Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Still Standing

I've been watching the Japanese maple in my front yard for five years.

Armed with a shovel and a tiny little tree, two-year-old Nathan helped me and Jonathan plunk those roots into the dark soil. It was such a sad-looking tree. It was the same height as the green support we planted next to it, and it drooped for days while we watered it back to health. Over a few months, the limbs began to thicken, and the branches pointed toward the sky. Years have come and gone since then. The leaves fall every autumn, but brilliant red buds pop open each spring. The tree is now self-sufficient. It's doubled in size, and it's absolutely gorgeous. Something deep inside me, however, knows I can never remove the support.

You may know that each time Owen's birthday rolls around, a little feeling creeps into my heart and tugs until it has my attention. I am so proud to celebrate my little boy, but I try to balance it with the anniversary of loss that falls on the same calendar square. Four years ago on March 10, my middle son was born. Five years ago on March 10, I was told my second pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Since I wrote a belated birthday letter to Owen yesterday, I felt compelled to keep the tradition alive today. In the most literal sense, I cannot have one without the other.

Through the years I've come to this space to pour my heart out and make a voice for my child who never had one. On both the anniversary of the miscarriage and the anniversary of my October due date, I've shouted from the rooftop that these babies should be remembered for what they are - children, not losses. Sure, the memories are sad, but miscarriage is not a medical condition. It's a death in the family. And in death, we should celebrate life. Lately, I've been struggling with these memories.

Believe me when I say I am not forgetting. I am simply having trouble sharing. Five years later, and instead of shouting from the rooftops, I want to fold up my memories and my pain and my love and place it all gently in my pocket. The loss is mine, and the memories are, too.

We planted that little tree a couple weeks after my doctor told us we had lost our child. We did it because we wanted something we could see grow. Something we could touch. Something we could watch change with the seasons. What I didn't expect is that my grief would change, too. Obviously I have pulled this memory out of my pocket today, but I just wanted to acknowledge the fact that even though grief is constant, it changes. The ebbs and flows are hard to follow, but it never goes away. Grief is the price of love.

I'm thankful for the memories, I'm thankful for learning about the beauty and the swiftness in life, and I'm thankful for the big, strong Japanese maple in my front yard. Nothing will knock it over. Nothing will alter its beauty. It will always change and shift and move, but it's solid as a rock.

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1 comment:

Shelia Little said...

Beautifully said. Only someone that has had a miscarriage knows the pain that comes with it. The loss of a child is a loss, no matter if its inside the womb or outside the womb.