September 9, 2014

Death & Life

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I knew the day would come.  I thought I had answers ready.  I guess I got used to everyone knowing my story, but that is a bit self-centered of me in this big, wide world.

Today on two separate occasions I was asked, "Do you have kids?"

Oy.

How do I answer that question?

To say "Yes I have three" would be true.  It would also be weird.  It would also make the asker very uncomfortable if they wanted details.  I have a 15 year old stepdaughter, and I have two children in Heaven.

Can we say, awkward?  That poor person would be sorry they even asked me.  No one really wants to hear about dead babies, I know.  I've even felt that way before too, before our babies died.  Why make someone sad or uncomfortable unnecessarily?

To say, "None of my own" would be a lie.  A lie that sears my heart into a million pieces.  Yes, I have my step daughter Ashley, but no, I have no other children...

That's not true!  Jackson and Lily.  They were REAL.  They LIVED.  But they are dead.

Today, to both questioners, I became flustered.  I wasn't sure WHAT to say.  I am stupid for not really being ready for this!  After a beat, I went with the "none of my own" answer.  It broke my heart, both times.  But, in the realm of reality, I really don't want to make others uncomfortable.  I would rather break my own heart.  It's no ones fault to ask, everyone asks everyone about kids.  It's a natural question.  But you better believe that from now on, I'm sure I'll think twice before I ask, because what if?  What if that person has gone through what I've gone through and they are tongue tied about the answer?

No, I don't have my own kids.  But yes, I really do.  So complicated.  But it my heart I can say that, YES I do have two children, in Heaven.  No one that doesn't really know me, doesn't really have to know that, and I think I am ok with that.  It just hurts to ignore that they existed, to pretend that I didn't have a baby or give birth or hold my son...it hurts.

I want to scream WHY!?  WHY me? WHY us?

At church this week, Pastor Ben talked about Torn Hearts.  That was a service just for us.  I had a bad weekend, full of tears and bitterness and the why questions.  Then we went to church.  We were reminded that the world is not easy, it is NOT SUPPOSED to be easy.

The world is not a wish granting factory, to quote The Fault in Our Stars, and that is the honest truth.

When our first twin died, we got through that fast.  We didn't even know about her.  She was 8 weeks along, and plenty of us women lose or miscarry at 8 weeks or earlier.  25% at least.  It doesn't make it very easy when you are going through it, but oh well.  Its truth.  We had Jackson to hang on to and he made it easier to get passed the "miscarriage".  When Jackson died at 21 weeks, well...that sucked.  That only happens to 3% of us.  At least the way it happened for me.  That's not how I thought my "story" would be.

I thought I had this whole beautiful story written for me, a story with a new baby and the life of a mother, but then, as Pastor said on Sunday, those pages were ripped out of the book of our lives.  Ripped, torn and trampled on and thrown away.  At least that's what it felt like.  The end.  Story over.

Then we talked about how we need to not ask WHY but WHO.  Who will get me through this?  Well, that would be God, of course.  He shows up when my heart and brain and body just can't do the work.  I can't do the work, and if I try I just become sad and bitter and depressed and I want to give up.  So I have to look to HIM.  HE will get me, us, through this mess.  Stop asking why, Tina, and just ask who.  It's NOT about the why.  It can't be... Life happens, and death happens, and it's not all that strange when you look at it that way.  People die all the time.  If you live, then you die.  We talked about PERSPECTIVE.  God is bigger than this.

I need to say that again, loudly.  GOD IS BIGGER THAN THIS.  And that is the total truth.

He said that in this life there will be trouble.  Why was I walking through life thinking that being close to Jesus meant I wouldn't have troubles?  That was really stupid of me!  No matter who we are or who we love or if we follow Christ or not, life will be trouble.  But the GOOD thing about trouble in life is that it brings us closer to God.  It makes us less afraid of death.  It makes me stronger.

I thought that the torn pages of my heart and life were the end of my story.  But that isn't true.  They are a part of my story, and those missing pages will shape me and mold me and help me become whoever it is that I will become.  It's not the end.

When I think of things that way, with that big perspective and with God at the center, I can step back from this grief and look at it differently.  I can let it in and let it mold me and manipulate me until I am used to it and stronger.  This week marks three months since we lost Jackson.  The 11th is the anniversary of his death.  The 12th is the anniversary of his birth.  Tomorrow will be 13 weeks since we got the terrible news.  Tonight, 13 weeks ago, my water broke.  I'm still living life in time and increments since those days...

I promised myself I would allow myself to grieve if needed and as much as needed this week, cry and kick and scream and just let the intense emotions come in again.  I have to let them, because each time I do, they hurt a little less.  I understand a little more.  I end up being happier and less bitter.  I can begin to see life as a beautiful thing again.

I am reminded that in death there is life.  My children live.  My children are safe.  My children are loved.  It's actually selfish of me to even want them HERE on Earth where they could meet hurt and disappointment and war and all that other stuff.  They will never know sadness.  They will never know pain.  What more could a mother want, honestly?  I try to be selfless about it as much as I can.  Its very hard to do, because I do want them here, in my arms.  I see children and babies everyday and think - those parents got theirs, why not me?  But then I remind myself to not be selfish.  They are happy where they are.  Its very tough!

Yes, sometimes I put on a brave face, because I have to.  Other times, I am actually OK.  I go back and forth.  This life after baby loss is very hard.  It's not easy to navigate all the emotions that go through me all the time.  I want to talk about my baby.  I don't want to talk about my baby.  People are so loving and understanding, or everyone has forgotten.  People want to talk about it with me, or people want to completely ignore that this happened to me.  I want people to say something to me, or I don't want a word spoken to me about it.  I am navigating, and I don't know what's right or wrong, so forgive me as I work through it because sometimes I think I understand it all, and then other times I really have no idea what I am doing.

I can find comfort, though, in the fact that my story isn't over.  The loss of Lily, and then Jackson, wasn't the end.  There is MORE to me than this, and there is MORE to me than them...just like if I did have a live baby there would be MORE to me than that being.  It's not so different, besides the not having my baby with me.  I can't lose myself in this, I have to let God get me through when I can't do it (which is ALL of the time) and let Him write the rest of my story.  Lily and Jackson's story isn't over either, because they are alive in death, and they will help shape me for the rest of my life.

Thanks for listening to my nonsense:)