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the day before Easter: Abby’s memoir that was read at the funeral December 11, 2006

Posted by guinever in christianity, death, grief, life, loss.
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My five year old, Alex said, “This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.” I told him that it’s the worst thing that’s happened to me too.

When Alisa drove me home from the hospital, I assumed that I’d be going home to an empty house. I thought I’d be going to bed to weep, to be alone in my sorrow. But almost immediately, people came to the house. People who we haven’t seen in months and even years. People who we see every week at church and my girlfriends from my birth circle. I just never imagined the outpouring of love we would experience from our friends and neighbors and strangers too.

Four months ago when Todd and I added a fourth child to our family, I was overwhelmed. Baby Mary is so very demanding of my time and my energy–much more so than my other children ever were as babies. It would have been OK if she were my only responsibility. But she wasn’t. There just never seemed to be enough time to devote to my husband Todd, and our children, Alex, Caleb and Abby plus all the necessities of managing our household. Now I am more overwhelmed than ever with only three children living in our house again. I am comforted by their presence, and their hugs and Mary’s constant nursing. And am comforted by Todd’s arms around me. We are expressing our grief so very differently.

I don’t understand this, and probably never will. I don’t like it at all. My baby is gone. My pastor, Bobby said, “Every one’s days are numbered and it was just Abby’s time.”

I’ve recently had a foreboding. Like something like this might happen. This foreboding started last summer when Alex’s swim teacher, Rachel, died in a car accident. A woman about my age died unexpectedly and it really reminded me of my mortality. I couldn’t sleep for days. My heart ached for her motherless child and for her family I didn’t even know.

All the people in my life who had died thus far have been old. My grandfathers. Todd’s grandfather. My great aunt. My great-grandmother. Although hard when it happens, we expect death in the elderly. We don’t expect it in a healthy woman in her 30’s or 40’s.

Then Petros Roukas, pastor of our sister church, committed suicide. I was reeling. I didn’t understand that. My heart ached and still aches for Jan and for the church family at Tates Creek Presbyterian Church.

Then a few days before Mary Suzannah was born, our dear friend Coral’s best friend Corrie passed away. Just 22 years old. She had Muscular dystrophy and died in her sleep. Coral was with her.

Three deaths. One right after another. All with people just an arm’s reach away from me. When would tragedy strike a little closer to home, I thought. I was scared. And then this Tuesday. I want to go back and let it never happen. But of course, I can’t do that.

Oh Abigail. Abigail Helene. Abs. Missy. Little Miss. Sweetie. Abby. Those are the names that I’ve called her. You’ve joined your tiny sibling who I never got to hold, yet who I loved deeply in the very short week that I knew I was pregnant.

Oh baby, sweet baby. As I sat in the little room in the ER, waiting for news, I cried and I prayed. I didn’t want God to take her. I begged for a miracle, for Him to bring her body back to us whole. As Abby’s pulse was dropping, my heart was dropping too, into the grave. I was broken and desperate. But even as my prayers were lifting up to God, so was Abby’s spirit going to Him too. I did not get the miracle I asked for. Our Heavenly Father wanted our sweet Abigail Helene back home with Him. And now she’s smiling and laughing and singing in Heaven.

We loved Abigail as God knit her in my womb, and we loved her for the 2 very short years that she filled our house with laughter. “Couch a minute.” That’s what Abby said many times a day when she just wanted to sit on the couch and cuddle or read a book. I wish I could go back and do that a few more times. “I do it.” “I did it.” That was Abby’s mantra the past month.

In the seconds before the paramedics arrived and took Abby from me, she lay limp in my arms, blood poring from her wounds onto my shirt. Her blood covered my clothes and stained my skin. I’m reminded of Christ’s blood that blankets us and makes us pure. Most of you here today know what I am talking about, but I know there are some here who don’t know about Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. Sure you’ve heard of it. You might know that Good Friday is the day Christians remember Christ’s death on the cross and that Easter is the day that Christians celebrate his Resurrection. But do you know this to be absolutely true? I do. And this Easter I cling to the cross and the promises of it. If you don’t have this same certainty about eternal life and heaven and hell that I do, please please talk with someone who does so that you may find peace too.

I’ve been numb. I haven’t shed as many tears as other have. I didn’t know when my sobbing would come. Maybe as we lowered the casket to the ground? I was thankful for an empty house on Thursday morning when my desperate, loud cries finally burst forth.

What started it? Well, the Mother’s Day after Abigail was born, Todd gave me a little girl charm with Abby’s birthstone. I’ve never worn it because I didn’t have a necklace to put it on. Then I remembered the charm. I just had to find it. I opened my jewelry box and started looking. I couldn’t find it. I became frantic and then there it was. I shouted and screamed for her to come back to me. Have you ever been with a laboring woman in the few moments before birth where the noises are primal as she pushes her baby out?

My cries were primal again. But this time instead of pushing her out of me so I could take her in my arms, I was pushing her down, down into the ground and pushing her out of my arms into Jesus’s arms, releasing her spirit up up to heaven. I birthed her and now I have deathed her.

I began this memoir with something that Alex said and I’ll end with another thing that Alex said. “What’s going to happen to Abby at the resurrection of the dead?” Wow! This is coming from the mouth of my five year old? Well, he had memorized a children’s catechism. I explained to him that Abby’s spirit is in Heaven right now. Her spirit is what made Abby, Abby. Her personality. But we’re going to put her bones and her skin and her body into a box into the ground. At Christ’s second coming–at the resurrection of the dead, Abby is going to get a new body so she can dwell in the New Heavens and the New Earth! But her spirit is there now. And this certainty that I have that Abigail is with our Heavenly Father right now is what gives me peace.

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Comments»

1. Moe - December 21, 2006

Guinever,

I’m so sorry you lost your baby girl. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and the heartache of a parent who has lost a child.

It’s good you’re able to write about it, so that others are able to have a small glimps into the grief you are experiencing while you ask questions, and hang onto the cross.

Your memoir was beautiful.

Grace for the moment,
-Kelsey

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2. karla - January 10, 2007

Guinever,
I treasure these glimpses into your life and into your grief. I feel like I’m reading something sacred and holy. Thank you for telling your story.
Love,
Karla

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3. trisha caldwell - January 21, 2007

Guinever,
Getting to read this memoir was a privilege and I thank you for it. I think of you so often, everytime I travel your way, I look toward your house and think of you. You have and continue to be in my prayers. What a difference you’ve made and continue to make in so many mothers’ lives.

Peace and grace to you,

Trisha

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4. Sarah O'Neal - March 14, 2007

Guinever,

I recently lost my daughter in December. It was not expected. She turned 2 in August. She had blonde pigtails (barely and not easily). Her name is Teegan (Teegie). She had RSV and no symptoms. We woke up one morning and found her between us, already gone. Someone forwarded me to your blog. I, like so many others, am so sorry. Sorry that I have known yet another mother who feels the same pain I do. I hope Teegie and Abby have met, I hope they play ring around the rosie, I hope they go to birthday parties together and clap with glee when they blow out their candles.

Dear Sarah, I am so sorry that your Teegan is gone. Imagining our daughters in heaven is the only thing that makes death bearable. When I am especially sad about Abby’s absence, I think of her laughing, playing, singing, worshiping, dancing, and seeing new things. I pray that you will find comfort and rest in the Lord. Blessings, Guinever

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5. Gina McQueary - May 17, 2007

I am so very sorry for the loss of your little girl. I have a four year old, and she also tires me out, but as i read your story i will be sure to sit and read to her more, and cherish every day i have her in my arms. Thank you for reminding me of how much the small things in life are to us. God Bless You.

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6. carrie ouimet - July 28, 2007

I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. My daughter, Erin died on October 5, 2006, age 17 months. I thank you for sharing your grief in your blog. Somehow it helps to read about other parents who have managed to continue living.

Dear Carrie, I’m so sorry about Erin. You must miss her terribly. It has always helped me to relate to other bereaved parents too. ~Guinever

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7. Lashon - February 12, 2008

I think you are a wonderful person and i can only imagine Little Abbey’s spirit. Yes, maam we have to let go and let GOD because he is sovreign he giveth and taketh away. I know eactly what you meant when you described the noises as being primal at the last minute into labor i have six boys and three girls. I found this web site through reading an article in the newpaper in Chattanooga, Tennessee about the documentary on “Spaces Between Breaths”. I thought it was interesting and relted to my situation but different because all nine of my children where taken away from me wrongfully birth after birth could you imagine? Actually 11/24/07 my baby boy was ripped from me and i had not seen him in months where you would not believe. But yes i truly understand your pain and i hope your continuing to hold up i think it’s a lot easier when you have people who care in you circle because i did not but GOD substained me because (HE IS!!!)

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8. Raisingarrows - February 27, 2008

Thank you, Guinever. Thank you for grieving w/ me. Thank you for inviting me here. Thank you for words so like my own. God bless you, sweet sister.

hugs and prayers!
peace and grace, Guinever

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9. Pamela Palmer Mutino - May 15, 2008

Hello, Guinever,
I have written a book titled, “Swish: Maria in the Mourning,” author: Pamela Palmer Mutino, which chronicles a mother’s process of mourning (mine) after losing her ONLY child, the beautiful and charismatic Maria to a heroin overdose at 23. I don’t even know how I came to your beautiful site, but I was compelled to write to you because a site like this is what no one can comprehend about losing an adult child that you have invested so much in. The truth is I will always see her as my baby, and reading about Abigail saying, “Couch a minute,” reminded me of my Maria at that age. Whenever I would tuck her into bed, and kiss her, she’d say, “Hug,” whenever I would hug her she would say, “Kiss.” When I dream about her, which is vivid and often, I have many dreams of her as an infant or toddler, and the pain knocks me senseless for the rest of the day. Sending bright light. Peace.

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