Advent - Day 10

The Morning After The Night Before

I suppose we could say, that as I walked into a new room on the maternity floor, as they offered me a room on the gynecology floor, the geriatric floor, any floor but "that" floor - the post-partum ward - I suppose as I smiled at them and told them there were still babies in the world, and I would just have to get used to it, bear it, I suppose that we could say today was the first day of the rest of my life.

I tell people, others in this situation that it doesn't get better, but it does get easier. I believe that still. There came a point, a few weeks ago, when I realized that if a one year anniversary meant anything, it meant that this was forever. It meant that the days I was surviving to face would pass, however I chose to mark them. I was looking at the rest of my life, knowing that I would always miss Gabriel. If there is a choice to be had, it is how I will live, how I will remember and honour and find meaning.

I will spend the rest of my life living in dead baby land. Perhaps I will inhabit other lands too, I am always a wife, a friend, an employee, a volunteer and a child of God. And I am always Gabriel's mother. By virtue of our connection, by virtue of his short life, I shall always spend time in this place. Part of me is here.

Heaven became real to me for the first time when my niece's mum died. I remembered Carrie at her daughter's wedding. She was so vibrant, so full of life, so in love with the world. I remember her dancing, throwing her hands in the air, shouting "Opa!", looking around at all of us, inviting us into her joy.

I woke up one year ago this morning, and realized that my son was there. And I wondered if Carrie, if my grandmother, my aunts, dear friends, my father, had rushed to greet him. I wondered if his great-grandparents were there, waiting for him, if Christ himself had woken them up that night, and told them to come, to watch, to be ready. I wonder if heaven held their breath.

I wonder if those who have gone before were waiting. That as soon as he left our sight, our world, in another world, another place they were taking up the cheer. They were whispering and shouting, "he's coming, he's here." I believe they waited that night, waiting for their grandson, their nephew, their great-grandson, their cousin, their grandnephew, their beloved friend's babe. I believe they scooped him up and held him, told him it would only seem a moment until we were there again. I believe a community awaited him, whispering in his ear, singing him lullabies, providing love and comfort. I believe they hold him still, telling him of our families, our stories, telling him of who we are.

This is the last of the advent reflections. It does not mean that this time is necessarily over, only that we have traversed this particular portion of the land of grief, with your help. One year has passed, and as I chose on the 11th last year, I must again choose life. I must again choose to live in this world, take part, give back. Use my days wisely, until I am called home. There is still work to do, even for a broken woman. I must again chose to believe that God knows more than I do, hearing and believing:

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. (Job 19:25-26)

Advent too, is a time of waiting together for something monumental to happen. It is a time of knowing, but still of waiting, wondering, abiding. In much the same way have I heard your voices and your prayers. In much the same way have you walked this path with us, slowly, carefully, mindfully. Abiding. In much the same way have all of you held out hope that there is another side to this land, that as terrible as my memories are, you are with us, and Mr. Spit and I are not alone.

I have come through the memories of this time, marked by words and prayers, your emails and phone calls and memento's, flowers and your tears. Marked by the many of you that have borne silent witness. We owe debts that we cannot repay. Please, do not think for a moment that Mr. Spit and I are not aware of this.

A light has shone in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

And if there must be a lesson to Gabriel's short life, I suspect this should suit.