but first, a little throwback to an unfinished entry titled, “Thankful Thursday”
(Drafted November 16, 2013 (3 days before Cruz was born)
I know, I know… November is the cliché month to give thanks and recognize those things we often take for granted… but it’s in the midst of need that we’re suddenly aware of how much (or how little) support we have. From family to friends, I am blessed with SO many quality people in my life who truly-madly-deeply care about me. I haven’t always felt this way. I’ve gone through seasons of my life where I desperately needed what I have now, but felt like I had nowhere to turn. It’s comforting to know that the next time I experience trial, I won’t have to bear it alone.
So, how does a person adequately express their thankfulness towards someone when the generosity itself has left them at a loss for words??? I’m not quite acquainted with this sort of speechlessness , so I guess I’ll just jump off! –
Thanks to my sisters and some of my dearest friends, I had the BEST baby shower a girl could ask for! Not only was I pampered by ALL who came spoiling me with diapers, wipes, and gifts GALORE, I left feeling undeservingly blessed to have finally………..
(End of Draft) 11/16/13
Death of a Thursday
……. And here I am, in the midst of another trial. Wow. If I only knew, blissfully driving home that night with a car-full of baby stuff, that I wasn’t going to need ANY of it. Now looking back at the past valleys I’ve walked through, I can see how every journey has taken me oh-so-slightly deeper into pain’s crevasse; each one just toughening me up a bit, bracing me for the day I’d eventually step in sinking sand. Sitting here, suffocating at the bottom of the pit, it’s frightening to recognize that this fractured ground could give way again, and I might find myself disoriented by an even greater fall.
For the past few years, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a book on love. I have the title, the cover design, a general outline… but one thing was missing. Without running on with divulging details, I will just say, Cruz’s death finished the book. I had always wondered if losing someone is losing someone, is losing someone… and in fact, for me, it IS one-and-the-same. Whether losing someone to death, rejection, betrayal, unfaithfulness, what-have-you, the emotional-transcending-physical heartache feels the same, just at totally different dimensions.
I think we as humans were designed to be resilient; able to bounce back from major impacts by evolving and learning to move/live on with whatever our individual struggles may be. But – because of this ability to cope, we often gain a delusion of independence and underestimate our inherent need to be reliant.
There’s nothing quite like a humbling wound to the soul that sends us desperately seeking help from someone/something/somewhere beyond ourselves. We’re wired for relationship, we crave community, we live for love. But even (after trying psychological and physical solutions to aid the pain, or simply allowing enough time to pass) if I’ve truly had an encounter with my Creator, I find that I lean into Him jusssst long enough to regain my strength and wits about me, then I leave the nest regardless of whether my wings are still broken. Just because something’s no longer raw, doesn’t mean it’s cured; just because you’ve learned to ignore bloodiness, doesn’t mean you’ve stopped the bleeding and yet, well, you’d think I’d learn.
When answering the trite Christian-question, “how are you doing spiritually?”, I would honestly say I felt close to God……… but what does “close” really mean??? Any religious, disciplined person can read their Bible, pray, make all the “right” decisions, and still be absorbed and governed by their own feelings and selfish nature. There’s no other relationship in my life that would survive such narcissistic behavior, so I suppose that answers my question of closeness.
I feel like my priorities were so out of whack before this whole thing that I’m not quite sure how I ever justified it in my head. I was due for a wakeup call, I suppose. If I’ve somehow painted an image of a harlot or hypocrite in your mind, that’s not at all what I’m saying, I just mean I may have had other gods in my life, such as my children, home, and earthly treasures; I guess this is me pleading guilty of idolatry. I don’t think I brought this situation upon myself, nor do I believe that God is a God of vengeance, but sometimes bad things happen to good people, and I think our response to these “bad things” is what sheds light into the deepest places of one’s heart.
It’s hard to feel happy these days… but then that begs the question… was my previously-so-called happiness rising from a foundation of joy? Or, was my happiness subjective, suspended between ever-changing, unsecured circumstances? As children it’s pounded into our brains at Sunday School that “ I’VE GOT JOY, JOY, JOY, JOY, DOWN IN MY HEART – TO STAYYY!”, but we’re not taught how to practically live that song even if/when we grow up and find out that after generations of a hereditary disorder laying dormant, YOU are the one who was born with the defect that will someday kill your son.
If I’m honest, I’ve been dealing with thoughts and temptations so foreign to me there might as well be some stranger whispering terrible-nothings in my ear, in a language I hardly understand… and if I listen… the things that used to be black and white start to warp and meld into shades of gray, and the foundational belief system of my faith is called into question. Perhaps this is how Eve found herself allured by the snake? It’s easy to judge when she APPEARED to have everything she could ever want already, but let’s just say she too, had a nagging void within her rendering her vulnerable and susceptible to deception. If she could be convinced that God didn’t have her best interest at heart, I think that’s all it takes for anyone to begin questioning the difference between good and evil.
It’s disillusioning when your personal absolutes suddenly seem subjective. God is good. Evil is bad. But then many have implied that perhaps Cruz was chosen to be some modern-day sacrificial lamb that would lead many to Christ… as much as I try to see that as good, I CAN’T. The God I thought I knew provided Abraham with a lamb so that Isaac didn’t have to die. Where was my Shepherd as I watched Cruz drowning in his own fluids for his last what-seemed-endless hours, struggling for e v e r y s i n g l e b r e a t h. “HE’S ONLY A BABY! JESUS, PLEASE!” My cries seemed to have fallen on deaf ears and for that whole night I felt…………… abandoned.
Multiple doctors were in his room, but one of them was standing over me as I fell to the floor having loss all color, my left arm numb, chest cavity so heavy I felt like death itself was clenching my lungs; I was dying on the inside AND out. I had heard multiple “adult code-blues” blaring over the intercom during my stay at the children’s hospital and I was sure, I was next. As my heart began to palpitate, my body violently shaking, it was as though I was preparing for the birth of something only I assure you, labor pains don’t even compare. Everything began to fade out, both sight and sound, but there was ONE thing that gave me the strength to hold onto my fading consciousness. His name, Ezekiel. “YOU CANNOT LEAVE HIM, BRITTNEY, GET IT TOGETHER! HE NEEDS YOU JUST AS MUCH AS CRUZ HAS NEEDED YOU!” Then I’d think about little Cruz (who was just handed off to his father by the mother who had always been near – never afraid, always holding his hands and cheering him on)… WHAT IF HE’S SCARED!? WHERE AM I IN HIS GREATEST TIME OF NEED!? GET UP AND GO OVER THERE! I had heard about females in the animal kingdom dying after the loss of their young, and part of me was afraid that if I held him again, as much as I ached to, my heart would go into cardiac arrest. || Even as I try to recount these all-too-fresh moments, the frightening, familiar, paralyzing pain is gripping hold, convulsive cries are making it hard to type, and tears are flooding my eyes, streaming down my chest. || I knew this was the last hour because it was getting harder and harder for me to function, and it was requiring so much medication to keep him comfortable that he would soon overdose. It took every ounce of my existence to lift myself from the disgusting blood-spattered floor, like going for that 100th and final push-up when muscles tremble and joints give out… but I willed myself to crawl over and sit at my husband’s feet. The closer I drew to Cruz, the closer I felt to death. I reached out, determined to make myself known to my suffering babe, touched his swollen hand and spoke as many words as I could mutter. I think I knew he was waiting for me; I knew the sooner he sensed my presence, Cruz would feel like he could stop fighting… and sure enough… moments after my voice touched his ears, I looked up at the monitor just in time to see his last two heartbeats before the flatline_________________________
Still filled with some bit of hope or perhaps denial, my adrenaline raged and I had a burst of strength pulse through my body, throwing myself overtop of him. I screamed his name loudly against his cheek, his body jolted, and my heart leaped, only to look up at the doctor to be informed this was “just a COMMON reflex”. T.O.D. 7:44am, THURSDAY. I proceeded to vomit everything in my stomach until there was nothing left. I stood to my feet, took a deep breath, felt an unexplainable burden lift itself from my shoulders, then the words, “Well done, daughter” penetrated my spirit. Suddenly, this feeling of abandonment was replaced with nearness, and I felt as though my Father was standing next to me, smiling, with an empathy that only He knew. I did it. A piece of me was gone, and I was certainly not the Brittney I was even the day before, but I survived the impossible. I looked over at the body that once contained the soul of my precious, precious son, it was already so shockingly pale-green, but somehow I could separate the fact that he was no longer there, and my life-long fear of death was replaced with a calming peace beyond my understanding. As I watched them remove all of his needles and wires (for the first time in 2.5 months), some sort of freedom came over me, and I felt the same liberation I used to feel as I’d pass the baton at the end of an excruciating relay. He was out of my hands. We had fought the good fight. Now it was time to REST. This is when the Psalm 23 image of Cruz and Jesus walking hand-in-hand painted itself over my bleeding heart, and I felt healing, refreshment, cleansing – renewal. Cruz was alive!
Though he walked through the valley of the shadow of death, Cruz wasn’t afraid, because Jesus heard his cries and comforted him; led him to green pastures, still waters, prepared a feast in the presence of his enemies (for his starving little tummy), and now he lives in the house of the Lord, FOREVER.
I don’t know what I think about God or the God I thought I knew… I struggle with feeling mad at Him but my love for Him has SOMEHOW increased. Did God plan such a tragedy? Isn’t He good ALL the time? Full of mercy, love, and grace? It comes down to the ongoing theological debate between predetermination vs. free will. Where I stand on this subject is neutral. To think it was premeditated and orchestrated ruins my belief that God answers prayer – without prayer I have no faith, without faith I lose hope… along with my ability to trust in anything. But to think God’s first design was for Cruz to live and that His plan got derailed by man’s sin-nature and the foolish mistakes/mistreatment in Portland, (although it takes the fault off God), it suggests that evil prevailed. So now God is the lesser of two powers at war??? I believe God could’ve intervened at any point and released Cruz of the ailments that bound him, but He didn’t. Why? It’s not like there wasn’t enough of us praying for him! I could entertain unknowns and what-ifs that’d eventually drive me straight to the psych ward, but correct treatment or not, thousands of prayers or none, this all started because he was formed with a failing liver, and that’s the part I struggle with. God intricately and purposefully formed him within my womb. He knew his every part. (Psalm 139:13)
I’ll admit I’m getting nervous as time goes on. My genetic screening was supposed to take 3-5 months (I think I’m down to 0-2) and although part of me is anxious to hear and get on with my life, part of me doesn’t want to know. Right now I can still have hope that the worst is over, and I don’t want ANYTHING to take away this hope. Now that the shock is beginning to wear off, the permanence of death is setting in. Cruz is gone. His cute little body I used to gaze upon is now rotting beneath the ground. His precious fingers that gripped mine so tight are now lifeless and cold. I COULD NEVER DO THIS AGAIN! I could never watch another one of my babies die… BUT, if I never try for another, how will I ever move on?! What will keep me from obsessing over what happened? I can’t get stuck here.
This goes without saying, but I’m obviously at a turning point in my life… we all get a few of those. Am I going to let circumstances destroy me or build me? Am I going to get bitter or better? Am I going to drown in self-pity or let the waves of grief spur my creativity? Am I going to thank God for His goodness and mercy regardless of my pending DNA results, or will I be overcome with anger and resentment if things don’t go the way I’d hoped? What if this isn’t an isolated one-time tragedy because the very fabric of my being is flawed!? This IS what will break me or make me; This has the potential and potency to imprison me or propel me down a road less-traveled.
I could easily live the rest of my life blaming God and overlooking all my many blessings because I feel shortchanged – but then I’d be just like Eve – forsaking all the other fruitFUL trees in my garden because I’m captivated with the one that I don’t understand; infatuated with the one I think I want/need most, the one God obviously set apart… and convinced that I know what-would-have-been best, distrusting that God could possibly have a better plan. I was blessed and chosen to be Cruz’s mother for the short time he was here, that IS good. I wouldn’t trade the opportunity to meet Baby Cruz for anything.
The brutality and finality of death remains unmatched. If I didn’t believe in something eternal, the Brittney we all know would surely disappear, buried alive in this insurmountable heartache; but I’m a firm believer that this life isn’t all there is. Cruz is alive, happy, healthy, stronger than ever and better off than he would’ve been on this hell-of-an-earth… he’s just not with his mama. And that’s actually ok with me, somehow. I know that I know that I know, I WILL hold Cruz again someday, and that someday-moment is what gets me through my every waking hour.
Moving on from here:
I PLAN to get back into blogging, I just need to get past the new-found superficiality of it all. It seems so pointless to talk about design and decor, but then again, I have never been so thankful for My Colonial Remodel as I am now. Having the ability to lose myself in projects has been a healthy distraction as I go through the motions of mourning, plus, 10 months of pregnancy hormones preparing me for the busy life of “taking care of baby” have left me with all this extra energy that I need to spend somewhere! Someone once asked me if I was going to seek grief counseling, and as of now, working with my hands has been my preferred therapy. I hope everyone else can move on with me, obviously never forgetting Cruz, but helping me pick up where I left off here.
Thanks for all your love, support, prayers, endless gifts and happy-mail… every day is delivery day here at My Colonial ReMODel! I am surrounded with the best of the best and I love you ALL dearly!
TRULY MADLY DEEPLY,