Monday, July 9th, was our daughter’s birthday and I struggled. Not only did I struggle with the many emotions of the day but I struggled with knowing how best to be a mom and honor her on that day. I struggled because it was the last major deadline in my head for when we would surely be pregnant again after her due date had passed, my birthday passed, Mother’s Day passed, Father’s Day passed. And then one full year passed. One year of aching and dreaming and hoping and waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
Timelines are a hard thing because they have to balance back and forth between continuing to have hope and dreams and expectations and not placing so much emphasis that the thing you are hoping for and dreaming of becomes all consuming.
I chose not to post on Verity’s birthday. I regret that now. You see, I am someone who sees things from multiple perspectives and never wants to be the cause of other’s sadness or guilt. I didn’t post because my fear of making others feel sad on that day or unintentionally making them feel guilty for not remembering or not reaching out outweighed my heart’s desire to be a mom and honor my daughter by telling her happy birthday on social media. I was worried that maybe deep down my feeling to honor her in that way was actually selfish and a need to feel not so alone in my sadness. I was afraid and fear is a powerful thing when I let it control me.
I am afraid of being a bad mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend.
I am afraid I make others sad through my sadness and so I fight the sadness.
I am afraid others feel they can’t be honest with me for fear of hurting me.
I am afraid of processing my emotions and feeling all the feels and working through them knowing there are things working under the surface that I can’t even begin to comprehend yet.
I am afraid of becoming angry and bitter.
I am afraid.
I need grace. It was no accident that we gave our daughter the name Verity Grace. I know how deeply I am in need of the fundamental importance of grace and that God’s grace is sufficient for me.
This last year has taught me so much. It has taught me to wait, that God’s timeline is different than my own and that is okay. He is STILL GOOD! It has taught me to take time to process and choose my words wisely. And it has taught me to embrace grace in all forms. Accept God’s immense grace shown to me when I fail and fall, allow myself grace when I all I can muster is to fall flat on my face, to show grace to others because who am I to withhold something I myself am so in need of. Grace.
So today I am giving myself grace to feel the sadness, to grieve the loss of my daughter and getting to see who she might have become. I am giving myself grace to grieve as we continue to hope and pray month, after month, after month for another little life to love here on this earth with no answer as of yet. And I am giving myself grace to honor and celebrate my daughter’s birthday without fear of hurting those around me.
The day before Verity’s birthday we had the privilege of attending Austin Stone Community Church with Ben and Aubrie. As we worshiped together they began to play “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, written by Thomas Chisholm, based on Lamentations 3:22-24,
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’”
As I listened, I wept. I wept because in that moment, in that place, I could feel so evidently that God was there. He does not change, His compassion never fails, morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed His hand has provided. Great is His faithfulness, Lord unto me. In that moment I felt both overwhelming sorrow and overwhelming peace that God will provide all I need.
There have been many moments where I have begun to lose hope and God sends a gentle little reminder to me that hope does not come easy but to keep holding on. Most often this has come in the form of a deer. Now, bear with me as I explain because I am fully aware of how odd this will sound.
During the 2016-2017 school year I used to see two deer in a fenced in yard almost every day on my commute to or from school. In the spring when I was pregnant with Verity Grace I used to spend my commutes talking to her and talking to those two deer. They were beautiful little friends. Fast forward to the 2017-2018 school year and returning to that same commute with no Verity Grace to talk to, and sadness, and grief, and fighting to hold on to hope. Not once did I see those deer. It was as if they too had suddenly, without explanation, disappeared. A month or two went by and one day I noticed a dead deer on the side of the road just a block or so down from the Deer House and I wept. I wept for my friend, not knowing if it was actually one of them or not but still I wept. I wept for what had once been such a beautiful friendship of hope and joy and now was bathed in sadness and sorrow. Fast forward again to the spring with continual negative pregnancy tests month after month, the medication that helped us conceive Verity not working, and clinging with only a few frail fingers to that cliff of hope. As I passed the Deer House I almost didn’t even look because seeking them out day after day to no avail was becoming too hard. Low and behold, there she was. Alone but she was there. My beautiful friend. My deer. And I wept tears of joy. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt that God used that beautiful doe to remind me to continue to have hope. And so, deer became my symbol of hope. On days I am having an exceptionally hard time clinging to hope God always manages to bring in a deer. Sometimes it is me seeing one, other times it is a close friend with (whom I have shared my odd connection with deer) sending me a quick text because they happened to see one. It never fails to lift my heart and give me the strength to make it through the day holding on to hope.
Aubrie and I took their dog Faith out for a short walk that Sunday evening, after God had already reminded me through the old hymn that He is here and will provide all I need, and there by a small pond stood a beautiful doe and her fawn and His love washed over me all over again. And so, on Verity’s birthday when all our plans to do something fun to honor her on her birthday washed away with an Austin, Texas downpour, we set out for Hobby Lobby to see if maybe there was a little something we could take home with us. It was there that we found the two signs you see as the main image for this post. Thankfully I held it together and didn’t cry in Hobby Lobby but I knew that those two signs were placed there just for me. To remind me to cling to both grace and hope.
Verity Grace Drake, thank you for making me a mommy, your mommy. Thank you for teaching me more in your 22 weeks of life than I have learned in the 31 years I have walked this earth. Thank you for showing me God’s grace and love and peace that surpasses all understanding in ways I had never before experienced it. Thank you for showing me how to cling to both grace and hope. I will love you forever and always.
Love, Your Mom