Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Letting Myself Off the Hook

These two years of our lives have absolutely been the most difficult ones we’ve had to endure. There have been moments of unimaginable joy intermingled with the parts that have been nearly unbearable, yes, but my little heart and mind have been through the emotional equivalent of a meat grinder in the last nearly 24 months. I keep telling myself that it’s the refining fire. I know that it really is. I know that these experiences are formative for me and for us. The losses we have been hit with in this amount of time have changed us, but I know really they are changes for the better. Our marriage has been strengthened, my mothering has been more purposeful, and my friendships have become more deep and meaningful. Those are all great and perfect gifts that I have received from my Father...

Many of you may not know that I have been in counseling for a few months. Ironic that I am finishing up my own certification to be a counselor, and I find myself on the receiving end. To be frank, I think EVERYONE needs a counselor at some point in their lives. Life is HARD, folks. For me, my grief response has been to “keep the plates spinning”. Do this, say this, make this, take this on, etc. In the midst of that acrobatic feat, though, I have seen “plates” come crashing down and be pulverized into dust that I couldn’t possibly put back together.  When that has happened, I have carried the responsibility in my heart for both the breaking and the mending. Neither of which were my fault or within my ability to prevent or repair.  In my counseling session Monday morning, my sweet counselor had me read Romans 8:31-37 and replace all the generic binaries with personal ones. She made me read it out loud. Here’s what it sounded like (The Message translation):

“So what do you think, Rachel?  With God on your side, how can you possibly lose?  If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for you, Rachel, embracing your condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending His own Son, is there anything else He wouldn’t gladly and freely do for you, His daughter?  And who would dare tangle with God by messing with you, one of God’s chosen...his girl?  Who would dare even to point a finger at you, Rachel?  The One who died for you-who conquered the grave for YOU-is in the very presence of God sticking up for you RIGHT NOW, Rachel!  Do you think anyone or anything is going to be able to drive a wedge between you and Christ’s fierce love for you?  There is no way!  Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture. None of this phases you, Rachel, because God LOVES you. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing-nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable-absolutely NOTHING can get between you and Gods love for you, Rachel. Because of th way Jesus has embraced you, his daughter”.

While that seems easy enough, I basically could not read that out loud in my session. It felt wrong to me. So I have spent yesterday and this morning trying to read it that way with confidence. You know what?  It dawned on me how crushed my Lord must be to hear me NOT be able to confidently read those verses and apply them to myself. It’s taken more than 20 read through a of those verses written like that for me to have a breakthrough. My God is bigger than circumstances. He is bigger than death, bigger than loss, bigger than rifts, bigger than mistakes. He can take ANYTHING and make into something BEAUITFUL. And you know what?  It was NEVER my responsibility to help Him along in that. I was never supposed to be the “fixer”. I am only supposed to be the beloved daughter of my King and let him do the rest...

There are things that happen in life that are not at all preventable. I can’t change someone’s mind, I can’t convince someone who is entrenched in their own truth that what they are believing is a lie, I can’t take on the responsibility of “fixing” what has been crushed. It was never within my power and therefore it was never part of my list of expectations. I can no longer take on this heavy burden of “responsibility” of mending broken things that was never my burden to bear. As my counselor says, “Rachel...that was never yours to fix.”  So I get it...I think. How crushed my spirit has been because of those “pulverized plates” in these last few months...  But you know what?  That feeling of a crushed and unloveable spirit is NOT a feeling from Christ.  “Is there anything else he won’t gladly do for you, his daughter?”

In Gods timing, He will make a glorious masterpiece of these broken pieces. I have not a clue on earth how He will do it, but I know He will. I’m beginning to see how far behind I’ve left the concept of my worth to Christ. How deeply and purposeful He loves me. My ability to see that has been clouded by what feels like a marathon of “taking away” and “leaving without”. But the Word tells me, and I know it is Truth, that God is a God of LOVE. He doesn’t just “do” love...He IS love. And if He truly IS love, then I must rest my heart and my mind on HIM. I have to know and believe that He knows the story well...like the back of his hand...and He hasn’t nor will He leave me or forsake me...

I hope you’ll take a minute to replace my name with yours in that Romans passage. As freely as He gives to me and as fiercely as He protects me...He does the same for you whether you realize it or not. And join me in fervent prayer that God will miraculously build that masterpiece in my life and in your yours. That it would be more breathtakingly beautiful than we ever imagined it could be...

Sunday, April 8, 2018

What Should Have Been...

Man my little tender heart has been STRUGGLING this week.  This month of April has weirdly hit me square between the eyes and I didn't even see it coming!  Around this time last year, Jonathan and I decided to start trying for Baby Womack #2.  We agreed, confidently, that if we arrived at April 2018 and we hadn't been successful in getting pregnant, we would go see Dr. Hansen.  There was an odd amount of comfort in that.  We didn't feel hopeless like we had in years past when we decided it was time to start trying.  We have our sweet and precious Greysen and we've seen God work in miraculous ways in our hearts and minds with his arrival.  He is my most precious gift and I tell him so every day.  We also had OPTIONS...it wouldn't be the end of the world if we ended up back at OU with our doctors and nurses who we love so much if a year passed and a pregnancy hadn't happened.  We could never have predicted what the following 12 months would bring.  SO many things that make this April 2018 SO much harder to digest...

The loss of my sweet Grandmother would have been enough to really knock me off my game, but to then lose our blessing baby...our sweet Soutine...mere weeks after the loss of my Mimol just seemed cruel, to be frank.  And while my mind's eye sees her sweet jet black curls and bright blue eyes happy and safe and being cared for by SO many that love her, as this week rolls around I can't help but feel overwhelmingly jealous of the joy of Soutine that I'm not getting to experience.  How my heart breaks when I think that this week SHOULD have been the week I was waiting for her arrival.  This SHOULD have been the week that I was waddling around and counting those "practice" contractions and telling everyone "Any day now!".  I might have welcomed her into this world this week.  I might have held her sweet little face close to mine and said, "I'm your Mommy sweet girl!"  I might have introduced her to her Daddy who loves her more than life itself.  I might have introduced her to her sweet big brother Greysen who would have been the BEST big brother to his baby sister.  I might have handed her over to her Nene...added to her joy of grand babies and given her another girl to spoil.  I might have placed her in the arms of her Papa and her Pops...two men who would have taken bullets for her.  I might have put her on FaceTime with her May-May and Uncle James and her sweet cousins...prepped her for the crazy shenanigans that were in store for her in this wild Harris clan.  I might have breathed her in so deep...drawn in that sweet baby smell down to the tips of my toes.  I might have lain my cheek against that downy baby hair of hers and wondered how anything could be softer.  I might have held her impossibly tiny hands and feet and marveled at how perfectly perfect every tiny finger and toe was.  That's what SHOULD have been...

That pill this week is BITTER y'all.  It is bitter.  It's a physical pain.  Empty arms physically HURT when they were supposed to filled with a newborn baby.  While I know I will hold her *someday*, today that notion doesn't bring me much peace.  I heard a sweet friend talk about a balloon release ceremony where she released a balloon for a baby she lost.  She said, "They said it would be freeing to let that balloon float away from my hands, but instead I found myself wanting to grapple for that string I let go of and climb right up into the clouds and get it back."  Today...this week...I want to claw my way into the clouds and get my baby back.  I want to go back in time and refuse to "follow God's will" and keep her.  I want her here.  I want what "should have been".  I don't really know how to find peace in this.  I think because of the profound loss that's happened in the last 2 years of my life, the absence of this blessing baby this week is just particularly piercing...

I pray constantly for God to replace that hurt with something joyful...something positive...something healing.  I long for Him to do those things and remind me that He truly does have something better in store for me.  It's hard to wrap my mind around something being better than holding my precious miracle baby in my arms this week.  Maybe He'll surprise me...

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Contentment in the Absence of Perfection

Merry Christmas Eve!  As has become tradition over the last 5 years since I've been blogging, it's time for my annual Christmas post.  As 2017 comes to an end, I'm feeling a bit disjointed.  Whereas last year we were still in a pretty thick fog after the loss of our sweet Bernice and Jonathan and I were doing our best to shore up our best friends as they prepared to lose their mother mere days after the holiday season passed, this year I think we both feel a bit of unrest.  A lack of "settle".  Life feels a bit like an amazing nearly finished puzzle you've worked on for weeks, that is frustratingly missing a chunk right smack in the middle.  Only we've been working on our "puzzle" for several YEARS...

So that feeling of "unfinished business" that we can't quite put behind us yet has spelled a bit of frustration.  We find ourselves striving for goals we know are reasonable and achievable, but they feel just out of reach at the moment.  And when I can't wrap it all in a bow and call it "finished", man does that mess with my psyche!  If it doesn't look like that perfectly perfect picture I have in my head, I come dangerously close to loosing my marbles.  That striving for and failing to obtain perfection is a cycle I find myself in more frequently than I'd like to admit...

So this Christmas season, I have had to work really, really hard at slowing down and savoring...letting go of my need for perfection.  I've had to remind myself that perfection is not the ultimate goal.  Contentment is.  And I think the picture in Bethlehem that God paints for us is the perfect reminder of that.  Many times I think the HUMANITY of the Christmas story gets lost in the shuffle.  We sing about baby Jesus and how he never cried.  We see paintings of Mary with a literal glowing halo around her head.  We set up nativity scenes depicting this angelic setting with pure white lambs and donkeys that look as though they've just come from the groomer.  We sing about how Jesus was unblemished...the perfect spotless Lamb.  And don't get me wrong...He was.  He IS!  But He was human...

He "took on flesh".  In my mind, that means He, in His perfect plan to save all of His own creation, stepped DOWN from Heaven and lived like we do.  He was the spotless Lamb...He lived a sinless life.  But y'all...he was fully human.  Mary gave birth to that baby just the same way mothers around the world give birth to babies every day.  She felt those searing pains, and she LABORED to bring Jesus into this world.  When He arrived, he was far from "spotless" I'm sure.  He took on flesh and all that entails.  Birth is messy...so was His.  And those little white lambs?  I'm sure they were not so much white as they were covered in mud and stinking to high heaven wondering why in the world this little family from Nazareth was invading their little barn in the middle of the night.  Mary and Joseph had to cut that umbilical cord, they had to clean that little baby off and wrap him in torn cloths to keep him warm.  And Mary rocked him and sang to him and comforted him, because really, that little baby Jesus was as much human as you and I are.  God wanted it that way!  Can you imagine what His experience must have been like?  To step down from HEAVEN into humanity and experience every single bit of it as a human just like us?

God didn't orchestrate this story because He wanted us to experience perfection.  He didn't come to earth as a blemish free angel with a halo around his head.  His mother was a child herself...a weary traveler from an extended family with a sordid past.  God incarnated Himself and came to this earth to give us freedom from the need for perfection.   There was not enough blood on earth to ever cover the sins of this world, and God couldn't bear the thought of our striving for perfection still not measuring up.  So He wiped out the need for perfection in that little Bethlehem stable by making CONTENTMENT accessible in the absence of perfection.  He made a way for us to connect with HIM in the midst of our imperfections...

So this Christmas season, and as you go forth into the new year, be reminded that God desires contentment from us.  He wants us to stumble through this messy life in all of our fully blemished HUMAN-ness and strive for peace and rest.  In the end, that perfect peace and rest is our reward in Heaven.  In the meantime, taking time to remember why we are even here at all is incredibly important.  It's how we keep things in perspective.  That's as much a message to myself as it is to anyone else!  God stepped down from Heaven to be near to us.  He took on flesh to identify with us.  He lived His life blame free to make a way for us.  And He died a criminal's death to atone for us.  So in the depths of your striving for ultimate perfection (depths I find myself in frequently), be reminded that perfection is not attainable here on this earth.  What is attainable?  Contentment.  May that be your gift this Christmas and always...

Merry Christmas!
Rach




Friday, December 8, 2017

Choosing Joy

So here we are rounding out yet another year. How can 2017 be coming to a close already??  I feel like I say that every year. How did 365 days go by so quickly?  2017 has been only marginally less brutal than 2016 was. 2017 started with the loss of a “more like family” friend, continued with a giant road block on our road to an MD, stumbled through a literal ropes course of nonsense on our way to then losing my sweet Mimol, followed by suffering a miscarriage, and then starting our December with my best friend having major abdominal surgery to remove a golf ball sized small cell carcinoma from her kidney. Sheesh. Uncle already 2017...

If I sit here and dwell on the negative aspects of this year, I could really go down a rabbit hole y’all. I could cry and cry about how awful life has been. How uncaring and unfeeling some people have been in the midst of all of it. How the end of this year looks SO radically different than I thought it would. Maybe radically different than I hoped it would. Or...

I can lay here and marvel at the GOOD. I can set my mind on the perfect orchestration God has laid out for this year. How incredibly GRATEFUL I am that I didn’t  have to try and  navigate all of these difficult circumstances with Jonathan working 80+ hours a week in a residency like he was “supposed to”.  How blessed I am that he and I are a TEAM and we navigate the messiness of life TOGETHER. How perfectly perfect he is for me...

I can be content in the love and support that has been poured out on me and my family as volley after volley of difficulties have come our way. My heart can swell at the thought of how incredible our friends and community and family have been. How they’ve been our backbone...our rock!  How 2017 has just been punctuated and defined over and over and over again by the generosity and selfless love of the people we have surrounded ourselves with. How our cups run over with gratitude for the people we “do life with”...

I can continue to be shocked and totally pumped at where A Different Kind of Flair  has gone in the last 7 months. From 80 pairs of fundraiser earrings turning into $1,600 donated to the American Cancer Society in honor of Bernice, Sharon, and Debbie to a shocking number  in total sales since July that makes me blush when it pops up on my calculator. How blessed I am by my customer base and how happy I am that a dream is slowly becoming a reality. Pushing through firewalls and glass ceilings on the way to things I NEVER would have imagined could be possible for this little “hobby turned Business”. And how freaking excited Bernice would be at where it is headed!

I can remember how much my Mimol LOVED this time of year and think of how excited she would be to see my house all decorated for Christmas. How elated she would have been to see some of her pieces and her recipes used on our Thanksgiving table. How I can  hear her sweet alto voice singing among the voices of my own church’s choir...

I can smile at the fact that this is the second Christmas in a row I have helped Charlie decorate his house for the season. How happy it would have made Bernice to tell all the stories of all the things coming out of those boxes. How content she would be knowing Christmas would be spent at HER house. I can marvel at the little pieces of her that I see in Greysen. Her curled smile, her love for books and music, that little twinkle in her eye. How my heart breaks and soars at the same time when I think about how happy she would be to watch Jonathan and I raise our family...

I can rejoice in the fact that my sweet Sara is RECOVERING and not requiring chemo after her surgery. I can cheer because I know that this hasn’t taken any time away from the two of us and our future of shenanigans. How happy I am that she can say she’s beat this soon. How excited I am that tonight she is HOME, and she got to see the snow in Houston!  My heart is warmed knowing she’s watching Christmas movies by her fire at home in her beautiful house...

I can feel those same butterflies of excitement when I remember getting to tell my grandmother mere days before she passed that I was giving her great grand baby #10. I can remember the joy of that positive pregnancy test!  And I can kiss my sweet Greysens cheeks and further marvel at the miracle that is his life. Like Mimol always said...he’s my miracle baby!  How special he is to me, to Jonathan, to our family. And what an amazing big brother he WILL be when our time comes again...

While the sting of loss hits hard this year on so many levels, and our “new normal” continues to evolve with the absence of Bernice and Mimol, I can still sit in my living room and honestly say “It is well with my soul”.  The warm glow of our family Christmas tree, the smell of fresh pine, the anticipation of a super fun family vacation to Disney World in a few weeks!  There is so much MORE I have to be grateful, thankful, and HAPPY about than anything else. I’m taking a stand for JOY this year in the midst of pain and uncertainty. And make no mistake y’all...it’s absolutely a CHOICE. I choose joy!  I choose to see the happiness in my little boys face as he grasps a little more deeply the true meaning of Christmas. Christ came to earth because he couldn’t bear the separation. He craved NEARNESS to us just as we crave nearness to each other and to Him. So in these coming weeks, I will bring my family close. We will sit in the warmth of our house, tell stories and remember  our Bernice and Mimol and everyone else we are missing this Christmas, and be near to each other. 2017 threw us yet another bushel of lemons. But we’re still making lemonade y’all...


Sunday, September 10, 2017

It Was Then That He Carried Me...

When I lost this pregnancy, in my anger at God for taking my child, I literally begged Him to just show up.  I felt far from Him in my grief.  I felt like He had stepped out and left me.  So I begged Him to just be present and real and obvious to me.  I wanted Him to make His presence known.  I spent about two solid days lost in my thoughts...lost in my pain.  And then, He showed up.  Or probably He was really there all along...

He sent literal hoards of cards and messages and calls from all of you.  He sent sweet faces with even sweeter hugs and knowing tears to comfort me.  He sent my Mama to put her arms around me.  He wrapped me in my husband's arms and he laid my sweet baby Greysen in mine.  He provided for my every need.  He is STILL providing.  And my cup overflows with gratitude for who He is in my life.  How He so beautifully and effortlessly sweeps His brush across the mural of my life and makes something beautiful out of the ashes...

I may never truly understand on this side of Heaven why this happened.  I'm grateful for a God who lets me stay blissfully ignorant to His incredible plans because I know I would wreck them if He let me have the reigns.  We are a week and a half out from losing our sweet Soutine, but my God has been faithful.  He never left me.  He let me be mad at Him.  He let me cry and He let me question.  He let me feel every bit of the human emotion that comes with loss.  But He carried me every step of the way...He's still carrying me today...

On that Thursday night when I went to the ER, I had a callous nurse who was fairly uncaring.  In my anger about the situation, she is the only person I told you about.  But there was another character in that story.  And she deserves more airtime than the hardened nurse.  After checking into triage, I went back out to the waiting room.  I had been pretty numb on the drive over and in the process of checking in, but when I sat down and Jonathan put his arm around me...I lost it.  I clamored for Greysen so I could wrap my arms around my baby and smell his sweet head and soak up every ounce of him.  And I wept into the soft place between his shoulder and his neck while he sat still in my lap with his tiny arms slung around my neck.  And then she was there.  My eyes were clouded with tears, but I felt her warm hand on my shoulder and I heard her say, "I'm here in this hospital with you.  Tell me why you're crying dear."  I raggedly said, "I think I'm having a miscarriage."  I could hardly get the word out.  She stood there over me and she said, "Baby, sometimes we don't know what God is doing.  Sometimes we don't understand.  But He loves you and He loves this baby.  And His will will be done.  But He will comfort you if you let Him."  Through tear-filled eyes I looked up into hers.  She was a heavyset black woman.  She was wearing unassuming clothes and she handed me a package of tissues.  She had green eyes.  I stifled the urge I had to reach up and place my hand on her cheek.  I don't know where that uncanny urge came from to touch a stranger's face.  She put her hands on either side of my face and she prayed for me.  She prayed for my baby, for Jonathan, for my family, for my comfort and peace.  And she left.  After they had drawn my blood, they sent me to another waiting room.  In that room, she was there.  She talked with people around her as if they were just casually spending time together.  I couldn't bring myself to look at her again, but there was something soothing about just knowing she was there...

Y'all...I'm not one for "out of body experiences" or "supernatural manifestations".  But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the hands that touched my face that night were His.  I told Jonathan that night at home amidst my sobs that "I think that woman was God."  And he said, "I think so too.  I thought that the minute she walked up."  I told Him to show up.  He did.  In a big way.  In just the way I needed Him to.  And He's been showing up ever since.  Not for a second have I truly had to question how much He truly loves and cares for me in all of this.  And while I know I will never understand in my limited ability to grasp His purpose for things, I believe He has been gracious enough to provide me a little insight into His perfect plan...

The timing is so perfect, that I have to believe that my sweet angel Soutine was a gift for my Mimol on this earth AND in Heaven.  Her life and her purpose were bigger than me.  And while she never breathed a breath here on earth, I know she heard her Lord say "Well done my good and faithful servant."  For the two weeks I knew she was there, she brought unimaginable joy to me and my family and my sweet grandmother.  Knowing she was there was the last sheer joy my Mimol experienced on this earth.  It was the last time I heard her laugh or saw her cry tears of joy.  And the image I have in my mind is this.  My sweet Soutine, with her jet black curls like Daddy and her button nose like Mommy...her piercing blue eyes like her big brother Greysen...stood with her hand outstretched to Mimol.  And the two of them strolled into those pearly gates with Bernice's "Dance in the River" as their soundtrack.  They were welcomed with open arms and so much uncontainable joy. While I can be sad for a moment, I know it's ok not to be ok, I can't linger on the emotion of sorrow when I know what that reception was like.  When I know what MY reception will be like when that day comes for me.  My little baby girl accomplished her purpose on this earth in the blink of an eye.  Oh how He loves her.  Oh how He loves ME!  And today I cling to HOPE.  Because I know my God is faithful.  I know He finishes what He starts.  I know He is good ALL THE TIME.  And I know His plan for my life is marvelous.  That mural is far from finished...



Friday, September 1, 2017

Soutine

Writing is catharsis for me.  Reading this may be uncomfortable for you because in situations like this, so many just don't know what to say.  I don't know what to say either.  I suppose because there's nothing you really *can* say.  I'm sorry.  I love you.  I'm praying for you.  You're on my mind.  Those things seem to be the only things that feel appropriate...and somehow they also seem completely inadequate.  They are both.  They are exactly what I need to hear, and also not nearly enough...

Two weeks ago on August 15th, I decided that after 8 days of a missed period (when my cycles since Greysen was born have been miraculously regular), that I needed to take a pregnancy test.  I was at my grandparent's house visiting with my sweet grandmother who was less than a week away from going Home.  She was uncomfortable and declining rapidly...

Jonathan and I have been "trying" for about 6 months to get pregnant.  Knowing all the while that there was maybe more chance it wouldn't happen for us than that it would, we still wanted to commit  to giving it a shot.  So that night, the night of the 15th, I took an $0.88 pregnancy test in my grandmother's bathroom.  And lo and behold...two solid pink lines showed up.  I was shocked and so excited.  I walked out of the bathroom to the kitchen where my mom and grandfather were.  I said, "Look Mom" and showed her the test.  She looked at it and looked at me and said, "It's positive!  You're pregnant!" and she turned to my grandfather and said, "Pa...Rachel's pregnant!!"  And we hugged and called my dad and decided to wait to tell Jonathan until I could surprise him the next night when he picked me up from the airport...

The next morning I crawled into bed with my ailing Mimol and said, "Mimol...look!"  I showed her the test and I said, "I'm pregnant!".  And even in her only semi-lucid state at that point she gasped and said, "A baby??  Oh Rachel!  A baby!!  I could just jump right out of this bed and dance!  A baby!!!"  It was a sweet moment of pure joy.  My mom, my aunt, my Greysen, my Mimol, and my Pa all in the same room celebrating this sweet little baby of mine on the way.  My Pa stood at Mimol's feet and squeezed her toes and said, "Marc...TEN!"  I was carrying their 10th great-grandchild.  Mimol scanned the room and said, "Look how wonderful this is...everyone here.  A baby, Rachel.  A baby..."

I went home that evening and I surprised Jonathan with a positive pregnancy test and Greysen wearing a shirt saying "Promoted to Big Brother".  He was shocked and elated!  We then surprised Charlie and he was equally shocked and excited.  Tears filled his eyes when we told him.  For a week before I took that test I had been feeling that tell-tale pregnancy exhaustion.  I was semi nauseated in the mornings, had some food aversions, and of course the lovely pregnancy insomnia.  My belly had already started protruding even at just 7 weeks pregnant.  I felt those round ligament pains starting.  I bought a belly support band to keep those at bay and I ordered my favorite prenatal vitamins in bulk.  I made an appointment with a midwife and had decided that I wanted to explore home birth with this baby.  I, at the very least, was committed to natural labor and delivery this time.  I was committed to pursuing a purposeful and calm process of delivery.  Within a week of taking that test, I had an overwhelming feeling that she was a girl.  No doubt in my mind.  I kept my pregnancy somewhat secret as per custom in early pregnancy, but I couldn't help but tell a few people...we were just so excited!  And with all those pregnancy symptoms, I just knew everything was fine.  There was no way I was going to miscarry or have another ectopic pregnancy...

I buried my grandmother last Saturday after she passed the Tuesday prior.  Everything was good.  I have that sweet memory of her joy in my mind forever.  She said, "Rachel I hope I get to hold that baby" and I told her she would.  I didn't know then how true those words would be...

Tuesday this week, after dropping Greysen off at his first day of school, I noticed spotting.  I called Jonathan and he said, "Let's go to the ER babe.  I'll meet you there."  So off I went.  6 vials of blood, a pelvic exam, and an ultrasound later, the consensus was 1) Your cervix is completely closed...good sign!, 2) Your hCG levels are at 987...a little low, but good sign!, 3) There's a sac in the uterus...good sign!, and 4) Even though it's a little too early to hear a heartbeat, the sac and the endometrium look good and normal...good news!  So I went home with hope.  Hope that I was just one of those women who experienced spotting in pregnancy and it was no big deal.  Hope that my little baby girl was going to keep growing and growing.  Hope that maybe with a little progesterone boost, this spotting would just go away completely...

And then last night happened.  My spotting turned to bleeding.  I went to the ER again where a horribly callous nurse said "Well you're probably miscarrying, but we will send you to lab to get your levels checked and then probably send you home."  A few hours later, she called me into a tiny little office and said "Well your levels are in half...you're miscarrying.  You'll probably have cramping and heavy bleeding for around 2 weeks.  Don't come back unless your hemorrhaging or you have high fever.  The nurse will be in to discharge you."  She left.  I was numb.  I still am.  I walked out of that hospital on my own two feet knowing that my baby was gone.  She was gone and I will never know her here on Earth.  Another baby lost.  This surely can't be happening...

This morning, I'm still numb.  I am struggling with anger.  With confusion.  With this thought that maybe it's all just a horribly awful bad dream and I'm going to snap back awake any minute and have my pregnancy back...my baby back.  I just don't understand why God would allow this to happen.  After everything that we've been through in the last 18 months...why in the world would this be ok??  What happens next?  This was supposed to be our Year of Jubilee...why do I feel so hopeless and joyless and overwhelmingly sad??  How is this happening to us...again?  How can I be expected to get through this AGAIN?  The answer to all those questions is...I have no idea.  I don't know.  Somewhere deep in my soul I know God has a plan.  But today, I am questioning that plan HARD.  I am angry with Him and I don't mind saying it.  I know He thinks of things beyond my comprehension.  I know He's good.  I know His plans for me are good.  But I just can't wrap my mind around how THIS is supposed to be good.  How is THIS supposed to cause me to cling to hope rather than melt into sorrow?  How is this at all right?  Why did this happen to ME...AGAIN?

I don't know the answer to any of those questions.  I don't know what the future of our little family is right now.  I would love to continue hoping that more babies are in our future.  I can't help but imagine delivering another sweet angel into this world.  Watching him or her grow, nursing again, studying my baby as they sleep peacefully.  I can't help but hope that Greysen gets to be a big brother one day.  Y'all...he would be such an amazing big brother.  I can't help but hope that one day Jonathan gets to be a new Daddy again.  But simultaneously I can't help but wonder if I will never get to experience those joys again.  If what's in my future is either more infertility or more loss.  There are no guarantees either way...

Our little girl...our sweet Soutine...rests in the arms of Jesus right now.  She will never know pain like this.  She will never hurt or want or cry.  SO many people welcomed her home yesterday.  Her Daddy Ronchal, her Grandmommy, her Granddaddy, her sweet Bebe, her Mimol, and her big brother Aamon.  How I wish I was the one that was keeping her safe right now.  How I wish she was listening to my heartbeat.  How I wish I was listening to hers.  How I wish God had trusted me enough to mother her here.  How I wish He hadn't taken her Home.  While I know there is so much joy on that beautiful shore this morning, my heart is crushed on this side of the river.  My arms, my heart, my womb is empty today.  And I feel every single inch of that void...

Friday, August 18, 2017

That Sweet By and By...

As I sit and write this post, my sweet grandmother is probably within hours of finishing her course here on Earth.  In the final days and hours of Bernice's life, she talked about seeing people in her room that she didn't know but who knew her.  She talked about a woman with a rosary.  In the final days of Debbie's life she talked about a man named Ty who was "way too cute for her" and was hanging out in the room with her.  Now in these final hours of my Mimol's life, she has seen angels and is asking who all these people are in her room.  She asked me Tuesday "who those two men were"...she said "it's like they're waiting for me".  She's talking with her late mother and sister as if they're in the room with her.  And maybe they are...

There is a process that happens when someone passes from this world...a blurring of the lines between our earthly reality and the next.  There is a lack of clarity for them in what they are experiencing because they can't quite separate the seen from the unseen.  Because slowly, they begin to SEE the unseen.  I can tell you that laying in bed next to Bernice and next to my Mimol, I *felt* those "people"...but I couldn't see them.  The room is peaceful even when the person who is passing is agitated.  There's an unexplainable serenity to the environment that I just can't put my finger on...

This is not something quantifiable.  There is not a scientist in the world who can explain what happens in death aside from the organic nature of the body systems slowly shutting down one by one.  There is no black and white explanation for why they see people they love who have passed...why they see "angels"...why they hear singing...why they reach out for things unseen.  You can't quantify it.  You can't explain it...

But having experienced this passing process at different times in the end of 4 separate women's lives in the last 16 months, I can tell you that you will NEVER convince me that there's nothing spiritual about the process of dying.  I know what happens when the body organically dies.  I've seen it first hand.  I've heard the sounds, I've seen the process.  THAT part might be quantifiable if you must quantify something.  But it's what happens before all of that that is unexplainable and too perfectly synced between 4 women who hardly knew each other or didn't know each other at all for me to believe it's all just a set of incredibly uncanny coincidences.  They each took different medicines, they each were afflicted with a different illnesses, there was not a whole lot that was similar between the 4 of them beyond the fact that they were dying.  But they heard things, they saw things, they felt things...and when they were each gone there was a strange peace about it all.  I'm certain it will be the same with my sweet Mimol when her last breaths are drawn.  There is a serenity that is beyond all understanding.  The soul is not quantifiable.  It's not something you can "prove".  But you'll never convince me that there's not a realm beyond our perception occurring right alongside our reality.  And how sweet it is to know that those we love and have lost are there not waiting for us, but existing there with us in perfect peace and serenity without the confines of time and space.  What a marvelous thought, Heaven.  That sweet by and by...