A Time to Dance

“There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven.  A time to cry and a time to laugh.  A time to grieve and a time to dance.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

My Zoe…those cheeks, that smile, the sparkle in her green eyes – I can still remember what it was like to rub lotion on her arms after her bath.  I remember the feel of the tightened skin on the scar across her side from her PDA ligation, the dimples in her chest from chest tubes, those little silver slashes covering her heals.  Her battle scars.  Why didn’t we win that final battle?  I don’t know.  I hope for an answer one day when I find my sweet Zoe again.

I’ve been grasping for her…reaching, trying to grab hold and keep her tight in my arms.  Like trying to catch the wind – it’s an exercise in futility, it has a way of slipping effortlessly through my fingers.  Wind wasn’t meant to be held.  Her physical body is not here any longer, but the sensation of remembrance still tingles on the tips of my fingers.  She’s in my heart forever, locked in a mother’s love that never diminishes, only grows stronger with each passing day. 

Letting go – it feels like forgetting – but that isn’t the case at all.  I am finally beginning to understand that.  My sorrow doesn’t need to be the tie that binds me to Zoe.  A little girl with so many challenges stacked against her and yet she smiled and giggled at every turn.  She spread joy to nurses who worked tirelessly every day saving the lives of our tiniest babies.  Their job is wrought with painful losses, it is unavoidable in the NICU.  My little girl was supposed to be one of those early losses – but she wasn’t.  She lived and her smile lifted the spirits of many along the way.

I don’t want grief to bind me to her – she didn’t embody sadness – quite the opposite.  Nancy Guthrie wrote in her devotional book Hope, about letting go of our grief.  Her words really resonated with what I've been struggling with.  Giving myself permission to allow grief to loosen it's grip on me.  She writes:

 “We realize at some point that we have to figure out how to keep on living, how to incorporate the loss into our lives.  We want to feel normal again, to feel joy again.  But the energy and emotion of grief keep us feeling close to the one we love or connected to what we’ve lost.  Letting go of our grief feels like letting go of the one we love, leaving him or her behind and moving on.  The very idea of it is unbearable….We can make the painful choice to let it go [our grief] – not all at once, but a little every day…We can begin to let go of our grief so we can grab hold of life and those who are living.  But I think the only way we can do that is by telling ourselves the truth – that if we choose to let go of the pain, at least let it become manageable, it does not mean we love the one we’ve lost any less.  And it doesn’t mean that person’s life [no matter how short] was any less significant or meaningful, or that we will forget…Perhaps it’s not so much that we let go of our grief, but more that we give our grief permission to lessen its grip on us.”

Not all at once, just a little each day.  It has been four and half years since Zoe died and I am not where I hope to be on my grief journey.  Not by a long shot.  It is a process, a marathon, a test of emotional, physical & spiritual endurance that lasts a lifetime  I haven't had any radical changes, no lighting strikes or booming thunder – I just look for a gentle breeze to caress my cheek each day and wipe away a tear.  Carrying with it my pain, bit by tiny bit.  Giving myself permission to love her like I love Avery and Lily.  I don’t love them out of fear of losing them or out of the trauma and guilt I experienced due to their early birth.  I love them wholly, completely, and actively.  Love isn’t noun, it isn’t a feeling – it’s an action.  Love with deeds not words, love with compassion and gratitude.  Gratitude for the gift that was taken away and gratitude for the miracle our girls survived their early start to life.  Gratitude for having had a chance to have Zoe at all.

There’s a new song by Taylor Swift called “Ronan” – written about a little boy who died from cancer.  The words pierce my heart and tears flow down my cheeks when I listen to it, but I love it.  There are lines in the song that reflect moments I had with Zoe. 

Here are the lyrics and link to the song – it is amazingly beautiful.

By Taylor Swift

I remember your bare feet down the hallway
I remember your little laugh
Race cars on the kitchen floor
Plastic dinosaurs, I love you to the moon and back

I remember your blue eyes looking into mine like we had our own secret club
I remember you dancing before bed time then jumping on me waking me up
I can still feel you hold my hand
Little man, from even that moment I knew
You fought it hard like an army guy
Remember I leaned in and whispered to you

Come on baby with me
We’re gonna fly away from here
You were my best four years

I remember the drive home when the blind hope
Turned to cry and screaming, “Why?”
Flowers piled up in the worst way
No one knows what to say about a beautiful boy who died

And it’s about to be Halloween
You could be anything you wanted if you were still here
I remember the last day when I kissed your face
I whispered in your ear

Come on baby with me
We’re gonna fly away from here
Out of this curtained room in this hospital
We’ll just diappear
Come on baby with me
We’re gonna fly away from here
You were my best four years

What if I’m standing in your closet trying to talk to you?
What if I kept the hand me down you won’t grow into?
And what if I really thought some miracle would see us through?
But what if the miracle was even getting one moment with you

Come on baby with me
We’re gonna fly away from here
Come on baby with me
We’re gonna fly away from here
You were my best four years.

I remember your bare feet down the hallway
I love you to the moon and back

I can see her green eyes looking into mine too – she held a secret and we all wanted in on it. 

I whispered into her ear the night before she died, I can still feel the tickle of her wispy black hair on my lips. 

I can feel her squeeze my finger in the middle of the night before they made us leave. 

And I kissed her face, her sweet pudgy cheeks, one last time. 

As the passage from Ecclesiates says – there is “a time to dance” – that is what time it is in my life right now.  I have grieved.  And I have grieved hard, fierce, and strong – I’ve gone down deep into that valley, that pit, that cave.  But the sunlight peeks through the clouds spreading it’s warm rays on my face.  I feel the tingle of the gentle heat on my cheeks and I let it wash over me into my heart.  My footsteps are lightened, a smile finds it’s way to my lips, and hope begins to fill my thoughts.  I feel a sense of freedom, permission in some way to unlock the heavy burden of my grief.  I memorize this feeling; I stop in the moment and allow happiness and contentment to pulse through my body.  I welcome this sensation and ask it to stay a while.

Just this morning, I sat on the edge of the bed as Avery woke up.  She turned to me with complete love and adoration in her eyes that only a child possesses, yawned, then reached out her arms & clasped her hands behind my neck to pull my forehead to hers.  With a sigh of relief and in that sweet, sleepy voice, she said “Mama” – as if I were her refuge, her safety, her comfort.  I locked myself into that moment and reveled in it.  That was how I danced this morning.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

So happy you are having time to dance, even if it's a moment at a time. I miss her and that secret she had and those green eyes. I am still so impressed with how you have handled everything involving this grief process and the good you are doing for others. Perhaps that was her secret..."My mama rocks and I have to be with God in order for all to see"!

All time favorite video of Zoe!

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Bible verses that comfort me

"Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord."
~ 2 Corinthians 5:8

"Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children....Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them"
~ Mark10:14 & 10:16

"...those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint"~ Isaiah40:31