Valentine's Day is two days away. I remember the way Ashley prepared for this day, carefully designing cards for the one's she loved, wording and rewording until she said it just right, cutting and pasting, trying her hardest to capture the vastness of her love and squish it onto a single card. She paged through magazines and browsed the card racks at stores trying to get ideas for the perfect cards. She would often beg me to let her buy a card from the store (she thought they did a better job), but mommy never relented, a card must be homemade, those were the best a little girl could give. As the day approached, Ashley was disgusted that this day did not deserve "a day off" status, like other holidays! Valentine's Day was a favorite for Ashley. It was the designated day for proclaiming our love for others! For Ashley, every day was valentine's day. She told me every day how much she loved me...that she loved me sooooo much, that in all the world, she would only pick me to be her mommy. Love. Ashley understood Love. She didn't just say how much she loved others, she showed them, every day!
Every year, I also spend an afternoon cutting and pasting as I make valentines for my children. I reflect on my love for each one of them as I make their cards. Although I begin with blank paper, I am amazed that I end up with a unique card designed with love for each one. Today, as I cut and paste, I can't help but to reflect on the lesson of love that my heavenly father has given given me a glimpse of this year.
You taught me so much about love. Before you, I knew what it was like to be loved by my parents. I knew what it was like to love and be loved by my friends, my siblings, my family. I knew the love of my husband, and I knew that God loved me. When you came into my life, I began to know the love that pours from my soul, from the depths of my heart into the tiny life of my child, my flesh and blood. I never knew a love like this until you were born. I wondered how it was possible to love someone so much! What is more, you loved me back even more than I could fathom. Even though I was filled with flaws, you loved me anyway. I thanked God that He would give you a love for me despite who I am.
I loved you more and more. How could it be possible that the love I had for you the day you were born could possibly grow bigger, deeper, wider? As I loved you, I was showing you God's love. You loved God. As you grew, you loved Him more. The more you knew Him, the more you loved him. You would always tell me how much you loved me, and then you would say "but I love God the most." You pointed me back to God.
My heart and soul bleed as I ache for you. I so desperately want to hear those words again. I want to tell you how much I love you. You are gone. But, God remains. I can't always feel him. In the darkness I have wondered about His love. I could not understand. When I held you, in my joy, I knew God's love. How then, do I know God's love in my pain? God can't reveal to me the fullness of his love at first glance. His love grows bigger and deeper and wider as I walk with him.
A few weeks ago my heart was torn as I faced a very large mountain. God gave me the strength I needed to make it that day. Then, when I was fully poured out, I saw that I had only climbed the foothill to the mountain. For the first time in over two years, one of your siblings began to wail for you. The screams of death resounded from this house once again. I had no energy to face this mountain that day. There was no acceptance of my comfort. As I was forced to sit still and helplessly wait, I began to understand a glimpse of another aspect of love. God's love, in pain. My heart bled in agony as I listened. I longed to fix the pain. I wanted to take it far away, to wrap my child in my arms and remove the storm. But, as the storm violently surrounded me, patience filled my soul. I waited. I knew that my child needed to walk through it. I knew that my child would be stronger on the other side. I knew that although it was horrible, my child needed this in order to heal. I had to wait. I would walk my child through.
My eyes began to open and my heart wept as I felt my Father's love for me. I knew that his heart hurts when I am in pain. I knew that he patiently waits for me to walk through the storms, because he knows where I will be when I come through them. He knows that I need to face them, to endure them. He knows that each storm I walk through is making me stronger. He loves me in my pain. He understands.
God chose to show us love through the simple relationship between a parent and a child. I am also his child. He loves me the way He loves his son. God has given me the chance to understand the love a mother has for her children as I hold them in my arms. He as given me the chance to love my child through the searing pain of death, and he is showing me a glimpse of what it is like to love my child in pain and suffering.
God's love is deep, and wide, and high....and I will not see it fully until I am with him. Although I knew that God does not delight in our suffering, it was not until I loved my child through their suffering that I could even remotely understand that He is love even in the storm.
Happy Valentine's Day, my sweet girl!