Grief, O Unhappy Friend

Having heard once, by a healthcare provider, of my need for “closure,” and having that sentiment sit with distaste in my mouth, it is lovely to see the reason for my discomfiture so eloquently explained:

We have no reason for “closure” of the past; certainly not for closure of Donna’s place in our lives. The magnitude of our heartache reflects the magnitude of our love. The world would indeed be bleak if human beings could not care so much.

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Widened Circle of Love

Content warning: emotionally difficult stuff. Just because I am compelled to write it does not mean you should feel compelled to read it.

Two weeks before Bill left, I realized I was pregnant. I was angry at God. This was not my plan.

Three days later, I had names and Godparents picked out. I was mentally rearranging the car seats in the van, thinking ahead to bedroom assignments, and wondering if I should spend time and effort to fix and paint the crib or if I should just get a new one. I wouldn’t say that I was joyful, but I was definitely making room in my heart for another.

Three days before Bill left, I started bleeding. The day he left, I had an ultrasound and confirmed the miscarriage, the “abnormal pregnancy.”

The night before, Bill asked me, “You said you were angry at God when you found out you were pregnant…did you ever wish you weren’t?”

“Yes. And you?”

“Yes.”

And there it was, our collective guilt. We wished we weren’t having a baby, and now our baby was dead. And we were grieving.

I do not know how a man feels when he has to leave his family for six months. I know that Bill’s eyes were moist and his jaw was clenched as four children clung to him, wailing and begging for him not to go. They were hurting, and it was his fault. It’s a heavy burden. I didn’t want to add to it, but I could not change the reality that I was having a miscarriage. How helpless he must have felt.

When I got back from the doctor’s, I tried to comfort him and myself as well. “God does not grant the impetuous wishes of someone if they are not also His will.” He was leaving so soon, and we had not a moment to ourselves. Our every conversation, our every embrace had many little witnesses who often wedged themselves between us. It was important to me that the kids not know. I could not add to their grief. This was just between Bill and I, but we could not talk about it. We could not work through our loss together.

Two days after Bill left, I passed the baby. It was unexpected, in the shower. I held it in my hands and then it was gone the very second I realized what it was. Not only was the baby gone, it was washed into the public sewer system. That was when I first really cried.

I am reminded that these are not our children. They belong to God, and He decides how long they are in our care. This one was with me so briefly, but, nonetheless, I feel that our family dynamic has changed. In my head, my family litany goes from oldest to youngest and ends with the baby, as yet unnamed. “God has given us a saint in Heaven to watch over us,” I told Bill, pointing out that we might be concerned that He feels we need one.

Bill and I have been in phone contact while he is down South getting equipment. But our opportunities for intimate conversations have been limited. I was finally able to voice to him my concern that this would be something that happened to me, and that it would not be a shared memory. He assured me that the wound was a deep one, and that I was not alone in my sorrow.

This pregnancy was not the first unexpected and unwelcome child to enter my life. But always my passion for the child grew with the circumference of my waist. Never have I birthed an unloved and unwanted child, and always have I been able to make up for my initial resentment with years of kisses and caresses and nurturing. I am sad I lost the baby, but I am also sad that I will have to wait a lifetime to prove to him or her and to God that my heart did, in fact, have room to love this child.