The last thing I remember before going under was the sensation of tears limping from my eyes and tap tapping on the stark white sheet beneath my head. I sobbed into the mask that was placed over my mouth and nose, both welcoming and dreading the oblivion that waited for me.
I still see the blood when I close my eyes. There was so much blood. I couldn’t understand how no one else was as startled by the blood as me. Life was pouring, draining from my body. Why did no one scream? How were their eyes dry, their faces expressionless?
I screamed. Not where anyone could hear. But in my mind and my heart, I screamed.
I’m still screaming.
When I woke up, it was gradual. I heard a voice speak, pulling my mind out of the sludge and back to reality. Minutes passed before I could speak. But the moment my mind woke—the exact instant—is when the tears started again.
Because even though I couldn’t remember the day or the time or exactly where I was, my mind was reminded right away that the only heart beating on that table was mine.
They handed me a small, plush heart that some sweet volunteer had probably sewn and donated to the hospital. It had a ribbon in the shape of a flower attached to the top. They told me it was a gift from the hospital, to express how sorry they were for my loss.
I accepted it without a word. Ran my fingers over the ribbon.
Two. They should have given me two.
I was never able to bring myself to say the words. I wish I had.
A Quiet Grief
In the weeks and months after I lost my twin babies, I experienced a level of loneliness I never knew possible. Questions raged inside my head and heart. What did I do to make this happen? Why couldn’t I protect my sweet babies? Why did God take them before I ever heard their precious heartbeats? And when will this cavernous pain in my chest go away?
The worst part about grief is that it has no end date. Instead, it drapes its heavy presence over your soul and sinks its strong fingers into the everyday mundane. Life has no concern for whether or not you’re actually ready to take a step forward—it simply forges ahead.
I went grocery shopping, worked, cooked dinner, played with my kids, paid bills, and kept smiling. People stopped asking, and I didn’t blame them. Because life goes on.
I still cried. Every night.
A Quiet Comfort
Hope broke through on one of those nights. Bone-weariness begged me to give in to sleep, but my mind refused. The hour was late, but all I could do was stare at the ceiling and try to stifle my sobs. I rolled to my side, and as my cheek pressed against my pillow, I could feel the large circle of wetness from my tears.
In my mind, all I could see was the blood. And all I could hear was the relentless woosh of an ultrasound that detected no life.
Soft, almost imperceptible footsteps padded nearby. Our bed squeaked and I felt the weight of my four-year-old as he wedged himself between me and his sleeping dad. My back to him, I drew a ragged breath and swiped at my tears. I didn’t want to him to know I was awake, much less upset.
After a few moments, my son sat up. He crawled over my back, nestled himself against my chest, and wrapped his arms around my neck.
My tears began to flow again.
A scripture I’d once read whispered into the quiet moment.
“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?…this I know, that God is for me….In God I trust; I shall not be afraid.” (Psalm 56:8-11)
It was as if God had stirred my son’s heart and moved him to remind me that I am not alone in my grief. Every tear that I’ve cried–every night I’ve tossed and turned while sleep evaded me—God has been there. And even when no one in the entire world understands the depth of my sorrow or knows that I’m crying—God knows.
I whispered a prayer of thanks and fell asleep within minutes.
A Quiet Truth
In this world we will have trouble. We will walk through dark valleys riddled with grief and sadness. Our hearts will clench in pain, and the sorrow in our chests will feel so tangible that we’ll wonder if things will ever be good again.
But take heart, Friend, take heart. Because there is a God who not only sees you in your pain, but is with you in your pain.
Take heart, Friend. Because there will come a day when the darkness of the valley will be shattered by His marvelous light.
Take heart. Because the Creator of the universe has promised us that one day there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more suffering—no more death.
Take heart, hurting Friend, because His words—all His words—are trustworthy and true.
Take heart. Because Jesus Christ has overcome the world. And no matter what kind of pain is ripping through your chest right now, if you know Christ, then nothing can separate you from his love and his presence.
The Lord gives. And the Lord takes away.
And He has taught me to say, through tears, but with confidence and conviction—
It is well with my soul.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.