CS Lewis once said that "grief is like the sky, it covers everything." In recent weeks, our family has found that this is so very true. It seems that there is no right or wrong way to travel this path of grief. I have created this blog in hopes that some day we will be able to look back on our journey and see written proof that our great God never leaves us. God is good all the time.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
How many children?
One of the stores that I went to had a rather long line, but there was no way around it. If I wanted to make my purchases, I was going to have to get in that line. Soon after I stepped into the line, a woman with a newborn wrapped in a snuggly pouch around her came right behind me. I remember from my own babies that newborns are a great converstion piece. There's something about seeing a tiny miracle that makes women want to share experiences. Be it birth weight, bith stories, sleeping and eating patterns, or parenthood issues, newborns prompt discussion. This baby was no different. The woman in line ahead of me instantly began gushing over the baby. As the mother pulled a blanket back to reveal a tiny head of dark hair and pink face, I said "she's beautiful. It's hard to believe my own babies were once so small." The two women, between whom I was stuck, wanted to talk babies and children and decided to include me. While under different circumstances, I wouldn't have had a problem with passing the time talking to these two, today I knew that this conversation was going in a direction that I did not like. Not wanting to appear rude, I politely smiled and answered questions directed at me. My palms began to sweat when they began talking about how many children they had. Naturally, they turned expectantly to me as one asked, "how many do you have?" My mind searched frantically for the correct answer. Do I have 5 children or 6? Does having one child in heaven reduce the number by one? My heart pounded as I said "I have 6." Apparently they thought this was a huge number because suddenly they and another woman who'd stepped in line wanted to know more. "Girls or boys?" "Three of each" "What order?" "Girl, Boy, Girl, Boy, Boy, Girl" The next question left my knees weak and shaking. "What are their ages?" I don't know how to answer that question. Perhaps it would be less complicated to say I only have 5. But I don't have 5, I have 6!!! I have loved and nurtured and been mommy to 6 children!!!! If I have 6 children, how do I tell someone their ages without telling that one is in heaven? Laynee would be three in less than three months. Do I forever refer to her as my 2 1/2 year old? Will it someday be easier to say that I have one in heaven? To my horror, my voice cracked and tears formed as I answered "17, 15, 13, 11, 8 and my youngest would be 3 but she's in heaven." I suppose the tears were indicative of the still raw pain because these three women whispered "I'm so sorry," the new mother drew her baby just a bit closer and an awkward silence ensued. A thick fog closed in around me and there was a loud roaring sound in my ears. I have no memory of paying for my items, and the rest of the day seems like a hazy blur.
I still feel shaky from this experience and I still don't know the correct response to these questions. These are questions that I've never had reason to give a second thought to. The answers, once so natural and simple, have become complicated.