Back in January, seven months after my miscarriage, two of my best friends from uni visited me. We took a few short walks through the city so that they could legitimately have claimed to have been in Luxembourg, and then spent the rest of the time in coffee shops and restaurants and on my sofa, talking talking talking.
My one friend is pregnant with her second child. We talked about motherhood and home births and the challenge of children on aeroplanes. And at some point, while the conversation was still full-flow I had this moment where I very suddenly realised “it does not hurt to talk about this”.
And instead of feeling free, I felt guilty.
On the first day of our holiday a week later, when I was stranded in our chalet with a horrid cough while the others went skiing, I picked up a book called How to Talk to a Widower. It’s an irreverent, messy and honest look at the life of a young widower, a year after his wife is killed in a plane crash. I read and read and read, only pausing to pick up my pen to copy out this passage:
“But as bad as the house is, I rarely leave it. Because the pain is my last link to her, so as much as it hurts, I wrap it around myself like a blanket… I’m not ready for time to heal this wound, but I also know I’m powerless to stop it. And knowing that makes me fight harder than ever to hold on to the pain and anchor myself in this tragedy while it’s still freshly tragic. So every so often I pull at my scabs like a dog, desperately trying to draw some blood from my open wound, but even as I do so, I know the day will come when I pull off that scab and there’s no blood underneath, just the soft pink expanse of virgin skin. And when that finally happens, when time has inevitably had its way with me, then I’ll know she’s gone for good.”
There’s a part of me that wants to cling to the pain of losing our baby, because it feels like the only tangible connection I have to him. There’s no grave to visit, no marks on my body from where he was, only one small blurred photo, tucked away in the wooden box on my desk.
I’m wrestling daily with what it looks like to move on while still remembering well.
In my year of being brave I found a quote that said, “Happiness is a form of courage”. I didn’t think of it much last year. I felt too busy just being brave in all the other areas.
But now that I’ve chosen, or been given, this new word for the year – JOY – this quote comes back to me again. After loss or hurt, there’s a tendency to hold on to the pain, because at least it’s known, it’s connecting you to what was there before. But life cannot be lived backwards. And it was not meant to be lived in continuous sorrow.
January was a hard month for me. It was the month I would have been giving birth to our first child if the pregnancy has lasted. And I felt the loss close to me. And so it was confusing to realise I was healing, to realise I was moving on.
I’m healing. The tears still come some days, and I will never ever stop missing him in our lives. But I’m healing. It’s a hard realisation but a good one. We’re planning and hoping for the future. I’m stealing away my friend’s babies from their laps to cuddle and make silly faces and enjoying it with only a faint ache for what might have been. I’m recognising that I’ve come through and it’s alright. Everything is somehow, strangely, miraculously, alright.
My other posts on our miscarriage:
- On losing our first child – July 2012
- What’s saving me right now – July 2012
- When God sits with you – August 2012
- When Advent feels empty – December 2012
- What I want you to know about having a miscarriage – January 2013
I’m linking up with Emily Wierenga for her Imperfect Prose on Thursday. She gathers writers together each week to tell stories of brokenness and redemption. This is my contribution, and you can click through to read the many other wise and beautiful offerings.