I didn’t know if my marriage would survive those terrible months. It almost didn’t. But almost as quickly as it started, it was over. Arlynne knew that her life was not going the way God planned it and she turned. She stopped fighting us. She stopped drinking. She found different friends. She was transformed.
And she was amazing.
Arlynne was the first person to lend someone an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on or hand to help. She wasn’t perfect. She was still obsessed with her schedule. She still wanted things the way she wanted them. But she brought a lot of grace to everyone around her. She knew she was loved by her Father God and she was dedicated to sharing that love to anyone who would listen. It was such a blessing to me. It was a blessing to a lot of people. The passion she showed in her rebellion was the same passion that she had about her faith and her family.
I have very few regrets about Arlynne and her death. I know that she knew how much I loved her. She might even know how much I still do. I know that God had her firmly in His hand. She did not misstep. She did what He made her to do. Believing that gave me peace in devastating circumstances. It still does. One thing I wish, though, is that we hadn’t had to go through that time of rebellion.
I think about how easy it would have been to drive her to her old school. It doesn’t seem like it would have been that big a deal. I wish I could go back and save her and me the heartache. I wish I could have avoided that 18 months of pain and just had peace.
Now, history is repeating itself. Now Eden is the one who is rebelling. She is difficult. Maybe not as defiant as Arlynne was but not easy. Far from it. She is different. She is plagued by fears. She is out-spoken and disrespectful. Sometimes I wonder if she will ever like me again. I wonder if she will ever be that sweet little girl that she used to be again.
And I am not responsible this time. I didn’t make her change schools half-way through junior high. I haven’t out-stubborned her like I did Arlynne. But she is in a similar place. She is in the middle of teenage angst.
The realization that I didn’t bring this on for Eden has relieved me of a lot of guilt. Arlynne’s rebellion wasn’t my fault. I realize that Arlynne would have gone through this regardless of the circumstances. Switching schools didn’t have anything to do with it. If it hadn’t been about school it would have been something else for us to butt heads over. She had to spread her wings and figure a few things out then. It was her time to do it. And, somehow, we survived. Not unscathed, but the emotional bumps and bruises changed her. They changed me.
I realized that Arlynne was better because of that time of rebellion. She figured out where her priorities lay. She was passionate and could have gone off in any number of directions. By her choosing God, though, and being so intentional about her desire to follow Him, I know that she is in Heaven. I know I’ll see her again.
I don’t feel like I have the energy to go through this again. I would rather do the nighttime feedings and dirty diapers or the constant chauffeuring than this emotional headlock that it feels like I am in now. I don’t want to feel like I have to choose between people that I love. I don’t want to feel like a human rope in a game of tug-of-war like it was with Arlynne.
I am afraid. I don’t want to love someone as much as I loved Arlynne and lose her. I am afraid that my scarred heart might not be able to recover. I don’t know if I can live through that teenage angst and come through to a new level of respect and love only to have to lose someone else. I’m afraid I might never recover.
Eden is not Arlynne. Pete and I are not the same anymore. We have had to endure things since Arlynne’s rebellion that most people never have to experience. I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. Burying Arlynne has changed us unequivocally. But I don’t know if I have the strength to do this again.
I am so thankful that I don’t have to do this alone. Even if I didn’t have Pete, I still have my faith that my Father God has this. He can give me the strength to go through whatever Eden choses to do. I have put my trust in His ability to walk with them. I give Him the worry. I give Him my fears. I give Him my kids, knowing He loves them even more, so much more, than I ever could.
Sometimes I forget. I pick them back up. I start worrying again. That is when I need the reminder of another person, maybe another mom with the same faith, someone who has been there, that this will pass. I will survive. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be better because of it.