Motherhood, Grief, and my friend Chuck

Let me tell you about my friend, Chuck Ball.

I met Chuck when I was 17 years old and preparing to go on my first overseas missions trip to the country of Albania. He was 63 years old and, having been to Albania numerous times before, was one of the team leaders.

Chuck has a bit of a gruff exterior, and when I first got to know him I was more than a little intimidated by him. As it turns out, that gruffness was all show; you’d be hard pressed to find a more generous, encouraging, kind, and even funny man.

On that high school missions trip, thanks in large part to Chuck’s leadership, my love for Albania began. Fast-forward to today and I have been to Albania five times; three of these trips were with Chuck. He was a true friend and mentor, and in this moment it feels impossible to overstate the impact he has had on my life.

Two weeks ago I received news that Chuck had a heart attack and was at the hospital. The updates I heard throughout the day didn’t sound great, but I couldn’t bring myself to believe that this was the end. As I assured one friend, “I’m sure he’ll be fine, you know Chuck. We’ll see him at Christmas and give him a hard time about how he’s not allowed to get old and he’ll roll his eyes at us. It’s going to be fine, it has to be.”

Unfortunately a phone call from this same friend later than night confirmed our worst fears. Chuck had passed away. He was home in the arms of his Savior after a life so faithfully and well led.

I put the phone down and immediately burst into tears. But then something happened I wasn’t expecting, although I should have been. It’s something mundane, something that happens all the time. My ten month old reached up for me from her playpen, a big smile on her face. I had been getting her dinner when the news came, and she was hungry.

I dried my tears, picked her up, and went to get her mashed sweet potatoes off the stove. I spent the rest of the evening thinking about Chuck, but not really able to grieve the way I wanted. I couldn’t. There was dinner to eat and clean up, evening playtime to be had, bedtime stories to read… you get the picture. Mom life keeps on going, even when we want to stop.

Over the past couple of weeks since that day, I’ve realized that I have absolutely no idea how to grieve as a mom.

I’m an introvert by nature. I process sad news and major life changes best with a lot of alone time, introspection, and often times tears. Unfortunately alone time is a rare commodity these days, and while I could try to schedule a good cry in during one of Ellie’s naps, tears don’t really work that way.

I guess I’m adjusting to a new normal in more ways than one. How do I make processing my grief a priority while still maintaining the level of selflessness motherhood requires of me? What is the balance here?

I’m starting to suspect there’s no magic formula, but like all things on this motherhood journey I just need to keep prayerfully putting one foot in front of the other until I figure it out.

Grief is hard, but grief also gives us something to be thankful for. I had 13 years of learning from an incredible man, and while his loss hurts now, I would not trade his influence over those years for anything.

If you need me, I’ll be here simultaneously missing my friend and loving my family. And I’ll be sure to let you know if I discover that magic formula.

 

For Such a Time as This: Thoughts on our Baby Girl

“Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:14b

It has been nearly eight weeks since David and I found out our January baby is a sweet little girl, and I am way overdue to get my thoughts down about this big news!

Both of Baby Kberg’s grandmas came up for the big reveal and were in the ultrasound room when the tech said “three little lines… it’s a GIRL!!” Tears and very loud squeals ensued; and I spent the next several days looking and David and saying “I can’t believe we’re having a girl” over and over. Thrilled didn’t even begin to describe how we were feeling; it still doesn’t.

its-a-girlIt’s a girl! Back when my bump was tiny.

Confession time: I didn’t tell anyone, but I was convinced Baby Kberg was a boy. I don’t know why, I just had a feeling. I was looking forward to being a “boy mom” and everything that comes with raising a son, but when I heard “girl” my heart instantly melted. I know she is exactly who is supposed to join our family at this time.

This season of pregnancy has been very bittersweet, characterized by both extreme excitement and significant loss. Over the summer, two women very dear to me passed away within two months of each other. Sharon Runner and Judy Ball were incredible women of God who each mentored me in multiple ways, encouraging me in my faith, marriage, missions, career and womanhood. They loved so much bigger than themselves, and through a lifetime of service to others left a lasting impression on so many people.

About a week before we found out Baby Kberg’s gender, I tearfully confessed to David that part of me hoped we had a girl coming. Losing Sharon and Judy back to back was a significant blow. The world desperately needs good women and two of its best are now in heaven. I told David I loved the idea of raising a little girl to be a strong, faithful woman who could help carry on the legacy these women left behind.

The Lord knew what the events of this summer would be before we were even pregnant with Baby Kberg. He knew exactly what our lives would look like, and exactly who would fit into these circumstances. Our sweet baby girl is the answer to so many prayers, someone truly designed “for such a time as this.” I can’t wait to meet her!