It has been over 2 weeks since I’ve written here. While I could legitimately say that I’ve been really busy trying to keep up with all the work of caring for our family, that would only be partially true. The rest of the story is that I am weary.

Like everyone, our family has many facets to our lives: immediate family, work, school, church, community, extended family, our inner hopes/dreams/beliefs, and more. The loss of our daughter in October triggered huge ripples across every single one of those facets, and in truth her death will continue to ripple for many months to come. But we’ve also been facing significant challenges unrelated to Elli’s death that either remain unresolved or have intensified.

Spiritually, emotionally, mentally…I’ve spent the last 9 years on one of those extreme expeditions across deserts, through jungles, over mountains. Not that I think typical parenting is easy – it’s like running a marathon through an unmapped course.

I guess since Little Boy was diagnosed with heart defects (our second child with a significant heart condition) 2 years ago (in utero), my road has taken me into the toughest terrain I’ve ever seen. I feel like we’re picking our way along a rocky cliff face in pitch dark with a fierce wind whipping around our 150-pound backpacks. Like if we make one wrong move, we’ll go plummeting into an inescapable crevasse. We’ve certainly made plenty of mistakes already, slipping, sliding, cutting up knees and elbows… all of which adds to the difficulty and pain. And after so many months with no let up in sight, I will admit — my knees are buckling.

Usually when I’m wrestling with something, writing helps me sift through it. It has been different lately because recently, people have been behind the bolts of lightning threatening to jolt us off the cliff. I’ve been let down and worse, beaten down, by people who I thought I could trust. The pain of that has been worse than losing Elli. And it’s tough to write about…maybe because it seems more real that way.

To be quite honest, I just want to channel my inner turtle, pull my limbs and head into a sturdy shell, and hide until the storm clears, the lightning throwers find another target, the sun emerges, and the path reappears. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the only way out of the storm is to move through it. We just have no idea yet which direction forward is.

It often feels lonely and isolated here, but I’ve found many many people out here clinging to this slippery cliff in the pitch-dark storm. Some have reached a little more secure position and they have been generous with encouragement and just the right word for a particularly agonizing moment.

At times, I have seriously considered letting go, throwing myself into a free fall, giving up. It has been so hard for so long that I am spent. Depleted. Dry.

I’ve spent many many hours in prayer these last several months, more than ever before. Most of my day is one long run-on prayer for help, direction, answers to questions that probably have no answer.

That constant prayer is the one thing keeping me clinging to the rock. While I’ve even wondered if a real God is out there at times, He has shown Himself in many amazing ways. He has sent blessings through surprising messengers (perhaps to counter-balance the surprise attacks?). He has brought old friends back into my life and grown good friends out of acquaintances.

I still have hard questions without answers. Everything still hurts, still exhausts, still tempts me to build walls and hide. But I hope one day to look around and discover that the cliffs have melted into foothills, the storm has blown over, and fruit is dripping off nearby trees.