On Grief and Grace

For the past month I keep thinking, “My baby is almost three.” It crops up all different times of day, recurring without warning, causing me to pause.

One problem, my baby is almost two. The one I have here with me, anyway.

This weekend, my first baby, the one I carried in me for eight weeks before miscarrying, would have turned three.

Henley, baby, I never met you but I miss you.

I have to stop myself sometimes from wondering what life would be like if that baby had lived. I don’t even get to justify the thought that if it weren’t for my miscarriage, I wouldn’t have Clarabelle. My body has the propensity to bounce back fairly quickly. Just one month after miscarriage, within three months of giving birth. And I know I am blessed in my fertility, I know that from my own miscarriage and from watching friends experience infertility. I am so blessed. But the February due date and Clarabelle’s birthday will always be reminders to me that I could have had both, biologically speaking. They would have been 13 months apart and life would be interesting and complicated, but it could have been possible for them to both exist in my life.

But that’s not the way they both exist in my life.

I can’t focus on the way things could have been because that’s not the way things are. The reality is, I have Clarabelle, and I have a three-year-old in my heart whom I will not know here on earth.

For the first time in three years, I am not overwhelmed with grief at this empty birth date. It is not with bitterness I approach this weekend, but with thankfulness and even joy, tear-tinged with sadness as it might be.

Grief, in different ways, has some joy and gratefulness about it, doesn’t it? When I learned that I had miscarried, I was sad, but I also remember this unusual feeling of peace. My anxieties had eased. We had lost our baby, but I knew. The time of fearing the worst was over. The worst had happened, and that was all there was to it. Yes, I wanted desperately for things to be different. But I knew there was no better thing than going to be with Jesus. I was a little jealous of my baby getting to go there before me. I was a little jealous of Jesus that he got to hold that baby when my arms would remain empty. But I get to look forward to a joyful reunion and a beautiful face–as if we ever needed more to look forward to when we get to heaven. God is gracious in the most unexpected ways.

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Sidenote: While looking on my phone for a potential image, I found this photo, taken on this day 3 years ago. Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful, healing sunshine.

Speaking of God’s graciousness, this weekend is also the 9th anniversary of when Garth and I were snowed in at Luther College, the first night we stayed up all night talking (an all too regular past time of ours–you’d think we’d learn). That was the weekend that started this whole crazy thing. Without Garth, I would have been spared a whole lot of heartache, but I would have missed out on a whole lot of goodness, too. So this weekend we honor grief and we celebrate.

So to quote the words I sing to my daughter each night before tucking her into bed, regardless of what happened that day, “God is so good. He’s so good to me.”

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