Wednesday, June 13, 2012

One Year Later, the Guest Posts: Elyse

Thank you all so much for celebrating the large ripples Garrett's short life left in the world with us this week. Every post from a friend, every comment, every person telling us they are reading has been an encouragement and a little bit of joy for us.

Today for our last guest post, we have our friend and community group member Elyse. We joined our group a little over two years ago but our friends in the group are so dear to us that I can barely remember what life was like before them! Actually, I can tell you a little. If you follow this link, you can see an article that we wrote for the church bulletin just weeks before we lost Garrett. I've often thought I should do a follow up because our group supported us in so many ways last year that I don't think there's anything that can express my thanks or even begin to repay them. So I try to feed them a lot and hope that goes a little way. :)

Elyse's contribution is extra special, too, because she has had her own struggles with loss through death in the last two years. I think we both found a lot of healing in the group's journey through GriefShare so I am glad we were able to do that together. Too, this is another post that tells me things I didn't know. I never even imagined until this moment what it must have been like for my friends to return their baby things. All I wanted was for the things to be used by some other baby somewhere so I gave them back. It really is a reminder that we aren't the only ones who hurt.

Elyse, thank you for being our friend and thank you for having great kids who are so fun to be around. And for putting up with Mike's foolishness, haha.
Rob and Elyse at our Christmas gathering. I think this is the picture in our adoption book!

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Several memories flash through my mind as I reminisce about last year:  Celebrating Sharaze’s baby shower with the community group girls the night before Garrett’s passing; crying with my husband after receiving the horrible news the next day; watching Mike tenderly play with Sharaze’s hair in the hospital room while they recalled the past day; staring at the small coffin in a sea of little graves at the cemetery; returning baby clothes and being asked by the cashier if anything was wrong with them; holding back tears I quickly said “No”, but my insides screamed, “Everything is wrong with this!  This shouldn’t be happening!”   

 In processing Garrett’s death, along with other losses in my life, I had to let go of my idea of “perfect”.  Death happens our plans are altered forever; the way we thought life would be is now impossible.  Death does this.  There is no reversing death.  When someone dies, they are gone from this life; a movement that cannot be undone.  We do not have control.

It is hard losing people who were a part of our life plan, because it means losing every hope we had of sharing life with them.  This became clearer to me with Garrett’s passing.  I didn’t realize how many hopes I had for that little boy.  I want to hold him, know him, see him play with my kids, and see Autumn dote on him.  Mike and Sharaze are great parents and their family would be so perfect with a new addition.  Our kids would get to grow up together; our community group family would be expanding.  But instead the worst happened.

I would not consider this a perfect plan.  This seems the opposite of perfect.  However, I had to learn that I do not know best.  There is a much better Plan-Maker.  As we learn from the story of Joseph in the Bible, who endured years of hardship, God has a plan. THE perfect plan.  He does not waste pain.  In fact, “our own tragedies can be a very bad chapter in a very good book.  The terror of randomness is enveloped by the mysterious purposes of God.  In the end, life turns out to be good, although the journey to get there may be circuitous and difficult” (A Grace Disguised, Sittser).   So my mind opens to new possibilities; a different future than what I had planned, like learning a new way to live as an amputee.

In watching Mike and Sharaze over this past year I have been impressed and encouraged with how they have chosen to respond to their loss.  It would have been very easy (and understandable) for them to become bitter and hard-hearted towards God for what happened.  However, they chose the opposite.  From early on they would quote Romans 8:28, “God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  We don’t have control of who we will lose and when, but we do control how we respond to our losses.  It is normal and healthy to go through the emotions of anger, self-pity, depression, but we must not get stuck there or our life is lost along with our loved one.

I thank God for our friendship with the Colleys and the chance to grow with them through this experience.  In the midst of all the unanswered questions, moments of despair, and gut wrenching pain, some might wonder how we can still have faith in God and hope in Jesus.  As I’ve heard the Colleys say, “How can we not?”  Death is a part of life, but this life is not the end.  However, death will have an end, it is not eternal. One day, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:4)

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