Monday, November 30, 2009

Outlets of Pain

Kira had two little friends at church. Janessa is three months older and Abbi is three weeks older. At Kira's graveside, Abbi came and sat on my lap. We sat silently on that cold February day. There were no words necessary. Together we threw Hershey kisses and daisies into the open grave. My tears ran as I held her, my heart crying out for my own three year old. The next day at church she was waiting with hugs for me. For months after that she was waiting every Sunday with a hug and would often sit on my lap for a while after church. Some Sundays she would have hugs for Merlin too. Nobody told her to do it, she just knew instinctively. She knew because she needed me too. She was also missing Kira, and I reminded her of Kira. My heart would often break inside - I wanted to hold her, take her home, and make her my own. But I couldn't, since she wasn't mine to keep. In July, she and her family left to be missionaries in Liberia. Her only request for me was that I sing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" at their farewell. I granted her request by sheer determination. I knew I was going to miss her dreadfully and it felt like another parting. As the weeks wore on after she left I realized that she was an outlet for my pain. Her hugs, her sweetness, just the feel of holding her was so much like Kira. Abbi is also Kira's second cousin so in some ways she did feel like her. She forced me to stay honest with my feelings. To stay alive, in touch, and to not deny them. But she did something more; she became my friend. I finally decided to try making another friend. I knew Janessa had a really difficult time after Kira died so I decided to try to become her friend. It didn't take long; now she sits with me for a little while almost every Sunday in church. She loves one toy I have in my purse. It is silly putty - Kira's very own special one. When we went to El Salvador, I let her keep it for me until I got back. I haven't figured out yet if she likes the silly putty, likes the excuse to come sit with me, or likes the silly putty because it gives her a connection to memories of Kira. Either way doesn't matter; what matters to me is that I have a friend that is Kira's age. When she is finished sitting on my lap, my heart cries out in pain. For a few minutes my pain was somewhat quieted with her presence. She reminds me of Kira, and helps me to be honest with myself and the feelings in my heart. In some ways, she is a bridge to my feelings. The energy I use in our relationship is an outlet of the pain inside of me. I thank God for Janessa and for Abbi even though Abbi is far away. I hope to be friends with them for the rest of my life.

In the last several months of Kira's life, each night she would pray a simple prayer. "God bless my teacher(Sunday School), God bless Janessa, and Trevor." Then her voice would trail off sleepily. I can still hear her say those words in my head. I often think of it as I lie in the girls' bed saying prayers. How I wish I could still hear it! I can't help but wonder who else she would have added to her list by now.

Thanksgiving was okay. Thanks so much to all of you who prayed for us especially on Thursday. I felt that lifted up feeling that comes from lots of intercession. Today I was moving pictures around and putting out our manger scene. I wished this to be last year. Instead it was this year and Kira is only in my memory. Marlea and Anna had lots of fun helping me and I tried to be brave and happy for their sakes. I feel time getting close to a year since she left us and I want to freeze. Pray that I would be able to sort out my feelings correctly and remain reliant on God. Some days I am very fatigued and it's hard for me to deal with life when I am tired.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, November 23, 2009


Grief - it's not something we like to deal with naturally. Grief - it's not something that can really be described or shared adequately. It's more just present and stubbornly stays. I have learned to appreciate grief. Grief has become part of my life; almost as much as eating. It causes awkward moments, frustration for loss of words, and inappropriate tears. I can sit somewhere and have lots of tears, not at all because of what I am seeing or hearing. If someone doesn't know me and is sitting beside me, at that moment my expressions can seem really strange to you. I have concluded that entering another person's grief doesn't take words. A few weeks ago in El Salvador I met a friend I hadn't seen for ten years. My friend speaks Spanish and my Spanish vocabulary is limited, so communicating is not clear. Being understood requires a lot of gestures, signs, and wonders. She was telling me about her family just when her little three-year-old girl ran by. Her daughter is full of life, looks "sparky," and has lots of energy. As she dashed by I burst into tears. I had no words, just - sobs and tears. My dear friend took me into her arms and held me. There were no words exchanged, only feelings and tears. She couldn't say what she wanted to say because I couldn't understand. I couldn't say what I wanted to say because she couldn't understand me. So we stood in verbal silence, communicating through both of our tears. What mattered to me was that she cared enough to enter my world. She knew instinctively why I burst into sobs when I saw her energetic three year old go dashing by. She shared my grief without words but was present and caring. Suddenly it all made some sense to me; grief is not something you can really explain correctly to another human being. It's a feeling deep in the heart and soul of a human that connects by bold love that comes straight from God. My friend simply put to practice what the Bible says in Romans 12:15 "Rejoice with those that do rejoice and weep with those that weep".

Thanksgiving comes soon; my mind goes back a year. We were at home all day; our neighbor Barry came over for lunch. His wife Rhonda had to work so it was just he and our family. The girls were delighted to have him here. Barry is a very calm person and always had a very calming effect on Kira. In fact she almost always behaved perfectly when he was around. They often played with Rhonda and Barry when they were out with their dogs next door and we had become good friends because of their puppy love. After lunch Merlin, Kira, Marlea and Barry played "Memory" for a long time. I can still see them on the floor playing diligently. This was big stuff to Marlea and Kira...Barry playing "Memory." Thanks Barry and Rhonda for the love you gave and give the girls...we still cherish those many good memories.

As I reflected more on the grief issue it continued to become more clear. I gained new understanding in that it's okay not to have words for grief; the feeling in your heart is what matters. I am overwhelmed when I realize through my eyes how much you all have given me. I am reminded again that giving to others is what life is all about; to be a reflection of Jesus. I want to be more like that!

Merlin has been doing quite well the last several weeks. It helps all of us a lot to feel more stable. Please keep praying that he and I will continue to heal physically and of course all of us emotionally. It's tough with the holiday season coming. I would like to run somewhere and hide. Instead I am trying to be brave and get out the manger scenes with Marlea; it has always been a traditional party in this house. Today we unboxed one nativity set and it was missing a wise man. Since Kira isn't here to defend herself, we blamed it on her (probable culprit.)

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, November 16, 2009


We were on vacation in El Salvador for the past two weeks; as we were preparing to go I searched to find the suitcases. I looked at them and just stared. There was just no way I could pack; no way I could pack up with my feelings. They were not going to fit. I searched vainly for a compartment big enough to contain them. I thought of several different pieces of luggage, and oddly enough they seemed too small. As I started putting things in the largest suitcase, I had no room for my baggage. What was I going to do with it? It seemed so heavy and enormous. Merlin packed the rest of the suitcases and no room was left. The next morning we put our luggage in my brother's vehicle and drove for the airport. As we drove along I felt confused. My baggage was coming along and yet is wasn't packed. Later as we walked down the terminal to the board the plane I felt it following me. I didn't have that free feeling one expects to have when going on vacation. The thoughts and feelings were following close behind me. I found myself wondering how what I was thinking was going to fit onto the plane. The plane taxied down the runway and yes, it was still with me. But the plane wasn't big enough. I sighed in relief, glad I hadn't tried to pack the mental baggage-realizing I would never have been able to stuff everything into a suitcase or any piece of something. Even if I had tried - the airplane could never have contained it all. I sighed again feeling overwhelmed with the thought that my baggage is too big to fit into an airplane. Ironically it followed me even though it didn't fit. My mind turned in consolation to Jesus and His promise to me in Matthew 11:28-30: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Yes, my baggage followed me but God's promise is stronger in my heart than my baggage.

Kira loved suitcases. To her they meant upcoming adventures. When she was smaller she used to love climbing into and out of luggage. She didn't care whether or not things were in the bags. As she grew she realized she could pack her clothes in to go away. Marlea had her own red suitcase and usually shared with Kira. Kira would carefully put in lots of things. I always went through their suitcase and put numerous things back in her drawer where they belonged. She was always so pleased with herself for packing. Last Christmas Kira got her own suitcase. It was brown with polka dots. This was very important - to her it meant she was getting older, like Marlea. A few days later we went to Ohio over New Year's Day. She proudly stuffed many items into it as we packed. She was so happy to have her own she shone from ear to ear. Marlea's suitcase is red, Kira's was polka dot with a ribbon on and she knew Marlea was secretly jealous of it. Her suitcase has gone with us on every trip we have taken since February. Instead of Kira wheeling it, Marlea does. It's a touch of Kira we take along. Marlea used it for her carry-on on our trip. Tears came to my eyes as I watched her with it. Many questions, wishes, and pain went through my heart.

We were able to relax and enjoy our vacation. It felt good to come back to Kira's pictures and memories. I hadn't been in El Salvador since we are married and it was Merlin's first time there. We enjoyed a new place, new memories, and new people. We can't speak Spanish so that meant limited conversation, which was good for both of us. Most of all, we enjoyed spending time with my parents who are there as missionaries for four months.

I thought maybe if I don't write for three weeks you will just forget about us... I am blessed to know (and see on the site meter) that you haven't. I thank God for each one of you that prays and cares for us! I am dealing with adrenal fatigue, and ask for your prayers especially that I can regain strength and live accordingly.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna