Saturday, February 11, 2012


Jordan was working out of town this week.  When he is gone my sadness settles in, I am left alone with my thoughts, and my too quiet house.  Although there are times when I soak up the silence, at night my instinct is to cling to distraction.  So Friday night I played Words with Friends and watched Downton Abbey until my brain was mush.  I hoped this mindless distraction would lull me to sleep, but the episode ended and I was wide awake alone in my dark room.  I sat in my bed and looked at Jonah's cradle, the beautiful wooden cradle my dad made for him.  It is still right next to my bed, but instead of holding my little one, it has become a repository for books and journals.  I looked at that misused empty cradle and suddenly life felt so unfair.  I felt my heart break again.  In my isolated room I had no one to impress, no one to be strong for, and I fell apart.  No, I threw a tantrum.

David, a little boy that comes to my art class has taught me a lot about tantrums.  He loves coming to my class, not so much for the art, but for the toys, and for the other children.  He especially loves the wooden train.  He laughs aloud as he plays and seems to experience pure joy.  When the time comes to leave, his joy seems prematurely and arbitrarily severed.  He doesn't understand.  Sometimes he collapses to the ground, and sometimes he clings to the toys.  He wails and moans.  His tears and snot flow freely.  When I watch him I am sure he believes that he will never be back, that he will never see his train again, and that there is no reason to leave.  Of course his wise mother knows better and tries to soothe him.  She says calmly "I know you love your train," "It is time to go, but we will come back another day," "This is really sad, but it will be okay." Eventually, David submits to his mother, sometimes by persuasion, sometimes by bribery, sometimes by gentle force. 

I thought about David as I threw my own tantrum, as I wailed and moaned and wallowed in my grief.  I cursed the seemingly arbitrary nature of life.  I felt myself perpetuating the emotion as if to prove to my Heavenly Father how upset I was.  I pounded on the bed, I clung to Jonah's blanket, and wept bitterly pleading for God to somehow change the laws of nature, to reverse what has been done, or to at least give me instant and perfect understanding.  And yet I knew those demands were irrational.  In the aftermath of my breakdown, surrounded by crumpled tissues, I began watching videos of Jonah.  I don't do this often, because it is painful.  As I watched my boy, and sat with my heartbreak, I felt the intensity of the moment gradually distill into peace.  I thought about what a gift Jonah was to me.  I could imagine my wise Heavenly Father speaking to me, like David's mother, saying "I know you love your boy."  "It was time for him to go, but you will be together again." "This is really sad, but it will be okay."  Gradually my heart softened, I accepted my sadness, and I fell asleep. 

I am still trying to make sense of the difficult things that happen in life.  I am trying to understand why this has happened to my beautiful son and my family.  But even as I question, I believe that God is a loving parent.  I believe that he sees the big picture.  He knows the end and the beginning.  Those things that seem arbitrary and unfair in my eyes, have purpose in His.  When the tantrums pass, and I return to myself, I find incredible peace in submitting my narrow perspective and stubborn will to His, because He is a kind and wise and loving parent. 

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.


  1. Dear Julie,
    Thank you for sharing your words. You have an amazing ability to write. Although you do not know me, I have heard lots about you and think of you and pray for you. I am Kris Gillmans' daughter-in-law. You and I were in the hospital at the same time when you had Jonah. (My daughter was born on July 13th)Kris frequently kept me updated on your sweet boy and what a joy he was! I was devastated for your loss when I learned of his passing.
    John 14:27 is one of my favorite scriptures. I call it my "Carson Scripture", which was the scripture I referred to often when my own son, Carson passed away a short 5 years ago.
    I know there is no pain like that of losing a child and it is a void that can never be filled.

    I'm amazed at what a humble, righteous person you are. You are an example to all!
    -Jamie Gillman

    1. This post was fabulous! I had to laugh as I read the title and then quickly saw the picture of David. He does do a great job of teaching us, doesn't he. And I am frankly glad you could have your tantrum. Sometimes when I watch David throw his tantrums I can't help but wonder what it would be like to have one of my own. ;)

  2. Julie, your example of faith astounds me. I admire you greatly.

  3. Jules, reading this broke my heart again for you. I am sorry you had to be alone and enveloped in sorrow and pain. It is just so hard to turn to the lord during those times, but I am glad you did and that you found enough peace to get some rest.

    ( on a silly note, I too was watching downton abbey last night.)

  4. You don't know me, but my husband has been one of your UPS drivers there at the school and my daughter introduced me to your blog. I have kept quiet long enough. Just wanted you to know how much I enjoy your honest and beautiful writing and how much you touch my life.