Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Real

Today it has been one month since Caden died.
I am sad. My heart hurts.

The past few days have been hard. The grief, if that is what this is, is like a throbbing pain that starts by squeezing my heart and works it's way out through my fingertips. I can feel the hurt. I have cried. I have sobbed. I have sat and stared at the dust particles dance in and out of the sunlight. I have read my bible and thanked God. I have prayed for comfort, for release from some of the pain. I have prayed for you, who are praying for me.

I went to Caden's grave today. I sat and cried for my little girl. Stupid thoughts went through my head, like "it's so cold today, my poor, sweet baby is in the cold." I know she is not there. I just cannot stop being a mommy I guess. I long to touch her soft cheek, to show her the beautiful falling leaves. To put on the pink sweater I bought her a month ago that she never got to wear. I want to hold her, and kiss her. I want her. My arms ache with the loss of her.

I was reading another blog yesterday and the lady who wrote it had lost a daughter. Suddenly, mid sentence, I could take no more. I was completely overwhelmed by the thought that this, my life without my baby girl, is forever. There was too much time, too much pain and too much of my weakness in that one moment. I sprinted from the computer and locked myself in the bathroom. The air was too thick to breathe, the motion of the earth was shoving me to my knees. I was lost, for a brief moment in time, in the grief. I slowly regained my composure and righted myself. 5 min. later I walked out of the bathroom back to normalcy...well maybe not normalcy, but not crazy, hysterical crying woman anyway. I dodged the computer and decided, no more tonight...clearly I was not ready for this woman's amazing words...maybe tomorrow. (or next year whenever I become brave again :))

So many of you have commented to me how amazing and strong I am. It is not me...it is Christ in me. I am the woman in the sentences above. The crier, the doubter, the one who crumbles under the weight of it all...I am weak. I want to be real with you, so you may see the power Christ has in my life. I cry, I collapse in sobbing spasms and just try to hold myself upright. I cry out to God to take it away. I want out...

I am weak, but He is strong.

You see Him.

I praise Him for that.

2 Corinthians 12:9 the Lord says "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.


Andy and I long to know how the life and death our of precious daughter has changed lives. I am not a scrapbooker ( I know many of you are shocked, but it is far too expensive for me and it is an on-going project...the thought of an unfinished anything undoes me.) and I love the thought of keeping a journal but I have never been one to write. This blog is slowly becoming my journal, my scrapbook, my memory of my life, of Caden's life. So I ask a favor.

If my daughter's life or death has changed your life, or someone else's life around you, please, please, leave a comment sharing these stories with Andy and I.

We know God is using this in people's lives, and He has been gracious enough to show us little glimpses of that, but I long to see more. Help me remember the work God has done and continues to do, by leaving a comment about how Caden's life and death has affected you, this way not only I can have the privilege of seeing God's work but others can too. Please. (as you can see I am not above begging! :))

15 comments:

Extraordinary Ordinary Life said...

I am sending you an e-mail.

Stacey said...

i don't know how i came across your blog but i happened upon it one night while you were away on your trip. i was shocked as i read it and could not get you or your family out of my mind. my husband and i have prayed for you ever since. your strength through christ is an incredible testimony. in times like this when we cry to Him to let us NOT be the example this time, he is always there. something like this can rock your faith to the core. and days, it might. there will be days when you're angry with Him, but he wants us to give it all to him. the anger, disappointment, guilt anything that you're feeling He wants it all given to him. In turn you are able to give Him the glory and touch so many lives out there. you are amazing and i continue to read your blog to see how you're doing. we all have small hurts and things we long for but when i see your pain, i know that what i experience on a day to day basis pales in comparison. thank you for sharing your feelings and for being so real. it really is awesome to see Him giving you strength every day to breathe, take one more step, read blogs..... there are so many people praying for you. if we can pray for something specific, please let me know. know that you are surrounded by love all over the country.
Stacey

Elbie said...

Read my blog.

Elbie said...

I also wanted to tell you that I felt that many many people heard the gospel that never had in a way they never would have at Caden's funeral....I think hearts were softened because of the circumstance and the message was recieved and accepted. I had friends there that needed to hear it. I'm sure others did as well. So maybe Caden helped secure eternity for some unbelievers.

Andy and Cari Chastain said...

this is an email from a friend...

Hello. I love you. I just had a small outburst in front of my computer.
I wanted to share how I have been affected by you. It was good to hear that it helped you to know when others were hurting with you – I just felt unjustified in my hurt, you know. And I know that’s probably silly. Anyway, I have hurt with you and for you. I remember when I found out, and I just sobbed. I know I have never cried like that before. It was awful. And then I thought of you and how you felt, and I cried harder. Since that week, I have hurt so much. I know it doesn’t amount to what you have to be feeling, but I am happy to hurt for you, in a vain effort to somehow relieve you. My chest aches for you. Every time I get to take care of one of my babies, I am sad for you and I am sad that Caden isn’t here. Then I remind myself that she is so much happier than she ever could be, and will continue to be happy forever. It still hurts, though. I have also learned to savor my children even more. I can’t do much, and begin to think of Caden. I feel guilty for still having mine with me. & that makes me hold them even tighter.
Here’s what I have learned from you. I know you say that your strength is God through you, and I know that is. The difference that I get, is you choose to let Him through, which is huge. That has had the greatest impact on me. Sometimes when I’m alone or thinking about my kids, or whenever, I’ll get a small panic attack, my chest hurts immensely. I feel, “what if that happens to me?” Then I think, so what if it does, there’s nothing I can do. Then I think about how you can be so strong and gracious and genuinely mean all of it, and that helps. You have made the decision to let God work through you and you know it’s all under His command. I cannot believe the strength that it takes just to do that.
I haven’t cried much since then, but have ached. And most of it is for you, and trying desperately to find some way that I can be there, more than just, “let me know...”
She was absolutely beautiful. I am so happy to have been able to love her and squish her and hold her and cuddle her. When you want to talk about her, I want to hear. I want to listen intently and soak up every detail. I want to ask you questions about her and let you be the proud, loving mommy you always will be. I also want to be there if you need a place to fall down. I will be there.
In summation, I am still trying to figure out how to live with this loss in my life, no matter how small of a part she was to me. And when I feel that confusion and sorrow, I immediately think of you and Andy, and my pain is even more so. I love you. I want to hurt for you, and will continue to hurt for you. Thank you for letting me know that it’s OK if I still hurt so much.
I miss your sweet baby girl, and I cannot wait to see her again.

Heidi Stone said...

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gerolami19 said...

Your continued trust in God in the midst of such a tragic situation is amazing. I do not know you, but you and your family will be in my prayers as I hurt for you and all you have been through.

Sarah said...

Undoubtedly the life and death of Caden has touched me in ways I can not express via computer. She has touched me to the core of my being. I did not know Caden well, I only saw glimpses of her. But I do know children, and they are a wonderful blessing from the Lord. What I do know is that Caden was loved immensly. I remember your dad...he was so excited when you were pregnant with her. I was getting coffee one morning before church and he said "Do you want to see a picture of my grand- daughter?" "Grand-daughter?" I questioned. You were still pregnant at the time, I'm guessing about 20 weeks. He so proudly showing people the ultrasound picture! I could hear the tenderness in his voice, he loved her so. I remember thinking, wow, that baby is going to be loved like nothing else when she's born!

Oh, teach us to number our days. That's what keeps circulating through my mind. Lord, teach me to number my days! He has given me so much, four beautiful children whom I love so dearly. But they could be taken from me in an instant, just as little Caden was taken from your aching arms. I recall one night I had a dream I had lost one of my children. I can't remember which one because the image was so horrifying I have tried very hard to supress the intense feeling in which that dream brought me. I awakened, screaming and petrified. My arms ached. I longed to hold my baby...the nightmare felt so real. I am so sorry for both of you. She was so beautiful, so precious, and the pain must be so intense. Maybe at times too much to handle. But God gives the grace. Continue to lean on Him as you have been. He is teaching huge lessons to all who are watching.

In Christs Love,
Sarah Masquelier

Anonymous said...

You don't know me, but I am a friend of a friend. She shared your story on her blog a month ago, and I have been praying ever since. Your story has challenged me to slow down and treasure each and every moment with my daughter (19 months) and my family. Some things seem so hard to bear, but you have taught me that God can be trusted. Faith doesn't make bad things go away, but it does make them able to go through. Thank you for sharing your story. It has been an encouragement to me.

Jacie said...

Hi. This is Jacie. I've been reading your blog for many weeks. Your testimony really impressed me, because it is so rare. I just wanted you to know that you are a great role model for me. I really look up to you.

I also wanted to tell you how your testimony and Caden's life impacted me. I know never met her. Molly and I wanted to, though, we were just busy. Now I wish we'd been just a little less busy, just to meet her for a minute. I know we missed meeting a very special daughter of God. We love you and know you are a great mommy. Anyway, your strength, your testimony in Christ, impressed me completely. I know He felt your pain in Gethsemane before He died. (That's what I'm reading about in my Bible study.)He loves you and knows your pain, and He wouldn't give you something you couldn't bear.

Even though I never met her, Caden has been in my thoughts lately. I just randomly think of her. I've seen the pictures. She looks so sweet. I really, really feel like her spirit was just so sweet, she had to go back to Heavenly Father again. I know she's watching you and she wants you to be happy. She makes me remember how important family is, and how we shouldn't take things for granted, especially loved ones.

~Jacie

katherine said...

praying for you this morning. isaiah 61:1-4. i love you!

Grandma Barb said...

My turn to write thoughts of Caden and the shocking day that has impacted us all - Cari, this comes with one of those WARNINGS you asked for - so stop reading it this isn't a good time!

I wish I could say the day and week are a blur, but they aren't - the details of Caden's death and the week following are burned into my mind. It started as a normal Monday - I even pulled up behind Cari at a stop sign and she smiled and waved. I called her to see how the doctor's appointment had gone - Caden was better, they were going home for a nap. At 4 Cari called and asked me to pray - she was in the ambulance on her way to the hospital. Of course I said I would pray and immediately I called my girls to enlist their prayers as well. Within an hour I had two calls with the mind numbing news - one from Cari who said words I never imagined I would hear - "Caden's gone." I fell apart. I called my girls back (Stacey made plans to come immediately so she could be near if Cari needed her, Mindy headed over to the hospital to love and support the family). I sobbed, called Ken and got out the words "please come home....Caden". When you've been married as long as we have, the tone of voice and the sob told him everything and his moan on the other end of the phone told me he understood. He came right home, glued me together, prayed, and sent me out the door to teach God's Word. I can attest to the power of prayer and the enabling of God's Holy Spirit.
The rest of the week is hard to describe. There were tears, prayers, smiles, laughter, joy, grief and sorrow - very hard to explain to someone who doesn't have Christ in their life or the truth and reality of Caden being in the presence of God. The girls were in and out of the house that week - working on picture boards and putting together the slide show for Saturday. I'm sure they must have downloaded several hundred pictures of Caden onto my computer. At first I thought how can I keep looking at these pictures without falling apart? But each time one popped up on the screen it turned out to be such a blessing as I had the privilege of savoring the images of sweet little Caden. I've since picked only my favorites to leave on my computer and I enjoy the moments when they randomly pop on my screen mixed in with pictures of my grandsons. Thank you girls for using my computer!

My Caden memories? How her smile made her body move, her nose wrinkle and her eyes sparkle! Her chubby cheeks that you couldn't get enough of and wanted to kiss right off her face! The little cleft in her chin. And her high pitched squeal (honestly I've never in my life heard a child do this, she sounded like a whistling tea kettle - I'm not kidding!)I decide she must have done it simply because she could! But there also was a point at which the squeal crossed the line from "look at the noise I can make, to - come and get me I'm done being alone!" I loved how her paci always matched her outfits, and oh did I enjoy the outfits!! As a grandma of boys, Caden's girlie-ness was so fun and she was a good sport about letting us dress her up!! But I also miss the cuddles and rocking in a soft little pink blanket that Caden's Mommy gave me just for those special cuddle times. I have what I call "Caden moments" but I am so grateful for how the kids shared their special little one with all of us.

I've known Cari since she was five, and Andy since around his high school years and I've had the privilege of watching them both grow up physically, but more importantly how they've grown spiritually. You don't just wake up in the middle of a nightmare and easily begin to trust God. Instead, you begin trusting God by the spiritual choices you make when life is "good". Then when you wake up in the middle of that nightmare you begin putting into practice these truths you've stored in your soul (even when you don't feel like it) and you are able to say "God is good" even when the situation is not. That's the example of what I've seen in these two young people as they let the rest of us into the nightmare that God is allowing them to walk though. They've made choices to read their Bibles and pray daily in order to draw closer to Jesus Christ - their personal and intimate Savior. They've placed themselves in a church and Bible studies where they can be challenged to learn God's Word not for the sake of knowledge but with the attitude of "teach me Lord how to live this and apply it". Through those choices of habit, and the spirtiual growth they've chosen to let God do in their lives, they have the Well of God's Word and the power of his Holy Spirit within them to do what looks to the world like an impossible task. With God all things are possible. As Cari has described in her writings, the hurt is so deep at times it seems unbearable, but back to the spiritual well they go for more strength to take the next step.

What can you and I do for Andy, Cari and their families who so desperately want to see how God is using the life and death of this precious baby? Continue to pray. The hurt is deep and it takes God's power to continue to be focused through this time. Copy them, follow their example. Make those choices that you see them making: such as choosing a God focus, praisng God, growing spiritually. If you don't know Christ as your own personal Savior, that is the ultimate spiritual fruit they desire. If that's a decision you've made as a result of their walk and witness, tell them. What a blessing and an encouragement that would be!! And if you do know Christ, follow the example they have given us of preparing for the time when the unthinkable happens. Did you read your Bible and pray this morning - I bet they did. How are you making choices to personally draw closer to Jesus Christ? Those are the things that are giving Cari and Andy the strength that you and I see. It's God. And let them know how you have spiritually been impacted and what steps you are taking and choices you are making as a result of Caden's life and death. Love them. Don't be afraid to cry with them or to say Caden's name or to tell them how special they are to you. Share their grief by coming along side but increase their joy by letting them peek under the curtain of eternity with what God is doing in your life spiritually!

Anonymous said...

Cari and Andy-
I'm having a hard time coming up with words that describe how Caden's life/death has effected me. I can feel what I want to say but I can't seem to find words strong enough. Encouraged is one of the best I can come up with. I looked it up and found that its synonyms mean what my heart is feeling.
synonyms encourage , inspirit , hearten , embolden mean to fill with courage or strength of purpose. encourage suggests the raising of one's confidence especially by an external agency. inspirit, somewhat literary, implies instilling life, energy, courage, or vigor into something. hearten implies the lifting of dispiritedness or despondency by an infusion of fresh courage or zeal. embolden implies the giving of courage sufficient to overcome timidity or reluctance.
I am encouraged to be even closer to the Lord. Caden's death has jolted me out of complacency and given me a renewed passion and purpose. I have been encouraged to let the Lord be my strength as you have done. Encouraged to praise Him in any and every circumstance. Encouraged to fervently pray for people around me who are hurting. Encouraged to let the people I love know that I love them. (By the way, I love you guys!) It's amazing to me that in her short life, God used her to touch so many lives. I can't wait to meet her! :)
Jen Fisher

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Julie said...

Random Caden thoughts.... So I often find myself drifting into Caden thoughts....often when I'm driving. I drift off into the memories I have of being around her, I re-live the phone call I received from Sherwin to tell me that she had died, and I visualize the stories that you shared with us while we were home for the funeral of what that day was like for you and Andy. I have these flashbulb memories of her funeral, the service, and our time together. While I was in DC I had a few of those moments. The first was mile 17 of the marathon ironically....I was thinking about how Caden's death has impacted me and it brought me back to a conversation/thought you had shared with me while we were home. Heaven had never been real to me until this....I mean I always believed in a heaven, but it wasn't tangible to me....I have a whole new concept of the human soul now and a new appreciation for how our bodies are merely the "carrying cases" for that soul.....that's an important perspective to have and I hope I am able to keep that.

I also had a moment while on the metro - Caden's death gave me a new perspective on priorities and the preciousness of life....I am so about my schedule...what happens in my day....how productive I am during my hours.....(quite type A) - but Caden's life has made me appreciate life more.....less of an emphasis on the productivity and more on the preciousness of life itself...I find that I appreciate little children more than I did before. Truly seeing them as gifts that we have been allowed or given the privilege to take care of.
I know that I have had the chance to share your story with many of my co-workers who listen about the faith that you have and marvel..and just don't understand. I know that it has had a ripple effect where even some of my friends have had the chance to tell their friends/co-workers who do not understand a relationship with God...may the ripple continue...