I've traveled quite extensively out of the country and though I don't fear flying and I don't fear traveling alone, I hate flying alone. (Is that possible?)
I hate it for how lonely it is. The layovers, the flights themselves (especially the long international ones), the arrivals, the people-watching. It all exacerbates this feeling of being truly alone amidst so many people.
One time in particular in college I was on my way to visit my friend in France for Thanksgiving break. Being Thanksgiving it was the height of travel time for approximately 5 billion people.
|Same trip but we went on an overnight to Geneva, Switzerland.|
|Annecy, France. If you want to live in a magical place, this is it.|
|You know I visited one of these chocolate stores everyday.|
|Oh yes I did.|
|The French Alps. Unbelievably beautiful.|
|Taking the train to Switzerland. This was actually a very sad time in my life as my college boyfriend and I had just broken up. I think this picture showed a glimpse behind the scenes of my normally extroverted self.|
|Sonia, my friend I was visiting, lived just down the road from where I'm standing here. NBD.|
I had a layover in Minneapolis (the former airline employee in me ((<- I worked for two major airlines for 5 years)) desperately wanted to write MSP) and while waiting for my flight I suddenly had this intensely strong feeling of stark, raving loneliness come over me. It was so sudden and so strong it felt like it physically cloaked me.
And almost immediately following that feeling I had this equally strong thought: I'm not alone. I have Jesus. I'm never alone.
I had to share that first because that phrase, I have Jesus, came to me so strongly again yesterday as I reflected on those first days and weeks of losing Grace that I knew I needed to write about it.
I haven't talked about her much recently and part of it is because it's hidden down deep in my heart, only between the Lord and I. I think about her constantly but different than before. Before I thought about her in her loss. Now I think about her in what we're losing. (It's hard work conveying such deeply-held feelings into words so I'm not sure if this is making complete sense.) Before, it was her physical loss. We held and loved her for hours. My body physically lost her. She went from the safety of my belly to complete and utter emptiness with no evidence that I had carried her. I ached for her constantly.
Now, I think about what we're losing today. She would be almost two years old and I don't know if you've had the privilege of being around an almost-two year old recently but they're about the cutest thing you've ever seen. They're unsteady on their feet and speak incoherently but just coherently enough that your heart can't stretch wide enough to capture its sweetness. And if she was anything like our boys, she would be roly-poly with thighs that looked like they were strangling her diaper, and she would have a very deep attachment to Matt and I.
So I think less about the sudden loss of then and more about what we're missing now and it's just too painful to casually speak about, so most of the time I avoid the conversation.
But I want to talk about her today because I think Jesus wants someone to hear this.
One of the extremely difficult things about receiving a poor diagnosis and prognosis while pregnant is that you have lots and lots of time to imagine your worst fear becoming true. Many pregnant women fear losing their baby but I not only had that fear but a high probability of it happening. In fact, in that final week before we went in for that last ultrasound at 30 weeks I had, up to that point, never been so undone in my entire life. I felt like I was losing my mind to fear and subsequently, anger.
The day before that last ultrasound I was so completely undone with pain and the fear of impending loss that I literally packed my sons up and drove to another town 45 minutes away because I felt like I had to escape my life. I really did. It makes me well up even now thinking about how desperate I was. I sat on a swing at a park with my sons and I couldn't stop the tears that flowed constantly that entire day because while I was in another town and was able to respond to the questioning passers-by with a soft, It's a girl, I hadn't escaped my reality at all. The fear and pain and anger followed me and cloaked me in the same way that feeling of loneliness had so many years previous in that airport.
I was angry with God, why He didn't heal. Why he had prepared my heart to lose her. It would be such a small thing for him. Please, God, hear us, heal her!
That evening, back in our home after a severe time of wrestling and tears and anger I finally, truly, yielded her life and my desires to God. It was a profound moment for me (and a story in itself) and a turning point in my faith. I chose to love him and trust him more than I wanted the deepest desire of my heart, the physical healing of my only daughter. I felt her kick one final time that night and the next morning when I woke up, I knew in my heart. She was gone.
|Baby Grace in my belly.|
|Big brother love.|
The pain I had felt the day before was nothing compared to what was coming.
But I had Jesus.
Part 2 to come.