The Sunday after Ellianna died I had no intentions of going to church, but I couldn’t bear to let Jacob, Baylie, and Bella be taken without me…what if they needed me?! So I went through the motions to get us there. I held myself together right up until the music started for worship. The tears wouldn’t stop. In the depths of my hurt I couldn’t even offer any praise. The only line I found the strength to utter was “My hiding place is You.” God was there all along—our worship leader told the crowd to sing it out again, but this time to sing it for the people around them that were at a place where they couldn’t. I knew that was me. All around me hands lifted high, holding us up, not even knowing who we were or what we were going through. Our ever-present help in times of trouble.
Wednesday night was Ellie’s visitation. Mark and I went early to have some time alone with her. Hard doesn’t even begin to describe it. She was so beautiful in her tiny white dress, a purple flower perched above her fluffy mohawk. She looked just like she was sleeping. I had been wearing the Piglet necklace Mark had gotten her at Disneyland… we wanted it to stay with her, so I took it off and fastened it around her neck. So sweet. The other kids arrived with Mark’s parents and we led them into the room to see their sister. All three of them crumpled into tears as soon as they saw her. Just when I thought my heart couldn’t break any more, it did. It was a hard night. Each new person that came brought more memories and emotions. We were so thankful to be surrounded by so many family and friends.
Thursday came though we willed it not to. Her service was beautiful. Just the tribute we wanted, with heartfelt music and sharing from close friends and family. As we followed her tiny casket outside I realized this was the last time she would be in our church. The ride to the cemetery was long and peaceful. The kids shared smiles about getting to ride in a limo…their laughter a balm to our bleeding hearts. Her graveside service was brief, and then we stayed behind to watch her be lowered into her final resting place. The great depth of her grave was terrifying to the kids, especially Jacob, but somehow it made me feel she was safe. The day continued with a reception time to visit with friends and family…
This past Sunday was our first day to just be a family again with our relatives and friends having traveled back home. Although the stillness seemed to bring more reality to missing her, it was also a time of peace and reflection. I got her room back in order and placed her flowers in many rooms of the house. I sat in her rocking chair and rocked…and just missed her.
So many have passed on words of encouragement, and as I have told them, even with our faith the hurt does not lessen. We will have a time of grieving where even though we have hope, we will have an ache and an emptiness that cannot be soothed. Ellianna’s death doesn’t have to be God’s will. If everything was God’s will, there would be no reason for us to have free will. We believe He is grieving with us. I’m sure there will be many stages we go through, and for us, the right thing to do is to embrace each one.
Each day holds special memories, sweet smiles, and painful reminders…each night, hollow emptiness and vivid dreams…. Through each tear we have seen promises of tomorrows and healing of yesterdays. One foot in front of the other, our journey continues.