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Telling Our Stories

I finished The Book Thief last night. It took me two nights.

It was probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. A bit hard to get into, but once I understood what was going on, I couldn’t put it down.

Even though many times I wanted to.

When the main character, Liesel, goes through loss after loss in such detail – I felt tears fall down my cheeks. It’s rare for me to cry from a book, but it happens. Charlotte’s Web. Anne of Green Gables when Matthew dies. I can’t remember the last time I cried as an adult though.

In a small way (because I am not ever going to relate my pain to those who horrifically suffered time and again in Nazi Germany) I felt what she was feeling. I knew the shock, the screaming, the disbelief of the death of someone you love. I was there, I felt her hesitation when happiness came and she wondered when it would end, and end in tragedy.

When the book said, “She held him for an hour after he died” (paraphrased) I felt the guilt heap on me that I didn’t hold Kaden longer. Why didn’t I just ask everyone to leave and sit with him for a while? That was all I had; he’d gone from a brief time with me, to NICU, to Children’s, to my arms, to heaven. I ached to hold him for months and months. And in all that time I ended up with just minutes.

I could have held him longer. Remembered him more. All I could think of in those moments were, “He’s not here, he’s gone. This isn’t him.”

As Kaden’s first birthday approaches, and so many others celebrate the children born around the same time who lived, I am thrust back into this never ending, back and forth game of, “Why me, what if, how could, maybe if, had I…” and my mind spins until I fall asleep . I know deep inside that no one has a perfect life. I know this, but sometimes? It’s so hard to believe that when you look out from such a fractured viewpoint.

Lately there has been so much pain heaped on people I love. I don’t understand any of it. Good, kind, beautiful people and families that are facing the most awful, devastating news anyone could ever hear. It makes me sick and it brings back my questions to God of, “Where are you?? Step in, change this, make something happen. Where are your miracles? Why do you allow this?”

Then, when I ponder this more, I realize something. The Book Thief and others like Unbroken, are incredible because they are based on real events so powerful, so altering, that it grips you and opens your eyes to another facet of life. Others move me because they are willing to share the daily grind, the ins and outs of ordinary life that so many of us still cover up. I need to read your stories. Even if someone puts at the end, “But you have so many other children living!” or “You should focus on the positive!” – your honesty makes me feel less alone and afraid. Honesty in the good and the hard.

So as hard as this is for my own life and others I see walking this path, my prayer starts to become, “Lord, let them see their story in all of this. Let their lives eventually become one so beautiful in a way no one wants, that others can’t help but think of You. Wonder about You. Let them persevere and rise up in the middle of the broken and change the world around them with the life you gave them.”

Everyone, whether you’ve had tragedy or life rolling by, has a story. It’s when you drop the need for perfection, to have others envy instead of perhaps pity, when you can embrace the broken, when you can tell your story to others and refuse to feel ashamed – that’s when God is able to use it for His glory.

I hate this for so many of us facing the impossible life after death. My hope is that we all know this isn’t it. We will hold and love them again. We will have moments of happiness again, and one day a lifetime of joy. In the midst of it, our story is created to be shared; because someone, somewhere, needs to hear it.


Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your heart. Our sweet baby, Caleb, died in our arms almost three weeks ago. Your prayer is my heart’s desire; I just never imagined that this would be the way God would use us. I’ve gone back and re-read many of your posts and they continue to help my heart. Thank you for being so real and honest.

    • Ali – I am so, so sorry for the loss of Caleb. I’m beyond touched that my writing would help in anyway. I truly believe after going through all of this that our words, no matter how often they seem to have been already said, can change things. It’s that small bit of hope and comfort in knowing that these moments of pain can eventually change others lives around us. ((hugs)) Be kind to yourself in these months, don’t let anyone tell you that you need to move on or stop talking about him. <3

  2. Grace Cho says:

    yes! please keep telling your story!

  3. Karen Perry Habiger says:

    My son died @ 9 mos old. He would've been 24 this year. I kept a journal

  4. Karen Habiger says:

    My son died @ 9 mos. He would be 24 this yr. I kept a journal & often refer back to it when I am trying to comfort someone experiencing the grief of a loss of a child. At this point my heart carries a bittersweet sadness, but when I read through my journal I am reminded of the raw, painful all consuming grief. I am reminded of what life was like before his birth, during his brief life & then how it changed for me, his sisters & his daddy the day I found him dead in his crib. There are so many things I would’ve forgotten, if I hadn’t written them down. If those things help someone else feel that they are not alone; if they bring any comfort to others, I am willing to relive them.
    Blessings to you & your loved ones.

    • And see – just knowing that 24 years later you’re willing to share it, that you haven’t “gotten over” him (although we know that never happens), it’s comforting to me. To know that years from now, as I continue to meet others, Kaden, Preston, and Julian’s short lives will still have a purpose.
      And journaling is a beautiful way of sharing it as well.

  5. Diana, thank you so much for writing this! You don’t know how much I needed your words at this time. Our family has gone through some rough moments, but things are actually going okay right now. What doesn’t make sense is that my faith is being rocked. I’ve never before experienced such a battle within my heart. Even when we lost our son, Andrew, and two other babies. I felt like my faith was so solid then. Now when things are seemingly going well, I’ve been battling with a season of unbelief. Satan has been getting in my head and making me question God and my salvation. I hate it! What happened to the strong woman I was? I have been in tears for the past few days, just battling all these things. I keep asking God why my heart is struggling so much. I keep asking how I got here. My husband has been such a support and has been praying so hard for me. I know this is between me and God. I know that all I can do right now is hold to truth. God will pull me through this, despite my shakiness. Thank you for your encouraging words. I think God used your words to remind me that this is just a season He’s going to use to glorify Him. Some day my story will be able to help someone else.

  6. This book! This book is something rare and precious. I’m so glad you found it, too. I wept for everything stolen from me, and we weep because this book captures grief, perfectly, not because we’re comparing the details of our lives to the history. If there’s anything the book is trying to tell us, it’s that authority in any form, including a doctor or nurse with a uniform, can steal a moment from you, whether they mean to or not. Not everyone who steals Liesel’s time to grieve is evil. She finds the voice that no one can steal at a moment when she can use that voice to say, give me the space to grieve right now. It’s an important climactic moment in a novel. Readers need the catharsis.

    Forgive me for putting on my English teacher hat, here, but if your life doesn’t have the same cathartic, climactic moment, that may just be because it’s not a novel. I know for a fact that it has nothing to do with any failure on your part.

  7. Thank you over and over for sharing every day. You have helped tremendously through these hard times I often feel very alone bc every thinks I should “get over him”. I know I’m not alone and reading your blog helps me see that. Stay strong.

  8. I have not read the book (started but like you said~ it’s hard to get into and my reading time is so very limited these days but it’s on my list!!), but the movie was the same for me. xo

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