It’s been two months. Two months since my daughter left this world. I still talk about her in the present tense. I still think of what I must share with her, what I must show her. The future is tough to think about now because it comes without Kiki.

It’s astonishing the size hole in my heart, the cracks that run straight through my life and will never be filled this side of heaven. I don’t apologize for feeling sad, or bursting into tears at odd moments. It happens and will continue to do so. Grieving deeply means you loved deeply. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

So what have I learned so far?

1). Growing faith. I went through a period of “If only.” If only I had checked Kiki’s blood sugar Monday night. If only I knew Mike told her he wanted to take her to the hospital. If only I had insisted she go with Mike to the ER . . . even Tuesday morning. If only, if only, if only. The Lord let me stew in that for a few days before he dope-slapped me. My “if only” was really my rebellion against His sovereignty. “I reject God’s reality and substitute my own.” If only I could somehow negate God’ will and make my life (and Kiki’s) go the way I want. Gulp. So I need to accept the Lord’s plans for my life and trust in His goodness, wisdom, and love for me. Sounds simple, but it’s not. The Lord has showed me how puny my faith in Him is. Fortunately for me, the strength of my ability to trust in Him and hold on to Him rests in His faithfulness to me and His ability to hold on to me. And let me tell you, my Heavenly Father has one very strong grip!

Romans 8: 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

2). Refining my identity. We all have a tendency to define ourselves by what we accomplish and there is nothing like a death to shake that up. A large part of my life was wrapped up in kids and to have that suddenly taken away left me breathless. I’m still a wife, a mother, a grandmother, etc., etc., etc.. But this has made me focus on the truth that my life is hidden in Christ. Who I am is the Bride of Christ, a daughter of the Living God. I was created to know Him, be loved by Him, to see and reflect His glory. Everything in my life can fall apart, can even disappear, but this never will. This is my taste of heaven on earth and it starts now. Kiki has the fullness, the perfect union with Christ. I envy her. But I can experience God’s presence right now and be transformed into the image of Christ—to a certain extent. I know it’s nothing compared to what I’ll have in the end. But it’s a start, and it’s more than sufficient for me.

Romans 8: 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

3). The Lovely Bones. I know that’s the title of Alice Sebold’s book. I read it a few years ago and was struck with the title’s meaning. It wasn’t referring to Susie Salmon, a murder victim in the original story, but the “connection—sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent—that happened after” Susie died. I knew before Kiki passed there were thousands of people praying for us. I was hoping the prayers were for Kiki’s healing. It turned out it was for the work God has done and is still doing in the relationships that have sprung up because of her death. Those we already had and those new ones have deepened, matured, and transformed. When I stop to think about it, it’s amazing what God does with grief. I should have known. Look at what He did with His own. From death comes life, from defeat comes victory. I have such a crazy God and the Gospel is so astonishing. No writer could have come up with such an insane plot!

I Corinthians 2: 9 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,

nor the heart of man imagined,

what God has prepared for those who love him”—

One thing I know—God loves me. I just have to love Him back.

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