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A Record of Kindness

A Record of God's Kindness During Loss

Tuesday's diary:

A deep, loving hug from a neighbor as I cry on her back porch on a gloomy, gray morning. She is mid-snip as she trims my five year old's hair when I begin crying. I suspect I lost my baby the night before, but then I've bled in pregnancy before. This feels different. The kind of different that makes you afraid.

Wednesday's diary:

A visit in my home from the midwife, the ultrasound confirms an empty uterus. Hollow, and still. A gift to be in the comfort of my own home as she embraces me, prays over me, listens to me weep the better part of an hour, and lovingly prepares me physically and emotionally for the grief still to come. A wise encouragement to slow down, cancel my week, and take time to "close the loop" on recognizing the life I had carried, the child we loved, the value and dignity of the person who entered and left our family circle.

A drive to take the older two kids to their music camp in north Dayton, it feels like something I need to soldier through. I bleed through to the van seat, and almost run out of gas. The Lord comforts me as I cry pumping fuel at a nearby station, my back to the vehicle to hide the stain of loss on my skirts.

A dinner dropped off by a friend of chicken tacos, sun chips, berry lemonade, and sparkling waters. She gives me a hug as I bend over my van seat attempting to scrub the blood from the unforgiving upholstery, sweating in the muggy heat. She offers to clean it; I refuse. I wish I would have accepted - I think it was another gift from God's vastly good heart. Instead, I carry on with an urgency to pay off the debt I owe to my child for not carrying it longer. The scrubbing is penance, and the muggy heat dripping down my back sharpens the absolution.

A look at grief in a father, as he sits on the couch near me after bedtime. A witness to his silent tears as he receives notice of Venmo funds from a dear friend. Dinner for your family, it says. It occurs to me the fathers are overlooked as they carry on, the weight of the collective family's grief on their backs.  

Thursday's diary:

A quick and willing response from two women in my summer Bible study circle to lead the discussion and childcare that morning so I can rest at home.

An excursion for the kids, offered by a friend who picks up all four of them and takes them to her house to play all afternoon. She gives kind hugs and has such a kind face. She reminds me that grief has layers, and it speaks out through the body. She pampers the kids, feeds the kids, gives the kids treats coming and going, and just generally lets the kids be super-talkers and energy-spenders by hosting them in her crazy fun space. She even sends pictures of them thriving and playing and having their needs more than met, which I haven't been doing well. I'm glad I let her, because I do need help filling up their tanks. I decide not to be embarrassed by how much they talk and the special favors I know they're asking for, the way they do when they feel safe and comfortable with a person. She can handle it. I warm up a bowl of soup, change clothes, and go out to get a coffee. I ask for it in a mug, then find a seat and try to enjoy it. I cry instead and desperately wish to be somewhere else. I come home and search the scriptures for God's thoughts on the unborn, writing down every promise I find in my journal. I don't even really enjoy journaling. I enjoy this.

Another dinner delivery, this time in pouring rain by my own mother. She sits in her car waiting for my husband to come home and carry it in. How does she produce such a spread on such short notice? Homemade pizza, caesar salad, sliced strawberries, fresh whipped cream, and angel food cake, with sausage patties for breakfast. Also, miniature hand-crank baby shark toys for each kid. Naturally. I think of the sheer effort it takes.

A text from my sister-in-law offers to come sit with me if I wish for company. This really touches me. She's soft spoken and quiet, and deeply familiar with loss.

Friday's diary:

A dental cleaning for all four kids, with nerves about tackling it alone and anxious thoughts about the bleeding. A caring husband who takes the morning off, leaving his own stress and pressure behind at the office. Together, we offer parental support and comfort for cleanings, exams, and x-rays for everyone; it is the youngest's first cleaning and is mostly successful. I even smile when the hygienist from the next door over pokes her head into our room to exchange celebratory words with her coworker over her newborn's recent arrival. I don't say anything. Am feeling God's love with me as I walk to the office restroom to check on the bleeding, made possible by my husband remaining in the room to supervise the four little patients.

A loaf of banana bread, a package of tissues, and a cheerful jar of flowers which I suspect come from her own garden, left at the door by a friend. A note expresses a promise to never forget how I ministered to her during a time of grief and how she wishes to comfort me as I comforted her. I think back and barely recall this. Am grateful to have followed the Spirit's urging then, to have shouldered her past pain in some small way - I certainly need her comfort today.

A stunning jar of florals carried in from the front porch by my oldest. He can barely see around the breezy, expansive wisps of greenery. A sweet giver includes a note with handwritten reminders of the Father's promises of nearness and tenderness in Psalm 34:18 and 2 Corinthians 1:3.

Saturday's diary:

An outing for the kids, made possible by another sister-in-law. She keeps our sweeties all day long, feeds them a lot, and lets them play hard. Sends them home with homemade sourdough, pulled pork, chocolate covered frozen yogurt treats, and a homemade pizza from another auntie. I add her beautiful card penned with love to my growing stack of cards penned with love. They sit near my kitchen window where the light pours in.

A day with my husband, just to be. We do nothing and everything. Lattes and filing school paperwork for the kids, walk the streets uptown, and eat ice cream in bed after putting the kids to sleep at the end of the day. Cry a lot. Listen, too.

Sunday's diary:

A smiling, beautiful baby and his parents on my doorstep, arms full with a Mexican dinner and fresh cilantro. A visit that lingers until twilight, them sitting with crossed legs on our concrete porch and us sitting with crossed legs on our foyer rug, talking for a long time through the doorway. I hold and chuckle at the smiling, beautiful baby. One of the happiest moments of the week. Baby C, a balm to the soul. Blessed child!

Monday's diary:

A sister's hug, the longest and most beautiful, the most healing hug of them all. A sobbing hug. She knows loss too, she paved that road of heartache ahead of me. A hug I needed. And W - her child of redemption - is there to charm and grin and play with her cousins. I don't want to talk and that is okay with her, but then the words spill over on the very next breath, and that is also okay with her.

Tuesday's diary:

A feast of meatloaf and vegetables steaming and ready to eat, accompanied by dinner rolls, berry pie, strawberry kefir, and a set of grandparents with worried, caring faces. A gesture worth crying over. What thought they give in driving over, along with a sweet potted flowering plant. Somehow the plant is an extraordinarily tender gift. The soil is wet and rich, I won't have to care for it until later when I'm ready to care for something. I know she gave her whole day to her kitchen, it's no small feat to feed my bunch. A hope flitters across my heart: I want to be serving my children and grandchildren and neighbors in my eighties. Heaven knows I see it modeled in these precious generations mothering me.

A Record and a Stone

An abundance of care: messages and calls, genuine offers to drop it all and come, reminders to tend gently to my heart and consider right thinking about my body. Each offering makes its way into this record of goodness, gifted by God during this time of aching.

I store up each one as a stone of remembrance.


Daisy said…
What sweet kindness! Blessed be the name of the Lord. I pray you feel his tender drawing close as you grieve sweet friend

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