Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The River to Thanksgiving

Today marks 4 months since Quinn's death... on the day before Thanksgiving. I have found in these four months that grief is not a state of being, but a journey, there is an ebb and flow to it. It is much like a river. Always moving. At some points, especially in the beginning, it is a rapids where, at times, you feel like you might be overcome by it.... that you might drown in your grief. Then, all of a sudden, you put your feet down and realize that you can stand, but it takes every ounce of your strength just to stand because the current of grief is so strong, that sometimes, out of no where, it knocks you off your feet and just when you thought you had it figured out it overtakes you again, threatening to close in on you. All the while there are times you cannot see through the mist of the rapids, while at others there is such a clarity of life and its meaning. There are rocks and debris along the way that are painful, but you can't just cling to them, dwelling on them, because then you are in a rut and will never let yourself move on, where yes, it might get worse down the river, but it will get better as well.
I can't help but think that David felt the same way in Psalm 69:
          "God, save me, because the water has risen to my neck. I'm sinking down into the mud, and there is
            nothing to stand on. I am in deep water and the flood covers me. I am tired from calling for help;
           my throat is sore. My eyes are tired from waiting for God to help me."  v.1-3
His prayer is similar to mine:
           "But I pray to you, LORD, for favor. God, because of your great love, answer me. You are truly able
            to save. Pull me from the mud, and do not let me sink....Do not let the flood drown me or the deeep
            water swallow me...LORD, answer me because your love is so good. Because of your great
            kindness, turn to me. Do not hide from me, your servant. I am in trouble. Hurry to help me! Come
            near and save me."  v. 13-18
Yet, in this season of Thanksgiving, David ends his psalm (v. 29-36) with thanks:
           "I am sad and hurting. God, save me and protect me. I will praise God in a song and will honor him
            by giving thanks. That will please the LORD more than offering him cattle. Poor people will see
           this and be glad. Be encouraged, you who worship God. The LORD listens to those in need and
           does not look down on captives. Heaven and earth should praise him, the seas and everything in
           them. God will save Jerusalem and rebuild the cities of Judah. Then people will live there and own
           the land. The descendants of his servants will inherit that land, and those who love him will live there."

I wanted to end this post with thanksgiving, but everything in me finds it so hard to be thankful this year. I told Tim the other day how we are so blessed. Really, so many areas of our life are so good and yet the loss of Quinn is so huge that it seems none of the other areas matter if they are good. But just as David said, "I am sad and hurting" and in the next breath said, " I will praise God in a song and honor him by giving thanks". And just as Job, after everything in his life was destroyed said, "The LORD gave these things to me, and he has taken them away. Praise the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). I will thank Him. I have always considered myself a grateful person, so it is hard to adjust to this new season. But maybe I was so grateful because life was better. I don't think God calls us to thanksgiving only when things turn out right, only when we are given what we want. I think God is honored more when things don't go as planned, when things are taken away, and still we turn and say thanks.
So even though I want to continue typing about sorrow, I will choose to be thankful. Here is what I am thankful for:
- Tim. I married this adorable man that I met in college and always thought was just a goofball. But that is what I am so thankful for, the way he can lighten the mood, the way he makes me laugh, but even more, the way he loves the Lord, the way he draws people in, and mostly the kind of incredible father he was. Tim was there for EVERY prenatal appointment, by my side every hour of the 28hr labor, up with every middle of the night feeding. He adored Quinn. And as much as I hate to admit this, Tim could make Quinn smile so much better than I could. I could NOT walk this road without him.  Because he knows exactly how I feel, his disappointments are my disappointment. When I say I miss Quinn, he knows the depth of those words because he does too. I know the statistics on couples who lose a child and I will NOT let us be a statistic because I know a cord with three strands is not easily broken and this is the time when those are not merely words, but survival.

-My Family. Most of you know that I have some of the best parents out there. They have taught me the real meaning of life. They loved Quinn like parents: coming up here most weekends, taking night shifts, cuddling with her, changing diapers, Skyping during bath time. The only way I can withstand this storm is from the solid rock of lessons on Christ, on loving others, and staying positive that have come from years of the blood, sweat, and tears of my parents. And my sister... where do I begin? She has had a tough role this year. I have always been the big sister who has jumped in and saved the day. And now, she has so play that role. Just this weekend, in fact, she held me until I cried myself to sleep. That is not something that is at the top of 25yr old's list. She left her single life in the fast lane life in LA to come live with her grieving sister and brother-in-law in South Dakota. I know the sacrifices she has made and for that I am forever grateful.

-Tim's Family. It has been a tough road the last couple of weeks. 2weeks ago we found out that Tim's dad has esophageal cancer. It has been a long couple of weeks of finding out stages, survival percentages, and discussing major surgery. But all the while God has shown his hand on our family. The cancer was caught miraculously early, he has the best surgeon in the region, and on Dec. 10th they will remove the cancer in a tedious 4-6hr surgery that includes 1-3days in the ICU, 2 weeks in the hospital, and 3 months of hard recovery, BUT a 90% survival rate. The family has been extremely supportive of us through it all, and I think this continues to bring us closer.

-Extended Family. My extended family has been there every step of the way. Multiple times in my week they will send me texts that they are thinking about me, praying for us, verses to help us get through, or encouragement. They will call, drive up to visit, or set up girls weekends to make sure I'm doing okay.

-Friends. All my life I have been blessed with amazing friends in each season of life. My high school friends- They all flew in for Quinn's funeral and stayed the week after, holding my hand to cry, helping clean the house, running errands, doing thank yous, and just being there for us. You guys will never know how much that meant to me. My college friends came too and are still writing cards and checking in on me. And our friends here in Sioux Falls have been amazing. Tim's friends from high school have arranged get togethers often to spend time lovin on us and some have even given a huge financial blessing to us- you know who you are and we are so grateful.  And our neighbors are a rare gem. One night we looked out and one was mowing the front yard, one was mowing the back yard, and another had the weed-eater going. They have held us, dropped by, and called often to show their love. It would be wrong of me not to mention our best friends April and Darin VanderWell. They honestly could write a book on what it means to love on grieving friends. I cannot even list how they have been there. Darin just sat for 2 days with Tim. April arranged meals, wrote the obituary, wrote thank yous, calls daily to check up on me, prays for me, and honestly just has the most beautiful heart. I will never be able to repay all of you for what you have done for us.

Our Church Body- Thank you for holding us up in prayer, being there for us during some of the hardest moments of our lives, the texts, emails,  phone calls, meals and the thoughtfulness. Thank you. You are more than a church, you are our family, our brothers and sisters.

Colleagues- We both have felt so supported at work. Tim's boss has been so good about giving Tim the time off if he needs it and his co-workers have been supportive. Teachers and administers at my school have set up people to be on-call if I ever need to leave the classroom. They have called, left notes in my mailbox, stopped and checked in on me, and sat and cried with me after school. We both love what we do and the people we work with are a huge part of that.

Jesus Christ- Thank you for making away for me to be with Quinn in eternity through your own suffering. Thank you for your word that has been my only source of light in some very dark times. Thank you for loving me even when I am angry and a mess. Thank you for glimpses of joy in the midst of our sorrow. I could not even get out of bed if it wasn't for you and the people you have placed in my life. I honestly don't know how people do it without You.

Quinn- Even though I miss you every minute of the day and my heart is broken beyond repair, I would do it all over again to have the honor to be your mommy. 4 1/2 months was not enough, but not for one second would I give up what I had with you. Thank you for your smiles, cuddles, and what you have taught me about life. I am so thankful you were mine. I love you.

To those of you who I haven't kept in touch with in years or who don't even know me, but have sent heartfelt cards, Facebook messages, or comments on the blog- thank you. You have no idea at how some of those comments came at the perfect time and were just what we needed to hear. I have been so humbled by our support in this trial of our lives. I think of 2Cor. 1:4-5 "He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God give us. We share in the many suffering of Christ. In the same way, much comfort comes to us through Christ." I am thankful, for the support we have received and the love we have been shown. If love could take away the pain it would've been gone a long time ago from the amount we have received. Even though I will never be able to repay all of you, I promise I will try. I know I have been comforted so that in the days ahead I can comfort others. The LORD gives and takes away but I will continue to praise Him.


  1. Thank you Ali and Tim for sharing your honest and heartfelt thoughts with us. Loss and grief is such an emotional rollercoaster with each day throwing us a new twist, turn or drop. I continue to pray for your family as I pray for mine. I pray hat we may always know the strength and joy that our precious loved ones gave us. I know the days that are filled with gut wrenching sorrow of missing someone so much and am thankful for my family and friends as well. Amongst my pain I have the memories of smiles, laughter and pure love. May we always be guided by the love of our angels.

  2. Yesterday I felt compelled to stop what I was doing and pray for you and Tim and your family. I didn't know at that time that the date had significance for you. I prayed and then sent you an email. I believe these are just some of the times that the Lord is working through others to lift you up. You are such an amazingly strong woman and I know with your faith in the Lord, He will get you through. Thank you for your words and for reminding all of us what it means to love unconditionally!

  3. Thinking of you and Tim so much, Ali, and asking that the "God of all comfort" will keep your hearts. Thanks for your inspiring words again - it encourages US to stay faithful as you have - and to stay THANKFUL! You do offer up "a sacrifice of praise" - and God is glorified! Love you so much!
    Aunt Nancy

  4. Ali, this is such a beautiful post. I love the analogy of the river. Your willingness to share your faith and open up your heart to others is such a blessing. It's awesome to hear how you give thanks and glory to God in the midst of such pain. Thanks for sharing, dear!