I took this picture 26 months ago yesterday as my precious son held on to my finger. 26 months ago today, this perfect little love died in my arms.
The first year after Elliot died was a blur of days spent weeping, mourning, remembering, memorializing.
The second year was an abrupt desperation to DO something. So we fostered our little C, and it was precious and hard and had so many nooks and crannies of emotions I still don’t know how to process it all.
This third year has been busy so far. We moved. I got a new job. We’re starting the adoption process. I’m gearing up for a homeschool year.
I don’t cry most days. I can usually talk about Elliot without a quiver in my voice. I can glance at his pictures without emotion. Or I look away before the emotions have a chance to turn into that lump in my throat or that burning in my eyes. I look away because I can’t bear to feel it anymore.
It’s buried deeper now, my broken mama’s heart. It hasn’t healed, hasn’t become some inspirational testimony to growth after adversity. It’s wrapped up most days so I can keep going with life. The new house, the new job, my sweet girls–they are the wrapping to cushion my glass heart and keep it tucked away.
I think this is necessary. When I think about what’s inside my broken mama’s heart, I know I could not function through this life with the reality of Elliot’s death constantly at the forefront of my mind. It sounds melodramatic, but if I remained in the space I occupied the year after he died, I think I myself would eventually die of a broken heart.
So my broken heart has had to descend to an inner part of me I don’t access all the time. I’m realizing it’s not denial; it’s protection. And I don’t think I am the one protecting it.
And I think Christ is there, inside of me, a sentry guarding my glass heart. He doesn’t think it needs to be fixed. He thinks it needs to be cherished, protected, and loved.
We unwrap it sometimes, Jesus and me, and we cry and cry and cry. We’re unwrapping it right now, smiling at the days Elliot kicked inside me and burst into this world and held my finger and blinked his eyes at me. We’re laughing together at how stinkin’ cute he was. We’re crying together, Jesus and me, and pounding our fists at the unfairness of a little baby boy dying needlessly, and cursing the suffering which daily afflicts our world. And we’re gazing to the horizon, waiting for a day to dawn when suffering and death blow away like ash.
Jesus agrees with me: “This pain really sucks. But this love is so beautiful.” And he kisses my glass heart and wraps it carefully up in layers of life and work and sunsets and friends and laughter and chocolate sundaes. He keeps it hidden on days He knows I can’t bear it. He says, “You don’t have to look at it today. It doesn’t mean you love Elliot any less.” He knows many days I can’t pray or talk to him because it feels the same as grief. So he wraps arms of unrelenting acceptance around me and reminds me, “You’re not performing for anyone. You already have my love.”
So tomorrow I’ll wake up and drink some coffee and make it through another day, knowing deep inside the secret depths of my soul, Jesus guards my glass heart. Jesus won’t let anything happen to it in the meantime.
And when I’m ready, He and I will gaze on its pain and beauty once again.