Thursday, October 31, 2013
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Most of my days I can handle the fact that I had a daughter who was stillborn. I can say it, I can remember it and I can look forward to the fact that I will see her again. I can answer my son’s questions, and validate his thoughts when he brings her up. I can be strong for him. I can be strong for myself. The funny thing is that lately when I have told people that things are much better most are happy for me and glad for our healing and the strength that God has given. Often though, when I express that thought, someone will say to me or email me to remind me that “Grief is like that. One day you will feel better, but then you will feel worse again.” Or, my favorite, “It’s not over yet”. I just nod my head and smile, but inside my brain is screaming “Do you not think I know this?” Like I don’t know that there are and will always be days when the pain of losing her washes over me like a wave, ripping off any protection that I have built up against that hurt. And the reality is that for my whole life this will continue to happen. That is why there is no such thing as “getting over it”. There is only healing and moving forward, but never getting to a place where grief cannot reach out and grip your heart.
Last week was one of those good moments when I can hold it together. I was in the grocery store with my son and then for no reason at all, in the middle of the pasta, he looked up at me and said “I still miss my baby sister.” He told me of how he wished he could feed her baby food and push her stroller and then he showed me what he thought happened when she died by making a cartoonish last gasp and falling backwards onto the floor. So with people all walking past us, I bent down and talked to him. I didn’t want to whisper because I don’t want him to ever feel discomfort or shame talking about her, so in a normal voice I reassured him that she didn’t die like that and reminded him that he saw her and that she was peaceful and beautiful. He looked up at me from my makeshift lap squatting down in the aisle and said “I want to have another one that will come home and live with us”. I hugged him and we stood up and carried on to the checkout. That day I did it.
The next day was Ash Wednesday, and as our reverend spoke on his meditation about “storing your treasures in Heaven” I couldn’t help but think about my treasure, stored for me, so I just looked up at the ceiling and tried to delay the tears from coming, and as I walked up to receive my ashen cross I continued to stop them. I made it until I picked my son up in the nursery and he kept demanding to know what the cross was for and wanted me to make one for him so I did and while buckling him into his car seat I said that the cross reminds us all that we will someday die and go to Jesus. He nodded in agreement and then opened his arms wide saying with all the enthusiasm in the world “And I will say ‘Baby Sister, I am SO HAPPY to see you’”! It was then that I did lose it. The covering that builds up each day as I focus on life and living and on loving and on the good parts of what I shared with my daughter was ripped off. I laid my head on his lap and cried.
It’s like most of the time; the true reality of what we have lost doesn’t always sink in. I feel like my son sometimes when he thinks she might just show up anyway…. Sometimes I feel like this loss will soften, like there is some end to it, but these times bring the reality quickly. I will live my whole with this. I can look at babies and play with them. I can see baby clothes and be okay, but one day I heard a baby cry and I had to excuse myself from the room. The stark contrast between that living child and the silence that filled the room when my own daughter was born with no movement…no sound, was too much for me.
And this will be my life. Some days I know I can handle it. Some days I think I’ll never make it down this path put before me carrying that burden. I know, though, that I have no choice and that all my life I will have times where grief overcomes me. It’s a reality I can’t escape and I truly no one should worry that I will forget it. I won’t.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
If you haven’t met me, let me introduce myself. I am a type A personality. At least I think so. I don’t know a lot about personalities, but from what I hear, that’s probably me although over the years I have softened….a lot. I was talking to my counselor about it the other day during my visit. We were talking about the appointment my husband and I had with the high risk maternal fetal doctor. My regular OB had sent us for a consult to see what steps, if any, needed to be taken in the future, and if there were any tests they could think of to run. We had to wait for about 2 weeks to get in, and when we got there he told us what we figured he would – that after looking over 40 pages of paperwork in my chart, he found our series of unfortunate incidences and tragedy to be “bad luck” – no testing or further visits needed. It was no surprise to us at all – we were told at the hospital that the cause of our baby’s death was very clearly a cord accident that had no cause other than accidental. We were told the same by our doctor also. And now, we were being told by another doctor, but for some reason I couldn’t help feeling let down. I was really downright sad for a few days and I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, in all reality he had given us the best possible news – that we were not high risk in any way and that our chances of a healthy baby in the future was the same as any other couple trying to have a baby. Sounds good. The best news possible after what we have been through, but I realized that the best wasn’t good enough. I realized that nothing short of “everything will be fine” would make me feel any better and less afraid and that being a doctor he couldn’t say that. He told us the truth meaning that like everyone we have to face a 20 percent chance of miscarriage….a 1 percent chance of stillbirth. Those numbers might be acceptable to some – they were to us once too - but now, having been on the astronomically losing side of odds, statistics are no comfort. I guess it was just another reality check that there are no, and will be no guarantees which is just what I was discussing with my doctor, commenting on the fact that people with anxiety usually face control issues of some sort. I am no exception, but I do recognize it and have actively tried to change it. For many years, I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. Everything from how the towels were folded to peace in Israel, I was sure would fall apart if I didn’t do it, and I am so grateful that I am not like that today. My counselor asked how that happened and as I read off a list of extraordinarily difficult situations from my college years, to my divorce, to the last four years, all of which were out of my control, she just looked at me. Then she asked “And your response to all that was to let go of control a little more each time”? It didn’t occur to me before then, but it’s true. Instead of holding on tighter, I let go. It wasn’t an innate response, but you can either allow struggle to strengthen you or defeat you, and pretending to have control when it was becoming increasingly clear that I didn’t have all that much, sure seemed like a fraud and a denial and a failure. I do have hope in the future, and my hope is in my ability to continue to trust God with the outcome.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Grief is a very hard concept to explain. It is different for all people and different for all situations. It is a process, and while it does have a definite start, it probably has no real end. The shift from unbearable, to tolerable, to…well….. to something that is just a part of you which is indiscernible from your other parts is impossible to pinpoint. I don’t know where I am on that continuum. I did realize just the other day that when I respond “good” when people ask how I am doing, I actually mean it. I have been responding “okay” or “good” to that question since the beginning because there is nothing else really to say. Even though the response is the same, the feelings behind it have shifted dramatically. When I was asked that question, the words from my mouth were forced and the pain in my heart welled up at even having to say them. Because I wasn’t good. I was consumed by grief and I realize that while it’s still there, it is no longer consuming me. My response now is focused on life and hope and thoughts of now. I think that’s a good thing. It sure feels better. It made me start thinking about how it is that that happens. I remember all too well the second by second wavering between grief and hope in the days and weeks after my daughter’s death. It is a horrible, gut wrenching existence… barely an existence at all. For a few seconds alone, you can start to put your life into some sort of perspective, but before you can get a clear image, a feeling of hope at all, that chocking wave of grief passes over your body and lands on your chest crushing you back into despair. It’s like trying to claw your way out of a hole, and getting your fingers dug into the steep sides enough to barely life your feet of the ground and then losing your grasp….over and over….tens of thousands of times a day. It seems that after even a short time of that, we would give up. The grief would win, choking the hope out of us completely, but it doesn’t.
1 Thessalonians 4:13
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
These two verses came to me many times in cards and in prayers, but I didn’t really have a place for them in my understanding. I do now. Grief would win, if we look at the situation with human eyes, but it is because of a power greater than ourselves that that seed of hope can grow. The seconds between grief and despair become minutes. Each time, we climb out of that hole just a tiny bit more before falling back. And then somehow, miraculously, you find yourself with more hope than grief, more life than defeat, and that my friends, is by the grace of God.