Friday, July 30, 2010

Common, Yet Profound

I have mentioned before that I don't remember much about Meredith's funeral. I wish I did, but I just don't. It isn't because of the passing years, as I never have remembered. I don't know what the pastors said. I don't know who was there without looking in her little book that the funeral home gave us to see who signed the "Guest" pages. Because of this book, I do know the 23rd Psalm was read. My husband's brother wrote it down for us. I do know that "In the Garden" was played by the organist. Someone asked me about songs and I requested that one because it was one of my favorites.
Now, this Psalm is one of the most commonly known. I learned it at a very young age. No one dug deep into the Bible to find scripture for Meredith's funeral. The scripture came from the very center of the Bible, the very heart of God's Word. The same with the song I chose - an easy to perform old-fashioned piece that I still love. But they were enough, as simple as they were. I can remember the Psalm of the Shepherd at any time and be comforted. I can remember Him being in the garden while the dew was still on the roses, and know He still walks with me.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
For Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

In the Garden

I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me, within my heart is ringing.
And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And he tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

I'd stay in the garden with Him though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; thro' the voice of woe His voice to me is calling.
And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
- C. Austin Miles
Copyright 1912, by Hall- Mack Company

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Was Never Angry at God

Mother & Daddy were dedicated Christians and I have so much to be thankful for. Because of them, I grew up with an unshakable faith in God. Daddy was a deacon in the Southern Baptist church. He and Mother worked tirelessly for the Lord for years until their health began to fail. My Daddy was raised a Hardshell Baptist, a denomination that followed very strict guidelines. He did not work on Sunday, unless his oxen needed to be watered (Luke 13:14,15) Mother prepared our Sunday meals but Sunday was a day of rest for her, too. She did as much as she could the day before. They worked hard six days a week - he as a carpenter, farmer, and rancher, and she as a homemaker. Mother had a garden, raised farm animals, sewed, "Tonetted" my hair (Tonettes were perms for little girls), canned and froze our bounty, and I could go on and on. My parents worked so very hard. The only work I ever remember Daddy doing on Sunday was to feed his cows in the winter or fix some emergency item, like the water pump on the well.
Every time our small country church doors were open, we were there. Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night prayer meeting, 5th Sunday Singings in the afternoon, revivals, Vacation Bible School, business meetings - I could go on and on. God was a part of my life from birth. I grew up knowing He is my friend, and He has walked many paths with me, often times carrying me. I made a public profession of faith when I was 12 and was baptized. The Lord was already very real to me before then.
When Meredith was born, we were elated at her birth and worried because she was ill.
I had no doubt that God sent her to us. She was a precious morsel of life that we adored. When she died, we were devastated. It was a part of life to me that babies could die. My parents lost their first child to stillbirth and dealt with infertility. I knew many of the women in my life had buried infants. The community cemetery in my hometown where Meredith is placed is dotted with tiny baby graves. Babies across the years, their names sometimes mirroring the era in which they were born. Between 1941 and 2001, our immediate family faced the deaths of four infants.
When I was a teenager, I even wondered if infant death would touch my life. Was this a foreshadowing of things to come? I've often wondered....
Of course, I know all the stages of grief, and bargaining with God is supposed to be one of them. I can honestly say that I never felt that way. God was with me when Meredith died and stayed with me during the years and the long journey of depression that I fight to this day. I never felt like He caused her death, or His will was to make us grieve and suffer. Meredith is with Him, and He is keeping her for us until we get there. She is with Perfection, and her body is healed. I don't believe she has grown in Heaven. I still see her as an infant, and not an angel, though I refer to her endearingly as a little angel.
If anyone reads this, please don't think that I am a "special" Christian or have a connection with God that no one else has. Many people I'm sure have had this same experience. I wish Meredith could have stayed,but His grace has sustained me, and will continue to do so.

To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Happy Birthday To our Rainbow Twins

We in the baby loss world often refer to our babies after loss as "rainbow" babies. These children are certainly rainbows after the storm. Thirty years ago,the Lord blessed us with a set of twins, born two years, two weeks, and three days after our first rainbow, a little red haired son. They were surprise babies, and their twinship was a surprise, although we had known for about a month before their birth. We had never recovered from the shock of seeing two skeletons on that X-ray, one head up and one head down. When I went into labor on July 7,1980, I was in mild discomfort and thought I was having indigestion from leftover baked beans.
The day went on, and I finally realized that I might want to visit the doctor, who had his nurse hurriedly drive me next door to the hospital without waiting for my husband, and about an hour later we were the parents of Amanda, 4lbs,4ozs and Angie, 4lbs,7ozs. They were in good shape, just needed a little oxygen, bili lights, and two weeks of obtaining body fat and learning to eat. I have the bill around here somewhere, but I seem to remember that the special care nursery was $85.00 a day! One cannot go the doctor for that today, if one had to pay without insurance. This has been a long introduction to say that I want to wish our precious daughters a very special birthday today. You have both been gifts from the Lord. You have done so much for us,and given us so much love. We love you and appreciate you so very much! Thank you, God, for knowing our blessings and needs before we did and sending us this perfect package from above.

Two cribs are in the bedroom,
Two mobiles gently flutter.
We had to get another chest
To store the extra clutter!
A double stack of diapers
Are beside one baby's bed,
And there sit two warmed bottles
Just waiting to be fed
To our two precious daughters,
All pink and white and new.
You see, instead of one baby,
God surprised us with two!
-SGB, 2/11/82.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Why Pink Roses Remind Us Of Meredith

We lived in Texarkana, Texas, when Meredith was born. It is a twin city on the Arkansas - Texas state lines. My husband was raised there and I always loved the town, with its Stateline Avenue that went right down the two state lines and the old post office built right on the lines. There's a photo opportunity spot outside the post office where one can stand with one foot in Texas and one foot in Arkansas.
My mother in law asked me what flowers I wanted for the casket piece. She and my parents were going to pay for it. I told her I wanted pink rosebuds. She said there wasn't time to order roses from Shreveport,LA., a larger town not too far from us. I didn't even think about the fact that we were only about two hours or so from Tyler,Texas, the Rose Capitol of Texas, and there are lots of roses growing there in October, the month of the annual Rose Festival. Anyway, I went along with her and got pink carnations, but I always wished I had roses for my baby. Over the years I have brought her roses, roses with petals so soft that they must have felt like her skin. Roses of a soft pink that reminded me of her coloring, roses worthy of my daughter. I have saved rose petals to scatter on her grave when I go to visit, rose petals for my one perfect rose who budded far too soon.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Anger, 35+ Years Old

When I started writing this blog about Meredith, I never dreamed that emotions would surround me and bring back so many depressing feelings from 1974. After years of seeing doctors and counselors, I thought any anger I had was in the past. I am naturally a person who is very slow to anger and I just didn't imagine fullblown anger, and even animosity, rising up to knock me down. Well, the tears have flowed and I have been praying hard that I have strength to (finally) fully forgive the doctors and other people involved in the situation that lead to me not being able to hold my darling baby daughter. The thought that I abandoned her and didn't fight harder to be her advocate has bothered me very much. I was at fault myself, too unknowledgable of the world to demand to have her brought to my room.
There is much more to Meredith's story - I just had to step away for a few days. I covet your prayers that I can offer true forgiveness to these persons involved.

We loved her, yes, we loved her,
But Angels loved her more.
And they gently called her
To yonder shining shore.
The golden gates were opened,
A gentle voice said, "Come!"
And with farewells unspoken
She calmly entered home.
- from a Victorian cabinet card