"I'm sorry. There is no heart beat."
Those were the words spoken right before the sorrow and anguish hit. This week has held more agony than I thought possible. But it has also held more love than I have ever known before ever ever. And that's what I want to write about.
I fell in love with a boy when I was fifteen years old. We became grown ups with dreams and plans for a future together. He asked me to marry him at the front of our church on a Sunday morning in front of all of our family and friends. We built a home together...literally bricks and all. We brought our two precious children to that home from the hospital. At times we grew together and others we grew separately. We hit lows that took lots of tears, prayer, forgiveness, grace, and time to dig out of. We healed. We became stronger. And then we were thrown for a loop when an expired, seven year old pregnancy test came out positive. But there was no heart beat. After 12 weeks of dreaming, hoping, planning, we were left with emptiness.
There are no words. No possible way I can describe for you what it feels like. I don't want to even try. Nothing would do it justice. But in the midst of that pain my husband, that boy I said yes to 14 years ago, was the most incredible example of Christ's love for me. I have never been so raw, so fragile and Levi protected me, cherished me, held me, covered me in his tears and prayers, and began my healing process. His hands gave me strength, kept me grounded, held me up. He was suffering alongside me but was burdened even more by being my rock, my defender, my partner in grief. God's Word tells us that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. I am telling you, I have never been more aware of how much Jesus loves me, loves all of us, as I have been this week.
Addie's first grade teacher sent me a beautiful quote and I have found so much truth in it. "If we do not grieve, we cannot be comforted. That is where we 'live' within the suffering."
Every text of, "you are loved," "I am here for you," "we are praying," every lovingly prepared meal, every beautiful card, the bright yellow flowers, the chocolate, the lovely smelling soaps, the coffee, the "I've been there and you too will one day not hurt like you do now," all were like warmth from the sun. Nothing takes away the pain but the hurt doesn't lessen the incredible feeling of being loved. I treasure all of those gifts of comfort and I understand that without this loss I would not have the honor of being comforted.
Having experienced comfort and love from others has given me a new understanding of compassion and what ways I can show love to others who are experiencing grief. Space is a big deal. At least it has been for me. I think everyone grieves and heals differently but it has been so important for me to have space to do as I feel. To figure out what I feel. Simple words of love have been so meaningful yet safe because they comfort me without forcing me to relive hard memories. I have so many friends who have dealt with miscarriage and I never truly understood...now I do. And I hope that someday I can add some warmth to someone's day with a simple squeeze to the hand and to say, "I've been there. It will be okay." I will check on the dads and not just ask how the mom is doing because that man lost a child too and needs just as much comfort. I have already and will continue to lift those friends of mine facing the same suffering of a lost child up in prayer more regularly because I now know their pain and a part of me is grateful for that. Grateful for the call and given responsibility to comfort as I have been comforted.
More than anything I have been healing by God's truth. Satan wants us to believe lies that destroy us, that lead us to depression. I've been there. I've experienced depression in my past. For me it was a place of numbness, not caring, feeling nothing. I REFUSE to let my child's life coming to an end take me back to that place because the very fact that our child ever existed at all was a beautiful miracle crafted by the Creator. And I have much to rejoice for in the midst of my suffering for you see, our little bird, as we have lovingly called this baby, is waiting for us in eternity. Our story isn't over. It doesn't end. It continues after death and for that I have never been more grateful. I feel so much desire for God's kingdom to come so we can be reunited with our child yet I am still tethered to this world because there is much work to do. I have these two amazing big kids who I delight in and it is my ultimate prayer and desire for them to love and know Jesus and for us to share eternity together.
I have begun praying this scripture over my family, "I pray that God, the source of HOPE, will fill you completely with JOY and PEACE because you trust in Him. Then you will OVERFLOW with CONFIDENT HOPE through the POWER of the Holy Spirit." (Rom. 15:13)
One morning while we were in Hawaii, just two weeks ago, I was lying in bed, the breeze was blowing through the windows. I was rubbing my belly while I listened to Jack and Addie's chatter over Levi's grizzly bear snores and I thought to myself, "I have never been happier in my whole life." At first that memory made me sad. I felt like that kind of joy was now impossible. But I realize that it is moments like the one in Hawaii that are just small glimmers of what eternity will feel like. And that is where our true hope comes from. It comes from the truth that one day we will live every moment like that moment and our joy will never end. There will be no death. There will be no sorrow. And our story will be more beautiful than ever.
Knowing God's promises doesn't make the tears stop. The sorrow still exist today and probably tomorrow and however long it takes. I'm okay with that. Losing a child is worthy of grief. I have barely begun to make my way back into real life and when I have made effort to be around people I feel weird and they feel weird. I went for a run today. It was sunny and warm and healing. I felt stronger for it. I still cried a bit. I can't wear makeup. No point. But I can curl my hair and making an effort at normalcy feels good. I guess what I'm saying is even though all of that up there sounds like I've got this all figured out and I'm actively seeking joy, I still will need some grace. Long hugs are probably not a good idea. I don't want to talk about it unless I bring it up. If I cry that's kinda the norm right now so just go with it. If I laugh or smile or crack a joke (because I am just so stinkin funny), it doesn't mean that I won't cry two seconds later. I may be distant at times. My smile might be fake and I might be awkward for the sake of lightening the mood. I've never done this before. I don't know how to be normal again but I'm sure I'll get there...or I'll just settle in to being weird. Don't avoid me. Just be awkward with me. Continue to pray for us and know that you are a blessing to our hearts.