I just finished reading another book about life and the grief process and thought I'd share it and a little story here since I haven't updated this blog in awhile. The book is called Working It Out by Abby Rike. Does anyone remember Abby from her season on The Biggest Loser? She was on the year Danny won, and was roomates with Shay - Season 8, which aired in the fall of 2009. I vividly remember watching the contestants introduce myself and her tear filled account of the accident that took the life of her husband, 5 year old daughter, and 18 day old son. I was heart broken for her and wondered to myself how she ever managed to move on from that experience. How she could move on from losing a child. Little did I know that before the season was over, I would be learning first hand.
After we lost Henry, Abby was one of the first people I thought of. I searched for her on Facebook and found the fan page that is run either by her or on her behalf and later posted a comment in the "death of a child" discussion area letting her know that she is in my prayers and thoughts regularly. I knew she had a book in the works, and was anxious to read it when it came out in May. Well, one thing led to another and me and reading didn't actually do too well together over the spring and summer. I've always been a book worm, but as Jack gets older and my daily window of free time gets smaller, I find I have time for only one hobby at a time and this year it was embroidery. I finally ordered the book a week or so ago and when it arrived, I finished it in a matter of days.
Sometimes, when I'm thinking about Henry and all that has happened to us, I am dead inside. I don't cry, I just feel empty. I have felt often that this feeling of emptiness makes me a bad mother. I should have some level of emotion, but it usually is not there. There are other times though that the emotions are so strong they are almost violent and they scare me to my core. It's a roller coaster in the truest sense, and it never ceases. Reading Abby's book, and seeing that she experienced the same types of highs and lows helped me to remember that I am normal. I am not a bad mother, I am not in denial. I am simply working through my emotions as they come to me, and that is enough. I in no way believe our situations were equal, but I do strongly believe that grief is grief, if that makes sense, and in that respect we are similar.
I also felt a deep connection with Abby because of how steadfast she has been in her faith through the last five years. When the doctor took my husband and I into the small conference room and sat down with us to tell us there was nothing more he could do, my first thought was not despair or destruction, but rather, I thanked the Lord that I was raised in faith. I thanked him silently as we sat there for blessing my life with a mother, grandparents, and great-grandparents who were all Christians and who went out of their way to ensure that I knew I was a child of God and that he would not forsake me. If it were not for that knowledge, that blessed assurance, I can honestly say I would not have been able to rise up out of that seat and walk out of that room under my own power. I swear to you with every fiber of my being that Jesus was in that room with us, and it was then that He carried me.
Abby wrote something in a journal entry two months after the accident that she shared in her book. It struck such a chord with me, I am going to share it here with you all, for I could have written these words myself.
What now? What do I do now? What plan does God have for me? If I have to suffer like this, then I want my life to matter. I want to know what I'm supposed to do. I want to know my plan. I am shattered and I'm trusting with childlike faith that God will put me back together again. This loss cannot be for naught.
~Abby Rike, December 3, 2006
~Abby Rike, December 3, 2006
I cried when I read that. And I don't mean those sweet little tears my grandma used to shed and discretely wipe away with a tissue. I mean I CRIED. I bawled. I gave a full on "ugly cry", as Oprah likes to call it. The topic was something I had often thought about, but never had the words to express until now. Instead of Why me? I have often felt What now? What am I to do with this lot in life? How can I use my experience to help others? I have put a lot of thought into bereavement counseling, but I'm not sure I'm up for more schooling with three unused degrees on the wall already. We've thought about fostering or adopting to help another child, but don't feel a strong draw to that calling either. I largely still feel like I'm floating in a vast ocean with no real direction as to where the dock may be. I have no specific goal other than my focus on raising Jack, preparing to educate him as a home schooling mom, caring for and loving my husband, and keeping our home up. I reach out to different areas and play them out in my mind, but nothing fits. Square pegs, round holes. I am almost morbidly drawn to history, bereavement, death, and dying, but how can I fit in there? Since losing Henry I have also developed a keen interest in heaven, health, and organized living, but again, I'm seeing no strong direction for my life. These are the answers I pray for.
Abby also spoke to my heart when she quoted passages from Job about the people who "sat in the ashes" with him. I have heard before from different people that our story is reminiscent of Job's story, but never took the time to think it through very well. Abby's stories about the love that surrounded her and the people who "sat in the ashes" with her - just being present without trying to offer advice or wisdom or ramble because they don't know any other way to fill the space - reminded me of the dear friends and family members we have been blessed with who did the same for us. It is truly humbling to think about.
Finally, Abby speaks about her experience on the Biggest Loser and her efforts to reach and maintain her goal weight - another topic near and dear to my heart. To say this book and this woman are an inspiration to me would be an understatement. I am not in the habit of building a library, and frequently pass books on to friends once I've finished them, but this copy of Working It Out is mine and will remain as such for a very long time. I hope you'll check it out. I think it will move you, regardless of your struggle.
If you could also take a moment to pray for Abby and her family this week, that would be wonderful. Thursday, October 13 marks the five year anniversary of the accident. I'm sure they can use all of the prayers they can get to help them through the upcoming days. For more information on Abby Rike, you can visit her personal website HERE. Check out her calendar and see if she's speaking near you. If she is, consider me jealous. I would love so much to meet her in person, but I have yet to figure out exactly how to make that happen. I will be praying about it, and if it's meant to be, I am confident God will find a way.
P.S. Please pardon my lack of blogger knowledge. I can't get this post left justified for the life of me. Except for this post script, that is. Go figure.