Saturday, March 7, 2015

Upon Waking

When I wake up, I have the same thought. It might be 2:11 am and I just have to use to the bathroom. Or maybe it's 6:19 and the heater cycled on and woke me. Typically, it's 7:00 and the alarm is sounding. If I'm really lucky, it's more than once in any given night of sleep. Whenever I feel myself moving into the land of the living, the same two words descend on me like new revelation.

Kate's dead.

I'm sorry. I know it's morbid. It's short and to the point. It's like Hemingway wrote the words. Hawthorne or Austen or Steinbeck would have it playing out with painted prose that last for three pages at least. Their words would linger on the horizon of my mind for several minutes and I'd eventually realize that in all this verbosity they were defining something no longer living. Yes, they'd discuss death but in a way that made me feel alive with hope. I didn't get the descriptive words of these authors. I got Hemingway. Sparse. Quick. To the point.

Kate's dead.

I'm reminded over and over by a mind that won't let me forget. Not for a single minute. I can distract myself. I can get out of bed. I can get the boys to school or myself to work. I can make meals and clean house. But no amount of distraction can erase those two words. Every time I wake up. And dead is an ugly word to those still living. It's a shocking word to think in the very moment I shake the cobwebs. Second only to her name, which always comes first. Kate

It's really as though I live a lifetime in the brief pause between the two. Kate. In that name there is all the anticipation, the tea parties and the shopping sprees, the giggles and the magic I'd created in my own dreams. A moment later, the fantasy crashes down because dead follows. Every morning. Instantly, I feel a heaviness. Another day closer to her due date. But she isn't coming. 

My blessings are not lost on me. I could fill my own loquacious novels with pages and pages of the blood, sweat and tears shed before (and after) those two beautiful boys called me mama. I mean it. Literally. I gave so much blood to Kaiser Permanente in the name of infertility treatment that it's a small miracle I didn't need some sort of transfusion. I was sweating as I leaned over the couch waiting for my husband to plunge an hCG trigger shot into my hip and I was sweating as we waited for the results of a paternity test. Matthew's. Not Garrett's. Just for clarification. Then there was all the crying. Tears that turned to streams that ran to rivers that poured into oceans. I begged and pleaded with God and He gave me these two incredible little humans. When I count my blessings, they, along with their father, are at the very top. Still, it is hard. To have held the dream of one more and sobbed as it slipped between fingers.

There is a boy in Garrett's class. His sister is in Matthew's. Their mama had a baby last week. Both boys came to me, separately, with news of this little life. Matthew stared up at me with his deep, dark chocolate eyes. They filled with tears and he cried out, "I'm very jealous." His lip quivered and he said, "She gets her baby and I don't get to have my baby."

We talked to both boys about how it's definitely fine to be devastated over our own loss but that we still rejoice in the new life God gives to others. It's a difficult concept for the fallen natures of little men. If I'm being honest, it's a difficult concept for the fallen nature of their mother. We do rejoice. I have held babies in the many weeks since January and it has brought me great joy. I have thought about my unborn niece or nephew every single day and thanked God for the little miracle growing inside my sister-in-law. I look forward, with great anticipation to the day I get to hold that baby. I have congratulated friends on the births of their babies and meant it, completely. 

But we are also human. I have held my sons as they cry and told them that God has a plan. It is infinitely better than anything we could come up with on our own. We have to trust Him. We are His and this is not our home. This place--this temporary lodging--has the ability to take our hearts, rip them out, stomp on them, batter and bruise them, and then stick them back inside. They beat funny after that. Still, somehow, in working order, but with an ache. Sometimes dull, sometimes sharp, sometimes intermittent and sometimes constant. Only our Creator can mend the mess that grief leaves in its wake. Only He can find cause for joy in our humanity.

I dread waking. Kate's dead. It is like being buried under the weight of the world. In that moment, all that might have been floods my mind. 

I know.

Yes, she is.

I remember.

I've audibly said all these and more to myself. Tomorrow, though, I think I may choose a different response. I may confront that Hemingway style of economic prose with a little Steinbeck-like of my own.

A yellow line of brilliant light quietly shone through the open window just behind her. It was, somehow, as if God Himself had entered the now sacred space. He whispered, "Kate is not dead, anymore. She is just not with you. And those are two very different things, indeed." 

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