It is Monday afternoon after my string of ob appointments and I nap. The husband takes the little oyster to the store and comes home with milk, eggs, and a bud vase of luscious orange-red roses. Six large blooms, snuggled together in a bold eruption of color and scent. I set them on my bedside table so I stare at beauty before going to sleep and as I wake up. I am fully aware of each time I wake up. I don’t sleep well in the week after finding out we lost Norbert. But each time I turn over in the night, curling and uncurling my body, shoving my pillow back or up or away, I smell the bright roses in the darkness. The scent brings me peace. Not an overwhelming, flooding, everything-is-fine-now peace, but a whispering, trickling, everything-will-be-ok-again-someday peace.
Me: Thank you for my roses. They help me smile a little bit.
The husband: That’s not why I got them.
The husband: I got them because I love you.
When the husband and I got married we used the traditional wedding vows in our exchange, except for one small adjustment from the generations before us. Instead of concluding with “until death do us part” we instead promised to honor our vows “until God parts us with death.” God dictates life, death does not. We trust fully in this.
My body has stopped bleeding for this tiny life that was lost. My heart, too, is healing but in a new shape, and softer. The invisible mark Norbert left won’t be like a regular scar, a stretch of flesh that reacts by healing harder than it was before the hurt. Instead this scar will be a softer spot. For lost babies, for mamas who love and then lose them, for tears that are cried alone and for feelings that are swallowed because…the words aren’t there? Because no one listens? Those are not my burdens and I ache for those who carry them.
Both of our moms came, back to back. I needed their company more than I needed someone to unload our dishwasher. I needed someone to chat with the husband over coffee and to chase the oyster while I took my time getting around the house. They were, and they did. The little sister brought hugs and Chanel eye cream. Flowers, cupcakes, cards, meals. No one intended to fix this with their gestures and no one did. The gestures alone were a gift. Faint comfort felt fully.
It snowed. A heavy, lasting, whimsical, Hogwartsy snow that I watched from our comfy chair in the corner. A frozen balm just for my soul maybe.
Three weeks on I don’t wake up in tears each day. I don’t cry myself to sleep each night. I am viscerally aware that healing is underway. I am fully trusting that this baby, who was not named and was never met but whose days were numbered and known from the start, lived exactly as long as God planned. We were never meant to hold this child and for what reason I don’t know, but for some reason.
I don’t wake up in tears and I don’t go to sleep in tears but I wipe tears when the little girl at the playground talks about her baby sister coming this spring. I sniff tears when I tuck away the booties crocheted for Norbert. I swallow a lump when a friend says this baby has already heard, “Well done, good and faithful servant” but that one, that one is a good lump, a humbling lump, a this-story-doesn’t-end-with-me-and-my-sadness lump.
I grieve the loss of a new life I loved. Our baby. We both mourn the loss of possibilities. The husband and I look forward to the children we’ll have in the future but there will never be this child. The shift of the road ahead is permanent and maybe if I picture it not as the road ahead but as the way forward, I can see it with eyes that take in the scenery while it’s there to be seen and not with eyes that are tempted to look back and dwell. I expect to always feel this loss; fully in some moments, faintly in others after more time.
Besides. All good things are from above, the book of James says. I believe it’s true. My heart is cut and it is dented, but it is still full of good things from above.