Friday, July 29, 2011

Three thousand, six-hundred and fifty days...

Three thousand, six-hundred and fifty days. Not counting Leap Years. That's a whole lot of missing.
I know.
That's how long it's been since I last kissed my daughter, Teagan. That's how many days my heart has wished I could turn back the hands of time. That's the number of times I've awoke in the morning and wished my reality was just a bad dream from which I could awaken from.
A whole decade of letting that reality sink in still hasn't changed the clarity of my memories of "that day". The one where everything I had learned and believed up to that point in my life would be shaken and tested. Ten years have passed and my heart rate still jumps at certain sights, sounds, smells and those triggers bring me right back to that day. They are etched, as few other memories in my life are, in such detail and wrapped up in the greatest pain I have ever felt. Sometimes I close my eyes and start to bring them to mind and all these years later I still find I need to catch my breath as those pictures unfold in my memory.
The crash. The screams. The slow-motion of it all. The disbelief and unreal feeling feeling all too real. The sense of urgency outweighing the terror I felt creeping in. The horror I was trying not to let in just kept unfolding unlike any dream I could have ever dreamed on my own. The weight of Teagan's limp body in my arms as I carried her several paces and then realized I had no where to go so I stopped and laid her down. That's the part when it all began to seem achingly real.
I kept hearing myself say, "Oh God... oh, God... oh, God... please."
Please, what?
Please, help. Please, NO! Please don't let this be us... just please, oh, please!
But it was us. And them.
* * *
There is a story in the Bible where someone asks Jesus how many times must you forgive someone when they sin against you. One time? Two? Three? Seven?
Jesus' reply is "Not seven times, but seventy times seven."
Four hundred and ninety times.
That's an awful lot of forgiveness.
I used to wonder (as a young girl growing up as a Pastor's kid and hearing these stories often) why would Jesus pick some a random, big, crazy number? I used to think it was way too much. Who would ever need to forgive someone that many times... 490 times?
I certainly never dreamed it would be me. Moreover, I most certainly never dreamed that not only would I have to choose to forgive seventy times seven, but even hundreds more times than that.
Three thousand, six-hundred and fifty times. In just the first 10 years alone.
Forgiveness is a choice. I choose daily to forgive.
But I must confess and be truthful too and tell you that sometimes I fail. Some days I have desired forgiveness in my heart and soul, yet I have fallen short in living it out in the actions of my life that day. I have claimed forgiveness to be so, but it hasn't always been true in the thoughts of my mind. I have even "fought it" on particularly tough days that simply haven't felt fair for me to forgive. There have been lots of tough days over the past 10 years. There have been lots of days where I have felt life to be unfair.
But it isn't my place to decide when or why or how or where. As much as I would like to choose which days I can forgive fully and which days I can just skip that part, I know I am not the one who gets to decide. I am not the one chosen to hand out the punishment or sentence. I was chosen for something else. I am asked to forgive out of the overflow of forgiveness given to me. I am asked to show mercy where none is deserved. I have been shown grace and in such an act given to me even when I was less than, I am changed and now I know it is grace that I can extend to another who is less than too.
Ten years ago I was "doing everything right". I was a middle-class, tax-paying, home-keeping, church-going, hard-working wife and mom to three young kids who just happened to sit down around a table at a restaurant with my family in hopes of simply enjoying a simple Sunday brunch together. However, the actions of another forever changed the way I now look at life.
I wish I could say that my scars have healed and that we've blossomed into a family that lives life to the fullest and has learned to leave our worries behind.
The fact is that 10 years later I still feel an ache inside on a lot of days. Sometimes I even mutter the words, "I forgive you" outloud just to try to make myself believe that truth and hopefully feel it a bit more clearly inside. I know I have forgiven. I have claimed it over and over and I do feel it has changed the way I live. But it is still oftentimes a conscious choice- or should I say a surrender on my part to claim that forgiveness. I'll even admit that it's still a lesson I wish I never had to learn. Yet it seems to be the life lesson I've needed most.
I am nothing.
Teagan was nothing.
The one who turned our lives upside-down is nothing.
We all are nothing.
Without Him.
Without His Grace.
Without His Forgiveness. Without His love and mercy and compassion and healing.
I choose to believe that His ways are not my ways; His are higher and perfect and Just.
Good even.
Even when I don't feel it. Even when I have to pick up my cross daily and claim it to be true.
I will.
For 10 years I have.
It hasn't always been easy. Or nice. Or pretty.
Or wrought with showers of blessings- as the old hymn says.
I'll be honest.
It hurts.
A lot of days it still hurts.
Teagan was my light~ my delight~ she was irreplaceable and there is still a void in my heart and forever will bein my life where I feel she should be. Where I miss everything about her.
Wyndham too is a daily reminder of the most hurtful day of our lives as we continue to watch her struggle to do many of the "normal" things others can do. We see her suffer pains in her life that many will never know. With each diaper change and never-ending trips to and from therapy sessions we are reminded that some hurts will never go away. We have learned to live with them.
Three thousand, six-hundred and fifty days ago the sky was blue, the sun was shining down and somehow our lives suddenly erupted with chaos all around.
Ten years later we've "righted" a lot of things. We've learned to laugh through our tears. We've learned to hold on to even the tiniest threads of hope at times. We've chosen to forgive and to live that and truly mean it- not simply mouth the words. We've healed more than we could have imagined we could or would- both inside and out. We've loved again. We've believed in brighter days. We've brought more kids into the world that at times felt empty and dark. We've witnessed happiness and beauty and joy and miracles.
We have walked a long, winding, twisted path that still doesn't always seem like the path to be on, but we know that faith sometimes asks us to walk places we would rather not go. Faith often means we must take the next step no matter what lies around the next turn. It means being willing to trust, simply because we know and believe in the One who is leading- He can be trusted.
Ten years of remembering. Of missing. Of wishing it all different. Of wanting things to never change from the way they were. Ten years of tears that feel like they'll never stop- then finding moments of joy in the midst of them. Ten years of forgiving and hoping and believing that it makes a difference. In us. In her. In anyone who wonders if it even does make a difference in life to forgive.
The answer is yes. It does. It can. It will.
If you allow it to.
I'll never stop remembering Teagan. I'll never stop missing her. I'll never stop loving her. Or telling stories about her to anyone that is willing to listen. I'll never stop wanting to live life more fully because of her. She is and always will be thelove of my heart.
I forgive, not because of her, but because of Him.
I follow- because He is faithful.
I believe- because He promises to make all things new.
I hope- because He gives mercy.
I am changed, not because of one day in my life, but because of what He did one day for me. I am changed because of who HE is. I still give Him the broken, messed up pieces of my heart and life and trust that even as He redeems the brokeness that it's not for my sake.
But for His glory.
As I think back to the horror of that day- July 29th, 2001- it's scary and terrifying and ugly and gloomy and filled with despair. Yet somehow God has brought good out of it. Even when I don't notice the goodness. Sometimes it's hard to see it very often; that's been especially true in our lives the past several months. But looking back has made me realize just how great God is. I still have a whole future of choosing forgiveness and giving our hurts and challenges to Him.
I know, without a doubt, as I have had 10 years- three thousand, six-hundred and fifty days- of daily reminders that He is seeing us through! Today I pause to reflect and to humbly give thanks to God for bringing us this far.


Michelle said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. This post takes my breath away whlle reading. I'll be praying for you today!

Shell said...

YOU are inspiring! to place it all before God is a tough thing. sometimes i look at my life and think how can i just leave it in His hands and trust Him when i feel as though my life is falling apart, but it's when i do the true path i was meant to take appears. i love that you are honest and there is a no holds barred kind of thing with you. you are honest with others as well as yourself and i love that about you. my prayers are with you and your family on this day and always.

jsprik said...

as i wipe the tears from my eyes, i can't help but be in awe of your grace and strength! i know this comes from God and God know i lost my ten year old son in an auto accident in '04, so i know exactly what you mean by having to claim the forgiveness daily and well, really just everything you are an inspiration to me!! God Bless!

Becky said...

thinking of you today jody!

K_joy said...

My eyes well with tears for all the sadness this world brings. Keep telling us about Teagan, remembering her for us and thanks for your courage to share your grief with us. Thinking of you and praying for you.

jenny said...

Jody, you are beautiful inside and out, and someday, our sweet Jesus is going to reveal to you what a stunning masterpiece He has created out of all your pain. Praying for all of you today. And remembering your precious Teagan.

Kristy Dixon, Parent Coach said...

My baby girl is 4 and every time I read your blog I cry so hard, I hug her so tight, and I praise God for what I have...this mundane life of a stay at home mom of 2. Thank you for showing me true forgiveness and gratitude through His eyes.

Chelsea said...

Praying, praying, praying.
After years of reading your blog, this time of year still always brings tears to my eyes.
I just can't imagine, and the little bit I try is devastating.
I am so thankful for what God has done in you and the way He still works through you, day after day, year after year.
What I am most thankful for, though, is that this life is short in comparison to eternity. Your grief here will eventually be replaced with the reunion with Teagan, Wyndham's miraculous healing, and eternity with Jesus. Can't wait for the day.
Loving you and praying for you from SC.

Melissa said...

Beautifully put.. Your words are so powerful.

Madeline said...

I thought about you all day yesterday, Jody. I can't imagine your heart ache or your courage to carry on. I have been reading your blog for years and after every post, all I can think is ,"she is amazing"

Do you know how the family is that lost their mom?

Anonymous said...

I have read your blog on and off for a few years. With the love of a Christian sister I have to say the last few months have concened me for you as almost every post has a reverence to Teagan and your accident. Jodi, your pain is more than I can bear to read at times. Please seek some guideance for your pain as your blog is so different that a few years ago. My anonymous prayers for you with a sincere heart.

Honey Solomon said...

You and your family are miraculous. Your GOD is so amazing. I give you HUGE hugs and much love and light as you continue to find your way.

Anonymous said...

Love to you,


Anonymous said...

I would say your blog is a wonderful way to chronicle your feelings and thoughts and a wonderful outlet for expressing your pain and frustration. As a mother who has lost a child and is alienated from the other, what you have gone through and are going through is normal, you have deep, deep thoughts and feelings and are treading deep waters. It will not go away on this earth, just as amputations don't go away, you learn to live with them. Many people simply cannot understand.
To God be the Glory for the things He has done in your life and please keep on blogging! The grace of God is evident in you! Jan K.

darcie said...

thank you for allowing us into your lives...
thinking of you and yours - xoxo

Elizabeth said...

I think of Teagan often. So glad I stopped in to read this beautiful and difficult tribute to her, to your family.

Anonymous said...

I hurt, and grow, with you. I have been watching your blog since you were pregnant with Crew. I 'accidentally' became pregnant with #4 and read you every day. I loved the blogpost about you in the waiting room when a lady wondered why people had so many kids.

I was nervous to have #4. Husband out of work, me working too much and earning too little. How could I do this baby justice? What was God thinking?

Then the little baby's live ended at 13 weeks and my 3 live kids were stunned to find out that I was pregnant.

I mourned. How could I be so selfish? Would God ever find me worthy again to carry a child?

Our financial situation has worsened, I have gotten older. Yet my children pray earnestly for more children in this house.

Through your blog I can see the glofy of that.

I have never met Teagan but I think of her often. I think of Wynham's pain and suffering. I wonder how you can do it all.

You are a testimony of God's love, mercy and grace. You are real and authentic. My kids know about Teagan. She will be remembered.

We will meet in heaven.

Anonymous said...

There will be times where it is more difficult and it is good to write about it. You are an incredible blessing to my life. Keep pressing on, my friend. Your a wonderful Mom and blessed many others through this blog. You are doing a mighty work through this blog, and we appreciate you !!

Love & prayers,


Ruth said...

Praying for you, Jody. Thank you for your honesty. Life hurts, so often. But God is good.