Prologue: When we first became pregnant we were surprised to learn we were pregnant with identical twin girls. 20 weeks into the pregnancy we learned our girls suffered from a rare condition called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. We experienced a miraculous healing of all symptoms related to this deadly disease and at 32 weeks gave birth to our twin girls, Marylou Janice, our firstborn was stillborn. Providence Joy was just over 2lbs. There was no known cause for Marylou’s death. Time has given me the courage to share some of what God has taught me through our experience of anticipation, joy and grief. It is my hope that I can use this venue and our journey to share with you, dear reader, pieces of what we have learned and experienced so you can walk away with a greater understanding of our God, even amidst pain.
Something that is amazing to me is how God gives us grace for each moment. If you have ever had anything tragic or life changing occur, you can probably remember the moment you heard the news or experienced the pain vividly. For me the moment that I learned Marylou had died still strikes me as a special type of grace. I was sitting on the ultrasound table and the tech scanned her wand over my belly. Immediately I noticed that there was no heartbeat. In that moment as I continued to interact with the ultra sound tech it was as if time had slowed down. Somehow I was able to view what was happening to me in slow motion and God gave me a numbness to do what I needed to do. I called my husband, made the decision with the Doctor to be rushed into surgery to try and save Providence and tried to grapple with the realization that my life would be forever changed. I call this time of numbness a special grace because it allowed me to try and wrap my mind around what was occurring. Behind me lay my past, the joy of having twins, the anticipation for their arrival, preparing to be a mommy to two girls, holding my babies in my arms, singing them lullabies, sending them off to school, watching them graduate and eventually get married; those past hopes were vividly clear and somehow as I gazed back at them through the numbness I recognized that all those hopes in an instant had been changed. Ahead of me lay a frightening future with plans and dreams shattered it was too much for me to venture into or explore so I sat in the chair and in what felt like slow motion performed each of the required things that had to be done. As I signed paperwork and discussed medical options, it was as if time stood still. I didn’t have the mental strength to deal with the future, or the emotional fortitude to grieve what had been just moments before. What was presently occurring encompassed every emotion.
That first night I didn’t sleep at all; for sleep to me symbolized reality, somehow if I slept this nightmare would be real. I remember thinking that I was too young to lose a child and somehow in an effort to bring the past and all its hopes back I struggled to stay awake. As the days went by, the numbness began to wear off. Slowly it was replaced with tears that flowed freely, and then to raw pain and back to tears. As the weeks turned into months I began to question how I would ever be able to think upon the past without crying and thoughts of a future without our Marylou were too unbearable to fathom. Grief does that to you, whether it is grieving a life-long illness, a lost job, a loved one, or shattered hope it causes the past to be painful and the future to be frightening which leaves you in the present. It is at this point in grief that I believe we are given another special grace, living life in the present. At times when my grief is strongest I find myself relishing the moment, taking notice of things that I would have otherwise passed me by in my anticipation for the future or preoccupation with the past.
It has been almost four years since I first held Marylou’s lifeless body and realized that she was with her Savior and somehow in that time God in his grace has brought me to a point in my grief where four years ago I never imagined I would be. As the waves of numbness and nausea begin to fade and come further and further apart he has given me the courage to look to the future again. For the first time the other day I watched Providence play and imagined what it would be like to send her off to school one day and I was amazed. Somehow this life, though not what I would have chosen, has become enough a part of me that I again can see beyond the present to the hopes of the future. It is with appreciation today that I sit here typing, trying to grasp how God used numbness and pain to heal me and to allow me to experience and process life again even after tragedy. As I look to the future I do so realizing that loss and tragedy are a part of this life on earth, and while never asked for or desired they have the capacity, through the grace of God, to expand our understanding of life, past, present and future.
It is a wonderful thing to look back and reflect that right now I am in the future that I couldn’t face four years ago, that somehow those moments where time stood still and past and present were changed brought me to this place. I would have never chosen this place, but in it I have found something I thought I would never fully experience again, joy and hope. Grief and tragedy moved in and robbed me of future hope for a time but then surprised me and through God’s mercy it has expanded my soul and my understanding of truth and my ability to live in the present.
If you are in a point of grief or loss, it is my prayer that you can cling to the hope and promises of God, knowing that God gives us Grace not only for the present but for the future as well.
(Post by: Amie)