Monday, April 28, 2008

Mourning for Lucas

Mommy and Lucas (April 2005)

Our Family (July 2007)

I've been realizing more these days that I am not just mourning my own loss, but I am mourning on Lucas' behalf as well. I guess since he is so young, he is not able to grieve in the same way that I have been grieving. This is a blessing, but in a way it causes me great sadness. In a way, I want him to feel the acute loss because it would show he remembers them and longs to be with them again - like I do. It pains me to think that it is possible that when Lucas is older, he will not remember his Oh-ma and his twin brother. It seems that the majority of adults do not have vivid memories from their first four years of life. We have pictures and some video, but it is my hope that somehow Lucas is able to retain some vivid happy memories of his mommy and brother and these memories are etched in his brain.

As Lucas' life moves forward and he experiences new things, it is so bittersweet for me. This past Saturday, Lucas had his first T-ball game. It was so much fun watching him and all of the other children play and learn. I took the videocamera to capture it which probably saved me from feeling the tougher least during the game. But each time Lucas experiences a new thing and I enjoy his life, it makes me sad that he has to go through it without his best friend and his mommy. Nathan would have loved playing T-ball with his "big" brother, too. And Midi would have enjoyed watching her boys play so much. It is times like these that I feel lonely - for Lucas and for myself.

And I think of who Lucas will become. He will not be the same teenager, young adult, or man that he would have been with the steady influence of his amazing mother throughout the rest of his life. Midi was truly special. I think of the Lucas at age 18 who had his mommy's tender love, compassion, gentle spirit, and grace and I mourn that he doesn't exist. There is no substitute for the love that Lucas will miss out on from Midi. I know that I do not have the same gifts that Midi possessed. I can only love Lucas from who I am. I can only hope and pray that the God who made Midi and gifted her so generously will somehow impart these qualities on Lucas in some other way. And I must trust that He will. But it still hurts me that it won't be through Midi.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Happiest Moment of My Life

Nathan and Lucas at 2 months old
The happiest moment of my life was the time when Midi and I found out that we were having twins. I can remember it so vividly. We went to Dr. Herald Brundage's office in Burbank knowing that Midi was pregnant. The pregnancy test that we took a few days earlier confirmed that. So as we sat in the exam room waiting for Dr. Brundage to do the ultrasound, I remember feeling so close to Midi. We knew that we were starting an exciting journey...the beginning of the rest of our lives together. Dr. Brundage came in and started the exam. A few seconds into it, he says, "Oh! Do you know what you are looking at?" We reply, "No." And he said, "Well, here is your baby and the other one!" They looked like a couple of peanuts. Both of us were completely surprised. I remember that I immediately started giggling - probably a combination of nervousness and pure joy. That is a feeling that I will never forget. The purity of that moment is one that I cannot explain. It was perfect. There was not even a tinge of terror or denial that I thought I would have if I found out I was having twins. It was pure joy. At that moment I felt like my heart was yearning to be the father of twins. My whole being was completely ready. I just held Midi securely as we laughed and cried together.
I don't know that anyone who has not parented twins can know how awesome it is. Of course, it was a lot of work taking care of them. But the daily pleasures of having two babies and watching them grow and relate to one another were something that I would never trade. Having to take care them required Midi and I to be excellent partners to one another. And the boys always had each other. They never had to sleep alone or play alone or do anything alone. They were so friends. I loved my family and how God formed it. To me, it was perfect.
So as I remember the happiest moment of my life, I have so many emotions running through me. I can still connect to the feelings of joy and exhiliration. I can still feel the closeness with Midi. I can still feel that sense of awe and hopefulness. But now, I also feel such intense pain at all that I have lost. So I realize that even my happy memories are now ones that I can only look back on through the lens of loss. I can't look back on the happy memories that Midi and I shared with her. Midi is gone. I have not lost the memories, but I have lost the ability to remember with only joy. Now pain accompanies everything.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Psalm 119

I was meditating on Psalm 119 today and it really spoke to me.

Verse 28

"My soul melts away for sorrow;

strengthen me according to your word."

Verse 50

"This is my comfort in my distress,

that your promise gives me life."

Verse 74

"Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,

because I have hoped in your word."

Verse 76

"Let your steadfast love become my comfort

according to your promise to your servant."

Verse 92

"If your law had not been my delight,

I would have perished in my misery."

Verse 94

"I am yours; save me,

for I have sought your precepts."

Verse 165

"Great peace have those who love your law;

nothing can make them stumble."

Since Midi and Nathan died, I have had two major times where I cried out to God. Those two times were not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill times of prayer. I cried out desperately from the depths of my soul, completely naked before God in ways that I have never done before. And He answered me both times. The first time was before the family viewing at the mortuary a week after they died. I went in to the viewing room alone about an hour before anyone else arrived. Upon seeing them lying in the caskets, I wept uncontrollably. After a few minutes I kept repeating to myself, "They are not there." Then I cried out to God, "Help me, God. Help me believe. I believe, help my unbelief." And I asked Him to give me some kind of sign so that I could know that heaven and the promise of eternal life and resurrection were real. I was hoping for a supernatural sign. What happened a few minutes later that carried on through the rest of the evening was that God gave me peace. It may sound strange, but in one of the hardest nights of my life, His peace descended on me. I testify that it was real and even observable (ask anyone who was there). Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. God answered my cries...just not exactly in the way that I was asking Him to. Skeptics can say what they will, but I tell you that God answered my prayers.

The second time was last week. On Tuesday night (April 1), after three heavy days of mourning, in my brokenness and tears I desperately asked God to please let Wednesday be an easier day. I asked Him to temporarily keep the pain at bay so that I could recover. I told him that I didn't think I could handle it much longer. The result? Wednesday was lighter and the rest of the week was better. I'm sure other heavy waves are coming - maybe even worse than what I experienced last week. But after the way that God answered my prayers in the midst of my pain, I am confident that no matter how hard it gets, He will be there for me. I testify to His personal nature and faithfulness.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Healing and Loving

In my horrible circumstances it may seem natural that I would seek only to have my needs met and that I would focus only on my own problems. But even in the aftermath of my unspeakable loss, I think that it would be unhealthy and wrong to do this. We are all supposed to love others...always. We, created in God's image, are meant to love. It is what we were made to do. It reflects Him more than anything else. And it is so, so good for us. The irony of giving away love generously is that we actually receive in the giving. It is such a wonderful and true dynamic. This is not to say that I should neglect my own needs. I need healing. I need to deal with my pain and suffering. But if I live only for myself and my own healing then I am missing out on the work and partnership with Jesus that he has for me. In fact, I believe that becoming self-absorbed is the absolute wrong path and that it will only lead me to depression and other forms of mental illness. The path of healing must involve active love for others.

I am so grateful that I have Lucas in my life. For he is a constant reminder to me that I am not to live only for myself. I receive so much in loving Lucas. And there is more to receive if I choose to love others. Opening my heart and creating space so I can love is hard, but it is the right path. My heart has grown out of this darkness that I am in. My capacity to love, to be honest, to hope for, to share, and to lead has grown.

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying, that we are born to eternal life. Amen."

A prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Cards with Midi's Writing

I, with the help of friends, have been compiling a variety of letters, photos, and other personal items for Memory Boxes of Midi and Nathan. If you have ever received encouragement cards or birthday cards from Midi that tangibly demonstrate her loving character would you consider making a copy of it and submitting it to the Memory Boxes? I think that seeing her writing through her relationships to others will be a blessing to me as well as to Lucas in the future. I really want Lucas to know how lovely his mother was and how well she loved others. If these are too personal for you, then I completely understand if you cannot do this. Thank you.

As many of you know, the song that Alex sung at the funeral service was born from an encouragement card that Midi wrote for him during college. Stories such as this one are such a beautiful testimony to her great ability/gift to love others. Midi wrote me the most wonderful cards (birthday, Christmas, Father's Day). Some were silly, but most were so heartfelt and encouraging. I will cherish these always.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

3 Months

Today marks three months since Midi and Nathan died and the lives of those left behind changed forever. I visited the gravesite today after work. I've been there a handful of times, but never alone until today. It was good to go today - good in the sense that it was real. Since no one was around I got to cry as loud as I wanted to, pray as earnestly as I could, and talk to them without feeling watched in any way.

Before my wife and son died my experiences with death were limited to grandparents. While I grieved losing them, what I'm experiencing now is a category unto its own, which (thankfully) not many that I've come across have experienced. I used to think that visiting gravesites was pointless. I confess that I used to look down on those who did, thinking stupidly that talking to their dead loved ones and sitting on the grass was a waste of time and not helpful. I even thought it illogical to leave flowers. All is different now. Going to visit the graves feels right. I don't feel that it is pointless. The first time I went, I felt the urge to talk to Midi and Nathan. The thinking part of me believed that they wouldn't hear me. But my heart told me that it was OK and maybe even good...for me. I also wondered how God felt about me talking to them. So before I addressed Midi and Nathan, I prayed to God. I told Him that I was going to talk to Midi and Nathan. And I told Him that if it was wrong or weird in any way, that He would get over it. Such is my relationship with God.

Lucas has been to the gravesite a couple of times, but I don't think that it is helpful for him. I think it is too abstract. Maybe some day it will be meaningful for him.

I've been told that the grief will come in waves. I have found this to be true so far. After three months, every day has not been a tearfest, but most have. For the past three or four days, I feel like I've been hit by one of the biggest waves of grief so far. Parts of yesterday and the day before were hardly bearable. I'm not sure that there is a trigger this time. It may just be a normal spike, like how it is when you are at the beach and the occasional big wave comes by. There have been times during this wave that I felt that I was going to drown. Or it may be that I've thought through my process of grief so much that my brain is taking a break and allowing my heart to take greater control of my body for a while. I can only hope that this wave will end soon because I can't take much more.