On new life and the intermingling of joy and pain

calalillies

“I want to feel both the beauty and the pain of the age we are living in. I want to survive my life without becoming numb. I want to speak and comprehend words of wounding without having these words become the landscape where I dwell. I want to possess a light touch that can elevate darkness to the realm of stars.” – Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds

I stumbled across this quote here and it simply captured me and spoke to some of the questions I am living right now and that, it seems, many others are in light of the events of this week in our country. You go looking hard enough any day of any week and the questions and pain, the suffering so many are enduring, will overwhelm. It is hard to live without answers. It is hard to “live the questions,” as one of my college professors always challenged us to do. It is easier to push those questions and seeming contradictions aside and go on with the day to day living, the day to day numbing.

I’ve had several people remark to me lately of how amazed they are at the openness that we have had regarding this journey of loving and loosing our daughter. I too, wonder at that. And while sometimes privacy is important and the sacred should be guarded and not all stories are meant for public consumption, there has been at the core a need for me to share my story, Naomi’s story, our family’s story. It is a way to feel both the beauty and the pain. It is a way for me to shake off the ever encroaching numbness, to find light in the darkness that I walk through. Every day, I have to look for the light, for God’s presence. These past couple of weeks, I’ve had to look harder. Things have felt a bit darker.

I had the amazing privilege this week of meeting a tiny baby girl, less than twenty-four hours since coming into this world. And after placing her first hand-made butterfly hat on her tiny head, made just the night before, I took her in my arms and thanked God for her safe arrival here. As I held her so her momma could hold her big brother (who was overjoyed to rediscover momma’s lap), I remembered the text this precious girl’s sweet momma sent me just hours after giving birth…that on the day of her daughter’s birth she was remembering me and my daughter’s birth, just a year ago. I tell you, this little newborn girl has one amazing, beautiful momma who has been such a faithful friend to me and my family. It was an honor to meet her third born, her daughter.

Holding this tiny little baby in my arms was a miracle in itself. Me, sitting there, with that ever present question..why? Why me? Why my daughter gone? I can’t pretend that I didn’t leave work early the day before, when I got the news of her birth because I couldn’t stop crying. I can’t pretend that my breath didn’t catch when I saw her older brother holding her, wearing a hand-me-down shirt from my youngest boy, who never got to hold his sister.

I used to think that the pain had to leave for joy to return to my heart. But now I see that the joy and the pain intermingle and the light is made brighter because it shines in dark. I think this is the way it will be until I see Jesus one day face to face. Sometimes I struggle to accept that. But the joy, when I allow it in, comes, and His peace, too.

So this is hard and it hurts but she, this new little princess, is a gift to her momma and daddy, yes, but to me too and to all who love and hope and long for life to overcome death. And me holding her this week, that was a miracle too, because I could run and hide from all things baby and girl because it reminds me of what I’ve lost. I could hide from all my friends who are pregnant or have tiny little ones. But I don’t want to loose out on all that joy, all the sweetness and hope and love and somehow, God, in His amazing love and grace, keeps taking my pain and allowing me these moments of light, these moments where I experience joy in the midst of sorrow and teaching me not to dwell in the wounding but be cradled instead in the arms of love.