Our Emma girl turned 11 in heaven last week. Last year, on her 10th birthday Eli and I were in Ukraine with Sveta. Emma's 10th birthday in heaven will be one I will never forget...God gave us Sveta on that day. As the years have passed my mind is no longer consumed with the raw, painful images which haunted me so early in the journey of grief. Now...there is a quiet peace in my heart and Emma's laughter fills my mind when I remember her. The Lord has been with me through Emma's life and death and once I began to realize how great His love is for her and for me...I began to heal. I never thought that would be possible...to be healed. You never forget...there is always a sting, tears when you least expect them, a yearning to hold your child. It is well though...well with my soul. Laying it all down at His feet...relying totally on Him...there is peace.
I wrote this around the one year mark of Emma (Little Bit) passing away.
You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb...Your eyes foresaw my actions; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be. (Ps. 139:13,16)
A bursting summers sun began to light a new day as our daughter Emma was born into the world against a backdrop of mountains and a sky radiant with deep pink and indigo hues. The beauty of the outside world was lost to us as we met and beheld our newly born daughter. We were introduced to her fiery spirit and catapulted into life with a most amazing child, and on that sultry summers day we became trapped in time, caught in rapture we inhaled joy and absorbed her radiance.
And nearly four years later, during the month of May - with butterflies flourishing the landscape and petals in full bloom, our tiny, exquisite Emma so filled with light, exhaled her last breath and took flight of this world forever. Her scent, laugh and delicate imprint on our soul will forever stay. Our Emma. Her name meant “one who heals” - a tantalizing notion because during her days on earth she seemed so in need of repair, her tiny body refusing to adhere to the rules for a healthy childhood. In the wake of her earthly death, the truth comes and shines its grace all around. She was not to be healed; it was Emma’s presence in our lives that was meant to heal us.
In life and death, she continues to be…our teacher. Our journey with Emma led us through denial, darkness, unquenchable desire to make her healthy, acceptance of her disease, letting go of her and ultimately, a quest for healing and realization of truth. The family we were before Emma no longer exists. Torn apart are the definitions that perpetuated our minds of what was a fulfilled life. Left now is an ever ripening wisdom that living life is not to be defined by others expectations, earthly desires or boundaries. A fulfilled life is not measured by accomplishments, wealth, or the amount of time we spend on earth. The brief flickering of time that was Emma’s life held more truth, meaning and fullness than most ever experience.
Lessons learned are all we can take from her flight in and out of our life. She left us as quietly and quickly a single flame is blown out. The glowing aura of her physical presence remained as her last breath was exhaled. She was three. “She is gone, she is gone” my voice repeated and echoed through our home. The ebb and flow of life and death was fulfilled and glorified. Tiny glimmers of reality peeking through the dark cocoon of our shock. She is gone.
After she left it became quiet in our home. At times the rift between our reality and the world’s ticking of time has become filled with such intensity it threatens to rip us apart from humanity. And yet, we survive. We absorb the thrilling laughter of our other children; we notice the warm rays of sunshine that play upon furniture in Emma’s room, still filled with HER things. We are gingerly stepping through a doorway that must be the threshold to…the rest of the journey. The future is filled with uncertainty but as the years pass I can see we are kicking at the darkness, and the future must now bleed light.
Light comes. It is the subtle, gentle caress of awareness that Emma’s spirit was shaped and filled with God’s grace. The feeling of contentment, fulfillment, and indescribable emotion when holding her was simply, the Lord infused through her.
Basked in truth while searching for relief from the searing pain we reflect on her life, and her amazing journey. Emma was beautifully and wonderfully made. Her genetic fabric was carefully chosen well before she began her life on earth. She was placed into our family and lovingly cared for. Her syndrome did not debilitate our family but instead it empowered us. We continue to be amazed by her and by her work here on earth. Our family now travels on the journey without her physical presence but we feel her spirit, and her melodic laughter resounds around us. We keep her memory alive and woven securely into our family’s fabric. Eli and I have not “lost” a child – we will always have three. We will talk about her, leave her pictures and favorite things in our home. Her blanket and pillow will forever grace our bedroom. We will remind Peyton and Paige that Emma is always their sister.
Throughout the rest of my life I know our family will eternally be shaped around her short presence in our lives.
Thank you Emma for the love, the lessons, and patience you had for each person blessed to have met and beheld you. It was never a sacrifice to give all to you, and absorb all you had to give back. We know well what you were and why you came and we are humbled to have been a part of your life.
For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Corinthians 5)