This post was written with the blessing of my dear friend, whose unimaginable loss has greatly impacted my life and the lives of those around her.
I look at her with awe. I look at her with disbelief. I look at her and can’t help but wonder, “What if?”I don’t think I could do it with the grace she manages. I don’t think I am strong enough to live her life. I don’t think I could handle the burden on her heart.
As moms, we have each been given our cross to bear. I am not going to say her burdens are bigger than yours, but her burdens are big, and no one can dispute that.
After carrying life in her womb for nine months, she was robbed of the joy of hearing her baby cry. Those picture perfect photos of a sleeping newborn with the muslin swaddling blankets – she never had those taken. The mommy milestones and “baby’s firsts” we share excitedly on Facebook? She didn’t have the opportunity to do that. The darling outfits and all that baby gear, they had no use.
With her due date just days away, the silence heard when there should have been a baby’s heartbeat crushed every bit of happiness in her heart. And, as if to rub salt in that wound, she had to go through the hardships of labor, only to hold a swaddled baby who would never open his eyes to look at her, never coo or smile at her, never hold her hand.
Her emotions ran the gamut. There were enraged outbursts because this was simply unfair. There was utter sadness for the loss of a life that she no longer had. There was anger toward a God who did this to her. There was jealously as she looked at others with successful pregnancies. There was defeated acceptance that this was her cross to bear.
Somehow, she trudged through each minute of each day, moving one step in front of the other. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. And like other moms who endured the same tragedy, she lived a life knowing a piece of her heart was and always would be missing.
Her loss, I cannot fathom, but I do hope she knows that I do look at her in awe. She was dealt this crummy deck of cards. She experienced a life changing moment that no one would ever take by choice. She lived and loved and lost, yet she kept on going.
Each year, she celebrates his birthday. She is reminded of what could have been, what should have been. Her sadness is still palpable. The emptiness still remains. Her love for him, undeniable.
I look at her and I see grace. I see a resilient woman who treasures what she has, yet misses what she had. I see a strong woman who depended on faith, family and friends to hold her up when life was at an all-time low. I see a mother who endured the unfathomable, yet kept on living. I see a woman who has taught me to find blessings, even in the bleakest of moments. I see a mother who believes in rainbows.