(For many of us, our blogs have become like a family journal. I actually have my blog printed and bound in a book at the end of each year. This entry is especially personal, and of that nature, as those of you who know and love us dearly understand the deep sorrow and heartbreak we are experiencing. I record these feelings and events as part of our family journal.)
The book of Isaiah has a scripture about how the Lord can make beauty from ashes. He did that for us yesterday. Amidst the many tears of sorrow and pain, He imprinted on our souls the power of His love, the joy of His hope, and the promise of eternity. It was beauty from ashes.
And it was full of love. So much love we still can't quite understand it. So much love flowing from the very moment our hearts began to break on Monday morning, through our birth experience on Tuesday, comforting us through preparations on Wednesday, and sustaining us through the final goodbye on Thursday. We never imagined how many would be praying for us, crying with us, mourning beside us, and leading us forward. We are filled with awe and gratitude and humility and thanks beyond expression. God is so good. So very very good.
These are Mariah's resurrection clothes. The funeral home called them burial clothes, but they are not. She is dressed in the purest white awaiting the day she is called up to be placed back into my arms, spirit and body reunited for eternity. Fit for a handmaiden of the Lord, these angel clothes were a gift of love from dear family, handpicked and sent across the country within hours to ready my baby for eternity. Such love.
Wrapped in white, Nana filled each stitch and loop of Mariah's blanket with love and hope in yet another manner of hours and sent it across the country to swaddle my baby until my arms can hold her again. This is one of my heart's tenderest pictures. I think my darling daughter looks like a heavenly child, and I can picture her amongst the angels. Auntie Amber dressed her with kisses and lullabies in my place, knowing my Momma heart would fail at the task. Such love.
Arriving at the memorial garden for her service, our eyes were opened in amazement at just how many had been praying and supporting us with their faith throughout the previous days. We turned into the entrance of the lane approaching her gravesite and found it lined on both sides from beginning to end with those who love us and came to support and offer strength. We just had no idea. No idea at all. Such love.
Throughout her service, though the tears fell, the peace of the Lord and the truths of eternity soothed our broken hearts. Christian and Jonah each shared a scripture of the Lord's goodness even in sorrow, my dear friend spoke from her mother heart to mine, and the Bishop offered powerful words of truth and comfort. We sang "How Great Thou Art", and marveled that truly our Saviour gladly bore our burdens, even the loss of our precious daughter. Such love.
Darling Rebekah had asked if she could get a white flower to give to Mariah. We got one for each of our baby's brothers and sisters, and they placed them where her tiny body lay on the table before us. Dear Pop had brought white roses for all the family members to place with her, and one by one each said a final goodbye to our sweet little one. Such love.
And then Brian and I were left alone for a few precious moments. Beauty from ashes. Such love.
The service was over, only to be encircled with more comforting words, arms, and faith for hours while we were strengthened by the many who came to a lovely luncheon prepared on our behalf. Such love. Over and over again. Wherever we looked. Pages and pages of names of those who came to share love. A constant reminder that the Lord will take care of us, and He is putting people in our path to strengthen and uplift, nourish and bless us.
It is hard. I've never imagined such pain. Some moments I am sure I will not be able to bear it. And I know it isn't going to end anytime soon. But I will remember how the Lord took this day and made beauty from ashes. And I know He will do it again.
We love and miss you, sweet darling baby Mariah.