Wednesday, September 21, 2016

After the flood you set in the clouds a rainbow: more reflections on miscarriage

I left my hair down because I am vain and thought I would look better in the pictures. In like three seconds, my hair was pasted to the side of my face and neck, supposedly waterproof eyeliner melting down my cheeks. My flimsy blue pancho caught the wind from the force of water hitting water as though it were a sail. Other tourists pressed in against us as we had the coveted spot front and center of the ship deck. Selfie sticks swarmed around us, and we couldn't hear a thing because of the rumbling of the falls before us and the boat's engine beneath us. It was an experience quite unlike the baptisms I celebrate as a pastor, where I bring a nervous but steady person in front of a quiet congregation and sprinkle water from a small bowl onto their foreheads. But this--- mist from Niagara Falls coalescing on my face, filling my shoes, and trickling down the front of my shirt as I leaned against the bow of the Maid of the Mist tourboat with Aaron at my back--- this felt like a baptism. As the spray fell across my face, I remembered my baptism and was thankful.

Thankfulness is a spiritual practice I have been clinging to in my grief, but today I was not intending to thank anyone for anything. I was going to hold Aaron's hand, walk a ridiculous amount, see Niagara Falls, and do anything and everything to distract myself. Because today, we should not be taking a spur-of-the-moment day trip to Niagara Falls--- we should be welcoming a baby into our home. Today is the due date for our first baby.

But our baby died.

Our baby died, meanwhile life has gone on and it seems like everyone else is pregnant and I am supposed to be happy for them. I have spent much of the last week angry, enraged really, and done with everything. I want to run away. I just want Aaron and I to go off and be hermits alone somewhere where we are far enough away from other humans that I can scream whenever I want and not disturb the neighbors. But today was different. Today, on the day when I was trying to distract myself from death, I felt new life.

Now sometimes with grief some events are easier than others. Sometimes anniversaries are easier than the mundane, every day part of grief. The most hope I have ever felt through this whole shitty two-year journey of loss and infertility was actually the day of my miscarriage. Perhaps this due date was just an easier grief, and next month when (I mean if?) I find out that my fertility treatments did not work again I will find myself wanting to smash glass, burn things, and rip out my uterus to drop-kick it. But today, I could breathe. I could sense God's arms wrapped around me. I could feel hope.

In The United Methodist Church's liturgy of thanksgiving over the water for baptism, we pray, remembering the story of Noah, "After the flood you set in the clouds a rainbow." The rainbow is a promise. Not that everything will be easy--- because even though the destruction we experience on the earth today is not caused by God as the flood was said to be, our world is certainly just as violent and horrific. And even though babies born after miscarriages are called rainbow babies, I do not believe God has promised me a rainbow baby. But in the rainbows dancing around Niagara Falls, I knew that God has promised and is promising to be with me. God continues to offer me new life, abundant life, cutting through the fog of grief  to incorporate me by the Holy Spirit into God's new creation. And the God of all grace will establish me and strengthen me that I may live in grace and peace. May God do the same for us all.

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