Scenes of disease and loss have always existed, but it’s not until recently that I feel myself on heightened alert to them. In the past few years, I’ve known people my age with families and babies get diagnosed with cancer and deteriorating diseases. I have seen widows and widowers left alone their sweet little ones. Then in a different hand, I have seen young healthy parents watch their babies, sick with those same conditions. It all breaks my heart and brings me to a fearful halt.
In 2007, I spent a sun-kissed summer in Santa Barbara living with one of my friends just for the heck of it. I was in that window between college life and semi-grown up life. This summer was memorable for many reasons. One being, the church community I was a part of. Reality Carp is a non-denominational church led by an incredibly passionate and knowledgeable man, Britt Merrick. This community was the real deal. Actually, it was in this group of people that I found the name I wanted for my (at the time) future daughter. Anywho, I was immediately drawn to this church. I learned a lot that summer about family dynamics and marriage, actually. Even though it was far from my radar at the time. The Merrick family had a real strong indirect influence on my current beliefs about marriage and family.
Fast forward to leaving Santa Barbara and continuing on with “real life.” I still kept in some distant touch and tabs on the Merrick fam. In 2013 their 8-year-old daughter, Daisy Love lost her battle with cancer. Their journey was one lined with strong hope, faith, and prayers. There were high peaks and deep lows. In hindsight, their story reminds me of the in-between time when I was fighting for my marriage. I was surrounded by a community of faith-based people praying their hearts out for one answer and we all got another. Much like the Merrick family. Kate Merrick, Daisy’s mom, wrote her way through this journey on their blog and posted for the first time in three years yesterday. What I read moved me. I think as we experience grief in one form or another, it’s important to be real with the ways we process it. Read here what Kate had to say:
“Hello, friends. It’s been awhile, no? I feel like I am slowly waking up, slowly gaining strength and coming out of a cocoon of sorts. I wanted to share with you a few things, reconnect and catch up on the past three years.
Since Daisy left us, I’ve chosen to stay silent, to process privately. Thinking, writing, praying, all the things I had shared so openly before, I’ve kept sacred for three years. This time of silence has been right for me while the waves of grief beg to be experienced fully, demanding all my attention. The suffering that blows in after the loss of my Daisy is so very different from the suffering we all felt during her years of sickness. Nonetheless, I have felt your prayers, in fact, I consider myself blessed to have had the support you all gave. The kindness you have shown my family is beyond. You have been the hands and feet of Jesus, you have lived a life of faith and love. I hope I can be as kind as you one day.
Needless to say, this has been a radical time. For many of us. Last you heard from me, I was anticipating the goodness to come, soaking in the reminders that bring life and light. That still hasn’t changed. Those little things—Daisy’s artwork, her notes, her tiny clothes—have brought me joy, have reminded me of truth. And during the darkest days of my life they served as a tangible reminder of her presence, and of her absence. She is both. I continue to focus on the little familiar surprises, and have chosen joy. Though a significant piece of me is gone, I choose not to dishonor the fullness of the life God has given me. It’s an exercise in faith that brings great spiritual reward. It gives breath to tired lungs.
It’s strange to be on the other side of a prayer to which the answer was no. Perhaps I’ll share a bit on that in the coming weeks, as well as thoughts on suffering from a different point of view, but for now, I can say with all honesty, I am well. It is well with my soul. The scars remain, but the bigger picture is so grand that I am able to keep moving forward, fixing my eyes on the One who is unseen. Daisy is a gift to us, one we were blessed to enjoy for 8 incredible years. And so I have been pressing into the deeper things in life, the enduring things. I have been finding reasons to laugh without fear of the future. I look forward to sharing that with you.
On a fun note, just when I was deep in the heaviest of the sadness, God saw fit to fill my empty arms. He gave me a baby girl we call Pheodora Sunshine. Her name is Greek and means ‘supreme gift.’ She reminds us all the time of her big sister—she shares Daisy’s adventuresome spirit and spritely personality. She’s a gift to the whole family, both of blood and spirit. It’s a strange thing, simultaneously grieving one daughter and feeling the freedom to love another. God has taught me so much…
Bye for now, and please do me a favor—kiss and hug each member of your family, take a deep breath of ocean, mountain, or prairie air, and enjoy life in Jesus’ name.
I hope this spoke to you as it did to me. Experience your grief in whatever capacity you need to. Whatever the answer, whatever the circumstances, take a deep breath and enjoy life in Jesus’ name, ❤