Yesterday was hard. It was bitter. It was our first Sunday to be away from our home Church. The one Church of all the Churches I’ve been too and regularly attended that has felt like Home. More than the Church I grew up in, that I married into, that we have attended through our many moves. Moving away and leaving is like its own kind of death. I’m thankful for facebook and email, for phones to try to stay in touch, but let’s be honest too. It’s not the same, it just slows the drift. Maybe I’m partly to blame for not working harder to stay in touch, but we have moved enough now, that I know that without the in person contact, the relationship changes drastically, it loses a lot of its closeness.
And speaking of death. Yesterday, Gary and I walked out after Church, and after lunch, when I could wait no longer and saw Abigail’s stone for the first time since it was installed 2 weeks and 2 days before. A couple of really thoughtful people took some pictures and sent them to us, in fact those are the ones I’m sharing today. It helped to be able to get them, even if we were the last two people to get to see it. It is simple but beautiful, how we hoped it would look when we sat down and designed it. On it are the two pieces of hope we have clung to through this ordeal, a verse from scripture and a final line from a verse of a Church song. And yet I wept bitterly. It seems so final, it looks so cold and still and dead. I dusted off her stone, it’s rained a lot lately and so there was dust and dirt clinging to it. It seemed so whole inadequate. When I SHOULD be rubbing a very large 35 week belly. When I SHOULD be playfully complaining about her jabs and kicks. When I SHOULD be trying to convince Gary to let me buy a few special new things for a baby. When I SHOULD be preparing for our Christmas baby. There is so much I should be able to do for her, and instead I dusted off a rock. I hated seeing the grass already grown up over her, like it was just another spot of pasture, like nothing significant had happened here. A spot that looked no different, what if her stone wasn’t even placed right, what if it isn’t where she is at all? Leaving in the rain was even worse. Knowing once again that I was leaving her, not her but the only little piece of her I have, out there in the rain was convicting, what mother leaves her child, her baby alone and unprotected. Don’t bother telling me how irrational I am, I already know.
And amidst this storm of grief and loneliness and depression raging inside, I got to see so many happy people. So many people that are ready for us to move our membership back. And they all asked me how I was doing. You know, how we do as human beings, it’s the first part of small talk in starting a conversation. No one asks and expects to hear, “Horrible, absolutely horrible. I’m upset that God didn’t provide a job near my Church where I wanted. I hate that I’m moving back to South Florida. I don’t want to do Christmas at all, but feel required to for my other children. I can’t stand being around so many people at one time, because it makes me feel anxious and overwhelmed. And my heart has just been ripped to shreds all over again, by visiting Abigail’s stone.” No one wants to hear that, so instead I lie. I’m fine. We’re doing good. I can recall hearing an elder from the stand one time, harp on Debbie Downers. People that no matter what, when you ask them how they are doing they have a laundry list of complaints. Someone who always has aches and pains and nothing goes right for them. That’s me right now. Oh I’m not mad at them, after all it’s an innocent question. If anything I’m mad with myself, it’s been nearly 3 months, and I’m not really any better. I crave to hear her name spoken aloud, and yet our stillbirth is the elephant in the room that either no one thinks about or just no one will talk about.
Oh we have so many things that are good right now, but it’s almost impossible to feel gratitude when the grief is still so overwhelming. The chief of which is a job. Gary seems to really enjoy it. It’s very intensive, he is on the farm by dawn, and often doesn’t leave until dark. Just taking me around for about an hour and a half last week, it’s unbelievable how intensive it is, how many little decisions have to be made before he can plant. He can’t make plans more than a day or two out, and everything depends on the rain too much, too little. Last week, I got to hear his boss and his wife say that Gary has been a huge help already and an answer to prayer. I got to hear him offer prayer. This company for once seems to really appreciate Gary and how hard he works, something I’ve often complained that other companies have failed to see or care about. They are a good company, they take care of their employees, and they are godly people with high morals. He will never again feel pressured to sell something that a farmer doesn’t need, just to make a sell. Gary has found a place with an atmosphere that he can really thrive in. We have found a really beautiful house, a place much nicer than any place I’ve ever thought we could have. Sitting here looking out these massive windows, it’s so peaceful.
But without Abigail it just feels empty. To be honest sometimes the only thing that has gotten me through the week without her, is knowing that on Sunday I’m going to Old Carroll. That there are people there who have been through this whole process with us, and who don’t expect me to be happy and together when I’m just not. Who know me so well, that they seem to know when to just give me a hug and cry with me. And when to pull me back into the conversations on topics that existed before her death. And at some point that day, I’m know I’m going to get the chance to sit down with my pastor, who honestly loves us and cares for us. And know, that he will listen, and encourage and counsel me. Sometimes that means pushing me a little, but most of the time it seems to mean asking me to be easier on myself. He says the exact opposite of what I’m afraid that everyone is thinking, what maybe I’m pressuring myself to do – to get it together and to move on, to get out of this phase I’m stuck in. If nothing else, there is one guaranteed person who will say her name aloud and ask me how I’ve been that week, what I want to talk about, how I’m doing, and really mean it. To lose that is like losing her all over again.