Monday, August 9, 2010

Joy Came Alone

This is the third time in the last two weeks that I have sat in front of my computer trying to put into words what I have been feeling since Colton was born. I type and erase and type again, but my words are not coming out right. I can't seem to get them to convey the true depth and intensity of how I feel.

I had this same struggle after Aubrey and Ellie died, but instead of insufficiently expressing the magnitude of my joy, at that time I struggled to convey the depth of my pain. Words, no matter how descriptive, can never quite capture the reality of grief...at the end of the day I had to sit with my sorrow and feel it by myself.

Grief is lonely.

But joy is not.

I can't sufficiently express how worried I was that Colton's arrival would be more bitter than sweet, that he would stir up memories of Aubrey and Ellie that would sting my still healing heart. I didn't know what to expect and braced myself for the worst.

But the worst never came.

Joy came.

For two years I cried every single day. Tears had become part of my personality, part of my existence. Even the best day could not eliminate a moment or two that would remind me that my girls are not with me. I have not stopped missing my girls for even a second. And my heartache more often than not manifested itself with tears. Sad, sorrowful tears.

Just before Colt was born I read an amazing blog post by a wonderful friend of mine. Her name is Jen and she had to say goodbye to her sweet Lydia a few months ago. In the midst of her grief she has amazing insight. I am moved by her writing constantly. (For some back story on the scripture passage go to Jen's blog and read her post.) She wrote about Ezra 3:11-13:

They sang, praising and giving thanks to the LORD saying, “For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.

I resonated profoundly with the words in these scriptures. I felt that my heart was crying out to the Lord also, and my weeping could not be distinguished from my joy. I felt that the rest of my life would always be sadness mixed with happiness. Sorrow mixed with joy. Grief mixed with hope. I'd never feel anything good again without a twinge of heartache to accompany it.

But it was not to be so.

Healing after loss is not only a process, it is a miracle. It takes more than just perseverance, it takes Jesus. Never underestimate the power of God to heal the unhealable, to mend what should otherwise never be fixed, to provide relief where only pain should be.

When Colton was born and I saw his smooshed face appear over the top of that sheet in the operating room something miraculous happened.

I felt joy. Not joy and pain. Just joy. Pure, perfect, amazing joy.

And the tears that fell from my eyes were not bittersweet. Without question they were tears of joy, tears of relief, and tears of humility as I realized that pain was not there to accompany my joy.

In that moment joy came alone.

I wish I could say that I have been relieved of my grief since that moment, but that would be a lie. I have had bittersweet moments and flat out sad moments since then. But I have also had moments of joy alone. Something I truly thought could never happen.

Colt is two and a half weeks old now and a daily reminder of God's compassion in my life. Colt is a miracle in so many ways. And he has taught me so much already. I have experienced through his birth a level of healing I thought impossible.

Often times, after loss, grief and joy accompany each other, but sometimes, at just the right time, joy comes alone.

6 comments:

  1. You are right, Rachel. Even during what is surely the darkest time in my life, there are moments of pure joy with my son that keep me afloat. Thanks for a gentle reminder to remember the positive.
    I often imagine the bit of healing I hope to feel if I ever have another child. I am so glad it is there for you.

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  2. So beautifully said, Rachel!! I felt exactly the same way when Ben was born. It was just sweet joy in the purest form! I'm so glad you had that too.

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  3. Rachel, your post brought tears of joy and happiness to my eyes. I have prayed since Aubrey and Ellie went home to be with the Lord, that He would restore joy to your life. You will never forget your precious girls, they are an important part of you and your family's life, but your joy will increase with each moment of time passing. God is SO faithful.

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  4. Sincere and heartfelt congratulations, Rachel. That is one beautiful baby, and I know you are completely in love. We lost a baby during pregnancy in 2009, and I wondered if my heart would ever heal. Time helps, but you never forget that kind of loss. Our sweet Sam was born this past February, and I've never felt so grateful for anything in my life. No grumbling about being pregnant and miserable like I did with my first, or having to have a c-section, or having to get up so much during the middle of the night, or getting spit up on - I am so thankful and blessed for the whole kit and caboodle - and not a moment goes by that I don't forget that. It's an odd thing to explain, but going through that soul-crushing experience has made me a better, more empathetic, appreciative person. I still find myself thinking, "She would have been ... old right now," or wondering what she would have looked like or been like, but then I kiss my sweet baby and know that a little bit of her is with him. Best to you and your dear family...

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  5. Love your post and the verse in Ezra. I remember reading that one in the bible study I did.

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  6. Rachel,

    I loved this post. My son died at 37 weeks this April and your blogs have been so helpful to me to see the journey of carrying four children in your heart, and in the different journeys they each have. Thank you also for inspiring hope in me for another pregnancy one day, and for also helping me know to expect healing, but also a forever irreplaceable ache and love for the ones who have a different life than I expected.

    Kimberly Anna

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