Tag Archive for grief loss longing

How Does it Feel, Now That You’re an Orphan?

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The question surprised me, since I’d never thought of myself as an orphan, but I immediately recognized the truth of it.  With my father’s death some years ago and my mother’s death more recently, I had become part of the “older generation” in my family—fatherless, motherless, an orphan.

My father’s death was the first death of a close family member. After years of heart problems, he had a sudden, fatal heart attack early one morning. When the phone rang, it woke me from sound sleep, I groped for it with my eyes still closed, and heard my mother’s voice: “Dad died last night.” Only she didn’t mean last night, she meant just moments ago, with the paramedics doing all they could, until finally they could do no more.

My body reacted to the shock of my father’s death with numbness and with tears. I hardly remember how I drove to be with Mom that morning. Then for weeks afterward, whenever I would see an older Asian man picking through the produce in the grocery store, my heart would skip a beat as I thought of Dad examining each piece of fruit before he would add it to his shopping cart. “Oh, the storekeepers don’t like to see me coming,” he used to say.

A year after his passing and for several years after that, I would feel a vague uneasiness for no apparent reason—until I looked at the calendar and realized it was the anniversary of his death. Even without my consciously thinking about it, my body remembered, this is when Dad died.

Years later, I kept vigil at my mother’s bedside. She had been struggling for months, in and out of the hospital, back and forth to various doctors. The weekend before, I had again spent time with her in the hospital before I left for a few days of church meetings in another province. Two days later, the hospital transferred her back to the seniors home where she continued to decline, and family members began to gather for their final goodbyes.

I returned home as soon as my meetings were over. “Hi Mom,” I said whenever she would open her eyes. “Hi Mom, I’m back from Ontario,” I said when she opened her eyes long enough to see me, and it seemed she might be listening. She nodded.

“Are you resting comfortably?” Eyes closed, she nodded again. She held my hand tightly, squeezing my hand every so often, until her grip relaxed, and she eventually let go. I guess that was her way of saying goodbye, since that evening when I came back from supper she didn’t respond when I took her hand, and a few days later she slipped peacefully away.  

This year, I’ve been leading a midweek Sacred Pauses group. We started with a study of my book, Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal, then decided to keep meeting and keep the name because we had grown to treasure our time together as sacred pause. Women and men, some single, some married or widowed, younger and older, we gather simply to be together and to be with God in Scripture—sometimes with lectio divina, sometimes in silence or with journaling, with singing or Bible study, always with sharing and prayer.

One evening we read John 14:15-27 as our lectio divina, and Jesus’ words in verse 18 leapt out at me:  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

I thought again of my friend’s question, “So how does it feel, now that you’re an orphan?” Sometimes I wish I could talk with Mom about my latest writing project, or get Dad’s advice on how to repair the holes in our kitchen ceiling after the light fixture came crashing down. I miss them even now.

Yet God has not left me an orphan—although my mom and dad are gone, I’m surrounded by family and Christian community and Jesus himself is with me. Our lectio ended with this assurance: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Substance and Empty Space

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For a couple years after my father died, his belongings continued to inhabit our home. A neat row of ironed dress shirts hung in his closet; a soldering iron rested on the workbench in the garage; his favorite books held their territory on the shelves. As the months passed, and I finished my freshman year of high school, those items remained untouched and unmoved, like priceless artifacts from a bygone era.

Though my father’s effects remained a solid presence in my world, I could not say the same about myself. In the months after he passed away, my grief tore at every part of me, eroding my spirit to mist. I experienced the scientific truth that the molecules of my body were more empty space than substance, and wondered when the mysterious forces holding those molecules together would disintegrate, giving up on me as much as I wanted to give up on myself.

The summer after freshman year, as my mother worked frantically to pay for one daughter in college and save up for another one on her way to college, I often walked to the library to keep my body and my mind occupied. It was a two-mile trek along a two-lane thoroughfare that paralleled the freeway, along which commuters drove at highway speeds.

During those walks, I remember feeling surprised each time a car slowed for me at a crosswalk. Surely there was something or someone else blocking their way. I couldn’t comprehend how another person—a stranger, no less—could see I existed in flesh and blood when I could barely see myself.

I certainly felt invisible to God. He had not been Healer or Comforter, nor Provider or Protector for our faithful little family. Even as my parents gave all the extra time and income they had to the church, it seemed as if God had watched passively as my father’s body was tormented by disease, and our hearts were tormented by pain. So I shut God out—just as he had shut me and my desperate prayers out.

More than a year later, little had changed. My father’s belongings remained scattered around the house; the remnants of my soul remained scattered like dust.

On a warm, clear California summer day, I sat in our living room as strident sunshine gushed through the glass doors. All around me was brilliance, but the only thing I could see was a hunting knife of my father’s, lying on the fireplace hearth, exactly where he had left it months before he got sick.

My father never hunted a day in his life, never expressed the desire to hunt or even spend much time in the wilderness. But he had been curious about so many things outside of his experience as a computer engineer, and so he had purchased and kept this hunting knife for no purpose I knew of except to have it.

It would be so easy to use that knife, I thought, to finish a life I was no longer living. I calmly pondered how to do it. Should I slash my wrists? My neck? Stab myself in the heart or abdomen? Every option seemed too messy, too vulgar for the cream-colored carpet and the sparkling sunshine. But every option still seemed better than pretending to embody a spirit that was already half gone.

And then, in the heavy stillness of that moment, when all I could see was darkness, the very presence of God entered that living room. I felt it; I breathed it in; I knew in the depths of my being the Almighty was there. He filled the room—and he filled me to overflowing.

He didn’t say anything to me, at least not anything that I heard. Instead he opened up his heart to me, and I sensed his sorrow at all that my father and our family had been through. I sensed his deep compassion for the suffering that burdened us still.

I realized then that God had been there all along—waiting, waiting, waiting for me to be willing to turn to him and share my sorrow. I sensed his gentle encouragement that life still had so much to offer me. In those few moments, I knew I was seen. I was real. I was whole again.

As the holy moment receded, I took a deep breath, picked up the hunting knife, and packed it gently away in my father’s closet.

 

This is a Post About Loss

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This is a post about loss.

I write this over and over again. Ambling through the labyrinth trying to think of just the right thing to say. I don’t think there is a right thing anymore. If you haven’t become an intimate friend with loss, with the emptiness that comes from the missing, then you will, and then you’ll know.

I find it’s not the reading words about loss that brings healing or even a glimmer of relief; it is the permission to write it out for yourself.

This is a post about loss.

It starts innocently enough I suppose. For me, it’s when I’m cuddled up in a darkened room next to my daughter as she tries to fall asleep. She can’t fall asleep unless she is touching some part of me and I am trying so hard to stay awake so I look at my phone. I’ve been terrible about remembering peoples’ birthdays so I figure I’ll go ahead and check Facebook. “Why is her name different? Ah, she just got remarried.” I scroll through the pictures and see a familiar face, but one I haven’t thought of in years.

Memories are funny things. Sometimes I don’t remember anything from a whole chunk of years; other times it all comes rushing back. I become so inundated with memories even the air somehow smells different and I am suddenly somewhere else. Last night I was back in Massachusetts. I don’t remember a lot of things, but I remember the look on her face, turning white then red and I knew I lost her. I don’t remember what I said when I tried to talk to her, I just remember knowing for the first time this is what it feels like to see a relationship dissolve. .

Unexpectedly, I am missing her.

I want to tell you something about loss. There are times when loss will be large and painful, the kind of devastation that tattoos itself on your heart and makes you stop to catch your breath. Death. Job loss. Broken hearts. The sudden diagnosis. I’ve had these but I don’t think there’s anything for me to say. You’ve had these. You know.

Then there are the times when everything is hard. Everything is painful and full of ache and we hold on, white knuckles, sweat dripping in our eyes. The constant loss and pain give a sort of strange comfort because it is always there, reminding us we are still alive, still moving forward, be it ever so slowly. We are still here. Breathing in and out.

There will be days the sun is shining bright and hot and you drive down the road singing along to the radio when you hear that song. Not the one that reminds you of a breakup or something sad. The one that brings you back to a different you, the carefree younger you and suddenly you are mourning the loss of yourself. (“I take one, one, one ’cause you left me and two, two, two for my family and three, three, three for my heartache and four, four, four for my headaches and five, five, five for my lonely…”)

This is a post about loss. I am still circling, wondering where it ends. I guess that is the thing about loss, it never really does. But I hold onto the someday, the day when pain and loss and tears will be wiped away. I hold onto it for me. I hold onto it for you.

Letting Down Church Ladies

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God gave me a mother, and the church provided several more.

They were matriarchs varying in age and economics. Strong resilient pillars that held the church building upright, sitting in its pews each Sunday and rearing the next generation of parishioners.

On days like today, when Drew and I failed once again to make it to church, I think about these women. I think about them when I start to count up all the Sundays I have rolled over and fallen back asleep rather than throwing on pants and sitting in a church pew.  I think of them while eating a pop tart instead of feasting on Christ’s body.

I knew my church ladies by their casserole dishes and the designs on their crock-pots. I could have navigated our church potluck line blindfolded, filling the sections of my plate with heaps of Lisa’s mashed potatoes and Vicki’s fruit salad, feeling for familiar wooden spoons and the cardboard side of a KFC bucket (Jan always forgot potluck days). In those days, the church was familiar and comfortable.

As the hunters and gatherers of our community, the church ladies ensured the tribe got fed, especially during the hard winters, knee surgeries, and moving days of the congregation. In my family’s darkest hours, church ladies knocked on our door balancing tureens with chicken noodle soup and coordinated convoys of mostaccioli pans by calling through the 1997 church directory.

Church ladies opened their homes for women’s prayer groups and Super Bowl parties.  Floral wallpaper borders lined the ceilings of their bathrooms, rooms that always smelled of potpourri and jar candles. I spent time in their hallways examining pictures of them in puffy-sleeved wedding dresses or  posed in Olan Mills photo studios with all their kids wearing matching Osh-Kosh overalls.

The ladies still gather at celebratory showers for the daughters of the congregation.  They give new brides books with titles like “Sex Starts in the Kitchen,” and raise their eyebrows when they say things like “we always made sure to lock our doors when we were newlyweds; you don’t want to get…interrupted.”

At baby showers, they sound a collective “awwww” as the expecting momma holds up a onesie printed with dinosaurs. When she opens a Diaper Genie or video baby monitor, they impart legends of babies riding in the front seats of cars and swinging from doorf rames in Johnny jump-ups.

Church ladies formed the militia of my local church, sounding first alarm when the youth group “Snowfest” trip lacked supervision. In one such case, a church woman piled the entire youth group into her Chevy Astro and passed out zip lock baggies full of Twizzlers. She slept on the church pews with the rest of us, keeping vigilant watch by night and making  sure we didn’t leave our toothbrush in the host church’s bathroom.

Church ladies hoot and holler at Applebee’s. They laugh despite their divorces, chronic pain, and prodigal children. They snort over shared plates of calamari and proclaim that they wet their pants a little bit.They laugh together in cackles, shrieks, and snorts, a symphony that will continue through eternity.

When something bad happens, the church ladies pray. They pray in brown folding chairs with vinyl pads set-up in circle in the church fellowship hall or meet together in the sanctuary, squeezing hands and passing around boxes of Kleenex.

They laid hands on one another, on lumps, failing hearts, and bad backs. They forwarded emails to the prayer chain, whose links extended to those long moved out of state and others who now attended the local Baptist church due to an argument with the current pastor over the Celine Dion song used in his Easter sermon.

Church ladies helped raise me, getting their hands messy without any family title.

Shirley taught me how to make lemon bars, to slide a knife over the top of a measuring cup for a precise quantity of sugar. After I broke up with my fiancé, my church ladies hugged me longer at the greeting time. The same woman who took a splinter out of my foot when I was three noticed my pale color and sudden weight loss. She is the same woman who I used to see weeding on her hands and knees in front of the church sign on her day off.

If you wish to know an oral history of any child in the congregation, just ask a church lady. They mark your growing up years by piecing together Sunday school rosters and the parts you played in the Christmas pageants, remembering your reactions to flannel graph bible stories and recalling the summer they carried you around on their hip at the church vacation bible school.

I worry that at 26, I am rocky soil for the seeds they planted; they buried truths in good faith and entrusted them to a girl in smocked Sunday dresses wearing coke bottle glasses. Would they recognize me now, wriggling in the church pew and sitting with crossed arms during the refrains of worship songs among throngs of those raising their hands and swaying to the music? These days I no longer gulp the communion grape juice or offer to pray aloud.

They tripped over much larger stumbling blocks and kept going with graceful flourishes and sunday morning testimonies shared into the worship leader’s microphone. Church ladies held tightly to their faith, wringing it dry like a rag that always had one more drop of holy water. They exchanged Psalms and cassette tapes that encouraged them through their own hard times.

They weren’t leavers, they weren’t like me, not like my prodigal generation with our inabilities to be certain of what we cannot see. Will my own children be raised by the church, their support beams hoisted up by a community of faith? Will I teach them of an everlasting feast or will I be as I am now, unable to utter anything but the Lord’s prayer with my fingers crossed, hoping it’s true now, was true, and ever more shall be.

I love my church ladies and mourn that right now I am not one, at least, not like those who came before me. Maybe if I begin to show up on doorsteps with foil covered pans and on Sundays with my saran wrapped doubts held in open hands, I may yet become my own type of church lady.

Riding the Grief Wave

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My hand grabs a heavy plastic bag as I reach to the very back of the closet. I couldn’t place it at first, and then my heart wrenches when I see the blue sweater. Justin’s sweater, and a blue polo shirt that I had carefully saved from his belongings. His sweet scent and the faint smell of his laundry detergent have clung to the fibers from when they were first returned. I sink to the floor burying my head in his sweater, sobbing and breathing in his scent, cradling it close to my heart. I washed all his clothes except for these few things. A soft blue cotton sweater that was his favorite, and a blue polo shirt that he often wore to church.

I pause, I am not prepared to deal with a grief wave today. I was purging the house, filling bags and boxes of excess, needing to be liberated from possessions. I had no memory of placing these items in the plastic bag and sealing them, no memory of stuffing them in the very back of my closet. Longing for my Justin, our eldest son washed over me. I open the bag and pull out the sweater, still so soft as I smoothed out the wrinkles, I hold it up to my face, and breathed in as deep as I can. I catch the faint elusive smell of my child gone. I grabbed the polo shirt and it too, ever so faintly, still carried his scent. Memories of laughing eyes and dark curls filled my head and I hugged his clothes even tighter, rocking back and forth.

Mounds of tissues had built up beside me, my sobbing had left my glasses a mess and I reached for even more tissues. My tears had left spots on clothes that I had held so tightly. I notice that the bag has been chewed, I know the culprits. Justin’s cats must have wandered into my closet and driven by the same desire, chewed their way to his scent. How those cats adored Justin. Sweaters, cats, a good book, and a pot tea, and Justin was the most contented of souls.

I carefully smooth out his sweater and shirt and fold them neatly. I go looking for a fresh bag and trip over the dog who is worried that I am crying. I get a big furry hug and dodge his tongue as he tries to lick away my tears. I find myself laughing. Then frustrated because I can’t find the storage bags, and then I laugh again because they are literally in front of my face on the pantry shelf. I carefully tuck those precious bundles in a new bag and place them carefully back in the same corner, no longer crying, but with a wistful smile.

Grief waves are exhausting and I brew a pot of tea. Grief leaves the senses heightened, like skin that has been rubbed raw, I find myself vulnerable to hurt, but also a new sensitivity for beauty and small joys. My hands take note of the tea warming the porcelain cup and I am grateful for the friend who gifted me with the cheerful, delicate mug with butterflies dancing across its handle. I slip my sandal off and rub my foot on the warm fur of my good friend who has laid across my feet sighing. My breathing has slowed and I sigh with the dog. The wave has crashed over me, memories have tumbled like shells and sand, but now the water is still again. Unleashed tears bring cleansing and peace, the pain does not fester, but flows out with each tear. My heart that grieves and my heart that lives are one in the same. My child gone is woven into my heart for all eternity, for as long as I breathe, so too will his memories. Love never dies.

I pour a second cup of tea and breathe.

I Didn’t Want to Start a Conversation About Desire

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image courtesy of phrase mix

 

I think I’m becoming an expert in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Not because I study them, but because I live them. They seem to follow me and buzz, like a fly, around my ear. Unwanted, with no sense or reasoning, but at a tempo that hums so softly it pulls my attention away from all the busyness around me.

I spent a season being homeless in my early to mid 20s. I wasn’t on the street, but I was bouncing between houses, basements, and through spare rooms of generous friends. Affordable housing was hard to find.

My series of moves created a conversation with Abba about need. What does it mean when He says He provides for my every need? It was hard to trust this sentiment when it felt like a basic need for housing wasn’t being met.

As I’d pack up boxes I’d ask, “Do you see my need?”

I divided my needs–they seem easier to manage that way. There’s emotional, spiritual, physical needs. The easiest way to separate them are the ‘practical’ needs vs. ‘impractical’ ones. “Will this pay rent?” “Will it help me stay here another year longer?” I’d calculate. I felt like a child again, playing that sorting game where you match the shapes and colors. If you match the right color the shape falls into the block with ease.

If I could maintain most of my practical needs then sometimes, I could ignore the others—the ones I’ve labeled impractical. Those needs are shapes that don’t fit. Those needs nag because they’re more than simple needs; they hold deeper truths.

When I ignore them, though, my pragmatism blinds me to the present. I don’t want to deal with the impractical, intangible needs. Even as I feel their tug, I ignore them, shooing that fly away…

Abba whispers back, “What do you desire?”

I don’t want to start a conversation about desire. I don’t want to dig into those things.

“A home, Lord”. I’d sharply answer. His question seemed silly when my need was quite obvious.

Sharing in his suffering is a honor and reward.

What do you desire? It would always come back…. bzz bzzz… like that pesky fly to remind me again I’m not paying attention.

Then my heart hurries. It can’t avoid where Abba’s question settles, deep in my soul, demanding it to pause. It does not want to be still. It does not want to desire. Because desires may not happen and when they are delayed it’s confusing. Unfulfilled desires put my heart in the stagnant waters of longing. Longing is uncomfortable. Longing is painful. Longing is foreboding.

But longing calls me into attention. When I sit in my longing I’m called to an undoing.  It shows me my limitations and invites me into a mystery of discomfort. Longing is a type of indefinite suffering . . . but deep longing creates capacity to give and receive. It’s there that I am able to know the love of Christ.

Sharing in his suffering is a honor and reward.  It draws intimately from my heart and calls me to pause at the softness and the depth of my desire. He knows what I long for. He gave those desires to me.

The challenge of longing is that I want to solve it. I want to talk to Abba like He’s a solution to my need. In my mind, providing is synonymous with “fixing”; that is why He asks what I desire. It’s not that He wants to ignore the practical, like a house, health, bills.  I must unlearn the temptation to fix my needs as a means to quench my desires.

The lessons of longing begin when I ask God,  “How do I let you be present in my longing?”

As Richard Rohr says, there are things God can only do in hidden spaces. In allowing my needs to reveal my desires I welcome his presence. My longing is turned into a hidden space for the work of deeper things.

How do I let you be present in my longing?

I want to have courage enough to be disappointed and to meet his presence in disappointment. I want to learn the ministry of presence as his Spirit stays with me, and shows me what it is to be misunderstood and unfulfilled. I want to know the intimacy and strength of a hope that isn’t frail. After all, our hope does not disappoint.

So this time as I pack up my bags and wade into transition, the waters don’t seem so stagnant. Even though the unknown of a transition is familiar, I still feel my heart flutter. But this time it’s my perspective that’s changed. I know the things that Abba wants to “fix” for me are not always the practical. The fixing, rather, is a renewing of my heart, my mind, and yes, sometimes even the longing. My need has becomes a courageous way to pray.

Abba, help me find you in my longing and not push you away. May it be a sacred space of transformation and mystery.

Some Clear Joy is Coming

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TRIGGER WARNING: Description of miscarriage.
 
*Portions of the second half of this post are from a piece written shortly after the event. 
 
Father John in the driveway
comes here to bless me.
My Father in the morning
will bend to hear me.
Some clear joy is coming on some slowest train,
I am hearing it coming again.
Flowerless in the country,
birdless in the spring,
my man and I are weeping,
we have been weeping.
Some clear joy is coming on some slowest train.
Do you hear that it’s coming again?
 
~Some Clear Joy is Coming
The Innocence Mission
 
Mike and I waited nearly five years after we were married to start a family. I was terrified of doctors, labor, motherhood. So I prayed. I sat in the scratchy chair from the 50s in the balcony of the monastery. I asked for a sign. I got a few. I was convinced it was the right time, and I was ready to trust. It took a few months before the stick was positive. I was equal parts ecstatic and anxious.
 
A Friday night in September I realized I was spotting. My stomach dropped and my mind was reverberating with one word, “No. No. No. No. No.”
 
Saturday I was in a daze, barely present, hardly breathing. Just waiting. 
 
That night the cramps started and the real bleeding began. Mike and I slept in a loft bed you reached by ladder. The blood was coming so fast and thick that I couldn’t climb up and down the ladder fast enough anymore. I lie on the couch, my insides clenching, releasing, just enough to let a whimper escape. 
 
It lasted for hours, this heart-rending evacuation. I cried as quietly as I could so I wouldn’t wake Mike. I knew the worst was coming and I would need him most then. The halting catches of my lungs made the cringing increase, and my soul was beating with one word, “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?”
 
While I was curled up, hunched over in agony, there was a song by The Innocence Mission winding around my mind, “Some clear joy is coming, on some slowest train.” I grabbed hold of those words, of that tune, and repeated it like a mantra for the entire night. 
 
Towards morning I felt something slip out of me and I knew. I didn’t want to wake Mike up so I hadn’t been flushing the toilet every time I had to change a pad. I sat down and she slid out of me onto a bed of toilet paper, whole. The embryo of my baby. Intact. She looked like a little curvy paisley in a gestational sac. Her eyes were two pixels, she had little mitten-like fingers and toes, a row of buttons like a tiny black pearl necklace for a spine. She was perfect. 
 
I woke Mike up at that point. He came down and sat with me on the bathroom floor, leaning over our porcelain bassinet. He tried to lift our baby from the nest of paper, but she disintegrated in his fingers. There was no saving her. He put his head down and sobbed, gripping my hand. We sat there like that for a long time, then realized with horror we were going to have to flush the toilet at some point. We had to flush our first baby. 
 
Mike believed she would have been a girl. He named her Emunah, Hebrew for faith.  
 
That loss broke me. I was convinced that I would not be able to survive the loss of my baby. And at the moment, I didn’t want to have to survive it. I was angry at God for tricking me into believing I should have a baby. I was enraged that after all the loss in my life that I barely survived, he allowed this to happen? I was done. 
 
I sat across from Mike a few days later and told him I had no more faith. He would have to have faith for both of us, his faith would have to carry me, too, until I could pick it up again.
 
He did. While Mike was shouldering the burden of my faith, I was desperately attempting to cling to truth and hope. There was a single refrain in my heart, “God is good, regardless of the circumstances.” I would breathe it over and over again, it laid me to sleep at night and woke me with its rhythm at dawn. Even though I could not believe it right then, I trusted I would live into that truth someday, so I made it a chorus for my soul to sing. 

I don’t even remotely understand why this happened to us. In the silence before sleep Jesus just would not Ieave me alone in my grief. In the midst of the songs and sayings, I had a choice: live in fear and bitterness or find my way back to loving a God who scars and wounds even as he heals.

I asked myself if I could still live with God if I never got the answers I wanted.

The answer was, Yes, I can. And Yes, I will. I made my choice and now I tried to live into it.

Rilke understood perfectly these kinds of questions, which he poses in Letters to a Young Poet:

“ . . . be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

A few weeks later I prayed. An actual linear prayer with a beginning, middle and end, unlike the circular, repetitive cries for mercy and deliverance of the previous month. My prayer became more like a litany of thankfulness, and took on the shape of a covenant. I heard his promise to give me joy, and I made a promise in return:

I will take what mercy you give me, and call myself blessed. I will choose to live without explanations and reasons and I will choose to believe that you are good. I will love you for who you are, not for what you give me. I will receive your love for me, in any way it is exhibited, through whomever you choose to show it. I will not harbor bitterness and anger, I will not build a case against you, I will keep myself wide open to you and to others around me.

I can’t explain why my heart and mind are still intact. How I could wake up in the morning. And shower. And eat. And look people in the eye and tell them what happened. All I know is that a “strength beyond my strength” would not let me go for all my kicking and screaming.

I don’t understand myself why I kept thanking God, and loving him, and trusting him that some clear joy is coming. I just wanted to be brave. I wanted to live from a place of hope and abundance even when the darkness inside threatened to consume me. 

My anger had subsided, for now. It will probably return like seasonal storms. Maybe tomorrow I will collapse on the floor and think terrible things of God and be angry and in despair, but not today.

Maybe tomorrow.

But not today.

I have answers I have to live into. 

I remembered the song I was singing the night I lost my baby. Don and Karin Peris of The Innocence Mission had suffered from infertility for years, and it reflected in many of their songs. That connection was not lost on me. I knew that God was speaking to me all that night while I labored to birth little Emunah. That was my promise. Some clear joy would come, even though it would be slow and feel like an eternity and hurt all the while, joy would come again. There would be flowers and birds, and no more weeping.
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