16 weeks

Today it was 16 weeks since our lives changed. For some reason, I had a really hard time of it this morning. I am usually fine every Sunday,  being surrounded by my church family and worshipping God together. But today was just gut-wrenchingly sad.

Jenna’s friend Joseph came and sat on my lap for a little while this morning before church started. How did he know I just needed a toddler to love on? As I sat there swaying him on my lap and feeling his soft hair against my cheek, I was comforted by the familiarity with which he swayed along with me. If it weren’t for the weight difference (Joseph is a chunker and Jenna was petite) I would have been able to close my eyes and pretend that the muffin was on my lap.  It certainly was tempting to pretend anyway.

During the service I got a phone call from a friend from whom I haven’t heard since Jenna passed away. Her son often spends time here over the summer and my boys have been asking if he can come over again. I was glad to get her phone call but she told me that her son is ambivalent about coming here now that Jenna is gone. It saddens me that my children have not only lost a sister, but that some of their friends are avoiding visiting us. I assured my friend that there is no ‘spirit of heaviness’ floating around my house and that life carries on pretty much the same way it did before. For some reason my friends’ response was: “That makes me sad.”

I had no opportunity to ask her what she meant but her comment bothered me. Does she want us to walk around under a heavy cloud instead of letting Jesus lift our burdens and bring us his peace and joy? Or does she think that I don’t miss my little girl and that it doesn’t matter to me that she’s gone? Or did she interpret my comment to mean that nothing has changed in our lives and Jenna’s death didn’t affect us at all?  

Nothing could be further from the truth. Life on the outside might seem to be the same, but on the inside everything is different. I am different. I will never be the same Sumi that kissed my husband and two of my boys goodbye before boarding that aeroplane to South Africa in January this year. Everything in my life falls into two categories right now. Before 17 February 2008, and after that same date.

Shortly after Jenna left us my sister and I were shopping at a store and I made a comment about how strange it was that everything seemed so normal and that none of the shoppers who saw us even knew that our lives had been irrevocably changed. She responded: “Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?” She was referring to the lyrics of an old Carpenter’s song:

Why does the sun go on shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world,
it ended when you said goodbye…

 In some ways that song is true, life as it was has ended. The world keeps spinning on outside my window while the path we are walking on still seems so unreal. Still, hopes of a new life and a new thing being done in me springs forth and I can honestly say there is much joy in the middle of the sadness.

The Bath and Body Shop is having their sale this week and I went to stock up on some yummy body creams.  I remember how the little princess would beg for lotion every time she saw me putting it on and how she would take a deep sniff of its’ fragrance once she’d smeared it all over her hands and arms and legs and tummy. I was tempted this morning to put away the half-used tube of body cream that was bought when Jenna was still with us, and open a fresh one. Jenna had held that particular tube of lotion and to use it up and throw it away is to lose yet another Jenna connection. My temptation to hold on to every single little thing is a feeble attempt to freeze time, and not to let it go on relentlessly without Jenna. Yet I am powerless to do so, and this tube of lotion will eventually be used (which is better than letting it go rancid on the shelf) and tossed away. The memories of my lotion-loving muffin however, can not be taken from me.  

God was faithful to love me through his people today. When I needed an extra hug, he sent someone to give me one. (Thanks, Dana!) Another lady from church said she could feel my pain clear accross the room and she came and carried some of it for me.

My oldest friend in the world surprised me with a phone call today (all the way from sunny South Africa) and it was such a joy to talk to her. She said something (or did we both say it?) about how my blog is a place where people are able to come alongside of me and help carry my burden. I am so aware of the blessing this blog has been to me. It has been a form of expression, but it has also given all of you a window into my life and your support in the form of comments and prayers has been priceless. I think I would be in a much worse place, if it weren’t for all of you – thank you!

I have had many thoughts I wanted to share. I have a full blog entry in my archives that I haven’t published yet. It seemed a bit lame to me (my thoughts have been a bit foggy this week) but I might go back and hit the publish button soon.

We did a wonderful study on the yoke of God at bible school and I spent some time digging deeper into the concept this week. I’d love to blog about it soon. It is a far reaching study for me and a very timely one for our day and age.

Anyhow, thanks for reading and letting me ramble. Heather, I loved that phone call…thanks!!! 

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17 responses to “16 weeks

  1. Still praying, still hurting with you. Since we have never met face to face, you are correct that your blog is the place we stand with you. I remember as if it was yesterday that feeling of “why are these people acting as if nothing is changed”. i just wanted to scream at them, but of course, they didn’t know. It is funny how people seem to want your pain to go away so they can feel better but when you do show that you are surviving they think you are callous.

    keep up the writing and the honesty. it is encouraging to many.

    greg and linda

  2. Sumi,
    I was reading another dairy at my OD site and saw this. I hope it will give you some comfort today.

    In Habbakuk 2:3 (NLT), God says, “These things I plan [for your life] won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.”

    Sumi,
    I’m often accused of not caring about my older children. When I hear that I can’t tell you how much it hurts. I love them just as much as the younger ones but I tend to hide so much of my feelings for the older ones away. I seldom share anything of how much my life changed when I had to leave behind 7 children for my own life. The ex was so out of control and I tried to protect the children by not saying anything about their dad. I know many people thought that I had ‘left my other children behind’ but that wasn’t true. I just realized that I couldn’t do anything for them by remaining sad and miserable. I chose to let God heal my heart and make the best of the life He had given me. Healing can be a choice, one can either let the Lord heal one’s hurts or continue to wallow in them not allowing that precious healing. You are allowing God to heal you, many won’t understand it but that is ok. You are still doing the right thing. God is truly glorified by your process of healing.

    On another thread, I still have clothes from when my teenagers were little. I won’t give them away. It hurts to much. Perhaps one day I will be able to. Right now I watch my little ones grow into them and remember the older ones wearing them.

  3. you’re welcome – your friendship has helped carry me through some pretty rough patches and I can only attempt to return the favor. . .

    last week (june 2) marked 11 years since Keri. sometimes it seems like yesterday and I can still recall details such as her giggle or her smell in my memories. You’re right, these dates we have serve as markers for before and after – almost like a birthing of something with the death of something else; the two are inseperable.

  4. I also had a rough day yesterday. In fact, I didn’t even go to church. I just stayed home alone. I told a friend later that even though it has been over two years I still have days when the pain is so fresh. I am thankful for those days because, like yesterday, I go to bed feeling like I have spent a day with my Emma because I felt her presence so vividly. I also refer to life as “before” and “after”. I read so many books about life never being the same and finding a “new normal”. I seem to be having such a hard time finding my new normal. I am so glad God sends people in our lives to help us down this path. Thank you for being so honest and open. It is a gift. Love, Stacey

  5. Yesterday in church, during worship, I cried for you and your family. I asked God to help me carry some of your pain.
    I continue to pray for all of you.
    Thank you for continuing to share your story with everyone, including those that don’t know you but want to mourn with you.

  6. Sumi,
    Thanks for commenting on my blog. Your blog is a tremendous blessing. A constant reminder that our life is not our own, but that every tiny shred of us belongs to the Lord, therefore we can trust him and know that he loves us with a love we cannot understand. I’ve learned & your blog reminds me that mourning is natural and o’k. We miss them. That is o’k. Knowing that they are playing at the feet of Jesus and that we will see them again brings such peace and assurance that strengthens and gives hope. Thank you Sumi, for being honest & transparent. Your love for your God shines through your words. Keep resting in his peace; the peace that passes all understanding.
    You are in my prayers!

  7. you have a gift for writing… I continue to pray for you.

  8. Oh Sumi. Your blog is more than just a place where people come to help carry your burdens, it is also a place where some of us come to have our own burdens validated. So much of what you say resonates with me and it helps me, too, to know how to pray for you, as I go back in my mind to the place on the timeline of my own grief where you are now. No loss is the same. No ache is the same. And yet, the Lord who slowly but surely heals them all is precisely the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

    And for what it’s worth, “It makes me happy.” You know, hearing that the joy of Jenna’s life is still outweighing the sorrow of her absence in your home.

    God is still God and He is still good.

    Thanks for being you.

  9. I came across your site from another, and I just wanted to say that I am praying.

  10. Oh, Sumi, I do get it. Did I ever mention finding hair in one of Hannah’s hair doodles and pulling out the baby-fine threads to keep? It’s strange the things that become precious after a loss.

    Prayers and HUGS, Sumi!
    Rachael

  11. Wow. Thank you for coming to comment on my journal.

    Yes, our situations are different, but in no way do I doubt that you feel the same loss, the same sense of fear and doubt that I have felt.

    And you have Jesus!

    Today is a month for me, and God finally seems to be listening. But I am seeking Him out. I am searching for Him, and through your journal, I can see that He is softly speaking to me! Thank you for being so..open to His work! It must be terribly hard to surrender, but just know that you are sowing wonderful seed, even in my measly life!

    The Habbakuk verse is second time I’ve seen it today. I needed it, and I realize that God still has plans for me. Even though I feel like you, that I can’t understand how the world can keep going on, while my life feels like it has ended. It has. I am no longer the woman I was a month ago. My future is different, but it is not over.

    You have blessed me. Thank you! I hope I am able to bless you and other people the way you have today. God bless you – you are in my prayers (and when I say I pray for you, I mean it!)

  12. I had similar thoughts about the world still buzzing about me when I went through my loss…

    hugs to you dear friend…

  13. I still have not touched the perfume and lotion I use to wear all the time for JT. I wore it so that he knew who I was. For when he was really little and in the incubator. I wore it until the day that he passed away. I haven’t touched it. I understand completely.

    I went to Kroger to get his carnations for his funeral. Well, I wanted blue and orange. The lady at the floral shop was very helpful she said we could just make some and spray painted them for me. She said they were beautiful and asked what they were for. I told her just let the whole long story come out. She was very understanding. She told me that she would be praying for me and that any time I needed an orange or blue carnation to come see her and for the last year, she always has some waiting for me and hug to go with it.

    As I was walking through Kroger though I remember just looking around going do these people not understand??? My baby is gone! How can they just be so happy and not care???

    Thank you so much for sharing heart so openly with us. It is a blessing to many. I know you have helped me immensely. As I am still struggling. And just to see God’s light emitting from your posts in this time of tragedy is just awe inspiring. It gives me hope. Thank you so much!

  14. Sumi,
    I just found your blog through Leann’s “Widow’s” blog and wanted you to know how very sorry I am about your daughter. I cannot begin to understand your pain, but I admire your willingness to share and your faith in God.

    On July 20, I will face the one-year mark since my husband left Earth for Heaven. I would not attempt to give anyone advice on grieving but I will say something you already know…”God is good. All the time.”

    Blessings,
    Susan

  15. I decided to visit your blog. You commented on mine. I spent a long time reading over your blog and hearing the story of your little girl. I am sad for you. I often times have a hard time understanding how one moves on after such tragedy. I have 3 kids, my youngest will be 2 soon. I can’t imagine what I would do if I lost him or the girls. And I’m amazed at how much strength and courage you have. I’ve lost a dad and a brother to suicide, but I have never lost a child. It has to be one of the hardest things to ever deal with. But in another sense, I’m grateful you have Jesus. What would we do without Jesus? He holds us when we feel so small. He lifts us up out of the ashes. He turns our sorrow into joy. And most of all, He feels our pain too.

    Give yourself time to heal. It isn’t wrong to mourn someone that you loved so dear. My dad died 18 years ago when I was just a little girl and I still mourn him. It isn’t wrong to cry or miss the people in our lives that were once here. We have to mourn what could have been, yet look ahead because we know we’ll be with them again.

    God bless you this day and peace be with you.

  16. I deliberately listened to “Cinderella” this morning so that I could feel just an inch of the pain that your family and the Chapman family are going through…as with Job, I can only say, that God knew He could entrust you with it…”Father, wrap Your arms around the grieving today. Give them a glimpse of their loved ones that will bring joy and comfort..thank You..In Jesus Name, Amen.”

  17. When my 4-year old niece Kyra died, we had a memorial service for her that included the kids from her small, in-home preschool.

    We let each child choose one of Kyra’s things to keep as a keepsake of her.

    Kyra’s best friend Molly took Kyra’s purple fleece blanket, which was with her before and during her entire illness.

    As 4-year old Molly wrapped herself up in Kyra’s blanket, she said, “I’m not crying on the outside but I’m crying on the inside.”

    And that’s just how grief is. Life stops for no one individual or personal Armageddon. We’re not crying on the outside but we’re crying on the inside, at least some of the time.

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