Eight Months

Sunday marked 8 months since Everett’s brave little heart beat it’s last.  It still makes my stomach flip and turn and I find myself walking through each part of what took place that day.  It’s hard, but also feels like it keeps me connected to him.  Goodness what I wouldn’t give for more time with him.  Time instantly changed and makes me aware of every minute and day and I don’t want to waste any amount of it.  I want to use this time so wisely.  It’s all hard and complicated and eye-opening and completely sucks.

Saturday night was really hard.  We could feel it weighing and so could several of our kiddos.  I held one of them extra close while his tears flowed.  We decided Sunday morning we’d get up and head to the cemetery with donuts and bikes and skateboards.  We needed some time.  We’ve only been back to church a handful of times since Everett died.  It makes me sad, but also I just don’t think we’re ready and that’s okay too.  We’ve felt the shame and disappointment from others in the way we’ve handled losing Everett and how we’re still handling it.  We already don’t feel like we’re getting much right currently, so when others share their disappointment it simply piles on.  People who are grieving don’t need that and we’re learning to recognize it and try to dismiss it quickly…some things don’t deserve to take up space in your head.

One thing I find comforting about Jesus right now is He’s everywhere and not limited to certain times and spaces.  Knowing He’s still here and we haven’t run Him off yet eases my weariness a bit.  Church is different for everyone and I’m so grateful God is not limited to a building.  I’m thankful He’s so much more than that.  I’ve been making myself pray again out loud on the way to school each morning with the kids.  I know He’s listening always and not just to my Dear Jesus prayers, but to my pain in the middle of my sleepless nights and my screams of curse words driving in the car and my whispers into my children’s ears when they are so consumed by missing their brother there are no words from them only tears and gasps for breath.  Since He’s God and we are not, He’s limited to nothing.  We can still find Him in the heavy darkness and even in Krispy Kremes on Shuai’s grave.

This has been a lonely and isolating time for our family.  I know He’s teaching us how to love others better in their lowest, hardest moments.  I know He’s teaching us there are no right words.  I know He’s teaching us the power in simply showing up.  What I hope like crazy is when the fog finally lifts these lessons and these feelings stay.  I don’t want to forget the pain because I know it keeps us connected to these insanely vital lessons on loving others.

I feel like I’m in perpetual tunnel vision and can’t see much outside of our own family’s grief right now. Listening and helping each individual in our family grieve and process and move forward no matter how slowly feels like a full time job.  I don’t fully feel like myself.  Some days my doing for others and thinking outside myself is buying snacks for Amon’s kindergarten classroom when they’ve run out or letting a car get over in traffic or asking a friend an inquiring question about themselves or dropping a card in the mail.  It’s not elaborate or big…it’s just something…any little thing to make myself stop thinking about missing Everett and our grief and remember others.

I read this quote the other day by Sarah Bessey:

“The most fearless thing we can do is keep showing up with love and grace and joy in our real right-now lives.”

It hit me hard in a good way.  Her words encouraged my heart.  It made me feel like we’re not doing such a terrible job after all.  Our right-now looks far different than I ever dreamed or imagined or wanted.  What I want is my boy back, but I know God is forging us into braver people.  He’s teaching us that even when things feel terrible and crappy and we feel like we’re not even close to measuring up that there really is no measuring up after all.  What He really wants from us is showing up and loving the best we can “in our real right-now lives”.

He sees and feels our desperate places.  He sees and feels our deepest pain and sadness and loss.  He sees and feels our confusion and anger.  He sees and feels it all and just like He’s done time and time again, He’s there always showing up and always loving us fiercely, not despite ourselves, but because we are fully our broken selves…we are His.  I will never be able to accurately put into words how desperate I feel to hold our Shuai Shuai again, but I know I don’t want to limp through life without having gained the most powerful lessons from our fierce, brave and strong little boy.  Even though we didn’t welcome it and truthfully don’t necessarily want it, God is using our pain and I’m counting on Him to create beauty from our darkest ashes.

8 Comments

  1. Andrew Marsh says:

    Such a life affirming post, Laura! Thank you so much! You Kelleys are an inspiration. You may not feel it but, seeing you from a different viewpoint, you are inspiring.
    As for those, whose posts, comments, “hints and allegations” – thank you, Paul Simon! – don’t sit easy with you, bring you down, they’re voices you do not need to hear. Listen to the One, who promised never to leave or forsake you. As for Shuai, he’s gonna be waiting at heaven’s gate – ditto, Mr Clapton! – ready to grip you so tight, when you’re called home. Every blessing, folks!! Love you loads, from the UK.

  2. I recently came across your blog, and I have been following you and your families journey for a while now. I can not say that I know how you feel, but I have walked a lonely path of losing a loved one and feeling like the world just hasn’t shifted back yet. You are raising a beautiful family, and I applaud your decision to put your families needs first, as it should be. You are a beautiful example of strength and grace, even if you don’t see it and you don’t feel it. Thank you for sharing your journey and your heart with us- sending you lots and lots of Texas love.

  3. Your transparency is a blessing. Anyone who expresses disappointment at your process is out of line, and more than likely it is rooted in their own stuff. You cannot put a time table on grief. I heard a preacher recently at a funeral of a young person tell the parents that grieving the loss of a child is very much like standing blindfolded in the ocean. The grief comes in waves and often hit when you least expect it. Do what is right for you and yours in this moment. You and your sweet family remain in my prayers.

  4. Xoxo

  5. Laura,
    Just remember those that are most likely “disappointed” with your progress have probably not lost a child. I clearly remember the day a coworker told me I needed to get over the death of my son. I am usually a laid back and quiet type but I did tell her how dare tell me that and that I hoped she never walked this path. We still love each other and she never said that to me again. For us it will be 9 years in August and it’s still hard and there are some really hard days but God always shows up. He (Che’) was the oldest of our 5. It makes the thought and hope of Heaven even more precious. God has His hand on your family although you may not always feel it.
    I am continuing to remember the Kelley family in my prayers.
    From another Mom on this tough road.

  6. I feel like every time you write a post you give so much to others who read it so, even though you may feel like you are not giving back you are! Thank you for your transparency, your raw true feelings….i feel like this is what having a true intimate relationship with Jesus looks like..not all pretty in a neat bow but honest feelings of right now but, knowing God is bigger than all of this! Thank you!

  7. I can’t think of anything more sacred than spending time with your family and remembering Shuai together.
    Anyone who tells you otherwise or that you “need” a certain kind of sacredness or worship or time with God…Well, they just need to shut up and listen to your heart. Which would also be far more sacred (not to mention loving and gracious) than showing up at church on Sunday and being disapproving of those who aren’t there.

  8. He doesn’t need us to measure up; He just needs us to show up.

    Whole lesson, right there.

    And please continue not letting people take up space in your head who cause you pain by expecting things that are totally not theirs to expect. YOU are no disappointment, to anyone, ever.

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