When my dear friends sent that book to me very shortly after Matthew died, it was hard to read. One of the first things I did when I got home from the hospital was to order every book I could find that I thought would answer, "WHY?"
Friends, please know. There aren't any such books.
I know, I know, many of you are in your head saying, "But there is! The Bible!"
Because what the Bible tells ME is that His ways are not mine. His thoughts are not mine. In fact, Solomon, who some would say was the wisest man on earth said this in Ecclesiastes: "When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man’s labor on earth—his eyes not seeing sleep day or night- then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it." Ecclesiastes 8:16-17
Did you catch that? Even if a wise man claims he knows it, he cannot really comprehend it.
Which is why that passage I read is so important. I lost, but oh how I have gained.
(And, for the record, I do not believe I lost SO I could gain. I think ALL things can be worked for good and that there is beauty to be found regardless of whether or not a lesson is behind that found beauty.)
I've not ever been a big memorializer. I wish I was, and then again, I find less anxiety in not being one. To participate in this ceremony was really nothing that I thought it would be, but everything I didn't know I'd love it to be.
I shared with other women who have lost children and are Still Standing. Still Breathing. Still Surviving.
And best? Would even say they were thriving. This ceremony was one that allowed people all over the world to see that devastation happens...randomly and recklessly and ruthlessly.
But beauty can and does rise, and I never end a day without expressing my gratitude for that.
Part of the ceremony was the sharing of prayer flags that honored and remembered our dead children. I'm pretty sure that those of you who know me in real life would say a lot of really nice things about me if asked, but that I was creative? No, that would not be one of them! I was going to do a flag this year, because I was inspired by Carly and Fran, but wasn't able to because Grandma got sick and really between visiting her and our friends visit, I had no time.
So let me tell you how precious these two "flags" that were made for me are.
It is a fact that had Matthew survived, we would not done another IVF cycle so quickly. Heck, based on his birth injuries, we may never done another cycle. It's pretty much a fact that Luke would not live if Matthew had survived.
And while I really do, if for no other reasons but those backed by properties of physics, believe that everything happens for a reason, it is not ours to say why.
My faith and my beliefs are not really a big secret. If you read this blog or my articles on Still Standing or follow me on Facebook or Instagram (God help you if you follow me on Twitter or Pinterest because I am CLUELESS as to how to use either)--you have a good idea of who I am and what I believe.
I bristle every time I see this quote: "If God tells you, 'No,' it's because He has something better planned for you."
Really, friends. I'm a Christian, for Pete's sake, and if someone were to tell me that to answer why the response to my DESPERATE prayer to keep Matthew alive was, "No," I think I'd go on ahead and just leave the church. Surely, I'd leave that friendship.
I understand that we feel like we have to have reasons for things. I AM *that* girl. But there are simply some things that are beyond our understanding, and when people try to comprehend that which is incomprehensible?
Well, that's when you see me check out. Smile and nod, but bite my teeth and think, "You have no clue. You just don't."
Luke is amazing. He is wonderful. I know I am biased, but seriously, he is truly an extraordinary little boy and I don't even have the words to describe the joy he brings to my life.
But he is not, not, not, not, NOT under any circumstances the "Something Better" God had planned when He told me, "No, Matthew will not live." Say those words out loud. Then try being me and reconciling that concept.
The last sentence of the passage I read in the ceremony says that GRACE has allowed me to clarify my purpose in life and rediscover the wonder of the present moment. You can better believe that I cherish the wonder of the present moment. I will fiercely protect and cling to this beautiful, messy, sorrow-woven life that I am so grateful to live, and am able to do so because I just.won't.allow people to attempt to explain the unexplainable to me.
I beg of you who read...especially those of faith. Don't try to do that to others, either. While intentions are probably good, and there is power in sharing Jesus's love with a hug, a good cry, toilet scrubbing, meal making, grocery buying, grass cutting or an assortment of other things grieving parents may need but probably won't ask for, don't try to reason the unreasonable.
Years later, if they seem 'better' and 'normal' and 'happy', don't ask them, "But see, wasn't it all worth it?"
Because I promise you, if they are at a place where Grace and gratitude sustain them, they fought long and hard to get there. Their footing there wobbles regularly as they are desperately trying to balance between the life they lost and the beautiful life they celebrate.
Celebrate with them. Remember with them. Cry with them. Laugh with them.
Leave that which is beyond our understanding out of it.
You have no idea what a special gift that will be.