From Winter Comes Spring

irises in yard_2_rad lab

/ /
Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport—Oh! with whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind—
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss?—That thought’s return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart’s best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

~William Wordsworth

I came across this poem the other day. Quite by accident. But happily so. Not that it is a particularly happy poem. It’s actually sad, especially in light of how I can’t bear losing sight of her face or memory and feel so sad when they have slipped from my mind. But there is also something peaceful and calming about this poem. I’m not sure I’d ever read it before. And I’m certain that I never knew it is the poem that inspired the title of the book, Surprised by Joy, by C. S. Lewis. This is a book I own, but never finished reading. I think I’d like to now. {Although, if I am going to read any Lewis right now, it should probably be my third run through A Grief Observed, which I read a second time after my father died.} If I didn’t know what Surprised by Joy is about already, I might think it was a book about grief {as he lost his wife, Joy, to cancer}. But it’s not. It’s actually about Lewis’s transformation from Atheism to Christianity, and about his quest for joy, where he discovered a transformative road to believing in God instead. So much there to make me want to read it.

But I better hold off on getting into that one… I’ve got a heavy list of books going at the moment, several all of which, I would definitely recommend if you are one reading this post who happens to know of someone going through what we did… facing the death of an infant or grieving the loss of one… or if you happen to be reading this and are going through it yourself.

My list…

A Gift of Time {finishing up}
Safe in the Arms of God
I Will Carry You
Waiting with Gabriel
For the Love of Angela
The Surprising Grace of Disappointment: Finding Hope When God Seems to Fail Us
{please… get your hands on any or all of these if you or a loved one is facing the loss of an infant.}

I’ve got my work cut out for me, and I really hope to be disciplined in reading these, as they’ve all been lent to me by either my counselor {a major support of mine these past several months} or by a new friend of mine… one I met in the most incredible way who has proven to be such a huge help to us through all of this… she also lost a baby to Trisomy 18. She’s not only been a friend, but also a source and wealth of information throughout this road we’ve been led down, as she serves on the board of the national Trisomy 18 Foundation. Anyway, I need to get these books returned to them, so I’m guessing one of my top resolutions for 2014 will be to carve out reading time. That is a pastime that just doesn’t come naturally for a non-reader like me.

If I finish those up, I will move on to one my mom found and gave to me… Sacred Surprises: When God Turns Your Life Upside Down. {Hmmmmm… I’m sensing a theme in this post… surprised, surprising, surprises.} My mom found this book for me in a second-hand store, which is sort of cool, because just now when I went to this book’s page on Amazon so that I could copy the web address and create a link to it on the title above, I saw the following review…

I found this book at a thrift store and bought it for a young friend who had recently lost a baby. I read it first to be sure that it was what I wanted to send to her and was so blessed by the book that I bought another for myself. I passed mine on to another friend to read and she was very blessed by it as well. I haven’t heard from my friend who lost the baby yet but I am certain it must have been comforting to her. This book is for anyone that loves God and wants encouragement of how he works in our lives when we don’t even realize it. It will make you recognize His hand in all that you experience in your life. I liked it so much that I sought out other books by this author.”

It’s not only cool that both my mom and this reviewer found a copy in a thrift store and were able to bless someone who could benefit from the book by giving it to them, but also that the reviewer writes about how he or she was blessed by it as well. And what I loved about what that person wrote… about how the book is for anyone who needs encouragement about how God works in our lives even when we don’t realize it… well, that has been a theme of mine throughout this whole season of life… ever since we found out about our baby girl. In fact, I just got done typing up my holiday newsletter for our Christmas card, and I spent a good deal of space writing about how much we were able to look back and see God working, involved in all the details, even when it seemed like He wasn’t. His working behind the scenes was the very reason my counselor reached out to me when she did… because God had laid it on her heart to do so, even before she knew something was wrong or knew that I would need her support along the long road ahead.

I believe, also, it is the reason I was led to my friend on the Trisomy 18 Foundation board. If it were not so long-and-detailed a story, I would love to write specifically about just how that connection came about and the good that came of it. I will briefly say, the connection would not have happened if I had not gone to a birthday party for a sweet little three-year-old girl {my niece}… a party I was so hesitant to go to because I knew it would be difficult for me, as I was carrying a girl of my own whom I was told would not survive. And, sure enough, the party was a struggle to get though. But because of it… because I went… I was connected to my new friend via a chain of two others, and was thus exposed to so many helpful resources that proved beneficial throughout our pregnancy and birth. I’m still benefitting from that connection. I truly did not want to go to that party. But God knew all that I would need where I had no clue. And he was working… making something happen that probably would not have if it had been left up to me.

There have been so many more stories like this throughout. I hope to write them all down some day.

•  •  •

Well, that wasn’t even the original intent of my post today… to share all that. I actually just got on here to share the poem. But that led me to my list of reading materials as of late and… well, the rest is history.

I also had wanted to get on here to share some photos from last spring… something a little less wintry than what I’ve been posting, and something appropriate for the theme of rebirth. Spring paints a pretty good picture of new birth. So do blooming irises. I took these shots with a borrowed {very nice} camera that I used for a photo shoot last spring. I needed practice using the fancy-schmancy contraption before the day of the shoot, so I went out in the yard to fiddle with all the settings and then to practice on our patch of purple irises. {I remember being so nauseous out there… wishing I was enjoying the flowers and their scent more… but on that day, not so much.}

With the new year upon us, I didn’t really want to focus on it the way I normally would this time of year. It feels too much like I’m “moving on” if I use the word new too much as I look forward right now. I realize it is a new year. There’s no denying this fact. But I don’t want the old one to be over. Nine of the twelve months that 2013 held were months that held my pregnancy. Nine of those twelve months, I held her… never wanting to let go. She was conceived, born and taken… all within this one life-changing year. And so I reluctantly move on. I know I will have to, no matter what number the calendar shows. I simply mean that I can’t quite bring myself to talking about change, shifts or newness in the sense that we usually do year-end. Certainly not in a leaving-2013-behind sort of way. I just can’t.

What I can say, though, is that I look so forward to Spring. It was in the Spring that she was created. It was then that I embraced and became excited about growing our family. It was the last season I knew before tragedy hit, and the first time I saw what could grow up all around our house… like these irises. And this coming spring, we will likely plant a tree in our yard to honor and memorialize her. As the roots go down, so will her ashes. And then new life will spring forth. So, I look forward to Spring… to coming out of this nine-month weary winter I’ve known and into the rebirth that is ahead, careful to not forget all we’ve just come through.

irises in yard_1_rad lab

One more thing. While I may not have the heart to leave 2013 behind, it shouldn’t stop me from wishing others a blessed and happy new year. I certainly hope ours is such. And there’s nothing more I pray for others as well. So to anyone who’s reading on this New Year’s Eve…

May you have a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.
{And may you know God’s goodness, even if at first you don’t see it.}