It's been quite a while since I've visited this page, inspired to share my experiences. The truth is, since the last post in December 2012 I haven't felt inspired to write or had any desire to share about my life without Noah, and it has been incredibly difficult to even visit this website. Several months ago I attempted to begin compiling all the posts and finally start my book, but the pain of it all was too much to bear. Whoever coined the phrase "time heals all wounds" must have never lost a child. I will submit that time does nothing to alleviate the pain of child loss, no matter the age of the child at the time of his/her death.
Today marks two years since Noah's death...as I'm typing this sentence almost to the minute. I have been planning for days to publish a blog on this anniversary, trying desperately to determine what it should say, reveal, expose. I still don't know exactly why I'm here writing...these words may not be inspired but I pray at least they will be real, felt deeply, and have purpose.
I suppose I should begin by explaining what John and I have been up to since my last post. Last May we decided it was a good time to purchase a home. We loved serving the youth in our church and felt secure in our job/calling there, so we started looking around Calera, a small town about 30 miles south of the city of Birmingham, AL. We found a home with a beautiful backyard view which happened to overlook the neighborhood where we lived when Noah passed away. It felt right to be back in the town where we were last with him. We purposefully planned our move during the first anniversary of his death, hoping it would provide some distraction from the painful reminders of one year without him. (I don't recall how effective that strategy was, but I do remember that I absolutely hated the physical act moving and hope we never do it again for a while!) Shortly after our move we became very busy as senior high youth leaders with summer youth trips/events and saw the Lord work in wonderful ways in our own lives and the lives of several of our students and adult leaders. After our summer experiences, serving at the church became increasingly difficult as the direction we felt God was leading us in ministry was not approved of or blessed by some of the church leadership and congregation. John and I prayed, sought wise counsel, and finally pleaded with the Lord to provide an answer. We did not want to leave the students we loved and ministered to for over two years, but we had peace to leave the congregation and did so in January of this year. The are some battles the Lord asks us to fight, and some that He allows us to walk away from. It was hard, and very sad, but we could not serve with integrity in that capacity any longer. We were hurt, and struggled with being bitter, but we have seen that God will provide us with a way out of every temptation when we look to Him for strength (1 Corinthians 10:13). We love the people of that congregation, appreciate all they have done for us during our time with them, and pray God's blessing on the ministries there.
Since leaving our position at the church, God has been faithful to provide for our needs and give us direction and vision. We have a media company, Innovative Media Pros. John David is excellent at producing commercials, instructional videos, webcasts, motion graphics, real estate HD video tours, testimony videos for churches as well as consulting for churches in need of audio/video upgrades. I'm so proud of him for stepping out in faith to provide for our family in a way that is honoring to God and satisfies his desire to create...and he does it well! If you would like to see some of his work you can visit the business website here. The beauty of this new business is not just paying our bills, but it frees us up to travel and share our testimony to any church that would have us! John has written many songs through Noah's illness and after his death, and they have provided us with an opportunity to share our pain and struggle with several welcoming congregations already. Our true desire is to bring encouragement to those who have lost a loved one and are questioning or doubting their faith in God, those who are angry because God said "no" to their prayer, those that are hurting and don't see how the Lord could make something beautiful from the ashes in their lives. When John has a platform to share our story, it isn't easy. The raw emotion of Noah's loss will often bubble up and it is a painful thing to experience...but it is beautiful to see the Lord come and encourage His people through scripture and song, and soften the hearts that may have been hardened by death and loss. This is our purpose, and we would love to come share with your congregation. You can contact John David through his website www.johndavidcrowe.com, and listen to some of his songs there.
So, apparently starting a business and a traveling ministry aren't enough, so we have added another exciting endeavor to our plate: The Noah Crowe Foundation! Our goal through this foundation is to enable families of children with a terminal or life-threatening diagnosis to capture digital memories through photography and videography, by providing them with quality cameras and computers, as well as offering our video services to create slide-shows and graphics, etc. for their family events/memorial service. We were so blessed with the ability to purchase a good camera and laptop after Noah's diagnosis and John was intentional to capture as many moments as possible on video and in pictures. While caring for Noah, thoughts of taking pictures were the farthest thing from my mind. But now those videos and pictures are the most precious things that we have in this world because they preserve the memory of our amazing son. We want families to know how important it is to make time for taking pictures and capturing intimate family moments in-between (and even during) hospital visits and taking medication. We can become so enveloped with the disease that we forget to live in the midst of it, and we want all families to be encouraged live 100%, no matter what. (If you would like to contribute a tax-deductible donation to this foundation on this second anniversary of Noah's death, or any day for that matter, visit this link:
Live 100%...it's a hard thing to accomplish when you are suffering from emotional or physical pain. When circumstances are bleak, not fulfilling, when life is tough, it's difficult to push forward and put one foot in front of the other. Since Noah's death John and I have been met with much grief and the trauma of helplessly watching your child die threatens to steal your sanity. I've written above about the logistical parts of life, what we are doing to keep living. But there is an inner struggle that we don't often speak about publicly in detail. Shortly after Noah's passing my grief began manifesting itself through anxiety, which overwhelmed my body and resulted in fainting. Fortunately that has now resolved. My biggest struggle since then are my thoughts. We watch videos and look at pictures and try to fill our minds with positive images and memories, but the torturous ones sometimes will invade the good. At the most random moments, I will experience a flashback so realistic that it sends a chill through my body and brings a lump into my throat. The hard memories of his sickness, treatments, watching him die, they are ones I don't want to forget because they are a part of his life. But I consistently ask for strength from the Lord to take them captive and control when and how I want to remember.
I have dreamed about Noah several times since his death, and every time I see him in my dreams (except the first when he was healed and running around playing) he has still been sick. Recently the dreams have revealed that I had lost my mind, for example I would try to get to Noah, thinking he was at the hospital or with a relative and I had forgotten about him and was franticly searching for him; the people around me were calmly trying to talk me out of it, reminding me he was dead. Waking up from a dream where you are insane is frightening, and realizing it was just a dream is quite a relief. I'm praying that my dreams will become good and encouraging instead of threatening and fearful. Last night I saw him again, this time it was peaceful. We were sitting at a table together, he looked at me and said simply, "I can't come back, Mom." That's all I remember.
I know we all have our struggles, those things in life that threaten to steal joy and sanity. I know we all give in to those struggles sometimes, we medicate ourselves with whatever takes the pain away for a few moments. I'm not alone in my grief. We all feel it for something we've lost...or never received. How do we live 100% while it feels like the world around us is falling apart? Trust in the Lord. How can I trust in the Lord when He has denied my request to my deepest desire? He said no to His own Son, for the good of creation...for you and me. Jesus prayed in the garden for "this cup to pass from Me. But not My will, but Yours, God," (Matthew 26:39). I don't know why or how, and I don't have all the answers or great understanding, but I trust the Lord to work all things for His good and glory. I wrote this four weeks after Noah's death:
"Even when none of this life makes sense, even when I feel so much emotional pain and torment…trust Him. In this world we will have trouble, but be of good cheer, Christ has overcome the world. I find my hope in Him, because He promises I will see Him, and Noah, in heaven. No matter what this life brings, Jesus will overcome it for us. Whether here or in eternity, only He knows, and why….but nevertheless we do overcome when we choose to trust and follow Him. It’s not easy, especially in the worst moments of my life, but I will do my best."
I'm going to stick with that. Jesus is our overcomer. Some of you reading this may not believe that, but I do. He is my hope, and death can't take that from me.
Lastly, I would like to share something very good. John and I have kept this mostly to ourselves until a few weeks ago, but we are expecting our little girl to make her entrance into the world in late September. Her name is Jovie Alexandra, and I'm sure Noah is doing a happy dance anticipating her arrival. Her name comes from "jovial," meaning joyful. Alexandra, the feminine form of Alexander (my dad's and Noah's middle name), means helper of man. We have named our children with names we want to reflect their character. Jovie will be a joyful helper of man. :) This has been a bittersweet experience, though. We are overjoyed at this gift of life and look forward to growing our family, but this precious new life does in no way replace nor does it cover up the pain of losing Noah. I am tempted to worry about Jovie, her health and development (as are all expectant mothers, I'm sure). It has stretched me to pray for well-being, but in the end submit her life to the Lord and ask His will to be done. Sometimes His permissive will is not what we desire. God, give me the strength to accept Your will and trust in Your sovereignty. This little girl will bring glory and honor to Your name. (View our announcement video here.)
Life is an adventure! As I'm climbing up that hill I talked about in my 12/10/12 blog, there are bumps and falls and even crashes, but I keep getting back up and pushing higher towards the top, where my victory is seen. I'm going to get my book finished, and I'll let you know how it goes. Thank you for still reading, even though I've been silent for so long. I trust that I will have more and more to write about in the coming days, and I may start another blog for those updates. Keep seeking the Lord, and living 100%!
These posts are written by Noah's parents Jessica & John David Crowe. The default author is Jess, and those written by John David will be noted.