I am tired. I am tired to the marrow, and I ache with it.
I grew up in a loving household yet suffered nevertheless. There was fear, there were health problems, money problems, ill treatment from those who thought I was too different. But I had a naturally optimistic and occasionally oblivious disposition, so that much of it slid off my back like water off of a duck.
The estrangement and imprisonment of a brother, the loss of a beloved grandmother, the cancer battle of another grandmother, prepared me in small ways for the loss of you. But regardless, losing you was the darkest and deepest grief I have ever felt.
Truthfully, I understand now that this is what life is made of. If anyone makes it to the end of his life without feeling what I have felt, he is either supremely lucky or has drowned his feelings in other things for decades.
But it doesn’t make the burden lighter. I am weary. Five months now I have lived with the weight and darkness of losing you on my shoulders. I have felt very much alone. Most of those who understand or who love me deeply (or both) are hundreds of miles from me. I have felt alone in carrying the weight of my grief, alone in my depression, alone in my fear in this new pregnancy, alone in handling the day to day decisions of life which sometimes overwhelm me on their own because after all I’ve borne, having to schedule a dentist appointment or drop off clothes at the consignment store are just too much.
I cannot describe the depth of my loneliness and grief. It still lingers. It still stings. The way the world moves on and seems surprised to discover I haven’t is torture. There are just no words. I’ve said all I can on it. I suppose I’m done.
Yet for this child within me now, I have let go of so much. Most of the time, I am happy. That optimism of my childhood carries me still, and I, for the sake of this child, surround myself with friends who love me, activities I enjoy, and books and TV shows that entertain me. Because this child deserves that much. And I am stronger, tougher, and thus far undefeated. But the weariness settles in on me sometimes at night, and it all comes crashing down. I hope the baby is asleep, and can’t feel what I’m feeling. The fear that I’ll never meet him or her. The daily expectation of loss. The guilt for feeling that way. The sense of loneliness that comes from knowing that despite the kind and supportive words people have said to me, I still have to bear my own sorrows alone, just as anyone does who knows the unique pain of loss. Some, as I have said, understand better than others. Some understand not at all. But regardless of where they are on that spectrum, people are incapable of bearing my grief like I must do.
And so I am tired. Physically, from a rough first trimester that hasn’t fully let go its hold on me. Mentally, from the strain of living daily without you. Emotionally, from the loneliness and the effort it takes to remain happy.
But it is also in those moments in the darkness that I am reminded how very much I am not alone. There is only one who knows my grief to the extend that I do. There is only one who is able to soothe it in a manner that provides true healing. He has never left me alone. And to that I cling with gratitude.
I am grateful. I think that’s the optimism that rests at the foundation of my daily life. That and faith. I think both of those things have borne me through my childhood and young adulthood. Even til now. My trust in God was shaken by the loss of you, yes. But not my faith. And not my gratitude.
I am grateful that I loved you. That I saw you alive and beating in my womb, fiercely insisting upon your own existence in this world, even for a short time. You were my joy.
I am grateful that the loss of you showed me a paradigm shift: I understand people better now. I understand suffering now. My empathy has skyrocketed, and now news of hurricanes and disease and death makes me weep like it never did before. I weep with other mothers who have empty arms. I weep for suffering, and you taught me that.
I am grateful for a new perspective on motherhood. I no longer think that it is simple to attain, or to be taken for granted. Sometimes it can result in the worst pain imaginable. And it is worth it all the same. Sometimes it is borne in fear mingled with hope. But it is always worth it.
I am grateful for this life inside me now; your sibling. Regardless of how long I get to keep it. Months, years, decades.Regardless of what joy or sorrow it brings me. I am deeply in love and grateful for that love.
I am grateful for your daddy. How he has suffered with me and has faced sorrow with me, how he has maintained optimism and hope, how he has not treated my fears as unfounded or foolish, but has been my support. How he has taken care of me for the last seven months’ worth of first trimesters and pain and loss, and fear and hope.
I am grateful for those God has raised up and those he has torn from me. He has brought people alongside me to love me. He brought me to the place of work where I spend my week, among people who listen and support and pray.
He has walked with me. He has reminded me in a dozen large ways and a hundred small ones that I am his child. That he delights in me, that he holds me, that he is working in me, that he loves me. That he loves you and created you for a purpose. That he loves your sibling in me now and has big plans for him or her too.
He makes it clear that life is a complete package of good and bad. That we cannot have gratitude only in the good, but also in the bad. So he has reminded me to be grateful, impossible as it seems, for my grief and sorrow. For the hits I took as a child, the loss of family, the abandonments and betrayals of others, the loss of dreams and plans, and the uncertain and frightening future.
Gratitude must permeate the life of the true Christian. The Christian who doesn’t live in the foolish assumption that following Jesus in first-world America means health and prosperity and joy. And for my naturally grateful disposition I have gratitude. But it is he who sustains it in me, even when I am tired to the marrow.
As Henri Nouwen said, “As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.”
It is in this that my trust is being restored. My faith, my gratitude, have held me aloft, but my trust is mending slowly as I understand better God’s ways–as I see him working in me through my exhaustion and loneliness and grief and fear and hope and gratitude and peace. As time slowly shows me how what he has taken from me is changing me in ways that are not good from a human perspective, but Good from a heavenly one.
I will finish with the words of Brennan Manning:
“To be grateful for an unanswered prayer, to give thanks in a state of interior desolation, to trust in the love of God in the face of marvels, cruel circumstances, obscenities, and commonplaces of life is to whisper a doxology in darkness.”
Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part Eleven, Part Twelve, Part Thirteen, Part Fourteen, Part Fifteen, Part Sixteen, Part Seventeen, Part Eighteen Part Nineteen.