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Innocence Lost ~ Life:Unmasked

The elevator doors opened and two nurses rolled a young man in a wheelchair into the parking garage. A brain or neurological condition had contorted his muscles into painful-looking kinks. My kids stepped back to give them room, and then stepped into the elevator without batting an eye. No questions, no pointing, no fear. I thought I glimpsed a spark of recognition in their eyes.

elevator buttonsI’m torn between sorrow that they are so used to the brokenness in our world, especially in the bodies of children, and thankfulness that they are used to it. My kids are very matter-of-fact about things many children don’t even know exist, like brain injuries, heart surgery, funerals, and cemeteries.

Last night, my four-year-old son told an acquaintance of mine, “We used to have six kids in our family, but my sister Elli died.” I wish I could be that open every day. Some days I don’t want to talk about it, to admit it out loud. I guess we never quite outgrow the denial phase.

Every one of our family is haunted by fear. We know death intimately and its habit of surprise. As I expected, the kids have worked through the death of their sister in phases, as they’ve understood more and more, or grown to ask different questions. I see it in their eyes when they catch a cold or cut themselves or need dental work or walk into a room with lots of medical equipment, like we did yesterday. The youngest had a checkup at the hospital, and one of his tests was in an exam room prepared with everything for a patient from the ICU. I saw the panic in my daughter’s eyes as she took in the ventilator, monitors, i.v. pumps, racks of medications and syringes and lines, and rows of med labels.

“Mom, does my brother need all that?” she asked, holding on to me tightly.

“No, honey. They have those things for other children, but your brother doesn’t need any of it. They will just use that one computer over there.” I hugged her.

She relaxed a little when the technician entered the room, pushed all the unneeded equipment against the wall, and sat down at the computer I had pointed out.

I am thankful that so far, my kids are fairly open about their questions. I am thankful that we can be with them to guide them through the emotions and fears and processing they are doing now, especially since Scott and I are so familiar with it all ourselves. But a part of me still weeps at the loss of our innocence.


Life: unmasked buttonOn Wednesdays I host the Life:Unmasked meme, where we dare to take off our masks, write naked, and share the real us. The instructions are simple: include a link back to this post in your post (you can use this short link: http://wp.me/p2n5xv-xQ ). Copy the direct link to your post into the linky below. Then visit a couple others and leave a comment to let them know you stopped by. I will do my best to do the same.

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  1. Yes, I would imagine there is a huge loss of innocence, but with that said, your babies will have the compassion that many adults do not have. They will be young ministers to children and adults alike without even knowing it…just through their sweet words and actions!

  2. There’s so much in here that I echo yes to. I don’t know how it happens, this yearning to protect our children from the things that are rubbish in this world. It has taken me by surprise. It’s somehow okay for me, but, please not for him… I guess I need to remember that i’m not home yet.

  3. You are stronger than you know, and you’ve taught them so much about enduring. JJ is right, the compassion you’re nurturing in them is so much deeper than typical kids.

  4. {Melinda} Joy, my heart aches for you. And yet I echo what the others said about this tragedy growing a compassion in the heart of your other children that others might not have. It’s how God works everything together for good in ways we can’t comprehend.

    My son has cystic fibrosis and is more familiar with tests and needles and doctors’ offices than I would ever wish on anyone. He has never known a day in his life when he hasn’t had to take medication and/or do therapy. But he also one of the most exuberant and active kids I know. He has a a maturity beyond his years — which makes me proud and sad at the same time. There’s always gifts we receive in hardship. But watching our kids hurt is still so heartwrenching.

  5. Deep sigh.

  6. a while ago, i heard somebody say that if we don’t learn to receive comfort as a child, we’ll never learn to receive it (from God) as an adult. and that statement has impacted me {as a mom} ever since.

    b/c i don’t think we DO learn to receive comfort as a child, at least not in our culture. we learn to shake it off, make it bounce off us, or divert our attention to something else (you know — the ol’ trick when a baby’s crying — ooh here, look at this bright & shiny toy!!). and then we struggle to receive as adults (not just comfort, but our self-sufficient island thinking makes us crummy receivers, in general).

    but your kids? they’re going to be such emotionally healthy adults, joy. they’re going to know how to process the pits of life. and i say that not as a “look at the bright side” comment. because i can’t even begin to relate to the depth of pain of your family’s loss. can’t even begin . . . i’m just thankful that the Lord has continued to walk each of you through this journey, & that He’ll continue to do that throughout your kids’ (& your own) phases of grieving, fear, doubt, & also those longed-for moments of joy, and soul comfort.

    i love that heart of yours, joy bennett — thanks for sharing it.

  7. Joy, thank you for sharing your heart with us and for giving us a chance to share our own through Life:Unmasked. I found your blog through a friend’s link on facebook and have been personally blessed by your honesty. While I can only guess at the weightiness and depth of your experience as a parent, I do remember being a kid. In that light, I think it is a precious and wonderful thing that your children feel safe asking you questions.

  8. We have friends (two sets) who have recently lost their son’s to cancer. It should not be that children should go before their elders. Children learn early that there is suffering in this world, yet God is able to bring comfort to the aching heart. Life does not always seem fair, but God still heals, delivers and there are times for what ever is the reason – – he does NOT.