Envy wrapped its long talons around my heart, choking any delight I might feel.
I watched my sisters-in-law ‘sit’ their little ones ‘just so’ for a picture on the rustic, wooden bridge. They were actually in the dry creek bed, below the bridge, holding their children up so they wouldn’t topple off; ten month old Sarah Beth, seven month old Nathan and six month old River.
The cute little darlings.
Ha! Yes, as terrible as that sounds, it was exactly how I felt.
How was I to get through these days of our family reunion, if grief was going to be my constant companion? Snapping of camera shutters filled the air. Tears welling up in my eyes, I knew I had to leave the idyllic scene and go somewhere else to regain my composure, before someone saw me and asked what was wrong. I didn’t want the wounds of my soul exposed; bleeding all over everyone, getting them dirty. These were lesions best left to myself for the time being. I wasn’t sure the anguish of my heart would be understood.
Even though I was hurting, I couldn’t, wouldn’t, let my pain ruin the moment, or the time the family would be spending together the next several days. Besides, the raw places of my heart needed to be sheltered. I couldn’t risk being vulnerable.
I made my way to the house, and into the bathroom, the only place I knew I would find a bit of solitude. I let frustration, anger and self-pity spill over in tears. The ‘unfairness’ of it all overwhelmed me, but I ‘pulled myself together;’ wiping my tears, blowing my nose, splashing my face with cool water. The coolness of the water was refreshing on my flushed face. After drying my face with the soft towel lying on the counter, I looked in the mirror, making sure every trace of tears was gone.
Good. No mascara smudges, no red eyes, no streaked face. I was ready to confront the fray.
I wandered into the living room. My husband was there. He knows me well. Noticing I was gone, he’d come to make sure I was okay. The tears I’d so carefully stuffed inside poured once again hot and cold down my cheeks, as he held me, taking my pain as his own.
Our daughter was thirteen at the time. How I longed for another child. My arms felt so empty – aching to hold a baby again… to nurture it, calm it, and hold it close to my heart. Here I was seeing these children that my sisters-in-law had been pregnant with at the same time, being fussed over. Along with this, of course, were the stories of their pregnancies, labors and deliveries.
My stories were as old and stale as a box of crackers that had been left open too long, a poor fit for the newness of their experiences.
I was a teenager standing on the outside of a clique looking in; alone, bereft, wondering if I would ever be in a place of relating.
Somehow I managed to make it through the rest of that family reunion, nine years ago now. I really don’t know how I did it. I’m sure it was through lots of prayer and talking with my husband about my feelings. He was a safe place in the storm that raged around my heart.
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