Wednesday, November 7, 2007

cotton

As I type, I sit in a kitchen I've known for years, with people who've known me since the day I was born. There is a wonderful comfort in it, a sense of belonging and value and feeling like you fit, even though often I realize my experiences cast me in a separate mold that certainly has its own form and shape. It's easy to compare yourself and feel like no one understands; easy, because it's true. But the challenge is in knowing it and still, still leaning out for that warmth and familiarity in what you do have in common with those you love. Sometimes that commonality is as simple and deep as bloodlines. I am thankful I can look around this room and call these people, not only in love but in reality, family.

So the trip to Texas has gone well. I suspected it might, suspected I'd be glad I came and thankful to be surrounded by these faces. The first few days were filled with busyness; the world was new and fresh, not being the one I stomp around in most days, and distracting. There was laughter and lots of deep talks and even a ride on horseback for me, which basically equated to feeling like a part of me was living that hadn't in a long, long time. I started riding when I was five; I was never that great, but I did find a sense of freedom and joy in it that little else could match. Having been away from it for several years, it was refreshing and vitalizing to be "back in the saddle." Indeed, just what I needed.

I am now in the tiny West Texas town my mom grew up in, a town that feels as timeless and constant to me as almost any place on Earth. I have come here every single summer - and sometimes, Christmases - of my life and very little has changed. There's something deeply calming about that. This would be a place that Copeland would have come to know, too, and I find my heart aching in new ways knowing I'll never get to share it with her. Still, what makes it beautiful is simply a small part of where she is already.

I don't remember ever having come here in the fall, and as I walked alone down the highway towards my grandfather's grave in the local cemetery, I was pleasantly suprised to see tufts of white scattered every few feet: cotton. The fields have only just been stripped and what remains of the little snow-colored plants drifts out onto the road with the wind, catching on brambles and rocks. I had cotton bolls in my bouquet when Conor and I were married and of course I've known that they are inherently a part of my history and, thus, a part of me, but I'd never really seen the stuff or touched it before. Walking along the highway I held some in my hands and marveled at how soft it is, even straight out of the ground. The wind was particularly fierce that afternoon and as I approached the cemetery I thought of Copeland as I held that cotton in my palm - how its sweet, soft warmth would be cast off the moment I let it go, just as she was. Only with her, I didn't let go. My hands were wrenched open.

I stood in front of my grandfather's grave and felt a sort of comfort in knowing he is with her, that although she has been carried off she is not alone. I let the cotton go, just to see what happened - to see how far the wind would carry it. It flew from my hand and caught, about ten feet away, on the ground - and stuck. The dramatic image was skewed a bit... I had almost hoped it would sail away like some red balloon until I couldn't see it any longer.

I write all of this in the midst of yet another season in the grief. It's pressing in, the weight of it, and I wondered last night if perhaps that's because I'm ready for it to. Maybe I can bear it more than I could've a few weeks ago. I can only hope that I, too, will be carried.

My heart aches for those who've gone before me on this path - those who know the ache and agony of losing someone they never really got to know. And my heart aches for those who are walking behind, who have yet to tread here, where I am. Pray for them. Pray that they will be reminded that what has come from God is good, that what has returned to Him is blessed, and that the time that passes until we are all together once again - well, that is as fleeting as a breath, a vapor, a gust of wind.


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54 comments:

erika said...

boothe, so glad you are enjoying your time in texas. been praying for you a lot lately. thanks for the update. as usual, God speaks to me thru you. so glad you took the time to get away and rest, reflect, and to be fully loved by your family. there is nothing like precious family... soak it all in while you are there. God is so good, thanks for being a reminder of that.
blessings and love,
erika

Elizabeth S said...

What a beautiful picture. Thank you for painting that so perfectly for me.

Devin said...

Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

Jaclyn said...

Boothe-
my husband and i are big Rob Bell fans. I know you have mentioned his book Velvet Elvis before in your blog. We just watched a short DVD of his. He mentions how creation started with a tree in the garden of eden but before that tree there was endless time...forever that our minds cannot comprehend. Rob mentions that in Revelation the bible talks about the end. About the return of Christ and in the middle of this end the bible describes a tree. After the tree is eternity. He painted this picture and said now we are here living...we are between the trees. That is where you are now. Between the trees. They are close together in this temporary life. Copeland is just behind the tree...contently waiting for you.

Mandy said...

I am thinking of you, Boothe. Five months out, I am at a different place but the loss remains the same. I am praying for you and my prayer for our sweet girls is that they are just as they were when they left us when we get to heaven.

Love,
Mandy

simonsays said...

I'm so glad Texas is going well. I loved this blog! It's so good that you keep being so honest - it really helps us know how to pray for you.

Maybe spinning next week?? We'll be back from Disney Tuesday night.

Take care -

Love, Julie

Anonymous said...

May the peace of the Lord be with you...

Emily said...

Beautiful, you are. :)

Kenzie Stanfield said...

Thank you for continuing to share this journey that has touched so many lives. Thank you for the prayers for families that are now in the midst of this... we are one of those such families and I can't even begin to tell you (because you already know) how precious each prayer is as we walk this road. I am continuing to pray for your family and that you feel comfort in this vast land of Texas. If you wouldn't mind, I would love to post a link to your blog on mine, as the prayer warriors for us, can also become ones for y'all (thestanfieldjourney.blogspot.com).

The Lord's comfort and His freedom to feel...
Kenzie

Laurie said...

Boothe, I am so thankful that this time you were uncertain of is turning out to be a healing place in your walk of sorrow and of hope. My prayers continue for you that the Lord continues bringing you through and holding you close to his heart. I think of you and Copeland daily like family and pray.

Laurie in Ca.

Tracy said...

I don't know you...but you have helped me so much. I lost my 25 year old sister 2 months ago and your beautiful writting helps me express my own feelings. Thank You!!...You'll be in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Still praying for you...

Amanda said...

Wow! What a breathtaking entry. Still thinking of you, Boothe. Our God will carry you. That is his promise.

Sarah :) said...

Boothe, I've only commented here a couple of times, but my heart aches with your loss and rejoices with your grip on Jesus--yes, your God-given ability to hold on for dear life--every time I read your entries.

I am one who has gone before. In July 2004, I went into labor at nearly 37 weeks, only to arrive at the hospital and learn that my womb had failed my healthy son, Joshua, and he was gone. Just like that.

The first 6 months after losing him were intensely difficult at times, strangely okay at others. God never left us or foresook us, true to His promise. And at 6 months, for me, something began to change. In His grace, He allowed me to begin to heal, although quite honestly, I miss my Josh every day....every single moment. Feeling healed and missing Joshua are not mutually exclusive...they can and do happen all at the same time. And will for always.

But in the midst, I can trust God. He is trustworthy. Always. That lonely day 3 years ago and every lonely day after--there have been many...but they truly are less and less lonely as the months go by. Praise God for His grace and His tight grip on us. I have truly felt Held, like the song says.

Today, I am 24 weeks pregnant. It's our first pregnancy since our loss of Joshua (although our precious Thad has joined us from Ethiopia since), and our daughter has a marker for both Trisomy 18 and 21. We will wait to see what the Lord has in store, but for now, we are thankful. I'm thankful for every kick, every movement...these moments are precious, and I treasure them.

Thank you for sharing your life--the joys and the struggles--with us, your readers. Keep struggling and keep clinging, Boothe. Copeland's life is such a beautiful testimony to God's faithfulness....she is such a gift, to you (obviously) but to so many of us, as her life has brought us to the throne of grace on your behalf. That's a good thing.

Love from your sister in Christ,
Sarah

So Blessed said...

He will carry you...it is one of His many precious promises to us.

Praise the Lord; praise God our Savior!For each day he carries us in his arms. Psalm 68:19 (NLT)

You and your family continue to be in my prayers.

ali said...

hey boothe,
this was great this morning for me to read. right after i had written on the same type of thankfulness on my blog i read yours. glad to know what God is working in your heart. leaving today for texas, hope that its as great of an experience as you had. enjoy nestling back into home.

Dee Dee in NC said...

You are a gifted writer. As one who also enjoys writing, I have learned what a wonderful gift from God is the ability to put one's thoughts into words. How many times I have not really known what I was feeling until I have written it down. How many times He has used a pen in my hand (or more recently a keyboard under my fingers) to help carry and strengthen me, to begin to heal me. I pray and believe He is doing the same for you, leading you into
wholeness and even into, perhaps,
forgiving Him. I so appreciate your transparency and your refusal to write what some might feel is the perfect Christian response to this hardship, while choosing to describe the country you see as He leads your stricken heart through this journey. Someday perhaps we will better understand why He sometimes afflicts His children, but His Word is clear that He afflicts us in love.

Dee Dee in NC said...

I am not sure I was clear in what I just wrote, about forgiving Him. I did not mean to imply that He could ever do anything wrong, yet I know that He sometimes, in His wisdom, does things that hurt. That maybe we need to give up some anger over, when the time comes and He gives us the grace to finally do so. When. That time will come.

Amy said...

Such beautiful words. Thank you for continuing to share your heart with us.

JennyB said...

Boothe, I wanted you to know TODAY God brought you to my mind. I was running around like a crazy lady and out of no where was prompted to pray for you and check in with you. Thank you for sharing your words, your struggles and your story. (This is Jenny Black by the way--i realize my id just says jennyb). Love and prayers for you and your sweet family.

Sun said...

WOW - you said it all - wow - I am blown away by this - but particularly touched by the last sentence - "that what has come from God is good, that what has returned to Him is blessed, and that the time that passes until we are all together once again - well, that is as fleeting as a breath, a vapor, a gust of wind."...how true is this...you are such a precious, faithful servant. In the midst of a broken heart and struggles that we get TINY glimpses of - you are ministering to SO many! Thank you for being willing to share your journey. Sunshine

Anonymous said...

Welcome to West Texas! That's where I live, and the cotton is beautiful right now, isn't it?

I've been lurking regularly, praying for your family, and learning from your journey.

God bless you!

Pam said...

Glad to hear from your heart once again. Glad to hear you experienced even moments of fleeting freedom. Glad to have a chance to pray for you yet again.

Anonymous said...

From a girl in a different small town in Texas, surrounded by fields of cotton, "Welcome "Home". May you continue to hear and feel the blessings of peace and comfort that Copeland is whispering in God's ear, and asking Him to send to her mommy, daddy, and sister, as she is being cradled in His gentle, loving arms.

L2donahue said...

Good Morning, Boothe! I have nothing profound for you -- Just a "hello" really. It's a beautiful Fall morning here in Franklin. I thought we'd missed it altogether, but the trees are indeed changing. There is a warm glow of golds and reds and the sunsets are so nurturing and alluring -- different than a Texas sunset -- like those I knew in Abilene -- but beautiful nonetheless -- in their own Tennessee-right -- sinking below the hilly skyline, spreading colors across the evening sky, which, by the way, arrives at about 4:45! The kids barely have time to play after school, but I kind of like the coziness -- the coming inside. It ushers in fond memories. Anyway, I'm so glad you're with family. I'm looking forward to seeing you soon. Don mentioned a saying to me the other day that Benedictine monks use in their thought processes. I'm sure that I don't have it quite correct, but the gist of it is: When the tide is in, we give thanks. When the tide is out, we look for the blessing. I liked it -- it's good when I can remember it :>) Love to you.....LL/Users/ll/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Modified/2007/Halloween 2007/IMG_1177.JPG

running wildly said...

Boothe, I just want to let you know that I have been reading you for a few weeks....and in fact, I went back into your archives to read old posts. Your words have spoken so deeply to me and through a computer screen, I can feel the Holy Spirit's presence upon you. I have been praying for you, and although we are a country apart I rest in the assurance that the Lord will use the most feeble of prayers to aid in your time of weariness.

Thank you for your candidness and willingness to show weakness. The Lord will bless you through this act of worship....which is your blog. I'm sure you have no idea how your eloquent words impact those who read them. He is glorified in you, Boothe. He is smiling at you, pleased with your obedience.

Erin Faubus said...

Boothe,
I loved reading your post about being in Farwell. It is my home and you described going back there better than I ever could. You are loved, and surrouned by so many people who love you. I hope that the trip has been good...it sounds like it has. I love you.

Erin

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

Boothe,

I have been reading your blog for several months now and have ached and cried over your sweet Copeland's story. I have been blessed and encouraged by your willingness to be transparent about this time of grief. Your writing is eloquent and lovely. Reading your thoughts has given me new perspective on God's faithfulness in the midst of grief, as I have been struggling with this presonally for about 2 years now.

In the past few weeks your musings have taken on a new meaning for me. Two weeks ago my 14 month old niece initially survived a near-drowning but died after 5 days on life support. My heart is broken over the loss of Natalie and for my sister, brother-in-law, and 3 1/2-year-old niece. Your comment about those who walk this path hit home tonight. My sister is walking it too, with the grace of God directing her steps. Thanks for sharing-- you and your family continue to be in my prayers.

Peace and grace,
Kim

nikki said...

i find your thoughts powerful and rich...thank you for sharing your gift.

Kaylane said...

I've been thinking about you a lot lately Boothe. You are an inspiration to everyone who reads your blog and I love you dearly!

Laurie said...

Praying that your weekend is as soft as "cotton" for you girl, and that your heart has had a chance to breathe in lots of love surrounded by those who love you best. You are in my heart every day and I talk to God about you all the time because He has put you here. He loves you so much and He cares deeply. So many people out here do too. Love you Boothe.
Hug Sellers for me.
Laurie in Ca.

Kim said...

Hi Boothe,
I am thinking of you and your family as always. Your post today is beautiful and allows us all to visually see you. I am so glad you have had a glimpse of happiness for a change.
I finally got my blog page done (marygracesummons.blogspot.com). I hope you do not mind but I added your blog to it. You have helped me and so many of my friends and family as we go through this journey. I think about you and pray for you daily and am thankful that God is carrying you every day. I am saddened by the number of families that I am finding that are going through this or somthing similar. We find comfort in what you said for us today. Thank You for sharing yourself so that we may have some peace and comfort.
blessings,
Kim

Anonymous said...

boothe,
i hope y'all had fun in farwell and that time with family was healing for you. wish we could have been there to see you guys. i think of you often and am always blessed by your posts. this ministry that you are doing is indescribable and i thank you for it. your words are always so eloquent and honest. may the Lord continue to work in and through you.
love you much,
courtney

JUST A MOM said...

thank you for sharing.

Meagan said...

boothe, I was so glad to get to spend time with you in Longview! I know being with family is always such a comfort to me and I can imagine that its the same for you. I'm also glad you got to see Farwell in the fall. Its always been my favorite season at home too. I just wanted to tell you that your words on this blog have blessed me and encouraged me so much. I'm not as gifted with words as you are, but I hope its encouraging to know you are making a difference by sharing your gift. I love you and am always keeping you in my prayers.
Love,
Meagan

Carrie said...

I do not know you but I have been reading your blog for a month now. I am so moved and impressed by how you express all of your emotions in writing. I am so deeply sorry for the loss of your beautiful little girl Copeland. I myself struggle everyday. I have a 15 month old son with significant developmental and health issues. I find strength in your faith and your words. Thank you for writing with such hope, positivity, and honesty.
Warm Regards,
Carrie

Anonymous said...

As I often do, I have had you on my mind today.~Jennifer

Kenzie Stanfield said...

Boothe-

I hope you don't mind, but I went ahead and added little Copeland's name to our site for Maddox... I know sometimes these blog things probably feel more like a burden, but then a sweet release when you feel you are able to find the time and strength to write. Thank you for your blessings and helping my family understand the road we are walking as well.

Prayers for yours,
Kenzie Stanfield
(thestanfieldjourney.blogspot.com)

Leanne said...

I stumbled upon your blog through the usual weird, blogging ways and immediately added it to my favorites. I hope you don't mind. Reading the opening line "struggling to know the God I love..." brought tears to my eyes. The words speak so much to my life.

I am so sorry for your loss.

Laurie said...

Just thinking about you today and asking the Lord to continue to lift you up and love on you. I think of you and Copeland often and pray. Your heart is so open and I know it blesses the families who are following in your footsteps, giving them a glimpse of hope in the Lord to be with them when their time is upon them. Bless you Boothe, you are loved.

Laurie in Ca.

megan said...

Your words are beautiful, and especially hit home for me. My Dad died last week, and a friend sent me your link because of your honest thoughts on grief that she thought might help me. I can't imagine losing a child, and I can't relate, but I do feel such loss over losing my Dad, and I have been feeling like pulling out the "you don't understand" card with my friends. What a great reminder to accept the love, and whether or not they can truly understand, letting that be enough. "Praying for you" sounds so cliche, but I know that it truly changes grief, and turns it into something that can be used for good, to glorify God. So, praying for you, in every sense of the phrase.

Anonymous said...

It was good seeing you.

Dee-Dee said...

I have followed your blog for quite some time now. I have not commented because I honestly feel quite clumsy in finding the right words to express my grief for your loss. I pray for you often. Your family is beautiful, and your writing is inspirational. I will continue to pray for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

thinking of you~Jennifer

Karen said...

Boothe, I am praying for you this holiday week. To see all that you have to be thankful for. To feel a comfort flow over you that even you cannot describe. To love those around you. Fully. Completely. To be present in these moments.

Karen

Mandy said...

Praying that you get through the holidays....I know it is hard.

Love,
Mandy
GA
www.madelinegracehopkins.blogspot.com

Sun said...

Thinking of you all right now and praying that the holidays are peaceful. I pray that you feel Him and His arms so tightly around you that you can rest in Him - knowing that He loves you each so much. Sunshine

Adam & Amy Wilson said...

Boothe, Angie Luce is one of my dearest friends and I've followed your story from knowing her. As her time to meet Poppy soon approaches, I find myself thinking of you a lot. As the days have turned to weeks, I can't imagine all of the waves of emotions you have experienced. Just wanted to let you know that I'm praying for you in Orlando, FL. May you be ever-blessed~Amy Wilson

Anonymous said...

Just wanted you to know that I am continuning to pray for you and your family.

Spencer/Schwarz Family said...

Boothe,

Just wanted to drop you a note letting you know that I am thinking and praying for you and your family during the holiday season.

Love from KY

Tanya said...

Boothe and Conor,

Found your blog just as your precious little girl went to be with Jesus. At that time, I went back and read everything you've posted (and wept). You are truly a gifted writer.

Anyway, one of the things you wrote last summer has caused me to pray for your marriage, that your relationship with each other will not only weather this tragedy, but that you will indeed grow closer to each other as you grow closer to Him.

Just as you are a blessing to so many today, I believe that you both will continue to bless Him and others with your testimony.

In Jesus' precious name, Amen.

Laurie said...

Hi Boothe, Just stopping by to let you know I think of you often and pray that the Lord continues to lift you up and carry you through this time. And that you, Conor and Sellers draw closer than ever in love and comfort for each other. You are in my heart always, and especially this holiday season that we are in. Bless you Boothe.

Laurie in Ca.

Anonymous said...

Boothe, I must admit to being worried about you, but I wanted you to know you remain in my prayers. I know this time of year is so hard. Please take care.
Karen in TN