Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Every Day is a Holy Day

Three pregnancies; Two live births. Every time I write that down on a medical form, my body tightens. This grief still has a space all its own. I have never shown anybody the picture at the top of this page. Nobody has ever seen it---not my sisters, not my sons, not my close friends. Joanna was our third baby. Today is the day we celebrate/remember the longing in our hearts for a baby girl. This is a very hard conversation to have, but in many ways I know I must. I must because I know that loss is part of all of our lives. Suffering cuts us off at the knees and slams us to the floor. But, we get up. Hope finds its way back into our lives. It's true. I live it.
Cole was about to be five. Taylor was about to be three when Joanna was born and died. There were problems with the pregnancy. Lots of bleeding, but the doctors were hopeful. An amniocentesis was done. The baby would be a girl. The baby would be "normal." No extra chromosome in every cell of her body. A new chance for the hurt in my heart. A little sister for the brothers. But it was not meant to be. Joanna never took a breath---even a little bitty breath. No breath. It was too early for her little lungs, for her tiny body. She was delivered without knowing life. Beyond sad is mostly what there was/is to say about that day---about that time.
Here's where the angels began to show up in my life. Angels that I clearly knew were sent from some other realm. Heaven-sent probably. Amidst this birth--and then death, there were so much radiant light. On bed rest for six months, I, the mama, was rendered pretty much helpless. Doris showed up for weeks and taught Taylor how to walk. She showed up time and again to shave my legs in the hospital. (That's a higher calling than even feet-washing if you ask any woman.) My family and friends cooked, cleaned and kept vigil with me and for me as we hoped to keep Joanna alive. Nurses lay down on my bed with me breaking hospital protocol. Dorothy's love never waned--and has not to this day. Other friends, Anne and Madge, called me at 3:00 am when my deepest fears wreaked their worst havoc. I watched doctors cry, other mothers collapse, and I witnessed Joe lose a part of himself that has never been reclaimed.
April 6 seems like such an ordinary day on any calendar. To my family, to our extended family, it is a holy day. All days are holy days. Cole and Taylor did not get to have this precious sister in their lives. The what-ifs have consumed us on countless dark nights.
I sing to Joanna. I talk to her. In many ways, I know her.
She is the bound-less spirit that tethers all love together. You have a Joanna in your life. Maybe your Joanna was your mother or your son, or your sister, or your friend. The death of these beloved people in our lives carve out pieces of our hearts that remain tender to the touch for as long as we live.
Your April 6 may be November 30 or January 28 or July 19.
We each have a day that, in just hearing the date called, our bodies and hearts stand in silence.
Every day is a holy day.
Today is ours.
One of our holy days.
Every day is a Holy Day.


  1. So, I'm sitting in Borders Book store with tears rolling down my face. I remember coming to see you in the hospital before Joanna was delivered. You already knew.....her life had been cut short inside the womb.....but I didn't. That day was the day I understood how honesty of spirit and word was your hallmark. I will never forget how you talked back to a doctor you told you that the fetus would be compromised.....and you said, "Can you NOT say DEAD. D-E-A-D!"
    Everbody wanted to comfort to help to offer hope. Leaving you that day was as sad a day as I have ever lived.....my prayers and holy hugs to you today. I love you.

  2. Oh Marianne -- I never knew. Thanks for telling me, for telling us . . .

  3. By all counts...the worst day in my life. I think I held that little girl for about 2 hours...just couldn't stand to let her go...
    she'd be 23 today...Happy Birthday, sweet Joanna...Love, Diddy

  4. Marianne and Joe,
    I believe "beyond sad" pretty much sums it up. They say loosing a child is a hurt that NEVER goes away. Does it help any to know others feel the pain with you? We did then, we do now. All these years later...

    I also remember the fresh pain that occured when I got put to bed not too long after, only to have our baby girl born early, but healthy. I know you have watched Meg with many "what if's." It has been a long journey together- full of sadness and joy.
    Thank goodness we are all in it together!

  5. love YOU, joe, cole, taylor and joanna---

  6. My sweet grandmother, who is 96, still talks about her 2nd daughter, violet, (she lived for 2 days)with the same love and grief that she does of her 4th daughter, dotty, (she lived for 22 years). It is a fresh love and still after all these years, a fresh grief for her. you are extraordinary women, and women are amazing!

  7. A few years ago Jane was diagnosed with ADD and we had to fill out a ton of paperwork so she could get extra time for tests and assignments. She showed me on the paper that my mother had noted that she had a miscarriage. It really surprised me because she had never mentioned it. It started a lot of what ifs from us.

    My aunt lost her baby two months before my mom was due with Julia and my mother often mentions how impressed she was by my aunt having to put on a brave face while my mother got to enjoy having her baby.

    Now as we start thinking about having one of our own I start thinking about those two things a lot.

  8. Marianne, I never knew. And reading this now is breaking my heart--for you, for Joe, for Cole, for Taylor....for me. I know I cannot begin to fathom the heartache you all experienced and still do, but it hurts enough now for the tears to roll down my face as I write this. Thank you for sharing this story, painful as it is. My Joanna is my father--we lost him suddenly and unexpectedly. I wasn't ready, I wasn't finished with the things I needed to do with him. To this day a huge emptiness wells up inside me when I think of him. But to lose a child--there is no comparison and I doubt I would be brave enough to write about it as you have. My love to you, Joe, Cole and Taylor.

  9. Oh, Marianne, I didn't know. We lived in Milledgeville at the time. I was 20 weeks pregnant, and on April 6, 1987, I lost a little one, as well. Absolutely have no words for the devastation. Coliseum Hospital, Macon, Georgia, 9:00 a.m. Our ending was different. On April 6, 1988, at 10:20 pm, we got our Justin. So the day is pretty mixed. What ifs and thank Gods.

  10. Those precious little feet..how I want to just kiss them. Thank you for writing about this in such a beautiful way, as usual. Life is so inexplicable at times; (wishing it were explicable). So very sorry for your loss both then and now.


Thank you so much for your comments. I know it's scary to put yourself out there. I really appreciate your being on this journey with me. You really are brave..