Courtney Shadow Box Her footprints are fading. If I think about it too often, I feel sick. The kind of sick that grabs you right in the middle of your stomach and won’t let go. The sort of sickness mixed with emptiness and fear. It hurts, and it continues hurting.

When I delivered my daughter, Courtney on July 2, 1996, the nurse quickly whisked her away, cut a lock of her black hair, and placed her footprints on a special piece of paper. The certificate is entitled, “In memory of.”  It is the type of paper you are handed in your worst nightmare. I left the hospital absent of my daughter and every dream I had for her life. I only brought home that paper. Not my baby.

After returning home from the hospital, moving into a new house, and trying to come to grips with our ongoing and unchangeable situation, I bought a shadowbox frame and hung the only real and tangible memory we had of her on the wall.

Her footprints have adorned a wall ever since. Even though we now live across the country in a new home with new walls, her footprints remain. However, they are fading. The once perfectly defined little feet, with 10 tiny toes, which I used to stop and stare at constantly, now barely exist.

Even though more than 16 years have passed, when I think about another part of her vanishing from my life, it becomes enough to send me into a complete emotional breakdown. It drives a searing pain through my body all over again. It burns from the inside out.

Today, while walking past what is left of Courtney’s footprints, I began to think about how this requires another step of faith. It is one more reason to trust. Learning to live without the pronounced ink of her footprints will be much easier than it was learning to live without her. Yet, it will require another step of faith in our journey… our ongoing passage of grief.

Sometimes it seems impossible to completely let go of grief. I should probably say, “Grief travels.” Wherever you go, grief is happy to tag along. We adapt. However, the key is learning to rule over it, not the other way around.

I’m once again practicing faith, because today grief has reemerged inside moments of fading footprints. I’m thankful for a God who provides hope, who understands my pain, and takes each step of faith with me. I’m thankful that even though I still deal with some heartache, I am on the other side of the consistent ache. I can use these moments to relate to others who are not yet where I am – women who are still traveling steady with grief and praying to make it across the deep divide.

Have you learned to rule over grief? Or, is grief still ruling over you?  You can make it to the other side. With Jesus, you can make it anywhere. Trust me… I know.

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