It’s funny how you can be on top of the world one moment, then something comes along and just completely knocks the wind out of your sails. Okay, it’s not really funny. Not in the least. But it’s part of life, so we deal with it. At least we try.
As I began today’s blog, I was pretty upbeat. It was, after all, a really good weekend. Friday’s post was given top billing by the folks at WordPress, and almost 10,000 views later, people are still responding. As a writer, not much can compare to the feeling that you’ve written something meaningful, something that struck a chord with people and somehow made their day better.
And I have to admit, today I was feeling the pressure to come back today with something equally insightful and a little more entertaining. Somebody tickled my funny bone today, and the words were flowing freely. I was two-thirds finished when the phone rang.
Last week I said we have another granddaughter on the way. She was to have arrived sometime in August, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Saturday night we were joyfully looking at ultrasound pictures that showed a developing baby sucking her thumb. Today her little heart has stopped, and my daughter is on her way to the hospital to deliver a memory – along with a huge chunk of her own heart.
I could say I’ve been through this before, because I have. When I was in the Navy, my wife had a miscarriage toward the end of the second trimester. And I’ve sat with my oldest through a few miscarriages of her own. It’s heartbreaking. It’s painful. As I said, it knocks the wind out of your sails. And the first question that comes to mind is “why?”
The truth is, we may never know. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and some of them leave us devastated. And sometimes, there’s no rhyme or reason. There may be a medical explanation. I hope somebody can tell us what went wrong. But sometimes we have to just accept things as part of a master plan, or to know that no matter how bad things are today, the sun will come up tomorrow.
Every experience in life teaches us something. Months after my wife’s miscarriage, I was in a pretty deep depression. By then, my ship had deployed on a seven-month cruise. The Indian Ocean is a great place to collect your thoughts. It’s also a great place to dwell on them. I went through the motions each day, but I was pretty much an empty shell.
Then one night, the chaplain visited one of my best friends to let him know his 10-month old son had passed away. I remember looking at him as he got ready to fly home, not knowing what to say. I remember thinking how hard it must have been to hold your baby, to bond with it in person, and then lose it. And how much harder it must be to find out through somebody you’ve never met while you’re in the middle of the ocean, halfway around the world.
As I lay in bed that night, I said a prayer for my friend, and his wife and two daughters. And I asked God to forgive me for all the time I spent feeling sorry for myself. Because I knew the hurt I felt at our own loss was nothing compared to what it could have been. It’s amazing how life can put things in perspective.
I wish I could be with my daughter right now, to hold her in my arms and let her know how deeply we share her pain. I think as a parent, one of the hardest things we can experience is seeing our children hurt. We want two things for them – health and happiness. Everything else takes a back seat. And few things can bring me to my knees faster than seeing my daughters cry.
It’s at times like this when I realize some of the things I’ve focused on in the past just aren’t that important. She’s made some decisions I didn’t agree with, and there have been lots of times I wish she had been more focused on what I considered “more worthy” goals. And right now, none of that matters.
Sometimes people refer to bringing a child into the world as “giving them life.” Yet all too often, we don’t give them the freedom to live their life. I’m not saying we should let them do anything they want. There have to be ground rules, and as parents it’s up to us to keep them out of danger and out of jail. We need to make sure they go to school, eat their vegetables, and say please and thank you.
But beyond that, there has to be a point where we step back and let them make their own decisions. I guess it’s possible to keep a baby from ever falling down. But in the process, they would never learn to walk. As parents, we know they’ll get their share of bumps and bruises. We know they’ll break one of Mom’s favorite plates, or scribble on the walls. And though we do everything we can to keep that from happening, we know it’s all part of growing up.
There are no words I can think of right now that would ease my daughter’s pain. I’ve been there, and I understand her request that we all keep our distance for a while. People will offer well-intended thoughts, like “Things happen for a reason” or “It’s all part of God’s plan.” And while those things are true, they just don’t offer a lot of comfort at times like this.
And as a parent, that’s one of the hardest things to accept. I can’t fix this. I can’t make it better. I can’t make the hurt go away. All I can do is let her know we’re here, and that we share her pain. And even that’s a hard concept to understand, sharing pain. Because it’s not like we’re taking any of her pain on ourselves. When it comes to pain, we all get some of our very own.
We’ll get through this, and I know she will, too. It’s been said that time heals all wounds. I don’t think that’s completely accurate, because the scars will always be there. But after a while, they don’t hurt so much any more. All that’s left is a reminder of a day when things weren’t so going too well.
I don’t really know where I’m going with all of this. As a writer, one of the first things we learn is to organize our thoughts and figure out what it is we’re trying to say. And right now, I’m just letting my thoughts spill out, hoping that it all comes together in a way that makes a little sense.
And through it all, I have to remember that I have a lot for which to be thankful. I’m thankful that I have the ability to write, to pour my thoughts out instead of keeping them bottled up inside. I’m thankful for each of you, who lend me an ear so to speak, and let me know somebody is listening.
But most of all, I’m thankful that I can say two very simple but wonderful words – “my daughter.” I have two daughters, and they’ve brought more joy to my life than I could ever express. I’ve laughed with them and I’ve cried with them. I’ve bragged of their successes, and agonized over their mistakes. But most of all, I’ve been blessed to feel the love that we share.
And that’s what will get us through this day. The sun will shine tomorrow. Maybe just a little, but it will shine. And in the days to come, it’ll shine even more. And someday, this will be a faint memory.
And as for our little angel – we’ll get to hold her in our arms someday. Just not today.
Copyright 2011 – Dave Glardon