Friday, March 13, 2015

A faith shattered

**(I am starting to try to organize some old posts that were half-written and never published to the blog.  Bear with me as my thoughts are scattered.  A handful of posts might be coming out, solely focused on spiritual stuff and wrestlings.  Things I have not known how to get out of my head with eloquence.  But I am starting to roll up my sleeves and at least attempt to put some words to my thoughts and frustrations.  Here's just a small snippet….something I jotted down a while ago.)**

We all know that my husband and I have suffered an unimaginable loss.  Absolutely, the worst kind of loss there is.  I'm sure that everyone can agree with that.

It was once pointed out to me that I have also suffered another kind of tragic loss after Vienne passed away.  My faith.

Well, I guess I am not going to go so far as to say that my faith is completely lost…but it is most certainly shattered.  If you know me, then you know that I had always been a very strong and convicted believer in Jesus Christ.  I've never followed any denomination.  I've never related to "religiosity".  But I had always had a firmly rooted faith.  My faith was what I based many of my decisions and choices, opinions and convictions, my parenting style and lifestyle…etc. on.  I had never agreed with a "shove Jesus in your face" kind of Christianity.  Yuck.  But, I maintained my strong beliefs and enjoyed any conversation on the topic if anyone else was mutually interested.  I believe I had a personal relationship with Jesus and I gladly introduced Vienne to the Jesus I once knew.

This was my foundation…for most of my life.  I unwaveringly developed myself around this faith.  So, all that to say, for this foundation of faith to be shattered…I agree with the suggestion that this should be counted as another significant kind of loss.  (*and to other bereaved parents, I am not trying to say that my loss is more intense than yours.  We all know that it is all relevant to our own personal lives and experiences.)  I have a hard time admitting things like this because I hate sounding so "woe is me".

This is where I currently stand on God and Jesus….

I do believe in God.  I do believe that He is the only God and I do believe in His Son, Jesus Christ.  I do believe they are one in the same, yet separate. (That one is difficult to explain to those who haven't been raised with this belief:  The way I was taught was to think about how you are a mother as well as a daughter…or a Dad as well as a friend.  You are two different people in those roles, yet still the same 1 person.  That's how I've seen it, anyway.  Yes, it's a little weird and sometimes I still can't wrap my brain around it if I try to think too hard.)

What has changed for me now…is that I do not like God anymore…or right now, at least.  I do not want to worship Him.  I do not thank Him for my circumstances.  I do not agree with His choices.  I do not believe that He is entirely "good" in our human understanding of "goodness".   I don't, however, have a beef with Jesus, for some reason.  I know that sounds odd.  I can't really explain it.  Jesus is more personable to me.  I admire the Man that He was, here on earth.  But God makes me angry…makes me cringe.  I believe in Him…but I do not like Him.

I don't fully understand, anymore, if He is fully in control of all things, here on earth…or not.  I have a VERY difficult time, now, understanding that an "all-powerful" and loving God would allow sooooo much ugliness and hurt and horror and tragedy on this earth.  I feel like more prayers against those horrors in our world go unanswered than answered.  Meaning, I see more tragedies than miracles.  The only question I have come to from this perspective, now, is that maybe He has more power on His side of Heaven than on this one?  On the earth side?  Because why??  Otherwise, why??  I have a hard time wanting to worship a God that could intervene but rarely does.  I don't like that.  So, I almost want to resolve that….maybe He just can't.

How to reconcile all of this??  I have no clue.

(I think I'll tackle the topic of prayer and religion in another post….so many thoughts)

Friday, March 6, 2015

2.5 years

March 6, 2015.  Today it has been 2 1/2 years since she's been gone.


Sometime, I sit and ponder about where we would be in life if Vienne were still here.  …"where would we be?"…."what would she look like?"….:what would she be interested in now?"…etc.  It is still so mind-boggling how quickly your life can change…how it can so easily be snatched away from you.

**Never take your life for granted!!**

I had a conversation with someone a while back about the differences between siblings.  This person was sharing how they realized that they are different parents to the second child than they were to the first.  The second time around your attention is now divided:  you can't give as much one-on-one attention to the second as you could when you just had one.  You are more relaxed and less cautious or paranoid as you were the first time around…you have to be.  You have to let certain things go.  …Thus you are a bit of a different parent.  And, therefore your two children turn out differently (that mixed in combination with their specific traits and characteristics.  Nature+Nurture).  It was interesting to me as I started to think about our two girls.  How more similar to each other they are, than dissimilar.  And, this conversation seemed to point out why.  We are back to having an only child again.  Since we liked the way we did things the first time around, we do them the same with Ivy.  Our attention is not divided, though, and so she gets all of us…we do things the same and our attention is the same as it was for Vienne.  I think that, in conjunction with Ivy's obvious nature to be gentle and cautious and fun and creative, insightful and sensitive, meticulous and clean…has made her to turn out to be very much like her sister.

{Top:  Vienne about 22 months.  Bottom:  Ivy about 2 1/2}

I watch Ivy every day and I just see Vienne more and more.  In most ways it is a gift, yes.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  Sometimes I find myself even wanting Ivy to like things that Vienne liked.  But, then at the same time I am slightly irritated by it…as if it were God saying to me "see….I gave you Vienne back…just in a different, yet similar form".  Yeah, I don't like that.  I know that's not the case…but it's just the irrationality that runs through my head and makes me angry.  Nothing could ever excuse how Vienne was allowed to be taken from me.  Nothing.
But, Ivy certainly does things in ways that reflect her Sister.  She has her own unique preferences, of course, her "way" about her is what is most pronounced to us.  Her demeanor, her sensitivity, her eagerness to please, her joy and imagination, the way she says "fligilator"!….etc.

{Ivy - her hands so patient and waiting to blow out her birthday candles}

{Ivy daintily eating a birthday treat.  Her outfit looks silly because the shirt was a gift that she had just opened and loved so much that she put on over her bday outfit!}

{Creative, gentle, and sweet.  These critters on her arms are 2 of her buddies.  When I put this shirt on her, she got very excited about the straps that hold up the rolled sleeves.  She exclaimed:  "I can carry my buddies in these!!".  Silly Doodle.}

{proudly wearing Sissy's boots.  What a treasure.}

Looking at Ivy and how she carries Vienne's traits so closely to herself, I oftentimes wonder "what if?".  What if Vienne were still here?  What would Ivy be like, then?  What would Vienne be into?  What would she like right now?  What would be her new favorite movie?  What would she like to play with?  What things would interest her?  What areas would she be excelling in, in school?  Would she finally be interested in academic-type subjects?  Would she be artistic?  What would it be like to watch both of my girls dancing around the living room and singing "Let it Go"?  And, what would Ivy be like?  Would she be as gentle?  Or would she be tougher because she'd have to vy for our attention…and share with her big sister?  Would she be as meticulous and orderly?  …etc.

{Left:  Vienne age 2.  Right:  Ivy age 3}

If Vienne were still alive…

~ We would've stayed longer in the townhouse that we loved…until we needed more space.  Maybe the girls would've shared Vienne's bedroom until we moved.
~Mark would've continued pursuing establishing his Portland presence in residential Real Estate.  Real Estate is Mark's career of choice and what he did in Cannon Beach.  We had to leave it and the house we were buying when the economy turned in 2010.  He took a position at a heating and cooling company in the Pdx area, to provide for us.  After 2 yrs of doing that, he was pursuing real estate again, on the side - the summer that Vienne died.  That all stopped abruptly when Vienne passed.  How could he happily sell homes and put on that "face" after losing a child?  He couldn't.
~We would've eventually moved into a bigger rental and started saving to buy a home again.  Instead, these past 2 1/2 years have just been about surviving…and now just trying to figure out what we are supposed to do with this life.
~Vienne would've started 1st Grade this past fall!  I was looking forward to enrolling her in a private school in the area.  It fit so perfectly into our needs.  The school is a "hybrid" school, blending the best of private school and homeschool.  I always dreamt of homeschooling, though I quickly discovered that V wasn't all that interested in learning from me.  I learned that she thrived with peers, an organized setting, and an "official" teacher to follow directions from.  This hybrid school was perfect for both of our desires and needs.  It runs 3 days a week (MWF) and then you supplement at home on the other 2 days.  I could still be involved, but she could still get that socialization and orderly environment that she thrived off of.  We are hoping to be able to send Ivy there.

{me and my sweet Girl working on some preschool workbooks…a week before she passed}

~Ivy would probably not be so needy because she would have a constant best friend and playmate.
~I know that the past few years would've had some experiences in more swim lessons and other extra curricular activities as well as an attempt at horse-riding lessons - Vienne's dream.
~We would've continued going to play groups with friends.  I would be more social.
~I wouldn't have lost friends and my relationships would've continued to grow…instead of change as they have.
~But, I also wouldn't have gained many new friends, like all of you.
~I know I wouldn't have struggled with my health like I've been.

Our life now…

~Ivy is our WORLD.  I thrive off of her joy and the distraction that she constantly provides.  She is all that I can care about right now.

~Mark is no longer managing the heating and cooling company….though he is not in residential real estate either.  Last March, he joined a commercial real estate firm in downtown Portland.  Commercial real estate is an entirely different ball game from residential.   Back when he was pursuing residential, he had no idea how different it would be from working residential real estate in Cannon Beach.  You can make a career out of it there and still have a family life with residential real estate in CB.  Not so much in PDX.  I don't know if this commercial real estate opportunity would have come to him, though, if our lives were on that previous path.  But, commercial real estate is a huge career opportunity and I am proud of him for getting into it.  Of course, we would ALWAYS prefer the previous path.   This is the bitter-sweetness to his new career path.

~We have hopped around to two different homes, now since V passed….and we still are not settled in where we're permanently meant to be.  I don't even know what or where that is.  We spent the first year without V in a rental that was taken on immediately after she passed.  My family found us a quick home because I could not return to ours after Vienne's tragedy.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be the worst renting experience of our lives.  And now, we are in a condo/apartment.  We are back in the area we were in when Vienne was alive.  We love this area.  It is rich with memories of Vienne…which can be bitter sweet…but I am sooooo ready for a house and a yard.

~I struggle to care about much outside of my small little world of Mark and Ivy and our home.

~I thought this would make me more compassionate (and maybe it will one day) but I feel actually less compassionate.

~I still struggle with my health.  Probably both mentally and physically.  My anxiety has become much more manageable…though I have very limited ability in handling frustration.  It is embarrassing to me.  My tummy issues are still a battle - always trying to figure out what I can and cannot eat/tolerate.

~We have decided that we are not going to try to have any more children.  Yes, after 2 years of giving this serious thought and consideration - we are in agreement.  It is a difficult decision and I think we will always wonder which way was the best for us to go…but this is what we are sticking with.  We have 2 daughters.  We always will.  I always only desired just 2 children.  I never wanted an only that makes this very hard.  But, there are many reasons as to why this decision works best for us.  To be frank and honest, I just don't think I can handle the stress and anxiety that comes with having another newborn and those first two years.  As great of a mother as I am, I am not a huge fan of the baby stage.  Shocking, I know.  In knowing those things about myself, I just fear that I would not be the best mother that I could be if I took on another baby, right now.  And, I am not getting younger.  I turn 37 next month.  It gets harder the older you get.  And, I realize that all of these "reasons" are very me-centric…possibly selfish excuses…but this is the decision we feel most comfortable with.

2 1/2 years….so so so many more to go.

{always just a family of 3…}

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Have you heard this crazy story yet?

This story will give you goosebumps.

I was set up for a coffee date to meet another local Mama who lost her little girl 12 years ago.

The only thing we knew about each other, going into our coffee date, were our girls' coincidentally similar names - Vienne and Vivienne.  Little did we know, that that was just the beginning.

We very quickly learned that both of our precious daughters died from viral myocarditis….on September 6th!!!!  Exactly a decade apart…Vivienne died exactly 10 years earlier, on Sept. 6, 2002.

Vienne was born on May 1st and Vivienne was born on May 31st… Vienne was 4 1/2 and Vivienne was 2 1/2.


It is a crazy coincidental story.  We have kept in touch.  But, even though it was so similar…what do you do with that?  Not much.  Just another Mom who suffers as severely as I suffer.  Now, even 12 years later, she is still trying to figure herself out…still trying to find peace and joy…still struggling.

So, there's that story.

(oh, how I miss this beautiful face)