Wednesday, September 30, 2009

From Dark Moments, Great Blessings

While preparing for marriage, people offered a great deal of advice and commentary, some of it not exactly welcome. Out of the plethora of statements and suggestions, one seemed to be most frequent especially from veteran married couples. "Marriage is hard sometimes. But, with lots of love, even the hard moments are beautiful and make you stronger." Naturally, I envisioned couples bitterly fighting late into the night, wondering if their marriage would last. Not I, would cross my mind. I realize now, that's not necessarily what they meant.

This last week saw a great joy followed very quickly by a great tragedy in my husband's and my life. Tuesday, we received a phone call that Richard's brother Chris and his wife Sarah had had their second child several days early. Sophia was healthy and fine, and could we come down and help watch Eden, their oldest son? Of course. A darling, bubbly child, Eden is a joyful two year old boy that we love to be around. Richard took leave, we packed, and hit the road within a few hours to spend the night. We arrived at the hospital and, as I was holding little Sophia, realization and nervousness hit me that my own little one, squirming in my abdomen, would arrive soon and I'd be holding my own. We all smiled around the new life and the happiness of Eden as he met his new little sister. Truly, God's joy was almost tangible in the room.

Then, the call came. Richard's stepped into the hallway and we heard the distress in his voice. We caught snippets of the conversation and faces became serious, emotions fell. He got off the phone to tell us that his and Chris's mom was in ICU and in very serious condition. Minds processed the information, emotions fell severely and, in a moment, wives were holding husbands as they broke down.

We left for Houston the next morning and spent the next few days with Richard's father and next to his mother's bedside. Not one to enjoy watching people suffer, it pained me more than words could describe to see his mother in that state. Tubes, wires, and machines were everywhere and she looked so flat. Prayers were said, tears shed, and encouraging words offered to a woman in a coma.

In one flash of a moment, I understood what all those couples meant. They weren't necessarily citing fighting and tension. As I looked into the broken face of my husband one night last week, fear overtook me--a fear that seemed to cut into my heart and lungs at the same time--we threw ourselves into each other's arms. We could not be strong alone--we were strong only together. He told me later that week, "I couldn't have done this without you. It's so much easier to be strong with you here." I don't know what I did or said, but apparently my prayers of being his support were answered. I had felt sadly inadequate the entire time.

We are home now, still living by the phone and email for updates and making decisions a family. Prayers still are being said and occasional tears still fall. We are beginning a long road and I can't see as I look out. I still am watching my husband suffer deeply--a personal hell for any wife. But, day by day, Richard and I stand by each other. We hold each other and support each other. One day at a time. That is all that can be expected right now.

One blessing, through all the sadness and Crosses right now, can be acknowledged. This tough, painful time is strengthening our marriage more than I think I can even realize. I see us growing incredibly closer, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I remember learning that while God does not will us to suffer, He always brings good out of it. Praise God for this Goodness. While this wouldn't have been my chosen method, I am thankful for the strength and humility this is infusing in our marriage. So, those married couples know what they are saying. Life can be so tough. But, when this chapter concludes, the strenght, humility, and beauty added to our marriage will truly be a blessing from God.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I'm leaning against the wall, staring at it. Somehow, I feel as though this will help the reality sink in all that much faster. The walls around it have been painted subtle neutrals and the pictures and decor are ready to be hung. All around it, change seems almost to be tangible.

I remember my mother's, white and small yet so grown up, resplendent with its ruffles and skirt that stretched gracefully to the ground. I had one, too, though mine was much smaller and far less resplendent. I used to gently lay my babydolls inside, much like I'd seen my mother do with my little siblings, practicing for the day I'd have my own bassinet someday. Those days seemed far away, cloudy and surreal.

Of all the items my husband and I have been purchasing for our child, the bassinet seems to make it most surreal. The spare room was cleared out and cleaned; we were doing some Spring Cleaning. The paint went up; we were doing home improvement. The bassinet arrived; time has frozen. That very item will sit at my bedside, holding my most valuable and delicate possession in this life. I will pick my child up from that tiny sleeping area and lay him or her back inside to rest. As beautiful and romantic as my little wicker bassinet seems, there is a reality that has arrived with it that has me realizing how little time I have left.

I am going to be a mother. These words, still, seem laughable. For months, I have felt the flutters then kicks and movements of my child. I have watched my middle grow forward, while it nourished a growing life. I have begun wearing clothes with giant panels and flowing middles. I've laughed and cried over sonograms and heartbeats. And still, the reality of me as a mother seems...large. I have two months left to prepare for the coming of my child. I feel as though I will never get everything I need done and yet am perfectly aware most of it doesn't matter. My child will enter this world with or without bassinet or crib sheets. He or she will come home from the hospital whether or not I have finished crocheting yet another baby project. This preparation is not my main concern.

I am acutely cognizant that I will be holding a child's life and soul in my hands. Anything I say and do can shatter or affirm my child. In carefully or carelessly chosen words, I am the first to impact my child's sense of worth and value. By my loving or empty actions, My child will feel infinitely valued or finitely worthless. As a mother, I will introduce my child to the Man who lent him or her to me. I will be responsible, first and foremost, in cultivating a love in my child for this Man. And should I fail, I will be responsible.

This young, tiny life rolling and squirming inside me has no idea how much its already truly and deeply loved. Tears have come and laughs exploded on empty ears at home, when I feel its body move about inside. I've seen feet project from my side and a head roll around my abdomen. I love my baby. I cannot wait to hold it and love it everyday for the rest of my life.

Until then, I will prepare. Yes, I will buy the sheets and hopefully finish the crochet projects. But, more importantly, I will continue to spiritually prepare myself for the beautiful servitude that is motherhood. Days spent with teething wails and nights up with high fevers will, God help me, be used solely for the salvation of my growing little family. Repeated statements and requests for obedience, God willing, will stem from patience and love. I desire to be a good mother, with a happy family. While I don't know how all this will end, I know how all good things begin: with God. He has and will continue to give me the strength and courage to face this daunting, beautiful task.