I am 6 months into my pregnancy. Baby Fair #5 is due end of Sept./beginning of October. This time last year we were returning from our family beach trip to Florida with Lighthouse, a ministry to pediatric cancer families. Phoebe was feeling great and life without chemo felt amazing. In just a few weeks I would notice that she had quit climbing up on the kitchen chair and seemed to weaker; we would find out on July 26, 2013 that the original tumor had returned and was already half it’s original size with new tumor metastasis in her spine. I can’t believe she’s been gone almost 9 months. We have learned new coping skills through our grief, but there is always pain just beneath the surface. I’m told it can feel raw for years and that the 2nd year is tougher than the first. I try not to dwell on that thought because I can’t fathom it. In the midst of pain, life continues, and beauty is still beauty and we are still able to recognize it. Benjamin and Averic both had birthdays this month turning 12 and 10; their first birthdays without Phoebe. We had a little party out at the lake and they had a blast. Last month also found us in California for the memorial service for Nathan’s grandmother, Marlene. Phoebe has no shortage of great-grandparents with her..I get jealous each time someone we love leaves this earth for Heaven. Our trip home included a stop at the Grand Canyon and a train ride complete with cowboys and outlaws.
Unfortunately some sad news has also made it’s way into our lives; my Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and begins chemotherapy tomorrow. He tells me Phoebe is his role-model and her Beads of Courage now hang on his IV pole.
Also, my midwife passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from stroke this past week. This was of course shocking and sad. It seems that suffering is so pervasive right now and I don’t know how to process all of it to be quite honest. I have been reading and re-reading Romans 8:18-25 these past two weeks and trying to focus my heart on this passage:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we are saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
~Praying for perseverance~ Amey
Been feeling quiet these past several weeks. Grief is an unpredictable journey and I suppose I’ve been hibernating in a sense, learning to live with my loss. Coming to write about my feelings opens the dam of emotions and I don’t always have the luxury of allowing that to happen while still trying to maintain a ‘normal’ life for my boys. Compartmentalization is very helpful in this regard, but I d…o find that every 3 or 4 days my grief demands my full attention and I have to allow myself to feel the pain in it’s entirety. I loathe those times, but feel so much better afterward. Thank you to those of you who still pray for our family and think of us and our sweet Phoebe girl. I am 21 weeks pregnant with this new little one (waiting to be surprised by the gender) and feeling those sweet kicks in my belly each day renews in me a sense of joy.
My sweet Phoebe got her headstone today. On Saturday it will have been six months since I last held her in my arms.
I don’t even have the words to communicate what it feels like to see your little girls name and dates on a grave stone.
These profound and deepening levels of grief never cease to amaze me as God’s grace to bear it never ends.
Although it is a beautiful memorial to her short life on earth. I am so grateful for the assurence that Phoebe is not under that stone, but living life to the fullest.
The first week of last October we said goodbye to our Phoebe Lucille. I can still see her sweet, chubby little feet in those pink, sparkly sandals. The first week of this October, we will welcome baby Fair #5 into our family. Will it be a girl? I don’t know, I just used some of Phoebe’s baby doll shoes for the photo :) This might be the only authentic “We’re expecting!” message you read today on April Fools…but I assure you, it’s no joke. Looking forward to what’s ahead for our family.
If you want a real treat, go here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbuHSBcnAyQ to see my girl in all her silly glory.
This video was taken the day after we discovered she was terminal and really shows how much of a presence she was in our home and in our lives. We miss her so much.
I dreamt of her last night for the first time. She was running like I have never seen her run before. I kept expecting her to fall because she’s never run so hard or fast, but she didn’t, she kept on running and laughing with a group of other children. A lady went and picked her up and I walked over to them. Just as I was about to talk to her and hold her, my son woke me up But it was beautiful to see her so strong.
“In desperate hope I go and search for her in all the corners of my house. I find her not.
My house is small and what once has gone from it can never be regained. But infinite is thy mansion my Lord, and seeking her I have come to thy door.”
It is so obvious that death is wrong. Backwards. Simply not meant to be. The eternal in us cries out for continuity. Nathan and I sit and stare and talk of how surreal it all is. That she was here, so fully here…and now she’s gone. One might expect that things are getting a bit easier as we approach the five month mark, but those who have grieved deeply know that right about now the shock that sustained us the first three months or so has worn off and the reality and permanence of her absence feels like a new revelation. And the missing her, oh the missing her…
I remember the first night I had to spend away from her. She was 3 days post-brain surgery and I hadn’t slept for more than an hour or two in something like 72 hours. Things weren’t making sense and my nerves were shot, but how do you leave your sick child? I would never think of leaving her for the night with a small fever much less with surgery-induced tremors and a shunt pulling fluid off her brain. It was treacherous, leaving her that night to sleep at a hotel across the street. I could never have imagined that spending every night without her would become a reality.
At night, I close her bedroom door. I hate seeing inside that empty room at night. In the morning, the first thing I do when I get up is open her door. With the door closed in the morning it feels like she might still be in there asleep, so before those thoughts can come I open the door to make it real. She’s not there. She didn’t sleep in her bed. I start the day facing that awful truth each morning. But it’s necessary. I don’t know why.
I haven’t had the courage yet to do anything with her room. I let children play in there with her toys when we have guests and the boys will spend time in there every now and then, so I don’t feel the need to preserve it just as she left it. It’s more that I feel incapable of deciding what to do with everything. I can’t just load it all up and take it to Goodwill. Each item must be gone over and a decision made about what to do with it, and that is overwhelming because of the emotional toll. Her clothes will eventually be made into a quilt, but even that requires the hurdle of allowing them to be cut up. Moving forward is scary, and so is standing still. I’d love to know how others navigated this part of losing their child…
In other news, the big boys started soccer this week. They will be playing on YWAM’s private school team, the Christian Heritage Patriots and they are super excited. We had another batch of cold weather this week that has slowed down the garden prep, but we are hoping to get some seeds in the ground as soon as it warms up again. I know the next few days will be full of mixed emotions as we approach Phoebe’s “No Mo Chemo” day on March 1st. This time last year our lives were full of expectation and hope. Thank you for continuing to pray for and think of our family, and thank you to those who have sent cards or rememberance gifts, they bless us more than you know.