Monday, May 17, 2010

Labor of Love

Love drives me to do things I feel like I can't do. The night Ashley died Emma brought me two books, wanting me to read them to her. I remember picking her up, and I read those two books with her in my lap. The one book she picked was called "Someday", it is a book about a mother's conversation with her child...talking about the things her child will do "someday" as the child grows older. My heart bled as I read these things that I would never get to do "someday" with my Ashley. My hopes and dreams shattered before me as I read to my little girl.

This picture is how I would describe the shape of my life from that day on. (Not that I didn't do things for my kids before the accident, it's just different now.) I physically and emotionally can't do most things. For some reason...actually, for the three little bodies in my life....I have been able to sacrifice even my own agony to give them what they need. I have been a wounded soldier on the battlefield limping around, bleeding and broken...attending to the needs of the other wounded soldiers.

In the days and months to follow July 24th, 2009, I have chosen to care for my children. I have pushed past the tears and the open wounds to sing them to sleep. I have read books and Bible stories. I have prayed with them when I have been too paralyzed to pray myself. I have kissed their hurts, cuddled their tears. I have bathed them, fed them, played with them....when I didn't have the strength to get off the couch. I have spent hours during the night getting up with them, sleeping with them, soothing their fears. In each moment, my heart was bleeding, my soul was broken. But this, for my children.

My children need more than that. They needed to build snow they did with Ashley. They wanted to go to the beach, like we used to. They wanted a Christmas tree...when we wanted to skip over the month of December. They don't understand the kind of pain we feel when with each thing we do without Ashley. They can't understand why we wouldn't do those things, if we did them with Ashley. My children wanted to celebrate their birthdays...just the way we always did. Spring is here and the kids had been dreaming up the garden and what we'd plant in it. (How can I say "no"?) "When are we going to go strawberry picking, Mom?" These things are what they need...and despite my open, bleeding wounds, we do these things...because I love them.

How can I do these things? How can I pick up and continue life without Ashley? God gives me the strength each day...even when I don't ask Him for it. I know it is not my own strength. God loved me so much, He willingly took my shame, my guilt, my sin...upon his perfect self. He was condemned, beaten, forced to carry the cross (my cross)that He was hung upon to die. He bled...FOR ME...out of love. God suffered great pain, because He LOVED ME! This the kind of love that lays down all the desires of one's heart for another. This is the love that drives me each day. This is one way in which I am taking part in the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

Friday, May 14, 2010

An age old picture

As I was driving down the road today I passed a mennonite woman working in her vegetable garden. Close by was a little girl playing with her toy wheelbarrow. I love this's one that i've seen before, it's one that mirrors my life growing up and the one I live now. Last year I went to my Amish friends home to watch the tobacco harvest. It was such a neat thing to see. I watched the tobacco grow all summer, and then I watched my friends put it away for drying in the barn. The part of this picture that I love so much is seeing them working away, and their two littlest girls sat on the barn floor digging into a whole watermelon...their diapers were drooping and the watermelon ran down their faces. Anna (my amish friend) and I often talk about how our kids like to try to do what we are doing in their own little ways. We need to invest in little brooms, buckets, and garden tools. They want to help! This is a picture from across time. I can imagine the pioneer women working the land with their children playing around them. As the children get older, they want to do what their Mommies are doing. They do it in their own way first, then, as they are more skilled, they help, eventually they are trained to do it on their own.

I am not the kind of person to sit still. I am always moving. It is hard for me to sit down through the day, when there is work to be done. However, my house is usually a mess. I clean it, but the kids work faster than I do. Someday my house will be clean. The things I busy myself with, especially in the summer, are vegetable gardening, canning and freezing, baking, and whatever else I might decide to take on. Sometimes I hear.."how do you get that done when you have kids to care for?" I've come to realize that what comes natural to me, is actually the picture I described earlier. I love to work....with my kids close by. I love to be with my kids, but I usually expect them to be playing close by, while I work. Sometimes, in order for me to accomplish something I have to set my kids up with their own little work...identical to what I am doing. Every one of my kids followed this routine. I can remember Ashley being one year old, wanting to scrub the kitchen floor with me. She had to have her own brush to dip into the water. Jacob always had to have a broom. When I bake, I like to let them "help" me. Sometimes I have to tell them that "watching is helping." That is frustrating to hear when you're a kid, but watching pays off! I remember baking cinnamon buns for the first time on my own after I got married. Since I had only "watched" growing up, I was amazed at how well I remembered what to do!

It's funny how you can go into a toy store and see toys of every kind....recreating big people things...but in kid sizes. Kids want to do what they see mommy and daddy doing. Children who watch their parents work hard, will know how to work hard when they are big. As I planted my garden this week, I watched Emma (5) dig her hole to plant a tomato plant. I remembered how Ashley started out like Emma, and then, by last year...she began to "take over" my work. She had learned how to do it the way I did. I could trust her to take the laundry off the line and fold it. She cleaned the house, washed dishes, gave baths to her sister, planted my flower beds...and so much more. I remember feeling akward when I realized that she could do it as good as I could...and that she was taking my jobs!

I have a little way to go with Emma and Grace. This week we made bread. They needed their own dough to work with. I let them have it, and left them work. Later, I found bread dough everywhere, and flour too! I didn't mind the mess kept them entertained, we spent time together, and I got to do my baking! Emma told her teacher today that her mommy lets her make a mess..."she says we can always clean up a mess!" Thank-you, Emma! So, bring on the messes! And let the learning continue!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Momma's New Ride

So, my husband decided to give me something new to write about. I guess I should tell the story behind my new (old) Triumph Spitfire.

I've always loved cars..especially old ones. My dad and I would occasionally stop by antique car shows when I was growing up. Since Dad had an interest in cars, I guess I learned to like them too. I also loved motorcycles. Dad and I spent many Sunday afternoons going for leisurely rides on his old Honda motorcyle. My first ride (that I remember) in an old car was one of Dad's friend's cars. I can't remember what the car was, but it had a trundle seat for the trunk. It was great to ride in the back! When I was really little, Dad had an old Dune Buggy that he rebuilt. I don't remember riding in it, but I loved to hear the stories about it and look at pictures. Dad and I often wished he hadn't sold it.

The car I always wanted was a convertible VW Bug. I don't know why, I just thought they were so cool. It was a few years ago and I was driving down route 1 towards Middletown. I was riding behind the coolest car I had ever seen! It was so little and cute. I loved how the woman driving it sat above the windshield. I had to find out what kind of car it was so I could look it up! "This car has my name all over it! Someday, this is the car I want to drive!"

Well....A few months ago I was looking them up online (something I would do on occasion, just for fun!) I found this red one...WOW! Would you look at that car! I jokingly showed it to Jake and told him he could get it for me some day for Mother's Day. He just laughed.

This morning, I woke up early. Jake and Jacob told me there was a surprise in the driveway. "You didn't really get me a car, did you?" Why, yes he did! I couldn't believe it! I took it for a freezing cold ride in my pajamas! It is a sweet ride indeed! I am looking forward to the much needed down time away from life! Part of my gift is the fact that only two can ride...which means time out for mommy, and maybe a fun date night for mommy and daddy!!! Yeah!

My heart is still heavy today, but the distraction sure is nice!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day

I am angry today. It is the day before Mother's Day and I have so many conflicting emotions going on inside of me. I could explode! I don't like being in my skin or in my life. I feel like I am trapped inside a vice that continues to tighten it's grip on me. I am living a nightmare that won't end. Somedays are good. Many moments are good, actually, but each moment is haunted with reality. If only there was a way out of this.

I really didn't think much about Mother's Day coming up. I rarely look more than a day in advance. I am surviving one day at a time. That's all I can do. This week has been really hard though. I have had a rollercoaster of emotions tossing me this way and that, jerking me around, and leaving me feel confused and disoriented. I'll think I can handle something, and then realize it is way more than I can bear. I have felt so far away from Ashley this week. Wishing badly that I could talk to her on the phone or something...but there are no phone lines to heaven, there is no skype, or email. I have the hope of seeing her again, but I don't know when that will be. I know that Heaven is the finish line, but I can't see it...I don't know how much longer this race is. I found myself missing specific things about her. Things that made her unique...that no one else could be. As I enjoy each one of my kids, it also provides sorrow knowing that they are not like her...they are who God made's that part of creation where God makes each one of us special and unique..there is no one like us. I see things in my children that remind me of Ashley. I love that so much! I am so thankful for my three...that God has given me to enjoy...but, I never feel complete...there is always a piece of the pie missing. I am always uncomfortable.

So, I know it's not just Mother's Day. It's spring...heading into summer. The weather has been nothing short of beautiful. I love to be outside, and to keep the windows open and feel the breeze through the house. Everything is green outside, and the sun is warm. I have often regreted the fact that Ashley didn't have her own room. Not because it wasn't "fair" to share a room with her sister, but because I feel like I don't have a place that was "all Ashley's" to leave the same way she left it...and be able to "be" in her space. When spring came I realized that her room was never that important to her anyway. The outside was her "space." She lived for any moment that she could be outside playing. She loved to be barefoot and in a sundress. She loved to imagine things and then she would play it. Usually, she played her "indian game." I even had to make her a deer skin dress. She was die-hard! She worked hard in her play...doing the things that indians did to live life. She wove baskets from reeds, and pounded field corn into fine corn meal. She gathered herbs and dried them....I just have to laugh at all the work she accomplished while she played! So, the change of seasons is comforting in a way, because it brings me closer to her. Every inch of this place was touch by her angel feet.

Coupled with the comfort of summer...comes the setting of the stage. With each leaf that arrived on the trees, and each day that the sun gets warmer, the flowers, the grass, the motivation towards summer activities....the stage is being set for us to relive the nightmare of our lives. Each moment is one day closer to THAT day. (Even though we are a year farther away from it, it is as real and fresh as the day itself.) I love summer and hate summer at the same time.

I was so thankful today for an email from not only a friend, but a mom who KNOWS this life I now live. She affirmed my pain, my anger, my sorrow. There was no sugar coating. For her it is 17 mother's days without her son, for me it is one. The pain of the day is still sharp even for her. I am encouraged to know that life will get better. There is joy to be had. The God of all comforts will always be my comfort. But, I realize that I am also strangely comforted in knowing that the searing pain of separation from my child will never go away. I don't want it to. I HATE this pain, I despise it! But, I don't want it to ever leave is all I is my daughter's presence in my life.

I remember my first Mother's Day. Ashley was "here", but not born yet...I wanted to hold her. She was a part of my life and I looked forward to seeing her. Well, Ashley is a part of my life now...except I can't hold her, hear her, or see her. I can only wait for heaven.