A picture is worth a thousand words. That’s the saying.
Since having our first baby eight years ago we have tried to choose certain traditions that we thought we could maintain no matter how many children we had. I’ve made baby quilts, kept a (sometimes sparse) baby book, and had newborn photos made of each baby. The traditions have undoubtedly become more difficult to maintain with the addition of each child, but we have managed to complete them all.
We scheduled newborn photos of Lucy when she was one week old. The nursery was clean, the kids were bathed and outfits were carefully chosen. I knew the entire experience would be difficult. Pictures are a harsh reminder that someone is missing. Our photographer was incredibly gracious and the photos are beautiful, but Jane is not in them. I didn’t know how I wanted to handle including Jane in the pictures. To leave her out completely felt wrong, but other ideas seemed superficial and unnatural. At the last moment, we simply put Lucy in her crib next to one of our favorite pictures of Jane. Robert had to leave the room. I swallowed tears.
A couple of days ago, we received the first sneak peak of pictures. The first picture I saw was the one of Lucy next to Jane’s picture. I sobbed. “Why is this the picture I have of my daughters?!” I lamented to the Lord. It’s not the picture I wanted. I wanted to be teaching Jane how to hold her hand under Lucy’s head. I wanted to be reminding Jane to use her inside voice because she would have been so excited she wouldn’t have been able to control the volume of her voice or squeals. It wasn’t my plan. I wanted something so different.
It’s not the picture I wanted. I wanted something so different.
Today marks five months since Jane passed away. I now hold Lucy in my arms, and Jane only in my heart and memories. In a way, the pain of losing Jane has actually grown with the arrival of Lucy. When we found out we were expecting last November, I was pretty confident this would be our last baby. I anticipated, then, that the arrival of this last child would make our family feel complete. So we have been waiting for Lucy. Even since losing Jane, we still anticipated this blessed baby’s arrival. We are overjoyed with Lucy, but now that she is here it feels we are still waiting. Our family does not feel complete.
So I lament.
Lord, why is this our story? What wretched pain and suffering we are enduring. It feels like there is no end in sight. All of our children are such beautiful blessings. It hurts that one was taken away. I fear the loss of more. Sorrow billows and overwhelms us daily. Exhaustions permeates our home. Yet, you O Lord are near. You are with us in our pain. You are with us in our sorrow. You bring peace and rest to our weary souls. You know our story completely. Your ways are higher and I trust you. When words fail, your Spirit intercedes. I can stand on the promises and principles of Scripture because you are holy and your words are true. When we feel incomplete, we can find healing in you.
A picture is worth a thousand words. That’s the saying, but this picture of sisters, the picture of our life seems to need thousands and thousands of words. We need more words to express our heartache, but we need even more words to tell of God’s faithfulness.