No grandma this time.

6 years ago
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My daughter lost the baby. If I’m brokenhearted, imagine how bad Abby and Tim  feel.

As I noted in my announcement post, I’d secretly worried that she wouldn’t be able to have kids due to her health issues. This loss seems particularly cruel in light of that, and especially after the year they’ve just had. Among the highlights:

  • Their car was totaled by a careless driver. Insurance negotiations dragged on for weeks – and because the settlement didn’t cover the cost of a (used) replacement vehicle, they took out an auto loan.
  • His parents were facing bankruptcy so Abby and Tim jumped the gun on buying a home. They found a place with a guest house out back, put down a much smaller payment than they would have liked, and spent a ton of money (on credit cards) to move his mom and dad south.
  • They’d been planning to try for a family within the year – after Abby had stepped down off a couple of medications. This meant she had to do it very quickly, which was not much fun.

I just wish her life weren’t so damned hard. Several times today I’ve re-read an excerpt from a sermon about the times when we ask “Why, God? Why?”

It’s not about silencing the questions. It’s about knowing I am a creature created by the Creator of all that is. And so there are things, at least in this life, that I will never know. And that must be enough.

You know what? Today it isn’t enough. All I can say is that sometimes God’s love is hard to understand, or even, sometimes, to feel.

But then I think about my mother. I’d been thinking about her a lot in the past week. She was my labor coach; I lived with her and my stepfather for the first 11 months of Abby’s life.

Looking back, I believe that my daughter’s birth represented a chance for Mom to be the mother she wished she’d been able to be, rather than the one she’d wound up being. The exhausted young woman out of whose body the babies burst like sneezes, four in five years without plot or plan. The impoverished wife busy from dawn until midnight and always a croupy cough or a wailing newborn to interrupt what few hours of sleep she allowed herself.

The manic housekeeper whose memories of childhood squalor made her shout at her children for making messes. The insufficiently nurtured little girl who had no idea that sometimes toddlers shrugged off kisses, and took it as just one more rejection and judgment.

‘You saved my life, little girl’

My mother loved all her grandchildren, but Abby held a special place in her heart. Years later, she explained why: “When your dad and I split up, I gave up on love. I swore I would never let myself get hurt again. But when Abby was born, she changed all that. How can you not love a baby? My heart just opened up and she taught me how to love again.”

Mom died of cancer in August 2003. Abby flew across the country to be with her. When she had to leave again, Mom’s whispered goodbye made us all weep: “You saved my life, little girl. Don’t you ever forget that.” That frail testimony went straight to my heart.

For the past week or so I’d been wishing she could be here to see Abby’s pregnancy. It would be the most-loved child in the universe if Mom were in the room. How delighted she would have been to hold that baby.

Maybe she’s doing that right now.

If you have kids, hug them tightly. Recognize them for the treasures they are, even when they’re really pissing you off. Realize how miraculous it is that any of us make it here at all.

And if you have it in you to pray, send a couple skyward for my daughter’s and son-in-law’s healing. Tack on one for me, too: that my heart will stay open enough to learn from this newest sorrow, and that I will not only keep questioning but learn to live with the answers I receive. As they say, God answers all prayers – and sometimes the answer is “no.”

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