Sunday, December 16, 2007
I've learned a lot about myself lately, and some of the things I have discovered have come as quite a surprise. For example, I have always thought of myself as someone who wears my emotions on my sleeve, so to speak. Faking feelings is a technique I have never mastered, so if I'm happy I smile, if I'm upset I let you know it, and if I'm fired up about something I just can't keep it in. I even go so far as to "act out" on my face what I'm watching on a movie or what someone might be describing to me in conversation without even knowing it. This is why it came as a shocker to me when I was driving home yesterday and this mini-revelation hit me: I don't like crying in public. More specifically, I don't like grieving in public.
This newly found knowledge came about yesterday after Nathan and I went to pick up our car from the shop. As I was driving the other car home I realized that it was the first time I had been alone since Poppy was born, and I had not been on the road for more than two minutes before I was flooded with sweet memories that instantly brought tears to my eyes. It's not that I had been suppressing all of those thoughts for the past 14 days, but somehow, not being alone had retarded my ability to really think through things and soak it all in. The drive home was less than 15 minutes, but even in that short amount of time I was able to stop and remember. I remembered what it was like to enter that operating room, not having any idea what the next hour would hold, feeling like I should be terrified, but yet realizing that all fear had been driven out of my presence. I couldn't see them with my physical eyes, but I knew angels were there, surrounding me, protecting me. I remember being able to laugh as I was on the operating table waiting for Poppy to be born. I remember the second she was lifted out, holding my breath as I waited to hear whether she would cry. She did cry a soft and gentle whimper, and then about two minutes later after begging God to let her breathe, she did. From that moment on, she never had trouble drawing another breath until she took her last one. I remember crying tears of joy as Nathan went over to watch as they cleaned her and wrapped her up, and as I cried, the anesthesiologist stood over me, wiping my eyes and patting my shoulders. What I remember most is being overwhelmed with love and surrounded by a greater peace than I have ever felt. I don't understand it looking back, but I remember it, and I will cling to those memories. Remembering is filled with sweetness and sorrow; it hurts and heals at the same time. And even though it made me cry, and will no doubt continue making me cry, it is necessary and good to do it.
Remembering is something that comes (or at least should come) very naturally this time of year. Christmas is upon us, and as I listened to the pastor read the beautiful passage about Christ from Isaiah 53 this morning, I was reminded once again of Jesus and His magnificent plan that started with a baby and ended with a cross. This year as I think about Christmas, I approach it with a new perspective born of the recent experience of both grief and joy. Poppy has left me forever changed, and how grateful I am for that! Now as I think about Jesus, I think more about the pain of God the Father- the pain that comes from letting go. God sent Jesus here to earth knowing the pain, sorrow and rejection He would face. He sent Him with the knowledge that His time on earth would end in the most unimaginable pain of all, as Jesus took the sins of each and ever person, past and future, upon Himself. As I think on that sacrifice, I am filled with a new awe and love for my Father. How could I have released Poppy if not for knowing that she was leaving this broken world behind for a place of perfection that my mind cannot yet comprehend? The fact that God did all of that and more out of love for me doesn't fully register in its magnitude, and it is this love that gives me confidence that if God was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for me, will He not also be more than faithful to take care of me now?
This is why I am not dreading Christmas. I know it will have some difficult moments, but Christmas represents the reason why I have hope, and because of this I will celebrate this year as I never have before. Before she was born, I searched for a Christmas ornament for Poppy. I wanted one that was special, but I didn't necessarily know what that I meant so I was hoping that something would just strike me as perfect. A couple months ago that happened. I was out at a Christmas festival and I saw this hand-painted ornament that had a little angel girl holding a present. When I saw it, I knew that was it. It was so happy; it seemed like something we would want to put up year after year in her memory. Now, I feel it is even more fitting because she truly is my Christmas angel and my gift. This year I will remember Poppy, and as I remember I will do my best to picture her as she is now, rejoicing with the One who has given us the reason to celebrate.