my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
These days Tonya and I frequently find ourselves doing things we never wanted to do – namely, working on details of Anastasha’s funeral and burial. We are trying to get as much done as early as possible, so that we can spend our mental and spiritual energy on loving Jesus, loving one another (although we seem to fail miserably at this so often), loving the kids and loving Anastasha. But there are simply some practical things that need to be done, and are much better accomplished now instead of during the more difficult days ahead.
Twice in the past couple of weeks something happened that stopped us in our tracks.
The first time was when we had just left the headstone store (they call them “monuments”). We drove to the cemetery to try to find a plot and to look at some old headstones that we liked. We were fully engrossed in things like the shape, size, stone type of the headstones…err…monuments. And focused on the location of a burial plot – under a tree, far away from “gaudy” monuments, etc.
The second time occurred a few days later when Tonya and I were standing over our oldest son, watching him sand the wood that will be used to build our youngest daughter’s casket.
Both times, Anastasha chimed in.
She began vigorously kicking Tonya from within, as she has done so many times before, as a constant reminder of her LIFE. But to do it now, while we were picking her grave and building her casket, made it feel…well, wrong. Not that we SHOULDN’T BE doing it, like it was a wrongful act. But like we SHOULDN’T HAVE TO BE doing it.
Here we were, walking headfirst into our pain, telling “death” that we will not fear Him and that Christ will be victorious in us. And there she was, telling us, “I’m still here…fully alive.” For me, it was a great reminder for us to not focus so much on the death that is coming, but to embrace the life that we have right now. Especially since we don’t know how much longer we’ll have her.
We feel blessed in some ways that we know ahead of time what is probably coming (I say "probably" because we know that God can still show Himself to be mighty through healing her). We’ve seen several friends lose children unexpectedly. In a flash, they’re gone with no time to prepare. The shock and pain is indescribable. But the foreknowledge of Anastasha's likely death is also very difficult in other ways. Most days around our house are pretty “normal”. But deep down Tonya and I both know that hell is coming. I can’t really explain what this is like. I have no reference point for it. Tremendous joy today knowing that terrible pain is coming tomorrow. We don’t want to drown in the pain before it comes, but tasting the grief early is unavoidable, at times consuming the joy of today.
Incidentally, her casket is coming along well (Charis and our friend are making it to look like a cradle), and I think we know what we want her headstone to look like. And both of these things make me want to vomit.
Grace for each day, Father. That’s what You promise us.
Craig and Tonya
PS. A well known physician, author, and friend of mine, Dr. Walt Larimore, has been posting my emails on his blog. You can see the most recent ones here: