I’ve read so much on grief. Even before our minivan died inside my body I studied grief as a pediatric chaplain. I always saw the loss of a child to be the worst possible thing, and now I know that to be true. When you study grief you hear so many things. See a therapist, take time for yourself, cry all you need, (I could go on and on). Something I often hear others say about grief is “Don’t make any irrational or important decisions!” Interesting isn’t it? Its as if my whole world hasn’t just crumbled and I’m supposed to pretend everything is the same.
I’ll never forget peeing on a stick and then looking back minutes later to those pink lines staring at me from the countertop in our master bathroom. I had all the emotions from excitement to extreme terror. I knew this would be the most incredible journey. Some people lose pregnancies, nobody is immune, (though secretly I was confident we weren’t going to join the 1 in 4). Every time I brushed my teeth, washed my face, put on my makeup, or brushed my hair I thought about the time I looked down at the sink and saw what our future would hold. That memory will never fade.
I remember at 5 1/2 weeks pregnant I was feeling confident as I hadn’t yet experienced morning sickness. Week 6 rolled around and that all changed. The queezyness set in and I found myself gagging and spitting up throughout the day. By week 7 I was actually throwing up every other day in the hall bathroom. I was weirdly excited because this must mean everything was healthy and good. We went to our first ultrasound appointment on a Tuesday morning and found out our child had no heartbeat. The next morning I woke up and still threw up in that same hall bathroom. This was not the memory I wanted to have.
We bought our first house two years ago and had so many amazing things happen there. We painted walls, built a fence, and hosted small group. I have read about couples leaving their first house and being heartbroken because of all the memories made. I am jealous of these couples and find myself feeling extremely resentful of their joy. When I look at our first house my pleasant memories are all clouded by pain. I look at the master bathroom and see shattered dreams. I look at the hall bathroom and see lies. I look at our couch and remember trying to heal from our D&C. I look at our bed and think of the countless hours I laid there crying and wishing this was all a dream. There is no reason we have to live like this.
My first Mother’s Day was Sunday, May 12. The following day James received his dual citizenship at The Netherland’s Embassy in DC. Long story short, The Netherlands had only been tracing lineage paternally. About 3 years ago they realized their sexist ways and granted James dual citizenship through his paternal grandmother. Before we were married we always dreamed of living in another country. We wondered if it was possible and often doubted it would ever happen. In February one of our dogs died, in April our first child died, and in May I realized I wouldn’t be able to work full time through my grief. If not now, then when? Is this irrational? It sure doesn’t seem like it. This was the opportunity to grasp on to life and find the fresh start we had been longing for.
A few months ago we threw a mini wedding shower for a couple in our small group. We took turns going around the circle celebrating important parts of marriage. I remember saying something cheesy like, “always put your partner first.” James said, “always support each others dreams.” I rolled my eyes assuming he had just said something silly. That statement has stuck with me. It is far from silly, and quite possibly the most important thing I’ve ever heard him say. ALWAYS SUPPORT EACH OTHERS DREAMS! We have dreamed of living in another country and this is our chance to continue to live into those marriage vows “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death.”
We’re going to share our dreams in a new land. We might only be there for two years or we might be there until we are parted by death. We are going together and taking our minivan in our hearts. We no longer have to be reminded of pain in our house or town. We’ll cary that pain in our hearts forever. Maybe our first minivan will get a sibling when we move. Maybe they won’t. We’re using this move as part of our therapy (yes, I’ve talked about it at length with my therapist) and looking forward to extreme downsizing and focusing on what is important in life. We love our friends and family and hope they’ll come visit us in Rotterdam!