Monday, September 30, 2013

I wear my scars on my sleeves

A facebook friend commented on something recently that "I wear my scars on my sleeves like a warrior through battle".  When I read that, it just really stuck with felt so personally accurate - metaphorically and literally.  Little did she know that I had just put two more tattoos on my other arm.  I know that some conservatives out there might groan at the thought - "oh no, what is Jenny doing?!".  And, that's fine.  I used to actually be in that crowd...I used to be judgmental and poo-pood tattoos.  I used to think they were so tacky and conveyed the wrong kind of message.  Now I roll my eyes.  Now I don't care what anyone thinks.  My personal choice to permanently mark my body with art, that shares a message about who I am is something I am proud of.  My recent additions over the past year have been for my girls, mainly Vienne, of course (I shared about my last tattoo for Vienne here).  Every single day, I wear something that reminds me of Vienne....anything to keep her as near as possible...whether it be my locket with her photo or my cross necklace that carries a bit of her ashes or earrings with her name etched in them or the colors blue and green.  But all of these things can pass away or be lost.  My body art will stay with me forever, in this life.  I am forever marked with reminders of my Girl.  I am forever branded with reminders of the difficult life that has been forced upon me.  These marks, these brandings are my scars.  Scars that represent the deepest of wounds.  Scars that also remind me that this body is temporary and when I finally get to leave this place to be reunited with my Vienne, my body will be renewed and I will no longer need these brandings.  So, I wear my scars on my sleeves...until that day comes.

Here is one of the tattoos - it is a sentimental one.  One which has a difficult story that comes with it.  But, I needed to wear it in a place where I can read it each and every day.  So, it had to be in a visible place to all.

It says "Vindicate me, my God" with Vienne's star that she drew when she was 14 months old.  
The passage comes from Psalm 43, vs 1.  Psalm 43 is the chapter I was reading that horrific the exact same time that Vienne was directly above me, in the tub, taking her last breath.  I have shared about this passage here.  Vindicate means "clear (someone) of blame or guilt" or "to set free".  Heavy, I know.  When dwelling on this, I also found it interesting and meaningful that the passage starts with the letter V - which is what we always called Vienne, for short.  I turned the V into a heart to remind myself that I am not supposed to blame myself, but rather it was her heart that took her life.  It's a powerful piece of work, for sure.  But I need this reminder.  Daily.

Something else I wanted to add about this scripture that I was reading at that time...
I recently found it interesting that it be in chapter 43, for one of my all-time favorite verses that I have used more that ANY other verse in the Bible (for myself and to encourage others) is found a few book over, in Isaiah 43.  Isaiah 43:  1- 4.  I used to read and reread this passage whenever I felt burdened, overwhelmed, sad, or just in a tough place.  Now, I look at this passage and {right now} I scowl.  
It says (and I always would interject my name or a friend's name in spots)~

But now, this is what the Lord says ~
he who created you, O [Daughter],
he who formed you, O [Jenny]:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, 
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, you God,
the Holy One of Israel, you Savior;
Since you are precious and honored in my sight, 
and because I love you.

Welll.....I don't have much insight or eloquence for that right now.  Oh, believe me, I know what could be said.  But, for now, I still feel "set ablaze"...I still feel swept over with drowning water.  But, I know I am not.  I am still living, still much as I wish I weren't sometimes.  But I am.  So, yay.  
This actually reminds me of a blog post that was shared with me today, titled "Confronting the lie:  God won't give you more than you can handle."  It's a good read...especially for those who have not gone through something tragic yet.  I especially appreciate when he says:  It is easy to spout trite Christian platitudes designed to make people feel better with bumper-sticker theology.  But insipid axioms do little in the face of the actual brokenness of the world.  It is more courageous to ask the hard questions of God and wait for him to answer than it is to find hope on the side of a coffee mug.  Asking those questions requires courage because, in the end, it is very likely they will not be answered. 

At the end, the author states that he expectantly waits for God to do something through his struggles.  I don't know if I have reached that point yet.  I am still a bit cynical about all that.  I still seem to cynically bank on the question that "God had to allow my daughter to die so that He could ultimately be glorified in the end??".  It just doesn't rest well with me yet.  Everything that He allows is ultimately for His glory...right?  Well, right now in my narrow-mindedness, all I see is how self-righteous and self-serving that seems.  I feel like a pawn.  I know that's not true...but I still battle with those nagging thoughts that wander in.  (disclaimer - these are still rhetorical questions.  I am not comfortable receiving Biblical insight from anyone, but my pastor or counselor.  But prayers are always welcomed and appreciated)

As for the other tattoo, well I really needed one for my Ivy girl ~

My tattoo artist designed this for me.  I wanted Ivy's name to be scripted into lovely, delicate and simple ivy vines.  I love how it turned out.  If you can't read it, it says:  Ivy Lynnae.

So, there you have it.  I'm all "tatted" up!  Who woulda thunk?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

a poignant sketch

Looking at this breaks me.  It gives me a glimpse of myself, a year ago.  

The anguish.  The guttural feral scream that retched from my gut, in between the breaths that I forced into her little cold body, before the paramedics arrived...this is what I relive most often.  This is me.  

Putting my experience into picture form just says so much more than I could ever say.   Even I can barely look at it.

"Do not judge the bereaved mother. She comes in many forms. She is breathing, but she is dying. She may look young, but inside she has become ancient. She smiles, but her heart sobs. She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she IS, but she IS NOT, all at once. She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity." ~Author Unknown

Sorry for the darkness right now.  It's just where I'm at.


Hey friends....for right now, this is my lazy way of sending all of you a HUGE THANK YOU for all of your sweet and thoughtful comments on here over the last month+.  August just turned out to be impossibly hard for me, as I have already shared and I just was not in the right frame of mind to respond to everyone as I usually do.  I have kept each and every one of your comments in my inbox with intentions to reply...but now as I look over all of them, I am just so overwhelmed.  I have read and reread all of them and I honestly remember each of them.  Comments mean so so very much to me, reminding me that you are there.

Now that we are moved, the 6th is behind us, and we are finally settling in, I will get back on track with my attempt at timely responses.  I just want you to know that you are appreciated and loved back.


Much love, Jenny

Monday, September 16, 2013

First Dream

I had my first dream about Vienne the other night.

I have mixed emotions about it.  It wasn't bad...but it also wasn't everything I had hoped for.

It was a two part dream.  The two parts did not seem connected but looking back, I think that they may be.

Here is what I saw ~

I was in a big like you'd experience in the foyer of a church...or maybe a mall.  I knew I was there to find Vienne.  I knew she was there waiting for me.  I was plowing through the crowd and finally came to her.  And she was older.  Not a lot older...but only like a few years older.  Maybe 6 or 7.  She was taller and thinner as her baby face had turned into a child's face.  Her hair was getting darker...starting to look closer to mine.  She was beautiful, as always, in her simplicity.  She was calm and quiet and seemed very mature and knowing.  Her calm and serenity was almost a disappointment to me - I wanted an excited embrace.  Instead, I knelt down and calmly, though fiercely, embraced her and she hugged me back.  Words were not exchanged.  But the feeling was "I am finally here...I am finally with you".

When I woke, yes, the strong impression was that I was in Heaven finally.

The other part of the dream was odd...but somehow connected.  She was not in this part.  I was not inside...not in a crowd.  I was outside on earthen ground.  And, suddenly the ground began to tremble and crack, like in an earthquake, I would assume.  But it was not an earthquake.  As the ground began to crack and split, I looked down between the cracks and there was a form moving beneath, causing the  tremble.  It was the large large body of an oversized serpent.  I never saw it's head...but it's body kept slithering beneath, moving and shattering my foundation.

When I woke from this, my impression was that this was the enemy...who had caused my Girl to be taken from this world and thus shattering every foundation of my world.  It was a nightmarish-feeling dream.  If you know me, you know I have a strong phobia-like fear of snakes.

Interesting, huh?

(Thank you to all of you who have continually prayed for me to dream of her...please keep those prayers up.  I want more.)

Friday, September 13, 2013

1 Year

(In remembrance ~ for those of you who have not yet viewed this beautiful video that Kinsey made for Vienne's Memorial Service.  This is the one that I cannot watch.  It is too painful, too hard, too beautiful.  I save this for those times that I need a really good cry.)

I don't really know how to start this post.  

I could go with the stereotypical:  "It's hard to believe that we've already made it a year without our precious Vienne." ....or...."One year ago I lost my precious Daughter and the pain and missing is just as intense as it first was." ....but, we all know this.  This is nothing new.

Instead, I guess I want to share some pictures and videos with you that are significant to me at this year mark.

(This is me and Vienne in our bath tub, at home, in Cannon Beach - just minutes after she was born.  She was so immediately perfect - calm, beautiful, tiny, and healthy.  How strange it is to realize that Vienne was brought into this world in water...and she left this world in water.)

(I've held off from sharing these cute photos of her in the tub because it took me a long time to be comfortable with looking at them.  The very tub where her last breath was taken.)

(THIS is how I should've found my daughter on that horrible morning!  Sitting happily AND safely in shallow water.  This was the norm.  This is what I walked in expecting to find.)

(I hope this is ok to post this video of her in the tub.  A little tushy shows at one point.  I am usually very protective about private parts.  This was taken around 2 1/2-3 years old, I think.  She is just sweetly and quietly playing in the tub.  Nothing exciting.  It's just the only video I have of her in the tub.  Looking at all of these may seem twisted to some of you, but this is me facing my fears.  I'm sorry if it is hard to look at.)

(My beautiful bathing beauties.  This is actually one of my favorite photos.  Vienne's smile is so captivating.  Ivy is so chubby and precious.  V always holding her sister's hand.  Always.  This should be my world.  
Instead of currently fighting Ivy to take a bath, I should have my two daughters - the older one to help guide and encourage her little sister into the things she fears.)

(This is the last photo that was taken of Vienne - 2 days before on Sept. 4th.  You've all heard the story before, about this dress.  This was the first time she cared about wearing a princess dress.  If you know Vienne, you know that she never cared or knew much about the princesses.  A curiosity had just started to form.)

(This is another one of my favorites.  It makes me smile and breaks my heart at the same time.  Something speaks to me in this photo - it almost seems foretelling, to me.  Ivy is lively and happy, looking straight at me.  Vienne is quiet and calm, looking far-off...all while gently holding her sister.  It's what I imagine Vienne to be right now, as she quietly watches over her little sister.  Ivy's Angel, if you will.

Last Friday, September 6th, 2013, exactly one year after Vienne was abruptly taken from this world, was not as bad as we had expected.  The dread and anticipation for that day was far far worse.  All of August just seemed like hell to me.  Moving homes at the exact same time as this one year "anniversary" was both good and bad.  It did serve as a good distraction - it kept me busy and focused on something productive.  But, it was oh so very taxing and stressful.  Things did not transition smoothly and for a bit it felt like everything had blown up in our faces.  There were many many tears.  So, by the time that the 6th arrived, both Mark and I were just emotionally and physically exhausted.  Our tears had turned inward at that point.
There was a big outpouring of love and support for us on the 6th, though, and that was very welcomed and appreciated.  We received hundreds of Facebook comments and messages, along with texts and cards and flower deliveries.  It meant more than anyone can know.  We realized that days like that (anniversary type days) are more for everybody else.  It's a day to stop, take a step away from your routine life and world, and remember our Girl and our tragic loss.  For us, we live in it every single day.  All the days are the same as they are all days without Her.  By Saturday, the 7th, everyone can go back to their lives.  That's fine and normal and expected.  But, we cannot.  It is still the same.  So, it is nice to have a day where people can stop to remember.

(Friends of our's made this little memorial pic as their profile photo on Facebook and it spread around quickly.  By Friday, most of our friends had this posted as their profile pic.  It was very sweet to us.)

(This is Vienne's Uncle Seth singing Rivers and Roads, by The Head and The Heart.  Seth feels that this song expresses his grief over the loss of Vienne.  Listening to his emotional expression of this song certainly turned us into a puddle of tears.  Lines like the following, really hit home for me:
"Nothin' is as it has been
And I miss your face like hell"
"If you don't know what to make of this
Then we will not relate
So if you don't know what to make of this
Then we will not relate"
I always love listening to Seth sing and his tenderness for our daughters is just one of the sweetest things to my heart.  At the end of the video, you will hear Lacey saying "We love you, Vienne, see you soon." which is taken from a video of her where she says the same thing, like in the Memorial Service video.)

**As an update, we are now all moved in to our new place and starting to really like it.  We are back in the neighborhood that we lived in when Vienne was with us.  We want Ivy to get to know this neighborhood and all of her big sister's favorite places.  Mark is already loving his ability to put Ivy in the stroller and walk to Starbuck's and the park...just like he used to do with Vienne.  This place will be good for us as we start to put our feet forward and make baby steps to starting over again.   Our hope is to start to feel somewhat settled, in this new life (however that's going to look), that we can look to purchase a house again.  Right now, we just still feel lost and unstable to make such a commitment.