Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day at my house

I know it may sound strange, but we don't do much for Valentine's Day in our home. Sometimes Kevin might give me a card or bring me flowers, but sometimes he doesn't. And I don't mind. I am not that into Valentine's. For me the beginning of February until mid-February is different.

Seventeen years ago, on February 12th 1995, we lost our second-born to stillbirth. I was 38 weeks into a trouble free pregnancy when I thought, "I don't remember feeling Ansley move today." Thus began our descent into the terrible fellowship of those who have lost a child.

When later I would hold get to hold her in my arms, she looked so beautiful and healthy. But she wasn't moving, or crying, or breathing. She was gone. Already in heaven. So when February darkens the door, it takes me back to Ansley.

I could say also that it takes me forward to Ansley. I try to imagine what it would be like if she had lived. What would her personality be like? Would she get along with her other siblings or would she fight as hard as the other two do? Would she be tall like Kevin or short like me or somewhere in between? Would her hair be red like mine? There are thousands of questions and possibilities.

The bigger question, I suppose, is not what would she be like, but what would I be like if she were here? Though I'm sure I could have learned alot from parenting another child, there are lessons learned in death and loss that cannot be attained anywhere else.

It is better to go to a house of mourning 
 than to go to a house of feasting, 
for death is the destiny of everyone; 
 the living should take this to heart.
Ecclesiastes 7:1-3

When Ansley died I learned that the best (and sometimes the only) thing I can do for someone who is grieving is to be present. The person who ministered to me the most was there for me. She swept my kitchen floor. She wrote down the foods people were bringing in so that I could later thank them. She answered the phone for me. She simply did whatever she could to give me the space to grieve. I can't even imagine how I would have functioned without Diane.

I learned that when someone is experiencing loss the only appropriate thing to say is, "I am so sorry for your loss and for the pain you are going through." Sentimental ideas about God and His need for another "angel" or a "rose for His garden" might make you feel better, but these thoughts will not minister grace to the person who is hurting.

I learned that God is able to comfort in ways I can't fully comprehend. Friends comforted me; Kevin comforted me; my extended family comforted me. And at times God supernaturally reached down and comforted me when no one else was around. I'm telling you there were moments when I could feel His presence so very strongly, it was as if I was being carried physically.

I learned to say this phrase to myself, "You never know what a person may be going through." I can remember having to do some everyday things like grocery shopping. It was difficult to interact with people. I didn't want to cry and spill my story to a check-out girl, and yet I couldn't bring myself to plaster a smile on and act happy. I'm sure I came across as rude to most of those I encountered. I really didn't care.

Now when I see someone who is short-tempered or ill-mannered, I try to remind myself that she could be experiencing personal pain of some sort.

I learned that heaven is beautiful. I think I have always wanted to go to heaven. Who wouldn't, right? No more tears, no more pain, sadness, or sorrow. But when I had a child go there ahead of me, heaven began to pull at me. I could see my little girl in the arms of Jesus. I could see Him smiling and singing to her. I could see His gentleness and tenderness like never before.

No, for me Valentine's day isn't about roses, chocolates, and romantic dinners. And yet while there is sadness, there is also great gain. I have been changed. I am different. The pain truly did bring gain. And the greatest gain lies ahead.

For instance, we know that when these bodies
of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, 
they will be replaced by resurrection bodies 
in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we'll never 
have to relocate our "tents" again. Sometimes we can 
hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. 
Compared to what's coming, living conditions around here 
seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, 
and we're tired of it! We've been given a glimpse of 
the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! 
The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste
of what's ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts 
so that we'll never settle for less.
2 Corinthians 5:1-3 (Message)


  1. Thank you for sharing your story. You are an amazing writer.

  2. Hey Marcy,
    Thanks so much for the words of encouragement. You are a blessing to me.

  3. Karen,
    This really touched me. Humbles my heart to remember that we never know what others have been through and still carry with them from their past. This is something I could never relate to but my heart is very tender about the thought of losing a child of any age. May God continue to wrap you in His love, grace and unexplainable peace.

  4. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement Mandy. Love you! Karen