I woke up this morning just happy to be alive. Both boys snuggled into our bed for a few minutes before breakfast; one happy baby had just enjoyed his. We were getting ourselves together to go and visit some friends and meet their new baby girl — a precious two-and-a-half-week-old gift from heaven.
Breakfast and showers and everyone dressed except the little one who can stay in pajamas all day if he likes, I checked my email and peeked at Facebook before our departure. I noticed a few messages in my inbox and decided to go ahead and glance at one of them.
The message was from one of my best friends — a friend who has stood by me and supported me and encouraged me so much throughout these long years on the other side of the Atlantic. She sent love and gifts, calls and prayers to Scotland, and then to South Africa, and I treasure her deeply. We are committed to being witnesses to each other’s lives, and I would be wrong to speak of her friendship without using the word “thankful.”
Her brief message shared the news that the child she and her husband had been expecting was lost. At fifteen weeks, their pregnancy came to an end. I wept, recovered, shared the news with HH and wept some more.
I wanted the world to stop for a moment — for everything to be still and quiet and let me grieve, for a plane ticket to spontaneously arrive so I could go and be with her — to grieve this child I wanted to know and had been mentally planning care packages for.
Moments later, I was assisting the Bear to put on his shoes. I hugged him and asked him for a kiss. He head-butted me in the nose, instead, so hard that I started crying again.
We piled in the car to see our friends and meet the baby, and we noticed a strange thing that has happened once before. Our car was in the shop for a repair, and the mechanics working on it took the CD out of the CD player, found an old CD in the glove box and put it in instead. I’d actually labeled this one “Good Random Mix — Where’d I come from?” at some stage. Today I couldn’t remember what was on it or where it came from.
As the journey to Cape Town continued, I transitioned to the back seat to help the little one fall asleep and entertain the older one with whatever I could find in my purse. Stevie Nicks began to sing Landslide and I listened to the lyrics, my heart stirring with the season of life, so much movement, joy, sorrow, change.
I wandered through the lyrics, wondering what I’ve built my life around. Has some part of me these six years away been built around being away? Am I afraid of going home because I’m not sure I still am who I was when I left? Have these years allowed me to hide? Am I just sad because this season is ending? Though the overwhelming sentiment for my return to the Carolinas is excitement, still too, there is a grieving.
I’m sad to say goodbye to being away. I’m sad to see this adventure come to an end. I don’t want to admit it because it feels wrong for so many reasons. How can I grieve something that was full of challenge? How can I grieve when my prayers have been answered?
The music continues from Enya to James Taylor to Nelly Furtado, and I think about who might’ve given me this CD. And then the Dixie Chicks come on, singing their beautiful rendition of Nick’s Landslide. I listen to the words again.
After meeting the beautiful baby girl — so perfect and tiny and precious — we are on our way home again, and the CD loops to start over. Stevie sings again. The Chicks sing again. I’m lost in my own thoughts about change. Rejoicing with friends rejoicing. Lost in sorrow for my friend’s loss.
I ponder how this life is all a gift — why am I blessed with this wonderful husband while friends of mine raise children on their own? Why am I blessed with these boys and with health, while others lose children or never have them to begin with?
Only two things are completely certain in my mind: the God who never changes, and life, which always will.
It feels like the loss of this child gave me permission to grieve the loss of the now. The loss of a season that you loved and struggled through still hurts, even when you feel ready to move on. With growing children, a growing family, I am eager to be settled. But I don’t want to let go of now.
Somehow it is not about me, or my friend: it is all about Him who always was, in whom and through whom all things are held together.
We’re at home and my four-month-old stirs awake from a cosy nap in his carrier. I pick him up and begin to cry.
Can we do more than take these gifts for granted?
We watch the trees sway in the wind outside and I begin to sing the lyrics from those girls who sang my heart today:
Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Well, I’ve been afraid of changing cause I
built my life around you.
But time makes you bolder
children get older, I’m getting older, too.
With prayers for a very dear friend,