On Being An Adult

I exercised my phone a friend option on Tuesday night.

I had to do a series of 3 things related to Gabriel's loss and a new baby, and they were going to hurt. Frankly, I didn't want to do any of them. Crawling into a hole and pulling the turf back over my head was looking like a reasonable and viable option.

So I called this old teacher/mentor/friend of mine and I said "L. tell me I have to be a grown-up. Tell me I have to suck it up and do these things. Tell me I need to dig deep and be an adult."

And I suppose what I was looking forward to was someone telling me that I simply had to do these things. That it was a part of being a grown-up. That doing this was like picking a funeral home and planning the funeral. It simply had to be done. And while I would have liked to stick my fingers in my ears and shout "la, la, la", that wasn't an option. Dig a bit deeper and get it done.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing was that Mr. Spit and I were going to do these terribly difficult things, and no one around us was going to know that they were hard. Certainly, the most painful, galling thing about baby loss is that it is so hidden. Today I will go downstairs and I will order flowers for a new baby. On Sunday, I will sit in church, and I will hold Mr. Spit's hand, and I will know how painful it is for him to watch a father announce a baby. And in that moment, just the two of us, we will be left behind, forsaken in this dead baby world. And if you are going to do a terribly difficult thing, it is a good thing to hear a well done afterwards. And Mr. Spit and I, we don't hear well done.

And I needed my friend to tell me, I had to be a grown up. I had to do these things because it was, for lack of better words, our lot in life. And however unfair, however tragic, it was what we had to do. It wasn't right or fair, but it is what it is.

She actually didn't tell me that I had to be a grown up. She told me I was sending flowers to a new baby at the same time I was arranging flowers for the altar for my dead son, because that was the kind of person I chose to be. I wanted to be. That I was choosing grace and mercy and kindness, even when I did not completely feel it, because I believed in those things. I was choosing to show those things, because I want the world to be a particular kind of place. Because it is a form of obedience to God, and because it is, put simply, the right thing to do.

I have realized, I cannot change Gabriel's death. I cannot wave my hands and scream and make things better. But I can, in the midst of this still terrible time, chose how I react. And even when that choice is hidden, and no one knows what it cost, no one around us knows how terrible and painful these things are, I can choose my conduct.

It is hard today, it will be hard tomorrow, and I am beginning to learn, in some sense it will be hard forever. But I choose. Perhaps that makes it easier.