Lately I've been engulfed in this cloud of sadness. It's a feeling that I can't shake, no matter the occasion or my overall mood. I've had a blast planning and prepping for Audrey Nole's birthday party; something I hadn't even considered having until after all of this happened. I assumed I would be too busy back and forth from the NICU with George and still being Audrey's mama, so a birthday party was off the books.  When he died (unexpectedly is the word that comes to mind, but the truth is that it was entirely unexpected) we decided it was necessary to have a celebration this year and for me to have something to do during the postpartum recovery period. It was the perfect little tea party for her and her girlfriends and since I love all things party related, it's been a seriously fun event to plan. 

Yesterday was the big day. I stayed up late the night before finishing all the little details and busily cleaned and put together the final elements on Sunday morning. Then I went upstairs to get dressed for the day and it was all I could do not to sob. This day wasn't going at all like I imagined and I couldn't help but feel it. George Mason would've been, at the best a very sick baby, and at the worst tied to monitors and tubes for the early weeks of his life. There wasn't even a guarantee that if he hadn't died that he would have been able to join us for this party - hence why we didn't think we would even have one - but I still felt so sad that he wasn't here. Maybe because he died I can imagine him as a healthy baby and really miss all of the things that he should have been here for? Maybe because he died there is still that inexplicable feeling of unknown? Almost as if because he's not here, I'm prone to imagine what it would have been like for him to be here, in the only capacity I'm capable of imagining, and that's as a healthy baby boy? 

George Mason would have made planning that day difficult but he would have been such a sweet addition of baby boy testosterone in the sea of girliness that is a tea party. There were pearls and hats, teacups, flowers, cake, and so much laughter. The only thing missing was sweet George Mason.  I guess that's an explanation for this sadness that is looming. As life moves on and I am getting back into a routine of normalcy, I'm feeling the loss in multiple ways every day. It's not just the pain of not bringing a baby home. It's not just the pain of realizing that the ashes of a baby fit into a container the size of diaper cream. It's not just the pain of death. Nowadays it's the pain of all the should have beens... and that's going to last a lot longer than those initial pains. 

Today we were at the playground and there was a sweet set of siblings playing in the distance. The big sister was helping and protecting the little sister. There was also a younger, not-quite-baby-not-quite-toddler that had attracted Audrey's attention and she was being the pseudo big sister. It was beautiful and it breaks my heart. I have such a longing for her to be able to be the big sister. I have the longing for the chaos of siblings. If we have more children, it won't be the same chaos I imagined. It will be so sweet to see Audrey with her baby sibling one day, but it won't be the same as if George had come home. 

I haven't been really able to reminisce with much fondness about my pregnancy but today I found myself looking back through my journal from those months of unknown. This new season seems so similar to that time... so much unknown about our future. 

"Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy." Psalm 61:1-3

I must have written that verse down at least four different times. Its as if I had written it, just so much more eloquently than I’m capable of these days. The truth is though, that He really has been my refuge. I have found so much hope, peace, and encouragement in His words and His presence. There have been, and still are, so many things that I, we, don’t know lately that when I’m able to step back and think about these last few months, weeks, and days, I’m so glad that if we could only know ONE thing, its that God hears, listens, and is our refuge. I so wish that the death of my son wasn’t a reason that God needed to be my refuge, but it is. Thankfully though, God is there in those moments where my heart is faint but He’s also there in the mundane moments of life. Every day that I spend with Him, every day that I learn more about Him, the more I’m blown away by all of the things He is to me. Hear my cry, O God! … from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint … My heart is so faint right now but Christ is the solid rock on which I can stand. The foundation of my hope and my future. 

Today, I’m thankful for my daughter’s precious life and the joy (even in her terrible twos way) she brings to my own life. Today, I’m also sad about the life my son won’t have and for all the things that I’m going to miss of him and about him. I’m going to pray the words of Psalm 61 and I’m going to believe them with all my heart. I don’t know when this sadness will go away, if it will ever really go away, but I know God is with me through it all. For you, God, have been my refuge!