Thursday, September 2, 2010

Facing Heaven

I haven't written in a long while. Every time I sit down to write something I get stuck. I have words and then none. I have thoughts, but can't organize them. I feel like I'm living in a cloud...or maybe a dream..a nightmare to be honest. I wish I could just wake up and it would be over. A year has passed...but has it? Yesterday passed but I can't remember it. What about tomorrow? I don't know. I can't see that far into my future. I am so confused every day. I feel myself doing normal things all the time but I don't feel like I'm actually doing them.

I haven't seen my daughter in over a year now. That is REAL! But every time I have a memory of her, I jump when I have to tell myself that she is gone. As if I just learned of this. I know her so well. It's so normal for her to be here. How can she not be? How is it possible for her to go so far away so fast? Heaven feels so far away. It is so mysterious to me. Death confuses me. I just don't get it. I always thought I understood death until I tasted it.

A year later is more frustrating than ever. Last year we were entering a "new" world. Our old world was right behind us and it gave us strength to face the future. We didn't know what was coming so we took it as it came. The pain on the inside matched the destruction of our lives on the outside. We were paralyzed. We couldn't do normal things. When I went places I felt like everyone could see my destroyed life. As if there was a huge sign on me saying "I just buried my daughter." My memories of Ashley were so fresh that it seemed temporary in a way. Our old life felt more normal than our "new" life.

Time passed. Our kids grew a year older and so did we. Life moved on. We slowly learned how to do our "work." We figured out how to function at least to get by. One thing never changed. Ashley's bed sat there the way she left it...neatly made to begin another day. Ashley's seat at the table was always empty. There was always one head missing in the car. One less arm band for rides at the fair. One less plane ticket, one less suitcase, one less, one less, one less. I began to be able to function in public. As long as I only did what I knew I could handle. I learned how to guard myself in order to protect. We made it to the end of the year.

Now...the end of the year has passed and what is next? ANOTHER year! This time I know what to expect. I don't look forward to it. This time the memories I have of my daughter are two years old. They feel foreign to me now because life with her is no longer normal. I am far away from her. Last year I would go shopping and see things that Ashley would like and I would cry because I couldn't buy them for her. Now, I shop and because the styles have changed and Ashley would be a year older...I cry because it haunts me that I no longer know what Ashley would like. When I have memories of her pop into my mind I feel like I am looking into a past life that I no longer recognize. I am facing another year without the energy I had to run on from last year. I spent it all! Just to survive one year! I enter this year exhausted at the thought that I have to do it again. and again. and again.

They say time makes it easier. In a way, yes, it does. On the outside it's easier. I can do a lot more things than I could do last year. I look more normal on the outside as well. The inside and the outside are growing farther apart. On the's deeper, wider, and darker. It is harder to open up to others. The deep, dark places inside are not as easy to take other people to. It's been over a year since I've seen, heard, touched, hugged, kissed, been kissed by, been loved my first born child. Absence makes the heart grow fonder is what they also makes the heart long deeper and harder. The concepts of life that were brand new to me last year are too familiar to me this year. I no longer shriek at the presence of a deep valley (they come like waves of the ocean), or by the presence of sorrow even at the same time as joy. The absence of Ashley has been filled by the presence of constant pain and sorrow.

This sounds depressing. It IS! It sounds hopeless, but it isn't. We are moving upward each day. Some days we slide down a little or a lot...but we get back up and keep moving up. My goal is Heaven. It seems like an unending game (like chutes and ladders) it takes forever to get anywhere. Some times you climb up high...tasting bits and pieces of heaven. Sometimes I get a glimpse of what it is like to rejoice in my sufferings, and feel comforted by being a limp, broken lump of clay resting in the potters takes me to a mountain top with a clear view of the beauty of the valley below. That fast, I take one step forward and hit a "chute" that takes me back to the beginning of the game. Once again I taste death and destruction as if it happened yesterday. I try to look up, but the underbrush is so thick I can't even see the light coming through the trees, let alone see the mountain top above me.

I believe God is teaching me to believe many things about him. I keep thinking about the 23rd Psalm. "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me." I don't have to fear, but I still have to walk through the valley of the shadow (which is a darkness that is caused by something blocking the light) of death! I am glad to KNOW that God is present in the valley even though I can't always see or feel Him. He is there. With me. I continue to face the light, even when death stands in the way leaving me blinded by the darkness.