2 Cor 12v9

Monday, 25 June 2012

Blessings and Pain

Thankyou so much to all of you who are still praying, thinking of us lots, and sending messages to remind us of this. We are currently away from home, having our socks blessed off by many wonderful people - family, friends and complete strangers - who have provided many places for us to stay and opportunities for us to experience while we take time out of everything and regroup together as family. We have been in Bradford, Central Scotland, North Wales, Hereford and now Somerset, all of which has included: visiting a castle, farms, a Bronze Age roundhouse, the beach and more; sleeping in a tipi; two of the boys learning how to swim; a treasure hunt; and winning an award at a conference which means we have new furniture and a home makeover!

Most of the time we haven't had internet or phone signal, so our communication with the outside world has been hazy (this is my apology for all the messages I haven't yet replied to...), but also helpful as we concentrate on being together. Obviously with all the above, there have been many wonder-filled and exciting moments, something we could never have imagined a few short weeks ago. 

We have also had many days where grief has been completely overwhelming and we haven't been able to communicate without tears because we miss him so much. It still seems unbelievable that the thing we fought so long and hard to prevent has actually happened, and that he is no longer part of our physical family unit experiencing life on this earth - that we use the words 'memories', 'death' and 'grave' when we talk about our eight-year-old son. The waves of grief come hard and strong and without prediction, reducing us to wrecks just a few minutes after everything seemed okay. But they are waves, and they do pass. Sometimes it takes a few moments, other times about three days. At this stage, we are in no hurry to rush them, because we know that they are part of what we have to go through, and they are reminders of the depth of our love for him. I do understand why some people who go through loss just stop living the rest of their lives and camp around the past, Miss-Haversham-style, setting up shrines to their loved ones and talking to them constantly as though they were still there. There are moments I want to do that. But I also understand why some people put their grief and their memories in a box, get rid of every reminder, and move away from anything that resembles their old life in order to try and shut out and control the grief. There are times I want to do that too, because I tell myself that if I don't think about it, it won't hurt.

I have no idea how we continue to balance between those two extremes for the rest of our lives, but I know it's something we will have to do. We have so much to live for and so much to be grateful for, both in the past and the present. We would give anything for this to be different - to be spending this summer turning our lives upside down, moving to a wheelchair-accessible house and spending every waking hour caring for the extensive needs of our rehabilitating child, without holidays and sunshine and going out together as a family - if it meant we could still have him. But it isn't different. So while we will continue to have moments, days or weeks where we cry out with everything in us because we cannot believe he is gone and the pain is too much to cope with, we will also have moments, days and weeks where we will soak up our new-found time together and these incredible experiences people are blessing us with, and let gratitude for the past and the present overwhelm us too.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Days

Some days are manageable – in fact, some days have really surprised me at how much joy there is in them. It helps so much that at the moment we are living in a beautiful place with lots of family around. There have been days full of sunshine, friends, barbeques, swimming, walking and laughing so hard there have been tears. These are the moments when I think the cheesy thought: ‘This is what Scooby would’ve wanted. He wouldn’t want us all to be sat here moping about him when he’s having the best time ever.’
There are other days when the ache won’t go and little tiny things that by-pass everyone else make me think of moments with him that I’ll never have again. Too many memories are surrounded by hospital visits, and other times that are clouded by just how difficult the last two and a half years have been. In my weakest moments, I feel so much self-pity not just that we lost him, but that we had to go through too darned much in the time leading up to losing him. I wonder if every single happy event in the future will be overshadowed by the lack of his presence. In these moments, although I do let myself cry when I need to cry, I also need to give myself the ‘It’s no use wishing things were different, because they’re not’ speech. I remind myself that the time for fighting to keep him is over. I tell myself it’s no use in doing the whole ‘What would he be doing if he were here now?’ thing, because there are too many scenarios to choose from – the ‘what if he’d never been ill?’ one, the ‘what if the brain disease had been stopped and he was on his way to recovery now?’ one, the ‘what if the final deterioration hadn’t been so fast and we’d managed to bring him home for a bit?’ one, etc etc. There were so many different stages to his illness that ‘what would he be doing now?’ is an unanswerable one anyway. Occasionally it makes us smile as we imagine his reaction to a certain thing, but most of the time it’s not a fun game to play.
There is one overriding thought that brings me back to a place of peace though, and that is Psalm 139:16. Growing up, I’d always wanted four children, and so when we found out we were expecting a fifth, I joked that Baby was our ‘bonus child’. That’s how I thought of her. But since losing Scooby, I’ve begun to realise that maybe he was our ‘bonus child’. Because the verse says, ‘Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’ Even after so long an illness, we are still in disbelief that Scooby has actually died and we will never see him here again. But it is no surprise to God. He knew all along exactly how many days Scooby would have on this earth, despite his induced early birth and the medical treatment that kept him going for so long at the end. It was three thousand, one hundred and seventy. God had them all in His book. We could have gone through life never having known Scooby, but instead God gave him to us for 3170 days. When I think of this, it reminds me not to be overwhelmed with sadness, or to try and work out what he would’ve done if he was here today, because he was never designed to be here today. It wasn’t in the book. His time was perfectly set out by a perfect heavenly Father, who knows far better than us, despite the many times I want to tell Him otherwise.
That is why, between the moments of heaviness and disbelief, I also have moments of extreme joy, because God could’ve picked anyone to look after Scooby for his 3170 earthly days, and it was us He chose. Wow.