I’m not sure what I want to post, but I know that lately I’ve been thinking a lot about Emma Anne. Since this blog started with the story of Emma, then continued with the desire to honestly share the emotions of grief, and now exists to show what it is like to be a mom in all sorts of circumstances, I feel that something needs to be said. Somehow I need to share what it is like to be 5 years out from this experience. Perhaps someone will read it that is also 5 years out from grief and wondering if what they are feeling is normal. Or perhaps someone has a friend who is 5 years out and they are wondering how they are doing and what they should do for them. So here I sit, trying to figure out what I want to say. And if I am completely honest, all those things I listed were mainly to justify this post, but are not the real reason to write it. The real reason is that I want to, that I feel its been too long since I’ve been able to share about Emma.
And so, that’s the first thing I feel right now. I feel that the opportunities to share about the life and death of my second daughter are now few and far between. True, it is partly due to me. I used to make a point of answering everyone who asked how many children I had to include Emma in that count. Now, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I’m not as quick to bring her up unless I’m talking to someone who already knows the story. I do wear her ring all the time and just because I don’t bring her up doesn’t mean that I don’t think of her often. Just a few days ago Will asked me about my rings and why I wore them. He, of course, wanted to borrow them. I gladly shared with him why I wear the one ring (to show that I am married to Daddy and have promised to be married to him my whole life) and the other (to remind me of his sister Emma who lives in heaven). But the ring is more for me than for those who see it. Everyone who sees an engagement/wedding ring, knows what it is for. The other one they would probably just assume is my favorite ring. Maybe someday I’ll buy the matching rings for each of my kids and wear all 4. Then perhaps it will be more obvious that I’m making the point that I’m missing one.
Missing one. That’s another thing I feel. I don’t feel like we are incomplete without Emma here, but I do feel like she is part of that completeness. She just doesn’t fill our family in the same way each of our other children do. It’s funny that today when I was already processing Emma memories, Elise brought her up. She was asking one of those questions kids like to ask: “Mom, when I am 12 how old will Will be? How old will Seth be?” And then, how old will Emma be? So we talked about how she is 2 1/2 years older than Emma, Emma is 2 years older than Will and Will is 1 1/2 years older than Seth. And Elise looked sad and said, “Why did God just have to take her away before I was even able to play with her?” And I gave her the best reason I knew, but now as I think about it with tears in my eyes, I want to ask the same question. I know that Emma is happier in heaven. That her body is complete and whole, that she doesn’t suffer anymore. But I also know that God could have healed her here, on earth and let her live a normal life with us. And he chose not to. And strangely enough, I’m OK with it. Because God has given me peace and shown me enough of His amazing plan in regards to Emma’s life that I trust Him.
Yet, there is a deep sadness in my soul. One that will not go away until that day when I walk into heaven and see my little girl (probably all grown up) with wavy brown hair and beautiful big blue eyes, and I catch her in my arms. And then, then, I think that sadness will be gone. But until that time, there will still be many things that bring it back. Every one of her birthdays, every anniversary of her death, every time I go to a wedding and realize I’ll never go to hers, every time I watch a slide show of someone’s childhood and growing up and realize how much we have missed with her, every time that some little random and not always logical thing touches my heart in such a way that I remember. And I do remember. Sometimes it is hard to remember, especially when the thing I am reprocessing is the day she died. But even then I enjoy the memories, because they are all I have of her.
But they are not all of who she is. I can’t just remember her as who she WAS. Because Emma still IS. I know she is alive, full of health and joy and personality, in heaven. And so I also look forward to when I will really get to know her as she is now, exactly as God created her to be.
There is still so much I could write. Some of the things I am still processing, I’ll be honest, I am not yet prepared to share here. I used to share some of them in my support group, but unfortunately that group has since shut down and I miss it more than I thought I would. So you can pray for those of us that went regularly to that group, that we would find other outlets to process the things that still need to be processed. But the main thing that I want to say, is that there is still joy. It has been 5 years, and there is still pain, grief, things yet to process, and deep, deep sorrow. But, because of the powerful influence of Christ in my life, there is joy. And that is why I have renamed my blog “And then there was Joy.” As a reminder of the fact, that no matter the circumstances, when we walk beside the Father, he brings great, overwhelming, unexplainable joy.
Psalm 30:5: “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”