ANNIE GRACE SABIN - March 30, 2010 - August 1, 2010

ANNIE GRACE SABIN - March 30, 2010 - August 1, 2010


Friday, August 1, 2014

Raindrops From Heaven

The last month of Annie's life was excruciating.

For all of us.

It really was. 

It still makes me shudder when I let myself really remember that time in our lives.  I have never felt more alone.  I have never been more desperate for comfort;  truly, agonizingly, achingly desperate.

I remember describing that it actually hurt to breathe at times. 

That sounds crazy. 

But, that is how it felt to live through some of those days.  That is how it felt for me. 

I can hardly bear to imagine how it felt for Annie. 

I know I have already written some about this, but I want to share an experience today, on her four- year angel day, that has stayed with me all of these years.

One morning in July of 2010, I stopped by my sister-in-law's house to drop my kids off on the way to the hospital.  I remember that I came inside for a few minutes to change Hadley's diaper before I left.  And I remember that she (my sister-in-law) was getting her baby out of the tub while I was kneeling on her living room floor with Hadley at my knees.  My sister-in-law's own sweet daughter was born just a few weeks after Annie, and as I watched her carry that baby wrapped up snug in a towel my heart just broke in two.  I was caught completely off-guard by my reaction to such a small thing, but in that moment, to think of the everyday regular things (like baths and fluffy towels) that Annie was missing out on was more than I could bear.  Not once, in Annie's entire life, did she get to take a bath; at least not a bath like that.  Until that day at my sister-in-law's home, a real bath had not even been on my radar of things to be sad about. But this particular morning, it completely crushed me.

I got in my car and I wept as I drove towards the hospital.  At first my tears were sad, broken-hearted tears.  But, it did not take long before I was crying tears of frustration, bitterness and even anger.  I almost never felt anger during Annie's life.  But I was angry that day. 

I started a conversation with my Heavenly Father right there in my car.  This was a regular occurrence for me during Annie's life, but this time, the conversation was different.  This time, I really let Him have it.  And by that, I mean that I held absolutely nothing back.  I didn't choose my words carefully.  I didn't filter my thoughts.  I vented.  I cried.  I begged.

And, I told Him that I felt abandoned by Him. 

I said the words out loud that I had been feeling for days, but had not dared to vocalize. 

Especially to Him. 

I held nothing back.

In the midst of this heated (on my part) conversation, a big fat raindrop hit my window.  At first, I didn't think it was (or even could possibly be) a raindrop, because in every direction from my vantage point there was nothing but blue sky and sunshine.  I literally could not see a cloud in the sky.  But then, another, and another, and another hit my windshield and before I knew it, I was turning on the wipers to clear the rain so I could see the road clearly. 

Now this seems like a silly thing, and of course, there is an explanation for the rain (there was a cloud above my car that I simply could not see from my place in the driver's seat).  And, I know that I am not the first person to experience a summer rain cloud surrounded by an otherwise beautiful blue sky. 

A small thing really. 

But that day, it was everything to me.

In my broken-in-every-way state, with tear drops falling freely from my cheeks, I found long-sought comfort in those rain drops falling freely from the sky.  Such a simple thing, I know.  But, I honestly felt like Heaven was weeping with me that morning.  Somehow, I felt like my suffering was acknowledged and for the first time in good while...

I didn't feel alone in it.

He was with me.

I felt Him there. 

He didn't care that I was angry and frustrated with my situation and even with Him.  He didn't care about my unbecoming meltdown in the car that day. 

He just cared about me. 

That's it. 

One daughter out of countless daughters. 

He cared about me.

I've never forgotten it.

I've had other hard days and times since that unbelievably hard time in my life.

I've even had more unbecoming meltdowns since that morning in my car.

But, I have never forgotten that He was with me that day.

I've never forgotten those raindrops from heaven.

And I never will.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tender Mercies

This little cutie-pie turned 5 in December.  I love this girl and often say to others that she has been SO good for my heart these last few years.  When I found out that I was pregnant with Annie, I cried, in part because Hadley was only 6 months old at the time, and I couldn't fathom how I was going to add another baby to the mix and keep my sanity.

I knew my tears were selfish, but I couldn't deny my feelings (or stop the tears for that matter).  At that time, I had no idea about Annie's complicated heart defects and the toll that they would take on her life and mine.  And still, consumed in self-pity, I questioned Heavenly Father's timing in sending another little one to our family.

I just could not see the wisdom in it.
Fast forward a few months and we found out that not only were we welcoming a daughter, but this baby was going to have a tough time.  Her life was not going to be easy.  We knew then that even if things went well, she and we would be spending a significant amount of time at the hospital.  By this time, I knew that Annie was meant for our family.  I no longer questioned Heavenly Father in sending her to us.

But, I still wondered about the timing.  Hadley was too young to understand any of it, and I wished that she was older; that the gap between these two was wider.
Annie was born and things didn't go as well as we had hoped they would.  For the next several months, I spent every single day (except one, when I was sick) in Annie's hospital room.  She had to be my number one priority, and while I knew that I was making the right choice, I felt guilty about the impact this might be having on my children at home, especially Hadley who was surely wondering why Mom was leaving her every day.

Again, I wished that she was older, and assumed that this would all be a bit easier if she were.

Four months later, Annie died.
I was home again. 
Just like that, it was over. 

I had my old life back.

But I was not my old self.

The new me had a hole in my heart that just would not quit.   
I still have a hole in my heart.

But I can now see that Heavenly Father's ways are (and always were) so much higher and better than my ways.  What I thought was terrible timing on His part, was, in reality, one of the greatest tender mercies He has ever shown me. 
He knew that Annie wasn't staying for long.  He knew that she wasn't coming home to us.  He knew that her life and her death would introduce me to a soul-crushing grief that my previous self didn't even know was possible.  He knew that when she was gone, when she was really gone, my heart and my arms would literally ache to hold and rock and cuddle that precious, priceless, youngest daughter.

He couldn't let me keep her.  He couldn't give me that.  But, he could give me another daughter that loved to be held and rocked and cuddled and snuggled tight.  And, He could send these two girls close enough together that the big sister hadn't outgrown all of these things when He called the little sister home. 
He could give me that.
All of my kids have been snuggly-bugs, but Hadley is by far the snuggliest.  Even now, at the age of five, she is happy to curl up on my lap or in my bed and just be held.  She is not a replacement for Annie.  No one ever could be.  Hadley is her own beautiful person that lights up our family in so many ways.  She is adored and loved by every single one of us.  But, I have no doubt that her place in our family was divinely appointed.  She was meant to be a barely bigger sister to our precious little Annie.  The Lord was in all of it.  Every detail.  I didn't understand it.  But He did.  And in His infinite wisdom and love, He granted this blessing to me that I did not ask for or deserve.
A beautiful tender mercy.
Almost four years ago, while waiting for Annie to come out of one of her many surgeries, I passed the time hand-stitching this quote by Elder David A. Bednar onto a piece of fabric:
"The tender mercies of the Lord are real and they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence.  Faithfulness, obedience and humility invite tender mercies into our lives, and it is often the Lord's timing that enables us to recognize and treasure these important blessings.  We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord's tender mercies.  The simpleness, the sweetness, and the constancy of the tender mercies of the Lord will do much to fortify and protect us in the troubled times in which we do now and will yet live."
I loved this the first time I heard it (years before Annie was born).  I love it even more today. 
His tender mercies are real.
I know that, for sure.