Capture Your Grief–Day 1. Sunrise

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October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. So Carly Marie over at Project Heal is hosting a Capture Your Grief project for the month. She provides photography prompts for each day and I will try to post each day using her schedule. I think it will be a nice way to remember Cora.  Especially since this is her due date month.

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7:03 a.m. in Little Rock, AR. This is as close to seeing the sun rise as I get in my little valley. Which perhaps is fitting for this theme. In the aftermath of a death, joy for the day is there but hard to find among dense trees of anger, guilt, sadness, tiredness, confusion, despair, apathy. C. S. Lewis called living on earth living in the Shadowlands. It can be hard to see clearly in shadows. Grief is the deepest, darkest of shadows. We all must at times walk through the valley of the shadow of death. And in reality, no one will truly see the light of day until the Son returns.

In my heart and on my mind

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I received Cora’s Mamie’s Poppy Plate a few weeks ago.

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I couldn’t figure out where to put it. I really wanted it in a prominent spot in our home, but was afraid to leave it out. Too many balls flying around here and I couldn’t take a chance on it breaking. So I finally settled on in the kitchen, safely in the hutch.

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As I was putting Jacob in his chair for lunch today, he saw it and said “Look! Cora’s feet!” I agreed and he said “Cora’s sad.” I guess he’s remembering the general feeling he got from me in the beginning. I explained she was happy with Jesus. Then he said, “No playing with her toys. No no monster truck.” When we last visited her grave, there was another grave there that was decorated with little boy toys. Jacob was upset we wouldn’t let him take the truck home with him. Amazing what kids remember.

Celia also talks about Cora occasionally. She said yesterday that if Cora was alive, then we would have 7 in our family. She also said that when she said she was hoping the baby was a girl, that she really meant she just wanted a new baby. I don’t know what prompted her to say that. She’s obviously still doing some deep thinking about it all.

I asked a sweet lady, Joy, of Vintage Verses on  Etsy, to create a hymn print of Have Faith in God. She was able to add Cora’s verse as well.

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She worked hard and had to buy permission to use the hymn.  I am thrilled with the results. This is hung in our family room. I view this as a reminder of victory while suffering.

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Each week gets better, but I am always suprised at what triggers the tears. It seems random to me. Like when I saw a picture of me as a baby, I could just imagine what Cora might have looked and smelled like. Yet, I can see baby pictures of my other children multiple times a day and not be moved to tears.  I am also able to hold other’s babies and be okay. When the grief comes, it’s fast and intense.

I am enjoying life though. For the first time in 8 years, I am not pregnant or nursing a baby. I hadn’t realized how perpetually tired I was until the last month or so. Since I’ve healed physically and the exhaustion of early grief has worn off, I am amazed how much energy  I have. It really is possible to wake up early, exercise and have a quiet time without wearing yourself out for the rest of the day! Life is not always fun, but at the moment, I’m content.

11 Years (and counting!)

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Tonight we celebrated Andrew’s 11th birthday. It was just a family party, which I love. The biggest stress is doing the cake. Which I made easy on myself this year. It’s still an egg-less cake. He is outgrowing the allergy and can have egg in some things. But I would hate for his own birthday cake to give him a reaction!

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Here are some of the party goers. I missed pictures of the others!

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Flaming ball cake.IMG_1261

 

I colored the cake on the inside too.

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I think one slice meets my sugar quota for the week! YUM!

Until

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My little precious baby,

We said goodbye again today.

We visited your grave,

Where your body was laid.

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We took pictures of you with your sisters,

And your brothers too.

You could not take any others with them,

Just the ones at your tomb.

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I get sad when I think

Of all that I will miss:

The sounds of your laugh and cry,

Your wet and slobbery kiss.

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I wonder what you’re doing;

Playing with some kids above?

Being rocked by my grandmother?

You’ll always be surrounded by perfect love.

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So until we can join you,

We will visit you here,

And in our hearts we’ll hold you,

So you will always be near.

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Reluctant Servants

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We had a lesson about being a servant to others in our curriculum this morning. The illustration was foot washing. I knew this would be unpopular with my students, but we did it anyway. I had Andrew do it first, to set an example  for the others to follow. He made me proud. He had the best attitude and took the most care. It did help that he drew Celia’s name.

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Charlotte wasn’t happy about any of it.

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Jacob wanted to do it too. He was so fast that all of his pictures were blurry.

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For the last five school days I have forgotten to do English with Charlotte. It’s a new subject for her this year. She would always remind me at night that we hadn’t done it for the day. And then I would always remember that we seemed to be finishing our school morning quicker than normal. I kept thinking it was because we were becoming so efficient with our time! So today I made a daily/weekly chart of the subjects each child needs to cover and then laminated it. I can then easily mark off what we’ve done and see what needs to be finished. Then I erase and start over for the next day. I’ve also included a list of extras that I want Celia to cover every few weeks. It’s a good reminder of what to tell a child to do if they’re bored or bothering a sibling!

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I received in the mail a wonderful memento of Cora’s life. A good friend, Scarlett, requested a Heart to Hold to be sent to me. It’s a handmade, cloth heart that is stuffed with the weight of your stillborn baby. So, Cora’s heart weighs 6 ounces. It was nice to have the children hold it so they could feel how tiny she was.

IMG_1237You can never have too many reminders of your baby!

 

Field Trip #1: Toltec Mounds

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We took a break from book learning in exchange for learning in the field. Literally. We went to Toltec Mounds. After watching the video about the history of the place, and perusing the small museum,  we went outside.

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We chose to go on the 1.6 mile trail, which wasn’t paved. We fought mosquitoes 2/3 of the trip and looking at my legs today, I can tell you I lost the battle.

Here they are at the base of a mound.

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And by a lake which borders the park.

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Here’s proof I was there.

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After buying trinkets in the gift shop, we had a picnic lunch.

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It was a pretty successful outing. I hope to do more field trips this year. And where’s Jacob? Enjoying a morning at Granny’s!

Cancelled Debt

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Monday was our first day of school and it was the best first day we’ve ever had! I think this was due to Jacob spending the morning with Granny.

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Plus almost all the curriculum were the ones we used last year.

It was a really great week and I realized it was the first time since 2008 that either I wasn’t pregnant or didn’t have a child under two years of age. How much faster we can get things done when I don’t have to stop every 30 minutes and deal with someone or get myself a snack!

Now, Jacob has been a little unruly in that he decided it would be fun to take off his pants and diaper several times this week. He will say “I want to go potty,” but in reality he wants to wiggle on the toilet and put oodles of toilet paper in the bowl. And I think one time he got bored outside.

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We added a drawing curriculum to the slate this year, just for Charlotte. Here’s some finished projects.

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But the biggest news this week was an answer to prayer. Due to the nature of our insurance coverage, we ended up owing several thousand more dollars for Cora’s birth and the hospital stay  because it was not a live birth. It was like adding insult to injury. And it’s caused us lots of anxious thoughts about the best way to handle this financially. But God! He has everything in control and He takes care of His own.

I got a phone call from one of the business offices where we owe money and they said that they were discussing our case (which we never asked them to do) and they decided to wipe our account clean. Our account balance is at $0 instead of $1500! I started crying on the phone. And continued crying after we hung up. The kids  wanted to know what was wrong and I shared with them.

I immediately was reminded of a truth I learned in BSF during 2013. When we do God’s will, we can expect God’s provision. I hadn’t misunderstood God when He told us to give control of family size to Him. He knows our needs and He has the ability to meet it.  “Then it shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise, and an honor before all nations of the earth, who shall hear all the good that I do to them; they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and all the prosperity that I provide for it” (Jeremiah 33:9.)

I feel like I have entered a new phase spiritually with the Lord.  A new level of trust. And a new reassurance about the future.

Last week I finished making my copycat memorial wreath. I cut off the ribbons and dead flowers from Cora’s funeral wreath and wrapped it in fresh ribbon and bought silk flowers to recreate a smaller scale version. I also purchased the wooden dove and attached it to the wreath. I’ll hang this on our door on her birthday and any other time I feel I need it out.

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