I remembered driving that same stretch of highway numerous times a day. Sometimes it would be early in the morning. I would be listening to the Kutless CD my friend Kym sent me and the traffic would be heavy. Sometimes it would be late at night. I would be listening to Selah and thinking how strange it was that it was midnight and there were still so many cars on the highway. So Monday we drove that all-too-familiar route. I knew the names and numbers of the upcoming exits: Mockingbird (433B), Inwood (432A), and the exit we used to take, 431 to Medical District Drive. That route is imprinted in my mind. I would exit right on Medical District Drive, turn left, go under the overpass, drive to the green parking lot on the right, and pull in. If it was early in the morning the parking lot would be crowded and I would have to park at the top. If it was late at night, I could park close to the skybridge.
I would walk across the skybridge and be greeted by the people working at the front desk. Sometimes they would say, “Are you guys still here?” (If Brandon was with me he would always tell them it was good we were still there -- because the alternative would not be good.) I would squirt my hands with hand sanitizer, wave to the sweet, blond, young lady in the gift shop as I passed on my way to the C elevators. Inside the elevator I’d push 12, the very top floor. When I got out of the elevator, I’d check in with the desk on the ICU floor so they could “beep” me through the doors. Sometimes I would stand there for a few minutes and chat with Heather, one of the ladies at the desk. She would ask how Anne Marie was doing, ask about my other kids and how they were doing, or she might tell me about what she had been up to. And then I’d go through the double doors to Room 254 to see my girl. No matter how many times I made that trip each day, no matter how early or late it was or how tired I might be, I couldn't wait to get there. Room 254 and my beautiful girl.
I wish that was the route we had taken Monday -- up to floor 12 to see Anne Marie. Instead we drove past the Medical District Drive exit and I looked over to the left to see Children’s and I tried not to cry. I knew it would be hard going back and I knew I would be sad. We could have stayed in a different part of Dallas, but I’m glad we didn’t. And when we got to our hotel room I looked out our window (see below) and in the distance I could see Children's, our former home away from home. Somehow it seemed right. A part of my heart is still there and, as sad as I was, I was also glad to be back.
I stood at our hotel window remembering something I had recently read in a book entitled From Grief to Glory.
Hetty Wesley expressed the deep, heart-wreatching sorrow that some parents, particularly mothers, feel when their children’s bodies are laid in the grave. Real grief is not easily comforted. It comes back like ocean waves rushing up the sand, subsiding back, only to roll in again. These waves vary in size, frequency, and intensity. Some are small, lapping up around the feet. Others are stronger; they foam the water around you and cause you to stagger. Then there are the overwhelming waves with an undertow that can turn your world upside down and drag you into deep waters.To this I would add that sometimes I see these waves coming and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I am caught off guard and from out of nowhere the memories and sadness overwhelm me. And then sometimes, like Monday as I passed Children’s, I know the waves are coming. The memories are stronger than ever, the ache just as fierce. The waves seem to drown me and I miss Anne Marie so much I can hardly stand it.
The passage goes on to say:
In times like those, the mourner desperately needs an anchor. And, indeed, God has promised his people a blessing if they patiently endure. He has guaranteed the promise so that we might lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope is the anchor of the soul, and it is sure and steadfast (Hebrews 6:19).I stood at our hotel room window looking over at Children’s and thanked God that He is my anchor. That while I am in the deep waters He is with me. Yes, my overwhelming sadness is still there, but God keeps me from drowning in my sadness. And I thank God for causing me to love Him more. A love that comes from a heart filled with gratitude for all He has done for me.