We will always remember Ellie for her love for others, her creativity, sensitivity, and delight in life! Ellie's light has spread far and wide... may it continue to shine in our hearts.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Update

Thank you all for your sweet comments and continued prayer for us. Life for us is still a little strange. We have been resting as much as we can, partly because we are getting sick. I'm working on a cold and John has had a fever and headache for three days. Not fun. I keep hoping that John will feel better by the time he goes back to work tomorrow. And on an emotional level, we are each in our own particular place in the grieving process.

Ethan has been glad to be back in Montana. Before we left Florida, the crazy schedule was getting to him. Both John and I were away from Ethan far more than he would have liked. On the day of Ellie's service in Florida, Ethan woke up and was snuggling with me. He said "Mom, I wish I was dead." When I asked why, he said "so that I could go to Heaven and see Ellie." He often says that he misses her. Last night he wanted to look at the stars because it makes him think of Ellie, but he was sad a few nights ago when he saw a picture of her. I have definitely been able to see the pressure of the past months begin to show in Ethan's behavior. He will get so frustrated and angry sometimes over the smallest things. One of the sweetest things came out of one of Ethan's angry times. For the first time, Ethan identified Ellie as part of himself. I had told him "no" and Ethan was so upset with me. He said "you don't like me and Ellie." As the situation escalated, he said "you don't love me and Ellie." And finally, "Me and Ellie hate you!" There was a whole lot more to the situation, and I did deal with his attitude, but it was a long and complicated battle. Much later in the day, Ethan came to me and said "you are a good mom... me and Ellie really do love you." I just thought it was so sweet that Ethan would take Ellie on as a part of him. Little things like that show me that he's working through Ellie's death in his own way. On the not-so-good side though, Ethan has begun having dreams about me "going away" forever. He woke up this morning and literally ran across the room and jumped into bed with me. He was so shaken by the dream that he had. This whole thing is such a process... At this point we are trying to just keep things wide open for him to say whatever he's thinking and feeling. We try to show him that there's nothing that he cannot say. I would much rather hear the sadness, harshness, and even ugliness than see it buried in his deepest heart.

John is just plain sad. When he gets home from work, when he wakes up in the morning, when he goes to bed at night... he's just sad. The tears are always close to the surface, and he sees Ellie everywhere. We have had some nice time over these past days off of work to just be in the same room together. Since John is feeling so sick, he hasn't been able to be busy and so we have been able to just sit. But sometimes the down times can be harder than the busy times. More time to think. Yesterday I would be doing something in the kitchen and John would walk up behind me, put his arms around my waist and just lay his head on my shoulder and say "I miss her so much". It's as if all of the energy and life has been completely drained away from his body. John has echoed Ethan's sentiment many times over "I just wish I was dead." I don't take it personally - it's the only way for the pain to stop, and I know that. He says that he can hear her voice and see her everywhere he looks. I think that one of the most heartbreaking things for me to watch is how John has not only lost his Ellie, but he has had to face the death of a dream as well. John always always wanted a daughter. When I was pregnant with Ellie, he hoped that she was a girl. He told me that he would not want to keep having children just to try for a son if all we had were girls, so I asked how long he would try for a girl if all we had were boys. He couldn't answer me. Not having a girl was unthinkable to him. But on the other side of that coin, I saw John taking such delight in Ethan yesterday. He acknowledged that losing Ethan would have been just as hard as losing Ellie. Ethan is such a precious little guy, and I watched John take pictures of him and laugh at his antics in the snow. John wants to be here for Ethan and for me... it's just that the sadness trys to take over sometimes.

I, on the other hand, am living in a wierd sort of never-land. Everything is a little surreal. Last night as John watched the minutes pass from 7:43 to 44... 45... 46, and tick off the six week anniversary of Ellie's death, I felt like I was watching from outside of the window. I should feel somthing other than sorrow for John's pain. I should be crying too. I should feel... something, anything. But most of the time I don't. I thought that some of the numbness should have warn off by now and that I would be inconsolable. Today is the 15 year anniversary of Dad's kidnapping. But as I mentally mark the day, the emotions of it still sit off at a distance. Usually watching the Superbowl is my most emotional time because, that year, the 31st. fell on Superbowl Sunday and I was watching the game at the exact same time my dad was being kidnapped. John was asking me about it this morning because he was trying to figure out how the grief of losing Ellie will change over the years. I wish that I could have been more help to him, but I think that my grief process is just not "normal". When it came to losing Dad and Ellie, I have not felt the full weight of the grief. I often feel like I'm standing apart, as an observer, unable to fully participate. I just cannot go into that place of deep pain - I don't want to hurt that much. And so, I take it in very small doses. Music is my biggest trigger, so I will occasionally listen to music and look at pictures, or allow some of the memories to settle in... and then I will cry. I also tend to have a good hard cry occasionally over something very minor, and that helps to discharge some of the pent up emotions. John is wonderful about that. We were dating during the first year of Dad's captivity. Every so often, I would just lose it over something stupid. I would cry and cry like my heart was broken when the littlest thing had set me off. John would hold me and stroke my hair and say "it's ok - I know this is about your dad too." Even this morning, while John was crying, he completely understood why I wasn't as sad. There is nothing on this Earth as precious to me as the gift of being undertood. John has given me that gift from the time that I first met him, and now - even in the midst of his unbearable grief - he gives it again.

Thank you also for your prayers for Loretta. She is just so exhausted these days. It has been such a long and intense 15 months. Before we came back to Montana, Loretta moved back into her half of our little place. She hasn't been able to completely sort and unpack everything, but has been working on it little by little. She has also been dealing with some severe pain in her feet. Emotionally, Loretta mostly stays where I'm at - not letting it all in to far - until she looks at John. Then she feels the full weight of his grief. She has been an incredible help with Ethan. She provides such wisdom in how to talk to him as well as how to discipline him.

We have not yet moved over to our place. There is much finishing left to do, so for now we rest and stay at Mike and Reni's. They have been so gracious to us in allowing us, and our stuff, to overflow into their home. When John is feeling better and we have had the time we need to recover a little from the past 6 weeks, we will begin the process of settling into "home."

Thought you might like to see some pictures of my guys...

This was at the Minneapolis airport on our way home:

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Some fun in the snow:


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20 Comments:

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi sarah:)

i was talking to my friend linda about you today. you guys have a very similar level of faith, which sometimes astounds me!

i've never mentioned that i knew before, but i was aware of your dad's kidnapping and have thought of that often.

i just can't imagine the strngth you must have to get through life sometimes. it amazes me.

ellie was with me again today a lot:) i love having her spirit around, and i adore even mentioning her name. her picture is the wallpaper on my computer- it's the one from the top of the blog. i love seeing her smiling face whenever i want to.

i always have you and your family in my prayers, sarah.

love,
jeni

 
At 2:19 PM, Blogger Julie said...

John (and Sarah too), We are praying that the Lord will send his healing balm to soothe your heart. Is 25:8 We love you guys. Joe has been very concerned for you too.

 
At 2:55 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

Sarah,

I just have to tell you, you express yourself so beautifully. Really, even in the middle of such turmoil and emotional upheaval, your words are just poetry. It's amazing. And such a gift for those praying for you guys (especially for your Bloggy friends, who can't really do anything helpful, EXCEPT pray like the dickens). Thank you for sharing your heart, and the hearts of your guys with us.

I have to tell you, I understand all too well the "vacant" stage of grief. When we lost Seth, I really felt like I wasn't even really here. It was bizarre. As you described, I would have moments of intense pain (which usually resulted in a night-long Sob Fest). But for the most part, I was just numb...and absent. I think it was a protective mechanism. I understand all too well not wanting to dip too far into the big black hole of grief. I just knew it would be almost impossible to pull myself back out of. So far the most part, I just hovered. Not really grieving. And not really not grieving. I convinced myself that I was being strong for the rest of my family. But I think more than anything, I was just hiding from the pain. Unfortunately, from cooping it all up, anger became the emotion that set up camp in me for awhile. It was just easier - less exhausting than grief. Or so I thought at the time. I'm proud of you for letting it out when you can. Grief can really become toxic when it festers. Releasing it is like medicine for the soul.

Like you said, music, for me too, was the trigger for the emotional flood. I remember standing in Best Buy one afternoon, thinking "Phew. Look at me. I'm out and about. Normal. Good." All of a sudden "One More Day" (by Diamond Rio) came on the sound system, and that was it. I started sobbing right there in the movie aisle. Sobbing and snorting and doing the Ugly Face crying thing. When a worker came over to try and help me, I was actually on my knees on the floor, curled up in a ball. You know, nice and discreet-like, and not at all embarrassing.

You and your family come to mind throughout the day. Around 11:00 this morning you popped in my mind and I paused (mid-way through wahing my shockingly large pile of dirty dishes) to pray for you. Please know how much you guys are loved, even by those who haven't had the priviledge of getting to know you personally.

Praying for you.

Love in Christ,
Kristy


"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
(Matthew 5:4)

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
(Matthew 11:25-29)

 
At 3:31 PM, Blogger Pauleen said...

You are never far from my thoughts...

 
At 4:15 PM, Blogger LindaSueBuhl said...

Cannot begin to say how sorry I am that John is hurting so deeply - and that you are trying to find the right balance of your grief. I fear we tend to analyze our grief too much in the western world - I know I wished often that I had torn my clothes and put ashes on my head and sat by the side of a road- now that would have been grieving worthy of the losses. You'll find a way through it - holding on to that beautiful man and man child you have with you here. Being gentle with yourselves is so wise. I don't know the details of your father's kidnapping but I do find that my times of grief have overlapped - March is the month that just has too much for me. Thank you for sharing the pictures - Ethan seems to be getting so much bigger all of a sudden. Nothing I can write means much except we pray for you and love you. Will remember Loretta also -she is an amazing woman giving so freely of herself.

 
At 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever consider writing a book? I follow many blogs of children with NB. Your blog entries are clearly different from most...the Holy Spirit is so evident in what and how you write. So many other hurting parents would be blessed and inspired by your journey with sweet Ellie. Just a thought!

We all love you so much!

 
At 9:39 PM, Blogger Becky K. said...

I think you are both reacting very normally...for you! There is no real right or wrong way to grieve...you'll pass through lots of feelings and emotions all the way along...My guess is partly that you may be holding it together for fear of not being able to pull it back together if you let go. You are also concerned for and taking care of John and Ethan.
Just my thoughts as I read this. Grief has been a close companion in our family over the past two years as we have lost both of our Dads and have moved our mothers into our neighborhood and it has been amazing to see how many ways people can grieve. From the Moms, to the children, to my husband and myself...everyone is different. That is ok. We are all going through the process.
Thank you for continuing to update. It helps to know how to pray for your dear family.
I think also of Loretta. She sounds like a real special friend and family member!
Becky K.

 
At 2:18 AM, Blogger Robyn said...

Thank you for your update. I was especially thinking of Ethan this morning and wondering how he was doing. Grief is such an individual journey - it sounds like you are all showing such wisdom in allowing yourselves and each other to grieve in your own ways. I'm continuing to pray.

 
At 6:56 AM, Blogger Mrs. Rabe said...

Sarah,

I understand how you grieve. When you were explaining it, I thought "that's me". I seem to be able to set it aside, and deal with it in small increments.

That is how God made you. John needs you to be that way, to help the family continue to function.
God is so wise in putting you together! He knows!

Thank you for your continued openness - I think of your family frequently and pray for you all.

 
At 7:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always enjoy reading what you write. you have such a gift.Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts with us. we continue to lift you all in prayer each and ever day.We pray Gods loving arms around you. Love Simons family

 
At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. My heart just goes out to each of you, especially John...... I actually can't think of ANY words to say right now. There are none. I am crying with you and praying for you.

 
At 1:27 PM, Anonymous mooki said...

sarah,
i, too, am glad to reconnect. i've been following your blog continuously and find myself thinking about ellie ALL the time. i am so sorry for you and john and ethan. and i am sorry that i didn't write following december's awful news. i miss your wonderful girl.

i find your writing remarkable, as always. i echo the other commenter's suggestion: you should really think about using this blog as a springboard for a book about ellie.

of course you know this, but my last post on toby's blog was directly influenced by you. your faith, your words, your love and your wisdom have had an enormous impact on me and how i try to make sense of things. when toby was diagnosed with NB, your blog was the first one i found. i still check in every day. while i don't share your steadfast faith, i find myself wishing i did. you have given me so much, sarah.
may you be comforted during this difficult time.
my love to you,
mooki

 
At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah,

I so appreciate your honesty! I wondered how it would be for you this year to have the anniversary of your father's kidnapping and also dealing with Ellie being gone! I don't think there is a normal grief process, even the stages of grief cannot be put into a sequence. I see so much wisdom in how you are dealing with Ethan!May you allow yourself the same freedom that you are allowing him in the grieving process. I keep praying for wisdom and grace for you and for the very specific comfort that each of you need in these days!

 
At 10:32 PM, Blogger oneofhisfriends said...

Dear John and Sarah,

I've heretofore not comprehended God's love for His children as I do now, as a result of the last 10 months of sharing in your journey. Your interpretation of Parenthood raises the bar on understanding Grace. He's used you to give me a lot to think about, and a great deal of peace of mind.

The profundity of your grief reminds one of what God must have felt when separated from Adam and Eve. When Jesus owned their and our sin, our Father was separated from Him too. Darkness fell upon the land.

But it was Friday; Sunday's coming.

As a dear lady has often reminded us, you are loved with an everlasting love, and underneath, are the everlasting arms.

Agapé

 
At 10:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ellie is the spitting image of John. Seeing little Ethan on his shoulders at the airport, and the expression on John's face in profile reminds me so much of photos of Ellie. He really must have prayed her to life as he dreamed of the daughter he would someday have. He must have whispered her to breath in his sleep even before he met you, her mother. Ellie's little soul knew exactly to whom it was meant to be born, as the same hands that folded in prayer for a daughter's life, were meant to guide her back to another Father someday. Maybe only John, a man who wanted to be a father to a daughter, was bold enough for the task, tender enough for the pain, and father enough to shepherd her, not to an awaiting bridegroom, but to her awaiting Beloved of another kind. We pray for all of you daily. We miss her, too.

The Whitaker Family.

 
At 11:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sarah!

just thinking of you, sister.

jeni

 
At 11:20 AM, Blogger December Rose said...

Sarah,

I appreciate your transparency in your writings. I have walked in your steps, and can honestly say time heals the pain, but the longing never goes away.

My son died 17 years ago. I still wonder what he would be doing today, how tall would be be, how many children would he have, and on and on. In some ways your dreams for your child don't die... they just never become a reality.

If one word describes my grief in the first year is it "numb". It's almost like God covered me in darkness but I wasn't afraid; it was a warm and safe place... and I found rest in the shadow of His wing. God seemed to understand my need to see only one day at a time. How could I face a lifetime of days without my son?

Isaiah 45:3, "I will give you treasures in the darkness, riches stored in the secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name."

When the time is right, God will call you (by name!) out of the darkness. Meanwhile accept the treasures of precious memories, a loving family, and those daily glimples of grace that give just enough light for the next step.

We have been praying for all of you.

By grace alone,
Susan (& Charlie) Howe

 
At 10:25 AM, Blogger Oregon Criss's said...

Sarah,
I wish virtual hugs were possible thru blogging or facebook. You do a wonderful job of saying where you are at- which in turn allows our family to pray specifically for each of you!
On a different note, I didn't realize who your dad was until this blog. Years ago I remember praying so fervently for your family and the others. My own family is very involved with NTM. My grandparents spent 40+ years in Brazil in the jungles and were great friends with Nate Saint and Jim Elliot before their situation. Often my grandparents would talk about their own emotions during that time. My Uncle Les and Aunt Lorraine Pederson are still with NTM though they are getting a bit too old for all they do for Paraguay so they stay stationed in FL. Perhaps you've met them along the way. Either way, my heart feels even more involved and compassionate towards your family- and even more understanding for your insight and emotions regarding all you have been given for this journey.
It's been rewarding emotionally to 'know you'. I was just thinking this morning how 'easy' our situation must read to you right now, but I also smiled because this is giving me a more thorough understanding of what you've gone thru and where you are at now.
Well- this certainly turned into a novel. This hospital is probably ready to shut me off just so they can log on :) Much Much prayers are being said for you and will continue in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
~debi~

 
At 4:23 PM, Blogger oneofhisfriends said...

Hi all,

On first glance at the pictures of Ethan I was reminded of tropical storms. What can this mean?

Agapé

 
At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sarah!

just thinking of you tonight. i had to turn my puter off and then on again and there was my ellie wallpaper:)

i'm diggin' the new blog!!!

be well.....

love,
jeni

 

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