I wrote the words below one night after checking on my sleeping daughter. Her face, so innocent, so sweet, so different from mine and yet so similar stopped me in my tracks. I realized that she was here because of a series of events (on both sides of the story) that were so heartbreaking I’d never been brave enough to write about them. And yet, in that moment with her, I remembered nothing of the brokenness. I could only recall the love of her, like it was the only thing I had ever known. I realized then that the saddest moments sometimes begin the most beautiful stories.
One day you find yourself on a hospital gurney. The nurses look at you with sympathy-filled eyes. They touch your arm gently and smile. Maybe they’ve been here too. Maybe you’re the third one this week. Either way, they know there is nothing that they can say to make it right. You lie there knowing that when you wake up there will be a piece of you missing. A piece that will never grow back. A hollow that will never be filled. You know that there is nothing that anyone will be able to say to take away this pain…this ache. Not your mother. Not your father. Not anyone. Because no one knows the secrets that you told that tiny, shapeless form. No one heard the prayers lifted for its safety. No one knows the promises you whispered in the night. No one but you knows precisely how life will never be the same again.
And then many years later you lean down to kiss the sweet, sleeping face of your child. The one whose almond eyes, brown skin, and jet black hair tells everyone that she is not of you. You smile as you think about her giggles, her smile, and her tender heart. Her eyes, hair, and skin are not yours. Her eye rolls, wicked sense of humor, and her laughter are most certainly yours.
You think about that time and the tiny being, and wonder if it was ever a being at all. Perhaps it was, instead, an idea or an awakening. Perhaps it was a harbinger. Maybe there was no loss at all. Maybe it was the first sign to point you in the direction of the child who was waiting for you.
You smile because you no longer feel the pain. You remember the day. You remember the words but there is no pain. There is only peace and love and the thankfulness that exists when you realize that you never wanted life to be the same anyway.
Loss, when it descends upon you, it’s difficult to believe that it is anything other than an end; the sad last line of the story you were writing for yourself. With time and perspective you often find that the loss was not an end but rather the beginning of a new and different story. You, with all your wild imaginings, never thought to start with the sad part first. And you remember that you were never meant to build a house in the darkness, you only needed to stay there long enough to heal the broken parts of you that lay just beyond the doctor’s reach. You were meant for the sun so you pack a few things and set out to find it once again. Stepping out of the shadows for the first time your face turns upward, quite on its own, to seek out the sun’s warm kiss. This is your home now. Go on and finish your story.