Monday, September 14, 2009

Resting in God's Plan

I've put off posting on here for several days now because my thoughts have been all jumbled up, and I haven't been able to figure out a clear idea that I want to communicate. But since the clarity is still not coming, and I have a slew of things I want to process, I will just post a random collection of thoughts and occurrences.

Over the weekend I had an intense few days of emotions and grief. On Friday Bryan and I attended a funeral for the father and brother of a good friend of ours. It was a beautiful service and an honoring tribute to the two men. It reminded me how unnatural death is and how broken our world is. Evan, our friend and son-in-law/brother-in-law to the deceased, spoke about the parallel tracks of grief and blessing. He talked about how grief and blessing go hand in hand, and I could resonate with that on so many levels. We have experienced immeasurable grief in the last 6 weeks, but we have also been the recipients of more abundant blessings and outpourings of love than I have ever witnessed (and that's saying something!).

After the service, Bryan and I visited Samuel's grave for the first time since his burial. It was harder than I had expected it to be. We couldn't find his plot right away because we haven't ordered a stone yet, and the spot was unmarked. Somehow that was a little hard for me -- for Samuel to be in an unmarked grave. We finally identified his place by the newly churned dirt in a small area -- too small to hold the casket of an adult -- and by the stick on the ground that Caleb had been playing with at the burial. (We later went to the office and asked them to make a temporary marker until we can get a gravestone.)

Bryan and I stood there for a long time feeling pretty lost. What are you supposed to do at the grave of your child when you don't believe your child is truly there? I kept looking at the dirt thinking, "I know Samuel's body is under there in that little white box we saw, but I don't think that's really him. I know he's in Heaven and happy and whole. So what am I doing here? I don't want to talk to the ground like it's really my son. God, I guess I'll talk to You. I miss Samuel. Terribly. Please hold him close for me. Tell him how much I love him and miss him and wish I could hold him. And please hold me close and comfort me. I am so very sad..." I couldn't believe we were really standing on the grave of our baby. How could it be true? I never, ever imagined, in all the uncertainty we faced and all the fear of losing Samuel, that we'd be standing at a mound of dirt to "visit" our son. It's all just too horrible.

That night I ended up with severe pain in my back and neck and had the most dreadful night's sleep. I am used to back pain, but this was all together different. I would have called it an 8 or 9 on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst pain I've ever felt -- and I've had scoliosis surgery and delivered 3 children unmedicated. I am no stranger to pain. I felt so overwhelmed -- having lost Samuel, being in pain, and not sleeping. I was honestly pretty panicky in the night. I couldn't stop thinking about Samuel when he was on the paralytic and wondering if he was in horrible pain under the medicine and couldn't let us know he was hurting. I kept wondering if he was afraid and we didn't know it, and I couldn't get the images of his final days out of my mind. In an effort to calm myself down, I sang in my head all the songs we would sing to Samuel. Eventually I woke Bryan up and asked him to pray for me. In trying to tell him my despair, I broke down into gut wrenching sobs. In the words of Bryan, I "wept bitterly." It was a dark night for me, and a dark day followed it.

Caleb and Joel seem pretty in tune to what's going on. On Saturday at dinner I was sitting quietly at the table and not saying much. I was burdened with sorrow but wasn't crying. Joel looked at me and said, "Why you sad, Momma?" I asked with surprise, "Do you think I'm sad?" And he replied, "Yes. Why you sad, Momma?" "I miss Samuel, Joel." This led to the start of tears and ultimately a retreat to my room to cry alone.

Yeterday Joel started carrying around Cookie Monster, his beloved animal, and calling him Samuel. He would say, "This is Samuel. I wanna cuddle Samuel. He's my Samuel." And he'd hold Cookie Monster close and love on him. Caleb, likewise, has had Samuel on his mind. When my mom announced that she was going to the grave, Caleb asked her to please blow Samuel kisses and cuddles and to blow some to Pooh too. (Caleb picked out one of his animals to go in the casket with Samuel, and Pooh was his choice.) It hurts my heart to see my kids hurting too. I so wish they had their baby brother here to love and play with and to be jealous of. I especially hurt for Joel who was SO PROUD to be Samuel's big brother and so happy to see and kiss him, and he doesn't get the experience of being a big brother. I want that for him.

A week or so ago, Bryan asked Caleb, "What do you think of Heaven? Do you think it's a cool place?" Caleb's answer made my heart happy: "It's like Disney World!!" I love that in Caleb's mind, Samuel is in a fun place, the happiest place Caleb can think of. It brings me joy to think that Samuel is enjoying himself and is full of smiles and laughter. I realized just this morning that a good deal of my sorrow is about what Samuel endured in his month of life, but I recognize how backwards that is because Samuel is in Jesus' presence, which washes away all the hurt, pain, and brokeness of his earthly life. Jesus makes it all beautiful and right and good, and it's silly for me to be upset about those days and circumstances when Samuel can look back on them with clear eyes and see, instead of pain, God's grace, presence, and love covering each moment. No matter how awful they were when Samuel lived them, they are redeemed and beautiful now, blanketed in God's redemption.

And someday I, too, will look back on the 10 months I spent with Samuel -- in my womb and out of it -- and on the months of heartbreak following his death, and I will see it clearly. I will see God carrying me when I felt abandoned; I will see Him wiping away my tears when I felt alone; I will see Him standing over me and crying with me when I was weeping at Samuel's bedside, and I will see all the good and wonderful things that He brought out of those days and all this pain. I will see what He made new through Samuel and through me, and I will rejoice in His perfect plan and how He let me be a part of His story. Someday I will see clearly, and until then, I will trust Him, and I will find joy in knowing that His plan is good even though I don't understand it... yet.

"Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now" (I Corinthians 13:12).


  1. All my love and support goes to you.

  2. Kathryn,
    You write so beautifully. It is really hard for me to read the posts, because I seem unable to do it without tears, but I think it is important to bear witness to Samuel's life. Even though we have had no experiences together since Wheaton, our experiences through DSG there meant a lot to me. Reading your blog reminds me to pray. Thank you for writing it.

  3. Kathryn, I am praying for you. You are in my thoughts all the time. Please stay strong for your boys. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

  4. What an amazing mother you are. I have often commented on my family's time at Egleston as the best and worst days of my life. You describe that so well in your post. You will remain in my prayers. Rebecca

  5. Kathryn,
    You are truly a remarkable woman. I envy your strength and continue to pray for you and your family.


  6. Wait wait, kathryn. You're supposed to abhor change. What's with the new blog theme? I feel like I don't even know you.

  7. Thanks so much for continuing to share your thoughts and process Kathryn. It's hard to read what you're writing (as I can only imagine the gut wrenching feeling it takes to write it) but it's also an encouragement and reminder of God's love. I continue to pray for you guys as you walk through this valley.

  8. Kathryn,

    You are such a beautiful writer.
    I continue to pray for you guys in these hard, hard days.

    Becca Daws

  9. kathryn,

    We have never met, but a high school friend of yours told me about your story and I came here to read your blog. We lost our precious baby girl, our first child, while I was still carrying her two years ago and I am constantly curious and drawn to others stories of how they dealt with their pain. It's the most incredible and singular experience, loosing a child, and sadly, in my experience, it sometimes feels like a secret underground club, one that you never wanted to be a member of.

    In our case, we knew she was sick and could not live and we prayed for God to take her. While I was trying to rest after our talk with God, a strong beam of setting sunshine shown through the window and enveloped me. It felt warm and healing and as it faded, I knew she was gone. Like you mentioned in one of your posts, I also consider the days and weeks after her passing as sacred and holy. I felt God and her presence all around me. Though in grief, I was in the presence of the divine and the barrier between heaven and earth was stretched so thin that I could almost see right through it. It was an exquisite pain, unlike anything I had ever experienced.

    As the months rolled on, however, we once again found ourselves unable to conceive, and my faith was tested over and over. These were dark times for me. I felt frighteningly lost at times. When panic and terror started closing in around me, I sang a song taken from scripture that I learned in my teen years, "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. In your own intelligence, rely not. In all your ways, be mindful of Him, and he will make straight your path". It became my mantra to blindly remain faithful and to endure month after month of fertility treatments. Sixteen months later we finally conceived again and 5 months ago I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. In the end, this has healed me most as the blessed end to a very long journey.

    Even now, I feel her presence daily, just as I know and see God working in my life. As I type this, dappled sunlight flickers on my shoulders through a high window and I know that she is part of life eternal. That is what I learned about loosing a child...they are always with you..that bond is never, never broken.

    All my love,

  10. Oh, and finally, I want to add that as I have read through your posts, I have cried, and prayed and healed. Thanks for having the stillness of mind and honesty to write this while it is still so fresh It was/is so incredibly helpful to me. You and your beautiful family are in my heart and in my prayers.

  11. KC and Bry,
    You are both articulate and very good writers. You could use this carefully detailed account of your experiece to help others. There are thousands of parents out there that are going through similar heartbreaks who would be comforted to know you understand.

    There are many Christian book publishers who would be interested in your faith based story. What a wonderful memorial to Samuel!
    Thinking of you with love,
    Aunt Kay

  12. Thank you for continuing to post, it helps me to know how to pray for you and your family. I cry every time, but always come back to your blog to witness God's healing work in you. Love the pictures as well. Tonight I will pray for endurance for you.

    Sabina Mazac