Letters to Taylor:
My sweetest Taylor,
This morning as I was folding laundry, I found one of your socks in the corner of a fitted bedsheet. Something that might have previously slightly annoyed me was a beautiful gift instead. It’s amazing how my perspective has been turned upside down. As I held your little sock in my hand, I thought about how your feet had stopped growing and you wore the same size socks and shoes for years. Size 3. So tiny for a 16-year-old.
Life is abnormal without you. I’m still looking back on the last few months and feeling as if none of it ever happened. Surely you weren’t as sick as you were. It can’t be that our family watched your gradual neurological degeneration over the years come to a climax and halt in a few short weeks.
Now my thoughts can be moving in a typical direction during the day, only to be interrupted by the reality that you are no longer with us. I’m glad that you are not suffering nor in pain with your frail mind and body wasting away. But everyday functioning for your mama feels more like “funk-tioning.”
I am beginning to understand that it always will. Not only will things never be the same, but I will never be the same person I was in your lifetime. The absence of your beautiful spirit is more than a hole in my heart. It’s a volcano, not just an unoccupied space, but a crater with fractures that reach under the surface into all areas of life.
The truth I’m coming to discover is that I don’t ever want to be the same as I was in your lifetime. As I’ve attempted to understand that you’re safely in heaven, I’m understanding more and more the sacredness of the life God gave you on earth. I wasn’t burdened by caring for you; I was privileged to care for you. I didn’t have to be your mama; I was chosen to be your mama. And while I knew these things when you were living, my soul holds a never-before strength of conviction that God’s plan in giving you to us was and is perfect.
In my conversations with the Lord this week, I cried out in anguish and said, “God, you don’t know what it’s like. This pain of losing my daughter is unbearable and I don’t feel like you get it!”
But I heard his gentle whisper reminding me, “Oh, but I do. I gave my Son for you.”
Help me, Jesus.
I’ve always looked at suffering and sorrow as unnecessary pain that I longed to wish away. I didn’t know how to face hardship without fear or how to look adversity in the eye. Mostly I couldn’t comprehend the honor of being trained in the way of affliction. For with this training comes a newfound understanding of distress, a deep language of love, and a fresh anointing of the Spirit, if we so choose.
I wish I could sit with you as we did in days gone by. But since we can’t for now, I wanted to let you know that you’d be so proud of me. I’m dying. I am dying daily to myself and surrendering every moment of the day to God. I’d like to say I’ve done this before, but truthfully, not at this level. As it turns out? This kind of death is the most perfect way to grow.
I may not be able to walk a mile in another person’s shoes in order to understand their pain. But I can hold your small, precious sock close to my heart and whisper to them:
God sees what you are going through. His arms are reaching out to you, longing to draw you in. He wants you to be so close that you can hear the thud of his heartbeat and the echo of his voice rattling in his chest. If you can allow the inhale and exhale of his Spirit to set the rhythm for your breathing, life will take on new meaning.
Snuggle up to Him as close as you can for me, Sweet Girl. I’m just on the other side.
I love you.