Letters to Taylor: On Numbness
My sweet girl,
I have not wanted to write to you in the past couple weeks. I knew that as soon as my fingers began to type words that I long to speak to you in person, tears would fall, and pain would surge into my soul full force. I’ve felt numb more often since my last letter to you and I’m not sure which is worse. Numbness to dull the pain while knowing it’s still there and can rear its head unexpectedly or just feeling the sharpness of the pain and trying to carry on through it.
Since Mom went to heaven 19 years ago, May has been a tricky month to maneuver. Mom’s birthday on the 10th and Mother’s Day in the same week has combined to make it a week of bittersweet memories. It does not seem possible that you, the one who first made me a mother, is in heaven. The sweetness of Mother’s Day and my beautiful blessings of 6 children and an awesome son-in-law mingled with the sorrow of losing you has weighed heavily on your mama.
It’s amazing how God orchestrated the birth of our Tarah to be on the same day as Mom’s birthday. I had much to keep me busy during coping with sorrow. I’ve found that when my hands stay busy, my heart doesn’t have as much opportunity to sink. Hands serving others make for a heart full of joy. This principle has always held true in my life and I’ve found it especially important since you graduated to heaven.
Daddy and I had a wonderful, restorative vacation time together, but once we returned, as usual with vacations, the reality of everyday life returned as well. And not that our life isn’t wonderful! Mercy, God is so very good to us. But it’s been a strange season of grief and frankly, I’ve realized that grief is not a season; it’s a new permanent. The grief will never go away; it is the way we learn to manage it and live within it that is seasonal and will continue to change.
When my dear friend, Jennifer, asked if I would be willing to speak at their church for Mother’s Day, I felt strong and immediately answered yes. In the moment, the Holy Spirit was so evident in the request. But the week before speaking, I felt fragile and fearful. I’m not joking when I say that I asked God to remove me from the situation. I asked him if maybe there was someone else more fitting that he could put in my place. I honestly was hoping Pastor Doyle would call and say, “I’m sorry, but _____________ is in town this weekend and we think the Lord wants him/her to bring the message on Sunday.”
But God didn’t close the door. Instead, He held it wide open and ushered me right in and through it. I wasn’t sure that I could physically do it. But he made a way. He held me up. I imagined that you and Mom were standing on the edge of heaven, whispering to each other about me. Maybe she said, “There’s your mama. Isn’t it incredible the way she is letting God tell his story through her?” And perhaps you replied, “I love her so much. She makes me proud to be hers. I can’t wait to see her again and tell her.” I don’t know if you had that conversation, but it surely is a beautiful thought. Whether those types of thoughts are only my imaginations or dreams the Lord graciously gives me, they carry me far.
So, we made it through Mother’s Day victoriously. Daddy is my rock beside the Rock, and I can never say how thankful I am for him. It took two days after Mother’s Day for my energy to return and then another milestone day arrived. May 15th is International MPS Awareness Day, a day we’ve noted for years to raise awareness for your former disease and build hope for treatment and a cure. (I loved typing that word “former.”)
On visits to your gravesite over the past few months, I’ve hated its barrenness and starkness. The little marker felt inadequate and the dirt an unsightly reminder.
It seemed that I had turned from an attentive, devoted mother who never left a stone unturned to one who could not adequately get a stone placed. I didn’t know that winter funerals always result in a delay for the stone’s foundation to be poured. Regardless, God had a special plan.
Last Wednesday morning, I received the phone call that your memorial stone was finally placed on your grave. To some it would seem ironic that this happened on May 15th, MPS Awareness Day, (of all days!) but your mama believes God has a plan for every detail of our lives. With smiles and tears, we donned our purple and headed to place flowers in memory of you, our precious girl in heaven.
What can’t be seen from the picture is that Daddy still had his scrub bottoms on because he came straight from work. Michael received special permission to temporarily leave work and his Chic Fil A pants can’t be seen behind your stone. Tiffany changed into her purple in the car at the cemetery. Zach made a special trip home to get his camera so we had a timer and everyone could be in the picture.
It wasn’t an easy accomplishment to get everyone there at the same time due to usual midweek commitments. And Tristina? She had to leave from the cemetery and perform at her school choir concert. Not only did she have to sing on stage, but here are the lyrics to one of the selections she sang:
I am a poor wayfaring stranger
While traveling through this world of woe
Yet there’s no sickness, toil nor danger
In that bright world to which I go
I’m going there to see my Father
I’m going there no more to roam
I know dark clouds will gather ‘round me
I know my way is rough and steep
But golden fields lie out before me
Where God’s redeemed shall ever sleep
I’m going there to see my mother
She said she’d meet me when I come
I’ll soon be free from every trial
My body sleep in the churchyard
I’ll drop the cross of self-denial
And enter on my great reward
I’m going there to see my Savior
To sing His praise forevermore
Somehow your beautiful sister stood on that stage and sang those words with tears streaming down her face. Mine and Daddy’s faces mirrored hers. She is so much like you- incredibly strong in the face of adversity. No doubt, you and Mom were chatting it up again.
You: “She makes me proud to be her sister. God has such a special plan for her life.”
Mom: “Just as He has yours.”
Before we went into the concert, I told Daddy that the sky would be purple when we left. I knew you were cheering your sister on to new heights.
O sweet girl. Though there are moments when I can’t feel anything due to the numbness, the peace I have is indescribable and I’m compelled to pursue work that brings hope, both inspiring and tangible. To that cause, I’ll sign off for now.
I love you so much.