Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I expected...

It is hard to understand what a bereaved parent is feeling if you have not been through it yourself. A bereaved parent has not only lost a child, they have lost their plans for the rest of their life. You grieve for many many more things than just the physical loss of a child. You grieve for every tiny thing you dreamt of in relation to that child. From first steps, to first days of school to first loves... you grieve for it all.
When I was pregnant with Harper, I "expected" it all. I chose her name based on my love of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and the love of my aunt, Mary Berrey (who shares my middle name). But mostly I chose her name because it felt like it was the name God had given her and when I wrote out a wedding invitation in my mind, "Miss Harper Elise Shoemaker" sure sounded beautiful.
I envisioned her crawling, dancing, standing on tip toes to play the piano just as her brother had years before. I expected little chunky legs running to greet her Daddy when he came home from work.
I expected her to meet milestones early because she had a big brother to chase. I expected her to be black haired with ringlet curls and her Daddy's deep blue eyes. I pictured her being a ballerina, dancing and a cheerleader tumbling with the best.
There's a lot of my visions of my little girl that are yet to be seen. She has yet to crawl traditionally, walk, run, jump, or twirl. But just because she hasn't yet doesn't mean she won't. Over the holiday, Harper took one small step. Then the next day, she pulled herself to standing.
If Harper had met milestones early like I had "planned", do you know what I would have missed? I imagine that I have held her for thousands of minutes longer than the average parent of an 16 month old. Would I trade that just so she could walk? No. Definitely not. I have had a "baby". My infant nestled in my arms instead of scooting around on the floor.  I have been blessed with the difficult task of managing hypotonia (low muscle tone) which resulted in a girl who couldn't sit so her Mommy had to hold her. Thank you God.
As Harper begins to overcome her obstacles, I see God working in both of us. He is showing me beauty in the unexpected. Yes, through this journey I have had my feelings crushed by those blaming me for Harper's delays but I have also found comfort in encouraging words of others.
I expected one thing and God delivered another. I am so thankful for His plans.
Jeremiah 29:11
"I know the plans I have for you", declared the Lord, "plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
It may be months or years before my girl can walk or dance. But I'll be there every step of the way. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the extra time with my baby. God knew she was our last. God knew I needed this. There are days this feels like a life sentence but today it feels like a blessing. I hope I can always view this journey as the blessing it really is. God's been good to me.