Monday, February 22, 2010


Pain is awkward, and no way exists to get around it. It can tongue-tie a person, make words come out wrong, and create brain freeze. It's the feeling often pushed aside, pushed around, and tried to drown out somewhere. We don't like things that are awkward - they make us feel uncomfortable. We are afraid, out of our element. God didn't make humans to experience pain. It doesn't come naturally for us to experience neither does it come naturally for us to relate to pain. Pain is uncharted territory in the human and we prefer to leave it like that. Busting it is like jumping off a cliff. To stare at it headlong feels strange. Then yet each person processes pain differently; so what works for some might not work for others. Some of us are afraid of their tears; others are afraid of their actions, still others are afraid of their words. I have often avoided deep pain in my own life and avoided people who I knew were experiencing deep pain. Nothing ever takes the awkwardness of pain away completely. However, there are ways of being okay with pain and being okay with being awkward. I have experienced a lot of situations where people confronted pain and diminished it's awkwardness by talking, in actions, and through tears. To know that the body of Christ (church and friends) experiences pain with you can take away the awkwardness of it. There is so much power there that pain becomes tangible and soft. This life as a Christian, this body of Christ is one that will always fascinate me. The people that dare to be okay with awkwardness because they love us is a touch of Jesus to me. There is no explanation for it besides Jesus. It's Jesus himself who took pain and turned it into something beautiful - not awkward. It's Jesus that replaced death with life!
We experienced this Sunday. For those of you who didn't witness the occasion, we had a celebration for Kira here at our house. I felt awkward about it, kind of scared; I mean what really was I going to say to everyone? Merlin and I decided that it was useless to try to stuff the awkwardness of it, and so we were going to just be okay with it. I did not feel awkward one time. I felt loved, encouraged, and lifted up. It was a drop in from 2-5 p.m. Our house was filled to the brim. We had a children's hour with face-painting and balloon twisting. Generous individuals donated themselves and their talents to fill little hearts with cheer. We also released balloons outside in memory of Kira.

Our memories of last year this time are very real to us. Looking back I am so thankful that Merlin and I chose to stay present and close to God those days in the hospital. I have some good memories too and I am thankful for them - also thankful for the friends, family, and staff at Hershey. You all looked pain in the face with us then also and supported us so well. We remain forever grateful.

One of the last days Marlea and Kira played outside last winter they played in the mud. I was over here in the office and Kira wanted me. She went inside and saw I wasn't in there so went back out(leaving heavy mud tracks) and came around the front onto the inn patio (leaving more heavy mud tracks) and into the lobby. Bless her heart she was trying not to make more tracks. What are you supposed to do when you can't get your boots off and can't find your mommy? I thanked her for her consideration. She was so sweet about it.

Thanks so much to all of you for your extra prayers, etcetera for us at this one year mark.
Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Sometimes reality hits me hard and gets right in my face. It chills my heart, freezes my brain, and sends darts to my soul. Pain that is just so hard to realize and there are no words that fully describe it. One night I was giving Marlea and Anna a bath. We accidentally put three washcloths in the bathtub. Marlea stared at it and said: "I wish Kira would be here to use that washcloth. If she would be here then everything would be okay again. It's so hard this way." Feelings raced up inside me screaming in pain. I was tempted to feel tortured - ruined forever. A few days later on Valentine's Day, I was dressing Anna. I pulled out some tights with hearts on them. My memory said there is another pair in there and that might still fit Marlea. I should have known better...I dug a little and pulled them out. The tag said 4T-5T. I fingered them lovingly and shoved them back in the drawer. How I would have loved to put them on Kira. Again those torturous feelings screamed inside me causing me to feel inexplicable, unbearable pain. My soul takes me to the foot of the cross and I hang on knowing that Jesus felt my pain. The gratitude I feel in my heart for his sacrifice so that I can see Kira again is also beyond words.

Last Valentine's Kira, Marlea, and I had a lot of fun making sandwich cookies for our inn guests. Marlea helped for a while, then she was ready to move on to something else. Kira helped me to the end, including helping me put the cookies into little boxes. I was surprised - she was so grown up about it and really was helping. I still have the recipe stuck on my kitchen cabinet. It was the last thing she helped me to bake. If you ate one of those cookies, consider yourself fortunate (Kira and her Papa especially enjoyed eating any available ones) and know that a little girl delighted in helping make them.

We cross the year mark on Friday that Kira went to the hospital. Please pray that our feelings could continue to be redeemed. Thinking of those memories has gotten somewhat easier and yet they still are like I wrote: deep pain beyond description. We want to rest in God and His plan for us and our family.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bitter Cake

Saturday was Kira's birthday. In attempt to do something nice, I made a cake. The recipe called it a flour-less chocolate cake. I wanted to try it; somehow the thought of making a really different cake appealed to my aching heart. I also thought I could enlist some help from the girls. In my perception, these little girls were behaving strangely. They were lined up in a row with a third little girl joining them (in one year old snatches). They were just sitting in the family room; I couldn't get them interested in anything. Claiming to be playing airplane they sat solemnly, silently, and straight in their chairs. Marlea on the right, Anna in the middle, and their friend Maria on the left. Maria is our neighbor and Marlea's friend. She has spent countless hours playing and entertaining Kira. Kira loved and admired her greatly. Maria is nine - just about a grown up little girl. I walked into the living room and asked "Hey does anybody want to help me bake a cake?" I asked in my most cheerful voice. I felt fake inside but it was worth a try. After all - it looked to me as if all they were doing was sitting stoically looking at the wall. "No" the answers came very flatly, with absolutely no emotion. "Whatever are you thinking about?" I queried. Marlea replied "Kira." It was too intense for Anna - she ran away. Maria said matter-of-factly in a monotone voice "nothing." I soon discovered that no pushing, tempting, or persuasion would convince them to help me make a cake. I reasoned to make my own cake. I poured and stirred. It seemed really different - but I was liking it. No sugar except for a half cup of Rapadura, salt, eggs, and cocoa. Later, I made a sugarless chocolate sauce for with it. That night I proudly served the cake. I tried to be happy about it. Nobody sang "Happy Birthday" because we didn't think it fit. We all solemnly bit into our pieces. They looked nice with a beautiful chocolate sauce drizzled over the top, completed with Merlin's homemade yogurt. First bite - it tasted really different. Second bite - it's kinda good. By the third bite I had my prognosis: bitter. My cake on which I had labored all this time was bitter. Suddenly the last moments of Kira's life came pouring over me. The last year's memories came in torrents. The pain seemed to raise my fork automatically and a fourth bite was in my mouth. I chomped it victoriously. Yes, this cake is bitter but I can eat it. Yes, this last year was bitter - but I survived it. Yes - the pain of losing Kira was so bitter - but so is this cake; I swallowed a fifth bite. Until I was finished the cake was actually good. I wonder if this is this how my pain will be...will it be sweet in the end? I don't think the other individuals in my family appreciate my bitter cake. I still faithfully eat a piece every day; and it does seem to get better every day. Is it the cake or is it me? I don't think I will ever know. Will this bitter cake of pain ever be sweet? That I don't know either but I know a God who has a lot more foresight than I have. Until I am blessed with more foresight...I will eat more slices of bitter cake drizzled with bitter sauce. As for little girls that stare at walls together in silence - the level of sympathy that I felt being passed to Marlea was indescribable. It was a sacred experience!

After Kira's third birthday she soon discovered that Anna fit nicely in her birthday stroller. They went on walks through the house in a procession of the three of them; Marlea wishing to be pushing, Kira proudly pushing, and Anna happily riding. They did it with the old stroller too and I wish to have a picture with the new stroller.

Thanks so much for your prayers and support through this month.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, February 1, 2010

Birthday with an Invisible Person

Kira's birthday is on Saturday. She was born on a Monday and true to the rhyme, she was fair of face. I struggle this week to remain in the present. The past seems so much nicer. Yes, one year ago we were pleasantly celebrating with a happy little girl and her equally happy sisters. This year in my mind could just seem horrid and ugly. But, I don't believe that is the way God looks at it or would have me to look at it. But really, how does one celebrate the birthday of a person you can't see? I guess we will sing Happy Birthday, blow out the candles, maybe even buy a present to give to someone else? Birthdays are supposed to be the celebration of one's birth and Kira was born, but just isn't here therefore we will still celebrate. I find it extremely painful to say "Yes, this child was born to me four years ago and God gave her a rich full life. She left us last year and went back to God. I am left with a longing heart, eyes darkened by my sinful nature, and a soul that longs for God like never before." So her birthday comes and we celebrate without her, or do we?

Memories flood me from last year. This is my favorite one. Merlin and I attended a funeral on her birthday. We had a babysitter so we didn't have to take the girls along; so after the funeral we took advantage of it and went to Toys'R'Us. We were a total mess. I had never agonized so badly over what to get a three year old child. Merlin acted similarly and we were laughing hysterically at each other. When we finally left we had two big boxes. We decided to pretend that the one was from Marlea and Anna. I remember going out to the car and saying to Merlin "By the time this child turns 21, she will be expecting a house on her birthday." Kira loved her gifts with all her heart. She played a lot with her stroller and highchair those next two weeks and was sweetly proud of them.

Please pray for endurance and courage this week. To actually be able to say "Blessed be Your Name" this week does not come easy for us. Pray also that we would continue to be physically healthy; these past two weeks have seen us all feeling measurably better than before.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna