Thursday, May 5, 2011

Good Grief

On Saturday, I was away at the beautiful Chateau Lake Louise, surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains and hundreds of beautiful ladies.  Yet, in the evening as we sang songs that lifted up praise to the Lord and rejoiced in His goodness, a wave of grief struck the core of my being.  It wasn't unexpected, really.  In fact, Saturday was exactly 4 years to the day that I was told I had lost a baby, and that my pregnancy had ceased.

I'm not one to be sentimental about many things - I try not to hang onto trinkets and Christmas cards and I even tossed out my wedding bouquet a few years back because it looked like a heap of dead yellow flowers and really held little resemblance to the emblem of love and life that it used to be!  Yet there is something sacred about revisiting the memories of that fateful day of my loss, as I seek to uphold the image and value of a child I never knew. I find a sense of comfort in the painful ritual of brooding over the details and vivid images etched in my mind.  It's not that I want to contemplate the negative, but I know of no other way to commemorate the life of my baby, having little information to cling to, other than grief.

I have a special song I like to listen to, that deals with the pain of losing a baby.  (Glory Baby by Watermark) It lifts my eyes heavenward, knowing that the Father loves and protects my baby now; knowing that my little one is in a place that experiences no pain, regret or sadness.  I've made a habit of spending some time in prayer, and asking Jesus to hug my little girl, and let her know that I can't wait to meet her.  I have learned to grieve, and I know that grief is a tool that leads to healing.  Without these moments where I give myself the freedom to cry, I know bitterness would take root and my heart would be hardened.  It hurts to love, and it's harder still to have lost one whom you loved; but as the old adage claims:

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

(Alfred Lord Tennyson,  In Memoriam:27, 1850)

Life holds many seasons for us as frail and imperfect humans.   We are all exposed to numerous peaks and valleys of varying degree as we walk through life.  Yesterday, as I was walking to the gym, I was revived by the sense and signs of spring that were abundantly present.  The grass is becoming green, tulips and daffodils are poking up out of the dirt, and the ever-present chirp of robins seems to be ushering in the warmth and growth of new life.

Grief can be a winter in our lives, that seems to seep it's deathly chill deep down into our hopes and dreams.  It can be hard to recover from loss, and often times you feel so numb that you can not imagine how life will ever seem normal and healthy again.  When I was once stuck in that murky fog, I had very few anchors.  The obvious anchor was my family and friends who upheld me and surrounded me in their love.  The other was a root of indescribable hope in God's love.  It's not that I was feeling very loved by Him at the time, and many questions rose up in accusation against Him.  Yet, deep deep down, in the depths of my heart, I knew He was real and that He loved me.  I can't claim to understand the reasons for pain and suffering, but I have learned that I can always trust Him.

I'm glad it's May.  I'm excited about gardening and little buds that burst into vivid green leaves, filling the vast mosaic that was previously overridden by dismal greys and browns.  There is hope anew.  There are new joys to behold.  I was broken and shattered, and felt like a barren tree blasted by winter's cruelty.  Yet my tears have watered the soil of my heart and I've received "beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;" (Isaiah 61:3)  From the midst of my sorrows, the ones whom I love have become all the more precious to me, and I cherish each day with them as a immeasurable gift.

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