(Today was a new kind of hard day, like we might have to invent another word for it, and John asked if he could blog about it for me. There is so much in his heart right now to say. It helps to get it out any way you can. xo, debra)
“She left me.”
“Aw, girl. Don’t cry.”
“She was my best thing.”
Paul D sits down in the rocking chair and examines the quilt patched in carnival colors. His hands are limp between his knees. There are too many things to feel about this woman. His head hurts. Suddenly he remembers Sixo trying to describe what he felt about the Thirty-Mile Woman. “She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.” …
“Sethe,” he says,"me and you, we got more yesterday than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow.”
He leans over and takes her hand. With the other he touches her face. “You your best thing, Sethe. You are.” His holding fingers are holding hers.
-from Beloved by Toni Morrison
Debra went to see her OB today after a weekend of heavy bleeding and mild cramping, much worrying and many prayers. She left early, I stayed with the kids, and we waited. After about an hour or so she pulled up, eyes red and puffy. She didn’t see me through the window, but I already knew when she first told me about the bleeding three days ago.
When I opened the door, her eyes met mine and she immediately turned her head to the side as if she couldn’t stand the possibility of pain and disappointment in my face. ‘I’m sorry’ she said. “Oh, no. No, no, no,” I cried.
She reminded me of our ultrasound a few weeks ago when we couldn’t distinguish much of the baby, but the heartbeat was so clear, beating away with new life. But this time, she saw the face and the little body so clearly, but never any heartbeat. Our baby had died.
We sat down on the couch and cried and cried. Soren and Maisey joined us and cried even more. They tried to relate to our grief, but five and seven year olds see the world much differently than we more complicated adults do and it is hard to know what is really going on in those tiny heads. Soon they were off to a friend’s house to stay the night and Debra and I were on our way to the hospital for the inevitable. On the drive over I didn’t know what to say to her, how to tell her how much I love her or—what’s more—how to show her. I mean really show her. Instead, we got out of the car and I just walked beside her in silence. Then she put her hand on her stomach and said, ‘I know this sounds crazy, but I keep thinking this is the last time me and the baby will be together and I want it to last a little longer.’ Again, I cried because it didn’t sound crazy but beautiful and full of grace. I realized then and told her as we held hands walking through the parking lot, ‘I was made for you, Debra, for this moment to walk beside you and hold you up’. We both cried some more and I knew she understood, it was grace upon grace.
Up the elevator we went then waited and waited just to sign papers. The cramping grew worse and she was in a lot of pain. Finally we got a room, an IV and a pretty paper napkin of a hospital gown. From the bathroom, I heard her let out a gasp as she was changing. The bleeding turned to gushing. When she was finally able to sit down on the stretcher, the gown was so tightly wrapped around her legs that she was kind of trapped and since she couldn’t lean back or get her feet up onto the bed she just kind of leaned over and fell on her side in exasperation with her feet still on the ground. She laughed, I laughed and I saw how beautiful she was in that moment.
The nurse came back and made us sign more papers. It was all kind of chaotic and confusing. It was time for us to go to pre-op where they explained ‘everything’ to us, and tried to convince us this was a ‘good thing’. We couldn’t see it that way. A necessary thing, a hard thing, but not a ‘good thing’. As I cried, a nurse who was the only one who treated the situation and my wife with the delicacy and compassion warranted looked at me and said ‘We will take good care of her.’ I looked back and said ‘Please, she’s my best thing.’
I love my wife and she is an amazing artist and mother. And in the face of her greatest hardship all these things I knew and felt about her only grew deeper. We made it through and Debra is home resting. She’s letting me post on her blog about today, a hard day, a day where I saw the very hand of God brush my wife’s face and make her stronger, more beautiful, more full of grace than I have ever seen. I love her more now than at any point in our 13 years of marriage. But at the same time, I miss our baby. I have to ask, why now God? Why does it take something like this to happen for me to understand all this about her? What gives her that strength, that beauty, that grace? I am left with no other conclusion: it is Christ in her. I am more convinced than ever that there is no other hope than that which is offered in Christ. I don’t know why our baby died, why God allowed this to happen, and I don’t need to ask Him why it happened. I know that He loves me and Debra and Soren and Maisey and you, who are reading this. I could ask why or be angry, but I have come to know that He will mostly be silent. This is a great mystery, how God can be so evident in this difficult hour and yet so silent.
There is a song by Andrew Peterson that I can’t help but think of now. It has been on my mind for many reasons lately and it speaks so well to where we find ourselves now. I hope when you read it you think of Him, and think of my wife, she is my best thing….
It's enough to drive a man crazy; it'll break a man's faith
It's enough to make him wonder if he's ever been sane
When he's bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the heaven's only answer is the silence of God
It'll shake a man's timbers when he loses his heart
When he has to remember what broke him apart
This yoke may be easy, but this burden is not
When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God
And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they've got
When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
'Cause we all get lost sometimes...
There's a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
And He's kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
All His friends are sleeping and He's weeping all alone
And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God