9.13.2014

Mourning

I wrote about our New Tension. And I wrote about how we arrived at and what this place of peace feels like.

Now it's time for the other side. For the mourning.

Again, this may be long and I don't really know where it is going. It is all part of this road home that we are on.

The Man and I had our discussion late on a Saturday night. Sitting on the floor of his workplace waiting for WVU Football game traffic to clear. It was just the two of us, for the first time in a while that we had nothing to do but chat with one another. And so, as it often does, our conversation turned to our infertility.

I asked The Man if he'd had enough time to think and pray about where God was calling us and/or if he wanted to talk about what the road would look like moving forward. He had. He started the conversation by reflecting about how he wonders if maybe God isn't calling us to something different. How he just doesn't know why this is happening to us.

As he talked, I had a realization. When I think of 'why?' when we are having these discussions, I'm thinking of things like 'my tubes are blocked; I have PCOS; I have endometriosis; there is inflammation; etc' I hear his question and I go right to the physical answers. More the answer to "how come" than "why". Yet, as he talked, I remembered something he said a while ago one Sunday on the way home from Mass when he was telling me that a co-worker had asked him "why don't you have kids" and his answer was: "I don't know."

And honestly, while we have physical 'reasons', we ultimately don't know. No reason that I can come up with explains why we are infertile. Yes, it is part of God's plan. Yes, good has come from it, but surely good could come from us being parents as well.

And so I realized that in searching for his answer to "why?", The Man had started to wonder what else God might be calling us to. Are we to use our physically infertile marriage to be spiritually fruitful in a profound way? He reflected on the priest and seminarian friends who we have been able to have in our home and travel with us and how it is clear God is calling me to be a spiritual mother to priests.

And so, as we reflected on this and I asked the question about making a doctor's appointment and we both agreed that there was no need to do that, we realized that our road was changing.

Soon after that, we headed home. Sunday was spent with Mass, brunch, napping, and football. Monday and Tuesday, I was working out of town - ironically presenting the Catholic perspective on the Sanctity of Life to an ecumenical council of churches in WV - and so there was not much time to process. I was able to talk a bit with a friend, but not at length.

Wednesday, I was able to go to Adoration and Mass at Fr. D's parish after work. And it was sometime during evening prayer that it started to sink in. The dreams of the past 4 years started playing in my mind and the tears started to fall. In the reading, St. Paul declared that he would spare those who had not married the afflictions of such a state in life, and I longed to be spared this affliction of infertility. Before Mass, I had been writing in my journal, and I'd written the question "May I mourn?" It was the one thing I wanted to know from God. Was it/is it OK to mourn? May I finally acknowledge that my dreams will not come true? (As I said before, I realize that God is sovereign and life is a gratuitous gift that He can choose to bestow at any time. Should He choose to do so, we would welcome it joyfully and with gratitude.) There was silence. But through Mass, I felt my heart change, I felt the mourning start. And after Mass, Fr. D stopped to see if I was OK and I was able to barely choke out the words "we're done." And it was his words that gave me my answer, among other things, he said "these first few weeks are going to be especially difficult." And I was given permission to mourn.

Here is what that has felt like.

It feels like someone has died. Like someone who never existed has died. More than anything I want to take a week off of work and have a funeral and say goodbye to these dreams. I do realize that there was no actual life. Only these dreams have had a life of their own. The hope I've felt over the years that has given me life; that has reminded me that there is something to hope for. It is gone. A new dream must be dreamed, but not before the first is mourned.

It is mourning the loss of the opportunity to...
see a BFP
tell The Man
have a blessing of a baby in the womb
hear a heartbeat
throw up all morning
tell our parents they will be grandparents
have a 4 generations photo taken with my mom, my Nan, me, and my child
hear "it's a boy" or "it's a girl"
pace the floor begging for sleep for us both
watch tiny fingers reach out for The Man's nose or beard - and see his eyes glisten with wonder at his own child
baptize our child

That is only as far as I made it today. To infancy. The awareness that in the coming weeks I must mourn the entire life. I must allow myself to let go of it. To say goodbye without ever having the opportunity to say hello. Not even for a second. I am under no illusion this will be easy or a linear process. Nothing about grief is. I just know that I must do it.

And the isolation of it all...if infertility is isolating - this is more so.

The reason for the sadness makes no sense to one who has not longed for a child. For how can it? How can I be so sad over the loss of someone who never existed? I went to work today because I had work to do. I could have taken the day off, but then I wouldn't have been prepared for this weekend's retreat for engaged couples, and I don't know how I possibly would have explained I needed the weekend off - which is quite honestly what I need. How does one say I am mourning when no one has died? And so the isolation grows; the fear of bursting into tears at any moment is immense.

Somehow, amidst all of this there is peace. I've learned to recognize it, I think. Because I do believe that it is always there, even when I don't feel it. But please, do not misunderstand - the peace has done nothing to lessen the mourning, the sorrow. If anything, it has made it more acute - more real. The peace has allowed me to feel these emotions fully, while resting in Him. When I resisted the emotions, when I sought the peace so desperately, there was a buffer of sorts. The buffer is gone. All that is left is grace. By grace alone, I will let go of this dream and learn to want only what He wants.

As with last time, I think this is enough for now. I will still write about where we are/left things medically. I will still share about spiritual motherhood. But for now, I must rest in this tension. I must cling to grace, the always-answered prayer of the last four years. He has led me here, kicking and screaming most of the way, but He has been patient. So now, without any choice but to kneel before Him and beg for His peace and His mercy, I lay the desires of my heart at His feet and ask Him to show me how to want what He wants.

17 comments:

  1. Fr. D is right, the first few weeks are the hardest. This is such a beautiful reflection Rebecca about being docile to God. I know how difficult it is for a choleric to not be able to do anything but rest in Him, so I will definitely keep you in prayer more so during this time. (((Hugs))).

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. Truly. Hugs and prayers, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for sharing this. We will likely be having this same conversation/coming to the same decision in the next year. You're so right....more and more isolating but the peace grows. Early on I wouldn't have believed peace and infertility could co-exist but they totally can. I pray yours only continues to grow.

    ReplyDelete
  4. so glad you are allowing yourself to mourn and experience this loss, even though it is painful. So painful. Gods graces in these decisions are so evident in your posts, even though the sorrow and loss is still there.

    ReplyDelete
  5. With mourning, the first couple weeks are hard... but so is the rest of the year of "firsts". It's one of those things that I've walked with people through as a pastor's wife and discovered more acutely when my grandfather passed away.

    It's too bad that there's no way you can "sit shivah" for this -- it's one of the better practices in Judaism where grieving people are re-integrated back into the community in stages over the 4 weeks after a loss. (Lauren Winner has an awesome chapter on this in "Mudhouse Sabbath".)

    ReplyDelete
  6. My heart breaks for you. I lifted you up today at adoration and Mass. May Our Blessed Mother help you through your sorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Beautiful. You are an inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing this part of your journey. I am praying for you. You have definitely been a spiritual mother for me in many ways. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My dear, dear Rebecca,
    I don't know if you got my text, but I wanted to check in here as well.
    I'm at a loss for what to say and maybe that is fitting, well, because, your journey is different than mine. I cannot pretend to know exactly what you feel. How devastating, especially knowing that others with your same medical afflictions have moved forward on the path you now mourn. He is near the brokenhearted, your friends are too. May you be mightily blessed for your fiat. In the meantime, we all will lift you up. You are a true blessing to many, NEVER EVER forget that. I love you and I'm sorry you hurt.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh, Rebecca. I am mourning with you, even though I can't possibly know what you are going through. You & the Man continue to be in my prayers.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is loss is so, so real. It's unfair that the "worldliness" of it doesn't match the realness of it. I hope you do find a way to physically morn this. I don't know what that would look like, but I do believe that symbolic ritual can bring so much peace and closure. (Heck, look at mass and all the beautiful rituals of the Church!) I do know that you will find your way through this. Prayers.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Honestly, my dh and I never knew the exact reason we couldn't conceive either...it's just God's plan...like you stated in this post. I try (try) not to think about what we are missing and look ahead as to what God has planned for us (adoption or not). My dh thinks God has been showing us His plan for us...and I haven't seen it yet. The one thing I'm not sure I've ever done is mourn. Your post got me thinking about mourning...especially if our current adoption plan ends up leaving us childless. Praying for you and your dh as you keep discerning God's will for your lives.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Finding myself without the right words, but please know that you are in my prayers, especially during this difficult transition. May God bless you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  13. If it is at all possible, try to take off if you need it; it may feel foolish, but if it is needed, it is needed. Having the time alone, or with The Man, and not having to put on a mask (happy face) or answer questions is healing. Not just the time, but the rituals of mourning make such a difference. I know there is not a formal, culturally agreed upon ceremony or ritual for letting go of your hopes and dreams, mourning your loss of the children of your heart, but perhaps you and The Man need to come up with one of your own. Perhaps writing down what it is that you will miss, those detailed dreams and hopes, then burying them, burning them, or setting them adrift on a current - something as a symbolic way of letting them go. I have seen the difference that mourning rituals can have in my own life, and they were a tremendous help to me. Hugs and prayers!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you all, so much for the love and affirmation of these feelings. I keep expecting to wake up and feel like myself, but I don't. I see Fr. D on Thursday and I'm planning to ask him if there is any specific ritual that The Man and I could do. Doing something has been on my mind for a few days, and I have one thing I will be doing, I'm just not ready to do it/share it yet. I will though.

    I am off today and tomorrow, but I'm so far behind on my school work, that is what I'm trying to focus on or else I'll have to drop my classes this semester and, while I know it's not, I would see that as such a failure. But, the fact that I'm able to concentrate at all is surely due to your prayers, so please know of my sincere gratitude for each of you.

    ReplyDelete

Comment moderation is turned on so you may not see your comment show up right away.