We missed you this Thanksgiving.
We got through the week with the help of some wonderful friends, but it definitely left another scar on our broken hearts. The holidays just intensify the feelings we feel every day. It’s not something we take out and put away for a time, but persistent ache. A longing for times past, absent such pain and sorrow. It’s a constant struggle to be anything other than…sad. Every day, we fight to be something other than sad. To find a “new normal”, whatever that means. It is not “new” anymore, and it is not “normal” either. At times, it feels like it is Mommy and I versus the world. We should be this, we should do that. We should feel this…and not that. Remember this, not that. Think about it like this, not like that. As if the heart and mind could remain separated for any meaningful length of time. To turn off the pain I would have to disconnect it from the love that fuels it. Maybe a time will come when the two are no longer so strongly connected…maybe…if it’s possible, I look forward to that day.
My heart continues break for Mommy. She desperately wants to feel the same joy and excitement for your little sister ( as do I ), but she seldom has the opportunity to feel one – Joy – without the other -Sadness. They seem inseparable. Harmless every day questions become anything but. I bet most people don’t think of the one question she’s asked most. Daily, sometimes multiple times a day, by cashiers, receptionists, doctors, nurses, waitresses or outgoing strangers: “Oh, Is this your first?” The other day, I heard it asked three times in a half hour time frame. The first two cut the crutches she managed to prop herself up under this morning and I watched as the third just took her feet out from under her. My heart fell with her. Everything is so hard now…
There is always a reluctance to answer– how do I want to answer this, a simple “No” always leads to the inevitable follow up questions, but maybe they won’t ask this time. Maybe they’ll let it go when the see my eyes drop to the floor? Nope, they are pressing onward. Here we go again… – You are too precious to ever go omitted. I tend to fumble through a somewhat scripted response but I cannot script their reply. God has given me no small amount of grace to hear all kinds of unhelpful words of advice and offer up warm smile as I walk away with a heavy heart. I know their intentions are not to make me (us) feel worse, so I rarely take offense. I should say, there are some thoughtful ones…”I’ll pray for you and your family” or “I’ll never forget her.” Those seem to be the most comforting.
I still struggle heavily with the “God’s plan/purpose/intention/will” remarks. It’s not that I really believe otherwise, it is ever so painfully apparent. My perspective is one that I would never wish to give to anyone. Why did God give it to me? At times, I’m in danger of thinking that “this” plan is reserved for only someone He does not love anymore. In my heart, I know that isn’t true, but it sure feels that way when I kiss a picture goodnight instead of your soft little cheek. Why you? Why do we have to say goodbye such a beautiful little girl, who had such a genuine love of others woven into her personality. It will be a mystery to me until that day. There’s story I heard from a pastor I really enjoy listening to, and it’s a childhood story from a Methodist Preacher named W. E Sangster. I won’t go into all of it, but Sangster tells of his only sister, who lived only nine years. That she had fourteen surgeries in seven of those years, and this poor girl had to be hidden away because her face was so scarred up and her wounds did not heal well. He would overhear people say, “There is no God” and remarked that others offered hopeless, incompetent and shallow explanations. He offered only this…”I was dumb as boy, and I am dumb as a man. My answer to these dark problems and questions of why remains the same: ‘I’ll wait till I get Home, and He’ll tell me [Why] Himself!'”
I have to leave that there and move on. There is something I wanted to tell you about.
I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know about the wonderful memorial your old preschool had for you. They saw you just about every day for two year and knew exactly how special you were. They have “Hug a friend for Clara” day each month and dedicated this lovely bell to you in the playground. There was something magnetic about your attitude, your heart, your smile. I feel truly blessed to be your father.
How is it that I never run out of tears? I bet most don’t think to thank the Lord for the ability to cry, but I think my soul would burst if these tears did not carry the heartache out of my body and onto the ground.
I bet Peter’s call to Jesus, “Lord, Save me!” ( Matt 14:30) sounded much different than mine. But i meant it with no less desperation and I know it was received all the same.
A few months back, a good friend of mine gave me the best advice I’ve ever received. He said, “When you get in a bad spot, focus on Jesus. Who He is. What He did. What he didn’t do. Why he did what he did. Put yourself in His shoes, put yourself in the shoes of those around him. Go back to Jesus”
I’ve done that often, and it has really helped me get through impossible times. That advice has brought me through the gospels a few times. Each time I slow down and think about the details a little more. With each pass it feels more like listening than it does reading and I find myself less captivated by the miracles themselves and more drawn to the one performing them. Here, I truly think I found what I needed to help me get through all of this, and that is really understanding why I love Jesus. I somehow feel like this is at the core of it all. It’s far too easy to fall into the trap I described above, but it is Jesus that pulls me out each time. I hope I can one day articulate this much better and in far more detail, but that will have to be a letter for another day.
He is never happier than when he is relieving and retrieving the forlorn, the abject, and the outcast. He despises not any that confess their sins and seek his mercy. No pride nestles in his dear heart, no sarcastic word rolls off his gracious tongue, no bitter expression falls from his blessed lips. He still receives the guilty. Pray to him now. Now let the silent prayer go up, “My Saviour, have pity upon me; be moved with compassion towards me, for if misery be any qualification for mercy, I am a fit object for thy compassion. Oh! save me for thy mercy’s sake!” Amen.
Charles Spurgeon: The Compassion of Jesus
Until that day my love, we miss you Clara
Clara Phillips Luke Phillips Katy Phillips