I gave Brenna a few choices for her nap time reading today. She selected a book titled Mr. Bell’s Fixit Shop by Ronne Peltzman from our Little Golden Book collection. It was the first time I had read it to her.
As I started reading I felt God’s presence. It sounds silly, to have such a spiritual moment while reading a children’s book, but an excitement grew as I read these pages because I knew God had something for me in them.
I have been wanting to write in honor of Mila’s 6 months in heaven but I had no idea how or where to start. God gave me just what I needed.
I read aloud to Brenna:
“One afternoon, as Jill was helping Mr. Bell polish the front window, she asked, “What’s a broken heart?”
“Well,” said Mr. Bell, “when you feel so sad that you think you’ll never be happy again, that’s when you know your heart is broken.”
“Gee, ” said Jill, “I hope I never have a broken heart.
It really is that simple. No one wants a broken heart. It sounds awful! But some of us don’t have a choice. In fact, none of us do. I believe and know that all of us at one point or another will suffer from a broken heart. A place of utter brokenness and sadness so deep we don’t know if joy will ever come again. A shattering of a once whole heart will leave us looking at a million shards.
How do we go about fixing a broken heart? If only God had a Fixit shop! A storehouse of goodies just waiting to be used in unique ways to mend each and every broken heart.
No two would be repaired the same way. Each heart would be broken in different places. The pieces wouldn’t go back exactly the same as they once were, that would be impossible. God would have to combine new pieces with the old to make the repair just right.
Yes! We could simply take our broken hearts to God’s Fixit shop and leave them with Him for a little bit. He would work, tirelessly and without ever giving up hope that a repair could indeed be done, and then He would present our new hearts to us.
They would begin to beat again and happiness would return. They would look and feel very different. But in so many ways our repaired heart would be so much better than our former whole heart. The imperfections would serve as a reminder of how far our little hearts had come.
But there is a catch, our newly repaired hearts would have to go back to God’s Fixit Shop frequently, because you see, one cannot simply make one repair and call a heart fixed. A broken heart requires many, many visits to God’s Fixit shop.
While it sounds like a made up fairly tale world, that God would really have a Fixit shop, the truth is He does. It exists. The Bible mentions the word heart an upwards of 830 times, depending on which version you’re reading, and God is very much in the business of repairing hearts.
I know because I have held my broken, shattered, hurting, hopeless, helpless heart and have had absolutely no clue how to go about repairing it. But once I handed it over to God, He began the work that I alone could never have done. He knew exactly what and who my heart needed. He knew how to fit the pieces back together, not perfectly, but in a way that would allow my heart to beat again, to feel joy again.
I felt a lot like Jill for most of my life, “Gee, I hope I never have a broken heart.” I would hear of friends whose lives had been flipped upside down by an accident, a chronic illness, a death, a betrayal, an abandonment, a divorce, a job loss, and so on. But I had a hard time putting myself fully in their shoes. I cried and I prayed for them. I did my best to support them. But never having had a truly broken heart before, I didn’t know what was required to repair one.
I still can’t tell you what is required to repair anyone else’s heart but I am beginning to know what is helping to repair mine.
First and foremost I have spent the last six months asking God to “Help me.” I have uttered those words silently and out loud every single day for six months now. “Help me, Lord.” I have asked Him for direction and have entrusted my life to Him daily.
God does not disappoint. God answers. He has helped me. He has found unique tools in his arsenal to help me escape the darkness one moment at a time.
Support: God has given me the gift of support to help repair my heart. Even in the final hours of Mila’s life, we were surrounded with support. We could not have asked for a better or more loving team.
I will never forget the words Matt said to me as he packed his bags for Boston to say goodbye to Mila. “She did good, Love. Real good. I’m so proud of her. And you. Very proud papa/husband here. Give her a kiss for me. God is still working on this plan; He’s still on the throne.” No matter how many times I read and re-read those words, the tears fill my eyes. Those words spoke to my very core and brought the comfort I needed.
Days after we returned home from Boston we had an army of people supporting us. We had meals and people to help orchestrate Mila’s Celebration of Life service. Matt planned a beautiful service to honor our baby with little help from me because I had almost nothing to give at that point. Our home was clean and there were vases of roses in every room in the house. Even a photo of us with Dr Baird and Mila the day she went to heaven was placed on the table. No detail was overlooked. It was all such a physical representation of the body of Christ coming together.
Our church family has been incredible. Matt encouraged us to return to church immediately. We attended service on Sunday, just 5 days after Mila’s passing. I may have sobbed through the entire day but darn it, I made it through. I was hugged and held and loved.
Exercise: In physical form, God has given me the unexpected gift of exercise to help repair my heart. Just a few weeks after returning home a new friend encouraged me to join the gym. I didn’t realize it would be baptism by fire but within a week I was taking spin, plyo and barre classes, none of which say beginner on them, by the way.
I remember the first few spin classes I took I was somewhere between passing out, throwing up and wanting to curl up in a fetal position and cry. However, the pain I felt on the bike reminded me of the battle our sweet baby fought for four and a half months straight. I would feel like giving up on the workout but then I would picture Mila at the finish line. I would remember how good God was and is to have given us that time with her.
A few months in and I began to not only feel stronger physically but emotionally as well. I would and still pray while I workout. I talk to God and I remember our beautiful Mila.
My workouts are so much more than burning calories, they are healing me. They are an outlet for the anger, sadness, hopelessness and fear. My instructor and now friend Becky has had a bigger impact on me than she knows. The way she teaches her classes inspires me and teaches me that I’m capable of more than I think I am. Her classes have become a part of my healing and even though they cause me physical pain, they actually help to heal my real pain.
Writing: God has given me an outlet to write. I remember writing ages ago in school. I have always loved to write but when we found out about Mila’s heart I felt I had to write again. It was the only place I felt safe to share everything that was going on in my heart. Writing is therapeutic. I feel a huge weight lifted after a good writing session. I pray through every post. Again I say, “Help me, Lord.” Help me to share what you want me to share and to work through whatever you would have me work through. Bring people to You.
Counseling: counseling is not new to me. I have seen a counselor in nearly every state we have lived in. I learned early on that seeking wise counsel is not a sign of weakness but rather a tool to help us mature in areas we may not know we need help in. Matt and I have benefited greatly from counseling in the past and in our current season it has been very helpful.
I see a counselor myself almost weekly and it has allowed me to open up about a lot of things that I wouldn’t otherwise share. There is a safety found in the counseling office. I have a lot of growth areas and a lot of mountains still to climb. Grief exacerbates existing issues and I am not without my problems, grief aside. God has used counseling to strengthen me and to challenge me to walk according to His ways. It has also reminded me of how dependent I must be on Him and His will for my life.
Six months ago today a light went out. We said goodbye to Mila and our world was forever changed. I said goodbye to so many dreams and hopes and the life I knew before. I entered into a state of shock and complete emptiness. I lost so much that day. But now six months out I see how much I have gained. Mila’s entire story is a blessing. It is one that is not finished and won’t be even when we meet again in eternity. Mila has taught me more about God’s goodness and faithfulness than anything else in my life. I continue to hear about the impact Mila has made on so many lives. I couldn’t be prouder of our baby. It is one of my greatest blessings to be called her mama.
Paying it Forward: my experience has allowed me to support other heart families. It has allowed me to open myself up to love on other moms who are where we once were. I can’t say enough how life giving it is to help others navigate this kind of journey knowing full well that their story is as unique as Mila’s. I love it when God brings people into my life who need support.
Six months out and I can begin to see a tiny light again. Just this morning I commented to Matt how beautiful the morning sunlight was. It ran brilliantly across our freshly mowed grass (thank you dear husband) and it landed right on our wild flowers. The ones where the butterflies land. The butterflies that remind me of our beautiful and tiny Mila. It was a beautiful picture of God’s goodness and it made me smile.
Today I still walk around with my broken heart, the one I have entrusted to God’s care. The heart that will probably require a lifetime of repairs and the heart that will always have imperfections and scars. But those scars are beautiful and this heart is beating again.
Despite the heart shaped Mila hole that will forever be a part of my heart, happiness comes more frequently these days. I am grateful. Grateful for the sunshine and the hope of heaven and the gifts we receive here on this earth.
We are not promised a heart that will never be broken but we do have a God who will provide support and healing, all you have to do is allow Him to help. Simply say, “Help me, Lord.” He alone can mend your broken heart.
As I closed the storybook today I prayed this blessing over Brenna. I pray it over my family too:
“May the Lord bless you
and keep you;
May He make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
May He turn his face toward you
and give you peace all the days of your life.” Num 6:24-26
Thank you, Lord, for helping me. Thank you, Lord, for daily repairing my heart.
Happy six months in heaven sweet, precious, beautiful baby. You live in our hearts and in our lives. We talk about you every single day. You are not forgotten. You are a gift to our family and in many ways your life has made us all so much stronger.
We love you and miss you. The pain is far from gone but knowing you are with God in heaven brings so much comfort. Brenna tells me you send her kisses, I have no doubt that is true. Sending all our love and kisses up to heaven!!!