by Cyndie Odya-Weis c. 1997 word count 723
As usual, the dicentra eximia bloomed during the second week in May. Larger than it was last year, this sprawling beauty graces the 24” wide triangular- shaped garden bordered by our house and garage, the grave-site of our tiny perfect baby lost to miscarriage in August, 1995. The plant in this prominent location is a gentle reminder of the pain and joy that can occupy the same space in life. Each dangling symmetrical blossom hangs like an exquisite art-deco pendant and evokes a sense of wonder toward the striking and unusual form, a quintessential broken heart. A range of emotions is captured in the common name of the perennial planting that blooms each Mother’s Day; the bleeding heart.
Our baby was a surprise to us, married fourteen years with a complete family. Twin daughters and an active son, all adopted as infants would “ all be in school ALL day long” as I quipped so often, relishing the delicious thought of the freedom which would accompany this family milestone. We were a multi-racial family, deliberately so, with dark-haired, almond-eyed Korean-born daughters and a curly-haired, brown-eyed, bi-racial son with skin the color of chocolate milk. I suspected I was pregnant in June, and when the home-pregnancy test showed a blue x on the fourth of July, I bought four other brands of tests in utter disbelief! To my amazement, I found I was pregnant in every brand! A call to the doctor the next day began an intense regimen of medical care for this “high risk” pregnant woman who years ago had three previous miscarriages, one time losing twins.
“Cautiously optimistic” was how I described my feelings, but inside, admitted only to myself the feelings were more like ecstatic/ terrified ! Trusting that all was in God’s hands, we planned for a family of six. Things went well for nearly three months, and I welcomed my morning sickness and exhaustion as positive signs of a growing baby. I could feel a small bulge in my abdomen and saw a beating heart on the first ultrasound in mid-July. About that time, it dawned on me that this baby would be caucasian, and most likely would appear very white in comparison to our dark-haired family! Imagining the family photo of a few years hence, I saw a pudgy, blue-eyed, blond curly-haired toddler, resembling my husband’s sister and my brother. In my imagined snapshot, he was a perfect angel with his white skin reflecting the light in an aura-like glow.
My body did not sustain that young life, and on August 2nd, I held a life-less perfect little baby in the palm of my hand. With tiny arms and legs, miniscule toes and fingers and blue eyes, this little one went straight from the warmth of my womb to the perfect love of his Father in heaven.....no breath, no crying, no pain, no being held in longing arms, no celebrations, no congratulations, no hair to stroke, no cries to calm, just perfect love surrounding him.
Our tiny perfect child would be one-and a half now, if I had carried him full-term. At our recent rummage sale, I fondled a toy that had been a favorite plaything of all three of our children; a transparent plastic ball with a colorful clown inside. It rolled into the corner where the bleeding heart blooms, and it looked so shabby and awry next to the dangling perfect blossoms of the bleeding heart. I could almost see the pudgy blue-eyed blond babe toddling over to fetch it.
My baby is perfect, never tarnished by the world. God creates perfection when He creates us in His image. My baby has experienced only that perfection. God’s love is perfect, and that’s my stronghold. My pain is immeasurable, and because of God’s perfect love, my pain has purpose when I empathize and experience the full circle of human feelings of which suffering is a part. People reach out to me to share their pain, knowing I’ve “been there”. Joy is deeper, richer and more satisfying than mere happiness, because of the strengthening quality of suffering and pain.
My small triangular garden is a reminder that true joy requires pain and an affirmation that our pain has purpose . For like the dicentra eximia, we humans are somehow more beautiful and intriguing when our hearts bleed.