“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine upon you.” (Ephesians 5:14)
A hard weekend. A hard night. A hard day. A hard phone call.
A phone call that brought my husband to my side, as I collapsed onto the bed, and cried out in heartbreak for a friend. (He cried, too. In fact, he hasn’t cried that hard since “the beginning.”)
A friend, who six months ago, brought her baby home, while I buried mine. A friend whose father blessed our baby and cried with us the day we left the hospital. A friend that I ran into the next day, after making arrangements at the funeral home, at a local religious store, as we picked out a crucifix for our baby.
I saw her in the parking lot as soon as we walked out of the store. She admitted that she tried to avoid us. What does one say in those circumstances? There are no words. You have to live it to get it. She had what I wanted...a living baby inside her womb, and I should have had two more weeks with my little girl. She was there to purchase a gift for us.
Last night I remembered what it felt like to hug her in that moment...her belly still full and swelling with life, while mine was empty and void. Skin sagging. Painfully aching. Deeply longing to be filled again. And our wombs pressed, mine feeling like death, and I thought: “She will bring her baby home.”
In the weeks to follow, I struggled so much with jealousy toward all those who were living the dream I had hoped would come to fruition for us. I felt so alone in my loss. But she was a good friend...bringing us a meal, being intentional about checking in, and sending much needed thoughts and prayers.
Yesterday, the living baby she gave birth to six months ago, passed away in his sleep and went to Jesus. His soul with my girl’s. How can this be? I DON’T understand. Tell me this is not real.
I had trouble falling asleep last night. I woke up hourly. Is she awake, too? Would she be nursing him? She will have to wake up to that first morning without him.
I also didn’t want to sleep, because I didn’t want to awake and realize that this wasn’t all a terribly bad dream...for my life and for her life. That in our waking moments, we live a nightmare that we will never awake from.
I took the day off from work today. I couldn’t push through it again. “It’s all been a bit too much,” I told my boss. My husband and I went to mass in the morning and offered prayers for their family. Then, we went home and held each other and cried in our bed. Later, I returned to the chapel.
I entered that space of vulnerability and cried in my anguish like I always do. But this time, the tears weren’t just for me. They were also for my friend and the familiar pain I have come to know so well. I leaned back into the ivory chair and felt the tears drip gracefully down my face, then my neck. Soaking into me deeply. Watering my parched and weary soul. I felt the sun blaze it’s heat through the stained glass windows. Warming my skin. Shining on my face. Its beams awakening me. Reminding me of Heaven...the brightness, the splendor, the majesty. I thought of our children...gone. With Him. In glory.
And I begged to understand. HELP ME UNDERSTAND, I repeated continuously. But there was no answer. Silence within my deepest being. WHEN WILL I WAKE UP? And then I remembered that first morning waking up at home. The utter despair I felt in realizing that I would wake up every day for the rest of my life without her. She was really gone. This really happened. She would rest for all of eternity. And I would never wake up from this fog. I felt so empty that first morning home. So barren. So lifeless. In such a haze.
And now my friend is living with this same reality, because her baby didn’t wake up yesterday.
Sleepless nights and quiet mornings, consumed with screaming thoughts, which beg for redemption. This is everyday of forever until we die.
And I find myself questioning. Fitfully resting in a state of confusion. Wanting to wake up. To snap out of it. But nothing relents, and I can’t succumb. I move. I breathe. I ache. I wonder. I search. I ask. I long. I beg. I fight. How long? How long until the sun rises on me, filling me with breath and life again? When will this death hold loosen its grip? When will the suffering ease? Why another loss? Another tragedy? Another nightmare? Why this? Why now? Why us? Why them?
When will I wake up?