Good Friday and Easter Sunday are perhaps the most significant days of the church calendar, and yet, in a real sense, we live our lives on Saturday, the day in between. Philip Yancey

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Cookbook and Fireworks-Grief Anniversary Triggers

To most it looks like a mere festive Christmas cookie recipe book. I had big, specific, colorful dreams when I headed to the cashier hugging what I considered a bound album of memories to make with the firstborn in my belly. I strangely treasure that book, a link to an unswayable, idealist, young version of myself. It isn't of much use for it's intended purpose though since I have never been able to bring myself to actually cook from it, even with our subsequent able-bodied children. When I stumbled on the book a couple of weeks ago it was the surprise tripwire making me acknowledge the source of my recent edginess, July 5th inching closer, the 2 year anniversary of Lydia's death. My emotions were closer to the surface than I realized.

Independence Day is much like that cookbook. To most it's a celebration, beach time, fireworks, cookouts by pools, pinterest explosion of patriotic colored desserts. It's even bigger than that as a tribute to our freedom. No one need apologize to me for their festivities by any stretch, maybe some day I'll be able to join you. Right now at my address there are no festivities, it's still overshadowed as primarily the date these pictures were taken.

Last night Jason was back in his rightful place, next to me in bed after a stint at the hospital for heart complications following his nose and throat surgery. I prepared the dresser with a variety of bottled drinks and measured out, labeled doses of medication to last him till morning. He got some much needed sleep and I dozed between glances at the clock, not wanting to let too much time lapse between pain meds this early in recovery. I noted how hot his arms were, only his arms, cool otherwise. The fans tried to blow the heat off my face. He sweetly and groggily followed my caregiving instructions as I barely held it together, until I couldn't any longer.

Apparently my emotional reservoir had been filling this past month, not quickly enough to require attention but it overflowed last night and has stayed at least high since. While so much is different, there was enough of the same in my "nurse" roll to Jason to take me right back to the wee hours of July 4, 2010.

We knew the end was near. I was sleeping in Lydia's hospital bed to cuddle and stay on top of her comfort meds. The fans were blasting as her fevers, my stress hormones and the July heat were melting me. When her extremities went cold I didn't know how to interpret so I woke Jason and asked him to join us. Everything Glorious came on Pandora and instantly became the theme of Lydia's funeral, the nutshell of her life.

My eyes are small but they have seen,

The beauty of enormous things...

You make everything glorious

And I am Yours

What does that make me?

A few hours later her breathing changed as her systems were rapidly shutting down. Over the day the vocalist from church sang at her bedside and the photographer came by.

Our worn out yet strong girl hung on through "tomorrow".

Fast forward back to 2012, last night my drugged husband held me as the vivid memories and pain gripped my being.

Jason thanked me for not checking out from June 5-July 5 this year as I did last year, as if this was of my volition. He said that my much less consuming grief intrigues rather than scares him. He can't begin to think like me. I told Jason that the level numbness of the past few weeks (aside from a brief moment over the cookbook) has been a relief. There have been thoughts a plenty that felt more strange and sad instead of stabbing. Yet not feeling deeply, did it mean I don't care as much anymore? That I didn't count Lydia worthy to grieve? Jason assured me that couldn't be true as he is a zero (on the need to express emotion scale, per counselor) yet he does care.

My brimming emotional reservoir hasn't continually spilled out today, not as tears at least. I do find myself wishing my parenting responsibilities away so my irritation and lack of graciousness could be kept to myself. It sounds so good to hibernate or at least isolate through tomorrow. I'm edgy. The carelessly shattered plate in the kitchen and the preschooler yielding his stubborn bring reactions rather than responses.

There is nothing that needs to be done to express our remembering tomorrow, at least for Lydia's sake. The recent tastes of watermelon and egg salad pleasantly remind me of our bountiful bereavement food (chicken and rice and field peas were my other mainstay but that would require cooking and it's too hot!). I discovered Arnold Palmer's during that time, specifically Chick-fil-a sweet tea and lemonade, as provided by the gallon in the fridge. So maybe the kids and I will eat there as my quiet marking of the day and bring home the duo for more sipping to share with Jason. Right now I look a bit too much like this,

because writing has allowed me a focused time with permission to cry out the emotions to a more manageable level. I should be a better mom for it.

As strange as it may sound to my husband and others I don't really want this date to pass without touching me. The pain felt is evidence that I was, I am indeed still, blessedly Lydia's mom and no number of years will take that away. Two years has simply provided a degree of healing so that I no longer have to reside at this place of such raw grief.

The little girl in my womb is squirming as I type, offering a distraction but more so reminding me of the definition I recently read of Rainbow Babies:

Rainbow Babies is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.~Courtney
Rainbow Baby, I hope that your life will also be impacted by God's work on us as Lydia's family. You won't get to meet your oldest sister here but we'll make sure you see and hear lots, including how God has revealed Himself through the storms surrounding her life, death and grief for her. Sorry in advance for getting all weird on these milestone days. By the time you are old enough to notice I imagine your other siblings will be telling you how much crazier I used to get, or maybe not. We are thankful for Lydia, you and each child in between. Never doubt our love, God's love or that He makes everything glorious.

And for the rest of my American friends, Happy Independence Day.


  1. Thank you, Allison, for the post and esp the pictures. Even though the threads of our lives are woven together as we would never have planned, I'm so thankful He has and continues to makes us Velveteen Rabbits. Thanks again for being real. I'll go to bed with thoughts and prayers for your aching heart, thanking God He is especially close to the brokenhearted. Hugs...

  2. Allison, thank you for opening your feelings up and being willing to share them with those of us who love you and your family. The pain you live with is unimaginable to me, but I can feel the hurt in your posts. Just in case Caleb mentioned the crazy lady at the movies last week, it was me. I was so excited to see him, but he did not remember me. Oops! In the future, I will be more careful...

  3. Such times can be so difficult. Time does have a way of bringing healing but never completely.