Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Grief again

Here's how grief works, that ugly little son of a ...

You're minding your own business-- a little tired, kind of frustrated, and suddenly it hits you: loss. That black hole in your gut that you keep covering with your arms, a sweater, a stack of books.... And you can't hide it. The tears are pounding like an insistent tenant and all of a sudden you know that your whole face is getting ready to be red and blotchy and you're at worship practice and all you can think of is Ben, Ben, Benjamin Joseph Swaney is not here. So you rush to the restroom and double over on the toilet and cry and cry, and when you look up, there is the most priceless piece of children's art on the wall-- of course. You're on the children's wing. And there's a portrait of a tiny newborn on the wall. And it's a knife. And you're not mad at God or your husband or anyone-- you just want him back, and you wonder if you'll ever stop thinking that stupid, pointless phrase over and over again...

And at the back of your mind, there is the smallest whisper of something deeper, something richer, and something you're not ready to put your finger on quite yet. Something about knowledge and experience and depth and how it all mixes up with grief and a tapestry and something meaningful.

But right now, almost nine months after his death, it just hurts.

Don asked me why I thought I was feeling it especially today. I don't know. Sometimes it just comes out of nowhere. Maybe it's because the author we read at school today talked about an "untenanted bird's nest...rocking back and forth like an empty cradle." The kids didn't see the depth of sadness there. Not like I did.

See, there's a level of richness that I have access to, because I have been there. That's something.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


... sometimes life is like a series of little portraits of moments, if we can get things distilled enough, past all the words and thoughts and ideas... moments of pure "aaahhhhh."

like right now, the way my dear husband's body is all warm and still beside me, breathing soft and slow, piled high with quilts in our drafty old/new house. this man here is a gift.

thankful, thankful, thankful.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I am persuaded

Persuade: to induce to believe by appealing to reason or understanding; convince.

18 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, "SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE."

19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb;

20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, (P)giving glory to God,

21 and being fully assured (persuaded) that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.

. Romans 4:18-21

35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced (persuaded) that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-49

...for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced (persuaded) that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
I Timothy 1:12

In the middle of the night, I woke up and began to worry. What if we can't really afford this house? What if we continue to be furloughed at increasing rates? What if my car breaks down? What if my pregnancy with Ben was my one shot and I never get the chance again? What if...

And I am positive that the Holy Spirit completely intruded on these  thoughts with these new ones: What if you began to trust the Lord for His lovingkindness? What if, instead of lying awake at night imagining all the scary what ifs, you began to fantasize about the amazing possibilities of His love and will? What if you stopped worrying about the bad things that might happen and started imagining all the good things that probably will happen? What if you just re-trained your brain to think on those things which are good?

I was persuaded. I was still hardly awake but began imagining all the cool things that could happen this season. What a comfort He is in the still of the night-- practical, advising me like my mom or dad would. Guiding me, patient with me, knowing me.

He is good. I am convinced, assured, and persuaded.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Is this thing on?...

Hello my faithful all :) I'm sorry for such a long absence. December was full of lots of ups and downs and I wanted to write about them all, but found myself so exhausted at the end of every school day! PLUS, we were busy with a huge change this season (no, not a baby yet-- hopefully this year!).

That said, I can't write much tonight but I had to try to pound out something-- I split my finger open (my bird shootin' finger :)) while cleaning the bathroom this afternoon and now it's in a splint. Which leads me to what i wanted to tell you about--I am willing to traverse the path of serious irritation while tryinmg to type with a splint on my middle finger it.

you'll excuse the typos, right? :)

What happened today was a perfect example of the grace of the Lord on my life.

Don and I have moved into the house of our dreams. Many counseled us that you don't buy your dream house as your first house but they were wrong. Our real estate agent, Susette Monk, who is also my mother's dearest friend and like an aunt to me, was totally encouraging. She always believed the best, best, best for us. The Lord used her like crazy in making this happen-- I can't tell you how many times she prayed with Don and me in the kitchen or back yard of some property and just believed for His will for us.

Anyway. I will write more later about the house-- and will post some pics-- but today I was cleaning one of the bathrooms and I sliced the heck out of my finger on a broken fixture. I was talking to my friends Whitney and Paige and went swooosh with my hand and it was deep and fast and oh my gosh I think I'm going to faint and oh God oh God oh God. "PAIGE paige paige paige I neeeed you" and I went running out of the bathroom. She heard the sound of sheer panic in my voice and came right for me. I glanced at it once but couldn't really look at it--

side note: after the C-section in the spring, I couldn't hardly look at the scar. I felt faint every time. Now, I can look at some gross stuff, but when it comes to injuries to my own person...can't do it. The only people who really got a good look at that thing were Don, Mom, Paige, and the home health nurse. I might have show another couple of people. I think I temporarily lost my mind on several occasions this summer.

Anyway, Paige (who is a Nurse Practitioner and sees All Manner Of Open Wounds every day at work) said Oh yeah, this might need the ER. But she sat me down and took another look at it and said, well, if you want I can take care of it.

Next scene. I said yes. But I knew that there was at least one thing I would need to do in order to make this happen: drink. And I'm not really a drinker.

The cut was fairly deep and kind of throbbing and I felt all kinds of panicky. You'll remember that before I got pregnant with Ben and had actual reason for grief, I was a hardcore hypochondriac-- and I should add that all sorts of histrionics are never far from my repertoire of possible responses to "situations"-- especially if I am surrounded by people I trust. I can totally let down my "she's got it together" mask and have a complete meltdown. Paige assigned Whitney the task of doing something medical, to which Whitney-- ever the driest and funniest girl ever-- responded "with, "Um, I'm really only used to working on dead people" (first year medical student). Still, she responded with characteristically solid help-- she made me laugh like crazy while applying pressure.

The whole time, I'm thinking how happy I am that I don't have to go to the ER. I'd probably still be there right now. And out some serious money. And I can't find our new insurance cards in all the packing. And I'm also thinking that while I know P knows what she's doing, this is going to hurt like a monkey. And I think I have a vicodin left over from the C-section but seriously not finding anything in the mess. There's only one thing for it: alcohol.

We're not really drinkers but I knew I probably had some Irish Cream (right-- like that's going to help) but then remembered that I had gotten us a bottle of champagne for our first night in the house, but we were too exhausted to even brush our teeth, much less drink champagne. So I talked Whitney through her first-ever popping of a champagne cork and managed to drink the entire bottle.

And can I tell you, it was the most fun I've ever had getting wound care.

I laughed and laughed at them all-- and I should mention that my audience included my parents, Whitney, and Paige. Don was working a fire pit in the yard and couldn't leave it for long.

Paige worked fast and well and I hardly felt a thing (including my lips and forehead...I'm so not used to alcohol any more).

And the Lord took care of me.

He had people right there who knew what to do-- and who were much calmer than I was.

Do you ever feel alone and abandoned? I confess that I am surrounded by people most of the time but have struggled with that this year.... but I've been finding notes and cards as we'vebeen packing the house-- people who were thinking about us when Benjamin died, for many weeks afterward-- and I remember how many hours I sat on the couch and felt so miserably alone, even surrounded wuith the most amazing people. I just wanted him back.

But when I succeeded in getting my eyes off the thing that wasn't possible-- and was even harder to comprehend-- and began to look at what WAS, that loneliness began to dull.

He's never walked away. He's there in our emergencies-- I came out of that operating room alive on April 28. I am whole. I long for my son every single day, but I am well-- and constantly provides for things that we need. Will we go hungry? I confess that there were times when Don and I were. So broke and completely without a clue. Will we sometimes have needs that go unmet? I know we do and will. But He provides where He sees the need for provision.

I'm crying out for Him to cause me to really see Him this year. And today, instead of saying "God, why'd you let me do that to my finger??" I am blessing His name for providing me with Paige. I am beating my head against the wall over and over trying to figure out "WHY???" when there's just not going to be a good answer. Instead, I want to seeeee Him in the WHAT.

Yay for 2010!!! I was ready to be done with 2009...