Echoing in the background are the words to a beautiful worship song “I need you more, more than yesterday. I need you Lord, more than words can say. I need you more, than ever before, I need you Lord.” These lyrics ring so true to my heart tonight as I am reflecting upon my life. In July, 2005, I kissed my baby boy hello and goodbye in the same day. I held him so close to my heart whispering words to him that only God could hear. I did not understand the journey that would be ahead of me, nor did I understand that with each passing day I would need the Lord more and more to help me cope, survive, and live (or even want to live) again.
It has been almost seven years since I gave birth to a beautiful, 8 lb 14 oz baby boy, Matthew Clark Weatherly, but due to a uterine rupture, he only lived 25 minutes before he passed away. The trauma from the birth and complications would forever change our lives in so many ways, and would leave me with life altering injuries, battle scars, physically and emotionally.
These battle scars would eventually be referred by us as “Beauty Marks.” For these marks prove Matthew’s existence on this earth and in our hearts… from the visible scars on my body to the fine lines around our eyes where tears have made a crevice over the years…they are beautiful.
When we experienced the loss of Matthew; the heartache, pain and grief would reinvent us as people. Losing a child changes you. It changes you as a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. It changes your perception on absolutely everything and sometimes challenges the very thing you have always believed in… which for me was my faith.
Faith and my belief in God have proved time and time to sustain me and my family. Through the good, bad and ugly, faith has always been present. During the hardest times of grief I found myself almost scared to cling to my faith. It hurt so bad I did not want to believe in anything again. But I knew better. I knew deep within my heart that without faith it was impossible to please God. I did not want to let God down; I did not want to blame God. I wanted to run right back to Him and just surrender all of my hurts, my pains, and my disappointments. I wanted my baby back! I wanted my life back! I wanted my joy back!
I often felt like I was standing on the sidelines of life with an empty bucket waiting for a redo, a refill of LIFE, LAUGHTER & JOY and a non-stop search for PEACE! I went everywhere with an empty bucket, hoping that something could fill it… (And boy would I fill my bucket up at the mall, only coming home to that void still being there) Money could not buy what I so desperately needed.
We have a little motto in our house, “Happiness is circumstantial, but joy is God-given.” My husband always says “Don’t let anyone steal your joy!” Life was stealing my joy! Death was stealing my joy! Pain was stealing my joy! And friends, I will be honest, some days I am so full of heartache and grief that I hurt all over. I weep. I weep for the mothers ahead of me, behind me or beside me on this journey. I weep for the hole in my heart that I wish was filled with school pictures and baseball practices with Matthew. I long to hear that little laugh, to see his blue eyes, to hold his hand again, to hear him say “Mama…” I want to just hug him. I miss him so badly, and with each day or year that passes, I miss him more. So much more.
On earth, although I may not be able to do the things above, I am still Matthew’s mama! I am able to share his sweet life and the hope that is within my heart… but I couldn’t do it for one minute without faith. (I tried, epic failure) Faith is my foundation and inspires me to press on and live with the hope that I will be with my baby again one day. When I feel like I can’t go on I grab my bucket and fill it with faith! It’s like survival mode in full force. Sometimes I need to fill it with Bible scriptures, a good sermon in church, reading a card of encouragement, prayer, inspirational music, or even watching the beautiful butterflies as they surround me on a spring day, knowing Matthew is in heaven without pain and that he has the best babysitter ever! (insert big mama grin!) It is when my bucket of faith is filling that the heaviness in my heart gets lighter. I love the way God works like that!
God has been so gracious to us even though our journey has not been easy and as I look back seems almost impossible to have survived. But as I am reflecting upon it all, I am so grateful that God has allowed me to see these battle scars evolve into “Beauty Marks.” I often think of survivors of war, cancer, abuse, and of course survivors of baby or child loss… or any tragedy that leaves such horrific scars, yet when placed into God’s hands and care I know the scars can be turned into something beautiful. I have experienced that metamorphosis; it is incredible. “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” ~ Anonymous. Wow! How awesome is that?
Like many of you, I am a survivor of loss. I am also a believer in faith. And I am eternally grateful for every “Beauty Mark” Matthew left behind and for every life his story has touched. I am humbled as I journey beside you, sweet friends, on this thing we call life, where we love, we lose, we laugh and we learn to live daily as we are reaching out to bridge the gap all across the world. Here’s to filling our buckets together!
Photo credit – shutup and smile photography