I'm not naive, though --I know firsthand that tragedy can strike out of the blue. Everyone has their crosses to bear, their personal sorrows. During the years we were optimistically trying to expand our family, I suffered six heartbreaking miscarriages. All took place around 9-12 weeks -- just long enough for me to be firmly entrenched in morning sickness, just far enough along to be deeply in love with that child.
It is so hard to to say good-bye to a child that you will never see or hold, to relinquish the yearning of your heart. If you are a mother, you understand what I am saying -- from the first second you learn you're pregnant, you dream that child into reality. Their hair color, eyes, voices, a little girl, a little boy...you conjure the hopes of the life you will have together. And then, so unexpectedly, so irretrievably, one day can arrive when you realize something is very, very wrong, and there is pain, and then...oh, the depths of anguish... death.
During my 6th miscarriage, in that lull of learning that yet another child had passed away and the long, dread-filled waiting for a natural miscarriage to happen, I heard a song that literally transformed my grief and my life. It was The Valley Song by Jars of Clay:
My pain was an ocean. I was tossed around on waves of sorrow, drowning in despair, only to be thrown onto the shore of complete desolation.
But through God's mercy, He gradually calmed that vast sea of grief and brought down my mountain of pain. It took years; it took complete resignation; it took my trust in Him to lead me through the terror of the storm. It wasn't easy. I had to let go of the pain -- no simple task -- and look for happiness wherever I could grasp it. But when I did -- slowly, tentatively, like a child learning to swim -- I discovered those moments more and more. The fear-filled darkness of murky water gave way to crystalline peace as I -- faltering at first, then gaining strength -- put my toes into the water and finally, with a deep breath of faith, plunged in. I'm not going to sugar-coat it -- pain can and will change a person forever. I remember reading during those dark days that "it can make me bitter, or it can make me better." I fought hard, and continue to wrestle with it to this day, to choose "better."
But I have an unquenchable joy in my life now. Running has given me a clarity and peace of mind -- an unfettered happiness and enthusiasm for life that I never thought possible. When I put on my shoes, and it's just me and that road stretching endlessly before me, I have come to realize that each day IS a gift, a blank slate, an opportunity to share happiness, kindness and laughter with others. I am more compassionate now, because I know they all have their owns sorrows they shoulder. I feel an urgent need to help, to lighten their load, to walk side by side with the wounded on their road to discovering life again after adversity. There is so much to live for, so much joy yet to come. All the tragedy and pain I've experienced has burned through my soul and taught me lessons I would never have learned otherwise. They've made me into who I am: a woman grateful for the children I was blessed to bring to this world, thankful for the graces bestowed on me, and looking forward to meeting my other six babies. Although I no longer carry them in my womb, I forever carry them in my heart.
God is good. I am His; I am sheltered in His loving arms, and my name is engraved on the palm of His hand. I trust Him to see me safely through my journey in life.
Above all else, I still look to the Heavens.