Friday, October 29, 2010


Reactions-we all have them. Reactions to people, circumstances, or something that just really sets us off. We are all different so we all react in our own unique way. We even get demanding about needing space while we react. We spend time thinking of excuses for ourselves, or try to explain our way out of our own human-ness.

A few weeks ago in this house we all had our own reactions. The tombstone made its arrival by way of Merlin's truck. Marlea and Anna thought it was great to go with Daddy to pick up Kira's tombstone. I grimaced and my stomach turned at the thought of it being great to go pick up your sister's tombstone. I reacted by living out my sullen angry feelings. They were excited and proud of it-I was not. They tried to persuade me to go out and look at it in the truck-I did not want to see it in Merlin's truck. To me, the taste of death stinks and that is what the tombstone felt to me that day. Later Merlin took it to the graveyard and laid it on the grave because he didn't have the correct material to put it in place. Finally on Sunday after church I could no longer deny that it belongs to me. I went and looked at it-sullenly of course. I found Marlea lying on the stone with a smile on her face-I took only one glance and muttered that it's nice. Merlin was very gracious to me, giving me the space I needed to react to my feelings. He designed the tombstone himself so it would have been nice to be receiving compliments instead of grimaces from his wife. He too was having his own reactions only being a man it was the thing to do to put up the tombstone. Marlea kept asking me if I like it. "Yes", I replied, just not there! More like I wanted to yell "I hate it!" It could have been the most unique tombstone available on the face of the earth and I would still be grimacing and mad.

So I left and my family followed me to the van. I managed to tell Merlin that it is very nice. Anna had her own two year old reaction by screaming life-threatening screams as we drove down the road. To her the tombstone was part of our family, something we should take along - not leave in the graveyard. Why would we leave it in the graveyard after picking it up in Daddy's truck? She wanted to bring it home to our house. When we arrived home I was thinking on these things when Marlea came into the kitchen carrying her beloved "Bowl Hat". I was sure she was going to say that she is going to use it again. Like I had written two months ago, it was under the bed. She handed it to me. "I don't need this anymore" she said. Words were trying to come out of my gaping mouth as I stared at her. Alas I had no words for such a change. I had not expected to ever receive that bowl back. And here she was giving it to me after lying in the graveyard with her head on her deceased sister's tombstone. I took it, but was totally confused by the series of events. So that was the last thing for her - putting the tombstone over Kira's grave? To me the action brought reactions - nasty, ugly, sullen, angry ones. To my daughter it brought closure, peace, and acceptance. I felt slapped in the face.

So I thought about it, tried to talk about it with my friends, let myself be angry again. My mind played the "what if" games again as I struggled with God about giving back my daughter before I thought it was time. In the end I decided to accept the tombstone. After all, if I didn't I would have to face my daughters questions and probes for the next fifty years. Maybe acceptance was the easy way out but it surely does brings more peace. The next Sunday I went to the graveyard again. Two of my friends went with me along with a bunch of Marlea's and Anna's friends. This time it was set upright in place and Marlea was riding it full of grins. It was easier this time and we all shed some tears. It makes it easier to accept when I realize that it is not only painful for me to look at it, but also for others. As I gazed at it I realized that it is a really nice tombstone. It has her picture engraved, the Jesus "Rock of Ages" symbol from the picture on her blog, and her name. As I stared at it I also realized that we had forgotten to put daughter of on. But I don't really care. At least my name isn't there with hers. Somehow it eased the pain and I breathed a sigh of relief. The next Sunday I went again. Now it's less bitter. I feel okay about it. I still can't say that I like it, but I do say it's a nice tombstone if there ever was such a thing.

I seem to have had numerous other reactions. Anna is growing and is now two and a half. She and Marlea are starting to actually play things that make sense together. Once again I hear little feet trotting after each other, someone hollering "Mia", and a little voice singing God is Great at the table before meals. It's nice but I find myself being afraid of it. It reminds me too much of "how it used to be." I attempt to face the fear and remind myself that it's not a valid fear. The actual fear is simply the fear of Anna also being taken to heaven. I need not fear it because God is in control. If I really trust Him like I say I do then it should not be a fear. But alas, I am human. My fear does not keep me from enjoying her antics and play. I smile and thank God for the healing that we have experienced. Even if it means not thinking about the "hole" so much. I thank God also for Anna's vast vocabulary and how that makes it so much easier for her and Marlea to play and communicate.

I am also reacting to upcoming changes in our family. Baby four is due in several days. Changes - good ones but it makes me miss the "Sunshine" girl who played such a vital part in our family. I realize that she would be helping me a lot with the baby especially when Marlea is at school. She would also be playing with Anna. Instead Anna is making baby noises and screams in preparation for baby four's arrival. A few days ago I decided that there is no other way to make room for baby four without putting some of Kira's clothes away. It was terribly hard to do, and still feels like betrayal almost two years later. Memories are still fresh in my mind. Anna reacted by standing in a corner and screaming. She made big bold statements like "Kira doesn't need this anymore because she is up in heaven". Or-"Kira won't mind if I wear this because she is in heaven". It added to my pain but the bluntness and truth she spoke also helped me keep in focus that it is simply the truth. Some of her clothes fit Anna so I didn't need to put them all away. I freely admit that there are some clothes in Anna's drawer that are quite oversized for her little self. Until Anna grows into them, they still belong to Kira.

Pray for us in the changes that are coming. Pray that we will enjoy and embrace now and it's joy fully. It seems possible for this baby to bring more healing for all of us. Our God is mysterious!

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, and Anna