Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Do I smell something rotten? Oh wait, that's me.

The third time I visited Karen at the hospital, she asked why I'd come to visit in the first place. We'd already talked about how in our respective situations, people didn't respond the way we thought they would. We had similar stories of longtime friends who disappeared when the going got tough, as well as stories of the most unexpected people rising to the challenge. I think as a thrice visiting stranger, she didn't know where to categorize me.

I explained as I have here already, that when I was in her situation, I felt so alone. Lying in that bed hour after hour, day after day, I felt unrelatable, abandoned. I came to her because I understood where she was at -- physically, emotionally, spiritually.

I knew that my laying in wait would have a good outcome -- at least, I hoped it would. I knew something was growing inside, and at the appointed time, birth was inevitable. Regardless of the anticipated result, regardless of the fruit of my labor, the pain of the struggle was constant. Because I could relate to her struggle, I made myself available to encourage her and to support her in whatever way I could.

Ultimately, that's been one focus of this blog -- at least in my mind.

Originally, I began blogging because I'm far too distracted to journal on paper anymore. In order to journal, I have to first put the laundry away, because it will taunt me if I stretch out at all. Then, once I get comfortable and find the next free page in my journal, I realize that my pen is out of ink. I get up and head to the kitchen where I begin unloading the dishwasher, because by the time I've arrived in the kitchen, I've forgotten what I'm in there for. As I load the dishwasher, I clean out the refrigerator, because I always need two or three more things to fill the load and the nearly empty leftover dishes will do nicely. I rinse those and put them on the rack, start the washer, and begin scrubbing the refrigerator, because, after all, I'm already in there. While cleaning the refrigerator, I remember the carrots still need to be peeled and are becoming a little soft, so I peel them, chop them, and bag them to make soup for dinner. I pull out a pen and notepad to make a list for the rest of the dinner ingredients -- chicken, celery, onion, Heinz ketchup -- and as I pause to think of what else belongs on the list, I begin to chew on the end of my pen. All of a sudden, I remember the pen is why I came to the kitchen in the first place, but now it's time for the grocery store and dinner preparation and homework help and homework of my own and bedtime stories and reality TV and conversation and more dish washing and before I know it, the day is completely and utterly gone. The journal returns to its spot at my bedside, and another day passes without recording.

I'd not really considered blogging as a viable alternative to my sporadic journaling, but my sweet friend Amy insisted I begin doing something. I was spinning in circles after losing Zachary, and when I got to that place of trying to make sense of things, she encouraged this as an outlet for processing. I'm glad she did. I'm much better behind a keyboard than I am in real life. This particular venue has been ideal for me because not only has it allowed me a convenient location to actively work through the process of grief, but it has also become an avenue to perhaps reach some other people, and to relate to the unrelatable.

While I still intend to use this blog as a place to work, with embarrassing and brutal honesty, through whatever, I hope that it will matter to someone, somewhere. I hope that someone at the very end of their rope, completely consumed with grief, will end up here, and will realize that there is hope, regardless of circumstances and how they appear.

This blog is FAR from being an answer blog, because the last thing I have is answers. Instead, I have experience, and lots of it. More important than that, I have a relationship with a loving and merciful God, who sustains me and guides me in both the good times and the bad. It is He who has given me a glimmer of hope when there was none. It is He who brought me unimaginable comfort when the hope was snatched away. It is He who restores me, piece by piece, moment by moment. And it is He who waits, willing to bring that same hope and comfort and restoration to all who call on His name.

I felt it was important to reiterate these purposes here because I found myself in a situation today where nasty me came out in full force. You know, good ol' stinky, rotten, mean-spirited, foul-mouthed me. I know why nasty me showed up. My days are disappearing. I'm one planner page turn away from the day that is surprisingly not marked, "Mourn baby's death," and I'm coping by being controlling and angry and just pretty rotten through and through.

[For example, over the last week or so, I think I've called James at work maybe three-thousand times to make sure he submits a request to have next Friday off. I've been impatient with my children, finding myself extra sensitive to their normal behavior, and yet, wanting to keep them very, very close. I've been riddled with physical aches and pains, whereas I normally am not, and I wonder if there's an association. Today, I subjected some friends to a bitter rampage, responding spitefully to a situation that has nothing to do with me, and later was left to make amends.]

I was hoping to be more graceful wrapping up this year, but alas, I am not. Who am I kidding anyway, what with the inevitable coffee stain on my shirt, hair that is never quite right, and a brain that is better behind a keyboard than in real life? Graceful is not at all what I am. Wholly reliant upon grace is more the case, which is why I suggest you consider yourself warned. I have no idea who will be at these keys: somber me, contemplative me, grateful me, nasty me.

What I do know is that I intend to be at these keys as much as I can -- to record my thoughts, to recall my experience, to remind myself of where I've been, and maybe, to catch a glimpse of where I'm going. And if I'm lucky, perhaps someone, someday, will leave here with a little bit of hope, confident in the fact that they too are not alone.


  • Amy

    Love your entry. Love your vision for your blog. Love your coffee stains. Love you.

  • The Dukes Family

    You're entitled to have your bad days and tough times, and although I know you're probably not thrilled at the way it might exhibit itself, it's okay. You're so loved and respected among your friends, Amanda, and our prayers are with you in these days.

  • taralynn819

    Your description of journaling distractions reminded me of the book, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie".

    It also reminded me of me! If I start but one task, I'm suddenly committed to the end of every single task I can find. It's like I look for another task just to spite myself or something, as if I can never have any fun because I always have ALL this STUFF to do! And of course, that's never really true.

    I used to feel pressured that my blog needed to read a certain way, look a certain way, etc., but then I realized I might start to become someone I'm not. It seems it's always the posts which are the most raw and transparent are those which help me grow the most.

    And, isn't it SO incredibly powerful to hear from someone (and it doesn't matter who) that they've been there, or at least that they can relate in even the slightest way? There's something very healing and edifying about that, the knowing that we've been heard and felt and understood.

    And I know that God always "gets" us and provides feedback through His Word, but He also created fellowship, and the concept of serving others as His "hands and feet". Whether we are the encourager or the one in need of encouragement, the Spirit of Christ flows through His people.

    You may have already been following the tender story on this blog, but I just thought this was yet another example regarding what you speak of in your post. I hesitated adding the link because while empathy is a wonderful thing, it also can be painful.


  • taralynn819

    wait - here's the most current:


  • Elizabeth

    Amanda, I so appreciate your authenticity. Keep putting it out there girl, all of it.

    Praying for you.

  • Linda Drew

    I have read your blog a few times and find you refreshingly honest and pure. I don't know you from Adam, not that I know Adam either, but if you're a friend of a friend, you're special I am sure. I have had several friends walk this path you're on, though I haven't myself, my heart aches for you.

  • Happy Mommy

    Amanda, as you go through these next few days, we will be here, reading and crying with you. Amazing this blogging thing, you make friends who you will never see their face yet you pray and care for them just the same, and thats what I will be doing praying for you as the day approaches.

  • Emily

    Your honesty and transparency are so refreshing. Holy Toledo, with all you have been through I am quite sure that there is grace for your bad days, especially since you are quick to make amends. You have a good heart Amanda!

    On a TOTALLY different subject, thank you for your computer help and the link is scrapblog.com

  • Christy

    Love ya, sis!

  • Michelle

    Your blog matters to me.

  • Anonymous

    your blog matters to me too. I have had one miscarriage and am still without children after almost 2 years. When I read your blog, I know someone else out there feels like I do. And somehow, in knowing that I'm not alone in this pain and longing, I feel better.

    I'm so sorry for all you've been through and will be praying for you.

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