It's been an odd and painful holiday season, and we're all ready for it to be over at my house. It has brought up nothing but painful memories and many, many tears.
In the midst of having a cold or flu (very unusual) and my other health issues (very normal for me), I've been doing quite a bit of reading and of setting up my new system for the new year. The 7-year-old MacBook Pro is going to Sean. Since my repairs on it not that long ago, it's working fine, certainly much better than his HP laptop, which is only a couple of years old. I just needed something with a little more oomph since I do practically everything in my life from this desk. I've set up a Mac Mini with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard - all tiny little things. I also have an iPad that I carry around with me in a pink Neoprene sleeve. It has been my companion as I sit around miserably sniffling and blowing my nose. I watched a movie on it and have listened to a lot of music. I have yet to purchase any iBooks, but that will come in time, when I've finished reading the hard copy books on hand.
I'm just finishing up Mary Beth Chapman's book, Choosing to SEE, which is about how she and her famous husband Steven Curtis Chapman adopted three Chinese girls after having had three of their own children, set up a ministry to help other people who had the will but not the money or savvy to adopt internationally, and then lost their precious little Maria just after her 5th birthday to a tragic accident. Just before reading this book, I read Helen Brown's Cleo, which is about a cat who lived to be nearly 24 years old and who had come into this family's life just as their 9-year-old son was hit and killed by a car. The Chapman book I knew something about before reading it. The cat book was an impulse purchase while I was Christmas shopping. It took me by the stomach, I tell you. Both books have had a tremendous impact on me, but I think I'll have to clear my palate with something a little lighter before moving on to Dean Koontz' book, A Big Little Life, about his beloved Golden Retriever, Trixie. This is enough about loss for a little while.
I've been doing quite a bit of thinking, and I'm going back to church on Sunday. Once again, God has brought me to my knees, and I have cried out to Him for help. I have spent almost two years being very upset and angry with Him. I've been angry at people who, in His name, have tried to further their own interests in politics, economics, and ego. I've been on the receiving end of some of these people preaching hate. But it isn't God's fault. There will always be misguided people. There will always be loss and tragedy. And there will always be God. Be still and know that I am...He says.
I can't fault God for what Man does. And I can't go around being angry and hurt forever. This isn't to say I'm "all better," but I did feel some peace seeping back into my soul when I prayed. As Mary Beth Chapman said in her book, either it is all true or it is all a big, big lie. I'm choosing to believe it is true. I have no peace without my faith, and I need to have some peace again. If it's a big lie, oh well. I'll just spend the rest of my life peacefully believing a big lie and no harm done. If it's the truth, then I will find my daughter waiting for me on the other side in a kingdom of gold.
Mary Beth spoke of the "new normal" in their lives after Maria died. You can never go back to that place you were in before your child died. It no longer exists. You must, instead, find your new normal, your new center without your child. Like her, I don't want people to think I feel entitled to be in this place of self-pity. I don't want for there to be any reason for anyone to pity me or Paul or Sean. We wish we could go back to the normal we had before Stephanie died, but we can't. Instead, people have to take us as we are now, because there is no other way we can be.
I've seen Paul come to the end of himself these last couple of weeks. I knew the pain was in there, but he was doing such a great job of hiding it--well, it has all come spilling out. It's a good thing. And I don't mind looking my atheist ex in the eye and telling him, "I don't want to change how you believe, but I have to go back to what I believe. Please understand that and don't think I've dumbed myself down and don't mock my faith. This is what I need to believe in order to survive." And that is true. He has his beliefs, and they have to work for him. Mine have to work for me. If I return to my church and don't feel welcome, I'll find another one. I need to go find a community of believers again, because I know that God will use this loss for some greater purpose. I need to be outside my head again.
I wish you all a bright new year. I'm starting fresh. Hope you do, too.
Peace - D