Monday, October 15, 2012

Four Years

Today marks four years since my sweet mama passed away.  I was seven months pregnant with Jeremiah, it came out of nowhere, and I was less than pleased with God for His choice to take her when I needed her most. (you can click HERE and HERE to revisit these times on my old blog)

Today is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day, which I have a whole new appreciation for.  We got so very close to being there, and so very many (too many) of my real and "imaginary Internet" friends have suffered loss. I bet they also found themselves less than pleased with God about His choices.

I don't think there is any Christian who can honestly say, "I have never doubted God's plan for my life."  Well, actually, that's not true.  I never doubted God's plan for the first 27 years of my life, mostly because I was never brought to any unexpected, smack-you-in-the-face drama that shook my foundation of security.  Sure, there were light and momentary times along the way that were not exactly fun, but until Mom died, I was never de-railed.

The fact that Mom did die was my first real experience with "unanswered" prayers.  Mom had shattered her hip earlier that year and undergone orthopedic surgeries to fix it.  While she was waiting to heal, she was not allowed to walk at all.  For months and months and months.  Each follow-up with the doctors brought less than encouraging news... the road to recovery was going to be long and slow.  And she would be wheelchair bound for the foreseeable future.

That didn't sit too well with my pregnant self-- I needed my mama to be better by the time Jeremiah got here.  So that's what I prayed for.  Over and over and over and over again.

October 15, 2008, a blood clot killed her in her sleep.   Not what I had in mind.

Working through Mom's death sucked, to be blunt.  I spent most of every day asking God if He was REALLY SURE this was the best way to go about things.  Perhaps He hadn't heard me correctly.  When i said, "I need Mom to be healed by December," I did NOT mean healed in Heaven.  Maybe I hadn't been clear.  Maybe God heard me just fine, thankyouverymuch, but knew that His way was the better way.

Better how?  I don't know.  I have found that trying, in the moment, to figure out what God's doing is pretty much an exercise in futility.  "Maybe she just wasn't going to get better.  Now you know she's not in pain anymore."  Yeah, sure, but let's talk about this pain in my chest that makes it hard for ME to breathe right now.  "One day all this will make sense.  Unexpected blessings will flow from this moment in time."  Super.  I will be sure to let you know when those nebulous blessings have made up for the fact that I don't have a mom anymore.  "THIS IS ALL A PART OF GOD'S PLAN."  Yeah, well, I think God's plan is stupid.

I don't honestly know how I made it through the next few weeks until Jeremiah was born, but looking back on it I can say with certainty that there was a hedge prayed around me that was so deep and so strong and so full of people standing in my gaps that I didn't have a choice but to carry on.  It honestly felt like floating, which I know is partially due to a physiological response to trauma, but there was more to it than that.

There came a point, right after Jeremiah was born and the Christmas rush was over, that I had to make a choice.  Hormones were NOT on my side, and I was teetering on a very thin edge.  Option 1:  Lock myself in my room, shout and yell and wave my fists at God, assume that He had abandoned me in my greatest hour of need, and emerge from my room a woman who was going to rely on herself and things that are seen to carry on.  Option 2:  Lock myself in my room, shout and yell and wave my fists at God, acknowledge that perhaps my feelings of abandonment had something to do with the fact that I had attempted to exercise veto power over God's plans, and emerge from my room a woman who was choosing to rely on faith and the unseen  to carry on.

I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my mama would be so disappointed in me for allowing her to become the reason I turned away from God.  She didn't deserve that-- she was a woman of exceptionally strong faith and she did everything in her power to pass that on to my sister and me.  At the very least, I owed it to her to try.   

Jeremiah 29:13 says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  So I did. It wasn't pretty.  It didn't happen overnight. I can't honestly say that I don't still struggle with it, because I do.  What I can say is that the "blessings in disguise" platitude might just have some merit to it.

Mom's death was the first time my faith was shaken to the very core.  It was the proverbial breaking point. Little did I know that 3 years later I would run smack into another one.  

Trust me, after we got Parker's diagnosis  I spent lots of time having the same conversations with God-- "Yes, hello, I have this kind of big problem, but I know how to fix it!  Trust me, my way is going to be GREAT!  Remember when you decided to take my mom to heaven out of nowhere?  I'm gonna need you to not do that this time.  Kthxbye."  And it's fair to say that I carried some lingering doubts about the effectiveness of praying to a God who kind of ignored me the first time.

Back to decision time.  Go my way or God's way?  I was standing at the entrance to a dark and scary forest that was who knows how deep and full of who knows what monsters.  Do I go it on my own steam and spend every day fighting tooth and nail only to discover that I have been going in circles, or do I go in trusting that God will *eventually* lead me to the other side, though it might be a dark and scary journey?  Strangely enough, it was easier this time. Why?  I guess because I had seen that God could, and would, carry me through whatever was coming, good or bad, so long as I stopped trying to wriggle out of His hands and run the opposite direction.

My heart is sad today 'cause I miss my Mom.  Do I still wish she was here with us?  Obviously.  Do I pretend like saying "God's plan is perfect" makes all the rainclouds go away?  No.  But what I have seen, without fail, is that God meets us at our breaking points and says, "'For I know the plans I have for you, ...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  (Jer 29:11) It's just up to us to believe it.


  1. So beautiful, Abby. I love how clearly you articulate that our walk with God is not about all those cliches and canned lines that everyone offers in times of struggle and grief. I wish I'd "met" you before this chapter of your life because it gives such credence to having lived through what you have with Parker. Life's just not always right. There is lots of hurt and sadness. I'm sorry that you're having to remember some of your own today, but thankful for the ways that it has shaped you. Love you.

  2. Beautifully written, Abby. I'm not sure we ever get over losing our mothers. No one (but God) loves us as much...

  3. You have such a way of saying what so many of us feel but can not find the words to express. I lost my mom, dad and sister within a 2 year time span. I, too, questioned WHY ... but discovered just how much God does love me by the way He saw me through it all. Let's just relive the happy memories and let those loved ones who have left us, look down and smile at how we have SURVIVED!!!! GOD IS GOOD!!!!!

  4. Amen. Thank you for sharing your faith walk. We all go through those dark moments in life when nothing seems "right". I pray for those can not see the light and hear the good news. Glad to see little P-nut doing well and we will keep you all in our prayers.

  5. Abby, I am very touched by this - by your love for your sweet mama, by your willingness to grow in faith even when it was so so hard, and by your honest, beautiful sharing. Thank you for this. And hugs to your mama-missing heart, dear Abby.


  6. Four years ago I was in Pennsylvania when I got your email that your mom had passed away. Shocked,stunned.....words can't express how I felt. I wrote you then that she was the wisest woman I had ever known and I continue to believe that. You are certainly following in her footsteps and I think she is with you every day bestowing her wisdom upon you. Your gift is that you are able to put everything into words that people can relate to. I think this is your calling Abby and there is an author in there who is meant to reach people on a larger scale.

  7. Thank you for this post. I am at one of those moments where I am asking "I know you have a reason for this, but if you could just share it with me," Your post was just what I needed. I am also thankful everyday for Kicks Make Your Monday because without it, I would not be connected to you and your post - something I treasure and look forward to reading.