I don't like being away from my home and even more than that, I hate to be away from my family. They are my comfort zone and through grief of this past year those familiar things have become very important to me.
I didn't realize how important until I found myself in Chattanooga for a week (Tuesday through Saturday) away from them.
Let's just say I cried all day yesterday. Like the homesick kid at church camp that everyone wishes would just pull it together and start enjoying their time (or at least stop making everyone else's time so miserable). Yep, that was me.
I'm in Chattanooga as a part of six women in leadership in our church. In the PCA (Presbyterian Church of America) the women's ministry is called WIC (Women in the Church) and the WIC leadership gathers once a year - this year at Covenant College on Lookout Mountain - to exchange ideas, encourage and pray for one another, and brainstorm. Oh, and eat yummy food and cluck like a hen house because that's what women do when they all get together.
I'm away from home, quickly approaching the first anniversary of Evie's birth and death (much faster than I'd like - where are the breaks on this thing!?) and finding myself in situation after situation where I'm supposed to be networking and learning and bringing all kinds of ministry gems back to the women at my church.
I may just have to write yesterday off as a wash. They started the regional meetings by asking everyone to introduce themselves by sharing about their families and showing a photo.
I didn't want people's first impression of me to be the "grieving mother", or to be a downer in the clucky conversation and competition over who has the most grandchildren. So, I just couldn't bear to introduce us as a family of four. But, it just hurt too badly yesterday to say that we were a family of three - to say I only have one child.
I just excused my self to the restroom, called Ryan and begged him to come and get me (he talked me down) and eventually rejoined the group. I never had to say anything about my family and I was relieved. Another day.
Nancy Guthrie is the author of some of the most comforting, insightful, scripture-filled (apart from the Bible, of course), books I read in the time between Evie's diagnosis and death.
She wrote her book called "Holding onto Hope" after her daughter Hope was born and then diagnosed with Zellweger Syndrome. Nancy and her husband David (and their son Matthew) had Hope for six months before she passed away. Two years after taking surgical steps to prevent another pregnancy, the Guthries learned they were pregnant again, this time with a little boy. Gabe was diagnosed with Zellweger Syndrome in the womb and lived six months after his birth as well.
Can you see why I was so excited to meet Nancy? She walked with me through my loss and didn't even know it - I had to tell her! And thank her! It was a divine moment to get to sit with her, cry together, and be encouraged by her as only another Mother who knows this loss can do. It made yesterday all worth it to get to meet Nancy and talk to her!
I won't write much longer because it's getting late, but I also had the privilege of eating dinner tonight with another of my favorite authors and her husband. Susan Hunt wrote "Spiritual Mothering" which is not really about mothering at all. It is based on the Titus 2 model of older women mentoring younger women. I've done the study twice in the past three years and it has really shaped the way I look at and intentionally seek out my relationships.
Meeting Nancy and Susan were real thrills. Maybe tomorrow I'll meet Edward Cullen! (It's hard to remember sometimes if he's real or not...)
Okay, that's all about me and my chattering. Now onto what you really came for: photos of Oliver!
Can you believe how big this kid is getting?
We're training Scout to be off-leash so she can swim this summer. Unfortunately, she has an unhealthy curiosity about the geese in the pond and we're afraid it may soon come back to bite her. Seriously.
When Ryan's parents come, Ry's Dad always finds little projects around our house that need to be done and takes care of them for us. (Nice, eh?) This week he decided to hack down the baby weeping willow tree in our backyard that we've been "planning" to chop down for about a year now. He let Oliver take a few swings at it.
After a while, Oliver didn't want to be involved.
I took lunch to Oliver on the patio on Saturday so that he didn't have to stop playing and he almost immediately plopped his plate of food into his dump truck (which still had dirt in it). We figured it couldn't hurt him too much, so we just looked the other way and he had a great time with his lunch "on the go".
Also, evidently Oliver had a bloody nose at some point while he was "bulldozing". Rather than coming to me and getting help, he just wiped it on his dirty arm and kept on playing. All boy.