This is the next post in a two-week series which chronicles my journey through a miscarriage that occurred in the fall of 2011. Although it is a story of heartbreak, it is also one filled with God’s tender mercy. Made only more beautiful knowing we will welcome our newest baby in September of 2014, the very month our last little one went Home.
Grief is a strange emotion. You think you have it perfectly contained. That it has quietly moved past you…
And then, wham.
It knocks you down. Seemingly out of absolutely nowhere. Taking your ever-loving breath away.
So you try to analyze why it happened, where it came from, praying that if you can just figure it out, you can keep it from happening again. But the truth is, grief simply comes.
In a breath. In a whisper. In a gut-ripping punch.
Or even, perhaps, the spice aisle at the grocery story. The place where I had broken down earlier that year. Days after losing a student to aplastic anemia.
It wasn’t that anything in the aisle triggered a memory of her. It wasn’t even that her death was on my mind as I walked into the store. It just hit.
Her memory. Her passion. Her beautiful life.
One that was amazingly brilliant. One that saw everything in a beautiful way. One that had touched mine.
So much so that even now, as I write of my own loss, I remember her…
Her life. Her spunk. Her reasons to smile.
You see, every day, no matter how crappy she felt, she would find one. One reason to smile, one reason she was blessed. And if you were really lucky, she posted it on her blog named appropriately, “A Reason to Smile.”
But even with the memory of her outlook, this loss nearly broke me. I had journeyed through so many emotions to embrace this baby that the loss cut deeper than I had ever thought possible.
Yes, my memories were limited. Yes, my dreams had been cut short of fruition. Yes, I never even knew if I had been carrying a boy or a girl.
I had been irrevocably changed by the brilliance and beauty of the life that was inside me. And perhaps that is the true heartache of pregnancy loss.
It is as devastating as any other but you are the only one who grieves. Because you are the only one who knew the life that was lost. And it can hurt beyond imagination.
You cry. And cry. And cry.
I cried when I saw my prenatal vitamins on the bathroom counter after the sonogram. I cried when I found a teething toy that I had set aside in a kitchen drawer. And I cried when I realized the maternity clothes I had just found at a garage sale would never get worn.
But then one day, I stopped.
It happened that following Monday after the sonogram. And I really believed I had it all back together. Even after I heard from my OB nurse who called to confirm that the second blood draw validated the miscarriage.
But then came Tuesday.
The day two of my best friends sent flowers. The day my husband kept checking in on me. And the day my nurse from rheumatology called late in the evening just to say how sorry she was and how deep a loss she knew this to be.
But the flowers. The beautiful, life-filled flowers?
They sent me over the proverbial sobbing edge.
The process of taking them out of the box. Reading the sweet note that accompanied them. And sniffling all the way to the table where I lovingly placed the vase that encased them.
Not hiding my emotions terribly well from the three little faces who were my constant audience, my five-year-old piped up, “Mom, why on earth are you a crying? Flowers are a good thing.”
And they were. A very good thing. But they were also another reminder of what I’d lost.
Even as they were a reminder of what I had been given.
I realized in that moment that once you believe you have a handle on your own grief, you want to keep it there. But the grief and kindness that others offer on your behalf can send you reeling. Right back into the place that you are desperately trying to leave.
And part of me wanted to grieve alone.
It was the reason I had told only a handful of people that I was even pregnant. I wanted their prayer and support but I also wanted the freedom to walk through my grief on my own terms. Point blank, I wanted control.
I wanted to trust God in my grief only so far as I felt comfortable. I wanted it to look nice and neat and perfect. I wanted to wrap it up in a bow, sprinkle it with a little perfume and say,
“Tada! This is grief!!!”
But it doesn’t work that way, friends.
Grief is messy and unpredictable and runs its own course. A course that in so many ways, royally sucks. But in the same token, grief is also one of the greatest teachers in our otherwise, white picket fence, first-world lives.
And I had a choice, I could tango with grief or set it quietly on the shelf. I could deal with what was or put on the mask of “Tada!” I could swim deeply in its saddest waters or bury it all in the tasking of my days.
I had to choose to grieve, even though in many ways it felt like grief chose me.
My heart was already caught, tangled up in overwhelming pain. And I knew I needed more than flowers or kindness or my own gumption. Quite simply, my heart knew what I needed, what I longed for and what was also in no way some trite, little pious collection of words that I once heard…
I simply needed Jesus.
I needed a constant companion who would love me in my deepest, ugliest hurt, waking up with me in the middle of the night, holding me close and dancing this grief thing out. I needed to be pushed by a partner who would make me weave through the twists and the bends and the twirls that made me sick. I needed Him.
And even though I dreaded the dance, I knew in my core something was coming…
Maybe it was hope. Maybe it was beauty. But maybe, just maybe, it was my reason to smile.