim Davis is WAY smarter than he will ever let on—I will take the liberty to flower up his story a tad here, though. His brains and my creativity make for a whambam pair…). Anyways, he said it’s like a giant tsunami came over us out of nowhere, swept Sadie away, and now we are left standing in the wreckage, beat up and bruised. We are missing a vital part of our family, but we still have each other and Eli. We are looking around at each other and at what’s left of our life, not exactly sure where to start in the cleanup. Not really sure what just happened, or why. The stormclouds are still overhead, and, although we know the sun shines beyond those clouds, they are still to ominous to overlook. Oh, but we look around and there are so many people running to us to try to help us. They are crying with us, laughing with us, holding our hands, bandaging our wounds, and best of all, they are on their knees lifting us up to God Almighty. For that we are so incredibly thankful. Words cannot express the gratitude we feel toward each and every one of you.
Last weekend, Tim and I went to a “Respite Retreat”. It was a weekend away from the busyness of life, where we met up with 11 other couples who have lost a child (some have lost two). Hosted by David and Nancy Guthrie, who themselves lost two children due to a genetic disorder, we got to meet a host of new friends who are just like us…normal, good people who have just had their hearts ripped out. And, although it crushes me to think that there are other people out there that feel as broken as Tim and I do, it did bring comfort to talk to and listen to people who really do understand some of the emotions we are feeling inside. We took time to share our stories, which allowed us time to fall in love with several other little children who touched (and continue to touch) their parent’s hearts in mighty ways. And it gave us a new circle of friends to put our arms around, and who are happy to put their arms around us. Strange how God works to bring people together. For me, the most emotional part of the weekend was actually after we were finished and getting ready to leave. One of the ladies mentioned putting all of the pictures of our children together for a “group picture” in a sense. Looking at that group of precious, beautiful children was completely overwhelming. I realized then that those little ones are already friends in Heaven, and surely had to be smiling on the fact that their mommies and daddies were getting to know one another. Then I looked straight at the picture that we had selected to represent Sadie. You know the one—the big blue-eyed owl picture. I saw that sweet girl looking back at me, and I felt like I was brought out of the Land of Surreal, where I have been for some time, and into the Land of For Real–that, yes, Sadie’s sweet picture were among those of children who have gone on to be with their Maker. I blinked hard several times, and she was still there. I started crying and feel like I have only stopped because I have to come up for air occasionally. And so now, through a wonderful weekend with wonderful people, I was ushered into another depth of my grief over losing Sadie. The depth where it really starts to sink in that I’m not going to get to see that sweet girl again on this side of Heaven.
So, if you have wondered why I haven’t posted in awhile, it’s not because there are not things going on in my head. It’s more because I want to be real and true to myself, but not out of control. Throughout all of this, I have felt the hand of God guiding me. I know that I can trust Him to pull me through this victoriously. I don’t know exactly how, and that’s what makes me rely on him even more. Through my weakness, His power is made strong. Through my frailty, His hands are at work. Through my tears, He is washing away impurities and making me more whole. So, while I will NEVER EVER EVER be happy that this happened to Sadie, I will accept that nothing happens outside of the permissive hands of God, and that He makes ALL THINGS work together for our good, for those called according to His purpose. I am hanging on that and trusting in His word.
(Sidenote, Amy Grant, if you happen to read this, and I know the possibility is there, I want you to know that this is the second time through all of this that your voice has come out of my computer out of the clear blue sky, mid-song, and has spoken to me. The first time it was mid-December, and the song was Breath of Heaven. Sadie had just come out of an MRI and was getting ready to be transported to receive radiation to a mass of cancer in her spine–and then last night, at the end of March, as I sat on my bed typing, finishing up a long, emotional day. I Need a Silent Night just started playing, mid-song. Here’s what I heard, and this is so very true.)
I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise.
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night.
So I made that my prayer, and God did in fact give me a silent night. I’ve been battling insomnia off and on for awhile now, and recent events haven’t exactly helped the situation. I sometimes get only 2-4 hours of sleep at night, and that’s intermittent, so I was in dire need of a “silent night”.
I am still working on getting my blog up. I have not made much progress since my last post, as I have started back to work, and the mixture of work and emotions has taken precedence. So until I get that ready to go, I’ll continue to make updates on Caring Bridge.
Take a look at this link for an app fundraiser that my Aunt Mary put together in honor and in memory of Sadiebug. The funds raised from this will be used to bless other families with children battling cancer. Please consider purchasing this app to help us Pay it Forward.
And finally, for my music lover-friends—my prayer is that this holds true for our family:
Shadowfeet (Brooke Fraser)
Walking, stumbling on these shadowfeet
towards home, a land that i’ve never seen
I am changing; less and less asleep
made of different stuff than when i began
And I’ve sensed it all along
fast approaching is the day
when the world has fallen out from under me
I’ll be found in you, still standing
When the sky rolls up and the mountains fall on their knees
when time and space are through
I’ll be found in you
There’s distraction buzzing in my head
saying in the shadows it’s easier to stay
but I’ve heard rumours of true reality
whispers of a well-lit way
You make all things new
When the world has fallen out from under me
I’ll be found in you, still standing
Every fear and accusation under my feet
when time and space are through
I’ll be found in you
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
“ Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).