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.
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.