Tuesday, April 6, 2010
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.