Repetitive processes built this patio. Rusted screw after rusted screw were removed and warped wood hauled out of the backyard, trip by trip. Then we dug into the clay and leveled the earth, removed more clay and put clay back down. The gravel and sand followed as we made dozens of trips to the front to grab more bags of each, grabbed the straight edge and cut the plastic bags. Dub packed and pounded the earth creating a solid foundation.
Each step created brief euphoria as we reveled in the incremental completion of the project. Throughout the week, I took partial days of vacation and would rush home to immerse myself in this physical task.
We placed each paver on the leveled sand, stone after stone, creating an alternating pattern that mimics the randomness of nature. The final steps were just as repetitive but a great deal more tedious. To hold the stones in place, a polymeric sand is worked into the cracks between each paver. However, once the cracks are filled, the extra polymeric sand cannot stay on top of the pavers. It has to be removed.
A leaf blower can be used as long as it doesn’t remove the sand from between the stones. True to Dub’s work ethic, we touched every stone on the patio, viewing every crack and making sure it held the sand that would solidify our work. To work the remaining sand into the unfilled, we took a 2 inch soft bristled paint brush and gently moved the sand into the cracks. Our task was also to remove the excess.
I determined quickly that I had to move in one direction along the stones and would carefully fill cracks moving sand toward the outer edge row by row. Despite my efforts, extra sand remained. I never moved every grain.
I am never far from thoughts of my children. Concentrating on that sand and those cracks reminded me of being labor with both of them. I could handle the physical pain of childbirth, at least 18 hours with both babies. I found something on which to concentrate in the room, and I could prevail through the contractions that gripped my abdomen every 8 minutes. Even when I wanted the epidural with Wade, the doctor said I didn’t need it. I remember the pain.
Then, the thought of the process of the last 98 days walked across my brain. Childbirth pain does not compare. I watched how my hand meticulously guided the paintbrush along each stone. I thought about the places in this journey where I have delicately fought for control only to look back and see more sand in the path I thought I had cleared.
I am still looking for the mental acuity to prevail through this pain. The repetitive loop I find myself in just keeps playing. There are times when scripture lies warm like her zebra blanket around my heart and times when it sits on the page empty. There are times when my heart opens, and I can pray and cry out to the God that has provided me with so much love and times when I am sure my cries to Him are muffled by the anger I still carry.
I am thankful for a God that is big enough for my fear, for my anger, for my faithless failings. I know He is there and that he loves us. I know he was with Taylor the moment of impact. I believe the words of Isaiah 41:13 – “ For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’”
I am thankful for the mind He gave me that looks for ways to name these emotions even if I will never be able to understand why she could only be here for such a short time. I believe the psalmist in chapter 116 who cries, “The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes to all who call on him in truth. He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them.”
When the question “Why?” wonders its way back into my brain, I am reminded of the number of children that have been lost in the last 98 days and the number of children we lost prior to July 27th. There have been too many – the question isn’t, “Why me?” The question is, “Why would I be spared this pain when so many have already endured it?”
The question is: “What will I do with the next 98 days to be as bright as my baby girl and as courageous of my sweet son?”
I am thankful for twenty years, thousands of memories, a foundation like the packed stone and sand of my new patio – every rock, every paver, every grain of sand laid with love and intention.