The holidays have come and gone and I’m finding the pace of life to be a little refreshing. As scary as it was to step with both feet into 2014, a year that won’t hold any new memories with Brooklyn, there’s something about a new year that brings hope even in the aftermath of heartbreak and loss.
A few months after Brooklyn died I carried around her passing like a secret mark. Not in the sense that I didn’t want people to know, or that I was hiding it from people, but in a way that I felt afflicted by my story; I felt marked by it. I was a 27 year old woman who had loved and cared and lost. I had a baby, but she died. The truth of it didn’t really make it any easier to accept. And, I felt a strange sense of shame when I talked with strangers or met new people. I’m sure this sounds absurd to many, but maybe some of you out there know the feeling. I am still reminded so often of the bitter truth that marks my life, my story. But, I’ve noticed there’s a different tone in the voice that whispers and reminds me of my loss. It’s no longer wrapped in the question of whether or not I can really survive this pain. It doesn’t leave me feeling ashamed of this sad story that is now part of me. It sounds more like, “I have lost a baby, and I have survived.”
I guess I’ve let it in. I hate to use the word acceptance, because I don’t accept and will never accept what happened to Brooklyn. I don’t know if I’ll ever come to a place of making “peace with it”. All of those phrases make me cringe. That’s not what this is.
I believe, this is learning to live in light of hope.
And for me, that hope is that this world is not the end.
It’s just like after those first few tries on your bicycle without the training wheels. In the beginning it’s pretty rough, full of shaky handle bars, feet that feel a pull to be planted back on the ground with every wobble, and a face marked with worry. As the wobbles and falls become fewer and farther between, the tension in your face begins to ease, and you can feel the confidence in your legs as they more firmly and confidently push your feet on the pedals. There’s even a chance for a smile to break through.
I had to learn to trust that the living hope inside of me was enough.
My hope was enough to keep me steady when ‘the goings’ felt wobbly.
Maybe that’s why it’s listed last in the progression of attributes our suffering brings us in Romans 5…perseverance, character, and then hope. I had to practice walking into new situations and answering the question of whether or not we have children many times before it didn’t completely take my breath away. I had to force myself to engage other kids and babies again in order to let myself have a chance of feeling joy with kids, instead of it only reminding me of the future I would never have with Brooklyn. I certainly haven’t done this perfectly. I have “bowed out” from many baby showers, neglected relationships, and opted to sit on opposite sides of the restaurant than the family with a newborn. But each time I allow myself to look down into the stroller that passes me, or stop and tell a Mom or Dad how cute their new baby is, I feel stronger. In those little moments I’m practicing being the person I really want to be; a woman of character. Broken, but strengthened by a living hope.
Before I got pregnant with this new little one, it felt like the only thing that would make me happy again was being pregnant, or having some promise that I would get pregnant one day, and that our story would not just continue on this despairing storyline. But in reality, getting pregnant has not done any of that for me. If anything it has made me realize how unsatisfying anything circumstance can bring us really is. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly thankful for this gift and know that that’s exactly what this is, but I know that nothing about this new baby girl will take the pain of losing Brooklyn away. At times I can imagine, it might even make it feel worse. Because when, Lord-willing (I hate this phrase, but I don’t know how else to communicate the idea that I realize I have no guarantee of a healthy baby), I am nursing my new baby girl I will be reminded that I never got to do that with Brooklyn. Or, when she starts to respond through a smile, or a giggle it will make me stop and wonder what Brooklyn’s giggle might have sounded like. And, the depressing thing about this, when I really sit and think about it, is this could be endless. This could be a part of motherhood for me for years and years to come. Will my joy be paired with grief and longing forever?
No! Not forever! Praise the Lord.
There will be a day when my faith will become sight.
And, that is enough to carry me through the parts of life that feel really uncomfortable when you have a child living in glory. It’s enough to motivate me to keep allowing myself to experience the joy and the sorrow simultaneously, without getting frustrated about it. And trusting that the sorrow I feel may even make my joy deeper.
– Brooklyn (and Squirmy’s) Mommy