After I lost my second baby through an ectopic pregnancy, I went for a long time without being able to grieve.
In looking back, every single thing I did or didn’t do was probably an act of grief, but I kept it below the surface because it felt too big and scary, as though it would turn my life upside down.
Which we all know it does, and then some.
One day after being thrown head first into the all consuming grief that started after our adoption broke down, I wondered at how I had “managed” to keep it below the surface up until then. I realized that I had disconnected so many years prior and had never been able to understand what it was that I was supposed to grieve, or how. I somehow thought deep down that she was still with me, that I just had to work hard enough and I would find her. I kept searching, kept hoping through all the infertility treatments, kept thinking it must have been a mistake, that the answer was just around the corner.
It made no sense: one moment she had been there, and then she was gone.
I had to figure out the missing piece, but that missing piece was nowhere to be found.
Not long after that realization I was driving through a mountain pass when out of the previously blue summer sky the most intense thunderstorm came rushing through, covering the road and my car in rain and hail.
I couldn’t see through the sheets of water, I had to pull over until it passed.
I sat on the side of the road and was suddenly consumed by a grief so immense that I thought I was not going to make it. I actually thought that I was going to drown – whether from the storm or the depths of the sadness, it didn’t matter – this was it.
Those of you who have been in this place know it all too well.
The emotions eventually lessened, as did the storm, and I was able to start driving again. I had finally caught my breath and driven a little way down the highway when I was greeted with the most spectacular light show.
There were colours that I didn’t know could be in a sunset, and it was beyond description. I went around another corner and the mountains opened up, with the light and colours right in front of me, and I suddenly, vividly, understood.
I heard a child’s voice, a little girl, coming from somewhere above me:
“I’m right here mommy, I’m always here, I’m in the light, I’m here.”
Some of you might have experienced something similar, some of you might wonder what I’m talking about, and some of you might just dismiss it – not a problem. What was revealed to me that day was what I had not been able to connect to for so long – what I had been searching for since the moment I came out of surgery after that horrific trip to the ER with the excruciating pain and blinding shock, the fear of losing both her life and my own.
I hadn’t realized what was missing. I ‘knew’ but I didn’t ‘know’. When I left the hospital and tried to get going again with my ‘normal’ life, there was a missing in me, a massive missing, and everything froze around it trying to protect that broken space.
She was there, and then she was gone.
And so that day in the mountains, with the light, the warmth, the colour, the storm, the clouds, the breaking open, I finally understood.
I did not get to say goodbye to my baby.
She had disappeared without my knowing,
without my understanding of what needed to happen.
I needed to say goodbye.
I needed to know where she went.
I realized that I had been for the past decade wondering in the very depths of my heart:
“Where Are You…?”
And this had so affected my ability to grieve.
That day she had answered, because she knew I was ready to hear.