Once again, Clara and I are at home while Natasha and the kids are at church. These peaceful moments alone with Clara remind me of so many days last year in the hospital - curtains closed, music softly playing Clara's favorite songs, and a feeling that in spite of how terrible our situation may look to all of the casual observers on the outside, we are truly blessed beyond measure. Tragedy does that to you; it helps you to reflect and to examine your priorities. While I still can't imagine life without Clara, we anxiously await the day that she is freed from her severely imperfect body, and the day that we are freed from the crippling stress and anxiety that batters us daily.
There have been times in the last 16 months when I have felt that I am a casual observer to what is going on in our lives, almost like an out of body experience. Though Clara's suffering and the accompanying grief have been unbearable, through the atonement and grace of Jesus Christ our burdens have been lifted and we have felt a strength beyond our own. That is a gift from God, available to all who believe and ask in prayer.
We have learned that it is impossible to force our will upon the Lord. For a long time we prayed that Clara would be miraculously healed. Our prayers now are that she can be filled with peace and comfort as she departs mortality. In His infinite wisdom, neither of these prayers have been answered in the way we had hoped. We do not yet know the reason for this, but we do know that at some future time it will be revealed to us.
Where would we be without the plan of salvation and the knowledge we have of our Savior and His resurrection? While our lot is hard, I can't imagine the incomprehensible pain felt by those going through similar trials without a sure knowledge and testimony of what awaits us after this life. It is only because we know we will be reunited with Clara that we are able to go on.
There was a time last summer when I was driving back to Pasco from the hospital in Spokane with a heart full of pain and fear. The silence in the car was deafening as I uttered an audible prayer. I turned the radio on to a channel I had never listened to previously and this song came on, in answer to my pleading:
We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things
'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe
When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise
God hears and answers our prayers, though maybe not always in the way we want or when we want. Each new day brings new trials, new pains, and new struggles with this enormous spirit trapped in a tiny, failing body. We will continue to learn from Clara, long after she is gone. I hope you all can too.
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012
This post is full of straight talk. I need to tell it like it is and try and share what's going on behind the public smiles of Brian and I. Someday, somewhere, someone may read this and know they are not alone in the heartache of losing a loved one, even a child.
Clara is ready for a conclusion to this pain and suffering. And we are ready to have her free of pain and distress. It's more than our hearts can bear. I don't understand how or why she is still able to endure, but the pain in her face will surely be with me as long as I live. How I long for the day when I am reunited with a sweet, happy and twinkle eyed 3 year old girl. I really do believe when I see her in heaven she will be 3! I can't wait.
The medical professionals (and her family!) are stumped she's still hanging on. So many times we've been prepared for her passing. The signs are present and yet we wake up every morning and she's still there beside us. Our Clara has always been a fighter and so we aren't completely surprised she is fighting to her death with all that is raging in her body. She has several lumps on her head that are only getting bigger. Just this morning we discovered many lumps in her abdomen. And with her yellowed skin we can only guess it means a failing or affected liver. All day and night long she wants us to rub her tummy, arm or leg. She is thin and frail. Every bone in her body is visible. Walking is painful and at this point she can only handle a few steps a day. Two weeks ago she reached the point of being unable stand up by herself when she bends over to pick something up, stuck in a bent position. She refuses to take oral pain meds and the patch is only taking the edge off her pain. She won't even look at herself in the mirror anymore. The sadness in her eyes is heart breaking.
This has been and continues to be a trial of my faith. Amidst the tiring and trying days of watching Clara suffer and caring for her there have been many tender mercies. I know God is there. His love is abundant. He is hearing my pleadings to release her. We are being sustained and strengthened in our refiner's fire.
And it's true: Life isn't fair. But, I never thought it was. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. I know it is through our faith in Him and the infinite Atonement that we are able to endure.
If you pray for Clara, join with us in praying for her release from her pain that she may soon find rest in heaven. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.