I haven’t really talked to a lot of people about what’s going on. I can’t seem to find the strength or energy to do so. Trever and I have lived in a little cocoon together for the past couple of weeks pretty much seeing no one but each other. Right now I have a cold and a fever and I’m laying in bed after an entire day of watching Friends re-runs. I even managed to have miso ramen delivered to my door so I wouldn’t have to leave at all. The delivery fee was only a little bit more than price of the soup, which I felt was a deal worth paying from the comfort of my sweats! My bedroom is my haven, allowing me to actually see what cats do all day, which right now is exactly what I do all day - we are soul mates. I do feel though, that my heart is running a fever too. Like everything hurts really bad so if anyone even brushes past me the pain is somehow worse, so my bedroom is my space bubble in which I hope to heal a bit. My phone is on silent and I keep laying down for just a while.
I did however finally make it out to lunch with my friend Heather yesterday. She was the first person other than Trever that I actually processed some of this with. I had expected it to be difficult, and what it was, was a healing. I didn’t know why so many conversations I was having with others felt unbearable and yet somehow in a cafe booth over iced teas I finally talked. I looked back on our lunch and tried to determine why I could talk to her. People who have lived through real pain, for whatever reason, make me feel less alone and Heather is one such person. But I also noticed how she responded to me. She notably made no attempts to fix anything. She didn’t try to make any of it better and it gave me the room I needed to feel what I was really feeling, because it’s actually that bad.
The people in my life who have tried to cheer me up have made me feel quite a bit worse than I did before. When people tell me that I should be happy because at least this child exists and that in itself is a miracle, I want to crawl into a hole. This makes me want to scream, mostly at God, this is my miracle? A child that may not survive? A pain exponentially beyond infertility is my miracle? When people try to ease my anxiety by reminding me God is sovereign I find myself wondering if I’m even a Christian. Because there I am thinking, God has been in control for a long time and really horrible things have happened for a long time. So whatever we believe about God's control the truth of the matter is there is a lot to fear, because we were never promised anything but God's presence today and the hope of a restored world beyond this life. And anyways, I feel like what people are saying to me when they say God is in control is, “well if it’s really that bad, at least you know God did it.”
I know often times we are uncomfortable with the raw, purposeless and permanent grief of others. Maybe we tell ourselves we’re trying to comfort the person with positivity when I think what we’re really doing is managing the situation, so we can ourselves feel better about the pain. But it’s there and it’s bad and the person in the middle of it needs to feel ok feeling that. They need to be ok not understanding God, they need to sob over worst-case scenario without being told there might be a miracle.
I haven’t got the foggiest idea about miracles, I’ve never seen an undeniable one, and I think if we’re honest most of us haven’t either. But I spent the days between our first ultrasound and our second one desperately praying for one. As it turns out the baby's condition went from being a minor case to being rather extreme in just nine short days. Nine days in which I prayed desperately for healing. Nine days where I believed that maybe things would be ok. Nine days where instead of accepting our future I tried to push it away with belief and silver linings. And I found myself in pieces at our second ultrasound because everything was significantly worse than it was before. When I saw in our ultrasound how much worse our baby’s condition had become since we last looked, since I had uttered those hundreds of prayers, I saw with my own eyes the tragedy that was this baby's body. So I finally accepted reality and sobbed in the darkness of the office.
I once spoke with a hospice worker who found that Christians were the very worst group of people when it came to grief. We aren’t known to be hopeful because of our belief in the life beyond these bodies, we are known for an incapacity to accept what is. Inevitable loss isn’t processed because we can’t let go of the possibility of a miracle. I suppose I’m meant to keep praying anyway though, but I sob when I try. I cry big ugly tears and think, how can you expect me to keep hoping?
So I’m confused and I don’t know how to pray or really how to grieve. I’m slowly starting to let friends in and am finding them gracious and healing to my darkened soul. I’m finding they have a lot of space for me to be confused and angry. I’m finding they relate a lot more than I realized to the ugliness of one’s heart in pain. I'm being reminded how much they love us and that they are very good at showing it.
People like Heather. There is something else I learned from Heather though, she was in the darkness of grief just a year and half ago. I made a lot of miss-steps as her friend in that time and she was kind to me and never pushed me out because of it. I remember I asked a question I shouldn’t have asked and I texted her to apologize. She quickly responded and said, “these things are so difficult, please don’t apologize for not knowing what to say.” I would like to be more gracious like her.
And, who really knows what to say to someone in pain anyway? Maybe sometimes we don't say anything at all. Maybe we recognize when it’s that bad and stop trying to fix the hurt with Christian silver linings. Maybe we let people be confused by God in great pain rather than trying to offer our positive perspective from the heights of joy. Maybe we stop telling people everything will be ok. Maybe we silently pray for miracles because the grievers probably can’t. Maybe we pray that the broken can hold on to faith. And maybe by the grace of God the sufferers among us might find peace.
Every couple of days my mom texts me the praying hands emoji and she left a bag of lemons on my door. I suppose she knows it’s all I need, some alchaline fruit and a prayer emoji. It sort of is all I need, that and my bedroom, and right now some cough drops.