This past weekend I got to witness one of the most precious events; my little brother making his vows to the woman of his dreams.  I loved the joy in the breeze, the glow of their happiness, and the adoration that spilled from their eyes when they looked at each other.  Then, while they eagerly repeated the words of lifelong commitment to each other, I was hit by the breath-stealing dark that has taken root in my soul.  “In plenty and in want, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.”  I feel like when I spoke these words 10 years ago I agreed to them, but never grasped the thought that any of those things could come true.  My mind insisted things would continue to be light and joyful and filled with nothing but promise.  As Jamie and Daniel exchanged their vows, I found my mind racing…. what is going to happen?  Will one of them get sick?  Will tragedy strike?  Will they have to endure losing someone they love? Will they look back on the snapshots of today and think “if only we had known…”  I hate that that’s how my mind turns now.  I hate the fear I have seeded deep, wondering what will knock us down next, and preparing for that battle.

While some days I’m overwhelmed, it has gotten incrementally better…. I am no longer paralyzed by fear while driving… I can let the kids go out to play… I can accept that it’s ok to just get through one thing at a time, and experience the peace that comes from having to trust.  I sure have lost some filters to my lens though.  I never used to focus on what could go wrong, but now I find myself seeing the flip side of many situations and preparing to brace myself if I should need to.  It is a huge journey of faith.  Faith deeper than I have ever known.  Deep enough that I will never lose hold of something to grasp for.  Faith that will bring me to healing no matter what I go through.  It challenges me daily.

I have been scrolling through some pictures… pictures that a bystander might oooh and ahhh over… happy times, memorable events, remarkable firsts… and that’s the thing… now I see how many lasts there were.  You don’t take most pictures thinking “this will be the last time.”  —Unless of course it’s a last tooth lost or a last game of the season.  You don’t take pictures thinking “this is the last time I held my child,” or “this is the last smile she ever gave me.”  And what if we had known?  It wouldn’t have made it better, it would have changed the smiles and the glittering eyes.  They would look like the most painful and forced happiness… such as in the photo of the time I really knew “This is the last time.”

The last time we held Ellianna alive.
The last time she held hands with her Daddy.

There is already coming a day when our hope is greater than our fear.  We can look back and see how it has progressed.  It doen’t mean we have arrived… we need your continued prayers for peace and healing in place of fear.  Ellianna’s death has not fit neatly into a “folder” of our lives… it has scattered pages throughout and will leave marks scribbled across pages for the rest of our days. We can only do the best we know how to grieve and grow and become deeper and more grateful for the hope we are chasing.   Ever so slowly the blooms grow back, and we learn to let ourselves fall, arms oustretched into the deep of healing and beauty and rest that has been promised us.  Here’s to believing that day will come….
Please leave me a comment; it lets me know you’re listening!

3 thoughts on “Lasts”

  1. Thank you for sharing your heart with us Hannah. Ellianna has had, and still has, such a big impact on so many lives. Your openness and strength in our Lord is such a witness to our broken and depraved world. You are always in my prayers….


  2. Han–I really appreciate your honesty. Sometimes I want to scream because I look at those pictures and think, “We were SO close!” Why couldn't she just have slowly started improving? Why did she have to slip over that steep cliff? WHY? God could have JUST as easily healed her…right? But so much more than these questions that overflow from a broken human heart, I will choose to trust the heart of a God who is too glorious for me to comprehend. I trust He is holding us…I trust that beauty will rise from these ashes….I trust that He will receive endless glory through this journey. I love you.


  3. Hannah – I wish i could have been there this weekend. I would have loved to witness the wedding, and i would have loved to get my arms around you.
    I can't imagine your sadness, but I can appreciate your paralyzing fear of allowing your babies to be kids, when you're afraid to let them out of your sight. Working in the ER I'm reminded daily of how terriblly wrong things can go. I don't know what the answer is, except that every day, somehow, millions of parents have the faith to let their children live their lives, oblivious to the fear their parents have for their wellbeing. I love coming home from a day in the ER and getting my hands around my babies, telling them i love them, and smelling their wonderful sweet smells. and enjoying every second i get with them.
    I hope that every day continues to be a little less painful for you and Mark. You're so lucky to have each other.
    Love you!


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