On a beautiful spring Saturday morning three years ago I was letting Jessica have chocolate ice cream for breakfast...it was her second birthday. We played outside and had family over that weekend. I walked around outside, barefoot in a skirt and pregnant. I was embracing it like never before.
A few days later my routine check up turned my world upside down again. I can still smell the clinic ultrasound room. The words of my doctor echo over and over inside my head. The grace that went ahead of shock that eventually turned to despair is as present as ever. The grace covered me.
My water broke on its own for the first time in all my pregnancies and while I wish the circumstances different, I give thanks. I wanted to know that feeling.
I labored the same, not nearly as long but delivered nonetheless. Her gestation did not meet the clinical definition of stillbirth but she was still born. I did not hold her as I had hope but the glimpse through my tear filled eyes from afar reminded me in whom and by whom she had been formed.
In the days that followed I cried, I prayed and I pretended it was all okay. Darkness tried to take over but I held onto the light and even let others hang on for me when I could not.
Sometimes, I think now that it has been a few years I should just tuck it away. But here's the thing I have discovered...grief changes over time but you never stop grieving. It changes you...and some may think hanging onto it will prevent you from moving forward. I disagree. I think hiding it, ignoring the feelings that will still surface and not talking about it; that is what holds you back.
While not everyone understands this kind of loss...someday in someway your life will likely be touched by one like it. Oh how I hope not. It may be distant, it may be oh so close. It may come in a friend or loved one who finally feels they can share the pain they have been hiding.
I have sat on the other side of a computer screen of two dear friends who have said goodbye to babies far too soon in the last month or so. And you know what? I still don't have the right words to say. So I love them, I pray for them and stand in the gap for them when the valley feels near and the green pastures feel unreachable.
It is sad and messy and beautiful and sacred all at once.
I remember. I remember many of the details that may seem best forgotten. Often I find that faint spot on the grout in the bathroom stained crimson. I run my fingers over it and remember. I hold the box where her ashes lay and I look at her cremation certificate and see her name typed and I remember her name is written on His Hands...
...and it is sad and messy and beautiful and sacred all at once.