Today I attended Joanna's memorial service. Just me and Katie Lyn met Rob at the church who graciously hosted the service. I didn't think my littles from China would cope well with this loss, so I didn't bring them. Typically, we don't shy away from bringing all our children to funerals. Death is a part of life and we want them to learn from an early age about this...and it leads to many conversations about eternal life.
But this time? I just couldn't. I myself have never been to a funeral for a child...before today. And at 41, it was hard hard hard to handle the emotions.
I cannot fathom the pain George and Cindy are feeling. I know it is the grace of God that enabled them to stand at the front of that sanctuary, with tear-stained yet beautiful radiant faces, welcoming those who came to give their love and support.
Joanna's tiny white casket sat at the front, covered in beautiful flowers and pink ballet shoes. Joanna loved to dance around, and Mrs. Shalita (Cindy and my girls' dance teacher) made sure she had some brand new ballet shoes.
I experienced a "silent knowing" today among the adoptive moms gathered to love on the Jones family. Of course EVERY mom was touched and emotional today. Understandably. But there was a handful of adoptive moms present today, and when we hugged, we sobbed. (actually, every mom was sobbing today...every single one)
We have a bond. We know what it's like to pour over paperwork during the adoption process. We know the agonizing wait for PA, LOA, 1-800 approvals, and TA. We know the "falling in love" feeling with a child we've never met. We know how, for a year or more, we have a missing seat at the dinner table, waiting on this child to come home. We know the worries and fears over the unknowns.
We also know the joy of meeting our child for the very first time. We know the hard road of attachment and bonding. We know the sleepless nights, feeding issues, grieving hearts. We know the joy of the hugs and the wonder of just getting to know this new little person in our family.
But most of us? We don't know the pain of losing our new child. We don't know the suffering. It's something we all think about, but usually doesn't happen to us.
This time, it is as if it did happen to us. We walked the adoption road with the Jones, all of us did. And today, we hurt and grieve with them.
Beautiful songs were sung. A letter from Joanna's daddy was read. George encouraged all parents to share the gospel with our children. Pastors encouraged the Jones with assuring words of God's love for Joanna. Pictures were shown of her sweet smiling face with her brothers and sisters.
I am so thankful Rob was squeezed between me and Katie Lyn so we could cry on his shoulder...literally.
And then, right after the service, it was time to switch gears. Death to life.
Today is Candie's birthday. Sweet Candie.
So I drove and picked up the rest of our crew and we all went to celebrate life. Candie's life! We ate Chinese food and laughed over fortune cookies and pigged out on East Buffet ice cream. We giggled over Kevin telling Katie Lyn she has "necklaces" on her teeth (braces), and Keith telling me something was wrong with his "rabbit" (his privates), and Quan saying that Granmart is older than George Washington, and Carlie saying she likes seeing marriages on the road (mirages).
Life & death, death & life. As long as we are on this earth, that is what we will encounter.
But we know where our true citizenship is...if we are God's children...if we have turned to Christ to save us...
Heaven. Where there will be Life & Life, Life & Life!!!!!!!!!! What hope we have! Thank you Jesus!