As I drove home that afternoon, I asked God how to pray for her. A friend of mine was having a tough week as she revisited her pain of never being able to bear children. Twenty years later and you could still see the longing in her eyes. Had the me today met her twenty years earlier, I would have gently invited her on some radical believing… I would have shared with her the same prayers that I have been praying over my own womb lately.
But here we were… and I was lost on how to help her… what exactly to believe God for. My mind brainstormed on what could possibly “fix” this. She had gone on to adopt but still longed to have had conceived a child. Even if some needed physiological parts hadn’t been long removed, I doubt she would have wanted to pick up her unfulfilled dream in this stage of her life anyway. What could fix this? Nothing. Nothing but her carrying and delivering a baby earlier in her life. I could feel the sorrow sink in deeper as I imagined her trying to accept that she would never have that. How final. How hopeless.
A knot formed in my throat. My mind flashed back to me lying on our bed and Brian bringing over Nicholas’ death certificate. It had just come in the mail. To see my baby boy’s name on a death certificate before ever seeing it on a birth certificate ripped my heart open. All of the events in those first weeks after the twins were born were so unnatural… so not what you plan for. Actually, all of the events in that first year fit that category.
I reached for the certificate, curious but dreadful. I read…. “NEVER MARRIED.” I broke down. Although this was an obvious, understood reality, I didn’t have to face it head-on like that before that moment. From the time that the babies were born, even through Nicholas passing away, my mind had been flooded with whether Sophia was going to make it through each sensitive hour of each unpredictable day. There wasn’t time to fully stop and mourn. Now I had no option but to face the devastating circumstances and what it meant long-term. I was overwhelmed with the fact that I would NEVER get to see my son grow up and marry. I would NEVER look down at him in my arms, our eyes meeting. I would NEVER read him a bedtime story and tuck him in with loving kisses. I would NEVER pack his lunch for school. I would NEVER get to watch his tiny feet grow into the next shoe size, and then the next… I would NEVER.
I’m not 100% sure, but I think this was the same day that I laid in bed, holding onto my empty belly, weeping. That moment stands out to me because I clearly remember the look in Brian’s eyes. I think he thought I had lost my faith. I’m not sure what I was even able to make out between my sobs, but I remember him softly telling me “Don’t say that.” I could hear he was terrified of where I was emotionally. He tried to comfort me but I was just so deep in sorrow. How could he possibly fix “NEVER?” My belly was empty when it should’ve still had two babies inside, safe and protected. Now I laid there empty in more ways than that. Nothing was going to change that. Nothing.
The best analogy that was offered to me during those first few, dreadful weeks was that losing someone is like losing your leg. It’s never the same, but you learn how to hobble around. You still go on, but that leg will always be gone. It doesn’t quite “heal” the way that people sometimes describe time healing all things. Some days, it might even feel like you just lost it all over again. Yes, the tricky cycle of grief… how acquainted we’ve become.
So, how do we fix the NEVER’s in our lives or in the lives of other’s? We don’t. We live with them and let God teach us how to “hobble.” Sure, we can still learn to hobble along without God, but God is like the ultimate physical therapist. Somehow He can make our hobbling feel graceful and steady in most moments. In fact, He is able to make our hobbling even more grounded than our original walking with both legs. Crazy? I prefer, delusional. Thank you very much. 🙂
I don’t think those hard moments ever go away. Sometimes, we will still feel like we are just regaining our balance all over again. I’m only four years out, but I can’t imagine that I’ll ever stop yearning for my Nicholas. Even decades passing by or more children could never undo that torn part of my heart. But God IS ABLE… Please don’t just pass by those words, letting them blur with the others.
Whether it’s losing a loved one, a dream, a relationship… Whatever is leaving you feeling empty and unsteady, I encourage you to give it to God. Give Him the chance to steady your hobbling. No, it’s not an undoing of losing, or never receiving, whatever is leaving you broken. It is, though, a mending that nothing else in this world could ever come close to fulfilling.
So, as I drove in the car that day, my heart’s prayer for my friend went something like this:
Lord, I don’t know why… I don’t know why some of the most deserving people don’t get their babies. I don’t know why we sometimes suffer when You are able to do all things. There is so much that I do not know. I do know You, though. God, I know that You love us. I know that Your ways are above what we could ever possibly begin to understand. I know that You give us beauty for our ashes and I know that You are our source of joy and peace. So, please surround her with Your love. Steady her in Your goodness. Any places she feels sorrow, let her find You… so real and so incredible, that she sees, beyond any doubt, that You are her joy in ALL circumstances. In Your mighty name, Amen.
That’s it. There are some things that will plague our heart… forever. The only answer is to allow God to steady our hobbling, and when we lose our balance, allow His mighty hand to hold us up.