|Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/freedigitalphotos.net|
Grief is a funny thing. It has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it and bowls you over with its crushing weight. It remembers too much and with more details than you can bear to swallow. It fades away too slowly even though days, months and years have passed.
Grief taps me on the shoulder each time my eyes glance upon a cranberry colored dress hanging in the closet; it reminds me of happier times during my last pregnancy. Grief grips my heart when I see a black and white ultrasound picture saved on my desktop, which shows the image of two babies in my womb. Grief knocked the breath out of my lungs today when I remembered this was the month, five years ago, when we lost one of our twins.
During these five years, there have been periods of sorrow, anger and guilt. I have gone through all the what-ifs and why’s. I have racked my brain wondering if there was anything I could have done differently. There have been attempts to fix things and then the stark realization that some things just can’t be fixed.
Grief has been present every step of the way. It is a constant companion, one I have never welcomed, but which has become like an old friend. Over time, I have come to understand its purpose better. It does not stay around to haunt me, but to remind me of a previous time and place, of something beautiful and pure. It exists solely because of love.
Because of love, I had been overjoyed to see two little hearts pulsing on the ultrasound monitor when we had only expected to see one. I had dreamed big dreams for both of our babies, my heart expanding with joy once the initial shock wore off. I couldn’t wait to meet and hold them.
Because of love, I researched and bookmarked countless websites about twin pregnancies. I focused on eating for three and getting enough rest. I worried when I found out about the statistics for Vanishing Twin Syndrome, but I also hoped for the best.
Because of love, I went to the following prenatal appointment with a pounding heart. I scanned the monitor for signs of life as feelings of desperation grew in me with each passing second. I wept in my car for an hour after the doctor confirmed my worst fears.
Because of love, I grieved. For not being able to protect my child and prevent the miscarriage. For all the what-could-have-beens. For the day we will need to tell C about her other half.
Over time, grief and normality become intertwined in the day to day course of life. I suppose that’s when they say you have entered the fifth and last stage of grief: acceptance. This has to be my least favorite stage; it is not nearly as idyllic as denial or as empowering as bargaining. Acceptance means looking reality in the eyes and not turning away from its honest stare. To surrender what your heart has been holding onto with every ounce of passion and despair. Not because I love any less, but because love tells me it’s time to start living again.
I miss our baby, someone I have never met, but who is as real to me as the little girl with my oval shaped face and my husband’s spunky personality whom we joyfully welcomed into our family four years ago. Her presence at times reminds me of what we have lost, but more importantly, she constantly reminds me of all that we have been so blessed to have gained.
That is where I am this day, five years later. A little less sad, a little less wistful and a lot more thankful. Surprisingly, I find myself in a better place, one that is tinged with subtle hues of grief, but also coated with vibrant shades of love.
Listen to the beautiful words of this song, “Heaven is the Face“, by Steven Curtis Chapman.
Please share your own experiences with grief. I would be honored and encouraged to hear your story.