When I first spoke of the movie Courageous I said there were many things covered in it and many things I could relate to in my life. One of the most powerful moments for me came when it was time for Adam Mitchell and his family to say goodbye to their nine year old daughter, killed by a drunk driver. As you can well imagine, it was so very hard to watch and to see the raw emotions shared.
At Emily’s funeral, the pastor says words that brought me to tears… but not tears of pain but tears of hope, of renewed faith…
"At a moment like this, silence seems to be the only emotion that fits. What can we, as mere men say to a grieving shattered heart? We speak today because we have a living hope. Death is no respecter of persons. Death is no respecter of youth. Death is a painful intruder and a pernicious reminder of our human condition. But I stand before you today to declare that we have a living hope and that causes us to rejoice greatly. If your hope today is found in the fact Jesus is no longer entombed... Because He lives, the grieving broken heart has hope, and reason to rejoice."
God’s son died and in his death, we have been given the greatest gift….Hope for the human race, salvation, forgiveness of sins. Because he died and rose again, because he gave his life so we may have ours, because he lives on forever , because of this our grieving hearts do have hope. We can rejoice in the fact that our loved ones who knew and loved Jesus (and all children, so I have been told by many, so has been documented by those who’ve come back from heaven, do) are in heaven awaiting us. We know we will see them again and that is reason to celebrate.
But that celebration is so very hard to embrace. How do you tell your shattered heart that the person you said goodbye to, especially when it is someone who has not lived a long life, who left us way to soon…how do you tell your heart that it is time to celebrate??? Well initially, you don’t. At least most don’t. I didn’t, heck often I still don’t embrace this fully. And finding your way after the shattering…well that is one to the greatest challenges anyone can endure. Knowing how to accept it, learning to live again… it is so painful and so difficult. And it takes great courage to do it.
Adam Mitchell struggled too and I urge you to watch this scene
as he talks to his pastor. I encourage you to read what the pastor said….
"Adam there needs to be a grieving process, and the Lords the one who carries you through it. It takes time. It takes time for healing. I've heard many people say who've lost a loved one, that in some ways, it's like learning to live with an amputation. You do heal, but you're never the same. I would also say, that those who go through this and trust in the Lord discover a comfort and an intimacy with God that most people never experience.”
This last line is so powerful to me. I remember in the days, weeks and months…okay years after we lost Cole I knew that I was not the same, would never be the same but I slowly began a relationship with the Lord that I didn’t know was possible. I always believed but when I thought about my son sitting in our heavenly Father’s lap, rocking in a chair with Jesus I just felt such comfort. It still took me so very long though to really come to Christ. It’s funny because people will ask my husband and I how long we’ve been Christians and I just stumble over the answer because it wasn’t like it is for many born again Christians… I didn’t confess my sins and invite Him into my life and start from there. I think He was always there, I always knew I had Him in my life. But I didn’t trust my life to Him, I think I thought I could do it alone, that I was in control. And I guess in a way I was because I fought Him and his will, I celebrated free will, every chance I got. But when Cole was gone and my heart felt broken I began to look at my life and my faith differently. I took in bits at a time of a new faith, a new belief, a new relationship with Jesus. And then as I began to explore things in a new church it became crystal clear to me that I needed, desperately, to grow my relationship with God. I felt myself turn to him like he was a friend and I found great comfort in the intimacy of our relationship. So close has that relationship become that I will very likely be part of a believer’s baptism (full immersion) very soon.
But having this relationship does not mean that the process becomes easy, it doesn’t mean you don’t question, every single day, why this is your life, why you had to lose, why you have to hurt so bad. Adam’s pastor shares that God
“doesn't promise an explanation, but He does promise to walk with us through the pain. And the hard choice for you is whether or not your going to be angry for the time you didn't have..., or grateful for the time that you did have."
And now I am crying…again, for the tenth time after watching this scene and reading these words. Because it is a choice and it is an impossibly hard, at times, choice and it takes such great courage to make that choice to not be angry but to celebrate instead. I dreamed of the things we would have done with our twins, I envisioned all those matching outfits and toys. The dreams of our matching children climbing on a school bus, packing to move to out, graduating from university, standing up as each other’s best friend at their weddings. I had planned so much and now every single thing I planned had been ripped from arms, stolen from my outstretched hands. We were so darned close, the dream was within reach. I was so very angry at times. I just seemed so unfair to not have had those dreams, those memories, that time together with my amazing identical twins. I wanted (ok I did) to scream and throw things. I wanted my life back.
But gradually, over time, I became more peaceful. I found hope in the future, in the reuniting I would have with my son. But it wasn’t until I watched this for the second time that I realized finding that peace and hope was wonderful but it was a peace and hope centered around acceptance of what I had lost. It was never a celebration of joy for what we’d had.
But what an amazing thing we did have. What an absolute blessing from God. Only 3% of all women have twins. Of that 3%, for easy math in my later stats, that’s 30 sets of twins out of 1000 births. Only 15% of all twin pregnancies are identical… 15% of 3%... hmmmm 15% of 30 is 4.5 out of 1000…though other research says that identicals occur as little as 3 out of 1000 births. That is pretty amazing odds, what a blessed miracle. (now just cuz I am doing math… the chances of getting TTTS are 15% of all identicals… only .7 of those 4.5 babies or 7 out of 10 000 births… it’s like winning a lottery…though not one anyone EVER wants to win). I am one of so few women to experience the wonderful shock of finding out your body had performed this amazing miracle and split an egg into to two identical little beings. I will never, ever forget those moments….”I have some news for you Mrs. Tummers…there’s two babies in there!!!”. No one can take that moment from me and no one can take the excitement I felt at telling everyone I saw that I was having twins. I didn’t have a lot of time with Cole but I will cherish each and every memory of that time. Each and every ultrasound, each and every flutter and kick. The quick growth my body experienced, the rapid changes. The plans for my babies…what they would wear, where they would sleep, what Halloween costume I’d dress them in. I woke each and every moment in wonderment of the miracle that was happening. I remember saying to Geoff atleast once a week…’wow, we’re going to have twins…that is so amazing’. I will cherish the memories of my worries and questions and of the places I turned to for support. But most of all I will cherish the memory of seeing him month after month via ultrasound… kicking, waving, sucking his thumb, hitting and kicking his brother. I will cherish those pictures and I will be forever grateful for the time I had with my son.
Grief is a journey and that journey has so many twists and turns along the way. I am so very grateful that I have the Lord to lean on as I take this journey and I am so very grateful for all the memories he allowed me to have of the times before grief became a part of everyday life. Moreoever, I am so very grateful for the courage He has given me to grief publically, to share my heart and soul in hopes that others will find peace, to be able to look back at the whole journey with a smile, a tender heart and great joy.