This is the last 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…
One may look at this journey thus far and wonder where the real beauty exists. I must admit that up until the day I left the hospital, I was struggling to find it myself. Deep down, I knew it was there but slowly and steadily, my grief and my illness had overtaken its presence.
Five days after going into septic shock, however, beauty or something nearly like it began to surface. In part, it was because I had the hope of going home. But it was also due to the delight of simple, everyday signs of recovery.
IV’s coming out one by one. Taking my first step out of hospital room. And even brushing my teeth at the sink.
All moments where the feeling of “normal” returned, independence was gained and life was humming to a somewhat familiar tune.
The morning I discovered I would be leaving the hospital began as every morning had…
The bustling in of doctors. The ordering of tests. And the review of my progress.
In the middle of the mayhem, I remembered a phone call that had to be made to a five-year-old star of the week. It was a brief, “have a wonderful day” kind of call. But it further convinced me that home is where I needed to be.
The need was cleverly tucked inside Grace’s conversation closer. “Mommy, I understand if you can’t come home, but I sure hope you come home to us today.”
Although I’d spoken to her a number of times over the course of my stay, this was the first memory I had of her actually voicing that she wanted me home. Up until now our conversations had ended with “Feel better soon!” and “Have fun at the hospital!”
But this time, I could hear concern in her little voice. Concern that maybe six days away was just a bit too long. Concern over the uncertainty of what more time in the hospital might mean.
So when my OB walked through the door, my first order of business was to ask him if it was, indeed, to be my last day. It seemed that the only thing between me and freedom was a sonogram of my heart. Just to make sure that no pesky clots had broken free during surgery, putting me at risk for another stroke.
And so I waited. And hoped. And even prayed.
In retrospect, it seems silly that this was my prayer considering the events of the preceding few weeks. I mean, wouldn’t God only be in the business of near death and grief? Of salving heartbreak or turning dark into light?
One would certainly think so.
And yet, that is what touches me about the heart of my Father.
Even the seemingly silly requests matter to Him. Because they matter to me. And sometimes, because they also matter to a five-year-old little girl.
So in many ways, it was not surprising that the sonogram went without complication. The results came back normal. And minutes later, I was shedding my hospital gown for a t-shirt and sweatpants.
Soon after, as I settled myself down into the wheelchair brought for my transport, I took one final look at my room. Oddly enough, I hadn’t even really noticed how beautiful my view had been until that moment. You could see trees bathed in fall colors stretching for miles and I had almost missed it.
My musing was shattered by the nurse, “Ready to get out of here?”
To which I responded enthusiastically with a fairly unimpressive fist pump and a “Hoot, yes!!!”
We passed the nurses’ station first. A face I didn’t recognize peered over the counter and said, “You are going home today?” Nodding in affirmation, I was a bit taken aback by what came out of her mouth next. “I am shocked. We thought we were going to lose you.”
My eyes stung with tears as we continued down the hallway. I had more than a handful of people say something of a similar nature over the last five days. But just like the room with a view, I had missed the emotional reality of how close I’d really been to death.
Here was someone who hadn’t taken care of me. Had never even been in my room. And yet, even she knew I was going home against some pretty amazing odds.
Not long after, the crisp fall air hit my face as we rolled through the double doors. Both my nurse and I commented as to how amazing it felt. She followed up with, “This is so fun…I never get to see someone go home!”
This time, I avoided tears but I could feel a little lump in my throat as I thought, “I get to go home.” There were many back through those double doors who would never go home. Nor would they get to roll through these same doors into the sunshine.
With my feelings sufficiently jumbled as our minivan pulled up, I gingerly climbed into my seat. Looked back at Grace, Drew and Sophie whose little faces each had smiles. And grabbed my husband’s hand as we pulled away.
Now, there could have been a great many things that I could have called beautiful…
The trees. The weather. Their smiles.
But the most beautiful thing that day was something else entirely. I realized it as I looked back at my children and saw the empty pink car seat staring back at me. Although its emptiness still stung, my heart was filled with gratitude and even joy.
You see, despite my grief, there was one seat in our car that was perfectly and beautifully full.
So there it is.
An empty car seat. A little life lost. And the beauty that followed it.
Now one may read this and assume that because I have found beauty among a big mess, I am completely healed. I assure you, however, that I still struggle. Both emotionally and physically.
But healing is much like beauty from ashes. It begins slowly. It begins from the ground up.
Just as the fire that brings the beauty hurts, the beauty that comes after the fire heals.
And yet, there is still no denying that the fire itself burns. It destroys. It brings immense pain.
You see, I still cry when I remember my baby is gone. I still grieve when I discover reminders of what I’ve lost. And I still cringe inside when others are insensitive to the loss I’ve experienced.
Because the reality is, there is still an empty car seat in my minivan. And I miss its occupant terribly. It is as though I have a piece of my heart that is somewhere else.
And yet, it is this homesick hallelujah that allows me to have hope amid my sadness. It is this quiet and nearly devastating beauty that reminds me of His love. Through sometimes small and daily things…
Whether it comes in the love of my husband, the smiles of my children or blessings I have yet to see, I rest in a specific promise. A promise that reminds my heart that no matter the fire, illness or grief, something awaits me. It is a heavenly hope that offers more than anything good on this earth.
And that something is the missing occupant of the flowered, raggedy and undoubtedly smelly, car seat . Held safely in the hands of Jesus. And waiting patiently for me to come Home.