I wrote this in September, but I wasn’t ready to share it I guess. Today feels appropriate on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Memorial Day:
Eleven years. Our first pregnancy loss was 11 years ago last week. On Labor Day weekend 2007 (You see the wretched coincidence, too, right? Believe it or not, it only just occurred to me.), I checked into the hospital for surgery, my husband protecting me when I was too small to speak up for myself, a pastor friend praying with us before the procedure – like last rites for a tiny soul we won’t meet this side of eternity – and then me looking up at my doctor’s masked face and hoping that it was all as unreal as it felt.
Eleven years ago, I woke up from anesthesia and went home to recover from surgery, and eventually over the last eleven years, I’ve recovered emotionally and spiritually, too. At least I think I have. It’s hard to feel “recovered” when I feel like I do today. I usually feel the weight of the magnitude of our ten loses on that first baby’s due date, which is April 1, so to feel the sudden heaviness of it now was an unwelcome surprise. I can prepare for what I know I’ll feel each April. I couldn’t be ready for this fresh hell. I don’t know what else to label this depth of sadness and grief.
It felt important to write out and to share, even though it hurts, and even though I may short out my laptop if I cry on it any more. I don’t really want to talk to anyone about this moment of pain, but I know I must express it, or it will fester and kill me slowly from the inside. I’ve locked away the grief before, and that’s a miserable way to exist. So I am letting it go. I am letting myself feel the pain so that it can run its course and heal up again. I am not letting myself wallow in it or letting it stop me from living; retreating for a day or two is fine, probably even healthy, but more than that and depression brain will take over. I am at least in a place that’s healthy enough to recognize that what I’m feeling now will pass, and that I know living in a fleeting feeling for too long will put me in an unhealthy place.
I’ve been saying that we have dealt with the pain of loss and grief for ten years, but to realize that it’s now officially over a decade is… hard. I’m a writer – I know there should be more words, better descriptors, something more than hard… But that’s all I’ve got. Right this minute, it makes my brain go numb to think about. It feels like every emotion associated with grief pops up at one time, so my brain shuts down. That’s why it’s taken me almost a week to even mull it over long enough to write down the bones of this current pain. Writing it out, now that I can, gives me a skeleton frame to flesh out as I purge the emotions.
I’m not naïve enough to think that I had finally conquered the grief, so it would just live in it’s little corner of my heart and never come out of its cage. I know it can escape and jump into my consciousness at any moment. I guess I just felt like I knew when to expect the regular intervals of escape attempts, so being sideswiped when I thought I had my crap together is… hard. I honestly feel pretty broken. What I don’t feel is defeated. I know that feeling the hurt all over again isn’t a sign of weakness. It doesn’t mean I’m losing ground. It only means I’m human.
I’m a human who has experienced horrible loss and pain, just as many of you have. It’s not more horrific than anyone else’s pain, but it is unique to my experience. And my experience of learning how to heal the gaping wounds is what tells me I’m going to be fine in a few days. It may hurt like hell, but I can use the tools I have assembled to cope with this fresh outbreak, and I can grow through it. I can use this reminder that time won’t erase grief to feel deeper empathy for the people around me who are struggling through a new loss or mired in an old wound like me.
This moment is reminding me that my only hope is in Jesus. He is very literally the only true hope I have that I will not only see my lost children in heaven, but that they are safe and loved and cared for in his arms. The are whole and perfect and wonderful, and one day we will praise God together. Their lives, however briefly they physically existed are important to God, and their story matters.
I can express all of this through the artistic skills God has given me, which turns this clump of words here into catharsis, healing, and a way to shine the little light I have on the path for anyone else who needs to find their way through grief and depression. If that is you right now, reach out and grab a lamp; find a foothold, no matter how tiny, and climb up a little. Ask God to send you more light, more air, and go seek it out. Write out your pain to release it. Draw whatever emotions are running under the surface so you can address them. Bring them out into the light and tell them the truth: you are stronger than the pain because God is for you.