The End

Grief is action

It’s doing whatever it takes.

Being there.

It’s the crossing of every boundary.

Grief is wanting more time, but wishing for the end.

It’s letting another’s peace come before your own.

It’s the forgetting of self, the end of everything small and petty, the epitome of love and understanding.

Grief is waiting.

It’s saying goodbye.

It’s feeling like it will never end, but yet like it’s all moving too fast.

Grief is the quiet moments.

It’s the promises made.

It’s facing the end and learning to live without a part of your heart.

Grief is a wash of gray, a numbness.

It’s feeling fine and devastated.

It’s feeling thankful and angry.

It’s the silent prayers, the one-way conversations.

Grief is the tears, the robber of sleep, the stealer of joy.

It is the slow, burning longing inside to go back, even if for just a moment.

It’s knowing things will never be the same.

It’s not knowing what to do, what to say, how to act.

Grief is feeling lost, alone in a sea of people.

It’s the painful feeling that comes with the memories, the images of a face you can no longer touch, the feeling of the hand you can no longer hold.

It’s the heartache, a heavy weight.

Grief is a time. It’s a place. It’s an ocean with no horizon.

Grief is unnerving, unapologetic, a quiet lamb and a ferocious beast.

It is the end of life.

It is an unfinished story.

Grief is watching the world pass you by for a while.

It’s having no idea of how to move forward, but knowing you will.

Grief is a moment at a time.

Full Circle

Parallel lines…two lines traveling side by side, having the same distance between them. Tonight I’m thinking of all of the parallels in my life. There are so many that I know there is more to this life than chance.

I think of the moments. The moment at 17 when I was falling madly in love with the man that I now call my husband, and we were dating only a few weeks when we realized we didn’t yet have a song. We were in his truck, a tan and brown Chevy S-10. I have no doubt that there was some type of rap playing in the background, and for no particular reason, we both decided that “Time After Time” by Cindy Lauper would be our song. I think about that conversation and that decision, what made us arrive at that song choice, a song that was every bit of 15 years old at the time. I know it’s what we wanted, for one another to be that person, to be there for one another, to pick each other up when we fall, to ground one another for a lifetime. And by some miracle of fate, that is what we got. But in that moment, there is no way we could know what that song would come to mean to us.

Some nine years later, we rushed to an emergency room. I had been carrying a high risk pregnancy, and I was miscarrying. There was no doubt. We arrived, we went through the motions, we sat in a waiting room for a doctor, and the world went silent. And then, over a small radio left playing in the room, Cindy Lauper came on the line, and she sang to us, “If you fall, I will catch you. I’ll be waiting time after time. If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me, time after time.” In that moment of tragedy and simultaneous comfort, I knew we would be okay.

In that moment of tragedy and simultaneous comfort, I knew we would be okay.

Then there are other, lighter moments. Like the moment when my husband and I were still in the “getting to know you” stage, and again we were cruising around in my 1994, forest green Camaro (we both lived with our parents and therefore spent a tremendous amount of time in our cars!). I had Prince’s “Kiss” blasting, and was quietly amused that my sweet boyfriend wasn’t turning the song or horrified by my off-key singing. When we began to enter the city limits, he leaned ever so casually forward and very inconspicuously adjusted the volume down. I smiled to myself. I’m not sure exactly what it is about that moment that made me fall more in love with him, but it did, and that memory is still extremely vivid for me.

Today, 16 years later, as I drive my kids to school every day, my 5-year old daughter picks out a song choice and then begs me to “turn it up how she likes it!” Which I of course oblige. And then, as we make a left onto my son’s school’s road, he so quietly leans forward and adjusts the volume down. I smile to myself. I look to my passenger-side seat, and I see his father there, some 16 years ago, and I love them both, my boy and his dad, just for being who they are. It melts my heart.

There are so many parallels from the past to the present. The way my daughter consistently puts the emphasis on the wrong syllable when she speaks, and her brother can’t help but giggle and point it out (much to her astonishment, as she is certain that she is correct, and he in fact, is wrong), much the same way that I had not the slightest clue that I wasn’t saying the words Tylenol, elephant and volume wrong, until I met their father, and he couldn’t help but grin every time those words came out of my mouth.

There are so many small moments that are of little significance at the time, but then later, I find myself coming full circle. It is truly amazing. Albert Einstein’s said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” (Smart guy…)

I see miracles every single day. I see them in the most ordinary moments, in the moments that a stranger would be completely blind to, because I have the gift of history. I can see how every moment in my life brought me to this day, to these every day little miracles. The parallels between who I once was and who I am now, between the small moments then that are playing back into beautiful moments today, the parallels in what I once was blind to, but today have the gift of sight. I’m blessed to see so many things come full circle in this life, and it is a miracle each and every time.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

– Albert Einstein

I hope you see a miracle today, in your life, in yourself, your partner, your children. I hope you can open your eyes to see that this life is a beautiful thing.

My Missing Piece

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Most things I’ve written up to this point have come easily. Something in my mind/heart sparks and the words flow onto the screen before I can hesitate. But today, this topic, this is much more difficult for me. I’ve thought about writing about my miscarriage many times. I’ve spoken about it to others going through the same loss. I’ve posted on my FB wall to share that there is another child in my life that most people don’t know about. But it’s hard to commit to writing it all out. I hesitate because I question what is to be gained. When I lost my child, I was undeniably changed. Broken. What can I say about it that will benefit someone else? I could say that today I’m a happy mother of two; so there is hope but no…that doesn’t quite touch the depth of the true loss. There is no replacing a child. So what can I say?

I’ve decided to write about this because I believe that every pain in life has a purpose. I can’t say why I lost my child, other than that along the way I was able to relate to some very dear people in my life when they suffered the same loss. I was able to take my pain and work with some charities that benefit research that work to prevent miscarriage and early labor. I had some very unique life experiences in the years since my child was taken from me…and had I never miscarried, those experiences wouldn’t belong to me. So maybe that’s why, but I can’t really say I have it figured out yet. This blog may not be witty; its not funny or light-hearted; but it will be honest.

When I learned I was pregnant, I was so excited that I couldn’t even wait for my husband to get home to share the news. I called my mom first…then my sister…then made my way to the ball field where my husband was umpiring a game and proudly hung my positive test from his rear view mirror. I was overjoyed. We told EVERYONE. My husband sent out a blast text to everyone we knew. I shared with my co-workers and customers…I may have even told a stranger on the street if they had made eye contact with me. This would come back to haunt me.

I was completely unsure on what to do next so I made an appointment with my family doctor to verify the good news. It’s odd, the things you forget. I’m not even sure who went to the doctor with me or if I was alone. I remember that I was asked to take a urine test and then a blood test. Then the doctor came in and very matter-of-factly told me that either I was extremely early in my pregnancy (which didn’t make sense with my cycle) or I was miscarrying. I remember feeling shocked and confused. This is not at all what I expected. I actually remember thinking that my mom had healthy pregnancies, so I would too. That we hadn’t had any history of miscarriage in my family so why would it start with me. I had felt immune to the idea of miscarriage. To say that this news hit me like a ton of bricks, is an understatement. I left the office feeling completely lost and confused as to what to do. The doctor had advised me to wait and see…which felt completely ludicrous. Wait and see? What? Wait and see if this life inside of me fades away? How do you wait for that?

After talking with my mom, I decided to call an OBGYN. Actually I called the same OB who delivered me 22 years earlier. I had an appointment three weeks out. It felt like a lifetime. Three weeks later I walked through the door to a very different experience. The same news…but still, a different experience. My blood work wasn’t promising. I was pregnant. But my hormones weren’t quite at the levels they would be expected to be. This doctor explained to me that sometimes this can mean that you will eventually miscarry, but sometimes a woman’s body will turn around and the pregnancy would survive. Again, I was told we would have to wait. I would have to take it easy but I had an appointment to come back in a month to check my progress. This doctor had given me hope. We all know the ending to this story by this point. I never made it to that follow-up appointment. I’m sure it’s easy to wonder why I would be thankful to have been given hope about a child that would eventually die. The reason is that I carried my child for another three weeks from that point. If I had to endure my pregnancy for that period of time with no hope, I’m not sure I would have been able to do it.

I lost my child on July 2nd, 2007. I was approximately 8 weeks pregnant. Not even out of my first trimester. The weeks leading up to the miscarriage were tense at best. I truly feel for my husband. I was a mix of hopefulness and dread; of excitedness and being utterly terrified. I wanted so badly to be joyful but something inside of me said “this will not last”. It was early in the morning when I started having severe cramping in my stomach. I sat in a rocking chair in a spare bedroom of our house and held my stomach and cried. I knew. I knew what was happening and I was powerless. I’m not sure if I asked my husband to drive me to the ER or if he asked me to go but somehow we ended up there. I was examined and my husband and I sat in a cold hospital room waiting for the answer.

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One small gift from that day, one thing I will always remember, as we sat waiting, there were no words that could be said. My husband held my hand and we sat in silence. Over the radio came a song, Cindy Lauper’s “Time After Time”. This has been our song since the first few weeks we had dated. The words say “If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me. Time after time. If you fall, I will catch you. I’ll be waiting. Time after time.” We smiled. In that moment of agony, God gave us a brief pause, a relief. He reminded us that we had each other.  The doctor came in soon after that and confirmed our worst fears. Our child was gone. There was nothing to be done. There was no way to change it. My child had died and passed into heaven before I knew if I had a daughter or a son. I remember walking into the ER waiting room to find my parents, my sister and brother. They saw my pain and they wrapped their arms around me and we all just stood there like that…in this big group hug. This was their loss too. I remember the receptionist coming out from behind the doors and hugging me. The moments of kindness stick in my memory almost as much as the pain. And then we went home.

The 4th of July was a couple of days later and we had planned a gathering at our house. Those days that followed my miscarriage are a little foggy. I remember feeling shocked that the sun could rise. Feeling hurt that life just keeps going. I remember the sincere concern from those around me. I remember still feeling alone in my pain.

I was pregnant for 8 weeks. I remember questioning whether I deserved to feel so much loss. I did not birth a child. I did not know if I lost a son or daughter. My child does not have a name. But I was a mother from the time of conception. I loved my child then, and I still love my child today, as much as I love my living children. Boy, that’s a hard one to explain. How do you love someone you’ve never met. I carried this child in my body. This child is a part of my soul. When my child died, a part of my soul went with them. That’s the only way I can explain it.

Life went on. I went back to work. All of the countless people I had shared my exciting news with would come into my work and check in with my pregnancy and every time I had to share with them that I had a miscarriage. I felt bad for them. I could tell they felt bad for me. It was unspeakably painful to relive this news over and over again. I would tell people “It’s God’s plan.” But I did not believe that. I thought it was the right thing to say so I said it…over and over. And then I would get in my car for the 45 minute commute home and I would cry from the time I buckled my seatbelt until the time I walked in my front door. As soon as I was back in the presence of any other person, the veil would come down and I would paste a smile on my face and I was fine. (I was anything but fine.) I went along like this for quite awhile. Smile in public. Agony on my own. Then one day, I have no idea what triggered me, but I couldn’t hold it together anymore. I walked into a back room at my work and I broke down. I started crying and I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop to save myself the embarrassment, I couldn’t  stop to save face, I couldn’t stop to pretend, I couldn’t hide anymore. Again, an angel entered my life at this moment. My boss at the time came in and told me to see a doctor. She told me to take some time. She told me to take care of myself. It was the right advice at the right time. This was about two months after my miscarriage. I went back to my OBGYN who determined that I had slipped into a depression due to the loss of my pregnancy. This was not me. I had never been depressed in my life. I’m an optimist. I see the sunny side of things on the darkest days. But no one is immune to heart break. And my heart did break when I lost my child. My doctor placed me on a mild antidepressant. I stayed on the medication for a month and slowly the darkness rose. I saw light return to my life. It was still hard. It is still hard today. I can’t write this without tears in my eyes. It still hurts. I think it always will.

But I have moved forward with my life. I was blessed with two children. I know how incredibly lucky I am and I am grateful. I saw the child I lost in a dream once. I’m not sure why I feel that’s so important to share but I do want you to know that. A friend of mine was holding my child in my dream (my friend had actually passed just a year earlier). My friend told me that this was his baby now. I felt better because I knew they were together. I knew they were both watching over me. I know today that they’re waiting for me and someday I’ll hold my baby in my arms…but until then, my child is being loved.

After my miscarriage, after the depression had passed, in talking with others that had the same loss, I read somewhere that our children are never really ours. Children belong to God. He puts them in our lives and they teach us and change us but they’re never really ours. He chooses when to call them to heaven. My child was with me for a very short time, but I carry my baby with me every day in my heart. I know when I go to heaven, the first face I want to see is my child’s. It gives me joy to think of what that reunion will be like. For now I’m thankful for all the blessings in my life and I will make the most of it while I can.

I write about this with the hope that someone needs to read it. Someone who is experiencing the same type of loss. Someone whose wife, sister, daughter or friend has miscarried and they’re not exactly sure how to help. Just be there; be attentive; listen to what’s not being said; pray. Let her know you understand. Let her know she will be okay… changed, transformed, and in the end, she will accept the way things are. She will be okay. I know because I’m okay.

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