This is not easy for me to share, and really I think this is more for me than you. I am giving myself permission to feel grief. I don't want anyone thinking I am skipping around in gratitude (although I am feeling many things simultaneously, including gratitude, I ain't skipping). We returned from our trip to a home filled with empty baby clothes, blankets, bouncers, swings and beds. I don't think to this point I have given enough attention to this side of our experience. I will write about Maya's services a little later, when I feel more capable, but I thought I would share a little bit about the sacred gift of grief because I have to say, I am feeling it. I just read this talk that describes grief as the price we pay for loving someone, and I thought that was so beautiful, and although it hurts, I feel it for Maya.
Sundays, for about 6 months I spent most of them holding my little Maya scarf:) Just me and her, cozy and quiet, sacred even. We bought her an expensive baby swing and she had all kinds of snuggly blankets and loungers but she was most content held on my chest just under my chin, often in my shirt even. Maya had some possible hearing deficits and so I often spoke to her with my lips touching her face, or I would hum a gentle song in the same way. She was always very close.
When I think of this journey with Maya, from that first ultrasound, to this moment, it has been intense. When we first brought George home from the hospital (our eldest), I remember it was Mother's day actually and he was sleeping and I was staring at him in complete terror. We were so freaked, hormonal, and felt overwhelmingly inadequate. I remember we rented a movie called Hotel for Dogs...like we rented it on purpose...a movie called Hotel for Dogs, and that is what it seriously was about...not a clever name...also to be clear, we are not super into dogs or hotels. It was just all we could handle. We couldn't handle any additional emotions from a movie, we were at full capacity...like that hotel was...with dogs. Now the need to watch Hotel for Dogs has become code for having a hard day and a need to not feel.
Maya has taught us a different lesson.
I am reminded of a movie, that I haven't seen in almost two decades so I can't recommend it but the premise is there is an angel of sorts that watches humans but can't experience anything first hand, so he reads a lot of books and meets a woman who can see him and asks her to describe the taste and feel of things to him. So finally he falls in love with her and wants to become human and he learns that he has to literally fall from heaven...like off a tall building.
Here is a link to that part of the movie (and if you watch it, you should be thankful it is the only clip without Sarah McLaughlin singing that pet adoption song...you're welcome). The part I am taking forever to explain is when he opens up his eyes after falling off the building and he is all beat up and bloody...I think joyfully he says "I feeeeeeel!" (A lot of pain probably, but he could feel).
Our experience with Maya has taught (is teaching) us to feel, and that feeling joy, pain, sorrow, peace, happiness, are all sacred gifts as a part of our journey.
When Maya first passed away I felt like I had 5 arms, because I only had arms to hold her for several months. Today, my fourth Sunday without Maya, even with so many more blessings than I can count, and with three of them snuggling in my lap, my arms feel very empty. I can't begin to express the depth of my grief and sorrow. It might look like a reverse care bear stare...feeling so many things simultaneously like I might explode. A friend sent us a figuring entitled "courage" and I have joked about how I stare at it in hopes of gleaning magical powers from it. Not courage to be strong, but courage to feel.
I know I will see Maya again and although my arms feel empty and I long to hold my baby girl, I know God has a plan. I also know that necessarily, sometimes His plan hurts (abominably).
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” (C.S.Lewis Mere Christianity)
As God's child I feel very similar to George at bedtime bemoaning the night, the long wait for morning. I have explained to him many times that we need the night, to which George responds, "It's just so loooooong, is there no other way?"
"Some nights are much longer than others, but the morning always follows. Death brings deep sorrow, but our joy will exceed our ability to comprehend when our reunion with deceased loved ones finally comes. Yet peace is not reserved for the next life only; we can feel peace now, even in the very moment we are feeling pain. How thankful we can be for the sacrifice of our Savior and the healing power His Atonement can bring us in spite of our grief. 'Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning' (Psalm 30:5)." (The Healing Power of Grief by Steven Eastmond)
Thank you for all of your acts of kindness, prayers, flowers, thoughts, cards, and many tender gifts. We have felt an outpouring of love and hope to send thank you cards to inadequately express our gratitude personally...in the near future:)
Much love, and more later.