Friday, July 30, 2010



Something mysterious is happening to me. I feel myself coming out of the clouds and emerging into light. It has been a gradual process since passing the year mark of Kira's death. The past couple weeks the feeling has grown stronger, partly due to an experience one of my close friends is having. It's a friend I love dearly who as a child befriended me with cute loving notes that encouraged me despite the ten-year age difference between us. As the years went by our friendship became stronger and we spent some time together each month. After she graduated from high school she worked for me for several years. Last year when Kira lost consciousness here at home, she was working here and was the first one to come into the house. She gathered up Marlea and Anna and took them out of the apartment. Her presence that day was a great relief to me and yet I felt so badly that she had to see that amount of pain. On the other hand, she felt as if she were giving to me a gift that was unmeasurable. Now, she is having a difficult experience. I feel a fervor rising up inside of me to's the kind of giving that it close to my heart. It's a gift that simply requires time and words of empathy, encouragement. Strangely it's the very one that I wanted to shield from my pain now listens to my words of encouragement. It takes no explaining that I know how it is to be desperate and out of control; she knows, she saw me. I was thinking all these things after visiting her. It was raining and I was sad. Partly sad too because my next stop was at Hershey hospital to visit another friend whose child had meningitis. The raindrops fell faster along with my tears as I turned my van toward Hershey on 322. I was nervous and angry at the same time. I didn't want to go back there. I was by myself; I had no cushion on which to lean and I was going to have to walk in there all alone. The sun briefly came out and I wished for a rainbow. "God maybe then I could see and know again that you love me" I thought to myself. I arrived at Hershey with my heart still pounding and my anger still simmering. Why does God let some children die and others live anyhow? I pondered as I dove into a parking spot far away from the main entrance. I decided to walk off my feelings. Alas, I reached the door and I was still in shambles. The lady at the registration told me the child was on the seventh floor. Yes, unfortunately I would have to walk down that forbidden hallway. I wanted to scream "God I can't do this. I have to have someone to walk with me. My memories of this hallway are" mind reverted back months ago. I see us,the heartbroken parents stumbling down that hallway for the last time. It was almost midnight when we left the hospital that night of the 24th of February. We were more tired than words could ever say. But our broken hearts dreaded the next days and what we knew lay ahead of us. We also knew our little girl would be wheeled out this hallway with the undertaker. We in turn would go out to our van to her empty car seat. The grief that hallway holds in our memories - and now God was asking me to walk down it alone and visit a child who was going to live? I stepped off the elevator and signed in at the desk. Tears blurred my eyes as I wrote down my name. Step by step I force myself to walk down the hall. This must be called facing one's fears, my mind tells me. I reach the patient's door way and yes, she is sitting up in bed smiling. My heart flip flops. In a way it's nice to know children can recover from meningitis, viral - I learn as we talk. By the time our visit was over, my happiness for them outweighed my anger and nervousness. I left the room feeling like I had done the right thing by visiting. I turned and walked down the hall again. Thoughts went through my head like "God please just don't let any of my children ever need to be here again." But it does look like not everyone dies that comes here. I felt as if I had accomplished something as I opened my car door. It was raining again but this time I was thinking "Somewhere in all this pain and grief there are answers. Maybe even beauty. Maybe I am and will become a more true example of God. Maybe God is using my own pain to enable me to understand other's pain more. Yes, I do care more. Admitting that simple fact finally made sense to me. I do care more, I do understand more. Suffering has deepened my understanding of the cross like never before. Grasping the possibility that I can be more like Jesus through all this? As I reached the highway rain was falling again. My mind said it could be no other way driving away from Hershey. I passed a sign that seems to me to read mockingly "Hershey-the sweetest place on earth." I grimace, humpf - maybe to some. Really I felt like stopping and tearing down the sign. Fortunately my mother taught me to not always do what I feel. As I drive on through the rain my mind reverts again to the power of Christ in me and living redemptively. Suddenly the clouds break and the sun shines through the rain. I look around anxiously for my rainbow and there is none to find. Just raindrops, sun, and clouds. Selfishly I ask God why He can't give me a rainbow when I think I need one. About five minutes later I think I see some color. No, I must be imagining things. But no, it really is! There in front of me emerged a most beautiful rainbow. I sat humbly swallowing all my selfish thoughts and in turn became amazed at God. Okay God, I get it. I am actually as small and ugly as a raindrop. It's through Your Light in my life that I can become beautiful. You can even use the back part of my raindrop; the ugly painful experiences I have had; the grief filled days; the heartbreaking, agonizing minutes to bend a second time and create more color. Maybe sometime I will even see another double rainbow in my life. That will have to wait because for now I only see a single one in front of me. The rain might continue to fall but God's light in my life will still make beautiful color. I savored the rainbow; soon I noticed people braking. The traffic came to a halt and for the next ten minutes God left the rainbow for me see. I had lots of time to soak in the love of God.

I enjoyed these explanations:

Rainbows appear when raindrops (similar to a prism) reflect sunlight, thus breaking white sunlight into colors.

How is light reflected to create rainbows?
As light enters a water droplet, the different wavelength colors bend at slightly separate angles. Some of this light reflects off the back of the droplet and is bent a second time as the droplet emerges from the light beam. Drops at different angles send distinctively different colors to the eye.

If light is hitting raindrops at a proper angle, a secondary, larger rainbow will appear outside of the main rainbow. This secondary rainbow is fainter in color than the main one because the light has been reflected twice by each raindrop. This double reflection also reverses the colors in the secondary rainbow.

To see a rainbow, an observer must have one's back to the sun and rain must be falling in some part of the sky. Since each raindrop is lit by the white light of the sun, a spectrum of colors is produced.

No two observers will ever witness exactly the same rainbow because each will view a different set of drops at a slightly different angle. Also, each color seen is from different raindrops.

When Kira was five months old she wiggled around on the floor like a fish. One day I was doing beans outside and left the door open a bit. Before I knew it she had wiggled out onto the porch and down over the threshold. I was a bit astounded. That was one of her first moves that proved to us that she loved the outside.

Going back to Hershey always brings difficult feelings for me. Pray that with time and patience God can also beautify this part of my pain.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Too Many Items

Too many items, such as dresses, berets, bands, shoes, socks, tights, sweaters, sippie cups, flip-flops, toys, pj's, and dolls. I am trying to clean up the apartment. I have this problem that started a year an a half ago; I have all these items that no one wears and yet I don't want to put them away. The tempting thought of giving them away is soon shut down when I realize I am attached to these items. I can't give these items away nor can I pack them. But the fact remains that they are in the way. Not because I can't find room for them, but because no one that I can see uses them. Their owner is gone from this earth. She will never use them again... and so I look at them. I move them around while convincing myself not to put them away and that our house has enough room for them. Today I cleaned up the hair drawer. It was full of clips and bands that haven't been used since February 19. I was relieved to not find any dark hairs this time. No one uses those clips. Anna doesn't like them nor does she have much hair. Marlea has lots of hair. The bands are too big for Anna and too small for Marlea. So I look at them again and organize them back into their space. Oh well, maybe sometime Anna will use them. I shrug as I feel the tears in my heart. Last week I cleaned up the drawers in their room. One drawer was full of dearly loved clothes. Too big for Anna, yet too small for Marlea. No one needs them but I carefully retrieved the ones that will soon fit Anna and stuffed the rest back in. Anna picked out the pair of ugliest pj's and claimed them proudly as her "balloons" since they have balloons printed on the fabric. The shoe drawer was tough because Kira loved shoes. I left the boots and some flip-flops, and put the rest away. It will be a long time yet until size ten fits Anna even though she is just nine months away from being as old as Kira was. I skimmed over the sock-and-tights drawer; too many memories to face, and too many tights without an owner. Did she really wear all of these? I organized the sweaters and put several away. She also had a lot of them. Kira was a particular dresser at her age, and her sweaters carried some weight in her mind. But again, it will be a long time until little Anna can wear 4T. What was Kira doing wearing 4T at age 2 anyhow I wonder? I go in the laundry where I keep the girls dresses and just sigh. It's hopeless. I can't bear to touch them. Anna should have her dresses there instead of the little closet but - oh well, it will do for now. The pain of moving the ones in the laundry is too great, so I proceed to make the little closet more usable. Will these dresses ever fit Anna? Seems light-years away. 5T and 6T? It will be years if they ever will correctly fit Anna. Too little for Marlea, too big for Anna, yet they stay there. They remind me of the life that used to be...of the person I miss. I will let myself hang onto them - to the memories I treasure in my heart. Forget it, I am also leaving the toys out that aren't used. I will just move around them and smile, wishing someone would play with them and I would have to pick them up. Some of the dolls were banished to the basement, but the ones she played with the most still float uselessly around the house. Some days they are played with and some days they are not. No one is really dedicated to their care, but I like to pick them up and put them away. Forget the stuffed animals too and the extra pillow in the bed. They can just stay there!

Kira loved to be combed but she hated having her hair in pony tails - if that makes any sense. She had this disobedient circle of hair to the side of her hairline. On the other side was a swath of hair that was equally disobedient. It was too short for the pony tails, too short for braids, and too fine for clips. It was just long enough to hang in her eyes, and of course, in her food. So I would sometimes clip it back with two clips. She was great at losing them. We still found one this year in the yard. That disobedient swath of hair now resides in Merlin's suit coat pocket. Maybe it will always stay there. I am not in a hurry to get it out.

Time can bring healing - hard as that is for me to admit. Pray that we will learn it graciously - both the pain and the healing, and accept it as part of our lives.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Friday, July 2, 2010

Traveling with Stuff

We packed up our stuff - literally "stuff" stuffed into a truck and tied onto the back. It's that time again..time for family vacations. It's the time when happy families go spend time with each other. Time to discover nieces' and nephews' latest antics; time to catch up on the last six months of family living out of state; time to welcome the latest additions to the family. As we drive with our "stuff" and two children my mind drifts. Where would Kira be sitting amidst this "stuff?" What would she be saying? I feel myself sinking as I realize that my brothers' and sisters' families will be complete this weekend and ours will not. I will again be faced with choices. I can choose to ignore any child close to Kira's age or choose to be okay with them and embrace the pain caused by the "hole" in our family. I feel thankful that it is not last year and that we are driving to a different cabin. After two hours of driving we arrive at our destination. Up a winding hilly lane to a beautiful clearing and a cabin that would better be termed a new age type of "cabin." Of course the first little people I spot are the bouncing four-year-olds waiting for their next adventure. There are two boys six months older than Kira and one girl six months younger then Kira in our extended family. My eyes linger over them wishing for a four-year-old of my own. All weekend I watched them and all weekend I wondered what Kira would be doing. I concluded sometimes she would have been with them and other times with the "older" girls and Marlea. Wanderings that will never be satisfied; thoughts that will remain unknown to me; longings that will never be filled. This life of incompleteness is an art to live. I must realize that this earth is imperfect, that wanderings will continue to be only wanderings, and that longings will only be filled to perfection in heaven.

Two years ago when we were at the mountains I got this great shot of Kira. Every mother tries to train their child not to do this and I was trying hard. You can see about how far I was getting.....

Thank you God for heaven where life will be perfect! May You continue to intensify my longing for heaven until I get there.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna