"When beauty breaks the spell of pain
The bludgeoned heart shall burst in vain
But not when love be pointed king
And truth shall Thee forever reign.
Sweet Jesus, carry me away
From cold of night, and dust of day
In ragged hour or salt-worn eye,
Be my desire, my well sprung lye "
(-Hymn, by Jars of Clay)
The stars have always held me in complete awe and fascination. Allen will tell you that every time I am faced with a clear, starry night you would honestly think I had never seen stars before. And really, that is how I feel. Every time, I wonder how they could be and how could so many people see them and not believe in God. They are probably my favorite part of nature. Last night I went on a "walk," but had to keep stopping to just stand in the middle of our road in wonder. Finally, I gave up and came home, pulled our little trampoline into the middle of our backyard so I could just lie down and stare for a while. I have to tell you, of all the advice we have received on how to deal with the death of a child, this has not been one of them. But, it should. Find a small trampoline, try to lie down on it comfortably, and stare up at the stars for about an hour.
My sadness was still with me. I find that it is like an invisible blanket that is always with me. But beauty truly does "break the spell of pain" and for that small window of time, I was focused on incredible beauty and it made me realize my pain isn't the only thing I will ever feel. And, I imagined Joseph dancing from star to star, fully whole and complete and radiantly happy, and I thought how he would have no patience for me moping and being sad. (He used to get irked if I was still in my pajamas at 8:30.)
Joseph was always a presence to be reckoned with. If he was awake in the morning, one of us was awake. He would insist on it. I miss waking up and seeing his little face inches from my bed, just staring sheepily at me until I woke up. That always made me laugh first thing in the morning. I miss how he always had a plan for the day and definite ideas of what he did or did not want to do.
Our hospice nurse, Amy, called yesterday and we were talking through those last minutes with Joseph. She said that she has noticed that children, in their final hours, have this incredible strength and heroicism, and she believes it may be for their parents. They can hold on to life much longer than any adult until they feel a peace with leaving their parents. Oh, sweet Joseph, I hate to think you held on any longer just for me or Daddy. She did encourage me that Joseph let go sooner than many children she has seen, and she noted that medically he was in no pain or discomfort or distress, and that the words we spoke to him were beautiful. That has been my prayer from the beginning; that if God were going to take Joseph, that he wouldn't feel any pain at all. That, I could not have handled.
But, I started thinking about Joseph being heroic and now that I look back, he was incredibly heroic in those last few weeks. Probably two weeks before he died, he and I went to the museum and he climbed up a long slide, numerous steps and other climbing things until we were at the highest point in the museum (which is above the 3rd floor, I think). He just kept going, so determinedly and joyfully. I think he remembered being able to do it before and so he just did it. But by the time we got to the top, he was ready to go home. So we went and sat and had a snack and he was delighted to get to pick one out of the snack machine. But, I keep thinking, at that point his tumor must have been fairly big, causing some pretty intense pressure, and his limbs were not working as well as they used to, yet he just wanted to accomplish this feat.
We had been asking him for days if he wanted to go to the museum. He loved the museum in Memphis and it was always a fun outing for him. We just wanted him to enjoy himself and be able to have fun like any other kid, but looking back I wonder if he wanted to make us proud and show us how big and strong he was. He did have a lot of fun, and I was so proud, but it did completely wear him out; I would have been just as proud of him if we had sat at home and watched TV or played with play-doh.
Our sweet little boy. I miss him so much. Before he was born I never knew my heart could hold so much love. Now I can't believe it can hold so much pain. The only thing that is enabling me to wake up in the morning and live life at all is the fact that I knew Jesus before I knew Joseph. I trust Him even as I'm mad at Him. I look at it like marriage. There are times I don't like Allen very much and am so mad at him, but we are still married. My feelings don't make us un-married. And I'm grateful that God can take all my feelings and as Allen has said, He doesn't let us go. I'm still His child, no matter how much I rage against Him. I can be honest with Him and he still holds me tight.
As a side note, we have been receiving the sweetest notes, cards and letters in the mail from old friends and even "strangers," letting us know how much Joseph has impacted them. That is just amazing to us, but it really does encourage us to know that God has used his life and struggle to encourage many people. Thank you for letting us know. I have also thought about putting together a little storybook for Holly of funny "Joseph" stories so she will always remember him. If you can remember a story and would write it to me in an email or a letter, I would be so grateful (even if it's a story where he is being more naughty than nice). Thank you for continuing to pray for us....
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
"When beauty breaks the spell of pain
Posted by Allen and Gillian at 5:39 AM