Last Sunday while grocery shopping, my husband looked over at me and said, "what's wrong? You look pissed".
3 years has passed since we our daughter Ezra passed away in a late-term miscarriage. 3 years has passed since we didn't hear the heartbeat at my mid-wife appointment. 3 years has passed since we went to the ultrasound clinic and encountered a technician so cruel and heartless, and who treated me and my situation as though it were less important than the lunch break he was late for.
And suddenly, in the produce section of my grocery store, there stood this ultrasound technician. Right near the celery.
And, despite my vow to not swear during lent, I suddenly found myself answering my husbands' question of "what's wrong? You look pissed" with something like, "I am pissed! This is the douche-bag technician who made one of the shittiest days of my life even shittier! I want to punch him in the face!". I wasn't exactly whispering either.
I was surprised that seeing that man's face made me so angry, so quickly. So much time has gone by! 3 years! And still, a face can rip a scab off a wound I've been carefully tending to.
About a month ago I was cleaning out our office, and came across a binder I had gotten from my mid-wife when I went to my first appointment for my pregnancy with Ezra. The pages were mostly blank. They were meant to have notes about the pregnancy, labour and delivery, and the 6 week post-partum check-up on the baby.
Instead, it had 3 notes from the 3 appointments I had gone to at weeks 8, 12, and 16. There was nothing else in it. My mid-wife didn't need it anymore.
3 years later.....I still had it.
I looked in it, I cried in it, I closed it, then I walked it out to our outdoor wood stove and threw it in, and watched it burn.
As I was sitting there looking at this mostly empty binder, I knew that I kept it for this long because I wanted to cherish those few mid-wife appointments I'd had, and I felt like keeping that binder kept Ezra real somehow.
Instead of an empty binder though, I want to keep the little box of things we collected in memory of Ezra and her short life. These things touched her body, have her name on them, have love written out in cards to our family. I want to close my eyes and feel the weight of her, all wrapped up in her hospital blanket that is tucked away in her memory box, and remember how heart breaking it was to sit there crying with my husband over our daughters' death. That is a moment, a real moment. I want to look at the garden we made her, and imagine she would have been just as beautiful as it is when it's in full bloom and greenery.
I want to think about, and surround my thoughts of Ezra with those things, not emptiness, which is what the binder offered.
I want something real, something I can take hold of. Something I can cherish, and give away in equal parts. I want joy, and joy won't be found in a binder, but it can be found in my heart.
In the last 3 years, 3 years of serious ups and downs, I have decided that for joy to be present in my life, I needed to chose to have a spirit of gratitude.
Having gratitude and healing the heart doesn't equal forgetting, "moving on", or "getting over it". Choosing gratitude means believing that good is available if we look for it.
Choosing gratitude does not mean saying "I am grateful I lost my loved one", nor does gratitude mean to live in a state of constant denial of your pain and the situation you are in.
Gratitude is defined as "the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for, and to return, kindness".
If I said to you, "stop being thankful, do not show any appreciation for any kindness shown to you, and do not show kindness to others!" what would you say? You would think I was a terrible human being, most likely.
And yet many of us who are hurting are doing just that. We are not thankful for anything, we do not show appreciation for kindness, and we certainly aren't showing any kindness.
To choose to have a heart, or a spirit, of gratitude means that you are choosing, day by day, to be thankful for whoever it is you have in your life. Whether that is a loving spouse or partner, loving parents, an amazing best friend, the best neighbours, or an awesome pet--whatever! Gratitude, returning kindnesses shown to you, and showing appreciation for kindness shown to you; these are, first and foremost, things of the heart, and we can choose these regardless of our external situations.
Making the choice can be very difficult at first because we feel our hearts have been ripped out. But the thing is, having gratitude heals the heart. It really does.
3 years ago I couldn't have said such a thing.
3 years ago I was a broken person. I was broken physically, emotionally and spiritually. I felt like an empty shell of the person I had been, whoever that was. Who I had been seemed like some far away memory, and maybe the person I thought had been me wasn't me at all? I just felt hurt, angry, lost, lonely, and crushed by life.
Friends, dealing with grief is a long journey, a journey that never actually ends, I believe.
This journey starts out so rough, uphill, the weather too hot and too cold. There is a wind that blows directly into you, making walking even more difficult. No one is with you, you have no food or water, no shelter, you have no comfort.
You will stop and sit down, and cry and scream out that the hill is never ending, that it's too steep, that you're aching in every way. You're sure that you can't recall a time without this pain, without this loneliness, without this deep aching.
And then, one day you realize, without seeing it happen, that the wind had died down, and that the cold isn't so cold, and the hot isn't too hot. Then you see someone is on the hill, and they offer you a drink and something to eat.
You soon see that the sun is coming up to the top of the hill, and you realize you are nearly at the top too.....and that there are more people now, giving you food, drink and comfort.
Before you even realize, and without any one particular moment in time, you see that instead of being on a hill, you are just on a path. It's narrow, and has small hills, a few pot holes & some muddy spots, but it's steady, and you aren't alone on it at all.
You look around, and with you are all sorts of people who have lost someone they love. They smile at you, understand you, weep and laugh with you.
They too went on the same hard journey, but in their hearts they chose gratitude, and so they are here with you now, on a steady trail.
I see myself there....I can see that this path stretches out before me with no end in sight, but, it seems ok. I am looking at a trail that reminds me of what I've come through, and that I will always carry the loss and memory of my babies gone. The endlessness of it has it's comfort in that I know I've not "moved on" or forgotten, but that I've lived, and will continue to. I can look ahead of me on this path and feel peace.
There's an old saying that if you've forgotten the language of gratitude, you'll never be on speaking terms with happiness. And I wanted happiness. In the midst of all the pain, my heart wanted happiness. Wanting some happiness is a universal feeling, and having it requires gratitude.
I still miss Ezra, I still cry when I think of the loss. I still wonder about what life would have been like with her in the house, living with our family. But now, I read my own story and cry because I remember how tormented I felt by grief, but am now filled with gratitude that I made it to the other side.
If you are at the beginning of your uphill climb and you are thinking, "this woman is crazy and heartless, and my pain is killing me!", I am deeply sorry.
It is not my intention to hurt anyone in their grief. My intention is to share my heart, my experience, and to give you hope and let you know you are not alone.
Your grief is real, the journey is long and hard and different for everyone. But I promise, you are not alone in this.
I still feel pangs of jealousy when other women are pregnant. I still haven't gotten too close to a newborn because it still just seems like too much, and apparently I still need to forgive the ultrasound technician from all those years ago......but in all this, in all the things I'm still trying to deal with, I can, and you can (you CAN!) start to let your heart have gratitude in it. Gratitude will be a healing oil that seeps into your life and can fill you with love and hope again. I promise.
To read more about my experiences with the miscarriage of Ezra, you can read the stories at "Ezra Faith", and "Ezra Faith: Two Years Gone".
You can also read about the son we lost, at "Abraham", and also at "Remembering & Forgetting: Abraham".
There is also a story about coping at "Feeling Blue"
Hi, I'm Amy-Lyn!
I am the lady behind this here blog! I live in the sticks with my animals, my super handsome husband, and my
3 amazing kids!
Here you'll find things from recipes (gluten-free, paleo, and strait up junk food!), DIY ideas, thoughts on raising a son with autism, and whatever else pops into my brain! : )
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