Some days you feel like you are standing in the sun and all is right with the world. You feel gratitude while joy and confidence surround you. And then there are some days you feel yourself being plunged under the waves only to come up for a breath before being sucked under again. Fear is consuming, gratitude tastes bitter and relief seems nowhere in sight.
2019 left me broken. Just as relief seemed to come, another wave sent me reeling back into grief and fear.
When Ava passed in the cold of January 2019, I found myself, fantasizing about being at the beach. About feeling warm under the sun, toes tucked in the sand and the weight of grief lessening. I longed for the warmth of summer and steady beat of the crashing waves. Eventually I got my wish. That July Daniel and I headed down to the Jersey shore, just the two of us, for a week. It was the first time we had gotten away together with no kids in over 10 years. It was absolutely wonderful. We were also treasuring some new joy in our hearts. I had found out I was pregnant again just a little bit before our trip. We had lost our Ava and while grief was still fresh, the sting had deadened just a bit and we were excited to hold this one in our arms come February of 2020.
I sat with my toes in the sand writing in my journal feeling some of the clouds of life clearing.
We got home from a refreshing trip and the next week I had a doctor’s appointment to see baby at the 9-week marker. It was hard to walk back into that room at the doctor’s office. There are so many feelings and memories left there for me. I remember being incredibly nervous and my blood pressure read sky high. But I was hoping for my nerves to settle a bit upon hearing some good news. I laid on the table as the doctor did the ultrasound, she asked me if I was sure I had my dates right. “Yes” I answered. However, what we saw on the screen didn’t match up. There was no heartbeat and I still only looked to be about 5 weeks. This news was crushing. She made a follow up appointment for the next week to check again. But that weekend I started bleeding and my follow up appointment confirmed my miscarriage.
I stood at the kitchen sink washing dishes feeling crushed and a mess. Where was my redemption story? Where was the victory? I couldn’t talk about it. I felt like my mess was too much for people now. They had just heard me pour my heart out about feeling broken over Ava, I didn’t want to talk about another loss. These thoughts seemed to scream through my head “I am too much of a mess for those around me! …I am too much of a mess for myself!”
But, as with each crushing blow our world delivers us… eventually you carry on, you wash dishes. You take care of your children. You go to work. You make dinner. You live life. Obviously, there is a lot more to it than this! But for the sake of not writing a book right now I will leave it at that. I read the psalms, the laments and praises that mingled together. They washed over my soul as a balm.
And then it was fall. Fall is beautiful here. The leaves on fire with their color, the air isn’t suffocating any longer, but there is still warmth in it. I was catching more of those deep breaths of air, the storms of life calmer.
At the end of October I had another positive pregnancy test. We were excited, but cautious. Suddenly having children wasn’t as simple as it once was, and the pain was still looming. The next few days went on as usual. Daniel’s youngest sister was getting married in the beginning of November, we were getting ready to head out to the wedding the following weekend. Just the two of us were going, since airfare is quite expensive when you are flying 7!
“June, 2020 that is when this little one would be here,” I thought. But a few days later I started bleeding again. In fact, if I hadn’t taken a pregnancy test, I would have just thought it was a late period. But I had taken one and I “knew”. Into how many pieces can one heart shatter? I felt so broken and so numb all at the same time. Daniel and I sat in turbulent stillness. My emotions seemed to have given up their functions. The wave had hit us again. Would there be an opportunity to grasp breath this time? I looked at my husband and said to him “I can’t even cry anymore… my tears feel as if they’ve been all used up.” He sighed and nodded his head in understanding and then he responded, “I think Jesus is crying the tears for us.”
“I think Jesus is crying the tears for us.” That statement hit home.
When we flew to the wedding, I felt like a walking open wound. I felt completely empty of myself, there was no strength left to muster. The one emotion I seemed capable of was anxiety about meeting my beautiful new nieces. I love my nephews and nieces dearly (that’s one of the hard parts about living on the other side of the country from them). But after having 11 straight boys on Daniel’s side of the family the girls had started to come, and Ava would have been one of them. I knew I would be feeling the raw edges of the hole where she would have been with girls for the first time.
I had an intense conversation with God on the airplane, yelling in my head “You better show up this weekend! You better be my strength because I have NONE left! You’ve emptied me and you are all I have left to keep me going with any semblance of composure!” It was an honest prayer but also an angry one.
He did show up. It didn’t mean the weekend was easy, or that I didn’t struggle with my emotions. But He did bring some healing to my heart. He did show me that when I am completely empty and I feel like I just can’t put one foot in front of the other, he can fill me for each moment. He can tend to the hurt with people that love me as well.
Deep down, after Ava passed, I was hoping for some victory in the aftermath. For a healthy baby. For another little girl. For a smoother road. Daniel and I did not feel like God had released us from having more children. We did not believe God was done growing our family yet. But, God, I was remaining faithful! Why wasn’t he? We had three devastating pregnancies! Why was he allowing wave after wave to crash over me? Why couldn’t I feel the joy of standing in the sun again, feeling that all was right with the world?
God didn’t meet me in a place of “victory” that year. He met me in all my places of suffering. He met me in my weakness. He met me with grace for each day.
The place of Jesus’ suffering, when he was nailed on the cross, was also a place of the greatest victory.
When I think of His nail scared hands and feet, when I think of the crowd “shouting crucify Him!” I know Jesus knows suffering and rejection. He remained faithful to the world, to me, in suffering and dying for my sins. When I suffer, when I feel empty, I am reminded of how Christ emptied Himself first. He is a God who empathies with my suffering.
He is a God who “Cry’s tears for me when I have none left.”
His greatest suffering brought us all victory! Christ’s triumph spans the chasm that separated us from God.
He brought me victory in suffering. Not because of anything I have done, or any strength I could muster. He remained, and remains faithful, when I am faithless. When I am angry at Him or in despair, he is still there. He sustains me through each year, week, day and step. He had me, and He holds me, through wave after wave.
Even today as I write this it still hurts. In fact, it seemed I could find no words to write in 2020. I needed time. But it’s a story that needs to be told. Far too many of us suffer in silence feeling alone. But you are not alone. Each of us has our own unique stories of suffering and hurt.
As those stories play out, let us remember that God does not abandon us in our suffering. He meets us in our suffering.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.