It's perfect, right? Every time I hear this song, I cry. I imagine any father who has believed in Jesus and lost a daughter who's favorite color was green reacts similarly. It's odd to consider this woe begotten, unknown brotherhood I'm in. We don't know each other and yet we share this singularly powerful experience. Knowing other fathers exist for which this song brings such strong emotion; well, it gets a little less lonely for a bit.
There is a line in the song, "I wanted to ask God the reason but I asked him what now instead". I don't know if you have to lose a child to understand what a salient point this is. It effectively divides those who would share grief into two camps from early on. Those that seek reasons are already looking for healing, for a way to address this problem of pain in loss and re-engage with the world. Typically, this is the accepted and expected way of dealing with grief. But it is not the only way and, dare I say, not the right one.
"What now?" is what came more quickly to me by default. There was, there is, no reason I'd agree with for not having Vienne in my life. Were the reason to fall from the lips of Jesus himself, I would remain violently unsatisfied. If that sounds like sacrilege to you, you have my apologies but we accept things without agreeing to them every day. "What now?"; embraces the change that has happened. This mindscape reflexively accepts that life will never be the same again and there is no going back. It embraces the pain as the pain is so great that the only other alternatives are trying to minimize it (reasons) or losing yourself to it (depression, addiction, suicide). Unlike a broken relationship or an addiction, nothing can be done that provides restoration, not of self or 'the way things were'.
The primary difference between the reason seekers and the what now's is the acceptance of the unknown.
To summarize a very, very long conversation; we believe Vienne is joyful in heaven with Jesus. We believe that by having faith in Jesus we may see her again. We believe that having faith in Jesus results in working to follow the tenets of his teachings; showing others kindness, love and grace. We want to raise Ivy this way too. Frankly, everything else is up for grabs.
We want Ivy to also 'swim in an ocean of laughter' and to 'dance in a desert of grace'; and she does.
What's now for us this year is that we're trying to re-engage with people. We aren't fixed, we are well enough. We are trying really hard to have patience when we feel expectations from others to be a certain way (especially spiritually) but we also want to be honest. It can be a lonely place and we deeply appreciate those that have chosen to stay close without expectation, without judgment, but out of love. Thank you. We are broken but we are functional and not entirely messed up if Ivy can be seen as a product of our new lives.
I write this approaching Vienne's 7th birthday. This song paints a picture of the joy Vienne may be experiencing and what I want to remember her for on her birthday. The verse that gets me to well up every single time is this, "I set her a place at my table and man, you should see that girl eat". God's table must be filled with mac 'n cheese, french fries and goldfish crackers because otherwise V tended to peck at her food rather than inhale it as Ivy is sometimes prone to do. Vienne is happy, Ivy is happy; that's what carries us on.
Full Lyrics to Her Favorite Color Was Green:
Her favorite color was green That's about all that I know Except she knew the Lord Loved her - her Bible told her so.
She swam in an ocean of laughter She danced in a desert of grace The way she loved those around her Was written all over her face
I was there the morning she left us I heard every tear that was shed I wanted to ask God the reason But I asked him what now instead
What now, God would you have us say? What now, God would you have us do? Wasn't it clear she was faithful? Wasn't that enough for you?
God said, how could you ask such a question? Surely the answer is clear? Do I have to paint you a picture? Is it not enough I am here?
I said God, that's not what I meant But she was just too young to die God said I know what you mean - Remember I watched my son cry I said yes, but at least your boy is with you God said right, and now so is she I set her a place at my table and man, you should see that girl eat
In fact, I wish you could see her smiling then you'd know she feels right at home She's been telling the angels about you Just so you won't feel alone
Her favorite color was green That's my favorite too She's already sliding down rainbows Right between yellow and blue