"We all need 'Kleenex and Candle' friends when we suffer a loss. Compassionate companions who give us permission to cry and offer a kleenex or their tears. When the darkness of discouragement comes they encircle us. Our heroes of hope light the way to brighter tomorrows and to the One who is truth and our eternal encouragement. And at the right season, we can pass on what we have received to other....a Kleenex and a candle" Kathe Wunnenberg
This quote came from the devotional book I was working through. Bits of what I wrote below are my reflections from it and even quotes from it….with my additional thoughts.
As the end of fall came I began to have more and more good days. I found joy in all the ‘normal’ baby things Cameron could do and I kept busy with life looking after a baby and two young boys. When I would talk to most of my friends they would share what their kids were up to, what they were doing, vent about life and problems etc and I would just sit and listen. It wasn’t that I couldn’t relate to this kind of ‘stuff’ but that I just couldn’t find where it fit in my life. These friends had been so supportive during the crisis. It seemed funny when I looked back to when this journey began and people told me all the time how brave I was, how in awe they were of me and how they looked up to me. I had so many people praying for us, emailing me all the time, writing on our caring bridge blog etc. But as time goes on those people seem to disappear from my life. I felt like I no longer attracted the attention and pity of others. It was a very lonely feeling. It made me realize even more so that people just don't get it... they didn't understand that although we had lost Cole almost a year ago and the stress and strain of all that was the remainder of the pregnancy had ended with the arrival of our boys, it didn’t end for me there. I felt it would NEVER end for me, that Cole would l forever be a part of my life and a part of my heart. I couldn’t MOVE on, I didn't want to MOVE on...I wanted to cope, to learn to live without him but it was not moving on...just coping along.
I began to explore the idea and belief of God's will and learning to accept that things are God's will.
I had accepted that becoming pregnant with twins was God's will. I had accepted that our twins getting the rare and fatal disease, TTTS, was God's will. I had accepted that losing Cole and keeping Cameron was God's will but I was finding it hard to accept that losing the ability to connect with those that I considered friends to be God's will.
What I was coming to realize at this point in our lives that although it may have been God's will to take Cole, it seemed to be the frame of mind of so many friends and family member to focus on the positives that came out of our journey, the timing of the diagnosis and surgery, the safe arrival of Cameron. It bothered me that they couldn’t see that there are negatives that are God's will too? I could see that, I could accept that and I was the one who probably hurt the most because of it. I knew that God doesn't only give us what we want, doesn't only give us an easy life. If he did than how would we build strength and character, how would we understand the trials that Jesus endured for us? Why was it that people couldn't talk about the sadness, the despair and the loss with me? Why did it have to be so hard to say to me "I am so sorry that God took your son from you and that you are hurting so but I know that it is his will and that someday we will all understand why it happened. Until then I am here for you, I will hold you and cry with you...I will give you my kleenex and I will be here for you always".
My loss had changed me forever. I no longer felt confident in what I thought was my journey of life. I didn't know where I was going or even where I'd come from at times. I didn't know who my friends were anymore...well that's not true. I knew, for certain, who the true friends are. I knew that they were the ones who talked to me about Cole and let me vent without reminding me how lucky I was that Cameron is still alive. But I didn't know if I should give up on those that who couldn’t seem to support me and didn't know how to support them either. As I said, I was finding it hard to accept that losing my connection with those that I considered friends to be God's will. And guess what...I am still pretty sure it's not. I am pretty certain that God brought this situation to our lives and to our friend’s lives to bring us the opportunity to build stronger relationships. At the time I felt such disappointment in those that weren't up for the challenge. Now I know that even though they weren’t able to cope with what happened in our lives, weren’t able to maintain a relationship with us, they still watched us and they still learned from us. I also now know that God had such plans for us when it came to new friendships and I would never have imagined I would have these amazing people in my life…but that’s a story for a much later post.
As much as I couldn’t determine why this had all happened, what I did know is that I appreciated life so much more. I knew that God had given me 4 perfect gifts, little miracles to love. I knew that I was meant to do big things...just wasn’t sure what they were. I felt very compelled to do something for others who suffered like we had, others affected by TTTS, others sent to Toronto to Dr. Ryan and even to other TTTS specialists in the world. I knew that God had given me the gift of the gab (as my family says) for a reason...I was and am blessed with the ability to write well and I wanted to use this gift.
I wasn’t sure if I was ready to share my love for God and the insights I had about our journey with everyone. Not because I was afraid to be a 'public Christian' but rather because I was not sure what I felt and what I wanted to do with it. But I continued to tell everyone that there are a great many things this side of Heaven that we are not meant to understand but that we had better do as much as we can to ensure we get there.
I knew that tough days were ahead as I continued to find peace, hope…and purpose and I knew that the days leading up to the anniversary of losing Cole would be tough. I knew tears would come easily as I remembered all that happened, days when I couldn’t hold Cameron tight enough and also days when seeing Cameron would just make me sob and sob. But I also knew that I would get through this because I was a child of God and He would see me through this. His love would surround and protect me. His love would NOT stop it from hurting, it would NOT make it go away, it would NOT erase what happened. But it WOULD make it easier and He WOULD provide me with people in my life to help me get through it. This much I was sure then….and this much I know now. He has provided us with the most amazing friends who see our hearts, who love us through the good and the bad, who don’t judge or criticize but instead offer grace, support, assistance, insight and unconditional love. I could not have seen, a mere one year after our loss, that the struggles with friends, acceptance, understanding and empathy would not be important in a few years. I could not see that things would happen that would change my faith, push and stretch me, move me (physically in relation to churches) and bring me such amazing peace and joy. But I did see the light shining through the clouds and I did feel certain that this journey we’d been on was a stepping stone to something great.