Today has been one of the most beautiful days I’ve had in a long while. The kind of day for which there are not words to describe the sweetness.
Three days ago was the eight month mark of my baby’s death. That day hit me hard, and continues to. The tears have flowed freely. Sleep eludes me.
How is it that those two realities can coexist, that such deep beauty and deep sorrow might live side by side? That they might dwell together in the same breath?
I don’t know, really. All I know is that it is so.
When our baby died, so much was lost. It was not just her little life that was snuffed out. We lost a whole future with her, a lifetime of tangled curls and skinned knees and laughter. I lost a part of myself. We are left only with anniversaries of what might have been.
We who grieve often focus on what has been lost, and for good reason. What we’ve lost is beyond value, the loss itself beyond imagining.
But, incredibly, I have found that gifts have come tucked in amongst the grief, too. Surprising gifts, and often small, but no less valuable in their smallness.
One of the most important of these gifts is an enhanced awareness and appreciation of beauty, of sweet days like the day I am writing these words from. Before my daughter died, I would have enjoyed such a day, but missed the weight of it. I would have taken the blessings for granted, thought that I could count on a lifetime of similarly blessed days. I would not have thought it special.
It’s so different now. Since my daughter died, I feel it all so much more deeply, the weight of the blessings. The simple pleasure of speaking honest words with a dear friend over freshly made coffee, of scrubbing the dishes until they are glistening and clean, of the summer breeze wafting in through the windows and across my skin – these are now gifts beyond price. Small pieces of beauty that have become so exquisite that they move me to tears. They are heartbreakingly beautiful.
I have learned the hard way how easily these things might be taken away, or might never have been. How quickly life can change. How very little can be counted on to exist in a month or a day or a moment from now.
The rhythmic rise and fall of my husband’s chest as he sleeps beside me in the morning quiet. The laughter in his eyes when he wakes. The way the sun lights the clouds as it dawns. The soft-rough of the carpet against my feet when I rise. I hoard these small joys like the treasures they are, treasures that I would have missed seeing before my daughter died.
After she died, I was shocked at how I became overwhelmed by fear. All of life, it seemed, was precarious. Nothing was guaranteed. I didn’t know how I could live with that reality.
Learning that truth was hard. Unspeakably hard, and horrible. I still don’t know if I’ve come to terms with it, eight months later.
But the darkness of that truth came with a luminous flip side. It is a gift to know that life is a gift, to be able to savor it while it lasts. Because I know that all life is so precarious, I can soak in the light of it before the flame goes out, because I know now how easily the precious is extinguished.
Have you found surprising gifts tucked in amid the grief of loss or infertility?