It was a strange and difficult recovery. The physical pain faded for the most part after a week. But the emotional pain was undefinable. At first, I didn't cry. I began to think that maybe something was wrong with me, that I wasn't sad. One day, about 3 weeks later, I was on the internet, and I found an article that talked about the grief associated with miscarriage. It said that sometimes women go through shock and denial, and it doesn't seem real. Their minds protect them from the shock of the event. I was stunned to realize that this was me. There wasn't anything wrong with me. My mind simply could not allow me to try to process all that had happened in that Nevada hospital. It was too big. The fact that it had happened 2500 miles from home only made it more surreal, as if it hadn't happened.
The next day I went to a funeral for a church friend, and I began to cry, missing her. I cried my heart out. As Trisha Yearwood says, "It was like a dam had broken in my heart." I cried after that for days; it felt like I would never stop. But it did. Moment by moment, day by day, the Lord began easing the agony in my heart. I don't recall any time that I was angry at God for what had happened. He gave me peace about not having answers to the why's. I knew that there must be something good that could come from losing Lily. There had to be. I could not go on like she had never existed, with nothing in my hands to show for her short life.
But something else happened, something that I could not have foreseen coming from the loss of my daughter. Sobriety. Two months and one day after losing Lily, God brought me to my knees. I had been drinking all day at a barbecue, to the point that the Man took our daughter and went home without me when I refused to leave. I don't know how I got home. But that night, standing in my kitchen, God knocked the wind out of me, showing me what I had become through the years. I was heartbroken and laid at His feet, knowing that things would never be the same. I stood at the sink, pouring bottle after bottle after bottle down the drain, crying brokenly as I said goodbye to my past. I knew it had to end. I could not begin to fathom how I would go on without alcohol, any more than I could fathom how I could go on without Lily. But I knew that God would be with me, giving me the strength that I was incapable of summoning on my own. I told the Man about it the next morning. He was quiet but accepting, and has remained so to this day.
A few weeks later I became pregnant again, this time with our first son. The months crept timidly by, as I waited for the other shoe to drop. I held my breath at every twinge, unable to stop the fear. But as my belly grew, my fears slowly subsided, and I began to finally believe that I would have a new baby in my arms in a few months. I still thought about Lily every day, longing for her. What had she thought when she arrived in Heaven? Who had come out to welcome her? Could she see me? Did she know how much I desperately wanted her? How much I would always desperately want her? I had no closure, no goodbyes. I couldn't be at total peace because it was wrong, it was WRONG that I had not been able to say goodbye. I could not accept this, I would not accept this. I don't know that others can understand how I could continue to feel that way, even as I carried my son. But children are not interchangeable or replaceable. I needed to say goodbye to my child.
I began imagining what it would be like to have a funeral for Lily. Would anyone come? Would everyone think I was crazy? I needed to do something. It couldn't end like this. I began seeking out pregnancy loss resources, reading books, and talking to others online who had also lost a baby. And one day I found what I was looking for. A remembrance service for lost babies, held on October 15th, the day President Reagan had set aside for pregnancy & infant loss awareness. I knew I had to do it.
Six months after losing Lily, I spoke at the first annual Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Service at my church. I told Lily's story. Not many people came, but we shared our tears, and wrote little notes in a book, and lit candles in memory of our children. I finally had my closure. The service has continued year after year, growing from a tiny evening event with a dozen people, to a Sunday morning event where people flood the aisle coming forward to light candles at the end. Others have been willing to come speak and share their stories as well. Hearts are being opened so that they can finally heal. God is so good, and my heart overflows with all that He has done.
I don't think that there will ever come a time that I won't be sad for Lily. It's been seven years but there are still tears on my keyboard as I write this, and when I write in the journal that I still keep for her, filled with my memories and tiny keepsakes. But I have moved on with my life, and I can't say that I would change any of what has happened to me. I learned so much about myself, my husband, and God through this experience. It was hard, so gut-wrenchingly hard some days, but I knew at every moment, that the Lord was with me, watching over me. I could have died, but I didn't. I lost some of my fertility, but was still able to have two healthy sons. My husband and I grew even closer, bonded through shared loss. We have grown in our marriage, and in our Faith. And I have discovered the grace and mercy of God through pain that I can't even describe. My life was spared, and I have a beautiful family. I am grateful. My child is in the arms of the Almighty God, and someday I will meet her. That is enough for today.
Follow Up: God Bless the Broken Road