Saturday, June 21, 2008

What's In A Name?

I love my children's names. You really need to love their names, because you say them often: "Sabrina, please come here. Sabrina, can you help me? Sabrina, I love you. Sabrina, please clean up your room. Sabrina....what are you up to?" Their names are precious to me, because Corrie and I chose them with love, care, and consideration for their future.

Sabrina's name came from the main character in the movie "Sabrina" (the newer one with Julia Ormond & Harrison Ford). Corrie & I really liked the name, and for us it was associated with this beautiful girl with a good heart who ended up with the fairytale ending. Her middle name is Faith, because it was going to take a huge leap of faith to leave our comfortable life as a couple and invite a child in.

When I was pregnant with the twins, I knew that I wanted to have an Olivia, because to me it means "one of peace". I knew God was going to give us a peaceful experience with our next child since we had such a hard time adjusting to life with our first baby. By God's grace, Corrie liked the name too. Her middle name is Hope, which I think speaks for itself.

Once we found out that we were having a boy as well as a girl, we struggled to find a boy's name we both liked. Nicholas was a suggestion from a family member, and we both liked it as soon as we heard it. When I looked it up later, I saw that it meant "victory of the people". What a legacy to give a child! His middle names are Jan William, just like his dad.

I don't have the opportunity to speak Nicholas' and Olivia's names as much as I would like. I believe a name defines who you are and is a part in shaping your destiny. It is very much a part of you. I never thought that a part of grieving for departed children would be a realization that those names we chose with loving care would not be spoken as a part of everyday life anymore. I know there will be more Nicholas' and Olivia's in the world, but these two were my Nicholas and my Olivia. (or Nicky and Livvie, if you're talking to Sabrina)

I really miss being able to talk about my twins. I always have a Sabrina story to share, but I'm not often presented with opportunities to talk about Nicholas or Olivia. I love to say their names out loud, I love to write them, and I love to think about them and the little people that they defined. I think that's why I like writing in this blog. Here is my audience to use their names as much as I want.

Monday, June 16, 2008


There are three things that are never satisfied,
Four never say, “Enough!”:
The grave,
The barren womb,
The earth that is not satisfied with water—
And the fire never says, “Enough!" (Proverbs 30: 15-16)

My daughter Sabrina loves candy. I mean, LOVES candy. It is basically the only thing she thinks about, other than waterslides and amusement parks. Of course we enjoy giving her treats, but there comes a point when she asks for something and we give it to her, she wants two. Or if we offer two, she wants three. By then, if she doesn't get as much as she wants when she wants it she throws a fit and I get to the point where I don't want to give her anything at all because it never seems to be good enough.

God gently reminded me this weekend that the gifts of the children He has given me were an honor and a privilege, and not an entitlement. He didn't owe me anything when He gave them to me, and He doesn't owe me anything in return for the two that are with Him now. I then humbly offered deep thanks for the gift of being able to have two delightful pregnancies, and for the double honor of being able to be pregnant with twins. I remembered then that there are many women who yearn for even one successful pregnancy and I was still wanting more than what I had already been given.

It was the first time I could recall that I actually thanked God for enabling me to carry life within my body, and in doing that my soul found peace again.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

I had always wanted a little boy who was just like his dad.

Olivia's favorite place to sleep...


Dads challenge our boundaries. While mothers want to protect and shield, fathers encourage adventure and present opportunities to try new things. The things that Corrie and Sabrina do may not always be the safest or wisest things, but they sure are fun!

Dads provide for their families at any cost. When I needed to be at the hospital to be with Nicholas, and then Olivia, Corrie not only took care of things at home, but balanced his time between work and the hospital to ensure that financial worries were not added to our burdens. He was also Sabrina's rock in the midst of all the confusion and the loss.

Dads get the things done that need to get done. When we were overwhelmed with Nicholas' death, Corrie's dad stepped in to guide us through the funeral arrangements. We were so grateful for his leadership and for taking us through those first steps of living life without our little boy. He supported us again through Olivia's arrangements too, when we were so weary and heartsick.

Dads lay down their lives for their families. When we needed my mom to help us for so many months, my dad enabled her to leave her responsibilities at home and come. While my mom was living out the heartache we were struggling with here, my dad carried it by himself at home, so that we could have my mom's care when we needed it the most.

Let's take the time to recognize the dads in our lives and acknowledge all those things they do for us that we don't even realize.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Too Many Dates

Sometimes I feel like I'm surrounded by dates. Because Nicholas and Olivia were babies, I am always reminded on the 18th of the month of how old they would have been if they were still here.

Now on top of developmental milestones that I cannot recognize anymore, I have two more dates to remind me of how long it's been since I held my children last. Today, on the 12th, I remember that Olivia went to be with Jesus 5 months ago now. Coming up on the 27th marks another month gone by without Nicholas.

I find consolation in the thought that with Sabrina, after about 1 year of age, I stopped keeping track of how many months old she was. I hope that's the same with grieving too, that at some point those dates blend in with the rhythms of all my other days and that month-by-month milestones become anniversaries.

Decisions, Decisions

I've heard it said that one should not make any major decisions in the first year of grieving. Before I was put into such a situation, I don't think I understood why a person could not continue to use logic and common sense even when they have suffered unspeakable loss.

I think I understand now.

I feel the need to explain ourselves. Not as a defense necessarily, but to provide some perspective into some of the decisions we've made that may not make sense or even seem wise. You see, when we were expecting the twins, we decided to sell our beloved VW Jetta and buy a minivan. A minivan. We were not "minivan people". We were Volkswagen people. We liked to be cramped and sporty and getting 1200km to a tank of diesel.

So here we were with this minivan, and 2 of the 3 children that we anticipated would fill it up were gone. Corrie, being the man of action that he is, promptly decided to take advantage of whatever value was left in it and trade it in for a truck. In the dark days before Olivia's death, once we realized that she was to end up in Jesus' arms with her brother Nicholas, we turned our shattered dreams toward plans of spending time together camping as a family. It's our favorite thing to do. So, we intended to buy a camper and needed a truck to pull it.

We bought our truck almost immediately after Olivia passed away. We couldn't even stand to look at the minivan; it was such a bitter reminder of all that we lost. But the truck just didn't feel right either. It was a flashy reminder of the bleak truth that you cannot put your hope in things, in items, in possessions.

Many months have passed, and we have purchased a new camper to go with our truck. Was it the wisest decision? I don't know. But what I do know is that Corrie, Sabrina, and I have a safe place to retreat and to reconnect as a family. No, we didn't have to buy a truck and a camper to make that happen, but it was what we knew at the time.

I could drive that minivan now and it would be OK. It could be a tangible reminder that we were all together here for a while. It could represent for us in reality what we are in spirit. Sometimes it's hard to look at the truck and not be grieved that we made that decision so soon; that we didn't wait for God to fill that gaping hole with what He thought was best. But most of the time I can forgive us for making a big decision in unfamiliar territory. If God can offer us that grace, then so can I.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Olivia and Nicholas' bedroom is still the same as when they were with us. The crib is made up, their toys still out, their two bouncy chairs side by side. There's diapers in the basket on the dresser.

But that's not what I'm confessing. Having their room as their room is a comfort. It means to me that they are still an ever-present part of our family.

But I still have some of Olivia's laundry in the hamper. I keep it there, unwashed, unfolded, not put away, because when I peek inside it feels like it could be just another ordinary day and my twins are not dead. It's like they're just not here right now.