I lost something this week. The joy that comes with the little plus sign on a stick was short lived for John and I. Each day that passed seemed to be confirmation that all was well, that the plus sign told the truth, but even as we shared the news with family and close friends, there was that voice of reason that said, "something could go wrong, something often does, it's really too early to be sure." I had friends who had recently suffered this loss, friends for whom I had cried and prayed. Would it happen to me?
In the midst of the anxiety and the uncertainty there was a persistent joy and hope. I daydreamed about cozy little hats and blankets, about quiet early morning moments, about the noble vocation of motherhood.
When we arrived at the doctor's office I knew things weren't right. "Why aren't you excited?" asked the nurse. From one room to another things went from anxious to hopeful to complete despair. Nothing was there, or at least not in the right place. Surgery? Today? Thank God for the continuing advancement of science and medicine. Surgery was not necessary, but still we found ourselves checking into the hospital and soon, for the first time in my life I was lying in a hospital bed.
Between the poking and prodding, temperature and blood pressure taking, and the wonderful people who came to visit, it wasn’t until the next morning that the reality set in. For just a few moments I was alone as John had stepped out to grab a cup of coffee (after a virtually sleepless night on a couch with nurses coming in each hour and talking as if it was the middle of the day).
There’s something about the early morning, when you first awake. As the room comes into focus and a little bit of light comes through the shades, you ponder what the new day will hold.
Yes, I had lost something. And in that moment there was no hope or joy of the possibilities of tomorrow. All I could see and feel was the brokenness and despair of that day. John returned and seeing my tears quickly set aside his coffee and climbed into my bed to hold me close.
As difficult as it is to lose something precious, something dear, something full of hope and joy, the tragedy would be much greater had I not been able to recognize what I have. For my precious family and friends who care for and support me, for those dear ones who shed tears on my behalf, for my church, this community that prays for me and loves me and fills me with hope and joy, and for my sweet and loving husband who so truly and faithfully loves me as God loves the world and as Christ loves the church - for all of this I am thankful.
Some who read this may wonder why I would share such a story so freely. I want others who experience a loss like this to know they are not alone. I also learned some important things about community that may help others along the way. While there are many good reasons to keep early pregnancy (as well as miscarriages) secret, I found that having shared my good news with my family, close friends, and church community, I was able to then receive the much needed love, care, and support in my time of loss.
The nature of my faith is that my story is never mine alone. Many have gone before me, many will come after me, and God has given the gift of community to share my story in the here and now. In fact, no longer is it just my story, but our story. Joy and pain, loss and gain, celebration and mourning are to be shared experiences, shared realites.
Unfortunately, not everyone is comfortable with sharing the pain and loss and mourning of others, and those who open themselves to share will find that the discomfort of some adds to the pain as they shy away in your moments of darkness. But others will rise to the occasion, share your tears and your burdens, and be present for you in body and voice as God is in Spirit.
There is risk in opening yourself and your story to be shared with others, but there is great joy in it as well. And there is joy in knowing our story is part of a greater story with characters such as Hannah and Sarah and Mary...and the list goes on with the names of those who have also adopted this story as thier own and shared their piece of the story with me in community and friendship. Today I find comfort in mourning my loss as our loss and celebrating their joy as our joy.