The school emailed this morning. It’s time for kindergarten graduation. They are planning a special ceremony complete with a slideshow. They need pictures.
And the tears begin to roll down my cheeks.
I don’t have those. I have more photos of some than of others, but I don’t have all the photos of any of them. And for this child, for this sweet daughter, I’m missing years.
No sweet first picture in the hospital. No precious newborn photo shoot. No first bites of baby food grimaces. No crawling or cruising milestones. No “Frankenstein” toddling. No little itty bitty ponytail. No first tooth, drooly grin. No adorable independent playtime. No first time down the slide experience. No first day of preschool.
And so, for nearly an hour, I looked through the loads of pictures I DO have. Pictures that have been piling up since the day I met her. And I wept. I wept for memories made and memories lost. I wept for the smiles I see and the smiles I haven’t seen. I wept for the snuggles and cuddles we’ve had and I wept for the snuggles and cuddles she didn’t receive. I wept for the birthday cakes I see and the birthday cakes I’m not even sure she had. I wept for the milestones celebrated and the ones lost in her childhood memory. I wept for her and I wept for me. Both of us have lost. Little moments. Big memories. Cherished days.
I have lost. My daughter has lost. The sin and brokenness of this world have stolen precious things from both of us. This isn’t fair and I don’t like it. Today my heart is breaking because of it. And tomorrow. Oh, tomorrow. One of these tomorrows, I know her heart is going to break because of it. And my heart breaks again.
I know this won’t be the last time. The last request for pictures. The last school project. The last time we will have to decide what to share and with whom. She’s facing years of reconciling her past, present, and future all while just trying to grow up.
She is so precious. How will I help her to see that when she’s crying because she doesn’t have a memory or a photo that her friend has? How will I help her to prepare for a school project that either shows or hides the story of her past? How will I help her to understand that the beautiful person I see is a result of the brokenness of both her past and present? How will I comfort her hurting heart when I don’t have the words to say, or the pictures to show, or the memories to draw on? How do you reconcile with a black hole?
Now I really begin to sob. My head bowing in pain and the weight of loss that I feel. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to help her understand. How to help heal her hurts. Hurts I’ve never felt. I don’t know how to explain to her or what the right words will be. I don’t understand how to help her.
And as my broken helplessness begins to weigh so heavily on my shoulders, I remember. I remember my Savior bowing His knees in the garden, pleading with His Father to please “take away this cup.” And suddenly, I’m so very thankful. I’m so very thankful that my God allowed His Son, His Son who was innocent of all the charges. God allowed His Son to suffer the greatest loss possible – Himself. God the Father turned away. Turned away from His Son. And His precious only Son was lost from His Father.
And through one of the most gloriously grievous moments of history, my God provided an answer for my daughter. It’s not a clear one. It’s not one that is easy to explain or easy to understand. But it is truly the one and only answer. We know with certainty that we do have a High Priest who can understand all our struggles and pains. Even hers. Even the loss of relationships and the odd brokenness of a childhood.
I still don’t have the words. We still have to grieve the loss together. I still don’t know how I will find the words to say on those days when her heart is breaking and her foundation is shaking. I won’t know what to do. But I know the One who will know. Who will interpret my pleas to the Father. The One who will be her solid foundation. Who can comfort with a true comfort. Because He suffered just like she did. Innocently. Unfairly. Cruelly. The moments that Jesus lost with His Father turned into the most beautiful story of redemption in history. And I know Him. My daughter knows Him. And I can trust, that when the time comes, He will guide and lead both of us. Because He has felt the loss as well. And He has bourne it perfectly. And He has promised to bring hers before the Father with perfect understanding.
And so, as I struggle with the weight of loss that is heavy on my heart and churning in my stomach. I am also thankful. I’m thankful for my precious, precious daughter. I’m thankful for the pictures that I DO have. The memories we have made. And the moments we have shared together. I’m thankful that she is part of a loving family who will do their best to help her struggle through her loss. I’m thankful that I can grieve so that maybe someday I can help her grieve. And I’m thankful for a Savior that endured loss perfectly. May she follow Him and always feel the security that is found in her relationship with Him. Because that will never be lost.