Welcome to Part 13 of my Living a Simple Life series! If you would like to read previous “installments,” click on the “Simple Living Series” tab at the top of the page. Over the course of writing these posts, I have loved getting to know some of you better, as you have left your thoughts and comments for me. Thank you!
In living a Simple Life, I have learned to cherish memories, experiences, and emotions. I choose to live honestly, instead of allowing a society obsessed with comfort to exert control over my life by insisting that I must dwell in a life of platitudes and denial. I can live freely, observing anniversaries of both joy and grief, experiencing seasons with an openness to all God has for me.
As I dropped a birthday card in the mail yesterday morning for a dear little friend, the dates on the calendar stared back at me. I remembered the day of her birth, and memories filled my heart. I have such joy in experiencing summertime this year with my little girl, as it is her first summer as a toddler! What a dream come true! Even now, I can hear her giggles. And yet, summer has always been a bittersweet time of remembrance.
Our first baby was due to be born in July 2005, just in time for her Daddy’s birthday. After years of infertility, we looked forward to that summer with such anticipation. We cherished the ultrasounds of seeing her heart beating. We laughed as my belly grew to accommodate her life and we had to adjust our hugs around “the bump” of her presence. Our joy was cut short, though, as we released this precious little life in January of that year. In a surreal blur of grieving and celebrating her life, we named her Màiré Dolcè which means “Bitter Sweet.”
As the year somehow went by, I wept at the frequent sight of summer babies- knowing I would not be able to find the familiar face I sought in each of them, and could see only in my dreams. I remember one summer day, we spontaneously decided to make a visit to our little friend soon after her joyous birth. As close friends, we peeked into the open door when our knocks went unanswered (perhaps the baby was sleeping?), and realized no one was home.
An empty bassinet stood in their living room, jolting me in its reality. I stood and wept in the shadows. I did not begrudge my friends the blessing they held (especially since they’ve experienced deep loss as well); I just wanted my own little one to share life with her.
My body took quite awhile to physically recover and adjust to the unexpected season of loss, and mothering instincts set in full force; refusing to acknowledge there was no little one needing regular feedings. At night, in my fitful dreams of a beautiful baby girl, I would awaken regularly to the imagined sound of her cries. My arms physically ached with the instinctual desire to hold my little one.
A year passed, and the next summer, I was greeted by a positive pregnancy test! (More of this experience is described in Part 1). As the doctor mulled over test results over the following weeks, she suggested the presence of twins, and the discouraging news that we were likely losing at least one of them. As the tests continued during that hot summer, we eventually knew that we once again were facing a complete loss of the pregnancy. With a couple of friends’ discrete prayer support, God met us in His all-sufficient grace and comfort during another summer of grief.
Since we were in the midst of an emotionally-charged adoption journey, we were unable to share the news of our pregnancy/loss with our families, without jeopardizing our adoption. To this day, we refer to that time as being “like Moses,” hidden away. Although, the hiding was done to preserve the joy we knew was coming in our still unknown, but promised little one to come later that year (whom we now hold!). We clung to the hope that God would fulfill His promise placed on so many people’s hearts, that our baby would indeed arrive that year (and she did!).
My babies are forgotten or unknown to many, I’m sure. However, their memory always accompanies and defines me, as their mother. Going about life now with a daughter in my arms, I am frequently faced with questions I haven’t been sure how to answer. (“Is she your first baby?” or “How many kids do you have?”) I finally realized that my discomfort in answering the questions usually stemmed from feeling like I was obligated to be dishonest; pressured into telling people “what they wanted to hear.”
Lately, I have allowed myself the freedom to converse freely with others, simply sharing what I feel to be appropriate, yet honest. I do not need to place a burden of embarrassment or shame upon myself.
In being honest, I have relinquished my life into God’s hands, and allowed myself to listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings upon my heart during a conversation. I am often given the opportunity to share God’s work in my life through these experiences, if I acknowledge them.
It is a treasure to be able to share the precious gifts God has given me in both motherhood and grief. I can allow Him to “deepen my soul,” and in doing so, I can experience a depth of life that I would not have had otherwise. I can live a life of simplicity with Christ, instead of a shallow life that is comfortable on the surface, and yet complicated by the clutter of the world.
To be continued… Join me next week for Part 14!
photo courtesy of antiqueclipart.com