the ponderings of a mother

These are the ponderings of a mother in love with her children, both in my arms and in the grave. Some of these ponderings are quite emotional, some are funny, others contemplative and spiritual. All are sincere. May these writings bless you in many ways and bring you closer to the one, true God and Redeemer of all things.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Not Efficient

I love efficiency. I am the person who will drive a new way to find out shorter routes to get to a familiar destination; and the one who actually gets physically uncomfortable when I am with someone I don’t know well enough to tell them to go my shortest route…and they take the long way (adding that extra 90 seconds). I am the person who will see how many people are at a stoplight in each lane, then strategically put myself in the lane with fewest vehicles.  If there are an equal number of vehicles, I will size up each vehicle, sometimes the driver, and be sure to get behind the one I bet will move fastest when that light turns green.  I plan my errands according to which side of the road my stops are on, stopping only on the right side of the street as to avoid crossing over traffic back and forth, which is clearly a waste of time and energy.

And this desire for efficiency does not stop at my travel habits. I have, embarrassingly, purchased many different exercise gadgets that promise quick results.  In the 80’s I owned “Get In Shape, Girl” complete with dancing ribbon, leg warmers, and leotard. In the 90’s it was the Thighmaster and then the Healthrider.  Turn of the millennium brought me Pilates and yoga DVDs.  And, yes, for all the public to see, now I have an Ab Circle Pro.  

Truth be told, all of them work.  For those of you who know me well, it has never been hard work I have been afraid of…it is wasting my time that I truly despise.   Efficiency can make my days feel productive and well-lived. And it is not all bad. To have higher efficiency homes saves us money and pollution; to have efficient postal service moves our communication along; and efficient companies provide us with products for our everyday life. Not all areas of life, however, are efficient. The most poignant to me right now?
Grief is not efficient. There are no shortcuts through it. No ways around it. And worst of all, no way of knowing what is coming next. Ugh. Even the stages of grief, which have been well-documented and studied, are still not linear.  The denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, acceptance. They come and go at different times and can appear out of nowhere. That is SO not efficient.

Efficiency: the ability to accomplish a job with the minimum expenditure of time and effort.

Grief is not efficient.
I have been struggling this week. I had a lot of joy and peace for weeks, and woke up one day to anger and sadness. I think each part of it has been real. But truthfully, it is easier for others if I have the joy and peace part. People know how to talk to me then. They can ask questions and have the occasional laugh with me. And I think the joy and peace part was easier for me as well. It made me feel like I really trusted God in all this. It helped me feel the prayers of others. It helped me see God.  The anger and sadness part…not so much. 

The anger and sadness are not as easy for others. I don’t feel like laughing. I cry when I see children in general, and pregnant women. I cry through every song at church. I close my eyes and envision myself breaking windows to help with my anger (it works, actually).  It has also been difficult on me, this anger and sadness part. It makes me wonder where my faith has gone to. It makes me feel like I was lying to myself before. I question myself maybe more than I question God. I know in my head this is all supposed to be “normal”, but living it out makes me feel anything but.

I just finished another book (reading has been a balm for me).  It is called “I Will Carry You” by Angie Smith. It is a beautiful book about her own infant loss. A very sad story, but wrought with faith and grief and the dance therein. She laid her baby girl in the ground 4 years ago this spring.  It has given me words of comfort today.

Something so important she goes into writing is something I have thought about recently.  How difficult it is as time passes for the grief to not be acknowledged. To see people that do not know what to say, so they say nothing. I have had women say they know how difficult it is to lose a “pregnancy”.  And, please know, I understand their desire to comfort me; and I am truly sorry for their loss. This unfortunately just doesn’t work. Yes, I do miss the daily miracle of being pregnant. It is near alien-like for another being to be growing inside your own body. I loved it immensely. There were pains and pukings, but I loved it. But Jonan Eilam was not just a “pregnancy”. He was my son. I literally held him in my arms. I kissed him. I talked to him. I felt him move. He was real.  I do miss being pregnant, but more, I miss Jonan.  I am grieving the loss of his life, and the life he could have had. I am grieving the loss of a one-year old, a seven year-old, a college kid.  Every age I see children I realize I will not see Jonan at any of those stages in life…and I miss him. For any of you who know a mother or father who have lost a baby and you know the gender, say it. Say you are sorry for the loss of their daughter or their son. It means so much. Say their name if you know it. It gives weight to the life and to the loss.

And another thing I have realized is that I want to talk about him. I know I can initiate these conversations, and I do at times. But I also like to be asked about him. We had friends over just last weekend and they asked us about him. About holding him. About what he looked like and how the labor and delivery was. Yep, we all cried at one point or another during our conversation. But that was okay. After all, it is sad.  But we all know that, and to acknowledge that he lived and he has a story is so healing.  I have read in a few books how infant deaths and stillbirths were dealt with, as recently as 30 years ago, in our medical system. I have read stories of mothers’ who never saw their baby because the doctor said it would be better if they just didn’t hold a dead baby. Just go home and “forget about it”…”move on.”  These stories make me hurt deeply for these women. And I am not just reading a historical account, but accounts from the mothers who were never able to grieve or discuss it because it was taboo in our culture at the time. Our society still does not do a good job with grieving and loss overall, but I am so glad for where we have come, and that I am going through this now and not then.

What a gift those friends gave us last weekend. (Thank you, I know you read this.)

I do not know how long this journey will take, or which road of least efficiency I will have to walk down. But I rest assured, it will be very inefficient. I will admit, I think sometimes about others judging my grief process, how long it will or will not take me to get through this. Psychologists observe it generally takes a year. I am beginning to understand.   And I am gaining strength from those who have lost and grieved before. 

Like in the C.S. Lewis play I saw just last night “Shadowlands” recounting the loss of his wife “The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.” I wish we had more time with Jonan, but even a short time of happiness has left us with pain now. But this pain only reminds me of how real he is, and how much I love him.

“To hurt so deeply is a sign we live in a fallen world. Not that we serve a small God” (from I Will Carry You). Wow, profound and strengthening words. Perhaps this has been the most comforting thing I have read. My anger reminds me that things are just not the way they are supposed to be here on earth. It keeps me from pursuing earthly happiness as if it is all I’ve got. God has made me for something more. My anger is a sign I live in a fallen world where things are not as they should be. But my anger is not a sign that I serve a small God. 

No comments:

Post a Comment