Odd little things have been rough for me, like that when we arrived home in Colorado our friends had left a vase of fresh flowers on our table, and for almost two weeks after Joel was dead those flowers were still alive, and I would look at them and think, “how are these still here, and he is gone?” Those flowers finally died a day or two ago. Our home is filled with other flowers now, beautiful reminders that people care for us.

Tonight we took the kids to see the new muppet movie. As I sat watching trailers I realized we had watched the trailer for this movie with Joel when we took him to see the lego movie about a month ago. He had gotten to see the trailer with us, but here we were watching the movie without him.
Most of my grief comes in small moments like that, except for yesterday, when I cried all morning and couldn’t stop. Ryan held me and told me he was jealous, that he wanted to be able to cry, to feel something. For him, the moments when he isn’t sad are much harder than the moments when he can really grieve our loss of Joel. There is much less grief than we expected, and that feels wrong somehow, because the other boys fill in the gaps, and the grief is not continuous, just many minuscule moments and a few long hours of sadness that pop up unexpectedly, but too infrequently to count on.
Today something happened that I didn’t expect. We took the boys to dinner and the movie I mentioned earlier, and just watching them play and interact, my heart was filled with joy. My heart was so full I felt like it could burst, it was a familiar feeling, I have felt it so often, that mix of pride and joy and love, too much to contain, but I’ve always associated that feeling with Joel, not because only Joel inspired it, but because I always felt like the level of love I could contain for my family was based on the appreciation I had that we were all together, that Joel was with us, that we were whole despite Joel’s brokenness, that somehow in all the difficult circumstances we were facing we were really all ok, and I would feel like I was the luckiest mom in the whole world to have the family I had, even if no one alive would want to take my place. I knew our family was special, and Joel was such a big part of that, and tonight I looked at our family and realized it was still really special. There was still more joy than I knew how to process, and I was surprised, shocked even, to be able to feel that way still.
I think if we could, Ryan and I would choose to delay joy, delay life, sink into grief, and yet, here it is life and joy, too much, and too soon.
The morning Joel died, Zoe kicked me in my ribs again and again, something she had never done. It made me angry because this was not what abundant life was supposed to look like. Zoe’s arrival was supposed to mean healing for Joel, life for Joel. The reminder that abundant life was coming still felt unwelcome and ostentatious. I talked to Ryan about changing Zoe’s name. How could we call her “abundant life” now? Couldn’t we name her something that meant sorrow or grief instead? He told me, “It is important that we name her Zoe, because we want to be people who believe in resurrection life, even if it is our own hearts that are being resurrected from the dead.” He was right. Life is coming, even if everything in me wants to fight it. My greatest battle right now is not to fight the grace we have been given, not to resent the joy, even if I don’t understand it.


There are 4 comments for this post.

  1. Jim Rutherford on March 29, 2014 12:57 am

    I’m not sure exactly how to say it – but welcome back, Amy. You have much more writing to do – because the story of Joel is so wrapped up in all of you – even Zoe – and it is far from over – and so many lives to still be touched! Life is abundant indeed – Jesus promised it!

  2. amyg on March 29, 2014 3:28 pm

    Welcome back feels exactly right. I wasn’t sure how or when I could start writing here again, and there is much I’m still avoiding speaking about, but I’m glad there are certain things I feel ready to share.

  3. Caroline on March 30, 2014 7:57 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about Joel. My nephew, Kai, went to be with Jesus last Friday, after a 15 day battle with ATRT. I have read a lot of your blog today and love your faith. We too prayed and believed for healing and knew that God was able to perform a miracle. He decided to heal in a much different way. Thinking about you and your family!


  4. Maree orr on April 1, 2014 10:08 am

    It’s refreshing to hear your thoughts and battles. I always thought you and Ryan have such great faith. Faith that was untouchable for someone like me. I couldn’t imagine dealing with the death of my child. couldn’t understand the strength of your faith in Joel’s healing. I spent many days praying for Joel and your family. When I read the news of Joel’s passing my heart couldn’t comprehend the pain you must be feeling. You are both amazing parents and Joel was extremely lucky to have known and felt your love. My faith has grown stronger for God because of you, Amy. You’ve shown me it’s OK to be angry and upset with God, yet still enjoy His moments of love and joy. Zoe, and your boys are blessed to have parents like you both. your guidance and faith to mirror off. I’m blessed to have your family apart of mine even though we have never met. I pray your heart mends with more blessings of joy and laughter from God.

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