Sunday, March 31, 2013

Advice for Grandparents Grieving the Loss of Their Grandbaby

“The hardest thing about going through a loss with your children is the grief you feel for them, because you can’t do anything. I am conditioned as a mother to fix things, make things better, and I couldn’t.”

            When parents lose a baby in pregnancy, childbirth or soon after, they are not the only ones hurting from the devastating loss. Grandparents and the baby’s siblings will suffer a tremendous sense of loss and grief too. Today we’ll look at how grandparents grieve and how they can best help their grieving children.
            Grandparents may grieve for the grandchild they’ll never get to play with or watch grow. Along with the parents, they probably developed their own sense of expectations and dreams of, and for, the baby. They may feel shock and disbelief that what was heralded to be a family joy and celebration turned into a tragedy. There is no way you—grandparents—can prepare for this kind of grief.
            Grandparents may have difficulty responding to this tragedy, struggling for just the right words (sometimes there are none). They may have been raised in a home where tragedies such as these were not discussed (read my last blog on how my parents handled their loss back), and they were taught to quickly put the loss in the past and get on with life. (Western society, particularly Americans, have a distinctly “pull yourselves up by your bootstraps and get on with life without whining” attitude.) Or they may be tempted to think they are helping by urging the parents to have another baby or counsel them that they should be grateful for the children they have.
            Although these comments are certainly well intentioned, they are most likely to be hurtful and resented rather than helpful and comforting. Grandparents need to resist the urge to preach, offer pious platitudes, or tell the parents how they should feel or what they should do. Instead, they need to recognize that mourning is a painful but necessary process and that every person grieves uniquely and distinctively in their own manner and according to their beliefs and needs. The process is never easy for anyone, so we shouldn’t expect it to be easy.
            Grandparents may wonder if they should their grief, or if doing so will add an extra burden to their bereaved children. Personally, for me, it did add an extra burden when my mother expressed her grief. Already weak from the blood-draining complication and surgery, and emotionally drained by my loss, I felt guilty and unable to support her. Having been brought up in a home where emotions were to be controlled, I also felt uncomfortable around her tears. But every family is different, and much of the reaction will undoubtedly depend upon your relationship with one another prior to the death of the baby.
            Grandparents must not expect their grieving children to be your primary source of support. They need to find friends, other relatives, clergy, or grief support groups who will help them walk through your own grief. Being sustained in their grieving will help them provide emotional support to your children.
            If they also suffered a pregnancy loss or death of a child soon after birth, they can be supportive when they share your feelings of loss, sorrow and pain. But they need to resist the desire to compare their loss with their child’s and talk about their loss in a way that might seem to overshadow their children’s. Sometimes they will just need to sit and listen without making comments. And above all, if they’ve have never experienced such a tragedy they must not tell their children they know what they’re going through because they’ve also suffered a loss. A grandparent’s pain differs from a parent’s; their hopes and dreams are different.

            Another emotion a grandparent may contend with is guilt. Sometimes grandparents are upset that they have lived to suffer this loss, especially if, up to this point in their life, they haven’t suffered tremendous loss or pain in their life. They might experience what is known as “survivor’s guilt,” when they feel guilty for being alive when their grandchild has died. They may wish that they could have died in their place.
            Grandparents should honestly share their feelings with their children or spouse to avoid feelings of guilt or resentment settling in.
            If the baby died due to a genetic disorder, a grandparent may feel they are to blame if they were the ones who passed down the gene. Or even if they don’t know what the cause was, they may feel this type of guilt.
            Then there are the grandmothers who suffer guilt because they had a full house of healthy children, carried each child easily to term, experienced smooth childbirths, had all their babies at home with midwives, or never experienced even a tinge of morning sickness or a miniscule—or major—problem.
            What is most often helpful is if a grandparent is honest about their own unique grief as a grandparent and honest about their grief for their child who has suffered such a loss. They can take a cue from their grieving child: ask them if they’d like to talk and don’t if they do not; ask them if there is anything you can do, but don’t push or force them into making any decisions or feel slighted if they do not ask for help. They should not be offended by their children’s actions. Grieving is tough, exhausting work. Everyone will go through it at different paces and in different ways. That should be allowed to happen, without expectations. If you are a grieving grandparent, let your grieving children should know that you are more concerned about them than yourself and what you might be going through personally.
            I hesitated to talk about my loss and pain because I feared that my feelings might be judged, and I wanted to avoid parental “advice” as much as possible. I felt weak, and I feared displaying emotion in front of my parents that would make me feel even weaker, or that would bring forth emotional displays from them. Unfortunately, none of us did a very good job of relating to or communicating with one another in our grief.
            While I was still in the hospital, one of the first things my father said to me was, “Well, I don’t know if I’d go through that again.”  I vaguely remember him going on about having one healthy child, with the implication that I should feel satisfied. At the time, I didn’t know if I could “go through that again” or if I wanted to try, but it certainly wasn’t the time to be making that kind of decision or discussing it. I know he was concerned for my life and feared my risking another pregnancy with the same, or a worse outcome, but sometimes parents need to bite their tongues and listen, and spend their time praying more about their responses and what their grieving children need rather than expressing their unsought opinions.
            Sometimes simply helping with household tasks, caring for the other children, or just sitting and keeping a grieving child company is what is needed and most helpful. If you don’t live close and are unable to help in this way, recognition of the loss via a phone call, cards, letters or flowers will let them know that you love them and care. My husband’s stepfather—who lives across the country—called Chris and said, “I am so sorry. I don’t know what to say; I have no idea what you’re going through. Please tell Andrea how sorry we are.” That message and the follow-up card were more than enough for us to know that Chris’s mother and stepfather cared and shared some of our grief.
            If your children gave their baby a name, be sure you refer to the child by that name. It will help confirm in your child’s heart that their baby was a precious and loved family member.
            Grandparents need to be careful about voicing differences in opinion, especially about funeral arrangements, services, packing up baby things and clothes and getting them out of sight. As a grandparent, you will undoubtedly have your own views, but the grieving parents’ wishes and desires must be respected and made on their own. They must also make the serious decision about planning for another pregnancy on their own too. If they want your advice, they will ask. Wait for them to do so. If you want to help, ask first and see what kind of response you get.

            Family get-togethers may be difficult for everyone. Respect the grieving parents’ decision to decline invitations to attend baby showers, special baby events, christenings, etc, especially in the early months following the loss.

            Losing a baby grandchild will have a permanent effect on the involved families, but many families say they gained strength from one another as they rallied together to help one another grieve and confront the loss. Above all, be patient, kind, gentle and longsuffering with one another, selflessly, unconditionally loving your grieving children through this dark valley. And pray for God’s guidance for your words, being quick to listen and slow to speak.

NEXT WEEK: My poor coping methods continue…

Thanks for joining me.

Until next week!



(The opening quote was taken from A Silent Sorrow: A Pregnancy Loss page 261.)



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Maundy Thursday—Jesus Fulfills the Passover in His Last Supper

(This is an additional post this week to commemorate Maundy Thursday and Easter. See the Monday, March 25 post—just previous to this one—for the continuation of my story.)

 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 
Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God."
Luke 9:20

           On Thursday, March 28, much of the Christian world will remember or gather in churches to commemorate the last supper Jesus had with his 12 disciples before being crucified the next day. We might recreate the significant foot washing by Jesus of his apostles; and we will probably celebrate Communion—where we eat of the bread (representing Jesus’ body) and drink of the wine (representing Jesus’ blood) to remember His sacrifice: His body broken and His blood shed for the forgiveness of your sin and mine.

            Gentile Christians know this meal as the Last Supper. But Jesus’ Jewish disciples simply knew it as the Passover, a meal they’d been celebrating for centuries.

            But what did Jesus, a Jew, really say to His disciples—and, to us—that special Passover night? What did his Jewish disciples understand Him to be saying?

            What is He saying to you when He hands you the bread and the cup of wine?

            First, to fully understand Jesus’s words, we need to understand the Passover meal. If you are a believer in Christ, you have been grafted onto the vine and so the Passover becomes your precious heritage too. It is a feast many scholars think we will continue to celebrate in heaven.

            In a nutshell, Passover is the commemoration by the Jews of God’s protection and salvation from slavery in Egypt.  And although during the Passover celebration the Jewish people remember each of the nine plagues they did not have to suffer, it focuses on the “passing over” of the tenth plague—the plague of death—from which everyone needed protection. Yet as much as it commemorates what God did in the past, it also pointed forward to (prophesied) a time of final redemption: a time when Messiah would come with a new (fulfilling) covenant; when a final sacrificial lamb, provided by God, would shed His blood for not only the salvation of the Jews, but for the salvation of the world.
            There is much preparation before the actual Passover, with the wife preparing not only for the Passover but also for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which starts the day after Passover.  Because yeast, or leaven, always represents sin, the house must be thoroughly cleansed of any leaven or yeast, including any food containing yeast.

            The table is elaborately set, and a sumptuous meal is served.  But before that meal is enjoyed, there are special foods that are recognized and eaten.  Along with these special foods, four cups of wine are blessed and drunk during the meal.  During the celebration, the narrative of The Exodus is told and prayers are offered up to God for His loving protection.

            There is a special place set for the prophet Elijah, with a cup of wine, as an invitation and hope that on that special night, he would return.  In fact, at a special point in the meal, the youngest member of the family may go to the door to open it and look for him to enter.  The Jews knew that Elijah was to come again prior to the Messiah’s coming, so they still, ceremoniously, look for his return in hopes that this might be the day Messiah would come. This may be why the Jews asked John the Baptist if he were Elijah, and why Jesus said that John the Baptist had come in the spirit of Elijah, and why many scholars think that one of the prophets in the Book of Revelation prophesying before the Lord’s return is Elijah.
            The leader will have a pillow against which he can recline to signify freedom from slavery, since free men were always able to recline at the low table while the slaves had to stand. During the first Passover, God commanded the Hebrews to stand, with their sandals on and their staffs in hand, so they would be ready to leave quickly. At the time they were eating their first Passover meal, the Jews were still slaves; it was only after the Angel of Death passed over their house and they had left Egypt that they were considered free. 

            And it is the same with you. When you receive Jesus as your Messiah and Lord, the blood of the Lamb of God seals the doorposts of your heart identifying that you are His. If you believe in the sacrifice of God’s Lamb, you have a second kind of Passover, a spiritual one, where you pass from spiritual death—separation from God caused by your sin—into eternal life, and into an eternal, forever, relationship with your loving God.

            As Jesus said in John 5:24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes on Him who sent Me has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death to life.”

            And remembering these great miracles helps you trust God.  As you remember God’s power in bringing the Jewish people out of Egypt, it will give you courage to rely on Him to bring you out of the troubles you may face today. As one writer put it, “During this God-ordained night, we celebrate the doctrines of our salvation.  Thus, like ancient Israel, we are sovereignly brought to the edge of the “sea” with no hope except to trust His deliverance and to follow Him.  We marvel at His overwhelming sufficiency.  Like ancient Israel, when we trust Him for deliverance and walk through the “sea” with Him, we end up singing and dancing on the other side.”

            We know what the original foods were at the first Passover meal because in Exodus 12 God gives directions for the meal.  He tells them to pick out a perfect, unblemished lamb from their flock on the tenth day of the month.  Evidently the lamb was to be brought into their house for safe keeping until the fourteenth day of the month when it was to be killed and roasted in a special way and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The rabbis later added additional foods now eaten at Passover. (Each of the foods symbolizes some aspect of the ordeal undergone by the Israelites during their enslavement in Egypt.)

            So, let us “walk” through the Passover. First, we’ll read the accounts of it given to us
in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Then I’ll describe the elements as they appear in the celebration.

Matthew 26:26-30—And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sin. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Mark 14:22-26—And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God. And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Luke 22:14-20—When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”

John 13:4:9; 12-17—[Jesus] rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet/” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part of Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them”

            Now, let’s get deeper into that final Passover meal Jesus ate…

            The first item is the first cup of wine, the Cup of Sanctification. It is the cup associated with God’s promise to bring us out from under the yoke of oppression.  The leader will say a blessing over the cup, and it will be drunk.

            Then the leader will pour water into a bowl and wash his hands.  It is required that the hands be washed before dipping any food into any liquid, but now, to the Jewish believer, it is a reminder of when Jesus not only washed His hands, but also washed the disciples’ feet at this point in the Passover.  Unless you let Him wash you—with the water of His word (the truth of Scripture and the way to salvation recorded in it)—you can have no part of Him.

            The leader then takes the greens (usually parsley) that remind us of the hyssop that was used to apply the lamb’s blood to the doorframes of the Jewish houses.  It is first dipped into salt water, a reminder of the tears the Jews shed while in slavery, as well as of the Red Sea the Jews passed through to safety. It also reminds us of the tears we shed when we were in bondage to sin.

            Then the matzo “bread” is lifted for all to see.  There are three matzo, which now symbolize the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The middle matzo is removed and held up. The matzo is unleavened bread, and it is pierced and striped, just as our Lord was pierced and striped from beatings.  This matzo is then broken with half of it being returned to the middle, and the other piece wrapped carefully in a linen cloth.  This broken piece—called the “afikomen”, or that which is left over—is then hidden by the leader until a later time in the meal when the children are sent to find it. 

            Like Jesus, who was wrapped in linen cloths and laid in a tomb, the matzo is “resurrected” to life, after the child who finds it returns it to the leader.  Before the leader takes it, however, he pays a ransom of money to the child who brings it to him. Just as Jesus paid a ransom for you. (This might be stretching things a bit, but I think it’s interesting that a child finds the matzo and Jesus told us that unless we become like little children, we will not enter the kingdom.)

            The boiled and toasted egg symbolizes new life.

            The lamb bone is then lifted to remind them of the Passover lamb that was slain. The Jews no longer eat lamb at their Passover meal because there is no temple in which to sacrifice the Passover lamb. The empty bone is a reminder to them that they can no longer sacrifice a lamb for their sins.  For followers of Christ, it is a reminder that there is no longer a need for a yearly sacrifice!

            A blessing is recited over the second cup of wine—the Cup of Deliverance—and it is drunk.

            A second washing of the hands occurs, with a blessing, in preparation of eating some of the matzo.

            Then the horseradish is consumed to remind the Jews that their lives were made bitter with brick, mortar and sin.  (Just as our lives are made bitter with sin and with our attachment and enslavement to this world.) This herb is consumed with a piece of matzo.

            The horseradish is then followed by the eating of the charoset—a mixture of apples, nuts, cinnamon and wine—that symbolizes the mortar used by the Jews in building bricks during their slavery. (How often do we mix recipes of bitterness of our own making to stack painful “bricks” in our own lives?) This mixture also symbolizes how the sweetness of Jesus can overcome bitter sin.

            A festive meal is then eaten. (This is the meal that is referred to in Matthew 26:26 and Mark 14:22, where both passages begin by saying, “And as they were eating…”).

            After the meal, the piece of matzo that was broken and hidden—or “buried” earlier and found by the children—is eaten as dessert. This is the “bread” spoken of by Jesus in Luke 22:19, Matthew 26:26, and Mark 14:22. It represents the sweet body of Christ that redeems.
            Then the third cup of wine—the Cup of Redemptionis poured. Grace is recited, a blessing is said over the third cup and it is drunk. (This is the cup referred to in Luke 22:20, Matthew 26:27, and Mark 14:23-24.)
            The fourth cup is then poured.

            Then the door is then opened for Elijah by one of the children, to see if he has returned and will join them at the table.

            Several Psalms of praise are recited, particularly Psalms 113–118, called the Hallel. A blessing is recited over the last cup—the Cup of the Kingdom—and it is drunk. In Mark 14:25 and Luke 26:29, Jesus tells us that He will not drink of the fruit of the vine again until He drinks it anew with us in His Father’s Kingdom.

            He is waiting to drink that cup with youin person—at the wedding feast of the Lamb in the New Jerusalem!

            The Passover is completed with songs and Psalms of praise, and with the exuberant phrase: Next Year in Jerusalem! It voices a hope that the Lord will soon come, and next year, we will gather with Him in Jerusalem to celebrate—at the wedding feast of the Lamb

            But let us return briefly to this very special third cup—the Cup of Redemption.
            When a young man wanted to marry a woman in Israel, a bride price needed to be decided upon between the young man’s father and the woman’s father. This price was not to “purchase” the young woman, but it was to replace the great loss of a daughter. It would have been a high price, like buying a house.

            When the price was agreed upon, the young man’s father would pour a cup of wine and hand it to his son. His son would turn to the young woman, lift the cup and hold it out to her and say, “This cup is a new covenant in my blood which I offer to you.”  In other words, “I love you, and I’ll give you my life.  Will you marry me?” Will you become My bride? 

            The woman had a choice. She could take the cup and give it back and say no. Or she could choose to answer by not saying a word, and take the cup from him and drinking from it. Her way of saying, “I accept your offer and I give you my life in response.”

            During the last Passover meal Jesus ate with the disciples, as the leader, He first took that third cup—the Cup of Redemption—and blessed it with the traditional blessing: “Blessed are You, O Lord, our God, King of the Universe, for giving us the fruit of the vine.” But then he probably shocked the disciples when He interjected a marriage proposal into the service. Jesus said, in essence: “I love you,” and compared His love to a passionate, pure love of a husband for his wife. The passion and power of Jesus, who said, “I love you, and I’ll pay the price for you.” The price of an agonizing death on a cruel, Roman cross.

            And He says the same thing to you today; this is what you should remember and celebrate each time you partake of Communion.  First He says, “This is my body, broken for you.” And then He says, “This is my blood, sacrificed for you.  Drink of it so that you will be My bride and we may covenant together for eternity.” And when you take the cup of Redemption and drink of it, you are telling Christ that you accept His offer and do give Him your life in response.
            It is my personal prayer, that as you partake in Communion this night, or simply reflect on the last Passover meal Jesus ate with His disciples when He initiated this Sacrament, that you do two things: First, remember what God has done for you. Then accept, with great joy and gratefulness, that covenant “marriage” cup that Christ extends to you.

            Christ gave everything to make it possible for you to be passed over and saved from the angel of death into eternal life with Him! And He did it because He loves you.

            May God bless all of you on this special (celebration) night! And may you rejoice anew on Resurrection morning: that the battle for you was won in Gethsemane and that the tomb is empty!! Christ has, indeed, opened Paradise!! Hallelujah!        

Thanks for joining me.

Until next week!



(If you have not yet accepted Christ as your Savior, you can do that now. Simply humble yourself before Him, believe and accept His sacrifice for you, honestly proclaim Him as your Lord and Savior, and ask Him to take up residence in your heart. If you are still unsure, please email me at I’d be THRILLED to converse with you further about Jesus and His wonderful provision of salvation and eternal life!)

Sources for this information come from Jews for Jesus materials and books, and Ray Vander Laan’s Faith Lessons DVDs (formerly "That the World May Know") thru Focus on the Family.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Unexpected Anger and Jealousy Following My Baby's Death

When people ask you
“Am I right to be angry?”
Have you thought of asking them,
“Am I right to be thirsty?”
Theodore Isaac Rubin

            The following morning, Chris and Parker left for work and preschool after preparing me with reading material, beverages, a bedside phone and my pain medication. My cat, Pumpkin, curled between my knees, while my faithful Shetland sheepdog, Beauregard, took his familiar bedside station on the floor. Apart from my treasured animals, I was alone, to rest in quiet and wait for the hours to limp by.
            Because I continued to experience rapid exhaustion and mild dizziness under minimal physical exertion, Dr. Gordon gave me strict orders to navigate the stairs only once a day for at least three to four days. Until my mother arrived to help, I’d remain sequestered in my upstairs bedroom for the majority of the day, unless I ventured downstairs for my one-time-allowed-a-day trip in search of lunch or a snack. Dr. Gordon also suggested that I record an answering machine greeting to inform people of my need to rest and recover, and to thank them for their concern. A few friends did call, saying that I could call them if I wanted or needed conversation.
            I vacillated between wanting to carry on in detail about the events leading up to Victoria’s death and recoiling against the thought of reminiscing one more time. So, I opted for not answering the phone and simply being encouraged by the messages left. Dr. Gordon warned us there’d be moments when I just didn’t want to acknowledge the world, and I shouldn’t feel obligated to communicate with everyone who called. I shouldn’t feel guilty about needing peace, quiet and time to attend to my physical and emotional debility.
            However, when my mother arrived, she was incensed to think I didn’t feel a sense of responsibility to answer a call or promptly return messages. She chastised me about this glaring character flaw on one occasion when we were taking Parker to school, hotly stating, “I can’t understand why you even have a phone if you’re not going to answer it!”
            I screamed a reply from my backseat vantage point, “I’ve just lost a daughter! I don’t think I should feel obligated to answer the phone when I don’t feel like talking to anyone, when I’m unable to talk to anyone! Why can’t you tell them I’m resting, that I appreciate the call? I think my friends are capable of respecting my feelings. If they aren’t there is nothing I can do about it. If you think the call might be for you, and you want to answer it, go ahead!”
            The loss of a daughter registered with my mother. Twelve years before I was born, she and my father lost a baby girl during the eighth month of pregnancy due to umbilical cord strangulation. “You’re right,” she spoke softly. “I’m sorry,” Enough had been said. We weathered the remainder of the drive in silence as I sat shaken, fighting burning tears, and anger at her insensitivity.
            Because of my mother’s own prenatal loss—and apparent lack of having healed from it—her visit didn’t go well. She and my father never discussed their loss with one another; they never outwardly grieved together or acknowledged their pain. My father had made the decision—on the doctor’s poor advice, and without consultation with my mother—that she not be allowed to see her deceased baby. Sadly, my sister, Cheryl, was buried in a simple Kansas City, Missouri grave marked only by an infant identification marker. My mother never saw her child’s resting place.
            No memorial, no closure, no outside support. No goodbye. Now, forty-seven years later, my mother confronted the pain and re-injury of old, poorly healed, scabbed-over wounds and was forced to contend with a fresh injury to lay aside the old one: the death of her baby granddaughter. Having merely coped with her previous loss, her volatile emotions balanced on shaky ground. Consequently, she had difficulty comforting me, and I lacked the capacity to assist her in her bereavement. Our pain often manifested itself in angry shouting matches, or in awkward, wordless moments as she sat and cried while looking at the pictures of Victoria and her tiny footprints. “Don’t show these to your dad,” she implored me. “He wouldn’t be able to take it.”
            At other times she acted as though nothing had happened. That was the case when we sat down to eat lunch at a department store snack bar just two weeks after my surgery. She repeatedly pointed out a toddler sitting behind me, insistent that I turn to gaze upon the adorable little girl. “Isn’t she cute?” she kept repeating, nodding firmly, persistently in the girl’s direction. “Look at her, Andrea,” she commanded. “Isn’t she cute?”
            “Yes, I saw her,” I mumbled through clenched teeth as I fastened my eyes on the table and battled an impulse to run—screaming, wailing—from the building, far away from the unsympathetic, detached world. Run from the fear, anger and brutal emotional pain, the memories that replayed like a hideous revolving carousel in my mind. I yearned to curl into the fetal position and hide. Disappear. My mother could sit and admire. Unexpected envy and jealousy threatened to crush me; an insidious, invisible vice encircled my chest and throat. Breathe, Andrea. Breathe. Quickly refocusing my eyes on Parker, I attended to his needs and fiercely ignored my surroundings. Then I abruptly stood up, indicating an end to our lunch. I couldn’t return to the sanctuary of my home fast enough.
            When I wanted to sit in silence, my mother wanted to talk. When I was open for communication, she retreated to the guest bedroom. I attacked Chris with complaints about her when he arrived home from work; she complained to Chris and to my father back home in Hawaii about my insolent attitude. Neither of us was willing to take that painful, vulnerable step across a self-imposed barrier and reach out to touch, hold, and really love one another. Resurfacing, controlling anger bound us; each of us remained barricaded in our individual cocoons of pain and sorrow, angry because we’d fallen woefully short of expectations for one another and for ourselves. I wasn’t strong enough, or willing enough, to let go of such tangible emotion. I claimed it and nurtured it. I wanted to be angry at the injustice dealt me. It would be months before I’d be willing to give it up and let God lead me out of the abyss in which an unforgiving spirit and fury had plunged me.
             For the next two weeks, our master bedroom became my refuge from the outside world, and I quickly retreated to its sanctuary when the burden on my senses became too much of a strain. I buried myself in the bed covers and distracted my mind in the pages of books, and began to rely heavily on the prescription pain killers as an elixir for both my physical and emotional suffering. When I phoned Dr. Gordon’s office to request my one additional refill, I was motivated more by an urgent need to dull my tormented, grief-stricken mind than alleviate somatic discomfort. 
            When Dr. Gordon pronounced me well enough to drive myself around, my mother decided I no longer needed her help. After two weeks she gratefully packed her bags and returned home.
            I was about to take a step forward into the longest year of my life.

NEXT WEEK: I’ll take a one-week break from my story and discuss the pain of grandparents when their child loses a baby, and they have lost a grandchild.

NOTE: I will be adding an extra post this Thursday for Easter. I’ll look at Christ’s Last Supper with his closest friends.  Is He the fulfillment of the Passover? And if He is, what does that mean for you?

Until next week.

Thanks for joining me!