Monday, September 24, 2012

Trying to be like her

People still ask us all the time how we are doing. The funny thing is, it'll be 2 months since Liv passed away this Thursday and I wonder what they mean. Do you mean just generally? Or how am I doing since my daughter passed away recently? So, if you're inclined to ask, I'm not sure the answer you're looking for, so clarification in your expectations would help.

To answer the question, namely the second one, good, I guess. I'm never sure how to measure things like that, since its all very relative to our particular situation and what we would consider "good" having no measuring stick or previous experience with that. We're eating and sleeping and exercising some. We laugh a lot, but we still cry plenty. Usually, I find, in the quiet (which only happens when Gabby is sleeping) and I have time to think or read or look at the pictures of her all around me-- those are the times I cry the most, but a lot of times the moments I treasure the most and find the most healing.

Often, because the weather has been amazing lately, I find myself reading or spending quiet moments on our porch. A lot of the time I lay flat on my back and stare up at the tree--Liv's tree. I think about what she liked so much about looking at that tree and I try to appreciate and praise God for those things too. That tree, the monstrous ancient one outside our house will always be Liv's tree. But, there has been a second one added to the collection now

I try and look up when I go visit Liv here too, at the cemetery. I don't lay flat on my back on the ground (I feel like that might draw a crowd at a cemetery) but I look up at the recently very blue sky and the half live/ half dead leaves on "her tree". I listen to the wind whipping through the branches that sounds just like applause. I slowly begin to understand. It is not slowing down for the sake of slowing down. It is slowing down to notice and appreciate and understand the world that God has given us--a world that is desperately broken and sinister and decrepit, but that is full of wonderful things and moments like these. Thats what and who Liv was. She was the victim of a very broken and decrepit body. Many days were painful and difficult and sad, but always, we were grateful for any time with our little girl-- even the bad ones. And in those moments we take to appreciate her and who God made her to be, even in this sad world, we are like her and we draw closer to the heart of God.

I am continually finding it difficult to fully explain the role of faith in how we are "doing". I know, but it would be next to impossible for me to find appropriate words. Thankfully, God gave us books. I am reading this book by Nancy Guthrie called "Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow". I've read some other books, even others of her books, and while some of them are semi-helpful, this book has helped me think the things I am feeling. This is how we are doing...

Most of us have known what it is like to be full--to be full of ideas and full of promise, to have a full plate. Full feels good. But now we know what it is to be empty. And empty doesn't feel so good. One of the main ingredients of sorrow is emptiness--a deep and devastating emptiness left behind by empty promises, empty arms, an empty womb, an empty bank account, an empty place at the table, an empty bedroom, an empty bed. But as bad as empty feels, sometimes emptiness is actually good. God can work with empty. Over and over in Scripture we see that God fills emptiness with his own power and life.

We are feeling empty. But, are completely hopeful, and even expectant knowing that God will fill us again. Maybe soon. Maybe differently than we expected (in fact, probably) but having full faith that he will fill us with himself. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gabba Dabba Doo: the nine months edition

Every time I start to write this blogpost (that I promised a while ago, I know) I think of all the pictures and all the stories I owe you and I chicken out and put it on the bottom of the pile of things to do. Yes, apparently I'd rather clean my bathroom than update you on Gabs. And not because I don't want to tell you, but because my crazy girl is doing so much. There are so many stories and faces and milestones I know I won't remember them all. Here is a shot...

Gabs is crawling. She has been for several weeks. She's nutty and doesn't crawl like other kids--my mom calls it Quasimoto crawling--one foot and one knee to the ground. She is preparing to run.

Or climb stairs. Left her in the foyer for about four seconds by herself a week after she started crawling. Yes, she is blurry and the stairs are, well, permanently (or so it seems) under construction.

Also doing this. On about every piece of furniture we own.

She LOVES the park and being outdoors. Its a good thing. Otherwise I would think she wasn't my child.

She also has two teeth now, but still wants to stick with baby food.

She is still teeny tiny, but completely fearless. I think its a rule those two things have to go together.

Gabs has been saying "momma" for a while now. She CAN say "dadda", she just chooses not to. Poor Daddy. The last few days have been better for him, though. She has stopped referring to him as "momma".

Gabs is SUPER fun, but at that age and with that personality that Brian and I are learning a ton about discipline that we didn't have to exercise with Liv. Its a constant reminder of how impatient I am. I have reverted to giving Gabs and I pep talks about being more patient. I sound out the word while she stares intently at my lips PA-TIEN-CE.

Funny things about Gabs:
--For a while she thought all books had braille in them because our boardbooks were sent from a group that supplied Liv's school with books. She would run her hands down the pages of all of those books. I think she became disappointed enough that she just stopped.

--She commits to whatever it is she wants to do 200%. If she is planning to play in the dog's water bowl, dangit, she does not care that you're yelling "no" and running at her. She WILL put her hands in that bowl.

--She dosen't play "with" other kids. But she will play with the dog. Go figure.

--When she wants to put something in her mouth and she knows she is not supposed to she shimmies her legs and turns her back to you to try and sneak a taste. Seriously?

Gabs, we adore you. You are so fun and so naughty and you definitely keep us on our toes. You are adorable--and you know it. We are so blessed and privileged to be your parents. Please, heed our spankins, never bring home a boyfriend, join a convent, and never call us from jail. ok?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Empty Room Down the Hall

Due to the fact that she still isn't sleeping through the night, a couple of times a night Kelly and I go into Gabby's room to change her and most of the time feed her a bottle. While I sit holding my crabby, hungry little girl in the glider, I have a lot of time to think, pray, or sometimes fall asleep while I wait for her to polish of her bottle. Most nights I sit and stare across the hall into the newly empty bedroom...Olivia's room.

The bright security light outside the window illuminates everything in the room...

  • The chair that we bought a few months back so we could comfortable rock her or so the home health nurses had a comfortable place to sit as they sat night after night watching her so we could sleep. 
  • There is also Olivia's "big girl bed" which she got for Christmas, complete with cute bedding meticulously picked out and coordinated by my wife. 
  • There is a dresser purchased by Kelly because Olivia had to have a cute dresser to go in her little girls room. This dresser started a small tiff 3 years ago when we bought this house and were in the middle of renovations and I thought my wife had paid a but much on a First Friday shopping excursion...but what do I know, fashion over function right, Kel? 
  • There are letters made by her G-Ma and Aunt Mal that hang there to let you know just whose room it was...WAS what a sad word. 

Every night I walk past this room on the way to my bedroom after feeding Gabby, trying to imagine that Livi is in there...probably not sleeping and playing with her Christmas lights, with the night nurse watching her so we could sleep and with the familiar hum (that was more lawnmower-esque than a simple hum) of medical machinery in the background. Every night I realize once again that it is empty and that the little girl who once lived there isn't there.

I've learned that empty rooms and empty beds in and of themselves don't mean anything by themselves. I mean, I never lament the fact that our guest room is empty (In fact, if it wasn't empty, where would we put laundry when we don't want to put it away?).

Empty rooms only feel empty because someone once called them home. Empty rooms matter because of the people that give them meaning.

Empty rooms matter because there was once someone you loved who you would find playing in her bed in the middle of the night. Empty rooms matter because of the countless times I read "Goodnight Moon" before bed time, sang "Great is Thy Faithfulness" because it was the only song that would calm her down,  or simply prayed and cried while I waited for my little girl to fall asleep.

I'm sure that as long as we live in this house, I will stop by that room every time I pass by it and miss the little girl who - despite the brightness of the security light - lit up that room.

Some nights I smile when I remember her. Tonight I cried.

I hate grief and its cycles - they are unpredictable. But most of all, I hate grief because it means the room down the hall is empty.