Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Stump

It's a brisk fall morning here in Maryland. The leaves have started to turn, and evidence of fall is all around. As I wrote the date on the board in my classroom yesterday, I had a hard time with the fact that another October has arrived. All of these things, and many more, are so tightly bound to Isaac. It is a strange thing to be able to marvel at the beauty of fall, and at the same time, feel the weeping rise up within you.

As is often the case, I received a timely email from a friend yesterday... another mom who knows the pain of losing a child. In fact, she has lost two: twin boys in March of 2008. She has been a tremendous encouragement to me over the past couple of years, and this email was no different. Having been sitting in a Starbucks reading Jerry Sittser's book A Grace Disguised, she wanted to pass along an excerpt that she found particularly comforting.

"But is it possible to live this way? Is it possible to feel sorrow for the rest of our lives and yet to find joy at the same time? Is it possible to enter the darkness and still to live an ordinary, productive life? Loss requires that we live in a delicate tension....

The sorrow I feel has not disappeared but it has been integrated into my life as a painful part of a healthy whole. Initially my loss was so overwhelming to me that it was the dominant emotion - sometimes the only emotion - I had. I felt like I was staring at the stump of a huge tree that had just been cut down in my backyard. That stump, which sat all alone, kept reminding me of the beloved tree that I had lost. I could think of nothing but that tree. Every time I looked out the window, all I could see was that stump. Eventually, however, I decided to do something about it. I landscaped my backyard reclaiming it once again as my own. I decided to keep the stump there, since it was both too big and too precious to remove. Instead of getting rid of it, I worked around it. I planted shrubs, tress, flowers and grass. I laid out a brick pathway and built two benches. Then I watched everything grow. Now, three years later, the stump remains still reminding me of the beloved tree I lost. But the stump is surrounded by a beautiful garden of blooming flowers and growing trees and lush grass. Likewise, the sorrow I feel remains but I have tried to create a landscape around the loss so that what was once ugly is now an integral part of a large, lovely whole."


I've spoken before about how much I loved this book. I not only love his authenticity, but his writing is so metaphoric. He is able to so beautifully articulate things I seldom have the ability to explain. But this explains it so well; and I am confident that others of you reading who have lost a child, or have experienced a significant loss of another loved one, can relate.

Almost two years later, the sorrow of losing Isaac is still there... and it is still great. As I watch all that Ellie is doing and find so much joy in her presence, my heart weeps for the little boy who I didn't get to share similar moments with. I find myself starting to tell Ellie, "We're all here with you!" only to be painfully reminded that that statement is false; her big brother is missing.

While the sorrow may be a painful part of our lives that will always be, God continues to faithfully show us how to integrate it into a healthy whole. I think about His provision with two golf tournaments, with the establishment of the Isaac Delisle Foundation, and with the playground that is soon to be built at our church in memory of Isaac... and I can see that each of these things are part of the garden of beauty that he is creating around the stump of sorrow.

15 comments:

Michelle Karr said...

That is a wonderful passage! Thank you for sharing. Fall seems to bring memories for so many of us. (((HUGS)))

Anne said...

May He continue to hold you close. May your October be filled with unimaginable beauty. Thank you for testifying to His Faithfulness.

butterflymom said...

October 1st hit me yesterday too...and it will always be a reminder of what we lost. But as I realized how much I was dreading it, I had a friend that told me to embrace all that it was and all that it meant to me. That passage from that book is beautiful. I hope to continue to build my garden around what was once perceived as ugly. And learn to embrace my new life. ((Hugs to you))

The Writer Chic said...

Hugs, friend.

Henninger Family said...

I love the stump story...I was thinking about my birthday coming up as well and of course Issac and I share the day so he came to mind as well...

Thinking of you...

Melissa said...

love this, it speaks hope to me. And I would take this analogy a step further and say that there will still be days where all I can see is the stump, even with all the beauty that surrounds it...

our boys might be sharing a birthday! We have the weekend to decide between Oct 7 & 11 for induction...of course, he could come anytime but he seems pretty comfortable in there so far.

belle said...

how beautifully descriptive of what my heart is feeling today.....

Devon said...

i'm so glad that passage spoke to you as it did to me....we find ourselves in such a tension of joy and sorrow. know my heart is with you this october and i'm always thinking about your little guy...

Erika said...

when i read the title to this post, i knew what it was going to be about! this is my favorite passage from A Grace Disguised- and I'm so glad that Devon emailed it to us...it's so good to be reminded. thinking of you. (((hugs)))

SUSI said...

What a wonderful passage. It is just beautifully written and it really explains what we are going through so well.

thinking of you and hope to catch up soon.
Susi

hiswife518 said...

Thank you so much for sharing this... I need to get this book!

I am both preparing myself for the birth of a new son and also bracing myself for the start of all the first anniveraries of my Caleb. The first of which will be here in just a few days on October 5th when I relive the day I discovered that he was here, growing within me.

Team Lando said...

beautiful... praying for you this week, as i wrote the date on my board friday and thought of you...

Ingrid said...

thank you for this beautiful post. we lost our son samuel on july 29th 2010 - i was 6 months pregnant. a dear friend gave me this book the week we got home and i read it like my bible. it is a powerful book. every day is a struggle - but i have to walk towards the light and not sink in to the darkness. somehow i too have to learn to make something beautiful around the tree stump.

Liz and Will Timmerman said...

That passage hit home for me today too. As soon as I turned my calendar to October I thought of Isaac - he is an integrate part of October, and always will be. Thank you for sharing. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Spencer this month as you find a delicate balance between the missing and the joy.
Love,
Liz

Christinie said...

October is my month of loss too on the 17th. Thanks for this passage. Prayers for you!