The book is done. Edits complete, permissions secured, page proofs underway. We spent months writing on miscarriage, my spouse and I. Grief and loss, marriage and parenting, sacraments and prayer. All the themes of our life together, wrestled and woven into words on a page. Writing a book together was a work I never expected to tackle with that bright-eyed groom at the end of the aisle. He and I were going to have better, not worse, thank you very much. Health, not sickness. Richer, not poorer. Weren't we all? Would any couple stand up and say "I do" if we knew what waited on the second half of every phrase? Yet what breaks us is what makes us, too. We cannot unweave our love from our loss. Writing this book has been the same. Better mingled with worse. Richer mixed with poorer. Sickness swirled with health. Gathering stories of suffering, then getting up from the desk to make dinner for four healthy, growing, astonishing children. Trying to translate theology … [Read more...] about it is (not) finished
Before we lost our twin daughters after birth two years ago - suddenly, tragically, publicly - there was another loss. Smaller. Earlier. Quieter. Five years ago we lost a baby to miscarriage. I wrote about this loss here and in my book Everyday Sacrament. Miscarriage was devastating. It upheaved what we knew about parenting. How we expected things would (naturally) go according to (our) plans. How much more we've learned since then. Today is the due date of the baby we never got to hold. April 7th comes and goes silently each year, a ghost of an anniversary. But this year we get to fill today with hope. An announcement of new life all its own. At the end of 2016, Our Sunday Visitor approached me and my husband about writing a book on miscarriage. After all that I'd written about grief, would we consider writing a book on loss for couples - as a couple? Few Catholic resources exist on miscarriage, and the literature on loss is almost all written for women. … [Read more...] about Grieving Together: a book on miscarriage for couples
Here is today's first reading. The promise of the new Jerusalem, part of the prophecy of Isaiah. Here is today's Gospel. The healing of the royal official's son, the second sign in the Gospel of John. And here is my whole heart, caught between the two. The same Scripture passage from Isaiah was read at our daughters' funeral. (Among the handful of sentences in the English language that I wish I never had to write, that might top the list. That possessive pronoun and plural apostrophe still wreck me.) And yet, they were the best words for the worst day. The promise that one day there will be no more weeping, no more crying, no more babies who live but a few days. Sign me up. Let me hope. Pull me out of the pit. Lift me toward the light with the hope that one day no more parents will have their dreams crushed to dust. But wait: there is more. There is always the rub. Today's Gospel, too. Two sides of hope held in tension: the promise and the fulfillment. That … [Read more...] about I wanted the miracle. We got the revelation.
Two years ago, I had two hearts beating beneath my own. Twins. I was overwhelmed most of the pregnancy, to be honest. Worry multiplies with multiples. How would we care for two babies at once? What would life look like with five kids? Deeper, darker questions slid underneath, slimy and squirming. How could I love them all well? Would I lose myself? I worried about the wrong things. Most of us do, most of the time. Two weeks later, their tiny hearts were beating outside my body. Each fighting to keep pumping: one with too much blood, one with too little. Trapped inside giant isolettes, wrapped in plastic and tubes, poked and prodded, too much and too little. Neither heart strong enough to survive. A week later we held two tiny urns. Hearts to ashes. . . . Everyone we love will die. Of course you don't want to read that; I don't want to write it; no one wants to believe it. But it is truth. Can we hold it between steady hands? Look it straight in the face? Even … [Read more...] about when hearts become ashes