On Sunday, we celebrated. Our church community showered us with love, with prayers, with gifts as we anticipate the arrival of our little girl. It was beautiful and fun and wonderful. There were smiles and laughter good conversation and helpful stories and not-so-helpful stories and oh-so-much-food and special photographs and pink. Lots and lots of pink – pink tissue paper and pink gift bags and teeny pink shoes and adorable pink outfits.
And it was good. I was warmed by the honest, active love of those present, those who came to celebrate this new life growing inside of me. This group of people (along with so many others) walked the long road of the past year with us, knelt with us, wept with us, but there was no hint of that sadness at this gathering – just exuberant joy and expectation of good things to come – and I was reminded yet again how very blessed I am to have the friends and family and loved ones that I do.
Tonight, we will attend our first childbirth class. Later this week comes the prenatal orientation at the hospital. Things are coming together, and while I’m sure there are aspects of the next seven-ish weeks that will seem an eternity (the multiple middle-of-the-night bathroom runs, for instance), the end of April is coming quickly. We are preparing and hoping and laughing and loving and eagerly wanting to meet our little girl. This is a joyful, expectant, wonderful time.
And yet, in the back of my mind, an approaching date looms. It does not detract from this joy, this expectation, this hope, but the shadow of it is there, and I am not sure what to do with the tension between the celebration of a new life and the still-lingering grief of a child lost. Had things gone differently, had they gone as I had hoped they would, had they gone as they should have gone, we would be anticipating another celebration this weekend – a birthday celebration. One with cake, and balloons, and frosting spread across a one-year-old face.
I do not want to linger here, to dwell on the what-could-have-been, to make myself overly sad in memories or longing, and yet my mind comes here anyway, remembers, regrets. March 16th is coming, and it is the anniversary of the day I became Mommy. She calls another “Mommy” now, and she almost certainly has no memory of there being any other by that name in her life. She will still have that celebration with the cake and the balloons and the frosting, but I will not be a part of it.
There is joy, much joy, in my life, and I have an overabundance of good things. I am so grateful for the daughter who will be here at the end of April, for the people who love me, for a God who cares. Still, March 16th looms, a stark reminder that this life we’re living is a chaotic mix of good and evil, of joy and sorrow, of hope and disappointment, that such things often coexist in the same season, the same day, the same moment even. All I can do is ride the wave, standing with open palms, allowing the laughter and the tears to come as they will.