It's a funny thing, this life. We can have completely awesome, care-free, invigorating days. Experiences. Moments. In an instant, however, our entire world can be turned upside-down. We feel crushed. Defeated. Hopeless. My life since April 9th, 2013, has been a constant interchange between these extremes.
One impossible truth I've discovered, however, is the tangible ability to have joy in the midst of suffering. I remember the morning following Harlynn's delivery, our room was filled with members of our church family. They came to love us genuinely, and support us in the most traumatic experience of our lives. I looked up at one point, and saw half a dozen or more people around my hospital bed, smiles on their faces, and simultaneous aching in their eyes. I was so glad they were there. They cried with us, but they also touched that special heartstring that brought laughter into the room. In the midst of our intense and inexplicable grief, they filled us with joy. Joy to know we were loved. We were cared for. Harlynn was loved. I found those moments of joy in the days to follow, as well. There were times I wept so forcefully, I could barely hold my heart within my chest. I would gasp for air between sobs, cursing the injustice of it all. Moments later, I would hear something Little Miss would spout off and I would be so tickled. So proud. I felt incredibly crazy at times, zig-zagging so frequently between emotional peaks and valleys.
There is a song I never wanted to sing again after losing Harlynn. It begins, "I'm trading my sorrows, I'm trading my shame; I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord." I didn't want to trade my sorrows for joy. My sorrow is sometimes the only remnant of Harlynn I have left. I keep it tucked under my maternal wing, protecting it as best I can. I don't want to trade anything that has to do with her, regardless of the pain it carries with it. She is supposed to be here, and she isn't, so I desperately hold on to whatever I can.
Some time in the near future, we're going to have Little Man dedicated at church. I can't tell you how difficult this is for me. At one point, while I was still pregnant with him, I wanted to go to the front of the church and have him dedicated right then. I was so fearful he wouldn't make it here alive, I thought we might as well just commit him to the Lord while we could. Now that he's here, however, the thought of dedicating him and proclaiming him as God's child before my own, is ultimately conflicting for me. I never had the chance to dedicate Harlynn before she appeared in the Lord's presence. Now I fear the moment I dedicate Little Man to the same, I might have him stripped away from me. It's frivolous fear, I know, but it is incredibly overwhelming at times.
As I've wrestled with this lately, I've pictured Harlynn's face. Pigtails. Smile. Big blue eyes. I can hear her giggle. She's wearing all white, save for the purple ribbons holding her hair. I see how care-free she is. I see her filled with inexplicable joy. I see her grasping love in a way I've only ever tried to imagine it. I see her. As I see her, some small part of me releases the despair I've clung so tightly to. Yes, I'm still heartbroken. I always will be. Yes I still wrestle with anger. I always will. But I see her, and I swell with pride and spill over with joy knowing the girl she is. She is. Harlynn is.
I will forever mourn, grieve, and lament the death of our daughter. In the same breaths that leave my shoulders heaving and in the same tears that flow from heartache, however, are traces of joy. Snippets of peace. Glimpses of acceptance.
Whatever you're dealing with, whatever has you weighted down, I hope you experience the joy that comes in the mo(u)rning. It exists, even if only in small doses. It does not come before the weeping of the night, however. There will be a day, I promise you, when you wake up after one of those nights, and your heart will be more mended than it was the day before. Your smile will curve a little higher. Your laugh will echo a little louder. Your tears will form a meeting place of joy and sorrow, and you'll be encouraged to shed them.