Sometimes "dark days" come at times that I expect them to...Kinley's due date, the 24th of the month, holidays. Then there are the times that they hit me like a giant boulder right over the top of my head. Suddenly I realize I'm on the edge of being in a very, very bad place. Unfortunately, by this point, it's usually too late to do anything about it. I just have to start praying and determine in my mind that I've come this far and I won't give up now.
I guess that I should have predicted the emotion of Saturday, but I really had no idea it would hit me as hard as it did. Friday night I barely slept at all. The next morning, Kinley's stone would be set at the cemetery. My mind switched between racing a million miles a minute and going completely numb and empty. The next morning it would be so final. All of my planning, deciding, and choosing would be over. The headstone was the last remaining "project" I had to do for Kinley. I had set so many goals for myself, that it had really become a coping mechanism. ...Just get through the labor and delivery, that was all I thought about;
...Just plan the service and make sure that it is as perfect as it could possibly be;
...Just keep the gravesite cleaned up and "decorated" for the seasons because there was nothing else there to commemorate her;
...Just design the headstone to my exact liking...
Now what? I have purchased the only gift that I will ever give her. It's like every Christmas and birthday rolled into one day. This was it. I wish so desperately that I could give her something more, something better, but this is it.
Saturday morning I was exhausted from a total lack of sleep and right on the edge of a complete breakdown. Brenna and I stopped at Marsh to buy some flowers, then headed out to the cemetery. As we drove in I realized that the stone wasn't there yet. Great! More waiting! My parents and Jacob's parents arrived at the exact same time we did, and we all kind of wandered around for a little while, waiting to see if they would come to put in the stone.
As I walked around I read the headstones of so many other babies and young children (Kinley is buried in a "Baby Land". We liked the idea of her being with other babies who had gone too soon....And, by the way, when the ground opens up and the earthly bodies of those who have died are raised up to meet Jesus in the sky, I want to be right there among the little ones in "Baby Land". How wonderful would it be to watch EVERY grave crack open and every tiny little body be caught up with Jesus! Then, of course, I want to go too!) Anyway, as I walked around I suddenly became filled with fear and nervousness.
I read these stones and realized that all that most of the world will ever know of these babies is what is written on the stone that marks their final resting place. I often wander around reading other stones and wonder what the situation was and what the family was like. What if I didn't represent Kinley as well as I could have? What if her stone doesn't say anything? I mean it has words, but what if it doesn't really SAY anything to people? What if it doesn't show how deep our love for her is? What if it doesn't point people to the only reason that Jacob and I are still standing....Jesus? What if, in my final 'task' for her, I have failed? I felt the darkness closing even tighter around me. Because I felt this terror coming, I suggested we go to eat and then come back.
When we returned, the stone was set. It is beautiful....as beautiful as a monument for a child taken too soon could be. I felt peace again because it is exactly what I wanted it to be. Her tiny footprints represent just how small she really was and how short her time was, but also the fact that no matter how small, she left her mark on this world. The circle of white around the footprints is surrounded by a bow, a perfectly girly and precious addition that came only after the stone came in and was wrong at first (long story). The saying on the back sums up our feelings so well "Dear God, We never got to hold her in our arms and tell her about You, so please hold her in Your arms and tell her about us." The scripture on the back is Isaiah 11:6, Kinley's life scripture. It tells of the day when the world will be complete and perfect again, our hope for the future.
It was so nice to have our parents there with me, especially since Jacob couldn't be. We took some pictures, rearranged her "things", and admired the beauty of something that's just not beautiful. As they all left, I was left alone for a few minutes. I knelt in front of the stone to talk to my Kinley. I told her the same things that I tell her most of the times that I'm there. I told her how much I really love her and how much I miss her everyday. I told her that I think of her so often and that she'll always be my firstborn angel. That she'll always be so special to me. I also added that I wished I could have bought her something better (a Barbie jeep, a swing set, or trampoline some day) but instead this was all I could give her. I told her that I had done my best to make it special for her. Then I turned to walk away. Sitting in the car, I looked back and thought to myself "so, this is it, then, this is the product of Kinley's life....this is what we have of her?"
Almost immediately I heard in my heart a very strong "NO, it is not!" I knew that this engraved piece of stone was a symbol of Kinley's death, but the product of her life was so much bigger. The product of her life is in Jacob and I. The product of her life is the lives that she has changed. It's in the day that Brenna asked for the details of Heaven, knowing that's where Kinley was, and asked what she needed to do to go there too.
...A little girl (who happens to be the most important little girl living on this earth to me) giving her heart to Jesus in the Walmart parking lot....that is the product of Kinley's life.
...A cousin who gave her heart to the Lord at Kinley's service and is choosing to raise her children in the knowledge of Christ;
...A nurse who commented to another nurse that she wasn't a Christian, but that she felt the peace of Jesus as she walked past and into my hospital room;
...An aunt who said that she had always feared death, but that now some of the fear was gone, because Kinley is in heaven waiting and she looked forward to meeting her there;
...The emails and messages that I've received from so many of you that you have made changes in your own life, you have prayed more, you have sought after God with more fervor, you have soaked in the true miracles of your own children
.....these things are the product of Kinley's life.
"Thank You Jesus for letting me see glimpses of the beauty that you are making out of the ashes of our darkest days. Thank You for the glimpses of heaven that I see when I remember to stop and really look for them. Thank You that although I still have "dark days", You will accomplish what concerns me. You know that if I was given the choice, even knowing the good that would come of Kinley's death, I would still choose to have her with me. That's the heart of a hurting Mommy. You know that in my flesh I would choose to have this earthly journey be free from this pain, but that in my spirit I know that even in spite of my failings, You can and are making beauty from the ashes of my tragedy."
"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor."
Pictures to come soon of Kinley's "special place"...