One of my greatest fears in life has always been the fear of losing one of my children. When they were tiny, even before they were born, I looked at that fear and tried to think how I would handle it. I thought that, it would be hard to handle, but I would think of them being in the presense of Jesus and that would carry me through. But when my daughter, came face to face with that reality, 9 years ago, and her full term baby daughter, was still born after having died sometime late Christmas day, I hadn't gone through that mental process in years. I was as unprepared for our Little Butterfly's death as was my daughter. It took between 3 and 4 years before the sting of it began to fade, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not see that precious little face in the arms of Jesus.
I am the person who stays at the graveside until after the sod is back in place. I have to see it through or there is a blank space in my psyche that makes me think of a person as if they hadn't died. No one would let me stay at my Grandmother's grave past the prayer, and until my husband took me back by her grave, and allowed me to stay for a while, I was always speaking of her as if she were alive. Staying at the grave is one of the ways I cope with death. One of the ways I have found to cope with my granddaughter's death has been to make the flower arrangements for her grave. At Christmas, since her birthday follows so quickly, I have always liked to include a doll of some sort, because I always gave my daughter a Christmas doll. Every year possible, the one thing she got, different from the boys, was her doll. We had planned to pass those dolls on to my granddaughter. So the first year, I couldn't let it pass without a tiny dollar store bisque doll with movable arms and legs was placed in her flowers. This progressed into making a Christmas tree which in some way portrayed something she might have enjoyed, at the age she would have been had she lived. Now before you think, that I'm clinging to the past, or not accepting her death, let me assure you the Lord gave me full healing in those areas. Our Christmas tree is strictly in her memory, with joy. It is very hard, when people ask how many grand-children I have, to not include her.
This Halloween, the little girls in our neighborhood who would have been Brynley's friends had she lived, were dressed in the cutest costumes. I recently decorated my kitchen with black accent items trimmed in deep pink, with huge white polka dots. I just love it. It's probably the only perky thing I have ever had in my life, but just walking in the room with it perks me up. It makes me smile. So when these little girls all were dressed as cute little vampires in black and pink attire, with dots, and stripes and hearts and hot pink stripes in their hair, I just fell in love. I took a picture with them all piled on my front lawn amid my pumpkins and I could see Brynley in their midst. It stirred in me a new wave of missing her, but it also gave me an idea for her Christmas tree. I knew I would not have much to spend on it, so I took a clue from their tutus and decided to dress her tree with three layers of tutu tulle, in hot pink!
I told my daughter I had an idea for her tree, and she went along, and I asked her to find the doll things. Maybe a tiny purse, or whatever to go along with the Princess Crown and Scepter I bought. I sent her texts and pics of the colors of tulle and we agreed on the pink with an occasional streak of black, which had glittered pink curls all over it. I got a package that had black and pink stretchy head bands and grouped them 3 at once to make bows. I found a set of solar powered lights. I made the tutus of the hot pink and black tulle and tied them on. I found ornaments of the same black and pink..etc. Until the tree was full of the cute things we thought she might have loved at this age. I never had so much fun decorating a tree. I sent my daughter on a hunt for two items I hadn't found. The doll or doll items and a purse. As I worked, I began to think of how much more significant this tree was becoming than just a cute new idea. It was beginning to be as meaningful as if she were alive.
As we all know, the horrible slaughter of little children at school recently has opened discussion of how much is too much to tell children about what happened, of death and life and how old one needs to be, to begin to try to understand death. I have watched parents sheilding their children from the news. Several are saying that they aren't being honest with the children about the death of their teachers, and of thier other friends..And I want to SCREAM! How do these parents think the children will feel when they learn about it later at school. They will feel betrayal by their parents. It will double their insecurities. Not by their own choice they know about death now. These kids need to conquer their fears, not hide from them.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Hebrews 2:15
All of us sort through fear, and find ways to lessen the power it has in our lives in different ways. Some, like my daughter, love an occasional really scarey movie, or to go through a haunted mansion at Halloween. Not me. My son and I have to admit fleeing to the bathrooms where we physically responded to the fear a scarey Muppet Movie caused! I hate being scared by that stuff. I am all too aware of the doors that can be opened for Satan and his minions to walk through to play around with most scarey things. But on the other hand, when I was young, I became a real lover of Edgar Allen Poe's books and stories. And I dearly love walking through cemeteries. However we deal with our fears, it is a natural process, and at some point we have to come to grips with the reality of good vs evil. Sin and death, and how to have victory over it or succomb to it. And for children, it is often about the age Brynley would have been that the fullness of awareness of these things has developed to a level that children are choosing how they will face the scarey things in life. We don't give them enough credit.
A common theme these days for children and adults is the vampire sagas. I personally don't find it entertaining, but in the toy world, it is one means children have of gaining a little power over a scarey world and unseen things. Kids need things they can handle and manipulate, to play out the scenarios of what causes them fear in order to face those fears. And as long as the play is kept within that context, it is not only fun, it is healthy to imagine dealing with evil and winning the battle. For the children who died at school, they faced the evil and lost.. so do you become over-protective to protect the living? It's like taking them back to face the gunman. It is a step as far in the wrong direction to suddenly begin to lock them away from reality. Kids can face death if they know a loving God will recieve them on the other side. I feel so sad for people who don't have that as part of their reality.
My daughter called and said, "Mom, I don't know if you will like the doll I bought this year." I responded that I sent her looking because it was her choice. "But she's a Monster High Doll." she said, and she's dressed in black and pink. And the purse is a skull. I smiled as I thought of my grandson at the age of nine and his sudden love of anything with skulls. I thought of the little girls giggling on my lawn and telling me of the man at one house who stood in the shadows to scare them and I smiled. For a moment, it was as if Brynley giggled in my kitchen, and I said I was sure it would be perfect. All I knew was the girls were wearing tutus, they were dressed in black and hot pink and they had hearts painted on their faces and wore black and pink wigs. If Bryn had been there, she would have been in the middle of it. And that is what I wanted on her toy tree. When my daughter walked in with the doll, it was dressed in a tutu, its clothes were black and pink and polka dots, and had black hair with pink stripes. Of course, it had a heart painted on her cheek. I almost cried. I don't like thinking about Brynley coming to an age to have to deal with fear and begin to understand death, but I love knowing we would have been there to help her have fun while she learned. And even in the midst of tragedy we would love her through it. And I would have to trust God for her healing, just as I had to trust him with mine.
I know that her dying has helped me grow through a whole new dimension of understanding, of how God can help us over come the fear of death. Jesus had an attitude that death of the body is a part of life, and life with him has no death. He understood how we weep in the hours of death, but he called us to joy, because it is a release from it's bondage, to gain victory over the fear. One of my favorite TV Characters is Abbey Shutto (sp?) on NCIS. She sort of personifies a person who dresses in Goth because she is really into the reality of death. She sleeps in a coffin, dresses in black, etc, but she is the smiling, fun loving, hugger of the characters. She copes with her job by embracing elements of it that she can control and have a little fun with it. She balances the intensity of knowing so much about what causes people to die, with a great big love of people. I think she is sort of an embodiment of how Jesus wanted us to look on death. It's just a stage in the body's progression toward living in God's world, that frees the soul and spirit to more closely embrace God's realm. No amount of tightening the walls of protection will hide us from the power of death, if our bodies are damaged to that point. Even kids must be helped to understand this. But they also need to know that there is so much more to them and to life than their bodies. They need to know that the soul and spirit live on.
I genuinely had fun making this silly Christmas tree, and though almost no one who views it will see how it has anything to do with Christmas, I will know that it has everything to do with Christmas. From the moment the Baby Jesus was born, it was so he might die, and take all that scarey stuff and claim victory over it. And he said because he carried out his life's destiny, I can have joy and rejoicing, and freedom from the bondage of the fear of death.
Dearest Lord Jesus, Thank you that the time has come that I can miss Bryn and be sad, but I can love her where she is...in heaven with you. Although we don't understand how she appears in Heaven, we like to think of her as growing up if she were with us. I would never pull her back here, but I love imagining what she might have loved of life. I celebrate her life, and rejoice in her creation. I am thankful that I can count her one of my sweet grandkids. And I thank you for every assurance you give us that she is in your tender care. Help those who hurt from the tragic loss of their child find peace today to cope. Help them be able to laugh, be filled with joy in due time. Grant them courage until then, and break the intensity of their pain, with grace and blessing directly from your own hand. Give them the little symbol that links their child and your love. The reciever will understand. In Jesus Name, AMEN