It's been three weeks from today since we said hello and goodbye to Carter. I feel like it's been longer, as the last few weeks have brought every imaginable thought and emotion.
We keep asking ourselves, "What is normal now?"
More often, I find that my grief comes in deeply painful waves that fall in between somewhat "normal" moments. But these unexpected waves are so deep that it literally takes my breath away until I let the emotions all spill out. Things catch me off guard, like when Cohen points at my smaller belly and says "baby" as we finish our breakfast. Or when I look up from watching TV and see pictures of Carter on our entertainment center, and I just ache to reach into the photo and hold him close.
Sometimes feeling "too normal" in and of itself can be painful, because I'm afraid of moving forward too quickly or forgetting the blessings of the last nine months. I'm afraid that healing means forgetting, even though rationally I know that's not the case. But try telling that to my emotions.
As Angie Smith noted in her book I Will Carry You and on her blog, I am finding it takes so much strength to allow myself to be weak in these moments of intense grief. Being weak is scary. It means letting myself go to the lowest of low places, trusting that God will meet me there. And trust doesn't always come easy.
It is fear that keeps me from breaking down when I know I need to. Fear makes me bite my lip to hold back the tears when people ask if I'm okay. I'm afraid to be weak, and I often avoid it. I don't know why, and I'm sure that the why is far less important than choosing not to act on that fear.
But what I do know is that God does not call me to embrace my fears. He calls me to trust Him, even if that means letting my heart break into so many pieces I'm not sure they can all be found. It means trusting that He can and He will create something beautiful out of my brokenness.
Strength, I'm finding, isn't putting on a happy face and powering through. It takes so much more strength to let myself crumble, to be weak. And in those moments when I collapse in tears on our kitchen floor, when I cry until I'm physically tired, I find that God does something only God could do. I wish I could put the perfect words to it, to explain it tangibly. Here's the best I can do: When I let myself be weak before God and others, I don't walk away healed from my pain completely, but I also don't walk away feeling quite so lonely. Perhaps this is what God meant by finding joy in the midst of suffering.
So while we're hurting, we continue to find God faithful. We continue to find joy in our time we had with Carter, even though we miss him. God is good, and His fingerprints continue to be all over our lives as we do "normal" things like going to work or eating dinner as a family. We still don't know what our new "normal" looks like fully, but we are hopeful, knowing that our God is near.