Thursday, September 24, 2009

What is Doing Well?

This morning as Bryan and I were lying in bed and trying to gear up to get Caleb and Joel (who were already wide awake and chatting loudly down the hall with each other), we were talking about the question we often get these days: "How are you doing?" Everyone always wants to hear "well" as the answer, but I was realizing that "well" probably means something very different to me and Bryan than it does to the one posing the question.

I started thinking about what "well" would mean to the person asking me or Bryan how I'm doing. Does it mean I'm not sad anymore? That I'm not hurting? That I've gone 24 hours without crying? That I'm moving on with my life and don't think about Samuel very much anymore? That I don't miss him? None of those things are true. None of those things may ever be true.

So how can I honestly answer "well" when asked?

Last week when my mom was still here, Bryan and I went out for dinner together and a movie. It was our first time to try a regular date night, and we were both a little apprehensive about it -- especially the movie part. While we were strolling and waiting for our movie time, I told Bryan, "I think I am doing so much better than I thought I'd be doing after losing Samuel." Bryan very quickly agreed with me, and I asked him to explain. He said that while we were at Egleston and he would project forward to Samuel dying, he wondered if "I would ever get my Kathryn back."

Then he asked me to explain what I meant. I told him that despite being very, very sad and tearful and fairly unable to take care of ordinary life tasks, I have a constant and steady peace underneath it all. I know in no uncertain terms that God is good. He is trustworthy. He is worthy of my praise, and I find I can praise Him even in my darkest moments. Though the world around me seems dark, and I feel burdened and literally weighed down -- sometimes to the point of suffocation -- the ground beneath me is firm and unchanging. I know the bottom can't fall out from under me because my foundation is Christ, and He is always the same. There is a safety underneath my grief, a sense of being held and kept on firm footing. As long as I make my home on the rock of God, I am safe and peaceful. I never would have thought there could be such peace in grieving, such confidence in my God, such assurance of His sovereignty. But He has shown Himself good and loving even here, in the death of my baby boy.

So, I think I am doing well. Does that mean I am not grieving anymore? Absolutely not. Does it mean I am the same person I was before Samuel died? Not at all. Does it mean I have stopped crying at unexpected moments? Nope. Does it mean I don't feel sorrow pushing down on me and taking my breath away from me? Sadly, no. But it does mean I am trusting God. I am leaning on Him. I am finding comfort in His character and presence. I am depending on Him to carry me through this season of heartache. He is my shelter, the rock that is higher than I, the cleft in which I hide. And because He is beneath me, I am doing well.


  1. Kathryn,
    We have never met, but I wanted to thank you. I found your blog through a friend on FB a couple of weeks ago and have been following your journey. My first son was born at 34 weeks and spent close to 3 weeks in the hospital. He was basically healthy, just had some feeding and other minor issues. At the time though (he's almost 2) it was the most devasting, isolating, and scary times of my life. Just leaving the hospital without him was a truly heartbreaking feeling I don't think anyone who hasn't experienced it can understand. I'm not at all trying to compare my situation with yours, but your writing touched on so many of my old feelings that I couldn't even believe it. The constant roller coaster of emotions, the good nurses, the bad bed-side mannered Docs, the constant beeping of machines, the friends that didn't quite know what to say, and in our case it was always two steps forward and one step back with news regarding his progress. On one of the long daily drives from Cumming down to Northside, I got off the phone with his nurse and got a not so good report from the night. I have always considered myself a Christian, but never really had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ or really relied on my faith. Well, after that phone call, I pulled over on the side of 400 and just sobbed. I prayed out loud for the first time in my life and told God I couldn't do it alone anymore. I literally turned it over to Him and told Him I trusted what He had planned for me and my family. Your faith through your journey has refreshed my faith once again. This year I have needed to be reminded of that constantly. In Jan, I had a miscarriage at 15 weeks. Then in July I had another. It is truly heartbreaking as you know. Your blog, your Faith, and your words has been such a blessing to me. That is why I wanted to say thank you. I hope knowing how your sharing has truly uplifted others, lightens your heart just a little. You and your husband's faith is a really beautiful thing. I pray for you both every day and will continue to do so. Thank you and God bless,

  2. Your poise and strength are evidence that our God is great. It is difficult to know what to say in unimaginable circumstances like yours and when people ask how you are I think they are really saying, "I care about you!, I love you!, I wish I could do anything to ease your pain!" Anyone who has loved so completely will never be the same following loss. You create your new normal on a moment by moment basis and get through your days relying on your faith.You are in my thoughts and prayers!

  3. Hi dear friends. Thanks for your continued honesty on the blog--it is good to know how you are doing, even if the honest answer isn't "superfantastic!" I wouldn't really believe you anyway if that was your answer. Kathryn, you care and love deeply, in a very intentional way, so I think that means that you must grieve all the more, since you loved Samuel ever so deeply and intentionally in the too short time you were together. I am of course sorry that this loss is so terribly painful to you, dear one. I am glad to hear that in the midst of these hard times, the Lord has proven Himself to be the Rock He has proclaimed Himself to be. You are right; He is good. As much as I want to help and for you to be "all better", I have to trust that you are in His hands and He is caring for you as no human could. I love you both! Ki

  4. I am strangely comforted and reminded of the grace of God when I read your words and feelings. Thank you for writing and for being real. Thank you for your honesty and for your hope and faith in God. I think of you daily and keep trusting with you for God's healing in His time. I am glad you are getting days away. You all are dearly loved.

    John & Debbie

  5. Kathryn and Bryan I found your blog spot. Thank you for the kind words.
    Kathryn you've always asked such good question. No matter what the equation, you come up with the same answer. Your faith in God, thru our savior Christ Jesus. When Samuel told me about the trucks, for his brothers he told me he had a gift for me as well. That gift has been having his parents touch my life. And the life of so many others. For that I will be forever grateful. Thank you Samuel for a beutiful gift. Thank you Bryan, Kathryn and the Apinis family for allowing me to be your nurse.

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