April 27, 2011

Amen and Amen



The waves of grief continue to pound the shores of our hearts, slowly breaking off tiny pieces that sometimes feel irretrievable. Some of the waves are familiar now. Like the subtle and obvious reminders of Margot that seem to be everywhere we look. Babies, sisters at the park, ashes in the fire, an empty belly, the eery quiet of our home that should have been filled with infant wailing and dancing and friends. Or when I look at pictures of Margot, which I do every single day. I stare at her face and limbs and try to see something new, like the shape of her knees or the tiny dimple above her lips. Or the inevitable reality that most of the world has gone back to normal life. To jobs and counting their blessings and happiness and Facebook updates and exclamation points. I’m not sure this familiar grief has gotten easier to face, but it’s gotten something....perhaps there is comfort in the familiarity of it, or maybe even peace.

Then there are the waves of grief that come as a surprise and force me to take a deep breath in order to avoid throwing up. Like why must I wake up at 5am thinking about the fall on the sidewalk? Why does it replay over and over in my mind like a cruel slideshow where every slide is the same image? Or sometimes the grief is a sudden flash into my future life. This wave seems to build up steam, getting louder as it approaches, and then states boldly in no uncertain terms: Margot is still missing. I don’t even know how to begin handling this kind of unexpected grief. It builds and crashes and knocks me over until I’m standing naked and overwhelmed, lost at where to turn next.

And yet. AND YET.

Every so often, even smack dab in the middle of this grief, as the waves pound with fury, I find myself face to face with something so profound and beautiful I can hardly believe it can exist. For there in the darkness lurks courage.

From the early moments of this tragedy until now, a poem by William Henley has allowed us the words to declare our courage.

I whisper it in the depths of my despair. I chant it when the anger bubbles up, when I’m the worst version of myself, in order to bring myself back down. We utter it to each other in the most hopeful of moments, when it feels like we actually believe and feel it.

It was one of the first thoughts Kari shared with me after waking up from our five hour nightmare, when life and death teetered back and forth almost inevitably, as if losing a baby and a mother in the same evening isn’t out of the ordinary.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul...

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.


Amen and amen.

7 comments:

Wendi said...

Amen.

travis dewys said...

Hey Josh,
Remember that people have gone back to lives for the most part, but that we often lift you and your family in prayer, and that we think of you all often.
Love you man.
Travis

Mariposa said...

I don't know you, but I still check your blog every day for one more precious tidbit of hope and courage and transparency in the middle of one of life's most difficult of tragedies.....you are heroes in my mind!

Beck said...

Ditto Travis.

Rita said...

Hi Josh , Rita Ledbetter here , CNM from Moline ,Illinois. Your writing is extraordinary and beautiful. I so recognize the waves , the ebbs and flow of your grief. In the loss of my mom - I made a scrapbook and I cried and cried and cried. My husband said to put it away if it made me cry ... and of course I could not do that --I needed to process and do "grief" . I have walked thru the journey of baby loss with many parents over the last 30 years. People have said the dumbest things to these grieving parents (You can have another baby or Your baby is better off with Jesus than here etc ) that have caused them to cry and cringe . I am sure you have heard these things too -people don't mean to be dumb , they just don't know how much words like that can hurt. I have no words of advice -just want you to know that I am thinking about you today and praying for you to be able to keep moving in this journey . It sounds like you had excellent care and loveing caregivers and for that I am glad. Wishing you a good day today!!

Mandy said...

still praying for you guys.

Marcia said...

This has often brought me comfort.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUBw0B6RdBQ

Still praying....

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