Monday, March 31, 2008

Tough Slogging

I thought that if I did my grief work like a good girl that I would move through it faster. Sheesh.

Turns out that if you do your grief work like a good girl, and not stuff it way down with all the other stuff down there, you have to work through the stuff down there too. Double sheesh.

Then not only are you grieving for the loss of your children, but for who you were, what you did when you were who you were, and what you were supposed to be but aren't yet.

Clear as mud?

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Wikipedia defines an epilogue as "a piece of writing at the end of a work of literature or drama, usually used to bring closure to the work."

The last time I wrote about our testimony, I left off at Olivia's death. But our story doesn't end there. Since then there an outpouring of love has continued to grace our family. We have received generous gifts of financial support, gifts of prayer and emotional support, gifts of time with family and friends.

Where does the "closure to the work" come? That's where we struggle. How do you close a work as precious as new life? Where does the story come to a natural end? In the book of Matthew, Jesus said

"And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved."

That's how I feel. Like new wine. I have been ripped from the vine, crushed, pressed, and left to ferment. And the old life, the one before our twins, doesn't seem to fit right anymore. I guess the epilogue to my testimony is that I wait expectantly for new wineskins.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jesus Wept

I've been reading through Philip Yancey's Where is God When it Hurts? He's one of my favorite authors, and this book is a sensitive and respectful investigation of suffering and where God is in the midst of it.

He uses a quote that really struck a chord with me and I would like to share it with you. It's by Dorothy Sayers and I think it is timely considering we have just come through Easter and its contemplation of Christ's great sacrifice.

For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is--limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death--He had the honesty and courage to take His own medicine. Whatever game He is playing with His creation, He has kept His own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from Himself. He has Himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When He was a man, He played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile.

For a long time, I had a hard time understanding what Jesus' role really was on the earth. He was fully God and fully man and I was stuck on the fully God part. I assumed that since He was God, that things did not really affect Him, that he couldn't have really suffered. That was a lie, and thank God He set me free from it. Jesus was fully human - He was tempted and tested, He had the full range of human emotions and was He subject to living in a limited physical body. He laughed, He got angry, He felt frustration, and He cried. I received a lot more comfort from Jesus after I stumbled upon some verses where He was talking about what He knew He had to do, and that He didn't want to do it. This revelation came at the time where I had to come to terms with having to give my children back to the Father and I didn't want to do it. I could finally relate to Jesus, and when I could relate to Jesus, I found I could relate to the Father. I discovered that I did not walk this road alone - Someone had already gone before me and prepared the way.

One of the most comforting verses in the Bible comes back to me time and again: "Jesus wept." Not only does He weep with us in our times of sorrow, but I think He weeps for us too. I think sometimes He weeps because we could experience deep comfort from Him if we would only draw near and lay down those things we think we need to carry on our own.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Together Still

At Easter dinner with my family the absence of Nicholas and Olivia was a sorrow that I think we all felt but were reluctant to acknowledge in the midst of what is supposed to be a time of celebration.

Thank God for Sabrina. She prepared for Easter dinner as the party it should be. She wanted streamers and hats and decorations and cake and balloons. Being the precious only surviving child she is, we usually indulge her in these kinds of things. OK, we didn't have streamers and party hats and decorations but we did have cake and balloons. Sabrina wanted to let the balloons go for Nicholas and Olivia to have. It was an idea from her grandma in Kelowna so she could connect with her brother and sister at their funerals. And now I think it's going to become a ritual of our family celebrations.

We let go 5 brightly colored balloons on that beautiful Spring evening. And do you know what? Those balloons all floated away together. They stayed together and played together in a bunch until we couldn't see them anymore.

We are all together still.

Time Travel

I am now experiencing a phenomenon that to me is kind of like time travel. I'm now running into moments that I anticipated last year and grieving each one for not being what it was supposed to be.

Like taking the twins out for a walk in the stroller on a sunny spring day.

I've decided that time travel is not the really cool experience that our culture holds it up to be. I fight to live in the present and appreciate it for the beautiful gift it is. (pun fully intended)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

8 Months Old

Yesterday my twins would have been 8 months old. They would have been sitting on their own, probably scooting around on the floor as they played with their toys. They would have been playing little games with Sabrina, like endlessly dropping things so she would pick them up. I think I would have started them on tasting solid foods. They would know their names and the people in their lives that were important to them.

Are they 8 months old where they are now? What do they look like? Who are the people in their lives that they recognize? Do they know their names as Nicholas and Olivia or has the Father given them new names?

I hope He has included the names we gave them too.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Having it All

As Easter approaches, Jesus' great sacrifice is on my mind. Also on my mind has been coming to terms with going back to work. My time at home has been peaceful, restorative, and slow-paced. I've been able to serve my family in ways I never had the time or inclination for. I've also been able to see what is really important and take the time to realign my priorities. One of the greatest gifts the deaths of my children has given me is the perspective that this isn't all there is. Therefore, I want to ensure that I use my limited time on this earth doing what is most important.

I thought I could figure that out on my own, and I had become convinced that I needed to turn my life in a completely different direction. You see, I have taken 10 years to build a satisfying career at a really great company. I assumed after the birth of my twins that I would stay at home with them for a few months on maternity leave, then hire a nanny to take care of the whole bunch. Because I was a woman with a career who happened to have a family too.

The abundance of twin babies changed my heart. I finally embraced motherhood and the deep blessings that can be found if you're willing to give up all of yourself in exchange. My career became unimportant, only necessary for our current financial situation. After the twins died, one by one, I was lost. I was now a woman with a mother's heart, having just discovered the fullness of keeping home and family, and my babies were gone. I poured into Sabrina and Corrie, and decided that would have to be enough unless God decided to change our family situation.

I have actually dreaded going back to work. I'm very close to the people I work with, and they felt my loss deeply. They have been wonderfully generous and supportive, and while I appreciate it with all my heart, it also makes it feel like my tragedy is very public and ever-present. It also felt like I was returning in defeat, since I had left in such abundance. Anxiety plagued me all weekend, and I had decided that Monday was too soon to return to work. This morning, I was still adamant that it was too soon, that I couldn't do it yet. My home was my safe place.

God took matters into his own hands. Through a series of what many people would call "coincidences" it became clear to me that I was to face my fear and return to work today. Once I had made the decision to do so, the heaviness that I had been under broke, and I knew that I could do anything through Him who strengthens me. I had a really good day at work. As soon as I was settled into my workstation, a feeling of peace came over me and I knew I was right where I was supposed to be.

What does all this have to do with Jesus' sacrifice? As I was driving to work today and coming to terms with the realization that living out the idea of motherhood God is calling me to may not be what I thought it was supposed to be, I considered the concept that maybe there's someone out there in my sphere of influence at work that God wants me to be involved with. Maybe, just maybe, one of the many reasons my twins were taken to heaven so soon was to ensure that I would be able to fulfill God's will for someone else. Then I was horrified. My sweet babies taken from me so I could help someone else?

Now, please don't take this out of context. Where I'm going with this is that I think God led me through this thought path as the tiniest glimpse of the reality of the sacrifice of Christ. He gave up His perfect Son for us, for those who did not deserve Him. Do you know how much that cost?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Life as Paradox

We are a family of 5 but look like a family of 3.
We are fertile but cannot conceive more children.
We can smile and laugh but carry deep sorrow.
We are grateful for what we do have and long for what we don't have.
We are moving forward but cannot help looking behind.
We live on this earth but can see into Heaven.

Friday, March 7, 2008


A few days ago I wrote about feeling like I carry a deep grief that is hidden and should be feared. Since then, I've been challenged by the Spirit to approach it from a different perspective. Yes, there is deep grief in my heart. But it is neither hidden nor something to be feared. It is being held for me in the loving hand of the Saviour and He will reveal it to me as He enables me to bear it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Psalm 27:13-14

What, what would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord's goodness in the land of the living!

Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.

(Amplified Version)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Psalm 27:4

One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek Him in His temple.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Thank You

Again, out of curiosity, I tried to Google my blog tonight, and to my astonishment, it came up! It will of course come up first if you search by the really specific keywords "Nicholas Gift Olivia's Hope", but it will also come up on the first page if you search by "Olivia's Hope". It actually even comes up by the fourth page if you search by "Nicholas' Gift".

Why this means so much to me is that I think it signifies that you are honoring Nicholas and Olivia by reading their story and what I have learned from their short, precious lives. A few weeks ago, I couldn't find them on Google no matter what I searched by.

Thank you, my friends.


I've noticed that the tears of my grieving are different than regular tears. They are thick and flow slowly, like the heaviness of my heart.

Sharing something as vulnerable as tears is really hard for me. When sharing my story I have tried to hold my tears back because my throat closes up and I lose my voice. However, someone I know who is very caring and wise recently reassured me that my tears are my voice too.


I really miss Olivia today. When I think about my twins, I always imagine them as they would look at their current age, and I saw a parent with a child at church today who reminded me of Olivia. I could see her in my mind's eye: her hair would be long enough for a little feathery pigtail; she would be wearing a little jumper with tights and shoes; sitting straight up on my hip, looking around with her bright blue eyes. My mind's eye then immediately asked where Nicholas was, because that's the natural response for a mom of twins. Oh, how I long for my children, my babies.

Does grieving get worse before it gets better? I think you can ride your body's natural shock response for quite a while, especially if you keep yourself busy. For a time I think your brain protects you from the reality of what has happened. But the more time passes, and your children aren't back home where they should be, the more real it becomes.


I need to tell you something. I am afraid of my grief. It lurks deep within me behind a door that I don't know what to do with.

You see, I have no idea what's behind that door. My imagination whispers to me that it must be a portal to a hell that I would never want to explore. Common sense tells me that I need to march right on in there and deal with it, head-on. Popular culture is an enabler and tells me to own the door and carry it around with me as a constant reminder of the tragedy that is a part of my life.

I've walked with the Father closely enough to know that I can dismiss these voices. He takes me by the hand and tells me that I don't have to go in there without Him.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Testimony - Chapter 5

We came home from the hospital with Olivia late Tuesday afternoon. We went back to the hospital the very next morning. Olivia's cold had progressed to the point where she was having a very hard time breathing on her own. Again, when we arrived at Children's Hospital Emergency, we were taken right in. Olivia was put on oxygen to make her more comfortable. We waited quietly in our little room in Emergency for most of the day until a bed could be made ready for her in PSCU. This was the same ward that Nicholas was in before he died.

Our walk into the Pediatric Special Care Unit with Olivia was desolate. It felt like some kind of awful deja vu. The staff had been kind enough to make sure we were not in the same room that Nicholas had. I think they were just as shocked as we were. We were welcomed warmly with hugs and offers of whatever we needed to make ourselves comfortable. All of this had happened so quickly, that I wasn't sure how long Olivia would actually be with us. I didn't know what to think, what to pray for, what to do. But thank God, we were in a safe place. We were well-supported and well-loved. I stayed with Olivia at the hospital for the next few nights, and to our surprise, she recovered from her cold. However, she continued to weaken at a rapid rate. It was like someone pulled the plug on her muscle tone. It was almost all gone within a couple of weeks of diagnosis.

She was so sweet and so beautiful. I would walk into her room, and she would be lying quietly in her crib, looking out the window or at her toys. It seemed that the weaker she became the more peaceful she became. I'm so grateful for how much the staff at PSCU loved on her. They told me that they held her a lot when I wasn't around, and personally I think they could hardly wait for me to leave so they could play with her (which I liked to hear). We prepared to have her home on passes from the hospital by Christmas. Our house was outfitted with all kinds of medical equipment and we had to become brave enough to take her out of the safety of the hospital. Even though she was expected to pass away soon, we didn't want it to happen due to any kind of incident that was avoidable. Life settled into a kind of rhythm. I would go to the hospital in the morning, pick up Olivia, and bring her home for the day. Then I would bring her back for overnight monitoring and care at the hospital. We wondered how long this living-between-two-worlds would last. It was really hard on Sabrina and on our family, because when I wasn't at the hospital, I was caring for Olivia at home.

I noticed that Olivia looked like she was coming down with something in early January. Call it mother's intuition, or whatever you will, but I knew she was not 100%. I wondered which virus would finally be the one that she could not recover from. After realizing that I could not manage a terminally ill child in the hospital and a healthy child who needed love and attention at home, I asked my mom to come back again for a while. That was a really hard thing to do. I know that sounds dumb, but I couldn't believe I was still in such a desperate place of need. It sure was good timing, though. Just after I talked to my mom, I headed over to the hospital and discovered Olivia was quite sick. And they also had to transfer her to the CH5 ward because they needed her bed in PSCU for a patient with specialized needs. Everything was happening at once. Our doctor from Palliative Care wasn't sure if Livvie was going to make it through the night. We started her on morphine to make her comfortable. Olivia then leveled off to a plateau where she was better again for little while. That's how the next few days went. She would get worse, we would increase her meds, she would plateau, each time a little lower than before.

We of course prayed for her healing, prayed for a miracle, prayed for strength. I knew - and still know - that God could turn this thing around and present Livvie to us, strong and healthy. But I think that God was preparing me deep in my heart for the possibility that the outcome we wanted was probably not going to happen. Watching and waiting for your child to die is a strange place to be. It's strange in that no matter what is going on in your little hospital room, life is going on around you. It was also comforting. Having the world stop just for you is way too much pressure.

Olivia worsened to the point that I called Corrie to come join us at the hospital in the middle of the night. I'm so grateful for the vigilant support of the Palliative Care team, because we at least have the consolation that Olivia was comfortable and not in distress. Livvie got paler and paler and her breathing became irregular. Corrie and I took turns holding her close and telling her all the things we wanted her to hear before she left us. Olivia took a long look at her daddy and breathed her last breath in his arms at 7:00 in the morning of January 12, 2008.