Red Vine Spirituality

Taylor K. Arthur balances Bipolar 1 Disorder, marriage, and motherhood with a nitty-gritty faith inspiring a twisted, blissful life.

In the valley of the shadow . . .

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Dear friends,

I apologize for not writing sooner. It has been a rough few weeks. I somehow think that I must have all my sh** together to post, even though the very reason I started this blog was to speak from a point of not having it all together. I’m sitting on my family room couch, watching my husband and two sons eat a dinner I had enough sense to make multiple batches of weeks ago. I’m drinking wine and eating chocolate, the only things that seem appropriate tonight.

You see, I’ve been crying ALL DAY. Sounds crazy, huh? And I don’t know why. I know it’s March 5th. I know Caleb’s birthday is in 14 days, and I know that in 12 days–St. Patrick’s day, a lucky day!–is coming, and that is the day I sat with my beautiful sister-in-law, Semmelle, in a dark ultra-sound room and heard my doc utter the words, “There’s no heartbeat . . . ”

Before then, I had suffered. Before then, I had suffered more than most. And yet, those three words thrust me into a world of suffering I didn’t even know existed. You see, even though I had stared death in the face for myself, by my self, I didn’t know what it was to bury the one thing that is supposed to outlive you: your child! In this modern-day world, we’re not supposed to pick out pretty white caskets for our babies; we’re not supposed to birth them, walk out of the hospital without them, then write their obituaries. We’re supposed to die, warm in our beds, and they’re supposed to bury us. That’s the modern way of doing things.

But that wasn’t what happened with our first born son. And, that’s not what happened to my many friends who live and breathe almost sacriligiously as their children’s bodies lie in caskets and urns . . . and something inside each of their mother’s bodies waits for the time appropriate to lie down next to them . . .

And those of you who don’t wait to lie down next to your children? YOU ARE BLESSED. And don’t misunderstand me: I LIVE for my children who live, I PERSIST for them, through moments of a sadness I never knew could exist. And I believe that my persisting will play into the lives of the men we’re raising. I believe that they will grow with a depth and an understanding and a gratitude that is only possible being raised by parents who mourn and enjoy parenthood simultaneously. I pray for a depth for Abraham and Samuel that may be the reason Caleb was given up to heaven. They each have a purpose, to serve and to give: I pray that purpose is realized, that each of my three sons submits to the grandiose plans for their existence.

I wish I knew the reasons, my friends. Father Ed, our priest at St. Stephen’s, baptized Caleb moments after he was born. He told us months later that he truly believed Caleb had a heavenly destiny; I truly, awesomely, completely hope so. Because I knew him, and he was a great man-to-be. All my life, in every breath I breathe, I know heaven is real, and I pray Caleb is the one who meets me at St. Peter’s gates.

I knew the moment they told me he was gone that he was in heaven. I know that heaven is the place to be. But I also know that I am still here, and that God has two brothers of my first born here to raise.

I know that all of you have not lost children, but I know that if you live long enough, you lose dreams. Life is hard, and you’re really not going to get any more than that from me during Lent, during March . . . Life is supposed to be hard! We forget that! In the midst of every one of our busy lives, in the midst of all our choices, joyous and sorrowful . . .

We must all come to an end where NOTHING–NOT MATERIAL, RELATIONAL, OR SPATIAL–can fill the void that nags and pulls and itches each of us. That NOTHING is God! We need HIM to fill our hearts and heal our brokenness . . .

I keep praying, after five years of trying to fill my most brokenness with trips, purchases, friendships, blah, blah, blah, blah . . . FILL ME, because only IN YOU can I be healed, only IN YOU can the extremely broken be made to walk again.

Life is really, really hard my friends. I am a broken and humbled example of that. I haven’t mastered living through this life with this level of hurt without being a little excessive at times. But I will continue to try, and to reach toward a perfect Jesus . . . and ask for a frickin’ lot of help.

Broken, in Jesus’ name,

Taylor, Mama of Caleb Joshua, resident of heaven since 2008

1 Comment

  1. Jackie and Jessica,
    I hope that when someone else is googling like crazy, trying to find something on the internet to help them through such devastating loss, that they will find this . . . We all need to know that we’re not the only one feeling these feelings, and that God is with us! Love you, ladies!


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