by Catherine Sylvester
Catherine is a blogging friend of mine, and she’s also the author of two books, A Common Thread: 16 personal accounts of faith, fertility issues, and miscarriage & Hope for Today . She writes about her experiences with multiple miscarriages and infertility, and I love her essay below because it speaks to the pain that accompanies these kinds of losses, with raw honesty & tender hope. You can check out her website here, follow her on twitter here, and like her Facebook page here. Enjoy!
Black vortex, sucking light and life away. Grey fuzz encompasses darkness. The room is quiet, warm, still. Gentle humming from the machine next to me keeps company. Heated gel acts as peace-maker between skin and wand as it glides firmly across my belly.
And a single tear rolls down my cheek. As warm as the blanket snuggling my toes. Softly pooling in the entry to my ear. I smile as it tickles slightly. For this time, my tears will not be that of deepest sorrow, of great loss, of pain. These are cleansing – washing away the anguish of past, of death, of grief too heavy to adequately craft into form and structure of words and sentences.
For now my womb is intentionally empty, vacant and void. My arms and heart have been miraculously full for nearly five years. But in that moment, lying on the soft and comfortable bed, undergoing a routine gynaecological ultrasound, every moment of those dark days of multiple miscarriage flood back. Images wash over my internal eyes, and emotions long since buried, written of and discussed caress my heart and enter my soul. And as the sonographer leaves the room I allow myself this moment – to weep, to cleanse, to purge a little more sorrow that has long since taken residence in a small spot under my ribcage. For does one ever truly “get over” such loss.
I do not desire to ever fully forget, leave behind or negate my meetings with infertility and miscarriage. For the tears I wept in that small, intimate room on the first floor of Ascot Hospital were not only for my four babies now in heaven. My small, salty, wet offerings on the altar of heartache were for more than my patched together heart. Enveloped in my lamentation were hundreds of women and men – some I know, but most I have never met or heard of, nor ever will – who too will see the same hazy image on an ultrasound machine, in a hospital room not too dissimilar than the one I sat in.
Perhaps, as with my third miscarriage, they will find themselves gazing numbly in disbelief at the tiny perfect form of a precious child whose heart has ceased to beat. And the towers of their world will crumble around them in that moment – repairable, but in the immediate rendered useless. And the silence will deafen them. And there will be no words that can be uttered to make a single iota of difference to the fact they have just irrevocably (if even slightly) changed their course.
I got dressed, put on my boots, wrapped up warm to walk to my car. Pulling out of the hospital, the waves came again. A perfect set. And I allowed my heart to surf them. To complete the ride. I sobbed and rued wearing mascara that day. And I thanked. I thanked the Father for the gift. Grateful that he keeps it fresh for me. That I may heal from my pain, but never forget, so that I may be of use to his children who suffer similarly. For what more do we desire in the unspeakable than someone who will sit and weep and keen and grieve deeply with us? A friend who sticks so close they almost adhere themselves to our heart; and they grieve deeply and intimately out of a place of knowing, where words are unnecessary accessories, relegated to the uninitiated.
In life, we are always able to love, walk with and grieve with anyone at all times, if we are only willing, able and open to do so. And yet, there are moments of sanctified unity. Holy occasions of oneness, where two hearts beat the same song; where time and space disappear and what was becomes what is; when we share from the depths of our experience and pain.
That is a gift to me for others. That what was intended for harm, God will in fact use for good. There is no victory in the losses. But oh, there is great redemption. And if I, just a woman, a person with faults and failings and selfishness can weep and grieve for another’s pain, how much more will a perfect Father who is love cry over us. If my human heart can ache and groan for a fellow brother or sister, how much greater is the compassion of Abba, Father God, for his beloved children.
It is permissible to feel forsaken. Jesus himself suffered as such. On the cross of Calvary as his beaten, bloodied, broken body neared the end, he cried out of his well of pain, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) And while we will never have to endure what Christ did, we too find ourselves calling from our beaten, bloodied and brokenness, “My Lord, My God, where are you? Why have you forsaken me? My dreams? My heart?” The Father knew. He knew we would echo his Son’s cry. He has reassured us, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
In his wisdom he has graced us with the overwhelming bequest of – by the love we show and the care we give – being hands and feet and ears and heart and eyes for him. What a complete honor. A privilege not to be taken lightly of for granted.
And so I prepare, and extend the invitation to you. Let us wax up the surfboards of the soul. Climb onto them, and paddle out into the ocean of life. Let us allow waves to carry us. We shall ride them together, as one. A sisterhood without boundaries or borders, visa or passports. Our world is so small and yet so vast. And we are but one in an ocean of many. But we are a precious one. And we all have something to offer and a gift to give. Ourselves. Open our hearts Lord, to love as you loved us. By being authentic and loving and true, let us call to mind for others the truth that resides deep in their marrow, in their bones, in their very being – we are not forsaken. We are loved. We are held. We are wept over. And we are not, ever, alone.
About Catherine Sylvester
Since experiencing fertility issues and multiple miscarriages, Catherine’s had the privilege of ministering to others who find themselves in a similar situation through Thursday’s Babies which she founded in 2007. Through her Night of Hope evenings, Catherine has seen God move deeply in the hearts of those still struggling to conceive, or who’ve lost precious children at any stage from conception, bringing healing and restoration to weary souls. In 2011 Catherine’s first book was published, A Common Thread – 16 accounts of faith, fertility issues and miscarriage. Her second literary offering, Hope for Today, was released in June, 2013. It is Catherine’s passion to share with others the restorative and redeeming love of a Father who forgives all, loves all and can do all things. To contact Catherine, please email on firstname.lastname@example.org.