It was as perfect a day as I can remember, with sun glistening and birds singing and palms swaying and golden beach all rolled out before us. We ate ice cream and watched the children play and held hands and smiled big as we spoke of the day our baby died.
Could it have only been yesterday? And why do we feel so… ‘happy’ in our sadness?
Grief is an illusive beast – wildly roaring and then quietly circling and then sometimes laying down (seemingly harmless) all together.
That day grief looked like the Peace That Surpasses and the quiet assurance that we had each other and we’d be okay and the sun was still shining and God was still there.
We remembered how she was conceived and the promise and the miracle and how much we loved her and imagined her fitting into our family.
I knew her name that day – Scarlett Grace – but I couldn’t yet articulate why or how or the story or journey of those two beautiful words. When I shared with Ryan he nodded, with tears, and we decided to hold that name in our hearts until the doctor’s reports came back, bringing some sort of closure so we could exhale and celebrate and release her completely.
The weeks that followed were a brutal mix of life-as-normal and how-can-this-be-real – such excruciating pain.
Does anybody know the depth of this anguish we carry?
I knew the answer to that but there were days where I felt so alone, unable to find comfort from anything other than stories of other people’s pain.
And so I scoured the internet and downloaded books and read and read and read about others who had lost babies – miscarriages, still births, neonatal death.
I am not alone. (We are never alone.)
Comparing notes and pain and grief, I cried their tears and kept crying my own.
The day we visited our doctor to hear results from the tests we were met with more disappointment as we learned of the surgeon’s empty promises and lack of follow through. Is it possible she dished out outright lies? Unfortunately, yes. (It’s not even worth getting into here but I will say we’re filing a formal complaint – it was that bad.)
Our doctor shared with us and we shook our heads with half-smiles – disbelief at how unprofessional the whole ordeal was and yet relief to know that this was all we’d know. We needed to let go and this gave us permission.
Scarlett Grace, we confirmed as we left the office. It felt so good to give her an identity and refer to her by name.
We weren’t angry, we weren’t bitter. Our reaction showed us that our forgiveness had been genuine, and for that we were pleased. (Grace, so real.)
God has been good to us as we’ve suffered and lost and grieved and lamented.
Two-and-a-half months later and I no longer cry every day. I’ve since faced pregnancy announcements and miscarriages among friends and babies being born and the rollercoaster of hormones as my body adjusts to cycling after four straight years on pregnancy/breastfeeding hiatus… and the whole spectrum of emotions that come barreling down the wake of those events.
I’ve been shaky at times but I’m finding my feet again.
I’m still learning how to navigate the waves of grief and yet feeling more and more confident as I discover that the weight doesn’t cause me to crumble as it once had.
Our grieving isn’t over, but the intensity has subsided and the ability to dream has come quietly crawling back in. I’ll continue to say that the only way to grieve is to grieve with hope – grief without hope will bury you alive, I’m absolutely convinced.
And I know that our story—her story—is only one of many – needing and waiting and yearning to be told as we learn how to remember our dead, barely-there children and care for hurting families who have no gravestone to visit, no photograph to frame, no baby to hold.
These babies are not lost to us. They are gone, but not lost.
Scarlett – For the sacrifice, the pain, the suffering, the blood spilt, the hope, the promise, the purity, the holiness, and the redemption of Christ Jesus in our lives. He’s given and taught us so much through his life and death (and Life)… and also through hers.
Grace – For possibility and purpose and goodness and life and all that God gives. Grace abounds – unending, undeserving, inexplicable, and unequivocally reliable and rich and all-encompassing.
Dear friends, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but we named our little girl Scarlett Grace about six weeks ago. I realized I had shared through social media but never here in this space. I wanted you to know, too.