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.
I wish I had something profound to say today…I do not, but figured it was time for an update anyway. We have been plugging along with school and life and grief and getting the farm ready for the spring ahead. It seems that grief is one step forward – three steps back. It is marked by days that feel full of purpose and meaning where I’m certain that Phoebe’s life and story will bring glory untold. On these days I see beyond my pain and know that it will all make sense in God’s good time. And then there are days when crawling out of bed in the morning and brushing my teeth is an act requiring so much effort that I almost expect applause when I accomplish it.
Our Grief Share group on Monday nights has been good. It’s nice to be in a room full of people where pain is expected and I don’t have to be strong for a couple of hours. We usually talk for a bit, watch a video, and then have a short discussion time and every once in a while I get to see my Grandy on the screen which is always a blessing. I’m proud of Nathan, he accompanies me and participates although sitting in a group setting and sharing feelings isn’t really his gig. I find that attending makes me feel like I’m “doing” something about my grief and that’s something.
The boys have been doing well, each one expresses their sadness in unique ways, just like the individuals they are and we talk about Phoebe and our story a lot so that everyone feels comfortable to just say what they need to say or feel what they need to feel or pray what they need to pray. Nathan and Benjamin are winding up their season coaching Upwards Bound basketball for first and second graders at our church. Deacon and Averic just completed several months of gymnastics and now soccer season approaches. I look forward to Saturday morning soccer games and working in the garden this spring.
It doesn’t escape me that March 1st is fast approaching. March 1st of last year we were celebrating Phoebe’s last day of chemotherapy. The van was shoe polished with the words “No Mo Chemo” and Phoebe clutched a huge bouquet of balloons as we loaded her in to the car for that celebratory drive home. A tunnel of friends lined our driveway as Phoebe waved out the window. These anniversaries are inevitable, I know. I am just praying for grace and strength to navigate them all.
I am working on writing our journey into a book. Some days I write and write, and then I’ll have nothing for a week, so it is slow going, but I am trying not to fret about it and accept that God will guide me through the process. We have been getting a lot accomplished by way of pioneering the agricultural training with YWAM. We were blessed with a donation to be able to purchase the large greenhouse we needed as well as a tractor which is really exciting. This past week the team cleaned out and readied the aquaponics system for more fish and plants and we seeded for the spring gardens that will be planted here at our house and at the YWAM base. This next week we will focus on preparing our family garden beds and plowing the training garden bed. It feels good to be moving forward with this and spring brings so many opportunities for newness of life.
Thank you to all who continue to think of us and pray for us as we press on,
Even when I knew she was dying it was impossible to soak her up fully. Impossible to save her up for a lifetime of love to draw on.
There came a deep desperation to memorize her smell, record her mannerisms-
Every head tilt, dimple, her shuffle-gait-the heavy weight of her in my arms-the small hand that curled around mine.
I would squeeze my eyes shut as she lay tucked in my embrace and plead with my senses “DON’T FORGET THIS!”
It was something close to panic
g r a s p i n g
for what was slipping away
And the terrible knowing that this would be it
for a lifetime
On days like this I am haunted by loss~