I took a deep breath and laid my head back on to my pillow. It was the first words that escaped my mouth this morning as I watched the clock turn to 12:00 A.M. With the turning of that clock to midnight, it was now September 10th, 2020.
September 10th, 2020.
It's a day that I've been anticipating with apprehension for a year now...ever since September 10th, 2019 - the day we said goodbye to our baby girl growing in my womb.
September the 10th. 9/10. The 10th of September.
No matter how you say it, I don't like this day. But my heart has been counting down to this day whether I wanted it to or not. September 10th was always there this past year - hanging on the calendar like a cloud approaching on the horizon. I just wasn't sure if, after a year, that cloud was still dark and ominous or if it was now revealing a silver lining. I wasn't sure what to expect, what was appropriate to feel, what was inappropriate to think. I mean, how exactly do you commemorate the day you lost someone you never even met? How do celebrate what never was at all...or mourn for what never will be?
How exactly do you observe the anniversary of a miscarriage?
All I knew approaching this day was I had to do something...anything to both remember her and to avoid thinking about her too much. I didn't just want to sit at home. I didn't even want to be near home. I had to get away someplace...anyplace....where I could reflect, cry, spend time with my husband, and stay busy not thinking if I needed to. And so my husband and I did just that. We packed our little Toyota and headed for the same hills we fled to last year after losing Emma Grace. Last year when we were here, it was all so fresh and so raw, there were moments when I couldn't get out of bed (ironic, since sleep had all but escaped me). It was a numbness and a pain like I had not known...the hopes for a future, the prophetic promises we thought were here and now, had just slipped through our grasp. There was anger without blame and questions without answers. Now, a year later, those questions still remain - the pain is still, oh, so present...but not so demanding. It's as if the answerless questions no longer scream and echo through the empty halls of my heart, raving like a rioting maniac - now, they sit next to me and hold my hand in solitary silence like a wise, familiar friend. So, here I sit today -- September 10th, 2020 - next to my questions, still aware of my pain, and yes - still shedding tears that seem to pop out of nowhere. The main difference a year later? The pain remains, the questions remain...but I'm not consumed by it.
I guess that's why my heart's first response this morning was, "I survived." But what a year it has been. Besides the anger, I have felt so many things:
I have felt foolish - foolish for feeling this loss so deeply when compared with others who have lost people far more tangible than my embryonic baby. Foolish for not realizing how badly I wanted to be a mom. Foolish for not trying to get answers sooner as to why I wasn't one already.
I have felt conflicted - conflicted about what to do next, about what to believe, about what healthy grieving for a miscarriage even looks like...conflicted on who to talk to about my pain, conflicted on how to talk about my pain, conflicted about where to talk about my pain.
I have felt fearful - fearful to be pregnant again, fearful to not be pregnant again. Fearful of regrets piling up. Fearful of taking on a sorrow that the Lord didn't ask me to carry. Fearful of never being the same, of losing my "bloom" forever. This has actually and strangely been the greatest fear - that this ache would always remain and that my joy would never be at full capacity again.
I guess that's also why my first response after a year of this fear was, "I survived." The bloom may be barley holding on, but I survived. The conflict may still be fuming, but I survived. The regret may still be calling, but I survived. I survived. Now I am trusting in God's grace that eventually all of these other things I'm feeling, won't.
It has been a hard year. A crappy year. A hard, crappy, awful year. And there are a few things I would like others to know:
I survived. It doesn't mean I'm okay yet, though. My husband and I both are strong believers in Jesus and He alone gets the credit for our survival this past year. But I pray that people do not see our faith in God's goodness and mistake it for total restoration of our hearts. We are not yet living in the days when "death has lost its sting." That day will not come on this side of eternity. No, we will not let grief consume us, but I pray that friends and family can be patient with us as we grapple still with this process of loss even as our hands are raised in worship.
I survived...and that means that I have a deeper faith in God. But please understand, faith that receives multiple prophetic words about parenting and then watches that promise of children literally leave your body, is a faith that doesn't entertain platitudes or advice, no matter how well meaning they are. No, this is a faith that says, "I didn't get my promise, but I still believe He's good." It's the Hebrews 11:39 kind of faith...the kind of faith that can seem jaded to the one who has not walked this journey of heartbreak. But let me assure you - faith isn't something you confess, it isn't something you work up until you feel something - faith is a state of standing on the Rock in the middle of a hurricane. It's me crying out to God like I did a million times this past year saying, "I trust You with my mistrust of You." It's being able to say with Paul, "Oh, I am totally hard pressed, troubled, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down...but at the exact same time I am not crushed, not in despair, not forsaken, and not destroyed." It's all of these things at the exact same time. This is faith. Faith doesn't avoid the pain or deny the pain - it survives it.
And as I type this and watch the final hours of September 10th, 2020 slowly turn into September 11th, I end my day with the same words that began it: I survived it. Thank you, God, I survived it. I don't know if I celebrated it right. I don't know if I mourned it right. But I can say that I survived it.