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Dancing With a Limp

When Leah died in 2014, we not only lost our daughter, we also lost so very much more. Sometimes it’s hard to even quantify how much we have lost. Before Leah became ill, family life for the six of us was punctuated by many activities that we enjoyed doing together, like family bike rides, going on family picnics and playing board games together.

After Leah died, doing things together as a family became excruciatingly painful because the ‘empty chair’ was so conspicuous and Leah’s absence was felt so keenly by each of us. What once felt like fun just wasn’t fun anymore and each of us seemed to become lost and isolated in our grief. Alongside yearning for my daughter I also yearned for the family life that we once had.

On many occasions I have wrestled with God about all of this; over how I think things should be. I have often reflected on the Old Testament Bible story where Jacob wrestled with the angel:

Genesis 32:24-31 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

“So Jacob was left alone. Then a man wrestled with him until dawn. 25 When the man saw that he could not win against Jacob, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that it was dislocated as they wrestled. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go; it’s almost dawn.”

But Jacob answered, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.”

27 So the man asked him, “What’s your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob but Israel [He Struggles With God], because you have struggled with God and with men—and you have won.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

The man answered, “Why do you ask for my name?” Then he blessed Jacob there. 30 So Jacob named that place Peniel [Face of God], because he said, “I have seen God face to face, but my life was saved.” 31 The sun rose as he passed Penuel. He was limping because of his hip.”

Over the past two years, slowly and painfully, baby step by baby step, sometimes with the help of others, we have sought to rebuild family life and to again find joy in the simple things like forest walks and family picnics.

Anne Lamott in her relatively well known quote describing grief, also refers to limping:

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

Jacob limped for the rest of his life and in an emotional sense, I will too.

The good news though, is that with God’s help I can learn to dance despite my limp.

Vicky Whyte

Vicky lives in Northern Ireland with her husband and two younger children. All she ever wanted in life was to get married, have kids, serve Jesus and love other people. Just quietly and without too much excitement. Her favorite spare time activities are catching up with friends or getting lost in a good book. Then, in 2013, family life changed forever. Leah, the second eldest of their four children, was diagnosed with a rare genetic mutation and went through a bone marrow transplant. Nine months after her initial diagnosis, Leah developed a rare side effect of her treatment and died shortly after her 16th birthday. Devastated and heartbroken by her daughter's death, Vicky has found that blogging helps her to trace the rainbows through the rain and see God's hand in everything.

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