Saturday, March 2, 2013

On Loss and Hope

The sky was dripping ice and it froze my car a solid cube, me all hunched over chipping away at it all with a cd. We are five year veterans of Michigan winters and somehow we do not own an ice scraper. This day would hold all kinds of bittersweet, and how could I have known how desires fulfilled and desires stripped would all collide in these frozen hours?

If you know us much at all, you know we have long desired a home for our ever growing family. Its been almost 8 years in the making now, but we've come to a season where this dream is finally become reality. God has blown us away with his presence in this process, his hand in so many details. I could cry over it, the ways he spoken directly to our hearts in this. He is good, and more faithful than I could ever hope to wrap my words around.

This frozen Friday was the final negotiation, and much to our surprise, the owner dropped his price again to exactly what we had offered. Exactly the number God gave me when we first walked through the house, very much swept away by its charm but holding on to our good sense. Only God. And precisely in his perfect timing. It was all said and done Friday. We would have been floating on cloud nine, probably celebrating at some artsy fartsy local eatery downtown (the Woo has boutique restaurants aplenty, and oh how we love our 'one of kind' eats), had it not been for our breaking hearts. You just never know what a day may hold.

We were 12 weeks swollen with love for a son. A son we had thrice been told in distinctively different ways by three unrelated parties, was on the way. Except we weren't trying to grow our family; in fact, we were doing our best at keeping our numbers to five. Yet shortly after our move in January we learned that despite our efforts to the contrary, come September, our five would blossom into six.

I won't lie to you, the news downright scared us straight. We feared the timing, we feared the demand of two so close in age, we feared what people would say.  And yet, because we felt we had a "head's up" that this child was coming, we found peace in God's timing. This baby, afterall, was foretold. Our love and excitement for this child grew with the weeks, and we began making all kinds of plans for the ways we needed to prepare for a fourth little Kirk, a man-child, so close in age to our Selah. Belle and Judah would move to the third row of the Mounty, Selah and the son would hold tight the second. Bunkbeds in the new house, a nursery, and a bassinet would work just right. Six months of learning how to do life with four children before public launch of this newborn-church we're concurrently growing. It was beginning to feel do-able and even exciting.

So Friday we just never even considered that my quick little OB appointment would deliver  such painful news. I'd just met the beautiful, young doctor, but I loved her already. So excited for us, so genuine and kind. "Let's take a peek at this peanut!" but those were her last happy words. I've seen that screen dance with the colors of flowing lifeblood and watched the flailing arms and legs of my babies 12 weeks along. But this time the screen was quiet, black. No swooshing of beating heart, no pulsing of ventricles. I knew. Before she could even say it, I knew our fourth child had died in my womb.

She told me, "Erica. I am so very sorry. I believe we've lost the baby."

I tried not to cry as I sat in a waiting room full of other mothers to be, waiting for my blood to be drawn, tests to confirm what they suspected. I heard the nurses saying my name from the behind the station. I didn't like to be spoken of in hushed tones, I knew what they were saying.

That stupid freezing sky-ice glazed my just-scraped car right over, and so I grabbed the broken cd and chipped away again, this time in desperation just wanting to get home to my husband. I walked in to him at the table sipping coffee in his happy morning place. He took one look at me, "What's wrong? Are you okay? Honey, tell me what happened." He said his first thought was twins, then Down's Syndrome, but my silence grew deafening, and he pleaded for me to tell him what was going on.

I choked out, "I think we've lost the baby." And my strong husband fell to pieces.

I no sooner spoke the words, and the Holy Spirit responded, "Erica. In Christ, nothing is lost." Our baby is not lost. He is not missing. If he is gone from us, he is with his Maker, and he is altogether found.

Peace in the puddles of tears.

They say the body and the soul and the mind are all strands of a woven cord, each affecting the other in ways we don't understand. My body must have joined up with my soul, refusing to let this child go, because though the baby was gone for weeks they suspected, my body refused to miscarry naturally. It held tight to what remained, and my mind found comfort in knowing at least a part of the baby was still with me. I'll spare you details unfit for reading, but after medicinal attempts to throw my body into labor, I was too far along to pass it naturally, so it required an outpatient surgery to remove the remains of this pregnancy already gone.

Perhaps the most painful moment in the process was the moment I sat, four pills in hand, knowing that the taking of them began the separation of all that I had left of this precious life. While my head knew the rational, medical sense of it, my heart felt as I were chosing this child's end. In his amazingly perfect tenderness, God had a sister text me a message from him: that He was holding my child right then and that I didn't have to be afraid or feel guilty to take the pills because the child is safe with him and this process will help my body heal. And then, in my daily Bible reading, this is the passage for this heartwrenching day, from 1 Corinthians 15:42-44
"So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body."
Our baby, for reasons known only to God, this seed of a man, had a physical body too weak to draw his first breaths in this world, but what is sown in perishable weakness will be in raised in glory and in power, imperishable. And while our hearts ache and our arms cry out to hold and wrap this child in love this side of forever, we know that we will indeed love and know this child face to face someday. And until then, our God will care for him well, fully known and found in his presence.

This grieving is a process, and I know we will find healing. I'm already finding myself surprised by joy and yet hours later, collapsed in tears. I know the tears will come less and less, but I wonder if I will ever get over the profound sense of loss. The knowing that someone is missing. A very real 'one of us', a brother Judah had already named "Gordon Gotfree" whom he planned to 'carry around' and share a bunk bed with (he would get top bunk, of course), will never be here with us. The kids still kiss my belly...for baby brother. I can't bear to make them stop.

I love this child with my whole soul and with his dying some of my heart goes with him. Jesus is ever resurrecting death to life, and so I don't grieve as one without hope. I know he will heal and raise my heart to life in ways I can't yet understand.

And yet, here is where I am, and it is okay to feel the depth of this loss. In the midst of it, I have had profound trust in God's goodness and love, not once questioning his heart toward us. I don't know if I have ever worshipped so purely before, my tears over his love and beauty mixing with soapy dishes and a broken voice lifting a bruised "Hallelujah" never more sincere. I trust him with my whole heart, and I trust he will work even this earthly loss together for our good.

And I will see my son face to face. I wish it could be in September sun with his brother and sisters peeking over. But His ways are higher than ours, and his understanding deeper than mine.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.


Anonymous said...

Oh, E. I'm so sorry. I'm grateful that you have given Christ your heart and life, but all the same, so sorry for your pain and grief. I love you.

beckyjomama said...

Sweet friend - my heart has been all over this journey for you. I cannot imagine they hurt, but you have been walking this road beautifully and I have been honored to bathe your path in prayer. I cannot wait to meet this precious, sweet, perfect son someday. Oh how much sweeter the Glorious will be when we see both his and HIS face in Heaven.
Lord, bring Your sweet peace and comfort to my sweet Michi-Sissy and brother and babies and wrap YOUR arms of love around this family. Bring glimpses of Your glory while they wait to see it fulfilled and hold the child You hold for them now.
Oh sweet baby boy, how loved you will always be.

E - in my selfishness I mourn the pictures we would have taken to tell the world of his coming and his arrival. And I mourn the time it would have meant by your side. I love you my friend. So much. SO much!


Amanda Schrieber said...

e- my heart has hurt for you as i so understand the pain and loss you experience. yet your words and your heart paint beauty in the face of ashes. your steadfast hope and unwavering faith is a testimony to all. congratulations on the finality of the home. there are wonders already written and already working all around you. praying for you...that in the months, weeks, days, hours and minutes to come, more of that untold Wonder-working will unfold and you will be able to offer up nothing but healed, whole, and holy hallelujahs. i love you friend!

Emilyjane928 said...

Erica, there are just no words. The Holy Spirit has found another place in your heart to fill! He is refining you so perfectly. Praise Him, praise Him for this journey he is taking you guys on.