On a wild animal, a ladder, and safe theology

Tomorrow, regular life begins again. Steven goes back to work, and I return to my schedule. Yet there is grief to consider. I find myself referring to my psychology classes in college, recalling the stages of grief. First, denial, then anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Grief is a wild animal though, and a day ending in acceptance may be followed by a morning beginning with anger.

Knowing that we would most likely lose Sam suspended our grief for a few months. He was still alive, and we couldn’t mourn him yet, so we hung in emotional mid-air knowing that the drop could come any day. Every day, sometimes every hour, was a cycle. We grieved the loss of a joyful 20 week ultrasound–I had heard of some friends practically hosting a party in the ultrasound room, and I mourned that we weren’t able to fully rejoice at seeing Sam for the first time. Heck, now that I’ve brought it up, I’m sad about it all over again. We grieved alot of things, but we couldn’t grieve losing Sam, because even though we thought it would happen, it hadn’t happened yet. Now, it’s finally happened, and I never could have braced myself for this profound sadness.

The other night, Steven and I were looking through pictures of a baby who had lived for a few hours, and we grieved (grieve… are grieving…) the loss of knowing Sam this side of heaven, this side of the womb. We don’t know what color his eyes were. We never heard his cry. I began to feel angry. Why couldn’t I have had this small comfort? On the pain scale, I climbed a few rungs above this baby’s mother, and I wallowed in my promotion.

Then I read that the baby had inherited her disorder, and her mother had a good chance of passing the same fatal disorder on to future children and experiencing loss all over again. This is a grief that, as far as I am aware, I do not have to carry. I climbed a couple of rungs down the pain scale to where I thought I should be–just about even with the other mother. At least she got time with her baby, I thought. Then, I remembered that because I had carried a baby with triploidy, my own health is at risk now. I climbed another rung up. And all was right in the world again.

Then the pain scale ladder fell down. I think it was from climbing up and down too much. Or maybe it was just a pretend ladder. It happened when I was reading an article about triploidy, Sam’s disorder. I read this sentence, “No baby survives triploidy.” Sounds true enough. Most babies with triploidy are lost in the first trimester. Those that make it into the second or third trimester are usually stillborn, like Sam. Those that make it to birth only live a few months. No baby survives triploidy. But I started to feel indignant. What were they talking about? Babies with 46 healthy chromosomes sometimes don’t survive. I remembered my little friend from childhood who had a genetic disorder, who passed away before he made it to kindergarten. Did he survive? I remembered my cousin, who was killed by a drunk driver at the age of 20. Did he survive? What about my grandmother? My great-grandmother? My great-great-grandmother? Who survived?

My God, I whispered through my tears, None of us survives. We are all devastated.

Sam’s life was no less complete than an 80-year-old’s. Yet, I am still heartbroken, because this is loss. This is life in this world–where mothers are sometimes given the unnatural task of burying their children. Sometimes, I start to pray for Sam out of habit, and I remember that he’s not with me anymore. The silence is too much when I stop praying, and I feel how dark this world can really be, and I realize I ought to pray for myself. After all, I’m the one left behind! As I mourn the loss of my son, my eyes are opened oh-so-widely to the brokenness of the world. But I can say that, as I walk through this profound darkness, there is Light. I can see it.

My heart is heavy, and my intention on this blog is not to defend God, or even tell you who God is. My intent is just to tell about my own journey. I believe there is one God, one truth, one Savior, but I also believe that salvation was so great a task that only God could carry it out. In the same way, the message is so weighty, to pass along salvation is an event of the heart, and this is God’s task as well. All I can do is tell my story, and I am at a point in my story when my faith is so thin, there are days I feel I may lose it, but I never do because God supplies even that. Because of my weakness, I’m struck at the number of people who contact me to tell me that in reading about my journey, they’re inspired in their faith. My faith is spread so thin right now, my prayers usually sound something like, “How could You???” and are followed by long spans of silence in which I honestly fell unsure if God is present. I tell you this, not so that you will leave a comment assuring me that God is there (please don’t!), but so that you will know that if your faith is inspired by Sam’s and my story, it is entirely by the work of the Holy Spirit.

In my own walk with the Lord, I am dealing with anger and sadness. In the same way that I leaned on God and asked for extravagance in my finiteness when Sam was still alive, I lean on Him harder than ever to bear the weight of my sorrow. No one is more aware of my fury than God Himself. I don’t understand why He took Sam from me. The Christianese answer I hear far too often is that God didn’t “take” Sam. People tell me He didn’t “do” this–God only does “good” things. I think this is safe theology, and my God is far too big to be protected from my finite understanding of the world. God is sovereign. His goodness is not my goodness. My questions about this loss will not be resolved in the dark safety of my own heart. No, I will direct my questions at Him because I know He can take it. It is in leaning hard on Him that my grief will grow outward, rather than inward. God is big enough… I just know it… I don’t feel it, but I know it… He is big enough to take the loss of my sweet son Samuel and make it something beautiful.

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2 thoughts on “On a wild animal, a ladder, and safe theology

  1. Nothing will be “regular” again — but we — those who love you and Steven and your Sam — will simply stay by you. Because we see God there, and we are changed as well.

    Love,
    Sallie

  2. Megan, thank you for your honesty. You have an amazing heart! Danita and I love and care for you and Steven incredibly.
    Dan

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