To be honest this is the first time I’ve had even a thought to write a blog post since Lane left. After getting the girls to school and putting the breakfast bowls in the dishwasher I took a scan of my kitchen. Fruity Pebbles that jumped from the bowl still speckle the counter next to a picture of Lane and Belle in their sparkly Christmas dresses. I love this picture because in it they both are laughing and the picture is partially blurry but I remember it. Lane’s chubby face and Belle’s toothless smile bubbling with giddiness. I remember being frustrated that they couldn’t get their act together for even a moment to take a decent picture for our Christmas cards. Now, I love it. It was real life in action and it was precious. It was the before.
As I lift my eyes from the sweet picture I see Lane’s funeral poster that her class made still hanging on the wall. Her teacher drew a large elephant and all of her classmates signed it. The little notes are sweet and true for how they felt about my sweet girl. I can’t seem to yet take it down and I’ve realized I don’t have to. It doesn’t bring me pain but joy to see her influence on those around her. She was loved but most importantly she was loving. She’s had 237 days basking the warm glory of the Son. Sometimes it seems like a million years ago, a different life, but sometimes it’s like yesterday that stings with copious amounts of sharp venom.
The tree is up, we decorated it in blue for Lane. A few elephant ornaments, white snowflakes and blue glittered ribbon make it really shine. Our front table is decorated with pictures of the girls. The ones I took knowing it would be Lane’s last Christmas. It’s odd to look at them now knowing it would be her last Christmas. Trying to stay in the moment but preparing for today…when I knew I wouldn’t have her. Last year the presents under the tree were by any standards ridiculous. Abundantly more than we ever would give our children in any normal circumstance but what do you do when you have to take a lifetime of Christmases down to one. One last time. Her school gave, her friends gave, her family gave, strangers gave…it was spectacular.
I thought a camera would be a good idea. We bought the big girls one of those instant polaroid cameras with all the trimmings. The photo stickers, carrying case, colored filters and stickers. Most of the pictures were ill used on stuffed animals and random fuzzy landscapes but there are a few precious ones that I found after Lane left. One in particular is Lane, fresh from a bath in her minion pajamas posing as Belle took her picture. The bed behind her is skewed with toys and twisted blankets and pillows. That face, the face that I love frozen in time. It was a good gift.
A few days ago we made ‘Me and Lane’ snow globes. The kids enjoyed it and I just love anything that has to do with all of us being with her in any way possible. Lane is always present in our home, in our jokes or as we reminisce. Grief is bottomless. It’s confusing. It’s the great unknown world with no maps or flashlights…at least not at first. At this time I can’t adequately relay these last 237 days. So I won’t try. We hold the last few weeks of Lane’s life here very closely. It’s sour and ugly but there was tremendous beauty that came in one lucid moment of her final days.
My child, heard from the living God. He was calling her home and she was ready. She was excited to go. Fully and completely surrendered to her fate to accept another world. “He’s calling me home mom” she said with such distinct excitement. She had the faith only a child could. She wasn’t squabbling over pre-trib or post. She didn’t stand fast on Calvinism or Arminianism. She didn’t die on the hills of semantics or rest in her knowledge of Hebrew. She embraced the simple gospel. She knew the Living God was the way, the answer to the end of her pain and the surety of a reunion someday. She loved Him and He loved her. He called and she answered. She never looked back. It was as simple as that. It was the most beautifully simplicity example of her need and God’s saving grace.
This Christmas I will look at the lights and miss Lane. I will watch my girls come down the stairs excited for Christmas morning and miss the disheveled little girl that won’t be behind them. We will carry on as we did knowing she’s not gone…just not here. We will make breakfast and open gifts. Her laugh will be heard again. Her hugs will hold us tight again. The tears I will inevitably relinquish will be filled with my loss but mixed with His sure hope of a glorious reunion. I will also long for the day as I hold my sweet child as we gaze upon the true meaning of Christmas. In the presence of the Reason.
I will leave you with this poem. I wrote this for Lane when she was in the throes of pain on her journey home. Merry Christmas Lane…when Momma’s work is done I’ll be home.
The bells were different on that day
The angels fell a hush
Could this be the girl they’ve longed for
Caused heaven all to rush
All waited with bated breath
As they gathered around His throne
To see the girl who God so loved
The one He called His own
We’ve seen Him grieve for earth’s heartache
That comes with scars and pain
He’s walked this road right by her side
This world is not her gain
The Savior turned and looked at us
“My girl is on her way”
All heaven buzzed with anxious joy
“She joined us today!”
As heaven opened up it’s wings
Came a bright and shining light
The little girl now perfect form
Had Jesus in her sight.
“Come, my love and you will see
Your body now is new
You’ll never have another day
With bruises black and blue”
“Every time you smiled
When the pain was hard to bear
The angels urged to bring you home
And be within my care”
“You walked a road so hard and tough
No child should ever see
But dear, my plan was always this
To forever be with Me”
“My sweet girl your home awaits
This day is in my book
Your captive life is now set free
Go on and take a look”
The angel stared at such a sight
A saint He had called Home
To see the freedom on her face
Knowing she’ll never be alone
Though the waiting earth below
Will grieve and wrench and ache
They loved this child so very much
Every effort they did make
The angel smiles and wished to say
“But what I see is her
A girl that’s made it through the fight
An everlasting cure”
” I know you weep and mourn her loss
But someday you will see
When Jesus calls you home for good
Together you will be”
– Bethany Sanwald to my sweet Lanie girl