"We talk about them, not because we are stuck or we haven't moved on, but we talk about them because we are theirs, and they are ours, and no passage of time will ever change that." Scribbles and Crumbs
We took a trip to the beach a couple weekends ago. We spend 9 hours in a 12 passenger van, with 11 bodies and many bags of clothes, towels, and snacks. It was a long time on the road, squished like sardines. Although who am I to complain? I sat in the front passenger seat nestled next to my handy-dandy breast pump, because my body didn't get the note that we were getting away for the weekend. 😬 Even though it was a tight it , it was oh so worth it just to stand on the beach facing what seems like an infinitely open and vast ocean, swim in the cool pacific waters, and laugh without once thinking about work.
Puerto Lopez, Playa de Los Frailes, Ecuador
You know what also didn't get the memo about the mini-vacation? Grief. He just likes to show up, uninvited, and stays however long he wants. Sometime he shows up for no reason whatsoever and sometimes because you get a reminder on your timehop on Facebook.
I knew this anniversary was coming. My friend Jerica told me the other day how interesting it is that our bodies remember events, despite the fact that our mind is focused on other things. I'll admit, I have been a bit weepy lately...
It has been two years since the day we anxiously waited to see the 6 week sonogram of our first pregnancy, only to have our hearts shatter with the news of the baby growing in my fallopian tube. Two years since I had my first ever surgery. Two years since my body struggled with post-op anesthesia and had to endure all those bumps and pot-holes going up our hill. Two years since everything really changed. I remember the physical pain well. I remember the emotional pain better, because it still lingers.
This one event, this loss, it scarred me. It instilled a deep fear in me. A fear of pain and hurt.
Before our second attempt at InVirto, I cried the whole week before my transfer. I remember so vividly my conversations with God. Actually, it was more me just begging God not to let me get pregnant if I was just to lose the pregnancy again. I was so fearful, that my daily prayers could be translated as follows: God, not your will be done. I don't want Your will if it means more loss, pain, and hurt. I can't do it again. Don't allow me to feel this way again. I just can't.
(Now I think to Jesus on the days leading up to his death on the cross and His bravery and pure love to say the exact opposite in the face of physical and excruciating emotional pain. What love.)
And I was almost relieved when the pregnancy test came back as negative. And foolishly I believed that God answered my prayers. But you know what happened just a few short weeks later? We got a call that the Hacienda was getting an abandoned newborn baby boy and we were being offered the chance to care for him. God placed us in a situation where there was a high risk of loss and pain.
And if fact, there was loss and pain.
It has been 6 months since AJ left us. We've seen him a few times, gotten to hold him, and seen how much he has grown. It make us happy to still be a part of his life, even if it is small part, and to know that he still remember us.
AJ playing and touching Jake's beard
The other day we met some a couple visiting the camp. They asked if Mila was our first/only child. It's hard to know how to answer this question because AJ was just a big part of our lives. Jake and I looked at each other, and answered yes. Sometimes we tell the story of AJ and sometimes it is easier and hurts less not to.
I'm still trying to wrap my brain around all of it. What lessons are to be learned from this experience? I can postulate many things... needing to learn patience, trust, to love anyway despite the chance of hurt, dependance on Him, and quiet possibly to smack the pride outta me. And I am still learning and processing.
I've been reflecting on the fact that Jake and I are in a season of experiencing loss. In additions to the babies, we've also been grieving a loss of an important relationship. It has made me stop and think. These past couple of years have done a number on me. I find myself a bit more closed off and protective of my emotions. You could say I'm in a season of dormancy, much like how a tree isn't dead during the winter but shed its leaves and waits until the next spring to bloom.
It's interesting how God teaches us through His creation...
On our drive to the beach I saw something interesting. I saw these gnarly and ugly, yet somehow majestically beautiful looking trees. They look straight out of a Dr. Seuss or LOTR book with the thick bulbous truck and wild limbs.
(Ceibo tree pictures taken off the internet)
While we are in dry season currently in Ecuador, we had a very wet rainy season this year. So the landscape was still fairly green as we drove through, except for this particular type of tree. These trees were bare. As I sat in the passenger seat, I thought about how stark of a contrast these trees were to their surrounding environment. Dead despite being embedded in midst of life. Then I saw something interesting. Flowers!
This area of the coast is a tropical desert and the Ciebo trees have learned to adapt. In the rainy season they are green and lush, but in the dry season they drop their leaves. This doesn't however stop them from being green. The trunk and branches are able to absorb sunlight and go through a photosynthesis process that cause them to emits a green color. They also grow pink and white colored flowers at the end of their long twisty limbs.
So despite the harsh environment, God has created this type of tree to not only survive but thrive. When all other trees are dormant in the dry season, the Ceibos can and do literally bear fruit. I've been thinking of how this is a great metaphor for me to learn from. Despite being in a season in of dormancy, where I feel like I need to protect myself from the outside world, God gives us hope and tells us we can still bear fruit. I can't just lock myself away for the hot unbearable summer (can any of you in the States relate right now?!?) or in my case, run and hide from pain and fear, but I need to flourish in spite of it. I can use my grief and pain to grow, to understand the gospel better, to love more deeply and to love anyway... love in spite of fear, loss, grief, hate, lack of understanding, whatever...love anyway.
January 7th, 2017 our last night with AJ (an 8 day old Mila)
"Grief, I've learned, is really just love. It's all the love you want to give, but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and the hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go."