Hurt

It feels like a wound. A wound that is so deep and so personal and so raw and so fragile. It has been four months since Kamri died, but the pain of the wound feels like it’s been no time at all. The wound is consuming and engulfs everything in its presence. Our thoughts, our work, our daily to-dos… they all come back to Kamri.

We are so much more fragile than we used to be. My capacity for anything, for everything, is so much smaller. The hiccups in the week feel crippling. A couple of weeks ago, I forgot my lunch in the fridge at home and didn’t realize it until Mitch and I were already on the road to work. Any momentum I had for the day was lost, and it was ALL I could do not to make him turn the car around and take me home so I could crawl into bed and stay there for the rest of the week.

Grief makes it really hard to focus. I find that I can’t do anything for long periods of time any more. I need more breaks and more pauses and more “okay, I’ll just come back to this tonight or tomorrow” than ever before.

Really, we just feel hurt. My feelings have been hurt. It feels like God knew what we wanted most in this world, gave her to us, and then took her away. She was everything I’ve ever dreamed of. Everything that Mitch ever wanted. Down to her fluffy, brown hair, her little peanut of a body, and her button nose, she was it. She was everything. We had her and now she’s gone. I am so hurt by that.

Everything hurts these days. Most people would assume that Mother’s Day was hard. It was. But so was the day before and the day after. Every day is hard. Every day hurts. It hurts to walk by her room on our way out the door. We say good morning and good night to her every night. It hurts to sit on our front porch and take walks around our neighborhood. Those are both things we did leading up to Kamri’s birth and things we wanted to do with her. It hurts that every other picture and post on any social media platform seems to be someone else that is newly pregnant or in the throws of pregnancy or is watching their baby grow and getting the chance to experience it. It’s hard to avoid it all, but we try because it hurts. It hurts to see ad after ad for Pampers or ClearBlue on TV. We already lost her, we know she’s gone… do we really need so many reminders? It hurts to have moments of joy and laughter. They are fleeting and only last for just that… a moment. It hurts to not care about anything. That doesn’t feel like us because it’s not who we used to be. It hurts that so many things were taken without our permission. Our daughter, our house, our passion, our work, our relationships. Everything has been affected, everything has taken a hit.

Sometimes we wonder if God knows that He hurt us; that by taking Kamri away, my heart has darkened a bit. That my soul is weary from missing her, from wanting her. Does He know that without Kamri, I will never be who I used to be, who I should have been? That without her, we are shadows of the people we once were?

We have learned part of the road map of grief as time goes on. In the beginning, the pain was sharp and jarring. We were unfamiliar with a world without Kamri and every time we would remember that this is our reality, the realization was piercing. The intensity was such that it would literally take our breath away. The hurt has since evolved. Where before, it felt like we were taking gulps of air in between punch after punch to survive, we now live with a constant dull pain. The hurt is always there, but it is not as sharp. It is not the slap of reality every time we remember because at this point, our minds have grasped that this is it, this is our life. There is less “forgetting and then remembering”, less waking up in the morning and it all flooding back. We are aware that this is our life. Our minds have caught up. I am actually thankful for this change in season because it is exhausting to experience the trauma of remembering over and over again. In some ways, it was just as traumatic as the day she died.

Our hurt now is just a slow, constant burn. It is something that just resides in our hearts and minds, but doesn’t pierce as often as it used to. Every so often, yes. Mother’s Day was actually quite lovely, for the most part. I woke up to a house full of love notes from Mitch and Kamri. Mitch and I spent the day together, biking along the Wilmington Riverfront. We ate a seafood dinner and chocolate cake for dessert. We did not go to any family parties because that would be too hard, we just spend the day together…  him and I. It was a good day and I didn’t spend much time thinking about the fact that it was Mother’s Day. By night, though, I think my mind was so tired of not thinking about it that it was just time. I cried and cried and Mitch just held me. We talked about Kamri and what we missed about her. We talk about her often, every day actually. We talk about how beautiful she is, how sassy she was, but most of all, how sweet and loving she was. Our sweet girl. The hurt is there, a constant, dull presence. Everything seems duller… colors, smells, music, experiences. The world has dimmed for us.

I think that such a deep hurt has a way of altering every aspect of your life in that way.

To my sweet girl… I miss you. My heart hurts. Sometimes it hurts so deeply that it feels like I can’t keep going. Like I don’t want to. Oh, Kamri, I wish you were here. I wish I could see you again. I wish I could hold your hand and kiss your neck. I wish I could smell your head and feel your soft hair. You are perfect, Kamri… every single inch of you was exactly what Mommy and Daddy wanted, what we dreamed about. I love you, sweet girl. Tell Jesus to come back soon… Daddy and I will be first in line.

Flowers for Kamri

Trust

This week is Holy Week and at the end of it, there will be a celebration. Truth be told, this year I identify more with the darkness of the next three days than I do with the light and celebration of Sunday. The next three days, the darkest in the history of the world, resonate with me. The pain of the world as we remember the death of Christ finally feels like something I can relate to. My world is so dark, so empty, so barren. And yet, God is still here. He is still here and I’ve been asked to do the thing that has always been hardest for me, the thing that we’ve done this entire journey, the thing that even when we do it, will not bring Kamri back.

Trust in Him.

I have a lot of thoughts about this, but before I go any further, you should listen to something. For those of you following along Kamri’s journey, you know that mid-way through, we were leaning very heavily on the truth in the song “O’ Lord” by the talented Lauren Daigle. You can find the link to it in one of the updates on this page. Now we find ourselves grappling with another of Lauren’s songs. I’d like to enlist her help, as her words and music have spoken so clearly to us, in looking further into this idea of trust.

There is power in those words and while some of them are comforting, others just make the tears fall because they hurt so badly. I think the best way to go through this is just that… go through it and let the thoughts come. Let the words express the deepest fears, longings, and convictions of my heart.

Letting go of every single dream, I lay each one down at your feet.

In Kamri’s death, we’ve had to let go of so many dreams we had for her. I wanted to dress her up for Easter this year. I wanted to comb her soft, fluffy hair… add a bow or a flower to her dark brown curls. I wanted to hold her as we sang songs in church, take pictures of her next to bright, blooming flowers. I wanted to watch her Daddy help her in her first Easter egg hunt. I wanted to teach her about the joy of Christ, the victory of the resurrection.

And that is just Easter. There are so many other dreams I had for Kamri and our family, but they are still just dreams. Dreams that will never be realized with her. I have to lay them down at the feet of the Lord, even though everything in me wants to hold on to them just in case she comes back.

My hands are weary, I need your rest.

We are exhausted by this grief, by this sadness, by the longing for our daughter. I am weary, Father. I am not strong enough for this. If there is rest from this nightmare, please let it come.

Mighty warrior, King of the fight; no matter what I face, you’re by my side.

I can see you, God. I can feel you. I am watching the ways that you have provided for us. We are keeping a record of the blessings you have shown us in this season. I see you. But I still feel so alone, so lonely without Kamri here.

And this is when it gets real… this is when my heart breaks and I sob while I sing the lines…

When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move,

when you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through,

when you don’t give the answers as I cry out to you…

God, we trusted you to heal Kamri. I believed you would. I told the doctors that it didn’t matter that her lungs were small, that you would heal her. I needed you to move those mountains and you didn’t. I wanted to walk through the waters of medical tests and statistics and bring my baby home. You parted the sea and saved the Israelites, but you didn’t heal Kamri. My heart is broken and I have cried out to you for answers, for a reason why she had to die, but other people’s stupid daily requests… even my own meaningless wishes… are answered over and over again. You have heard my sobbing and have not pulled me from this darkness.

I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you.

I must be crazy. I feel crazy. But you are God and you love me and you love Mitch and you love Kamri. I know that and I will trust you.

Truth is, you know what tomorrow brings. There’s not a day ahead you have not seen.

You knew. You knew that Kamri was going to be born from the beginning of time. You knew she was going to die. You knew we were going to be devastated. The day we met in college, you knew this to be true. The day we were married, you knew. The day we bought our house, you knew. The day we found out we were pregnant, found out she was a girl, threw a huge party in our backyard, named her Kamri Blaire Thomas, you knew. You knew. I don’t know what to do with that.

I want what you want, Lord, and nothing less.

I used to struggle with this part because sometimes it seems like the will of God, what God wants, is what is happening in this world. I don’t think that is entirely true. God did not want Kamri to be sick, He did not want her to die. This hurts Him as much as it hurts me. What God wanted was His original creation, the perfection it was originally intended to be, devoid of sin and the effects of sin. That’s what God wanted. So when we talk about God’s will and God’s plan, let’s not make the mistake of thinking that God is at all pleased by the pain and suffering of this world.

And here is where I turn the volume way up in the car, when my sobbing and singing come together and Mitch and I find ourselves boldly proclaiming the truth of Christ, even despite our heartbreak, our confusion, and our inability to completely understand it…

You are my strength and comfort, you are my steady hand. You are my firm foundation, the rock on which I stand.

Only by the strength of Christ will we make it through this. Only by the deep love and comfort of God will we see it to the other side of this heartache. It’s pretty evident that I am not strong enough for this. God did not make me strong enough for this. He made it so that by the strength of Christ, we will survive.

Your ways are always higher, your plans are always good.

Always. You are good, even though I don’t feel good. Even though this doesn’t feel good. You are good. You tell us in the Bible “my ways are higher than your ways, my thoughts are higher than your thoughts”. There are things that you know and that you see, that I don’t. I hate that, but it’s true and it’s where the very essence of trust comes from. Your plans are always good. Your plan was not for Kamri to die, for us to be left without our baby. Your plan was the perfection of Eden, before sin. Your plan is the redeeming resurrection from sin, which is why we are so assured that Kamri is with you in heaven. When I think about it like that, it’s pretty clear. Your plans are always good. Always.

There’s not a place where I’ll go, you’ve not already stood.

Oh Lord, this is what gets me every time. As alone as I feel in this and as empty and lonely as Mitch and I feel everyday, this is not a path that you have called us down without walking it first. As I think about these next three days, I am reminded that the God of the universe knows my pain as His own. One, because my pain is your pain. But more importantly… I am not the only parent out of the two of us that had a child die.

I think about that a lot. We have had so many people (both that we know and that we’ve never met before) tell us that Kamri has changed their lives. That our story has pointed them back to God. That our littlest love has led them to a relationship with Christ. We have always prayed that God would use our marriage and our family for the Kingdom of Heaven, but I cannot say that I would have chosen this as the way to do so.

The truth is, people knowing Jesus is more important than my life. Someone having a relationship with God is more important than Mitch’s life. The opportunity for even one person to accept that Christ died for their sins and receive the gift of eternal life with the King of the world is more important than Kamri’s life. And as a mom, there is nothing harder to say, but it’s the truth. If God used sweet Kamri’s life to bring someone into relationship with Him, there is nothing more beautiful.

But I still lost my daughter. My world is still shattered, by heart is still broken, and my life will never be the same. When I think about the choice that God had to make to give up His only son to save the world, to save me, this line means more to me than ever. There is not a place where I’ll go… not in this grief, not in the rest of my life… you’ve not already stood.

What a dark, painful place to stand, a horrific place to be. It feels like it will never be light again, like there is no more hope left.

But then, after those three days, the darkness broke and the Savior of the world conquered death and came back to life. As it turns out, darkness will never have the last say. Jesus Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. There is so much more to the story, more than we can ever begin to imagine…

When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move,

when you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through,

when you don’t give the answers as I cry out to you…

I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you.

Anger

Let’s just cut to the chase here. So far, this road we seemed to have been called down? It sucks. And we are pissed.

Sure, there are moments when we see God at work, fleeting instances where we laugh and smile and feel hopeful again. But there are also moments of the deepest, most intense anger we’ve ever experienced. And these are the moments when we realize just how much pain we’re in. The pain is so raw, so piercing, and so relentless. It will throw you into a tailspin.

For me, it usually goes something like this…

I find myself enjoying something… could be a TV show, playing a game with family, arranging flowers in a vase. For that quick moment, my mind has wandered from the pain. That is, until it comes back in a wave that crashes over me and immediately, my feelings that had been hiding just beneath the brief happiness, unearth themselves. First, it’s sadness. Kamri should be here, enjoying this thing with me. I should be rocking her to sleep while Mitch and I watch TV, one of her grandparents should be cuddling her while we play a game, she should be in her rocker or strapped to my chest while I arrange flowers. But she’s not. I’m still alone doing these things. We’re still a family of two, here on earth.

Next comes the longing. My entire body and mind and soul yearn for my daughter. Our lives were set up for her. We were ready and so excited to be her parents. Everything we do seems irrelevant, unimportant, and inconsequential without Kamri. Simply put, we long for our daughter.

Finally, the sadness and yearning turns to fiery anger. It burns through my blood and I can barely think or see straight. We are so very angry. I am furious, absolutely furious with God. When that anger courses through my body, it is passionate and it is ugly and it is raw. I’ve always been one to say what I think and this is no exception. At this point in my life, God is well aware… I. AM. ANGRY.

The other week, my mom and I were taking a walk and all of a sudden, I was overcome with rage. We had gotten to the part of the trail that winds through the woods and there I was, screaming at the top of my lungs. It started out a slow, quiet sob… my mom had just prayed for peace over me, but I was beyond that.

Why God? Why did you take her from me? I wanted her. I wanted to be her mom.

You created her. Why the hell did you create her with small lungs?

WHY DIDN’T YOU SAVE HER?

You knew I was going to be a good mom. You knew how much I wanted her. And you took her.

YOU TOOK HER… AND I HATE YOU!

You can keep your peace. Just give me back my daughter. Leave us alone.

I HATE YOU FOR TAKING HER.

I HATE YOU!

I hate you.

By the end, I was hunched over, sobbing and screaming at Him.

My anger is deep and it is unbridled. I am angry that Kamri is not here. I am angry that her whole life was spent in a hospital. I am angry that we never got to bring her home. I am angry that I had no choice but to go through the entirety of a pregnancy and recovery afterward, no matter the outcome… although, when I think about it, I would do it all over again for her in a heartbeat. I am angry that my husband never got to lay with his daughter on his chest while she fell asleep. I am angry that the only time I ever got to cradle Kamri, to cuddle her was after she had already died. I am angry that my daughter died, but all of the people surrounding me have healthy kids. I am angry that so many people in this world that don’t even want their kids, still have them. I am angry that God KNEW how much we wanted Kamri and yet, somehow, she’s gone. I am angry that she never even got a chance, that her lungs were too small from the very start. I am angry that he didn’t save her. I am angry that, for the rest of my life, I don’t get to be with her.

I have said awful things to God, blamed Him for the pain that consumes me. I have called Him names, cursed at Him over and over again. I’ve said the most hurtful thing my mind can come up with… You took my daughter. And I hate you.

The thing about all of this is that it’s ok. While I stood there in the woods, screaming at God, He was standing right next to me, in just a much pain as I was.

Some people think that anger should be suppressed and that anger toward God is bad. Those people are wrong. The Bible does not tell us not to feel these feelings… thank goodness. You can still love God and express anger. Often, after our fits of rage, we drop to our knees and tell God we’re sorry. I don’t mean it, God. I don’t hate you. I love you with all of my heart. It just hurts so much and I don’t know how to do this. There’s something about needing to voice the words of rage out loud that satisfies the fury inside. We’re learning that with all of these emotions we experience, if we don’t allow ourselves to wade into them, let them wash over us, we cannot move past them. If we don’t allow ourselves to interact with the anger, it does not pass.

What is amazing is that God gives us instructions about how to do this… “In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26-27) He does not tell us not to get angry, but gives us the parameters for how best to interact with it and move beyond it. While you are angry, do not sin. Well, we’ve certainly messed that part up and at times, have gone completely off the rails. Thankfully, God is an ever-forgiving God, He knows we are human, and He loves us anyway. Even after I scream at Him how much I hate Him. Can you imagine that kind of love? Guess what? He loves you the same… even when you scream at Him.

The other part of that verse that weighs on us is the last bit… Do not give the devil a foothold. Do not give Him a leg-up, a chance to manipulate us while we’re most vulnerable. We’ve also failed at this. There will be moments when we have to take a step back because we’ve recognized that Satan is weaseling his way into our thoughts, our words, and our hearts. Satan is a liar. He tries to convince us that God “took” our baby, wanted this for our baby, and that because He didn’t save her in the way we wanted, He must not love her or us. That’s just bull****.

We recognize that the spiritual battle we had talked so much about throughout the updates is still at large and we are daily targets for the devil. He loves to prey on the vulnerable. This does not mean that we need to hurry to stop being vulnerable, it just means that every day, we need to ask God to protect us- our hearts and our minds- from anything Satan might try and use to manipulate us. So we do that… we ask God to surround us as we experience and express the deepest anger we’ve ever faced.

There are two things that are becoming clear to us in all of this… that we need to allow ourselves to experience the anger that we feel, to interact with it, and that we also need to allow ourselves to move beyond it. It is dangerous to stop right before the anger and not wade into it. It is also dangerous to wade into it and stop in the middle. We all know people who have clearly waded into their anger and then remained there for the long haul. That is not the way that God wants us to experience our lives… in a constant state of miserable, exhausting anger. So we must, at some point, wade out of it at the other end.

Someday, we will. But today is not that day. Today… for right now… I am just plain angry.

Flowers For Kamri

To my sweet girl… wow, this is hard. Mommy and Daddy are a mess. We miss you so much that it’s hard to control the anger we feel. Tell Jesus I’m sorry for the things I said. Tell Him I’m also sorry for the things I’ll probably say in the future. We’re trying, baby girl. It’s just that we never wanted to do this life without you. Kamri, you have taught me more about so many things than anyone else I know. I wish you were here. I love you, my sweet girl. 

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