November's full moon is called the Mourning Moon, and so it is. It was in November that my daughter was kidnapped. But it was also in November that I last saw her. This was our last season together. This was the air we breathed when we last talked, when we told each other "I love you."
As November dawns this year, I find myself really struggling. Recently I read Elizabeth Edwards' "Saving Graces," in which she talked about the death of her 16-year old son, Wade, who was killed when a gust of wind swept the car he was driving off the road. In this book, she delved deeply into her grief, and her grief sparked something in me, because I recognized it as something that I have not been able to experience. She watched and tended at her son's grave, but I have not been able to do that. I have no grave to tend. I have not been able to fully mourn. I am not allowed to, because I have had to hang onto hope. And I have not allowed myself to feel the full impact of my grief. I have busied myself for the last 26 years, wrecking havoc in my own life and the lives of those around me in my headlong rush to deny and avoid that black hole in the center of my life. But as I read Edwards' book I felt it fill me, and I just wanted to take a month, six months, a year, maybe the rest of my life, and just mourn my own loss, to grieve for my child.
I then read "Choosing to See" by Mary Beth Chapman. She is the wife of Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman, and she wrote about the death of their five-year old daughter, who had been killed when she was run over in the driveway by their teenage son. Then I got the album "Beauty Will Rise" by her husband, a collection of the songs he wrote after the death of his daughter. I listened to these for days as I drove back and forth to work, and I felt myself slow and fall into them until one day as I drove across the bridge I just quite simply exploded. I am not a cryer. I will sit with an ache in my chest rather than cry. But on this day, the tears and sobs just broke out uncontrollably. Actually, I will admit, I actually screamed right there in the car, and not just once. The song that spurred this outpouring was "Heaven Is the Face."
There is a verse that says,
Heaven is the sound of her breathing deepThis verse filled me with the memory of the last night that Michaela spent with me, when I woke up feeling cramped in my bed. I reached out and identified the cause of the overcrowding as I ran my fingers through Michaela's silky hair, along the contours of her head. I had thought about sending her back to her own bed, but I didn't. I let her stay, allowed her that comfort, that protection from the fears of the night. And this was it. This was what had me screaming and asking God, HOW COULD YOU? YOU GAVE HER TO ME TO LOVE AND PROTECT, AND HOW COULD YOU HAVE ALLOWED MY CHILD TO FALL INTO THE HANDS OF EVIL LIKE THAT? How could this have happened? How could this even be true?
Lying on my chest, falling fast asleep while I sing
And Heaven is the weight of her in my arms
Being there to keep her safe from harm while she dreams....
Another of the songs on this album, Jesus Will Meet You There, was also breaking my heart:
When you realize the dreams you've had
for your child won't come true
when the phone rings in the middle
of the night with tragic news...
Whatever valley you must walk through,
Jesus will meet you there.
Just as the seasons change in the world, sometimes bringing clouds and haze, and sometimes sparkling clarity, so too are the seasons of the spirit. At least Pastor David tells me this is universally true. I look at others and they seem so strong and firm in their faith, but one day when I was crashing I told Pastor David that I just didn't think I was worth anybody's time and effort, and he told me that there is not a person I admire, who I consider a role model, who has not felt that way. Well, I'm not sure that they have felt that way as often as I do. But I've been in a slump. Awhile back, on my other blog (www.just-sharon.com), I wrote to myself from the mountaintop, because I knew it would not last and I wanted to remind myself of how real it had been, that mountaintop, and how crisp and clear everything had been, when God touched me, lifted me, and showed me things I had not even asked to see.
Now ... now I am muddling along at the bottom of the mountain. I am praying, not even for myself or my own family, but for a couple of children and their families, and I am begging God please, answer, heal these children. Heal them for their own sakes and for their families, but heal them also for me. Let me see the glory and power of the Lord in the smiles on the faces of these children. Please. Show us your love. Show us why.
So I'm going to end with one more song from the Beauty Will Rise album, probably my favorite:
This is not how how it should be
This is not how it could be
But this is how it is
And our God is in control....
Though this first taste is bitter
There will be sweetness forever
When we finally taste and see
That our God is in control.
God bless you, my friends, my family. God bless you my little girl, wherever you may be. Remember who you are in God. Remember who you are in my heart, always and forever and ever and ever, a shining light in the darkness of my broken heart.