If you’ve lost a child, you’ll agree that in grieving, there are monsters to confront. If you anticipate losing your child, let me assure you, there will be monsters to confront. Let me also assure you that you will be given exactly what you need to confront those monsters–more time, more grace, more tears, fewer tears, the right words, a comfort with silence…
The past few days were full of monsters for me. Some were planned confrontations. Others were not. I am so tired. I am tired of being tired.
Saturday, I met the baby who was born two weeks after Sam. Celia was named for my middle name. I’m so honored. She’s so beautiful. It wasn’t easy at all, and I cried because this whole thing is worth crying over. But when I held her, she wasn’t Sam, and I was so relieved. She was just Celia. Just my good friend’s baby. Good for holding and kissing and cooing over. I’m glad I waited until it was time. I’m glad I didn’t try to get brave. Giving myself time made it possible to accept Sam for who he is so that I could accept Celia for who she is.
Sunday was the memorial service, and it was good. It was recorded, and I plan to post it on here for family who were too far away to make it. I am still pondering. I’ll write more later, probably when I post the recording.
Monday brought an unexpected monster. Baby Celia caught a nasty stomach bug and had to be admitted to the hospital. My hospital. Sam’s hospital. I chose to brave the halls because I needed to see my little namesake. I needed to see her. That building was where we said goodbye to Sam when he was dying. That building was where we spent Sam’s last days. That building was where I had to let Sam go, and when I drove away from that building last, I was driving away from my Sammy’s body and I felt our proximity stretch till it snapped. Just the day before, he’d been attached to me, and this severing was tragically less natural than severing our umbilical cord. A tragedy happened in that building. Walking the halls reminded me that I am pressed but not crushed, and through this I have not and will not be crushed.
Celia returned home from the hospital this morning. Tragedy did not happen again. I stopped by her house, and helped my friend give her a bath to get rid of the hospital smell, right before I confronted the next monster.
I had my postpartum appointment today and did not anticipate that this would be a monster for me. My doctor told me some people have a tough time even getting off the elevator. For me, it wasn’t until I stepped on the scale to be weighed that I started to hurt. The weight she was jotting down for my file did not include Sam’s body, like every weight before had. I felt strong until that moment, and I resented the chin quiver and burning tears I felt as I was sitting on the exam table waiting for my doctor to come.
“It was a male, correct?” the nurse asked. “A boy?”
Was. I hate that word. “It was a little boy,” I said. And I slid his memorial pendant back and forth on its chain, rubbing my thumb on the back, feeling his name and birthday. February 18, the day of his birth, not the day of his death. He was here. He was a little boy. His name was Sam.
Today also shined a blaring spotlight on this monster I’ve tried to keep stuffed in the closet. It’s only a possibility, I told myself. It hasn’t actually happened yet. So I didn’t share. Then I shared with a few individuals. Now I’m sharing on my blog, because I’m angry about it. I’m angry that there’s more to think about than just grieving, and today brought it to a reality. I’m telling you so that I can work through it, and so that you can pray.
Today was the first blood draw of regular testing for something called trophoblastic disease. It happens when you’re body acts like it’s pregnant with a baby, when it’s actually nurturing a tumor. It’s a treatable form of cancer. It could happen. It could not happen. It probably won’t happen. I’d like for you to pray for us. Pray for my physical health. Pray for our emotional health. Pray for eyes focused on the prize, not on things we cannot control.
There. I feel relieved. I said it, it’s not so big of a monster now, because you’ll be praying. And hopefully, in about a year, maybe less, maybe more, I’ll write a blog to tell you that we’re cancer-free and able to think about having Sam’s little brother or sister.
It’s tempting to rush this process. It’s tempting to not talk about things that “shouldn’t” bother me. It’s especially tempting as I see my blog hits rise, and I realize that I may be being scrutinized by people who have no respect for the unique life and personality God gave me. But this is a good thing, this process I’m allowing myself to walk through, this patience in discomfort I am learning. This is not happening too slow or too fast. I don’t succeed in my grief by getting over it. I succeed by carrying my grief as a light of Christ’s love to the very end of my race. Many experience tragedy, but not everyone allows themselves the reward of grief. I choose to experience the reward in this tragedy by grieving hard.
I read in Streams in the Desert this morning these words based on Isaiah 50:11, “Beloved, do not try to get out of a dark place, except in God’s time and in God’s way. The time of trouble is meant to teach you lessons that you sorely need… Be willing to abide in darkness so long as you have His presence.”
He is here, in the dark, helping me face these monsters. I will not scramble to find a faster pace unless I hear His voice too far ahead of me. I choose to abide in darkness. I choose to thrive in this grief.