Sunday, January 25, 2009

Regrets and Letting Them Go

I have regrets; who doesn't right? But I have specific regrets about when Ethan died. I wish that I had known about Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep so I could have gotten some professional photographs of Ethan. I love the photos that I have. I cherish them and I have spent countless hours pouring over them and memorizing every detail of his face. But I have seen some of NILMDTS's photos and they are beautiful and I wish that I had known that option was available.

I also regret that I didn't bathe him. At the time, I don't remember why I said no when they asked if I wanted to, I just remember feeling unequivocally "NO!". I regret beyond words that I let a stranger bathe him. I tell myself every time that I think about it that maybe Ginger bathed him, so at least it was someone who loved him. I'm too much of a coward to ask her, though.

This used to be my biggest regret. I didn't send socks with Ethan to be buried in. When I realized the omission, it was weeks later and I freaked. What kind of mother am I that I would let my child go forever away from me without socks? I know it sounds kind of silly; I know that he doesn't need them. But still, it was a big regret. Emphasis on was.

I have been truly blessed to have not only a wonderful support system in my family, but also a wonderful support group online. In those dark days right after Ethan's death, I found this group of women who shared their stories and their feelings. Who lifted each other up in difficult days and shared their joys in good days. If you are reading this and you are lost and looking for a support group, the site is I shared that last regret there and had several responses that made me feel so much better. One lady (the one who took the picture of Ethan's name on the beach in Florida) shared that when she pictures her little girl in heaven she is running barefoot through fields of flowers. Another said that he wouldn't need socks when playing in heaven's creeks. Both of those images brought me such peace and comfort, but that regret still lingered like a nagging, dull ache in the back of my mind. I have recently been emailing back and forth with a lady who is also from Georgia. A small town in Georgia not too far from where I grew up, actually. And I shared with her that regret. She later came upon a verse and thought of me and Ethan and I wanted to share what she told me. "It is Exodus 3:5: "Take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is holy ground" - he would have had to take them off anyway! :) " It is hard to describe how I felt when I read that email from her. It made me smile, it made me cry, but beyond all else, it brought a peace and comfort to my heart that was straight from the Lord delivered through her. So, thank you, Tonya. It feels nice to be able to put that regret to rest.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Making an Idol

We are trying to get our house organized in order to put it on the market. Going through some books, I found a bible study that I started three weeks after Ethan's death. I looked through it and found something that really stood out to me. I am going to try and post it here without infringing on too many copy write laws. The bible study is Hope for the Home Front by Marshele Carter Waddell and it was written for military wives.

In the second week, she had us read Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." She then looked at the meanings for some of those words in the original Hebrew lexicon. Terrified (NIV) or afraid (KJV) means to awe, to be in awe of, to dread. And discouraged (NIV) or dismayed (KJV) means to prostrate, to break down by confusion or fear. She then asks if we are terrified or discouraged, then 'whom or what are we worshipping? Bowing or being in awe of or prostrating ourselves to anything else but God can be only one thing'. And that one thing is an idol.

WHOA! Let me tell you that when I did the Bible study, it hit me so hard that I have notes all over the margin of that page. Going back and reading what I had written just five weeks after Ethan's death has me again thinking on the subject. If your fear or discouragement becomes so all consuming that you can think of nothing else then that is a form of idolatry. Of course, the point she was going for was the fear that we have for our husbands during deployments. But coming so soon after Ethan's death, that was the only thing on my mind. The thing that I wrote that struck me the most was this: "I will not make an idol out of death. Death took Ethan from me, but God rescued Ethan from death. I will worship my God, who now holds my baby safe." Oh, my goodness. "Who now holds my baby safe." I will say honestly that over the past 16 months I have at times forgotten that. How special to be reminded by my words that Ethan is safe, being held in the hands who made our universe.

It can be so easy to let our fears rule our lives. After Ethan died I was terrified for everyone else in my family. When Andy would deploy I would be overly anxious. I barely slept because I was too busy going and checking on the boys to make sure they were still breathing. I hated for them to be out of my sight. It has taken a lot of time and A LOT of prayers to not let that fear rule my life. I'm not going to say to get rid of the fears because they are still there. But I have tried very hard not to make an idol, to not let fear rule my life.