Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Poison Ivy

The summer before tenth grade, I got a horrible case of poison ivy. For some summer bucks, I weeded my parents' side yard, which turned out to be a healthy patch of poison ivy. Intent on a summer tan, I did it all in my swimsuit. So I spent the better part of too many hours feeling my way through leafy poison with almost no protective outerwear.

I was covered. Covered, I tell you.

It was the worst, most consuming itch. Something itched, always. Always. And everyone around me - everyone, everyone - reminded me not to scratch.

"Don't scratch. Oh, Tricia, don't scratch that. Remember: don't scratch."

Finally, I hit my limit. I said to one well-meaning well-wisher, "Here's the deal: my entire body itches. I wish to crawl out of my skin. It itches always. So if you happen to see me scratching the inside of my elbow ever so carefully, please know, it's not because I forgot I'm not supposed to. It's because I honestly, truly can't stand it for one more minute."

I have remembered that scene many times recently.

Once again, all of me is uneasy, in a wholly different way. I am not myself; too much has been stolen. Familiarity is long gone. And many, many people around me are reminding me to be strong.

"Stay strong, Tricia. Don't give up. Don't give in. Don't let it swallow you. Stay strong."

Here's the deal: All of me aches, all of the time. I am jumpy with anxiety that makes me want to crawl out of my skin. My heart is pierced and heavy. My children are grieving, angry, asking, and confused. I have two gauges: sad and numb. I wish to feel less, feel more, feel at all.

Mostly, I am deeply sad, all the time.

So when you see me indulge in the darkness, ever so carefully, know that it's not because I forgot what lies ahead of me. It's not because I gave up.

It's because I honestly, truly couldn't stand it for one more minute.


Terry said...

how can ANYBODY tell you to "hang in there" when they have no idea of the ache that you are going through tricia?
remember jesus wept too and he is the one that totally understands you!...and he understands those two little guys too....love from terry

tapango1 said...

(((Tricia))))...If theres anything I can do to help for one moment.one second...one blink.please let me know!

Alyce Poyner

Alli said...

You have a way with words, a way with stories.

I'll let you feel it all, t. Scratch the itch, feel the ache. I'll walk with you and kneel with you and yell with you and sit silently with you.

And if ever you really fear you'll be swallowed, I won't let it happen.

I love you.

lindseyweber said...

What a powerful picture of your pain right now ... thanking God that *His* is the strength made perfect in our weakness. You know, this could be just the right time for getting intimately acquainted with your weakness, so you can curl up & get lost in His strength...

Praying for you along the way. ~ Lindsey

jeanne said...

I don't know you, but I know grief. When your foundation of faith has been shaken to it's core - that is when God's grace sustains you... one day at a time, one hour, one minute, one second, one heartbeat, one breath at a time. I am so sorry for your loss. I am so sorry for your children's loss. Tears are helpful. Use them liberally.
Love from a sister sojourner, Jeanne

Lauren said...

There is nothing to say except that I pray for you until I fall asleep at night.

Jan Verhoeff said...

Someday soon, we'll have a cup of tea and be "blow fish" together. :) Tears are a language God understands was my Mamma's favorite song. Some days, it's mine now, too.

The Kennedy Krew said...

Oh Tricia - that was the most perfect word picture for grief I have ever heard! My heart aches for you and I am praying hard my friend. None of my sorrows in this life can compare to yours, but when I lost my 3rd baby, this is the verse I had to literally scream in my living room, on my face on the floor..."When we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for God cannot disown Himself." 2 Tim 2:13 So, I am not telling YOU to be strong, but I am reminding that you that HE will be no matter what! Please know that I am breathing your name in prayer every time you come to mind, or I read a post, or I check my blog...and I will continue my friend, for as long as you need me too, and then a little more!! I love you sweet friend!!

thewonderfulhappens said...

Scratch it, girl. Give into it as much as you need to. It doesn't make you less strong and it doesn't mean your faith isn't magnificent. It means you are human. Whatever gets you through each day.

Mrs. MK said...

A wonderful and terrible description of the pain. Thank you for sharing. The words of others can be the most helpful, and the most hurtful things during grief.

My prayers and thoughts are with you today.

Emily said...

I went to JBU with Jen, and found your blog through her. I'm so sorry for what you're going through. Your post today reminded me of my favorite book "The Sparrow" by Mary Doria Russell. It's a beautiful account of dealing with loss (and not dealing with it) through the guise of science fiction. It asks honest questions and rests in the silence of no answers. Anyway, thanks for also sharing your honest moments.

Janet said...

I am so sorry that I found your blog through such a heart-wrenching story. I spent an hour reading and crying this morning. OH, and laughing. You write beautifully, and some of your posts made me snort my tea up my nose.

Add me to the list of Christian sisters who are praying for you.

Tenth Avenue North has a song that talks about being real with God. It's not love any other way. Maybe you already know the song, but I'll share the link here in case you want to listen to it.


I wish I could help. But there's nothing I can do. I'll pray.

Kerri said...

When I don't respond to one of your FB postings, it's (often) because, while I appreciate the hearts and love of those who hurt for you and wish you well, I also deeply disagree with the majority who are offering the only thing they know to offer - the false "stay strong" or "let's get Tricia healed" message.

Oh my dearest. You have experienced the spiritual, mental and emotional equivalent of a head-on, full body collision that would have sent your physical body into the ICU for months. Your "inner" x-rays show damage that even you have not yet begun to fully comprehend. You're still in protest/shock/overwhelmed mode and 'staying strong' is absolutely the opposite of what you need to do right now, counter-intuitive as it seems to some. I know your inner wisdom tells you this in the midst of your grief, but I just want to confirm it. Our society doesn't know jack about grief (forgive my earthiness).

There isn't anything you can do, feel, experience, say or need right now that isn't okay - except for trying to 'stay strong' or deny the depth of the loss you're experiencing. There is no way through this but through it - through the valley of the shadow of death - no way to make it prettier, easier, nicer, more comfortable or less painful. There just isn't. I wish there was.

Know that the minute you need my hand to hold - or any other part of me to do anything at all - I'm there in an instant. I love you.

DenverSop said...

No one could have said it better. His strength is made perfect in your weakness, and you are entitled to any and every emotion. You have my 100% support and love and prayers no matter what, every day.

Barbara said...

I was introduced to your blog through a tweet from Phil Johnson, executive director of the "Grace To You" broadcast with John MacArthur. To say "I'm so sorry for your loss" is woefully insufficient.

Instead, I wanted to share with you a blog that was also brought to my attention by Phil Johnson about two years ago as Grace Mark's husband Andrew was dying of cancer at age 27. There is much evidence of the grace and strength of Christ and His ability to sustain through the deepest griefs imaginable. We are called to weep with those who are weeping, and at the same time to comfort and encourage one another. I hope that you find comfort there.

And if I may borrow a quote from her post entitled, A Gift and change a pronoun or two for you:

And I feel reassured that [your] suffering is not inconsistent with [you] being favored by God, because Jesus preceded [you] in all [your] suffering. Jesus blazed the trail of suffering and went before us so that we could follow in His footsteps.

May He grace you with His peace and comfort. God bless you mightily - all of you.


Cheri Armstrong said...

Hi, Tricia. I am just an outsider who has dealt with my own grief and come across your Web site through a mutual friend. I love this post. And, it reminds me of another quote from www.theseventhsparrow.blogspot.com

"Our God is good. Not in a cliché way but in a way that allows you to breathe that next breath. Through the pain we cling to his promise not to make level paths before us, but rather to make our feet capable of standing upon the heights.

Heather and i have thought often of our wonderful friends who said that hard things can make you bitter or better, and we choose better. We have seen these same friends not only pledge to be better, but also to live this out. This is our desire. Today through the pain and grief that comes with the loss of the dreams of an expected future we choose better. Tomorrow we will try to choose the same. We reserve the right to choose moments, hours or even days of bitter but our God is good."

Kristy said...

I was brought to your blog through Challies. My heart wept as I read about your loss.

A wonderful book that has been a tremendous blessing to me this past year is "Beside Still Waters" by Charles Spurgeon. It is a devotional book that offers words of comfort for the soul.

I just read an entry on weeping. Spurgeon speaks of Jesus weeping over Lazarus' death. "Have you ever thought it wicked to weep at a loss that will glorify God? It is not wicked. If it were, Jesus would not have wept under similar circumstances. Tears, which might have been regarded as contraband, now have fee admission into the ralm of holiness because "Jesus wept."

Dear friend, you may weept because "Jesus wept." He wept with the full knowledge of Lazurus' happiness, with the full knowledge of his resurrection, with the firm assurance that God was glorified through his death. We may not condemn what Christ allows. If you can weept and thank God, if you can weept and know that you are in His presence, then your weeping is not sinful. Let your tears roll in floods. This is good instruction.

May the Holy Spirit teach us. May the Lord write it on every weeper's heart. You may weep because "Jesus wept."

Kay Day said...

I'm no expert and maybe I'm wrong, but I see nothing wrong with falling apart, Tricia.
I don't think you have to be strong. God is strong and He is holding you.
I think we've developed a fear of grief in our culture. We don't let people fully mourn. We try to cheer them up, make them laugh. We want them to get over it, get better, be like they were.
That's not the way it should be.
I say, scratch. Scratch all you want.

Stephanie Lancaster said...

Hi Tricia, I stumbled across your blog and am reading to catch up to real time. Like all your readers, I am so touched by your story and by your words. I lost my dad to brain cancer just after you lost your husband, and one of the things I remember being said to me so often afterwards is "Be strong!" I took it in each time I heard those words, wondering inside my head if I would be able to live up to such a high expectation. At some point in those early days, a friend said to me, "Be strong," and then she paused and reconsidered and added, "or don't. Just do what you have to do to get to the other side." And that's exactly what I started doing from that point on, and I know it's what you are doing too. Blessings to you and yours and thank you for sharing your story.