Losing a baby- it leaves a cavernous space in our lives, in our souls, doesn’t it? Today, after a six month hiatus from writing (a season of rediscovery…more to come on that later) I am writing to and for my grieving friends. Today is the day that gives national recognition to the sweet little ones we have lost. Our precious babies who came to live within us, but never in the world.
Friends new to this path of grief and friends who have traveled it for a long time, I am so sorry, so deeply sorry for your pain. I wish I could invite each of you to come sit in my living room for a cup of something hot and we would sip and sob together, exchange stories, feelings and questions and the tight muscles of our grief would relax a bit in one another’s company. Can I at least invite you into my heart today as I share today on my girl, my grief and my God?
First, a word about my girl. She was sweet and pretty and those words just seem stupid in comparison to the indescribable richness of Anna. Nine months in my womb, eleven hours in my arms and a lifetime in my heart. This girl opened the room in my soul to motherhood and she filled it with love and longing that still takes my breath away. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of her. Not a day that goes by that I do not wish for her. There is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful for how her life and death has shaped and repurposed me. My home is now overflowing with life, four precious sons- John, Ben, Elijah and Jonah- AND I ADORE THEM!!!
Lovers of soccer, baseball, football and basketball. Lovers of words, fighting and making up. Lovers of worship and singing loudly and competing over everything and who can make their baby brother laugh the hardest. And they are lovers of their mama. They give the best hugs, the sweetest kisses and the kindest of compliments A few nights after watching them REJOICE over the CUBS six home-run post season record (did I say that right hubby?), I marveled at how much life and joy is happening in our home. I watched them in wonder and deep appreciation over who they are, how they tick, and what God has chosen to give to me. But, it was also a night where the Anna wound in my heart throbbed a little deeper. The truth is, I am not a sporty girl. I am trying, I must for the sake of hanging with and enjoying life with five males, but, it would’ve been a great night to watch a Disney movie in the other room, to wear pink pajamas, give manicures and giggle with my favorite girl. Or perhaps Anna would be cheering right alongside her brothers, rooting for the CUBS to break their 107 year losing streak, perched on the throne of her daddy’s lap wearing the pink CUBS hat we bought her when I was pregnant. The point is, she is missing and as we REJOICE on earth we are very aware of her absence.
My life is full, but of Anna, my life is very empty.
I miss her, my girl.
Now about my grief- It has been nearly eleven years since I watched Anna being carried away from me. Day-to-day, I am grateful, hopeful and joyful. Grief does not consume me, but it is not gone. I have recently realized that my “high closure” nature is a frustrated boss to my unruly grief. Grief has frayed me with loose ends that cannot be tied up this side of eternity. At times, grief makes me feel crazy, panicked. But mostly, grief makes me sad. Some days that sadness is a repetitive thought. Other days it takes me to bed. Grief is not something you can “get over” or be healed of permanently or completely. Grief is not a virus to be medicated, but a condition to be treated and like arthritis, it flares. There are moments when I move about and function totally free from grief and am even thankful for its place in my life. And then there are moments when grief rears its ugly head and my joints swell and nerves fire and I am…hurting. It comes and goes, grief. There are days when I am friendly to it and days when I am a total bully. Today, I am willing myself to befriend it instead of resent it and to let it take me to the greatest hiding place I have ever known…
Now a word about my God.
Chris and I both had nightmares last night. As we shared those with each other this morning we realized we were under the attack of fear, grief’s evil companion. And so while the house was still dark and quiet Chris prayed, “Lord help us to run to you today, to the power of your resurrection and there find peace.” Those words have been ringing in my heart all morning, like a bell chiming “come.” In my confusion and wandering state (grief does that to me) I keep hearing the ding, reminding me where “true north” is. It is redirecting me home when this thick fog of grief and longing turns me around again and again. My God is home. My God is the best comforter. My God is good. My God is peace for the storm and calm for the chaos. My God is loving-kindness and my God is miraculous. And the best thing, the very best thing about my God is, He is power. When my grief bows me low in sadness, His resurrection stands me up, lifts my head and opens my heart and hands to hope. He took death and transformed it into life. Who does that? Who can take a permanent end and transform it into the sweetest beginning? Jesus did. Jesus DOES! And today as I miss my girl, as I weep with the multitudes of other families who have been pierced with the pain of death, I am thankful for and counting on the power of the resurrection and the peace that comes from this good and mighty God!
My girl is gone. My grief is here. My God is power.
And with His comfort, His presence, His peace, strength and love, I will take today by the reins and let my condition of temporary sadness deliver me to the heart of a God who stared death in the face and said, NO MORE!
Mama’s and daddy’s who grieve- a day is coming, it is, when we will embrace the children who bear our image and we will stand before the One whose image we all bear and be embraced…
and all will be redeemed.
Anna Rose, my favorite girl, my only girl, I love you.