In the past few days I've learned of numerous families who are struggling right now with infant or pregnancy loss. I didn't know all this could happen when I was younger- did it? Did people just not talk about it? When did my future go from being about myself to being about my children? When did my hearts cry change to that of a mother weeping for her child or the emptiness in her arms and womb? When did I become a part of this loss? When did loss suddenly seem all around me?
I know that God is good, and faithful- no matter what. I know that in my heart and in my head but I also know that this life brings with it no small amount of heartache. My mom had two miscarriages and I don't remember her being really sad- my mom and I are cut from very different cloths, she's infinitely more private with her emotions but even so, she says it wasn't as realistic of a loss for her as it is for me. There's nothing wrong with her reaction, just as there's nothing wrong with mine- they are just different.
I am feeling so sad. Tomorrow is both the two year birthday and anniversary of the death of my best friends first little girl Briana Joy. Every year, we fundraise, we walk, and we remember her life. The money we raise for such a great cause doesn't change the fact that any one of us would give anything to hold her here instead. September 21st always looms dark and sad, yet filled with possibility. We grieve, we celebrate her small life, we turn another page in the book of the "Days Since..." in hopes of brighter days ahead.
Yesterday, a couple from my high school lost their 3 week old son Amos to a rare genetic disorder. As I breathe, I pray that they would feel in undeniable ways the mighty, magnificently tender love of God- that he would literally shake their souls with His presence and His promise for a future full of hope. Mostly, right now I pray that they would be surrounded by people who love them to hold them up, embrace them, and walk alongside them for the days after this don't get any easier. I walked with an old friend and cried with her as we remembered her two lost little ones- and rejoiced over her two little chatty babies in the strollers in front of us. I grieved for a worship leader who lost three little lives- oh, how he and his wife understand how we feel. At my Bible Study on Wednesday, I learned of yet another miscarriage- filled with questions of "will I ever get to meet my baby?" "was it a boy or a girl?" and this is just in the past few days. And of course, there's always Rachel- always in the back of my head, in the quietness of my heart- the first little girl lost whose smile I still see, whose butterfly kisses I can still feel- June 8th... All this heartache is just in my small circle of friends, acquaintances, and loved ones. There are so many more...
Briana's mom and I have talked many times about death and the grief for those who are left behind. Briana and our baby, Amos and Rachel, all these tiny babies are not sad, not lonely, not hurting, not scared. How can they be? They'll never know imperfection- they know only life, only beauty, only fulfilled promises, only the love of God not the pain of this earth. Because of this, we should have immense peace- we should have... and I venture to assume that we all do, at some time and in some moments- but, what does their absence really mean for us? Heather, Briana's mom, said at the annual fundraiser for the Missing Grace Foundation, that while she wishes it wasn't this exact one, that through all of this, God has called her to a ministry. She's more than just Briana's mom, which is a beautiful and heavy burden to carry, but she's also being called by God to love, serve, and come alongside women who've been in similar situations. As she wades through the grief that comes daily, her light shines brighter and her heart burns purer for her little girl and those who need her.
For me, right now it means I'm in a holding pattern. It means I wait- and wait- and wait upon the Lord to renew my spirits until the day I am face to face with Him in all His glory, His mercy, His magnificent tenderness. And then I won't have to wait anymore to see my little one. Nor will any of you have to wait any longer to hold your little ones. In the mean time, while we're waiting, there are so many things we have to do. Even in the past few days, I've been so comforted by friends and loved ones who've walked where I've walked and are open to talking to me, comforting me, and okaying my reaction, whatever it may be. And I'm sure that even as we are blessed with children, we will always remember with great longing our first little one- and wait with breathless anticipation for the day we get to meet.
So, while I'm waiting for the perfection of Heaven, I hope that I can be used by God as a comfort, as a resource, as a minister to those whose hearts are broken by loss. I will not limit what God wants to do with my life, and in honor of my baby. Even now, I wait for an opportunity to hold a mommy who is grieving her loss so richly, so deeply, and just weep with her; tell her I understand, tell her it's okay to feel however she's feeling, and just be there to listen.
On September 12th, Abe and I had an opportunity to participate in a fundraising walk in honor of Briana and also in honor of our baby. We did a balloon release with hundreds of others who've lost babies at all stages. Before we released the baloons, they played Celine Dion's "Fly" and we just observed a moment of silence. I clutched that balloon so tightly, not wanting to let it go, but wanting to fully feel the loss- sometimes I feel if I'm not sad, it wasn't real and at the same time, if I'm not happy or joyful, then I'm wallowing. As I said, I'm surrounded by people who have "okayed" my responses no matter what. As the tears streamed down my face, I curled into Abe's arms and wept for our baby; for the hopes dashed, the plans foiled, the heart broken. There is evidence all around that I was pregnant- that there was a life in me at one time. There's the video from my sister's wedding where I would touch my stomach and share a secret smile with Abe, we had a secret then that I couldn't wait to share; there are ultrasound pictures, a stuffed Sleep Sheep that was the only thing I bought for our baby, my ER bracelet, and the cards from all of you, the charm on my bracelet that adds our baby to the story of my life, and my writing.
I talked to a woman about her miscarriage nine years ago. Her eyes still well with tears, her heart still hurts- she told me after she lost her baby, she became a writer. She wrote a poem for her lost baby and it hangs on her bedroom wall- a gentle, tangible reminder of the short life that impacted her whole family. This blog has become my writing- my reminder. It's as thought words just pour out of me. I'm sure I tell more than I should, more than you want to know but it's of great comfort to me to know that my words are not going unheard. When I can't speak through the tears, I can write. When I'm feeling really good, really hopeful, I can write. And, when I need to remember, I can go back to that first entry on August 15th, and remember-
I can read God's comforting words through scripture that He brought to me when I needed it most. I can find rest in Him again and again and again.
And then, with renewed hope, refreshed spirit, I can continue...
Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
A song of ascents. 1 I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Tomorrow I go back to work. For those of you who don't know this already, I am a teacher. I teach art to kids ages 5-12. I have been anxiously awaiting this day. The kids are my favorite part of teaching and I'm ready to see their bright smiles.
This past week has been like an out-of-body experience. It's been a workshop week which means that we have staff meetings and district meetings and time in our classroom to prep for the year ahead. I've found that I feel like I'm a stranger in my own skin. A friend of mine who has recently gone through losing a baby by miscarriage helped calm my fears that I might be losing my mind. She knew exactly how I felt, she still walks through it too. She calls it wading through the muck. That pretty much describes it. I feel as though my words don't even make sense. This past week, I would go to school so excited to chat and check in with my friends and find myself not wanting to talk to anyone. I felt like I wanted everyone to know why I was not myself and I didn't want anyone to know. I want everything to get back to normal and I don't want to forget the little life that was inside me. It's a bizarre feeling. I don't know what I want- I can't make decisions... it's wild. That's why I'm so very excited to get into the classroom again- my kids know nothing of what's been going on and that's refreshing. It's almost twice as hard talking to people who know about our loss and don't say anything as it is talking to those who don't know. I find I'm frustrated with people who don't know but I don't want to tell them anything. Do you see how odd this is?
I'm a pretty open person so for me to be closed off like this or unable to figure out what I want to tell people or not tell them is really unsettling. I'm just not myself right now... I hate that. I also hate that underneath all this, there's bit of nagging fear for the future, whispering quietly in the shadows. God will carry us through... IS carrying us through.
So, that's where I am... grrrr...
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Tim. 1:7