Wednesday, October 7, 2009

walk to remember

On Sunday I spoke at Walk to Remember in Lewisville, a walk for families who have lost babies to miscarriage, stillbirth or in the neonatal period.

I was so honored to be asked to speak, and even more honored to be able to tell our story. I hope that I was somehow an encouragement to someone who has been in a similar place.

I was really nervous, but overall I felt really good about it. My main goal was to NOT completely sob through the whole thing, so by that standard, it was definitely a success. My voice broke several times and I got very teary, but I think I could still be understood. Shwoo.

Basically I just told about what happened with Gabe - my pregnancy, our last couple days with him, and about our discovery that he had gone to be with Jesus. I also told about our Mother's Day message from him, and closed with a few things I've learned/God's taught me in the last year and a half. It was very hard having to say it all out loud to a group full of strangers, but in a way it was easy, because I knew if anybody could understand, it was them.

I don't think I anticipated being quite as emotional as I was. I mean I knew I would get emotional during my talk, but I was crying about five minutes after we got there. I met a woman there who had just lost her twins at about twenty weeks only three months earlier. Seeing her struggle with the raw grief that we experienced right after Gabe died... it was hard. I felt so sad for her and it brought so many of those emotions back for me. I missed Gabe in that moment more than I've missed him in a long time. We also wrote messages on tags to send up on balloons, and writing directly to Gabe always makes me very emotional.

It was a great experience, though, and I'm so excited whenever I can tell people about Gabe and Jonah.

One thing I said that I think is an important thing I've learned:

I don't like it when people say things like, "Everything happens for a reason." Maybe that's true, but I just think it kind of makes it sound like God took Gabe to teach us some kind of a lesson. And I just don't think that is the nature of God. Ok, you need to learn something, so I'm going to take your baby away. Maybe that's not what people mean when they say it, but that's how a grieving mother may perceive it. God did not TAKE Gabe. Gabe died because evil and sickness and death exist. And they exist because the Devil exists.

Gabe died because life sucks sometimes, and shitty (sorry, but there's no better word) things happen.

But it was NOT God's plan for Gabe to die.

Did I learn some things? Yes.

Did God teach me through my situation? Absolutely.

Did he take Gabe away so I would learn all those things? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

God, in his nature, is LOVE. Death and disease are not his plan and are never what He desires for us or puts on us.

He hurts WITH ME over Gabe and Jonah. He hurts even more than I do.

He knows every tear I've shed and has felt every emotion I've suffered.

I closed with this:

People ask, "How are you not angry with God after losing Gabe and now this with Jonah?"

My answer: I would be lying if I said there haven't been MANY moments that I've been angry at God. I would be untruthful if I said there weren't even "I hate you"s whispered in my deepest moments of sadness. But I'm so thankful that God knows the difference between words spoken out of the depths of despair versus truth.

And it all boils down to this - How can I hate or push away the One who ultimately makes all of this okay? - The One who holds Gabe and cares for him in Heaven and the One who, one day, will heal Jonah and make him totally complete.

Both of my boys are PERFECT because of God. And one day we'll all be hanging out in Heaven in perfect bodies with ETERNITY to spend together. And that's pretty wonderful when you really take the time to think about what that will be like. So no, I don't hate God. He is the One who has healed us, and the One who gives me the promise that I definitely, certainly, 100%, without a doubt WILL see Gabe again. And we'll ONLY have every day forever and ever to make up for the time we missed out on here. That's ALL we get.

I'll take it.









(Thanks for the photos, Shaina.)

60 comments:

Molly said...

Jonah is so beautiful. That's pretty much all I can say.

Anonymous said...

You are a gifted writer. I need to think in light of eternity - it's so easy to get caught up in earthly things. Thank you for sharing your story.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

You are just as human and weak as the rest of us, but you are a beautiful mother Patrice. Your faith is truly inspiring.

kristisweeney said...

Patrice, I don't even know you, but you said exactly what I needed to read. Thank you.

And, I agree with Molly. Jonah is beautiful and if I ever recognize him in public (which will likely never happen since I live in Oklahoma) I will probably have to restrain myself from kissing his face. Cause that might be perceived as weird. Thanks again for your words tonight.

cmaass said...

Dear Patrice,
I have been reading your blog since right after Jonah was born (I found it from a friend's blog). I have never commented before but I do pray for Jonah often. Your post like so many others really touched me tonight. I lost twins at 18weeks a little over two years ago. Every thing you were saying is so true. I COMPLETELY felt the same way when people said "Everything happens for a reason" There is no "Reason" that I will understand on earth and that is ok. One day when I'm in heaven I may understand but I will not try to now.I now have a daughter who is just about Jonah's age and she is an absolute blessing. I still miss my little Alex and Juliet all the time. They were my firstborn and always will be. I know God's grace is so sufficient but it still just sucks to not be with them. Maybe they are playing with Gabe and all the other little babies in heaven! :) Anyway I write all this to say thank you. Thank you for all the time that your words have uplifted my spirit. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing yourself with us. I continue to pray for Jonah everyday. He is just adorable!
Christine

cmaass said...

Dear Patrice,
I have been reading your blog since right after Jonah was born (I found it from a friend's blog). I have never commented before but I do pray for Jonah often. Your post like so many others really touched me tonight. I lost twins at 18weeks a little over two years ago. Every thing you were saying is so true. I COMPLETELY felt the same way when people said "Everything happens for a reason" There is no "Reason" that I will understand on earth and that is ok. One day when I'm in heaven I may understand but I will not try to now.I now have a daughter who is just about Jonah's age and she is the best but I still miss my little Alex and Juliet all the time. They were my firstborn and always will be. I know God's grace is so sufficient but it still just sucks to not be with them. Maybe they are playing with Gabe and all the other little babies in heaven! :) Anyway I write all this to say thank you. Thank you for all the time that your words have uplifted my spirit. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing yourself with us. I continue to pray for Jonah everyday. He is just adorable!
Christine

Tania said...

I gotta say this is the first time you've made me cry (since I have been following your blog). It is truly inspiring how you see and appreciate God.
I love when "Jonah writes" on your blog. He is quite hilarious :)
Your boy is precious!

Lauren said...

That is so cool that you were able to do that. God is using you and Matt, Jonah and Gabe all to reach out to others and show His amazing love! So proud of you and so glad that you were able to help others during their time of need.

And Shaina did an awesome job with the pictures! That last one--wow.

(just curious, did you cuss during your speech? cause even though i feel like that word is completely appropriate in context, i just have a tough time imagining you saying it during a public speaking event :) )

Em said...

Your post brought me to tears.

libby @ ninesandquines said...

Patrice, I always say "everything happens for a reason" thinking that there is something that will come of it that will make me grow to be a better person. However, I NEVER considered how it would be taken in the context you speak of....thank you so very much for pointing out to me that the reason awful things happen have nothing to do with God trying to teach us lessons. I am grateful now to think awful things WILL happen but it will be because of God's love that we can make it through them....and I still can't get over how adorable Jonah is :-)

Anonymous said...

Patrice,
I am a regular reader...and comment sometimes...YOU.AMAZE.ME.I am sure your "speech" was wonderful...went back to read your past mothers day post...breathtaking adn beautiful at the same time...made me sob... You and your family are so special. And special to complete strangers.

Raising Arrows said...

The depth of your walk and ministry runs deep sweet sister in Jesus! My heart soars to hear how God opened the door for you to share your story with other's who've experienced loss. What an encouragement you are in my life!

Anonymous said...

Thank You for sharing your talk, I know it helped those in attendance to understand ALL of those emotions.
You are truly a gift of God.
Jonah looks precious.
prayers always,
2shoes

The (Almost) Amazing Mammarino said...

Patrice, I agree 1,000% with what you said about God and that He didn't take Gabe away. Well said!!!!

Likeursoperfect said...

You are such a wonderful, strong person. I'd just like to share that in my faith, we believe that when a child dies as a stillbirth, or as a small child, it's because they were SO clean and pure before they came, that they didn't need to go through the trials of life to prove themselves worthy of heaven. They already did it. They came just to get their bodies so they could be whole when ressurected. I really believe that of your Gabe. He was already perfect, and didn't need to be perfected. =)
You are a wonderful mom, and Jonah is a BEAUTIFUL little boy.

Mrs. G said...

I've been reading your blog few a while now...found you through MckMamma. I am praying for your sweet little boy! God bless you...your strength amazes me!

Mimmy said...

Amen, my friend.

Tricia said...

It sounds like a fabulous speech to me! My response to the question, "How can you still love God through all of this?" is "How can I not?" Good job, Patrice! I am praying for you.

Katie said...

Thank you. I recently experienced my 3rd miscarriage/2nd d&c and I HATE when people say "everything happens for a reason". I just said that very sentence earlier today. You put into words what I have been feeling. Thanks for sharing with me and other strangers, you've made me feel better tonight :)

Marie said...

I think it's one of those things that each person believes what works for them. I know one mom who chooses to believe her son was taken to be spared the pain of life on earth. I know another mom who believes she was chosen to care for a child who was only staying here a short time. And some people like to believe "Everything happens for a reason, God has a plan" because they like to believe God is in control. Whatever gets you through, there is no right or wrong.

Marianna said...

I appreciate this post. It really spoke to me. You are one amazing woman, and I know that the Lord is pleased with you! Blessings and prayers!

lifelaughsandlove said...

That was so wonderfully spoken. I know nothing of what you have gone through, or are going through but your words spoke to me so deeply. I personally do not know anyone who has lost a child, so I've never had to ponder what I would try to say to a friend, but I for sure wouldn't ever consider saying "Everything happens for a reason" after reading what you wrote! I'm sure words are spoken by people meaning well, and who haven't thought what those words mean, but the way you put it was excellent!

I also am amused that you cursed :) And I love that last picture of you and Jonah!

~Amy

Erica said...

So touching. Thank you so much for sharing.

Country Roads said...

What a wonderful post and so good of you to share what you have learned with the others who have experienced such loss.

Your faith is inspiring!

Sandy said...

I believe it's therapy when we can talk aloud about our deepest wounds, especially if it's to people who've been in our shoes. I believe God is having you use your wound to help others Patrice. Way to go!

I love the B&W picture of you and Jonah!

Love & Prayers,
Sandy Moore

Heather said...

i've been thinking of you the past couple days and got on the blog to check in and read your post. The Spirit must have been whispering to me ... you are amazing and bringing glory to HIS name through all this. Kisses to Jonah :)
Heather S.

Meg said...

You are so radiant! May God ravish your heart with Himself.

May you be so blessed, you are such a good momma! Pretty much my inspiration each day, yep! :)

Ebeling Family said...

wow. What deep, thoughtful insights about our great, gracious, loving, and eternal GOD. It is so easy to forget that God intended for all of us to live in perfect harmony without the effects of sin- we were never intended to die.
And then sin entered the world, and as a consequence came death. But God, in his mercy, gives us exactly what he demands from us- a perfect life, through Jesus.
How awesome is that?!?!

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

~em

Sara said...

I think that is one of the harder aspects of meeting someone else who has lost a child...you know the pain they went through or will be going through in the years to come and it just makes you want to cry.

People always ask me how I made it through the loss of a child...I am honestly not sure...I just did and i tell them they will too. Its no cake walk that is for sure, but somehow we all make it through and become stronger people because of it.

Mary K., David and James said...

Thank you for writing this. Your words meant more than you know.

Anonymous said...

Hey Patrice,

I TOTALLY believe everything you said about God, grief, losing a loved one etc. is true. About how God grieves with us and how he doesn't want bad to happen to us. Your right, it is totally because we live in a fallen world.
I wish I could have been there to hear your story, and set a balloon up for the babe I lost 6 years ago. They have that walk here in Canada too, but I didn't make it.

God Bless you, you are doing a great job.
Thank you Lord for moulding Patrices heart and healing Jonah. Amen

Carleee

Jackie said...

Your strength and wisdom far exceed your years. At 51, I am learning and blessed by you and your strength. I admire you sooo much, and you and Jonah are always in my prayers.

Heather said...

Great truth, Patrice! I hated it when people kept telling me it happened for a reason. How awesome that you were able to speak to others to bring them comfort. Love the new Jonah pix!

Elizabeth said...

beautiful!

Linda said...

Hi Patrice:
You are quite a remarkable person. I love your faith and the way you express it. I often say that we are blessed to have Leah in our lives and people often look at me like I am crazy. Having an EB baby in your life, changes your thinking entirely. We ARE blessed and we know there is a cure around the corner. Prayers to your family always. Love Leah's Nana

Julie said...

That is a beautiful post...and I am so glad you were able to speak and honor the life of Gabe, and of Jonah. You are one very special mother.

I was moved to tears because so many times I have felt the emotions you have experessed. 5 years ago I lost my twins at 22 weeks pregnant. I have since been blessed wtih 3 beautiful boys...but...in the times when I meet someone who has experienced a loss and are in the raw stages of greif, it tears at me and makes me miss my babies so much more than I already do.

Thank you for sharing your words with us. (Hugs)

Amy Lynn said...

Beautiful post, Patrice.

Melissa in TN said...

I am so happy to read this - you are so right - God is not our enemy - He is our answer. And as always Jonah looks so handsome - he is really growing!

Melissa in TN

Memphis Mama said...

That was a really nice way to rethink that statement. I've said it before and often thought it sounded awfully empty. And I've been angry with God myself for things that have befallen me and my family over the years. I lost my mother at a very young age to breast cancer and I struggled with the why questions for so many years. I think from here on out I am going to think of it the way you do that God is hurting with me and for me. Thanks!

jenn said...

that was a great post..jonah is adorable with those big blues

Stephens Family News said...

Hi Patrice,

What a blessing it is to me to read your blog! Just wanted you to know that I pray for your sweet Jonah regularly.

Thank you for your words in this post. We have a 2 year old daughter, then had 2 miscarriages in a row, and now I'm almost 13 weeks along in my 4th pregnancy. God has been so good to us, and we're just taking things one day at a time. All is well so far.

It is so wonderful to read your blog and see the way the Lord is working in your life to touch the lives of so many people. Thank you for the way your words bless us in every post.

Anonymous said...

God is LOVE, and He's got the whole world (and Gabe, and Jonah and you and me) in His hands. Sometimes that is ALL that gets us through. GOD IS LOVE and He is holding us! Jennifer in Southeast, NC

irisheyes143 said...

Totally understand where you are coming from. To me, though, that statement does mean something still... in all situations. You are stronger because of your loss (history). God had a plan, involving Jonah and giving him to loving and strong parents who will fight for him and watch over him carefully. Your past builds who you become. So Gabe built a part of you in preparation for Jonah.

I lost my mom to cancer, and because of that I am more vigilant so I will be here longer for my children and hopefully grandchildren (she never met her GC's). I believe in God's plan and that he plans for certain things to happen, well, for a reason. Not to make us suffer, but to prepare us for what is to come.

Mimi said...

I don't remember how I happened upon your blog several weeks ago but I am so glad that I did. I have now read Gabe's and Jonah's story. I know that your blog will impact so many people just as much as it has impacted me. I agree with everything you wrote about loosing Gabe and the whole "everything happens for a reason". Jonah is so blessed to have you as his mommy and you are so blessed with sweet little Jonah. Praying for you and your family!

Hugs,
Mimi

Margaret said...

You don't know me, and I've never met you. But I stumbled upon your blog quite by accident through another blog, and have been following your family ever since. Your blog captivates me. What a tremendous witness you are. I just had to write after reading your latest blog. You and your husband are amazing parents, and I am spellbound by Jonah's beautiful eyes, and his sweet, sweet smile. I pray for you daily, that the Lord will continue to hold all of you in the palm of his hand. I haven't had a child with an illness, and I have never suffered the loss of a child, but I have lost a spouse very unexpectedly, whom I loved dearly, and I too long for the day that we can be together in heaven for all of eternity.

paige said...

& yet.....
God is all-powerful. God cannot be thwarted.
What if...
He accomplishes His purposes in ways that are beyond our understanding? - it doesn't change the fact that He Is Good.
i guess it all comes down to trust for me... Is He trustworthy?
i think parents who have lost children are forced to dig a little deeper - & search for the True nature of God - platitudes are never good enough when they're talking about our sons and daughters.
i believe - that even in *this* - nothing was ever beyond His control. i think it’s *impossible* to label WHY God chooses to do what He does – but i do think it’s possible to rest in the knowledge that what He has done will be right... even when it means that we won’t see our little ones again in this lifetime.

paige said...

ps - we just did this walk in Alberta Canada this past weekend too - crazy to think of all the mommas & daddys, siblings & grandparents remembering across borders & time zones.

Barbara said...

Amen

gina said...

I lost a baby several years ago and I too didn't like it when people said that he died for a reason. There is no reason good enough to take a dear, sweet baby away from his parents. The balloon picture was great and Jonah is so beautiful. I know that you are proud of he and his brother, Gabe.

Beth said...

Patrice-

Beautiful, meaningful, heart revealing post. I have tears on my cheeks as I comment. Blessed are both Gabe and Jonah to call you their Mother.
I have been reading your blog for some time now and have never posted. I just had to tonight.

Beth

Erin said...

I love that you are so real with us. It drives me crazy when people say everything happens for a reason too, it has been said to me before when I was going through difficult situations and it sure didn't help any. I think your relationship with God is awesome God wants us to be REAL with him as well! This was a touching post and I love that little darlin of yours

brightleigh said...

Girl you are amazing, don't ever forget that and Jonah and Gabe are so lucky to have you as a mommy. I love you!

Tammy said...

Great words of wisdom! My daughter lost a baby girl last year at 13 weeks. I know how hard it was for me, and I can only imagine how hard it was for her, and for you, and for any other mother who has grieved for their child. We talked about attending the walk to remember last year, but something came up, and we didn't get to go. And I didn't realize when it was to take place this year. I know your words were just what some mother needed to hear. Again, I thank God that you are allowing Him to use you to uplift His kingdom. Way to go girl.

K said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who hates hearing, "Everything happens for a reason." Of course there is a reason, but it doesn't have any "cosmic" significance that these people are trying to infer. I didn't get the first house I tried to buy because my "team of professionals" was not good. I went with a different team and the minute a suitable house came up, against all odds, I got it. It's the same when one loses a child. There is always a reason, whether we know it or not, it could be a birth defect, accident, disease, etc... but a loss is still a loss, and event still an event. We do the best we can and keep going, don't we?

Angela said...

Patrice,
You have such a sweet spirit. I just love reading your posts. My little girl is still praying for Jonah in every prayer--blessings, night time prayers, and her prayer box from church.

I know your talk meant so much to everyone.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, truthful words. Your openess about your hurt and struggles with losing Gabe make your message about the truth of the love of God so, so powerful. You moved my heart.

chinamoon1420 said...

Very powerful. You have given me a lot to think about tonight. You are so awesome at putting things into words and being so truthful. You are a beautiful person and Jonah, Gabe and Matt are so blessed to have you in their life just as you are blessed to have them.
You have really touched me tonight. I can see why even more so now that you were asked to speak at this event.

Amanda Sikes said...

Your thoughts are so true. Thank you for sharing them with us. They are a good reminder for all who have suffered loss.

Shana said...

I needed that. I have never heard it put like that. I was trying to explain that to my son the other day who is almost 8. Beautifully put. Thank you so much for sharing that here.

Dovenoir said...

Patrice,

Thank you for sharing this. Your thoughts bring to words the little spark of hope and the hug from God I need right now. We're reeling from the recent stillbirth of our son Hannan, and 2 other miscarriages. Every time I look at your blog, I see the hope that remains. Thank you both for your example and your steadfast love for God.
I also want to let you know that I've quoted you in my blog.