Four years ago today I heard the term “Trisomy 18” for the first time in my adult life. Four years ago today we started a journey that began with a crash course in genetics. Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), Trisomy 18 (Edward’s Syndrome) and Trisomy 13 (Patau Syndrome) are the 3 most common genetic abnormalities – the last 2 being not compatible with life. I remember it like it was yesterday, my heart was pounding so hard that my vision was pulsing. Remember that song about wearing sunscreen where the guy just gives advice the whole time? He said the real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never cross your worried mind and blindside you at 4p.m. on some idle Tuesday. Ours was August 2nd, 2013, an idle Friday at 9a.m. but blindsided nonetheless.
This year is different and I can finally see some of the long term fruit of our grief. A little container of vaseline they gave us for Wills’ lips at the hospital has an expiration date of 6.1.17. I wore it on my own lips for probably a year after he died. Every night I would put it on before bed and think, will I expire before this little jar of vaseline? I honestly doubted that I would make it. Grief is so immovable and heavy and permanent. Yes, you learn to move forward and you navigate the trying waters but it’s always there. I cannot emphasize this enough – you are the same person, but you are eternally different. I cannot go back to who I was before Wills, nor would I want to. But I’m not going to lie and say sometimes I don’t envy her. She had it pretty easy and didn’t even know it. But life isn’t about easy is it? Then I come full circle and I thank God for the story He has given us. While we were in the thick of it with Wills, someone said you are either coming out of something hard, in something hard or about to go through something hard. That’s a tough pill that quite frankly at the time I wanted to spit back out at them. But if you can choke it down, it sobers and steadies you.
A few things we’ve learned in life after the darkest valley…
1.) The mundane is where character is forged. Embrace it. Hard things with God do change you but I guarantee you He has a slow, steady work He wants to accomplish too. Yes, the season of having and losing Wills changed us drastically and practically overnight. But I still had a lot of heart issues lurking around – still doing heart work with my counselor, friends and family and it’s so worth it. But mundane. I think if Walt hears me say: “for the sake of being honest and loving, I’ve got to say…….” one more time he may kick me out of this house!
2.) God directs. When Wills was here, we had to make a lot of decisions. We would get alone, pray, talk, reason and then decide. We still do that and He is still faithful to lead us.
3.) God STILL speaks. Sometimes we want God to write on a billboard to us. However, I read this the other day and it blew my mind. One of his most recited sentences (among women) is when He tells Martha that she’s worried about many things and that Mary has chosen what can’t be taken from her by choosing to sit at His feet. But guess how all of that happened…… It was only when Martha took her frustration to Him, that He responded. He did not initiate the interaction!!! He didn’t pull her aside and say look Martha, you’re troubled, sit down, let me rub your feet and scold Mary for not helping you. However, He was 100% available and responded in truth and love to her when she brought her frustration to Him. He responds to us too – when we SEEK HIM!!!
4.) Other children don’t replace the child that is gone – makes me think of Jesus being the shepherd that leaves the 99 to go after the 1. He understands how special each life is and now I do too. All 3 of my kids each have my whole heart in their own way. I miss Wills as much today as I did the day after he died.
5.) We’ve traveled a lot (for us). Would any financial advisor have told us to go to Disney World for 8 days last May? Nope. But we splurged and went while Fenley was still super into princesses and we had the best trip that we still talk about probably weekly.
6.) We’ve learned to ABIDE. We both try to read and pray daily – even if it’s just for a few minutes. Jesus said apart from Him, we can do nothing. And we can attest to the times when we are most dry spiritually, that we are most irritable relationally.
That’s all for now. Wanted to write to honor Wills in this season of remembering for the Bowie house. And to give God all the glory for the marvelous things He has done. And to officially report, the vaseline expired before me 🙂