Friday, February 27, 2009

Does Greif Have Legs?

We had an interesting experience a few days ago.

Rob and I have recently been called to serve in a small branch of the church located about an hour and 15 min from our house. It's been a great experience so far, and we feel blessed to be part of the Lord's work in this area. The people there are so humble, and so willing to do what is asked of them. They have so much love, and have willing shared it with us.

We have been fortunate enough to develop a great friendship with the Branch President and his wife. They are close to us in age, and they are so much fun to be with. We have been so impressed by them and their desire and ability to carry the responsibilities that have been placed upon them because of this calling. We feel blessed to be a part of their lives right now. We are learning so much from their example of love and service.

Just 15 days ago they welcomed their first child, a little girl into their lives. We were so excited for them to experience the intense love that comes from having a child! So, last week after church we decided to stop by their house for a little while and meet their sweet girl for the first time.

I have to admit, that as always, I was a little apprehensive about seeing them in their home with a thriving, breathing, kicking, baby. It's always hard to see someone else that got to bring their baby home...when I never did. I did my usual "emotional preparation" before going in, telling myself that I would be okay, that I could be strong, that I could be happy for them.

As we walked into their house, I was filled with a sense of peace. Mom was cradling her little girl and offered to let me hold her. I took this little bundle into my arms and just let the warmth consume me. I studied her every feature...she is so perfect and beautiful! I let her little fingers wrap around mine, I took off one of her socks and adored her little toes, and I felt her little lungs expand with air as she curled up on my chest.

Inside I was thinking, "this should be hurting, but it's not. I should be shedding tears, but there's no tears to cry."

Then dad pulled out their digital camera and plugged it into the TV, to play a slide show of their first few family pictures with her at the hospital....and yes, panic struck! I knew I was about to see pictures of moments we never had...and inside I was full of fear... fear that I was about to totally loose it in front of all of these people. Yet, I didn't want to get up and walk out of the room either, fearing that doing so would only make the situation uncomfortable.

So, I sat there and watched these pictures scroll across the screen. I sat there waiting...waiting for the tears...for the sobs that typically come at moments such as this. I kept looking at Rob, who was holding the baby at the moment, and he too was doing pretty good. I sat there confused at my reaction.

We left without one tear shed.

On the drive home, I turned to Rob, and said, "Why wasn't that as hard as I thought it would be? Why didn't we cry? Why didn't I feel angry that they had what we don't?" After conversing, we decided that yes, grief (in our case) does have legs. It moves with us.

At first it was so hard for us to see newborns, to hold little babies, to see families bring home their little ones from the hospital, and to see people doing those things we didn't get to do with Branson shortly after birth...those things were hard, because Branson would have been a newborn. Yet, as time has has our grief.

Now instead of grieving the loss of a newborn, we now grieve the loss of a growing, developing little baby. It's harder now to see babies around the age of 8 months because that's how old Branson would be now. Branson wouldn't be a newborn any more. He'd be learning how to roll over, he'd be eating solid foods, he'd be laughing, he'd be cooing, he'd be smiling. Those are the things we miss now.

I'm guessing that our grief won't stop here either. In a few months we won't miss the 8 month old, we'll miss our little boy who should be learning to walk and talk. In a few years we will miss a little boy who should be having his first day of school, and playing his first T-ball game. We'll see children his age play high school ball, go to prom, serve missions, get married, and have families of their own...and all along the way we'll miss him.

So we're learning...learning that grief will be our walking partner. Sometimes the hill's we'll climb together will be hard, but at the summit of these hills we'll always be able to look back at road we've traveled and the road that lies ahead. We'll remember the heartache of the past, we'll see that we still have some hard days ahead, but we'll be blessed to recognize that there's joy scattered all along the way!

I pray that as grief walks with us, we can make it to the end of our journey where our little boy will be waiting.


Brittanie said...

I have noticed this same thing. Right now, I'm missing a girl who would be almost 3. She'd be using full sentences, she'd probably know her ABCs already. I've noticed that while some mothers of stillborn babies I know always picture their angels as babies, that Cora has been "growing up" in my mind.

I guess what I tell myself during the hard times when I'm missing whatever she'd be doing right that we will get to experience all of those things with our sweet children. Just...later. It's postponed, not canceled.

The Holland Family said...

I guess I do both, I miss the 15 month old Mia terribly. I also miss the 6 year old Mia, but for me that little girl would be suffering in a body that couldn't move or hardly breathe. I can wait to raise the little Mia that will have a perfect body when she is 6 or any age for that matter. Your words are always so beautiful. Thanks, Nicole

Amy said...

Its so strange...this grief journey...things that you think would be hard sometimes aren't, and then other things are really hard.

Thank you for this message...I love the way you put it, that grief moves with us. I will have to remember that.

The Hammonds said...

That is so a beautiful post. I think that it is because of your closeness to the Lord that you are able to see Branson growing up in your mind and HEART because that is a place he will always be.

amy said...

I have followed your blog for awhile now, and I am truly amazed at the strength that you have. I can't imagine carrying this cross that you have and remaining so strong. I have cried for you and I have prayed for you, and I continue to hope and pray that someday you will be able to be blessed with another sweet baby to fill some of the emptiness you have. God bless you!

Jackie A. said...

Dear Natalie & Rob;
What an amazing perspective and view of your experience. And I think you're right about grief having legs and walking this walk with you. The way you put it is just so perfect, and thank you for expressing it that way. I know that I find myself watching all the babies that would be right around Branson's age and thinking the same thoughts of what he would be doing at this age or stage and how he would look and etc. Then when I pray for his spirit to be with you I try to realize that his spirit isn't a tiny newborn spirit, that it is alive and well and a spirit that knows and relates to you and to us and is there to help and comfort you now for the rest of your lives. May God Bless you to recognize and feel his spirit close to you often. My Love, Mom

Tifani said...

I really am amazed at the words you find to describe things so well. You are so insightful and deep thinking. I thoroughly enjoy looking at your blog and learning new things from you. Thank you so much for sharing!


I found your blog through a friend of mine and I am so deeply touched by your story. I couldn't be as strong as you have been. It took my husband and I a long time to get pregnant also and to loose him would be too devestating to imagine. You are a strong person and I am grateful for you blog and your precious spirit up in heaven.