**Disclaimer: I'm not sure this will be coherent. I have a lot of thoughts and emotions and ideas playing on bumper cars inside my tired, overworked Mommy brain, and this will be an attempt to begin to express them. Don't set really high expectations for me, and you won't be disappointed.
We buried our baby yesterday.
Under brilliant blue skies (with only ONE cloud in sight, haha), surrounded by technicolour autumn leaves, and with the warm sun on our skin, we gathered with friends and celebrated the short life of our little baby.
It was beautiful. It was slightly surreal.
And it opened the floodgates.
I think I've run through every single emotion possible since 2 pm yesterday. Well, really, since I got up yesterday morning. I've felt joy, I've felt grief, I've felt sadness, I've felt gratitude, I've been angry, I've been annoyed, I've been happy.....you name it, I've probably felt it in the past 36 hours.
As I sit here, a day later, my entire household (except me, haha) is asleep. Even the dog is snoring. Pandora's finally figured out (it seems) that when I choose "David Crowder Band Radio Station" I really just want to listen to DCB and not songs that sound like them, but am feeling too lazy to go find my CDs or my iPod. A cup of hot tea is sitting next to me.....the house is a cozy warm compared to the chilly fall night outside.
It's a perfect night for writing......but yet I still sit here, unsure of what to say. It's taken me 30 minutes to get this far, and I don't even have to use the scroll bar yet on my screen.
How do you put into words the experience of burying your child?
Multiple times in the past week, I worried. I worried that we were doing something wrong, making too much out of our experience, going "overboard." It's bad enough that we're already the crazy Catholic family headed up by the weirdo doctor who won't prescribe birth control. Now, here I was, adding to that reputation by holding (and inviting people to) a burial for our child who hadn't even been born yet, and even more than that, a child that most people weren't even aware of yet. Shouldn't I really be just letting it go and moving on, instead of going through everything in such a public matter?
A couple of times, I even picked up my phone to text our priest and tell him to just not worry about it, that we'd changed our minds. Why bother him for something as silly as this? He's an busy guy (aren't most priests nowadays?). Wasn't I being selfish to request so much of his time for a child he'd never met?
But something kept me moving forward, even with all of those doubts and fears circulating in my head. Maybe it was Mike's support and care during my pain. Maybe it was seeing his own grief and pain at losing his child. Maybe it was the fact that our busy priest never made us feel like he was too busy to support us. Maybe it was the friends stepping forward to join us yesterday, stepping forward to help in any manner. Maybe it was the phone call from my doctor, checking on me. Maybe it was the handwritten card from my OB/GYN, or the seemingly never ending stream of Facebook messages and emails speaking of love and compassion and shared experiences (there are a lot of us out there, it turns out). Who knows? Maybe it was a combination of all of these things....but whatever it was, it led us to a moment of sunshine and blue skies, hugs and tears, and celebrating the little bit of time we'd shared with Jonathan.
Standing there amongst the rolling green hills, listening to the beautiful prayers being read (and even you non-Catholics have to admit that the Church has the got the absolutely best, most amazing prayers written out there. She's had, oh, 2000 years to perfect them, and my gosh, perfect them she has), it hit me. I had to go through this burial process not only to say goodbye to Jonathan......but also to the baby I lost nine years ago. Nine years ago, I was newly married (yes, we had a honeymoon baby!) to a man in his first month of med school, and at a prenatal appointment, we discovered that our baby no longer had a heartbeat. We didn't know what to do with the pain and sorrow we were feeling, or how to move on. So, we did the culturally acceptable thing - we didn't talk about it, and threw ourselves into our day-to-day routines and lives and just kept stumbling forward.
I realized, standing in the sun yesterday, that I'd never truly grieved the loss of my first child. I felt myself slipping almost into a state of shock, as I realized that the pain I was feeling in my heart at that moment was so strong, so raw, not because I was crazy and going overboard like I'd feared....but because I was living out the two separate losses in this one process. Reliving our first miscarriage and finally letting myself grieve instead of stuffing the pain down inside like I had been....while simultaneously grieving our Jonathan.
As I stood there and watched his tiny body being buried, saw the grass being replaced, listened to the wind blowing through the trees, I felt a wave of intense gratitude start to replace the pain. Love started to remove the suffering......joy replacing the sadness. It's not a complete change-around just yet, and it probably won't be for a long time. And as you all know, I'm quite the introvert, so I might be quiet around here for awhile still as I work through the remaining pain and guilt and sadness. But I will work through it, and I will respond to your notes and messages, and I will some day be able to find the right words to truly express my gratefulness to all of you.
We said our goodbyes, thanked our friends for being there with us, loaded the rascals back up in the car, and drove out of the cemetery. Later that night, as we were driving through town, we were talking about the burial and just how we both felt that we had begun the healing process at that moment for both babies, my eyes seemed to be drawn to the sky. Almost immediately, my cell phone buzzed. A friend, hundreds of miles away, was sending me a picture of her evening sky. A few minutes later, another text came in with another picture. Across the country, it seems, there was quite the display above our heads.
And I'm pretty sure I know why. It was love. It was joy. It was happiness. It was laughter. It was beauty.
It was two siblings, finally meeting each other, face-to-face.