faith, miscarriage

glory days (when the grief and the joy mingle)

July 22, 2013
So this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad. And I'm still trying to figure out how that could be". On learning to be happy after a miscarriage.

These are the glory days of summer. We spend long evenings sitting on our terrace, telling each other about the books we’re reading (him: the brain, and scrum theory, me: Abraham commentaries and young adult novels). I drink home made ice coffees with coffee ice cubes (thank you pinterest) and he has a German beer in his favourite beer glass from Bornholm.

We watch the planes coming in during the evening, see them approaching from the west and swoop in low over the houses. I imagine all these people coming home from business trips to London, Berlin, Copenhagen. Or maybe they got a weekend in Nice or Barcelona.

We talk about our plants like proud parents. The cherry tomatoes have gotten a little overexcited in this hot weather and have turned the balcony into something of a jungle. And the chilli plants are going mad too, which makes his eyes widen in anticipation of all the spicy dishes we’ll be eating in a few weeks.

We sleep downstairs on the mattress pulled from the sofa bed, because this is the coolest room. And I wake up to the sound of him making coffee and eating breakfast a few metres from me. I brave the gym because at least this heat means there are less people there to compete with.

And I think about writing a blog post. I look at the screen for ten minutes of so, and then I get up to make another ice coffee (decaf this time) and tell myself something will come later.

//

Most days it is fine. It’s been months now, over a year. And I remember every day, but usually the remembering brings with it just a sigh, a moment of sadness, a pause between sentences.

Then there are days where it arrives unannounced. The sun is shining and the sky is cloud-free and I am walking to the nearby park with a straw picnic bag stuffed with a blanket, cookies and my sunglasses. I sit on the sand playground surrounded by women I adore and their two dozen children – crawling, toddling, running towards the slide.

And then the grief hits me like an express train and I wonder how quickly I can leave without it looking bad, because remember that I was the one who organised this mass play date. And new friends are asking me “which ones are your kids” and I’m replying “Oh I don’t have any children” and that one line which by now I can normally rattle off my tongue with only the smallest amount of fake in my smile, now makes me want to hide.

The rational side of my brain tells me this is silly. These women are your dear friends, you adore their children, you have done this countless times in the last year without wanting to curl into a ball. Why now? Just relax and enjoy it. Everyone is so nice! Start a conversation! Go push a kid on the swings!

But the other part of me has stopped caring what is rational or normal and just wants to be able to look down and see my six month of baby rolling on the rug, grabbing at discarded shoes and toy spades, trying to eat sand. But he’s not here and he won’t be.

So I put on sunglasses and make conversation and chat with a gorgeous six year old with a clipped English accent about her jewellery making endeavours. And as soon as the first mum mentions needing to get home before nap time, I fold up the rug and wave a quick goodbye.

And I cry walking the 100m home to our flat.

//

On Friday night as we are counting the planes coming in, we realise we have no plans for the weekend.

“Let’s go to Maastricht then” I say. And so we do.

It’s a few hours drive through green Belgian countryside and we drive with the top down and I remembered to bring a scarf for my hair so that I wouldn’t look like Bridget Jones when we arrive. And we drive with Muse playing on the speakers and his hand resting on my knee and I think these are truly my favourite moments with him, just the two of us, going exploring.

We head first for the watermill bakery I’ve heard of. He knows me by now and doesn’t even laugh when I organise each new visit by the things I want to taste. We drink strong drip coffee and eat slices of sweet Vlaai and talk about things we’ve talked about dozens of times before but I’m not bored.

We walk the old streets and hold hands and um and aah over where to eat lunch. I pay the €4 to go into the cathedral because I can never see too many churches and I walk slowly, watching my feet on the ancient stones, and wonder how many people have walked here before me and did they meet God here or did they stand like me in the back of the church and realise it’s impossible to trap him in these buildings, although sometimes he is gracious with his presence there.

There are stained glass windows here of women – Anna and Elizabeth and Catherine and Isabella. I take photos on my phone, happy to find them here in this place, wishing they could come down so that we could wander the cloister and talk about the glory days, and the hard ones too.

//

Outside he’s bought a coffee and is waiting for me on a bench under a tree. I walk towards him feeling overwhelmingly lucky to have found him.

//

Back in Luxembourg we walk into town towards the sound of jazz music and people meeting. It’s the cultural highlight of the year and we find our friends next to the old abbey, under the cave-dotted cliffs. I’m tipsy from too much cremant already and everything just feels right here. We sway to the saxophones and one out-of-place didgeridoo and shout our conversations to each other.

And we leave when I’m tired – I’ve grown past the age of trying to stick it out longer – and decide to walk the long way home through the valley. It’s dark and quiet here, and I watch the moon come up as we walk, and we stop on the hill to stretch our tired legs for the last kilometre home.

//

“I know these will all be stories some day, and our pictures will become old photographs. We all become somebody’s mom or dad. But right now, these moments are not stories. This is happening. I am here, and I am looking at her. And she is so beautiful. I can see it. This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story. You are alive. And you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you’re listening to that song, and that drive with the people who you love most in this world. And in this moment, I swear, we are infinite.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I finished reading this book this morning, lying on our makeshift bed next to the dining table. And I felt a little raw when I’d finished it, because I can’t read a good book without becoming its characters, their thoughts and feelings staying with me for hours, sometimes days later. And this one was brutally beautiful.

I read this on the very first page: “So this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

This summer is full of glory moments. And there are also the moments where my chest tightens like a vice and I wonder how to feel safe again. And they come together. The glory and the pain. And I think that’s just how it is. And I think I’m slowly learning how to live there, in the gap between the promise and the reality.

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  • Fiona, How I resonate with your words here! I think, unfortunately, it’s something that only those that have walked through the deep, dark valley of pregnancy loss/infertility can truly understand. I hate that I understand it, and I just wanted you to know that you are not alone.
    Hoping that there are gentle friends who are walking alongside you as you learn to live “in the gap between the promise and the reality.” It is such a harsh, lonely, beautiful journey.

    • fionalynne

      Thanks for being here Kimberly. I’m sorry you’ve experienced this too, but so grateful for your understanding. I am so blessed with the friends I have here who are so supportive and sensitive on this journey. I couldn’t have healed like I have without them, that’s for sure.

  • Oh dear Fiona!
    This post is beautiful, and so are you: your heart and spirit and person. I am so glad to know you and call you friend.
    We are all here, are we not? In all different ways we groan and we wait and we ache “between the promise and the reality.”
    Thank you for sharing. xo.

    • fionalynne

      Oh yes, we’re all here. There’s such a gap to live in and live there well, but so good that we have company on the journey. Glad to be getting to know you! x

  • Oh. So beautiful.

    • fionalynne

      Thank you friend x

  • This is so much what my last week has been. Usually there’s just an awareness of the facts, floating around in the back of my mind in a clinical manner. The feelings, *all* the feelings, all at once, come out of nowhere and overwhelm me. The smiling and holding it together until I can give myself the space to actually feel them in private.

    • fionalynne

      All. the. feelings. They take us by surprise sometimes, no? Hope you have safe space to let yourself just dwell in that space for a while, and also the friends to gently walk you out again. x

  • Hugs and more hugs. The in between is a hard space to inhabit. But you do it so gracefully, taking the time to also appreciate the good, whilst feeling what you need to feel, and yearning for your dreams.

    • fionalynne

      It’s been a learning curve for sure, the not avoiding it, but figuring out how to dwell in this, accept it, learn from it, hope despite it. Grateful for you and dreaming together!

  • Juliana

    So raw and full of emotion both happy and sad and beautifully written. Sending a big hug.

    • fionalynne

      Thank you Juliana x

  • There’s always one out-of-place didgeridoo! 😉
    What a beautiful, bittersweet piece this was, Fiona. I loved reading it and resonated with your feelings so deeply. x

    • fionalynne

      Ha! It’s always better with a didgeridoo! Thanks for being my token Aussie here 😉

  • Hannah

    So sorry you are still hurting xx

    • fionalynne

      I’m not sure I’ll ever stop entirely, but there’s been so much healing and so much hope, so I’m alright even when it hurts. Love you x

  • cynthia kharoufeh

    i discovered your blog yesterday (i have already read almost all your posts) and i see myself in your words, is amazing how people can be so different but at the same time we want same things, love and live life to our fullest…
    this post in particular was beautiful…and thats the beauty of life to find peace and happiness anywhere even in sad moments cause is there when you become wiser and you grow….

    • fionalynne

      Hi Cynthia, thanks so much for being here. Yes, I love how connected we can discover we are through this crazy online world.

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  • Oh, Fiona. This was beautifully expressed. And I just want to say that I can so relate to your experiences of being hit by grief like a freight train and the walking home while crying. Though, of course, I relate to this grief for different reasons…

    Thinking of you…

    • fionalynne

      Jenny, you’re in my thoughts and prayers right now. Grief can be overwhelming, whatever the cause. Hugs, friend x

  • Amy

    Wonderful post! Taking life as it comes, with hope, courage, and transparency…so right :). Lots of love!!

    • fionalynne

      Love seeing your name here, sweet friend xx

  • This is sooooooo beautiful Fiona. I want to be there with you on that balcony eating cherry tomatoes and watching the clouds roll in. And to listen to your wounded heart and talk to you like girls do. You paint such a vivid amazing picture of your life there in Luxembourg and I want to crawl right in for a visit. Love you and miss you. xoxoxxo

    • fionalynne

      Oh I would love that! I’d make us some Pimms and we could talk it all out. Love you too x

  • Oh, friend. This says everything. Such raw beauty, poignant grief. Wishing I could sit beside you to listen and reflect on these in between spaces.

    • fionalynne

      Thank you, friend. Life is full of these in between spaces, isn’t it? I love having people like you to dwell there with x

  • Wowowow! So achingly beautiful, friend.

    I can picture the makeshift bed next to the dining room. How you talk about your plants like proud parents.

    And you running the last 100m home to your flat, crying. Which just slays me.

    • fionalynne

      Thank you, dear friend. Oh for another night on that Burundian sofa to share it all again…

  • Oh Fiona,

    This is so beautiful. And real.

    Thank-you for sharing both the glory and the pain.

    Xx

    • fionalynne

      Saskia, thank you for being here. Love that we have this way to share in each other’s lives.

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