Historically, April has been a rough month in my life. 1991, 92, 95, 99,....all marked significant loss. But the April that is always at the forefront of my mind is April 2001. Ten years ago this week, I was admitted to the hospital to deliver a baby who was no longer alive. I can remember every moment of the previous Friday, beginning my 5th month of pregnancy, what should have been a routine ultrasound, revealed this precious life no longer had a heartbeat. Numbness. Followed by a horrific week in the hospital where every complication possible arose. Instead of an overnight stay, I was there for six days. It poured rain outside. Funny the things your mind can remember so exactly, as we were discharged the nurse who brought me to our car said "Of course today is sunny. I had vacation this past week and the forecast was for sunny skies and I had plans to garden. But it rained all week," It comforted me in some odd way. That the heavens shared my tears. Unplanned grey skies conveyed our darkened hearts and grief.
Oh, I could write so much about those weeks. And of the months that slowly unfolded. The days where I would say to Rob, "I don't know what to do today". He would reply, "make it through this morning, you don't need to do anything more". A triumph was calling a friend or making dinner. I type right now through tears. Because writing this can bring me right back to then, to the fullness or rather emptiness of emotions. And yet, my purpose in writing this is not only to remember that season, but to also mark how much our son's short life has shaped who I am today. The loss of each of our six children has been heartbreaking- each one a life we fell head over heels in love with. But this loss ten years ago, or rather the wrestling process that came from it, cleared space in my soul where future grief and joy could reside.
Of course there is the paradox, I would give anything to be celebrating the upcoming 10th bday of our son. And yet, I am me because his life was exactly what it was. Our marriage is richer, deeper- I can't imagine a safer more life giving place. I am known. Only a few weeks after our miscarriage, we celebrated our 1st anniversary. This could be an awful lot for a young marriage to endure, I will always be thankful that it cemented a strong bond between us, a commitment that we could get through anything, rather than a wedge to drive us apart. We grieve differently and have learned how to support and love each other. We emerged on the other side of suffering with a greater strength and tenderness for each other. We have experienced love to be patient and kind. We have fought for each other to a love that does not dishonor and that is not self seeking. Love that is not easily angered. Love that protects, trusts, hopes and perserveres. Love that hopes....that is an amazing thing, to arise from loss and hope again.
I look into the beautiful brown eyes of Samuel, listen to his belly laugh and his passionate, dramatic personality...and I know he was always to have been our son. And to quote the song Rob always says of Samuel "I would wander weary miles, would welcome ridicule, my child. To simply see the sunrise of your smile." And we have. We have wandered many weary miles to meet him. I began to learn how to love Samuel ten years ago. Their lives so intertwined. I think of the child who will be joining our family, and it is another redemption of April showers to begin their adoption this month.
And God. Oh how much my relationship with God was shaped by this time. I had times of not talking to him. Silence. I had times of anger and rage. I pleaded and asked questions. I demanded answers. He did not go away. And oh how there were times that is what I wanted him to do. I have pages of journals of laments. He responded by offering more comfort, peace that surpasses understanding. Tenderness and intimacy. He became bigger. I was not too much for Him. The only place that could handle all I was needing to express. Over time, I began to sing in the shadow of his wing. That verse became so meaningful. Protected under his wing was safety for me. The only thing big enough to cover. And it was freedom. I didn't have to explain or pretend. I could be free enough to sing, no matter how out of tune or if I forgot the words. I discovered how much more beautiful and rich it was to meet God in the wilderness than in some box I attempt to put him in. The trajectory that experience had on my faith is amazing. Full of redemption and grace.
So I sit here. Remembering 10 years ago. Remembering our child. Remembering the heartbreak. Remembering the darkness. Remembering hope responding. Remembering a short life that changed my life and that has had a ripple effect to many lives.
There is much I do not understand. There are still many questions I have. But I am grateful. Grateful for April 2001, grateful for today and knowing that each could not exist without the other.