clarity

For the past 3 years I have struggled with my faith. I have had moments where I felt a breakthrough or a shift. To only fall right back into that pit of uneasiness, anger and doubt. I would say I have spent 75% of the last 3 years feeling like I am at the bottom of this incredibly tall mountain and after strenuous climbing through the thicket, I look back to see how far I’ve come and realize I’m still at the bottom. And each time I fight and climb forward, feeling as if the top has to be just around this boulder, I look back and no longer see the bottom, and yet I see no end at the top. I feel stuck in this position, I can’t go forward and yet I can’t go back. I could give up, and just fall back down the mountain, but what damage would that cause? 

Today we are going through a COVID-19 pandemic. I have spent the last several weeks or months, I’ve lost count how long this thing has been going on, not really stressing to the full extent everyone else has. Do I take it seriously? Sure. Do I think I will be impacted? Not so sure, but definitely not so effected that my life would drastically change. Now my job is most likely going to close due to this rapid spread and dental offices being at the front line of potential risk. Now, I feel the weight of this virus. I’m looking at the potential for no income, racking up credit card debit to just survive however long this crazy episode is going to endure. Having to sit down and discuss with my preteen why his school closed for the rest of the semester, why this virus is dangerous and who to, and the precautions we as a family are taking and the potential impact as well as discussing the mass chaotic response from the nation, and most importantly addressing the very clear fear on his face. Now this is effecting my home. My fear has increased just slightly. I worry for my family members who are older, the ones with immune disorders and the ones with pre-existing conditions that put them at risk. I worry about my mother who is surrounded by the outbreak in Johnson county, who is at risk, and potentially without help should a lockdown or quarantine ensue. 

Through all this I have maintained a calm. Since Logan died, I’ve kind of had this motto, when in my healthy state of mind, that we will make it through. I can’t guarantee how we make it, but we will one way or another. There isn’t anything I can change about certain events in life and I just have to walk through them allowing it to evolve. This is no different. Can I change all this? Nope, sure can’t. Can I sit at home and stress the hell out about what is to come? Yup, sure can. But the real question is, what is that going to do for me? Is that going to solve my problems? Is that going to save me? Is that going to keep our source of income, food on the table or a roof over our heads? The answer is no. What it will do is cause hysteria in my household. The troupes will follow me in my chaos. My child will learn to respond to fear and chaos with fear and chaos. Is that the generation I want to help build? Nope, sure isn’t. 

I would say 80% of the time now when people say “God has a plan” or “God will take care of us” I just roll my eyes. It’s not that I don’t believe in God, or perhaps that’s something I’ve been struggling with since Logan died. I think people use those as “catch phrases”, they don’t really understand the weight or meaning behind them. Last night, I gave in a little to that anxiety of “what is the world coming to?” After hearing from my boss about our impending shut down, the schools deciding to close the buildings for the remainder of the school year. We went to the nearly empty grocery store, not to stock pile, but to buy for at least 2 weeks as we were running low. It was eerily quiet in there. Kind of post-apocalyptic like in the movies. After putting all the groceries away, I just sat for a minute, trying to mentally catch a breathe. This is all surreal. BUT as I sat down this morning, finally deciding I needed to somehow engage with God, I started reading my book “Don’t Give Up” by Kyle Idleman. As I read a few pages, I felt a calm. One I haven’t felt in a while. And it was like I had this huge “aha” moment. I have been so “go with the flow” with this pandemic, because we will make it through. I have no doubt that somehow we will make it through. And I believe that because I believe God will take care of us. Because I believe “God will take care of us.” I haven’t said or believed those words in 3 years. But it proved to me, that no matter where I am with my faith and in my relationship with God, deep down I still have faith that God will handle my shit. 

Now, that doesn’t mean I believe that everything will be peachy. I don’t believe by saying he will take care of things, that he will make everything okay. That just means, that if I should die, or Wyatt or Josh, I know they are going to Heaven, IE taken care of. That means if shit gets rough, I eventually know where my life will lead. I can’t focus on the negativity surrounding this pandemic. I have to focus on my household, on my faith. I can’t control the world. I can only control my world. So I’m choosing to find the positive, the light, the hope. I’m choosing to take this “aha” moment and grasp it like a guide rope hopefully up this mountain. I just pray it doesn’t take 3 more years to get to the top!

what is faith

Faith. Some live every moment by it. Some have never found it. Some had it burned and spend their time digging through the ashes trying to find it. I can guess where my faith lies. 

I recently read an article that in summary said that while you may heal from the loss of a child, your body never forgets. My therapist even told me once that my lack of sleep through the night and the constant feeling of running on fumes comes from my body remember that a newborn should be here. That it’s instinct is to wake up and care for a child through the night. It never got the memo that it’s instinct is no longer needed. It’s job was rendered useless. Logan’s birthday is less than a month away, and while I don’t feel like my mind is thrusting me back to those moments, I do find myself pondering faith-what is it? and life-what’s the purpose? 

Before Logan, my life wasn’t built by a silver spoon. My upbringing was rough. My marriage had struggles. My parenting has had curve balls. I built the life I had from hard work, determination and faith that God would always be by my side. When we got pregnant with Logan, we just knew this was God’s plan for us. We rejoiced in it, gave God the praise for the miracle we’d been waiting years for. When Logan was diagnosed with pending death we couldn’t imagine this was our lives. While we didn’t always make the best choices, we were faithful. We lived our lives the best we could by God’s standards, but we are imperfect people. We could not understand why we would be punished in such a harsh way, when there were others who behaved in a manner so much more deserving of pain. 

In the last three years, I have blamed God, hated God, called out to God, searched and searched for God. Every year that passes I get more and more exhausted from the manhunt I’ve been stomping on. I try for the sake of Wyatt to continue to follow the basic steps of a believer, to show him an example. I have to make myself attend church, there is no desire to go, other than the feeling I might be smited. For years I have pushed down the harsh reality of feelings that swelter just below my cognitive surface. I sit in church and listen to the praise and worship songs and watch those around me find joy in faith. But what is faith? And how do you know you have it?

I HAD faith, that God would protect me. I HAD faith that God would protect my child. I HAD faith that if I was a believer and followed God that no “real” harm would come my way. Yeah I might be burglarized or get in a car wreck. But torture I would not be. Broken I would not be. My trials would lead me back to God and the purpose behind his “master plan” for my life was always revealed. 

Almost three years later, I now cry during worship songs because it reminds me that they are just words. There is no hope or joy in those words. God is not good to me all the time. Why is he worthy of all my praise? I am forced back into those moments where I cried out for his comfort and release. I cried out for mercy, to not have to witness my child die. Yet these people surrounding me walk in faith, blindly. Sure everyone has their demons. Their struggles that they hide behind their made up faces and plastered on smiles. I want to meet someone who has gone through the torture chamber I have and tell me that they stand by their faith. That they can see God through it all. 

So what is the purpose of faith? The purpose of life? God has a master plan correct? Why were we even created to begin with? Was he bored? Did he need a chess game with Satan? How many blows can God allow before Satan wins? I just don’t understand it anymore. Longterm, sure I don’t want to spend eternity in hell. I’m supposed to just accept that God can do whatever he wants to my life and it’s okay? To be shit on, again and again. Because lets be honest, the death of a child just doesn’t stop there. It lasts forever. It touches everything. It touches every single fiber of your being. It touches every single fiber of your life. So the shit just keeps coming. 

Why am I fighting so hard to maintain an identity in God, when I feel he failed me in one of the most horrendous moments of my life? It’s not his fault? Sure, okay I’ll accept that. Logan died because there is sin in this world and we have choices. Okay I can connect that in a round about way. BUT what I can’t connect is why God didn’t step in? Why can a crack addict have a healthy child? But a faithful, God fearing family looses their child? How do I serve a God like that? How do I have faith and praise a God like that?

I used to be a strong independent woman. I knew who I was. I knew what I believed in. I knew what I stood for. I knew what I built and I knew what I knew. When Logan died, I died too. My identity died. My strength and independence died. My beliefs died. The life I built and the knowledge I knew, all died. My friendships died. My family relationships died. I’ve spent the last three years trying to resurrect that woman who died. And I can’t find her. She doesn’t exist except in a wispy memory. I ask myself daily, “What am I fighting so hard for?” The only conclusion I can come up with, to survive. 

If I don’t fight, I won’t survive. If I don’t fight, it’s down the rabbit hole I go. And I know what is at the bottom of that rabbit hole, I’ve been there before. Surviving doesn’t exist at the bottom of that rabbit hole. I don’t have faith. I don’t even know if I believe in a God anymore, and nobody seems to be able to help me with that. All they can do is spew scripture at me. I don’t have direction anymore. I don’t have strength or independence anymore. I don’t have confidence anymore. Everything I was, was taken from me when Logan died. I’m surviving. Some days look better than others. Some days I even get a glimpse of un-tainted joy. But most days, I’m simply surviving. I have no real pleasure in this life. Do I enjoy watching Wyatt grow? I’m pretty indifferent to it. The friendships that once held me together, have faded into the background. My life continues to spiral without ever finding a firm foundation. 

So what is faith? Is it knowing that as long as I wake up every morning I know I’m surviving? Or is faith know that as long as I wake up every morning God allowed me another day to live? Because I’m supposed to accept that he allows the good and the bad, right? So you tell me, what is faith? And why are we trying so hard to find it? Because I’m exhausted. 

miracles

“While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,’’ he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.” Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”………….Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.” They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up.” —Luke 8: 49-55

I often get stuck in a thinking pattern about miracles. It goes like this: I know God can do miracles, He healed a friend’s baby, He raised this child in the Bible, He didn’t heal my child. Round and round I go. 

For the last three years I’ve struggled with my faith. I’ve moved in one direction to the next, constantly searching for the path that will lead me back to my unwavering faith in God. I’ve never found it, and I often wonder if I will spend the rest of my life searching. Is this destiny? 

When I was still pregnant with Logan, already knowing his fatal diagnosis, I was introduced to a family who had a similar situation; their daughter wasn’t expected to live. I watched her birth video and cried and hated their family; she didn’t die, but lived. I watched their miracle unfold in front of my eyes. I knew my miracle wouldn’t come. My prayers switched from saving my child to let him die quickly and peacefully. I begged and pleaded with God to not make me watch my child suffer through death. Did he suffer? I’ll never know, I tell myself he didn’t. We showed him all the love we could and I put faith in the medicine for taking care of the rest. 

When I sit and think about how my relationship with God has been torn apart, I read things like the verse above. I hear of someone’s miracle. And I have a bad taste in my mouth. Why them? Why did MY son have to die and why did I have to watch him fade away like I did? Why do some moms get no time? Why do some moms have a plump baby who just stopped breathing? Is it not bad enough that I knew he was going to die? That there was no chance of survival? I had to suffer. I had to watch my husband suffer. I had to watch Wyatt suffer and try to navigate a territory he knew nothing about. I had to watch the innocence be stolen from my 8 year old. Why were we made to suffer in such a way?

I think a lot of my distrust with God comes from that fact. He provides miracles all the time. He intervenes in lots of lives daily. Why did he choose not to step in? What makes us different? We are saints. We aren’t special people. We haven’t done anything great with our lives. We haven’t become prophets. What good could have God had planned to come out of this tragedy? 

Instead our lives are tainted. No matter where we go in life, someone always finds out we that we lost a child. And inevitably we get treated different. People look at us different. They walk around us different. They talk to us different. We no longer are ‘us’, we are overshadowed by Logan’s death. Our faith is wavering. We weren’t pushed towards God but away. I fight everyday to hold on to the faith that I do have. I put on a brave face when I talk to my son about God, so that he doesn’t follow down my path of distrust. My husband wanders lost. 

So why do other people get a miracle, but we didn’t? My bible study this week asks me to think about plans that I had but God replaced with better ones, or how has praying for God’s will to be done blessed me. I have no answers. I try to think back before Logan, I suppose I could be grateful Wyatt didn’t die when he had heart surgery. But nothing overshadows Logan. What we went through. 

Is is so wrong to think, I want God to say sorry. To tell me that my miracle was not greater than his plan? To tell me my son didn’t suffer. To tell me that he is living a life of joy and content in Heaven. To tell me that my son knows who I am. That he watches me. That we have some connection other than watching him die. Because I feel empty. I see Wyatt everyday, our connection is ever present. Logan’s is gone. Connected only through pain and suffering. And then gone. All I have is pictures, and fading memories. What does Logan have? 

I’m told that I have to accept God for all of who he is. Not just the good parts, but the awful things as well. I can say without doubt, that I don’t think God killed my son, if that makes sense. I think Logan dying was an effect of this evil world, but God simply didn’t intervene. It’s the intervening part, that I cannot reconcile with.

reminders

I typically enjoy FB’s “memories”, as it shows how immature life used to be, how much we’ve grown, Wyatt’s milestones and all the feels. Until this time of year, when it reminds me of the journey we began with Logan, everyday. Reading the words I wrote 3 years ago, makes me feel like I’m reliving it all over again. But I can’t bring myself to delete them, because they are memories I tend to “forget” or suppress. They are some of the only documentation I have of Logan’s life. Perhaps it’s the holidays coming up. That simple reminder of the anxiety we endured waiting to hear the final prognosis for his life. Venturing through the holidays knowing the next year we wouldn’t be able to buy gifts, watch family fight over his snuggles, watch Wyatt teach him how to open presents, you know, all the things. This time of year, FB reminds me of what we went through. The holidays remind me of all we lost. After the new year, we shift from the lost memories, to preparing for his birthdays that will never come. And then the days leading up to his death. We try to pretend that we are strong through these next 4 months, but we aren’t. It eats us worse November-March because of all we went through and all we won’t ever get to go through. When April arrives, we can breathe again. With minor blips on Mother’s/Father’s Day.

body issues

After Logan died, I had serious misgivings about my body. It had failed me in everywhere.

I would look at Josh and wonder how could he value someone who couldn’t give him the one thing my body is supposed to do. The one job a woman’s body does that makes her unique. I would look pregnant women with envy and unease. Their swollen belly proved worthy while mine felt useless. I would watch my husband and wonder if he longed for a woman who could give him what I could not.

I looked in the mirror everyday, seeing the leftovers from my pregnancy. While I only gained 15 pounds while pregnant with Logan, what I saw in the mirror was havoc wreaked over my body. I would force myself to work out, disdained by the fact I could not function like I once could. I’d see these other women in the gym functioning at the level I once could. And for the life of me I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t. My body looked different, but nothing had changed. No baby at home to tell me to slow down and give my body grace. So instead I beat myself into failure and stop working out, being left empty, alone and depressed. This cycle continued for 2 years. And each failure swept over me, shrouding my eyes, I would crawl deeper into my rabbit hole.

One day, I snapped, no longer able to bear the weight of life. We discussed therapy, and begrudgingly I went. I’ve known for a long time that I needed to go, but the very thought of discussing the emotional baggage that Logan left me with, was so beyond exhausting and complicated that I shied away in fear.

After a few weeks of therapy, I’ve begun to feel alive again. I can see joy in mundane things. I have gotten completely lost in Logan’s birth video and surprising myself, floated to the surface instead of sinking.

I had an idea. I would stop putting the weight of being who I was before Logan. And take exercise back to basics. Something easy and that I could enjoy. As mundane as it sounds, I’ve past the three week mark that I usually dropped out. In fact, I’m beginning week 6, the final week of my program. I’ve lost 2″ all over. I see a vibrant life in me.

I’m excited, and in a way I feel healing. I see myself in that mirror. I’m not sure what I see, but failure isn’t hanging over me.

mother’s day – half a mother

What is Mother’s Day, to a woman who is only half a mother? 

This year, it seems as if Mother’s Day has approached silently. I knew it was coming, but yet I didn’t. Josh asked what I wanted, to which I replied I simply wanted the dog’s cages out of Logan’s room and it put back in order. Unwilling to wait until tomorrow, I removed the dog’s belongings and restored his room to what was, except for his chair which will be brought back in tomorrow. But now I sit here, with a beer, unable to leave the room. I feel tethered, to nothing in particular. I just can’t bring myself to leave the room. I look at his belongings around the room and I begin to feel the weight of what will be missing tomorrow. 

I have to admit, I have not been surviving well the past several months. And if I’m being honest with myself, the past 2 years since Logan died. I have self-reflected more than I care to count, and I think in the beginning I was “strong” because everyone needed me to be. The boys weren’t functioning and somebody needed to be a firm foundation. So I provided that. My friends and family struggled watching me grieve and recoiled at the mention of Logan’s name or any confirmation that I was not the “strong” force that I had been presenting. I feel as if I walk around with this flashing neon sign that says “her baby died” and everyone knows. Everyone is watching. They tip-toe around the normal things in their lives for fear of how I will react. So I put on a brave face, I be strong for them, because they can’t be strong for me. And I would do anything to just be treated like a normal person with normal problems. I endure their insensitive comments about their ratty children, bastard husband, baby mama drama, the unwanted pregnancies; all of it, with a kind smile, I tell them it’s okay. 

Last year we celebrated Logan’s 1st birthday and I think that was the first time the box broke open. I felt emotions I didn’t know I still contained. After a few months, I was able to fold the lid back down and shove the box aside. I didn’t have the energy to sift through what lies in that box. But the downward spiral never stopped. I’m good at putting on a brave face. So most don’t know, and those who do, could never fathom the depth I was falling into. I also master the art of distractions. I have given myself lists, gotten involved in a number of groups, run Wyatt all across town for his activities, work trips, etc. All keep my mind occupied. I can’t sit still for fear of what will consume me. When idle time appears I read a book or watch tv. 

The past few months the lid to that box has started to bulge. It’s not in the corner anymore, but in my lap. I’ve been pushing down this lip for so long, I’m so tired. Two weekends ago, I returned from KMOM. I was excited to see my husband. I walked in the door and was smacked with an anxiety attack that popped that lip open. Everything came spilling out of that box like an explosion. Nothing I did would put it back. I sat on the laundry room floor and cried for half an hour, just done. And life has not gotten any easier since that day. I’m more aware, but empty. 

I’ve spent 2 years searching for God, holding onto this hope that I knew there was an end, an other side to all this grief, fear, anxiety and turmoil. That if I just kept ahold of that hope, I would find my way through this forest that constantly threatened to consume me. Looking back now, all I see is myself walking blind through a forest with no trail. No matter where I turn, I’m cut by thorns, bruised by a rock  and ultimately falling off the cliff. I’m left desperately wondering, what is the point? 

I have been under constant anxiety attacks 95% of day, every day. The adrenaline I feel sporadically running through my body only spikes the fear I already live with. With each pump of my heart brings paranoia, fear, anger, sadness, uncertainty. And I’m just left feeling broken. I have no desire to function in this life, and I’m beginning to wonder what the life that follows this one. Many times I have thought, “I could just leave, everything, and walk away.” I love my family, but I have hold here. 

So as I sit here in Logan’s room, looking at his stuff, that hole grows bigger. The ache grows stronger. I was listening to the radio yesterday, a woman called in complaining because of the gift her husband got her for Mother’s Day. I wanted to slap her. Your children are your gift, today and everyday. You may hate them from time to time, but they are your gift. They can be taken at any time. And you take that for granted every single day. I can’t even remember what it felt like to hold my child in my arms. All I have are his belongings to cling to. That is my gift. 

So what is Mother’s Day to a woman who is half a mother? This year, it’s brokenness. This year is fear. Loneliness. Crippling anxiety. Barrenness. Unworthiness. 

unfair

You want to know what is unfair?

It is unfair that my son has to spend the rest of his life with a mom who is tarnished.

It is unfair that my son has to spend the rest of his life with a mom who doesn’t know who she is. 

It is unfair that my son has to spend the rest of his life with a mom who doesn’t understand faith.

It is unfair that people in this world can live so blindly in joy and love.

It is unfair that you can just spend the rest of your life not having to question everything you do.

It is unfair that I have to spend every day wondering when I will cry next.

It is unfair that the simplest of things will take me back to some of the worst days of my life. 

It is unfair that you get to look at your child every day.

It is unfair that you get to take pictures at your child’s prom, graduation and wedding.

It is unfair that you will get to see your child live on through your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

It is unfair that you get to use your newborn baby or toddler as an excuse not to do something.

It is unfair when you say at least you have a child at home. 

It is unfair when you say at least you can have another one. 

It is unfair that I have to look at my husband and wonder if he sees failure when he looks at me. 

And it is unfair when you say it’s God’s plan.