I didn’t decorate her place out at the cemetery for every single holiday this year.
I don’t know if it was the survival mode of this whole year, that it simply felt like too much to muster, or that it just completely slipped my mind. But as I sat in the quiet of my house one evening, my heart tore in two with the thought of feeling like I have let her down. That the one thing I get to do for her, as her mother, is to tend to her spot, and I had failed at that. It has been lackluster out there more often than not lately. The comfort that it used to bring has been few and further between, as I try to make it feel “cheery” with nothing meeting the mark.
I know that must sound absurd.
How can you make a place that carries the dates of a life that was only seven weeks, “cheery?” How do you even begin to bring happiness in the middle of such loss? To a place where you have cried and wanted to claw her out of the ground just to hold her one more time. Where you have watched helplessly as your daughters cling to her vase and their daddy pull them away because you have to leave at some point. Where you have stood and held onto your husband as he breaks into your arms. Where ants have stung you and spiders have bit you, but you didn’t even notice until you got home, because it didn’t compare to the pain you were feeling in your heart.
Where you sat and stared at her tiny little casket for the last time. Where they had to remind you how to walk when you realized you had to leave her there for the very first time. How can someone even talk about a place that holds these memories as “cheery?”
But, the truth of the matter is, this is my holy ground.
This is the space where God holds my heart. Where He walks with me as I talk to Him about all the parts I’m struggling with. It’s where He has shown me so much good. Taught me so many lessons. It shaped me into something more for His glory. This is my Bethel. Where God pursues me. It allows me to wrestle with all the parts my heart can’t comprehend. Where transformation occurs. Where trust and reliance are at the forefront. This place right here is where ashes have turned into beauty, and where wildflowers grow through the brokenness.
This is where glitter always sparkles.
My two oldest have run through sprinklers with childlike wildness that sets their brokenness free. Family and friends have gathered around us in love and support on so many different days here. Balloons have filled the sky above this spot. Confetti poppers have danced with the breeze. The melody of a wind chime hanging from a tree has sung us a thousand songs here. This is where we picnic. Where we lay on the ground and look up at the clouds and name their shapes. A part of our holidays and family traditions. This spot is a part of who we are.
This is where God comes down and meets us where we are. Where He gives us what we need. He shows us tender love, grace, and mercy here. This is my holy ground.
I know that my efforts towards her spot are not for her, but for me. That this is what I have needed. Needed to do, to feel like I was doing something. Anything for her. I needed her place to look cared for and tended to. To look never forgotten and being at its very best.
But, I also think, as God has continued to nurture my heart, my need for being out there as often, has lessened.
I have found her more in our day-to-day. We care for her through acts of kindness. I talked to her through journaling and while doing dishes. God has bent down to me in so many other spaces. My holy ground has expanded, and I realize she truly is with us everywhere. Because if she’s in God’s hands, then she is near us always. I’m beginning to feel that more. So, going out to her space isn’t as necessary as it used to be. And, I’m also learning that’s okay.
After five years of doing this, I think one of the many things God is teaching me is that you get lost in the striving, just like so much of motherhood. That there never really is a ‘best.’ There’s always something more you could have done. Always something you could have done differently. Something that could have made it even better. Being human and emotional and trying so hard tends to get in the way of everything. You get so caught up in worrying if you are doing a good job, or the right job, or as perfectly as you think you should, that you miss that it’s simply about the process. That it’s more about the doing than the actual outcome.
Nothing I ever do for Sayge and her spot to try to make it look “cheery” will ever even come close to the comparison of the joy she’s experiencing in Heaven.
The time I spend pulling weeds to get clean edges surrounding her stone will, once again, be undone when another baby comes to rest by her. Her trinkets will be taken away at every new funeral. The wind will blow her flowers, and people will take her angel. Dirt will find its way into the lettering of her name.
Laundry will always have to be put up. Dishes will always need to be rinsed. Meals will have to be made. Floors will have to be swept. Messes will have to be mopped. Food will need to be bought. Homework will need to be worked on. Books will need to be read. Glitter will always find its way into everything.
There is never an end result here.
But, there is so much that comes to us through the process. Through walking around and picking out flowers. Through watching her sisters pick out unique trinkets. Pulling weeds while I talk to her about my day and using baby wipes to clean her stone. So much time spent in conversation with our Father.
So, I think what I’m trying to get at here, and what I’m also saying to myself, is it’s okay I didn’t put out the holiday things. We didn’t put any out around our house each time, either. No matter the circumstance, we need to stop constantly weighing and measuring ourselves. Stop looking at the list as to what qualifies as a perfect mother. Stop being so hard on ourselves and accept the grace we continually extend to our children and our spouse for our own efforts, as well.
What matters isn’t a fleeting moment of perfection.
But the love extended, the growth that occurred, and the memories made through the process. What matters is to be able to accept the process….as a process. As a journey that continues to change and adjust as we go along. That’s what growing is all about.
Heck, that’s what parenthood is all about. Whether it’s for two little girls running around in my home or for a little girl running around in Heaven, the journey will always continue to change. Our Holy ground will also change. And, that’s okay.