Early this morning I laced up my running shoes and did what I do several times a week. The fog was thick and as I let it envelop me, I started to think about the kindness of Jesus during this week in September when my thoughts constantly drift to the daughter we held as she breathed her last breath. Time is a crazy thing because it’s been eight years. Eight long, tear-filled years. And yet, we’ve fought for hope and joy– and God has given it to us so abundantly. The fog reminds me of just how gently He has carried us, how tenderly He has held us. It reminds me that my tears are precious to Him and worthy of being recorded.
And so, on the eve of the day that I dread every year, I remembered these words I wrote five years ago:
I’ve been thinking a lot about fog lately.
I have vivid memories of riding the bus to school on those early fall Indiana mornings. I was one of the first ones on the bus in the mornings and the bus would be nearly empty as I made my way down the aisle. In the loudness of the engine and the jostle of the wheels that magnified each bump, I would lean my cheek against the window and look out over the fields. And on many mornings, we would lumber down a hill and find ourselves in a pocket of fog. For just a few seconds we would be enveloped in the mist before we would ascend the hill and it would disappear.
I’m an adult now, but I still love a foggy morning. I stare out the window, coffee in hand and watch the fog slowly disappear. There’s a hush on those mornings and things seem to slow down somehow. The heat of the summer, along with the fun of late nights and busy-lazy days, is giving way to something new and unknown about the approaching season. I fight against fall because it means my kids are getting older and the unscheduled summer gives way to the over-scheduled school season, but I love the mornings when I can slip away and feel the fog.
How vividly I remember taking my sick baby to the emergency room, knowing that something was desperately wrong with her. When they moved us from the curtained room to the private room and I looked up to see the doctor with tears in her eyes and I heard the door click shut, I felt myself sinking into a deep fog.
And when, a mere week later, I watched the truck pull into the cemetery to dig a hole meant for my Annie, I thought I would drown in that fog and that I would never breathe normally again.
Shortly after Annie died, we took the kids to the doctor for their annual check-ups. Our doctor took our hands and he prayed for us and told us that the human brain will only process what it can, as it can.
Eventually, the mind-numbing tragedy would become clearer.
The fog would slowly lift.
As that mound of dirt over her body slowly sunk until it was ground level and then grew grass, I experienced some of the richest times I’ve ever had in my relationship with Christ. He enveloped me and gave me peace. The words of the Bible rang deep and true and brought comfort. The notes and cards and encouraging reminders from friends were daily. The unimportant things in life were stripped away and were strangely hard to see. In my deepest pain, I was most sure of who I was.
Maybe you’ve found yourself in the same place as me. Or maybe your sorrow is different. Chances are, when you’ve gone through something difficult, someone has told you you’re so strong. And perhaps you, like me, look at them in confusion because you know that the total opposite is true.
In those early days, I felt so weak, like I was dangling off the edge of a twelve story building, my fingers slowly slipping.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
When my fingers failed me, and I found myself tumbling down, down, down . . . He caught me. He gave me a refuge, a shelter, a fog.
I nestled into that fog, I wrapped it around me and breathed it in until my lungs hurt. I sat on the couch during nap time and I just stared out the window. I went to bed each night, simply relieved that I was one day closer to Heaven. My sadness scared me, my grief was overwhelming, and I’m sure Peter wondered if he’d ever have his wife back. But in the midst of it all, I had Jesus. And I knew that somehow I would be okay.
Saturday marks three years since The Day My Life Changed. This summer, well, it’s been the hardest season yet since the days immediately after Annie died. Because the fog finally lifted. I was forced to deal with some things that I had stuffed down deep, thinking they would disappear (and in case you’re wondering, they don’t disappear). I’ve felt so fragile this summer . . . coming to terms with my identity now that the fog has lifted.
Dare I say I miss the fog?
But today is a new day. The season is changing and I know, know, know that the promises of Christ are still my armor and protection. A dear friend told me, “You’ll never get over losing Annie, but you will move forward.” That’s what I’m doing, slowly but surely.
A step at a time, I’m breathing in new air, filling my lungs with the sweet freshness of His Grace that goes before me.
Today, as I read the words I typed five years ago, the tears still stream down my face. My heart still deeply longs for the little girl I lost. But I resonate with the words of Jerry Sittser: “We never get over the ones we miss. We still long for them, but we can still celebrate the life we’ve found because they are gone.”
On the morning after Annie died, Peter and I sat in bed and planned her funeral. We looked at one another and declared that more than anything, we wanted her life to point others to Christ. That in spite of the fact she lived just six short months, our desire was for people be drawn to redemption through her story. We have been amazed at how Jesus has answered our prayer. But perhaps the sweetest part? She has pointed ME to Christ. Her life has changed mine in countless ways and I am so grateful to be her Mama.
May you, dear reader, find comfort in my words. May you wrap yourself in the fog and allow God to tenderly care for you in your sorrow. May you let go of the fear and anger and believe the words in Psalm 34:8 that “God is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those who are crushed in Spirit.” I am praying for you.
I’m Sarah and I write about the intersection of hope & sorrow in our lives. It’s a privilege to have you along for the journey. Would you like to receive a bit of quiet encouragement from me to your inbox?
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