Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Bluesy Few Days

The last few days or so I've been feeling blue.  I think it's multi-faceted, probably more so than I can even understand.  One of the primary contributors is that my wonderful aunt and uncle, Dave and Colleen Thiel, moved to Texas two weeks ago.  They are one of the main reasons we moved to Georgia almost 11 years ago, and having them gone is like having a part of our hearts cut out.  Georgia can never feel as much like home as it did when they lived here.  Bryan and I often say "They're the best of family.  All the good stuff without any of the bad."  We loved, loved, loved living near them for over 10 years.  What an incredible gift and joy and blessing it was to watch them honor God, love their neighbors, have a true open door policy, raise and love their incredible kids who are following God whole heartedly as 21 and 24 year olds, embrace our children like they were their grandkids, serve us continually, throw a birthday party for Samuel for the last two years, and invite us into their lives with wide open arms.  We can't thank God enough for allowing over lives to overlap in such tremendous ways for over a decade.

But having them gone grief.  That crushing, heart-clenching weight of sorrow comes back every time I pass their exit on the highway, and I start crying.  I get overwhelmed when I think about life without them.  I feel uprooted and vulnerable and a bit like tumbleweed, at the beck of an unpredictable and often unkind wind.  Of course I know the Lord is with us, and I have no doubt that the Lord lead the Thiels to T Bar M Camps, where Dave is now the CEO.  In fact, we visited them there for 3 days this past week.  We actually met them there hours after they arrived.  If that doesn't demonstrate the best of family with an open door policy -- inviting us to come stay with them the first 3 days they're in their new city -- I don't know what does.  It's clear that God has taken them to this new place, and I am so happy for them.  But I do wonder how He will soothe the gaping hole they've left behind in our lives.  I don't think I could overstate how much we've relied on them and found comfort in their proximity.  Georgia just won't be the same without them.

Another component of my sorrow is Samuel's upcoming birthday.  He would have been three.  Three.  He would have been having conversations with us, dressing himself, and playing in the backyard with his brothers.  He would have been doing puzzles, coloring pictures, and zooming cars down the hallway.  We spent time with my niece June, who is 16 hours younger than Samuel, last week, and she is such a delight.  She simply sparkles.  She is loving, sweet, subtle, and affectionate.  She would climb up in my lap out of the blue and just beam up at me.  She cried if she thought she was being left behind, and she asked for help reaching her shoes in the closet in a sophisticated, conversational way but had no trouble putting them on her feet herself and then ran out the back door to join her big siblings and cousins in their play.  She filled my heart with joy.  And with longing.  Samuel would be that big.  Would he be friendly like his cousin or a mommy and daddy clinger like his baby sister?  Would he want to keep up with the big kids or prefer to stay by my knee and play on the floor by himself?  Would he be a cuddler, or would he be a busy boy with no time to stop for a hug and a kiss?  I wish I knew him.  I wish I could describe his personality when people ask me about my kids.  I wish Anna could light up every day seeing her third brother.  I miss that boy every day, but lately it's been really heightened.  I miss my son.

On top of those pretty major things, we've also been out of town nearly three of the last four weeks.  I loved every second of our travels and being with wonderful family, but I am tired and happy to be home again.  When I'm spent, I don't handle life as seamlessly (not that it's ever seamless!) as usual.  And Samuel's friend, Sarah Beth, is at Egleston right now recovering from the Fontan procedure, the third and final of a series of surgeries.  We met Sarah Beth and her family at Egleston when Samuel was three weeks old, and we've kept in touch and seen each other a handful of times since our babies were born.  I have been praying for them non-stop, and I hurt with them as they go through this.  Plus it stirs up a lot of memories and just takes me back to those weeks in the hospital.  I can only imagine how hard it is to take your child back for a third heart surgery and hospital stay -- and this time she's old enough to protest, express her pain and frustrations, and remember what she's experiencing.  I am burdened for Don and Rachel, her parents, and I find myself thinking about them all a lot.

All of that and a couple of other things have lead to a sub-par me.  I recognize that it's part of life and even especially part of grief, but it did catch me by surprise.  I'm blessed that my sorrows ultimately spring from an abundance of people I love -- ones I miss, ones I've visited, and ones whose lives have overlapped with mine.  There are far worse things to face.  I am grateful for the people who have touched my life and changed me, and I am thankful for a God to whom I can turn in any state of mind and heart.


  1. Oh, Kathryn, I'm so sorry you've been having some hard days. I've been thinking of you and Samuel as we get closer to August, but I didn't know all of the extra stuff was going on, too. I'll be praying for you.

  2. Hey kathryn, I've been thinking about you and praying for you since I read this, and I just wanted you to know. You are a continued encouragement and blessing and I am praying that when things don't feel seamless, Christ will fill in the gaps for you. Love you friend.

  3. Thanks, you two. I appreciate you both more than you know. One of the many things I'm thankful for that have sprung from Samuel's life and death is my friendship with the both of you.