Letters to Taylor: On Gifts in Grief

Letters to Taylor: On Gifts in Grief

Sweet Taylor,

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to coming home without you here. You know I’m a homebody anyways. But part of the joy in our home was having you in it. I miss you so much. I’ve often thought of some friends, parents I know who lost their two children to heaven. Now they have an empty house with no children. My heart aches for them deeply and I ask the Lord to make himself known to them in their daily moments. I truly can’t imagine.

I know everyone is missing you. Oh, in a household our size, with all different personalities and likes and differences, we’re not all walking around openly mourning day and night. I’ve tried to limit my tears to times when I’m alone; I suppose it’s a protective mechanism for your daddy, brothers, and sisters. Sometimes the tears just spill over anyways and it seems that everyone understands. We are all processing grief and loss in individual ways and it’s going to be a long journey.

Right after God called you home to heaven, a precious friend brought a gift to each member of our family. The gift was a ring with your name engraved on it. Because I use my hands so much, I’m only wearing mine on special occasions, but several of your siblings wear theirs every day. I have enjoyed watching them cherish the rings and ponder memories of you. I still need to write her a thank-you.

Today I feel weak and unable to do anything. My brain doesn’t seem as foggy as it has been for the last two months, but self-motivation is at an all-time low. Last week at my appointment, the doctor reminded me of the importance of exercise. So, Daddy and I signed up for our usual spring half-marathon. I think this will be number 11 for me; I’m not sure. I started exercising on Monday this week, but here we are on Day 3 and it’s going to take some major motivation to get my rear out of this chair today.

I have lists, long lists of things that need to be done. But though I’ve finally arrived at a block of time to work on them, I can hardly get anything accomplished. I thought perhaps writing to you would ease the pain enough to move on with the to-do’s.

I’ve been grasping joy and sorrow in both hands together, but today the issue is strength. I literally have gone back to my own book for the reminder of how to keep putting one step in front of the other.  Kind of funny that God had me write a book on that topic so I could circle back around to my own much-needed words. He taught me so much through your life. I love how he works.

My sweet friend, Gini, sent a package Saturday before last that impacted me greatly. One of the treasures it held was a simple plaque with the words, “Strong in the Lord.” There was no way she could know how much I needed those words right now. But God did. Yesterday I placed it in the kitchen window so that I see it often and reflect on it much.

Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God so you can stand against the wiles of the devil… The enemy would like nothing more than for grief to render me totally helpless. He uses emotions to paralyze us and while healthy grief is necessary, I think grief is one of those emotions that can make us totally selfish.

I’ve watched grief and loss tear families apart instead of holding them tighter. I’ve seen individuals allow grief to soak into their souls to the point of allowing it to take over completely. I don’t want that. I know you don’t want that for me either. So, I continually pray and ask God to saturate my spirit with his. I quote scripture to myself. Yep, I do.

Part of what makes me ache are the practical tasks that all caregivers have to do after the death of a loved one. Earlier this week, I turned in guardianship paperwork to probate court for the official termination of your guardianship. It’s such a strange formality. As if your death stops my parenting or results in a discontinuation of care.

No, death doesn’t stop the parenting, because death doesn’t stop love. I will continue to love you with all my heart for eternity. God gave you to me and though heaven and earth currently separate us, one day they won’t.  

The C-section scar on my body makes me smile now.

Because it’s a reminder of beautiful you.

Something that I once thought of as ugly is now a gift in grief.

I love you, my girl.

Your Mommy

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    Letters to Taylor: On Emptiness

    Letters to Taylor: On Expressions of Sympathy and Love

    Letters to Taylor: On Pain

    Letters to Taylor: On Grief and Imagination

    Letters to Taylor: On Sorrow and Joy

    Letters to Taylor: On Loss

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    11 Comments

    1. Rachel, I wanted to let you know how much I’ve appreciated these letters to Taylor. They have been so helpful in helping me process the loss of our special needs son David in October 2018. From the early letters after Taylor’s graduation to heaven where your emotions were torn between grieving your loss and rejoicing that your precious daughter was now whole and in the presence of the Lord until this latest one, they so closely parallel what our family has walked through these last few months. I’ve experienced the same grieving, the weakness, the heart-wrenching task of terminating guardianship, even the inability to make progress in checking things off the long to-do list that follows the death of a son or daughter with special needs. Our family is about two months further in the process than yours, and let me encourage you that it does get a little easier as time goes on. This last couple weeks, we were finally able to make some progress on the long list of tasks needing to be done. The last medical equipment and supplies are scheduled to be picked up on Monday, and then David’s room will no longer be a constant reminder of his absence here. Just today I had some of the ladies I minister to through the God-Living Girls with Chronic Illness ministry mention how my strength during this time has been such an encouragement to them in the trials they face. I wanted to pass that blessing on to you, because other than Scripture your words have been one of my biggest sources of strength and encouragement as I’ve walked this parallel path to the one you’re journeying down.

    2. Rachel, You share, we all heal. You share, I learn and pray. That is the beauty of walking the valley in love and sisterhood.

    3. Shannon DelVerne says:

      I want to thank you for what you do for your writing. My son Colt was battling brain cancer when I stumbled upon your site and signed up for the regular emails. It helped me more than I can ever share with words. Unfortunately, he lost his battle to cancer and earned his angel wings 11/26/2018. It seems that we are walking a similar path and your letters to Taylor have been comforting for me to read. I intimately know the feeling you describe of both sorrow and joy at the same time…sorrow from the loss of them physically yet total joy that one of our children is in heaven with Jesus. Such a strange feeling. I don’t know you personally but wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your writings and feel a connection as we walk a similar journey. I have 3 other children (Drew 17, Mia 12 & Emma 11). May the Holy Spirit full our broken hearts and give us the strength to put one foot in front of the other each day.

    4. Kelly Lee says:

      Dearest Rachel
      Your “Letters to Taylor” are so precious… filled with love for your sweet daughter and your love for God. Sending you a big hug and praying every day that God holds you close and fills you with His love & peace. I hope you know how much you are loved by all of us here in the Bible study and how much we love Taylor. Though I have never met you or your sweet girl, I feel like I know you both personally through your writing and I pray for you daily.
      Blessings,
      Kelly

    5. Continued prayers, Rachel. ??

    6. Cheryl Edwards says:

      Dearest Rachel;
      I have enjoyed your letters to Taylor so much. I share a similar story with you. 36 years ago we lost our son to gain a home in heaven he was deaf-blind and almost 3 years old and died from a rare kidney disease. We had twins boys then that were 7. Over the next 27 years we adopted 7 more special children and have 4 fostered now adults living with us. Then 17 years ago our then 13 year old son died 4 days before one of twins got married. Then my husband developed dementia and lives now in a nursing home. Then last year my 25 years old daughter died last year year then 2 weeks ago my 30 year old son passed away they all have been gifts from the Lord. One of my greatest treasures in life has been to be a Mom. Because of their very special needs God has moulded and changed me in way that I thought could have ever been possible. He has brought literally a thousand people in my life that we would have never ever meet and developed relationships with had it not been for my wonderful children.
      To make a long story short now I’m so blessed one of my twins has 2 bio children and has now adopted 3 little adorable girls with special needs and started fostering a tiny little baby boy. The other twin and his wife have 3 beautiful children. And they are very involved in their children’s ministry at their church.
      Well I could go on forever talking about all my kids extended community family etc.
      Bottom line wanted to tell you what a blessing you have been to me over this last little while. Keep looking up and leaning totally on him. My heart breaks for you at the loss of Taylor but God’s plans are perfect.
      Sorry for rambling on. Blessings

      1. oh Cheryl!So precious. What a story!! And God is still working. Thank you for sharing with me.

        1. Cheryl Edwards says:

          Rachel I have truly enjoyed your letter to Taylor! May the Lord continue to bless each of you as you go through this season.Take care

    7. Corinna Fehr says:

      I wish I could just sit beside you right now. No talking unless you want to. You could tell me about your sweet girl. Praying you’ll find the strength you need for the next hour.

    8. Irma Zermeno-Ortega says:

      My heart truly goes out to you Rachel because I can only image how you must feel. I have lost 2 brothers, 1 sister, my dad and recently my dear mama who I miss beyond measurer. I have been truly blessed by your letters as I also go through another journey of grief. Although it may not seem like it to you right now, you are such an inspiration and I am so truly blessed that I found you when I did. God lead me to your web page and for that I am so grateful. I don’t feel alone and I enjoy reading your letters and everything you write. God is good. My prayers are with you as you continue on this journey knowing that you are not in it alone.

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