When I am writing these posts, the words tend to just flow through my fingers… but today I am struggling to put my thoughts to paper. Chapter 10 was a particularly hard one for me to read and I am not sure what to say about it.
Lee tells the tragic story of a happy, bright and animated little girl named Abbey. She was in the first grade and a friend of Lee’s son. One June evening in 2007, her family was spending time in a public pool and when it was time to go home, they realized something was wrong with Abbey. As the evening unfolded, Abbey was rushed to the emergency room due to a horrible accident involving an uncovered pool drain. Her internal organs had been ripped apart due to the suction of the drain. Eight months and several surgeries later, Abbey left this world behind and entered the presence of the Lord.
My heart aches for this family. I know the anger and the sadness I felt when we lost our babies due to my miscarriages, but I am sure it pales in comparison to what this family had to deal with. Abbey’s mom, Katey, does her best to hold the family together. She has other children to nurture, and in her words, she “reminds herself daily to be the mom I was before June 29, 2007.” When asked if she felt brave during those months, her answer was “no.” She did what she had to do and through it all, she clung to God and to her faith. The Lord was her strength and her defense. (Isaiah 12:2)
I have not had to face this type of loss, but I have had to deal with another kind of loss that has left me questioning “why.” In 1986, Wayne was involved in a one car accident in which he rear-ended a parked pick up truck and his head was slammed against the steering wheel. He suffered what is known as a mild TBI (traumatic brain injury). At first, our main concern was dealing with the obvious injury to the skull and the resulting surgery to repair the broken bones… but as time went on and he recuperated, it became evident that something was not quite right. He was forgetting things and was easily confused. The brain injury had affected his short-term memory as well as his ability to multi-task and concentrate. The burden of all the household and life details was now on fully on my shoulders. The brain injury made it difficult for Wayne to be employed on a regular basis and thus, I became the primary bread winner for our family. When we got married, I knew I would be working to help support the family but did not expect to bear the full burden. To be honest, it is a role I did not want. For the most part, I deal with it without complaining… after all, what good would it do? I put on the face of having it all together but inside, there are moments when I cry out to God “Why …why… why????”
Just as Katey saw the dreams she had for Abbey dissipate that evening in June, my dreams for what my marriage and my life would look like slipped away in 1986. This is not what I signed up for, God!
1. When enduring a long season of crisis, what beliefs, behaviors and values emerge as strong enough to endure the loss and the grief?
I could have seen this challenge as a burden and at times, it does feel that way. When it begins to close in on me, I just take a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other. I rely on my “quiet time” to start my day but I have to admit there are times when I just can’t seem to find the words to pray so I just tell the Lord that I need help that day.
2. What saddens you most about Katey’s experience with Abbey? What about this family’s story did you find to be brave or beautiful? What gives you hope in the hardships you are facing right now?
As I said, I cannot imagine the pain that this family endured. I look at my three beautiful grandchildren and I don’t think I could endure losing any one of them. They are so full of life and of love and have so much to offer the world… just as Abbey did.
To be able to get up each day and move on with her life took a great deal of courage and faith on Katey’s part. She is, in a way, honoring Abbey with her actions by remaining firm in her faith and her love for the Lord.
3. How do you know when you have reached the limits of your ability to endure hardship? What does it mean in a practical sense to “rely only on God” to get you through?
When I start feeling my shoulders and neck tense up and when I am “snippy” in my tone with Wayne or with others, I know I have reached my limit. It is time to take a step back.
Another way I know I am overwhelmed is that I spend money. I buy things I really could live without but justify the purchase by telling myself I deserve it! This is actually a double edge sword as they say… I know I should not spend the $ but it makes me feel good.
Relying on God, to me, means giving it up to Him in prayer and trusting in Him to give me strength to get through another day.
4. What race is God asking you to keep running? (see Hebrews 12: 1-2) What people or examples has He placed in your life to help you finish strong?
I have shared what “race” I am currently running. I just need to lace up my shoes each day and keep on going.
Our niece, Michelle, is an inspiration to me. She is a type 1 diabetic, a wife and a mother of three boys, a diabetes educator, and a marathon runner. She has not let her disease stop her in any way from living a full and abundant life. She is brave and beautiful!