Saturday, March 5, 2011

When we live in LOVE

I lost two children. Both were tiny 12 week fetus. Both erupted from my body before their time.

I didn't allow myself to grieve. To feel their loss as anything other than nature's way of taking care of the eternal circle of life.

The doctors told me I'd never have children. It is impossible they said. I grieved then. I grieved the unborn child. The emptiness of my womb. The hollowness of my arms.

And then, Alexis was born. Beautiful. Perfect. Miraculous. And then Liseanne appeared, erupting into the world in wild, joyful perfection.

And I rejoiced. And gave thanks.

And in their birth there was a moment so pure it was if I was seeing, feeling, breathing, touching LOVE as if for the very first time. A moment so transcendent that I was infused with LOVE in all its eternal grace and ever lasting light.

And in the same breath of knowing LOVE in their presence, I feared for the life of these two miraculous and wondrous beings. I feared their life would be ripped from my arms with every breath I took.

And in my fear, truth awoke. In knowing LOVE, I feared death for the very first time.

In their life, I knew the absolute pain of loving so completely I could not bear the thought of their dying.

And in that truth, I had to awaken to the sacred trust into which they were born. My fear could not overcome LOVE. LOVE is greatest of all.

My fear could not take away the beauty of their being here on earth. LOVE is pure and perfect, ever lasting.

I heard the story of a friend of a friend who used to dress her daughter in exactly the same colours as she was wearing whenever they went out. "In case she gets lost," this mother said. "I'll always be able to tell the police what she was wearing."

I wonder about the obsessive fear that drives her. The over-arching need to keep a child safe by preparing for every catastrophe before it happens.

It is the fear a mother's heart, and father's too, never loses. What if I lose my child? What if something happens?

It is the fear we must breathe into if we are to be free to nurture these miraculous seeds of life into the beauty of their lives unfolding before our eyes. It is the fear we must release with every step they take away from the safety of our arms. It is the love we must breathe into to ease the heart ache of knowing that for them to be safe in the world beyond our embrace, we must set them free to explore without fearing our need to keep them near. Always and forever.

And I wonder about the infants I lost. The two who were torn from my body before the miracle of life brought them full-born into this world. I do not think of them often. I do not think of them in thoughts of love or regret, or even loss. But today, over at Ruth's synch-ro-ni-zing, she writes of the almost unbearable weight of love and of a mother who lost a child before it could take the journey from her womb into her arms.

I think we are all mothers at times like this, writes Ruth. Whatever our gender or childbearing ability, we carry the weight of a child, as Anne Michaels said in her powerful book, Fugitive Pieces:

"There's a moment when love makes you believe in death for the first time. You recognize the one whose loss, even contemplated, you'll carry forever, like a sleeping child. All grief, anyone's the weight of a sleeping child."

And I think of those infants lost before they were born. I give a prayer of gratitude for the lives I know and breathe into the wonder of life here on earth.

It is all part of the circle of life into which we are each born, through which we are all connected.

A circle of life that is completed in our dying.

A man came into my office yesterday to talk about his last wishes. I've written of him before. He lives at the shelter and he is dying. He rode a horse in December and smiled big. He received a gift of a ticket to Mardi Gras at Christmas and cried, big.

He cannot take the trip to Mardi Gras. His strength is fading too fast.

He cannot imagine spring. His health is failing too quickly.

On Tuesday, we're taking him to a local 'crab shack' where they've agreed to set aside a room, decorate it in Mardi Gras fare so we can celebrate this man and his life and give him a taste of the city and the event he yearned to experience.

He is like a child. Frightened. Struggling to understand. Grasping at anything to hold onto for as long as he can. Yearning to capture a few more moments of Life, that precious and delicate thread we all take for granted we will awaken to when we fall asleep at night.

For this man, there is no promise of morning. No assurance that when he closes his eyes tonight, he will have the life he needs to open them in the morning.

His brother is coming to the party on Tuesday. I called him this week to invite him. They haven't seen eachother in twelve years. T. cried when I told him his brother was coming. He'd given me the number to invite him. He was afraid his brother would say no.

"How sick is he," the brother asked when I called.

I took a breath and searched for an easier way to speak the truth. There was none. "He's dying," I replied.

"How soon?" he asked.

I gave him the response the doctor had given me last week. "No one knows. We're not God. What's important is we treasure each moment now."

Anne Michaels writes, "There's a moment when love makes you believe in death for the first time."

There's a moment when death makes me believe in love as if I am experiencing it for the very first time. A moment when its eternal grace and everlasting light shines so brightly I know, there is no death to fear, when we treasure each moment we live in LOVE.


Maureen said...

I'm glad the brother is going to come. Being there may be the most important thing he does.

JTS said...

A powerful post, touching on so many issues. I had a miscarriage of a baby of just a few weeks. A child I had just barely begun to know. But maternal love is such a stong bond that I cried out in grief beyond consolation at the time. I also have two beautiful healthy children, now adults, one born before that and one after. The older one has medical issues which have put her on the edge of life and death on several occassions, and I used to leave in terror of her dying. When she began living on her own, and out of my realm of protection, I had to give up that fear and release her to the wellbeing of the universe. I do not fear death, but of course I fear being separated from those I hold dear. It is my belief that I will be reunited in the spirit realm with those I love deeply, and this includes the baby I didn't have a chance to get to know in this lifetime. For me, the question begging reassurance is the need for us to know that, like your friend and his brother, at least someone loves us enough to mourn our passing. A beautiful post on love. Love is the greatest force in the world, it has the power to overcome!

Fi said...

Wow - what a powerful post! I too had a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy - both following the birth of my 3 children, so it was then that I knew it was time to stop.
My children are my world and it is so hard to let them go out into the real world where you don't have as much control of their safety.
It is the hardest part of being a mother - letting them go and letting them learn for themselves - it's also one of the best parts, rejoicing in their growth as strong individuals.

Loved this post - thank you

Vivek Chamoli said...

Hi Louise,

First time over your space , and by eyes got wet after reading your post.
Really you are a great mom , and yes love is driving force of life which makes it so beautiful to make the impossible to happen.

Your post is so much inspirational ..that MOMs will be proud to be.

After all its MOM who nurture the child and she is the one who always feel and see love from the way other can't.

So is the almighty always keep taking our test.

It heart touching.

Thanks for sharing and I'm glad I became a part of it by reading it.

Have a nice time ahead
Keep smiling
have a great weekend

Brandi said...

"Love is greatest of all"

Amen, friend. Amen.

That is very touching that his brother will be at the faux-Mardi Gras party. I pray for him often and hope that his final moments are peaceful and pain-free.

S. Etole said...

There's so much here to ponder.

bodhirose said...

I believe this is my first visit here--referred by your comment on a friend's posting today. My daughter just suffered a miscarriage about two weeks ago now. She did allow herself to grieve the loss but is very optimistic about her future ability to have a child. Her doctor is very supportive and optimistic too.

It was difficult to go through this as her mother too. It was hard to witness her pain and sorrow. I'm amazed at how quickly you become invested in a pregnancy and project into the future with this little being. My daughter was just at the 12 week mark too and had just relaxed thinking she was safe from the sometimes precarious first trimester.

Your writing on the dying man at the shelter was very touching too. I feel a great deal of compassionate work is being done at this home. I wish him well on his journey through life and beyond.

Thank you for sharing this--it's just what I needed to experience today.

Ruth said...

I left a long-ish comment here, maybe you never got it?

I was, and am, very touched by this post, Louise. Your loss and grief over your babies, and the story of the man and brother, there is much here to contemplate.

We think wrongly about death, I think. Some Native American languages have no word for death. Theirs are more like a phase in the cycle of life. No wonder we fear it, the pain and suffering, but even more so, the loss of a loved one. I wish we would adopt more wholesome ways of addressing this part of our life.

Louise Gallagher said...

Hi Ruth -- The CyberGrinch must have stolen it!

I so appreciate everyone's comments. My eldest daughter suggested I might have wanted to make two posts from this one -- and while I know she's right -- there are two distinct yet related threads in it -- they both merged in my thinking.

Yesterday, we held the Mardi Gras celebration for the man who is dying. It was a light and airy affair where everyone celebrated LIFE -- how wise those Native Amercian cultures are to not have one specific word -- it is the words we use to surround it that cause so much pain -- when I think of death as part of life and living -- I am less afraid and more accepting.

Thank you everyone for yoru comments. You add a beautiful light to this path.

trisha said...

you really encounter life from very close proximity- that takes a lot of mental strength.