I cried out “Praise Jesus” as my daughter’s still frame lay below me, voiceless.  My tired body relaxed with a great force that only comes from immediate physical relief. It’s as if my whole being, from head to toe to heart, exhaled.  I lay there in the eerie silence praising God because I did what I thought I couldn’t do; bring my daughter’s body into the world while her spirit was already elsewhere.

From the moment I knew that Helen had left us, I declared,” I can’t do this.” But, I didn’t have a choice. I was going to have to do this. I couldn’t fix it and I couldn’t ignore it. I had to face it and I had to go through the incredibly, gut-wrenching pain of birthing a dead baby. I don’t believe there is anything in the world like it. I couldn’t do it.

Yet, I did.

Somehow.

Because God did.

Let’s be clear. I did nothing. I threw up my arms in surrender and cried out to the Lord, ” You’ve got to give me the strength. I can’t do this. You’ve got to do it.” I more like shoved it back in his face, but I gave it to Him. I knew there was no way I had the strength on my own to walk the most difficult 48 hours of my life. I knew it, so really, I had no other choice.

Once again, I find myself crying out ” I CAN’T do this. I NEED her.” just like a toddler who can’t understand why she can’t have her Daddy in the middle of a workday.  ( I may be speaking from personal experience, here.) In the quiet, my whole being aches for her. My heart throbs anxiously and my empty arms weep. My chest longs for the warmth of a newborn, who is comforted by the steady rise and fall of her resting place. My chest, that is devoid of my baby’s rhythmic breathing feels painfully hollow. It’s in these moments where I don’t see how I can bear the pain of missing my daughter another second.

Yet somehow, I do, just like I, somehow, walked through the nightmare of January 14th-16th.

Grief is arduous and complicated. I didn’t know that 3 months ago. In fact, I knew very little about it at all. Just when you think you’re doing well, on the mend, happy even, the wind picks up and the clouds darken. Before you can even run inside for cover, the rains pour down and you’re caught unprepared left drenched and angrily disappointed that your sunny day has taken a drastic turn.

Rather than growing angry that the storm comes, I’ve begun to expect it and welcome it. I’m aware that the sun can hide its face at any given second and I can’t outrun the storm. All I accomplish by running from them, (ie distracting myself with conversation, social media, people) is postpone the pain. I might chase the sun with some success, but eventually, I grow tired and the clouds catch up to me.  They rain down, just as I hoped they wouldn’t. Suddenly,  I’m caught up in a storm intensified by my tiredness and prolonged by my avoidance.

Instead, I will begin to turn back, stand still, and let the force wash over me. I will sit and be, giving the pain and the heartache space to breath. Then, all at once, I’ll exhale, the rain slows and the blue pigment tip-toes its way back into the sky. The sun often isn’t eager to reveal its face once again, but it always shows up. Not because I lasso it back from the far side of the earth, but because God floats it back out front at just the right moment.

I can’t muster up joy any more than I can lasso the sun. I can’t gather up strength any more than I can stand in the rain and not get wet. I can’t heal my wounds any more than I can make the rain stop. Yet God, in his infinite goodness, power, and grace can do all of those things if I let him.

He knows where the sun is hiding and will lead me to it if I simply let Him. He’s ready to hold the umbrella over my head if I remember to ask Him. And He’s able to pull back the rain if  I trust Him.

He carried me through this hurricane. He’ll carry me through the thunderstorms.

Marriage_Stories_The_James_0232

 

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