Dear Rowan: Part Nine

DearRowan9Dear Rowan,

Saturday we had a memorial service for you. Which I’m sure I will write about differently later, when I’ve had time to process it. It was rough. For your daddy and I both. But I was hoping it would help me with closure. Perhaps put a stopping point on my daily grief. While I’m sure the grief will continue to roll over me in waves, maybe they’ll be fewer and further between. I wish I could predict them, though. I wish I could live just one day without feeling sick at the loss of you. Sick to my stomach and heartsore.

But what I realized about letting go of some of my grief is that the feeling which takes its place is anger. And now I want to keep the sorrowful grief instead because it seems healthier. Anger doesn’t seem acceptable for a good Christian girl.

And yet I am. I am so angry. It ties in with my fear, because fear makes me angry too. I know anger is a part of grief. I’ve had wonderful people in my life remind me it’s ok to be angry. But when do I stop being angry? Is the same as sorrow? Will it hit me in waves that will start to come fewer and further between as well?

I wanted you. Your daddy wanted you. I took good care of my body, and of you inside me. I rested. I took a nap every day after work. I exercised. Phoebe and I went for frequent walks. I drank a lot of water and cut out coffee and even tea. I took my vitamins. I rested and prayed and I spent time with your daddy.

While I was pregnant with you I had a birthday. I very happy one, because you were the best birthday present I’ve ever had. While I was pregnant with you I graduated from seminary. I celebrated with family and felt so content to be accomplishing two dreams in the same year. While I was pregnant with you, I celebrated Mother’s Day quietly with your daddy, and planned what I would get him for Father’s Day.

I was so nauseated with you. I had a horrible taste in my mouth all the time. I was completely exhausted. My face broke out. My body changed. While some of it was not fun, I took each new symptom as a sweet sign that you were there. And I loved it. I couldn’t wait to meet you. I waited to buy anything for you or any maternity clothes for myself but I was already looking forward to painting the nursery. To the winter clothes you’d wear home from the hospital. To celebrating the new year with you because of course I would be awake at midnight, with you in my arms.

I’m so angry that all that is gone. And to be completely honest, I know some of my anger is a result of being thwarted. I’ve always loved being in control and planning out my life. I was already frustrated with how long it took to conceive you, but I was adapting. But this–this is beyond anything else.

Suddenly, I go from being a happy pregnant woman, so excited to be a mom and without much fear of losing you, to a woman shocked and taken aback. My plan of having four children a year and a half apart or so, trying to have the fourth by the time I was 36, is shaken. Maybe only by a year. But maybe not. Now I’m beginning to wonder if that won’t be my story at all. That I’ll be one of those women who can’t carry a child to term. Maybe I’ll only be able to have one, and lose my dream of a big family.

Your daddy and I planned, while we were still young and in love and newly-engaged, that we would wait until we had been married two years, and then start a family. But when the time came, I was still in school. Your daddy wisely pointed out that being pregnant during my last year of grad school would probably be too much. And especially since I would be working on top of that. So I agreed to wait a year. And suddenly I’m no longer young enough to be the young mom I wanted to be. I conceived you at 27, lost you at 28, and I will be 29 by the time I have your sibling, if God grants me that request at all.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter. But I’m afraid of being 36 and having your youngest sibling. I’m afraid of being worn out and tired. I’m afraid of having trouble conceiving because of my age. All of these are things that worry me. They add to my fear. I don’t like to not be in control. I don’t like to face a potential future entirely unlike anything I had hoped for.

But what I am most afraid of is remaining afraid and angry. I’ve been reminded that hope is a choice. It’s stronger than fear. I can choose to hope that God will be gracious this time. But it’s hard to do when he’s so far away. When it’s impossible to tell what he expects of me in this grief. How can I become a better person through my suffering if I’m just angry? And what if he puts me through more loss and more grief and instead of being refined by the fire of suffering I just become bitter, turning inward into darkness and depression? I like to think I am strong. If you had asked me months ago if a miscarriage would shatter everything I am down to my core and cripple me emotionally, I would have told you it may for a time, and then I would be stronger. But on the other side of it, I don’t know anymore. I’m not as strong as I thought I was. And that makes me afraid too.

I am reading “A Grief Observed” by C. S. Lewis, and I am comforted by the knowledge that as great a thinker, as great a student of theology and Christianity as he, was shaken in his faith and felt as far from God as I do.

He says, “Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be – or so it feels – welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once, and that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?”

I ask myself the same. I have felt and delighted in the presence of God in times of joy. But this grief has not brought me more of his presence, but rather less. He is not present with me in my grief, it seems. He is an observer, yes–empathetic, but no true comfort. People have prayed for me that God will make himself better known to me in this loss, and maybe one day he will. But for now he is dead silent, and I am angry.

Lewis also said in the same chapter, “Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.”

It is so sweet and kind of everyone to remind me of God’s love for me in this situation. But those who have actually felt the same slamming and bolting of the door know very well what it’s like. So they remind me to be angry. Rage against God. Throw things and punch walls and scream until my throat is sore. And I have–all of them. It feels better. I do so in the confidence that screaming at him is like screaming at a mountain. He is unaffected, and therefore un-threatened. If I know anything of God, it’s that he called a man who frequently railed against him in psalms, “a man after his own heart.”

So then, I will rage. One day the anger will fade just as the grief will. And again I don’t know when it is right to stop. But I will leave that between God and myself and remember that it is no one else’s business how quickly he works in me. And he will have to work in me for months. Because when I am pregnant again I will rage at him some more for taking away the joy of pregnancy and replacing it with fear. For taking away my hope of a family and replacing it with panic at the slightest cramp or bleed. For not answering my prayers over you, Rowan, and thereby making it impossible for me to pray for my new baby with any confidence or hope.

It is not well yet with my soul. It is ironic that the day before I lost you I hung a piece of art on the walk that says “It is Well with my Soul” right next to a piece of art that says, “Courage, Dear Heart.”  Because I have neither courage, nor is it well with my soul.

I wrote this a few days after I lost you, hoping that a month from then I would be able to say, “it is well.” But I still can’t. And I think for now that is alright.

Not Well Yet

Will time perhaps begin to dull the edge
Of sharpened pain, bled long into the night?
The clock has stronger powers, some allege
Than any form of salve or balm despite
The tempting call of sleep or drink or ought
Which promises to soothe the deepest pain.
The arms of God are stronger still, we’re taught
And truth of this I’ve found before. In vain
Does all else promise healing. I will run
Into the Father’s arms, I know, and yet
My grief has not waned since it had begun
And God knows, sweetly waiting. I’m beset
Unready to be healed or soon consoled.
God knows it is not well yet with my soul.

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5 thoughts on “Dear Rowan: Part Nine

  1. Pingback: Dear Rowan: Part Ten | Philosophia Women

  2. Pingback: Dear Rowan: Part Nineteen | Philosophia Women

  3. Pingback: Dear Rowan: On Your Due Date | Philosophia Women

  4. Pingback: Dear Rowan: Part Twenty-One | Philosophia Women

  5. Pingback: Dear Rowan: Part Twenty | Philosophia Women

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