Thoughts on love and loss

I originally posted this 2 years ago. My wife and I are coming up on the 2-year mark for this portion of our stories, but with the massive changes in our lives recently (I’m now on staff at Long Hollow), I wanted to share this again. Just so you know, this was, and is, a painful part of our story.

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This is a guest post from my wife, Laura.  We had a miscarriage earlier this year, and here are her thoughts moving forward.  You can follow her on Facebook HERE, and the company she (and my wife and sister-in-law) created HERE.
image by Reggie Tiongco

I still remember the first time I saw our baby- all curled up on the monitor screen- the sweet profile of the head, nubs of arms and legs not quite developed.  It was love at first sight.  That was our baby.  The one we has waited so long for.  The one that made our Rex a big brother.

Looking back, the night we found out we were pregnant was such a bad time to take a pregnancy test. It was humorous really, Superbowl Sunday, people expected at our house any minute.  I’m not really sure what I was thinking.  With all of the negative test we had taken over those months, I knew whichever way the test went I would find it hard to be a good hostess. Maybe not knowing would have been just as hard.

I surely didn’t expect it to be positive. Oh, and the events following that night and it’s announcement.  I have often tried to make sense of the purpose of that short life growing inside of me.  It’s true, that through announcing our joy we were able have a heart-to-heart with loved ones- clear the air about where our relationship had been and where we all wanted it to be.  And while I wouldn’t trade that sweet moment in their living room for anything, our baby was alive then.

Where is the meaning in the death?

My mother-in-law once told me that what she remembers most about that day was me.  She said I looked so small and vulnerable on the bed in that big ultrasound room.  I tried to be strong in that moment- maybe just optimistic.  I’ve noticed that about myself- I’m always looking for a way to make things happen, even when I’m told they can’t.  I just kept trying to tell myself that maybe the ultrasound tech was wrong.  That once I saw my doctor she would be able to see whatever the tech couldn’t.  If I were honest though, I think I knew that the life was gone. I had that sinking feeling since the beginning of the pregnancy.  I prayed about it a lot, begging God to protect the life growing inside me.  I pushed down the worries, thinking that buying maternity clothes and picking out names would magically change what I suspected might happen.  As if we can DO anything to change what God has already written.  That is, anything but pray.

The rest of March came and went in a blur of emotions.  In some ways I feel like it flew by, in other ways it drug on and on.  For the most part I guess I knew I was okay, but I wondered if I had really come to terms with my situation or if I was running from dealing with it.  I guess both may be true.

It’s a funny thing about love and loss.  There is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t think about the baby on that monitor screen.  Not so much grieving the loss any more, these days I am mostly filled with questions:

Will I continue to have miscarriages or even be able to get pregnant again?  Will I ever meet my little one? Know if I had a he or a she? Will I ever feel that baby in my arms, the way I now do with my sweet niece?

I’m sure that asking ten different professionals would yield ten different answers.  And in a way, maybe the answers don’t really matter.

What matters is the journey through this time.

I surely cannot say that I am on the other end- but, I can say that the Lord is walking me through it.

And, while I don’t know all the ways He is working on me as a result of this experience, I know He is working.  There is unbelievable comfort in that.  He promises never to leave us or forsake us.  He promises to work good for those who love him- making us more like Himself with ever step.  Whatever the storm, whatever the situation, He is there and He is working.

There is no question in that.

 

 

The difficulty of Christmas

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image credit: Joe Cavaszos

I was standing in line at Wal Mart, checking out with a few snacks that my wife and I were taking to our staff Christmas party. We were both pretty excited to celebrate a great year with the staff at Grace, whom we loved.

My phone buzzed in my pocket. I slipped it out to see who was calling as I slid my credit card to complete the transaction. It was my mom.

“Hey mom, we’re checking out at Wal Mart. Can I call you right back?”

All I heard in reply was the rapidly-inhaling wheeze someone has when their words are battling with their tears. I instantly squatted down beside the register, cupped my hand over my right ear, and strained to hear every word coming through the phone.

“Mom? What’s wrong? Take a deep breath.”

“It’s Grandma…she’s…”

*wheeze*

“Mom. I can’t hear you. What’s wrong with Grandma?”

*wheeze*

“She’s gone, son. She’s gone.”

My world started spinning. I felt like things slowed down and sped up, all in the same moment. Everything seemed incredibly real and tangible…and at the same time, chaotic. In shock, I relayed the information to Laura as we grabbed our receipt and bags, rushing out the door. I remember the sound of the ignition as it combined with the screams from the ambulance and fire trucks. I knew they were for Grandma. I knew they were headed in the same direction we were.

My grandma’s house was less than 2 miles from Wal Mart. When we pulled up, the flashing lights of the Emergency vehicles lit up the house like Christmas lights normally would that time of year. I parked in the driveway and ran up the shiny metal wheelchair ramp that had recently been installed. My dad walked out, holding my son, Rex, in his arms. They were playing with a toy. It was Dad’s way of distraction-coping. He had just lost his mom, and to keep from crumbling under the emotional weight, he played with Rex. I talked to Dad briefly, then went inside, pushing past the medical personell who didn’t know what to say to me.

Grandma was laying on the bed. She’d died in her sleep. She hadn’t been in the best of health, but her general demeanor and look were improving. Then, she was gone. In an instant, she went to be with Jesus. I bent down and kissed her cheek, a tear dripping down mine onto hers. “I love you, Grandma” I whispered.

2 years ago, just a couple of weeks before Christmas, I lost my Grandma. I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life. I’m reminded of her love, her warmth, her laugh, and her put-everything-from-the-freezer-in-the-pot soup. Every Christmas Eve, I remember the breakfasts we’d eat and the gifts we’d open. I remember the shows she loved and the coffee she drank. I remember the smell her house had.

Every year, I wish I had one last Christmas with her. That I could have one last Christmas to hear her laugh at Rex jumping off of her wheelchair. That we had one last Christmas Eve to eat her huge, very-unhealthy-but-very-good breakfast. That one last time I could hear her say, “Eat, honey. Eat ’til you’re full. Then eat some more. Eat slow and eat a lot.” That I could open up the refrigerator one last time and see all of the drinks she’d gotten…she always had your favorite good and cold.

Just one last time.

Joy for the Joyless

For so many people, Christmas is pure joy. Gifts. Family. Food. Relaxing. Celebrating.But for some, Christmas is tough.

It’s a reminder of our pain.

Maybe you lost someone you loved, and every Christmas season you’re reminded.

Maybe you’re lonely, and all of the chatter about family, friends, and celebrations reminds you that you don’t have anyone. No family. No children. No spouse. Nobody to celebrate with Christmas morning.

Maybe you got fired during the holidays one year. Maybe your dream crumbled before your eyes.

If you have a family, and you’re able to see them on Christmas, you’re prone to forget about others’ loneliness.

If you haven’t lost someone you love this time of year, it’s easy to forget that others have.

If you have plenty, it’s easy to forget that others don’t.

This season, remember that Jesus came for the broken. The hopeless. The helpless. The shattered. The confused. The sick. The lonely. The angry. The depressed. The fakers. The weak. The ones in pain.

Jesus came for us.

He didn’t stay up in heaven and simply tell us he loved us. He entered our pain. He shifted our world. He came to be one of us, and offer us hope.

He doesn’t offer hope that this life is going to be easy, pain-free, and full of wealth. But He promises to be with us through it all.

Christmas reminds us of that. At Christmas, we see a God who’s not far off, but is near. A God who can sympathize with us in our weakness. (Hebrews 4:15) A God who doesn’t just let His creation groan in pain from afar, but through whom all things hold together.

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. – Colossians 1:19-20

Jesus came for us.

 

 

The Quiet

The Quiet

In this room, The Quiet is victorious.

It’s heavy and loud and visible.

Nervous laughter and fond memories

open the gate that’s quickly shut

as once again the conquerer is

The Quiet.


The Quiet beckons to let life go.

The room hangs on every breath.

and for a brief moment hearts grasp for life.

The exchange of slow breaths for open eyes

quickly give way, yielding to

The Quiet


Gaining strength with every vacuous breath,

Stealing hope and drawing water from eyes,

One force dominates through stress,

multiplying fatigue, frustrations, and pain,

Growing stronger with every moment:

The Quiet


Until The Quiet loses ground.

Hope bursts forth as life slips

and tears sprout a tension of joy and

sadness.

The battle is over.

Eternity begins.