It may not look like it at first glance, but these photos were taken in exactly the same spot. The top photo was two years ago, and the bottom is from a week ago.
I like to do that sometimes, compare where I was and where I am. I like to think about how things have changed, and it almost always makes me feel good. Although it’s not a particularly remarkable spot, outside the fence of a sheep cage at a local orchard, I’ll never forget it.
About two years ago, I stood in this same spot, feeding a sheep, and heavy with sadness. The day before, Jon and I had gotten the initial news about Darla at our 20 weeks ultrasound. I had left feeling heavy and sick, the weight of the world on my shoulders. That Friday night, I hurt physically. I cried enough to fill buckets. I couldn’t sleep, we did’t know what to talk about, and by the next day…we had to get out of the house. We got in the Jeep and sort of just drove, and we ended up at Russell Orchard.
I remember walking around and staring at the families with their kids, happy, and seemingly unaware of me. I longed for answers, I longed to have what they had, and I even longed to go hold their children. I felt hopeless. We ended up by the pen of sheep, and as I fed them, I remember thinking, “This is something you do with your kids.” I couldn’t imagine ever coming back happy. I felt Darla moving inside of me, and I ached to fast forward and know if I would ever be doing these things with her.
After we lost Darla, I started writing in a journal that came with random, full-color pages of hopeful messages. I would be in the middle of writing and come across a message that attempted frame my situation in a more positive light. One of the messages said, “Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.” At first, I could’t imagine doing this. How could I be thankful for something I didn’t know existed? It made no sense to me, and it also scared me.
I realized that it would have been easier for me to sit in my fear; it would be harder for me to accept the challenge that fully trusting God with brings. I knew that this trust would take total release of control on my part, and after living the past several months completely surrounded by a situation that felt out of control, I didn’t know how I could keep living in perceived chaos. I didn’t know the peace this release would bring. I would have to make myself vulnerable again, and I didn’t think that I wanted to do that.
Fast forward 2 years of ups and down, highs and lows, slips and triumphs…and I stood in that same place. I wasn’t alone, and I wasn’t with Darla, but I was with her sister. I stood in the same place with the baby that has come into the world, I believe, to help heal my heart. She is the most joy-filled baby I’ve ever met, I am thankful for each day I spend getting to know more about her. She isn’t Darla, she is Gracie, and I am in a place where I can be thankful for them both, individually.
The more time that passes, the more I can reflect back on everything and be thankful for where our journey has brought us. We are different now, better than before. I work each day to embrace the struggles that the future could bring. Journeying into the second year since everything happened, I can be even more settled that it happened to us. If I think about it too much, the future can be scary; I struggle with the fear of it happening again. However, after getting to be mommy to Gracie, I know that it’s a risk worth taking.
When in fear, stay thankful for the unknown blessings already on their way.