There were empty seats at Thanksgiving. Some I expected, others a surprise. Nothing is a surprise to God.
That's been a hard lesson for me this past year. Nothing is a surprise to God. I don't know what I'm supposed to be feeling or how I'm supposed to be acting. If I'm being my authentic self, it's half neurotic and half at peace. If that sounds confusing, try living it.
I don't know what I expected this Thanksgiving to be, to be honest. I know that last year I had thoughts of this year being chaos. 5 kids, 2 babies. A blended family of love, laughter, crazy and fun. I pictured the boys trying new foods, maybe crawling all over the place and us running after them. I don't have to tell anyone how different this year was.
Before we moved to KY, like literally, right before, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I will never forget getting the call. My aunt picked me up from my cousins and took me to my grandmothers. I dont know where my dad was, probably with my mom, maybe making the last minute arrangements it takes to move a family of 4, 12 hours from home. But I will never forget, I was at Grandma's and I called my Nana's because that's where my mom was. I knew she had surgery that day, probably why I was at my cousins. I had this big cordless phone and I was sitting in my Popsey's office on this old couch and I asked Nana how Mom was. She told me she was going to be ok. I knew, at 12 years old, that something in her voice didn't sound right. I asked her what was wrong and I don't remember anything other than, "She has cancer but she's going to be ok." From my mind, I don't remember much from that point, other than that heavy, cordless phone hitting the ground. My grandma, told this story til the day she died to anyone who would listen.
I hit my knees in prayer. I don't know what my conversation with God was but I was on my knees, in earnest prayer for my mom, who I just found out had cancer. I stayed on my knees, crying and praying, until I stood up and said, "It's going to be ok. She's healed."
She was healed. We moved to FL a few days or weeks later. I can't remember the specifics. She went to the best dr's down here and they ran the same tests and they said there was no evidence of cancer. It's possible the dr's in KY were wrong but it's more probable that the simple prayers of a 12 year old girl, crying out for God to heal her mom were heard.
Fast forward 22 years. The same girl that had cried out for her mom to be healed cried out for God to take care of Tucker. For him to be with Fletcher. After my water broke, hope amongst the dr's wasn't there and we were told to prepare for the worst but not to stop praying. And I didn't. No one did. Prayer without ceasing. We had our miracles, they just needed to stay in their home, my womb, for longer.
Then I had Tucker. It wasn't the answer to the prayers I'd prayed in the hospital but it was the answer to so many prayers I'd prayed before. I never wanted much, other than to be a mom. And here I was, with my beautiful husband, holding our beautiful miracle. It just didn't end the way I wanted.
Prayers for Fletcher were prayed. By so many people. They prayed that infection would not enter my body. I never had any signs of infection. The prayers for his water to remain full were answered. We saw him swimming around, waving to us. We prayed we would bring home a healthy baby boy.
We didn't. Where is God in all of that? That is a question I have wrestled with for the past year. Does prayer change our circumstances or does prayer change us? If I prayed my mom to healing, why didn't God give me my boys. If not Tucker, why did he take Fletcher too?
And the answer is, I don't know. Through this whole time my question has been, how can this, a mother's journey of grief and broken-ness be a bigger testimony than if I had our miracle babies playing beside me?
That's where faith comes in. Because I still don't know the answer to that. I couldn't have prayed more. I prayed for healing, I prayed for God's will, I prayed specifically for each of my boys that we would bring them home. Healthy. Not these 2 boxes of ashes we have.
I don't know God's plan. But I feel confident now that I'm in it. I know, sitting here now, with tears running down my face, that He hasn't left me. He didn't forsake me. His ways our not our ways. I don't like that. I wanted His ways to be healing for our boys.
My life has changed. So much I can't even wrap my mind around it. I have made so many missteps this past year I can't think straight. There's no book for going through IVF to losing both your boys 11 days apart. Believe me, I've looked.
I've done the best I can. Am I grieving? Yes, absolutely, of course. I miss them everyday. They weren't just something I prayed for, I saw our lives with them in it. I'm missing out on so much. But i can't change it. Nothing I can do can bring them back. Should I stop talking about them? I don't think so. They were the answers to so many prayers, even though their lives were short, they've changed me. They've changed others. I've gotten countless emails from others that have told me that through following our story, God has been brought back into their homes, their lives. The God they had left behind, they prayed out to again. One friend shared with me that she lost her mom and couldn't understand that a God could be loving if He took her mom from her. But in me, because of my faith that God hasn't left me, if I can trust Him through this, she can too.
I didn't want this to be my story. I'd much rather be writing an article on juggling babies and work and high heels and kids than be writing an article on getting on with life through grief. But this is what God saw fit for my life. If I can trust Him with the good things, I have to trust him in the hurt too.
My life is confusing. It's more confusing now than ever. I'm trusting in God with everything that I have that He won't leave me. Today, in the midst of hurt and frustration, I cried out to him, "I don't know what to do..." I heard, sure as He was sitting beside me, "Be still. Don't move. Trust me."
No, boo, I want an answer. What am I supposed to do? I'm a list maker, I'm a fixer. I need some finite answers. But what I got is that. To be still. To not move. To Trust.
God didn't answer my prayers they way I wanted. Doesn't mean they weren't answered. I still struggle with that. I probably always will. Just being honest.
Thanksgiving wasn't what I expected. It's not what I hoped for and it's not what I had planned for my life. I don't know what God is up to but I know He's up to something. And even though Satan tries to fill me with guilt, with confusion, with pain, with doubts that I'm grieving too long, too loud, too much...I won't hear it. Because I'm loudly screaming, "Thank you God for not leaving me. Thank you God for using me. Thank you God for working through me."
Would I rather be sitting here playing with my boys, talking to my husband, enjoying my step kids? Of course. I don't know why I'm where I am. But I'm here. And I know who is holding me steady, who is guiding my steps and who is getting me through.
December will be a month of remembrance, of celebrating and of hope. I will never again apologize for the way I have handled my grief. For I know that as much as I love my boys, God loves them more. And they got to celebrate Thanksgiving with 4 great grands that love them as much as I ever could.
It's not what I wanted, but it's what I've got. And I'm trusting that God will continue to work in and through me to honor my boys, to further His kingdom and to grow my relationship with Him.